Goodbye Solstice roll on Eclipse: Celebrity Solstice Cruise Review by spikedshoe

Celebrity Solstice 5
Member Since 2012
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Goodbye Solstice roll on Eclipse

Sail Date: October 2012
Destination: Europe - Western Mediterranean
Embarkation: Barcelona
Not exactly sure if I say any red sails but the words of Ulsterman Jimmy Kennedy seem appropriate for the a first cruise review by one of his countrymen.

Chosen at random and in a rush we found ourselves on an Easyjet flight to Barcelona with less than a couple of hours to play with plunging headlong and blind into an experience I had only heard about from a few friends but which I had yearned for for many years.

First of all lets get the complaints out of the way.

1. They made us get off the ship in Barcelona at the end of the cruise.

OK enough of the moaning - what about the good points. How long have you got? I will try to keep it simple. Met at airport, whisked to ship, straight through registration, glass of 'bubbly' in foyer then straight to stateroom which was booked as 'guarantee' and came up trumps with Deck 6 centre aft and a glass of our own wine on the verandah as the sun set over the beautiful cliffside graveyard of Barcelona. We had More stuck to the rules of two bottles of wine per stateroom until we passed through "check-in" and we allowed to purchase a further two bottles at the shops before boarding. To be honest they were 'plonk' and I soon wished I had'nt bothered.

The next twelve days we had wall to wall sunshine - apart from a foggy entrance into Venice - and with the exception of the tender into Cannes we might as well have been sailing on a local pond such was the lack of movement on the ship.

Those who responded to my pre-cruise paranoia will know that my main concern was 'drinks package or no drinks package?' I changed my mind at least four times and in the end decided to wait. Good decision. Not wishing to cast aspersions on those who did take the plunge but I reckon that in order to get full value from either the Classic or the Premium I would have been what is known in the Ulster venacular as 'permanently blocked' which means that while the ship might not have been rolling about I most certainly would have. As it was I was perfectly satified with the odd lunchtime glass of wine(when we were on board); the occasional pre-dinner tipple and a regular three large glasses with my dinner in the MDR. Coupled with an occasional 'premium' coffee I still finsihed quids in by the end of the voyage.

As for the food ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, What can you say. We dined every evening in the MDR and could find no reason to consider any of the speciality alternatives. The food and service was magnificent. I had twelve different fish dishes and loved every-one. The starters allowed ample opportunity to experiment (frogs legs and snails for example)and the only problem with the desserts was having to choose.

Having only been to Cannes before the other destinations were full of interest. While the excursions were expensive, as 'first timers' we did go for two of them to Rome and to Pompeii and the latter was well worth the money with an excellent guide who brought the whole visit to life. In Livorno we did our own thing and got a coach to Pisa with ample time to admire the area.

Kotor, in Montenegro was amazing and all the more so as I had never heard of it before booking the cruise. Having said that the only way to see it in all its glory is to climb up to the Fortress. The estimated 90 mins accent does require a certain amount of basic fitness but the rewards are sensational.

Dubrovnik was also stunningly beautiful but unlike other fortress cities where you might reflect on ancient battles centuries in the past it was alarming to realise that death and destruction was a fact of life here less than two decades ago and the evidence is still there for all to see. The 12 dollar return shuttle from the ship was more than value for money.

Venice, despite the morning fog, was perhaps the highlight of the cruise. Forget the shuttle which takes you via the outer canal to near the centre, the best way to see the city is to walk. Five minutes from the ship to the 1 Euro elevated railway ride to the bus depot. Form there it is a delightful mile and a half (2.5k) to Plaza San MArco via the sadly heavily graffitied Rialto Bridge and a maze of facinating streets full of tiny speciality shops. One big disappointment is the Italian desire to charge for entry into places of worship and to deny photography of any kind (flash or no flash). Having spent nearly 20 years travelling the length and breadth of France visiting scores of beautiful churches which are only too glad to welcome worshippers or non worshippers I found this a strange Italian trait.

Saint Mark's Square was 'mental' and I imagine the only time to really see it is about 6.00am! To be honest it is overhyped. The rest of the city is much more interesting and I said a little prayer of thanks to the inventor of digital photography as I filled up my 8gb memory card. As we only had a morning on day two we took a vaporetto from the bus depot down the Grand Canal - an experience in itself as it was rush hour and clearly the 'elf and safety' brigade have not yet reached Venice as I did not think it possible to squeeze so many people into such a small space. Tip - as you get on stop at the entrance and don't venture inside.

Back to the ship. Everything was what I expected and then some. First class entertainment, wonderful service (thanks Madelyn for the wine advice), absolute cleanliness, great choice of activities (the Glass sculpture was wonderful - I just wish I could have afforded to bid for the finished products); and most amazing of all it was only on the very rare occasion that you had any idea of the number of people on board.

All in all one of the most amazing experiences of my life and one which I cannot wait to repeat. The Canaary Isles beckon next October. I just hope that I was not spoilt by my Solstice experience. It will be hard to equal. Less

Published 11/09/12

Cabin review: SV6312 Sunset Veranda

The stateroom was superb and we really enjoyed the view from the rear and the sunshine. Although we did not use room service the room was impeccably cleaned and beds serviced twice a day. More than enough space for storage with ample room under the beds for the large suitcases. Despite reports of lack of hangers this ws not a problem. We took four with us and left them behind. Bathroom facilites were excellent. There was quite a long walk to and from the stateroom from the central staircase but this did not really bother us. Again despite warnings we encountered no problem from soot on the veranda.

Read All Sunset Veranda (SV) Reviews >>

Port and Shore Excursions

Not a lot to see but since I had been before I am perhaps being unkind. Would have preferred Villefranche.
Read 367 Cannes Reviews

Amazing old town. Taking the excursion would not have allowed enough time to really explore the town and walk the entire circuit of the walls.

Livorno actually. Did a 'do it yourself' to Pisa.

Beautiful exit (dark coming in) and lovely town but you really need to do the climb to the Fortress to get the full value.
Read 472 Kotor Reviews

Pompeii Walking Tour

Excellent guide who was really informative. Without her we would simply have been looking at ruins. Could have done without the visit to the factory beforehand. An extra half hour in Pompeii would have been much better,

Rome on Your Own

If going again would do my own thing. The local guide in Rome was poor and moved much too quickly for the group and did not pay enough attention resulting in a couple going missing at the end and missing the coach back. Gained very little from her commentary but enjoyed the few hours we had to ourselves.

Spanish Steps

Just a lot of steps covered in hundreds of people.

St. Peter's Basilica

Amazingly beautiful esp. the Michelangelo sculptures.

St. Peter's Square

Massive crowds for the weekly (Wednesday) appearance of the Pope which we had to pass on in order to see round the city.

Trevi Fountain

Impressive but also oppressive due to the thousands of tourists (to which I suppose we contributed).

Loved every minute of it despite the crowds. No doubt in high season it would not be so enjoyable.
Read 1149 Venice Reviews

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