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I am a relatively amateur cruiser who has cruised half a dozen times on several different mass market cruiselines over the last decade or so. Following is a brief summary of highlights and lowlights of my most recent cruise from Auckland to Sydney with stops in Bay of Islands, Tauranga, Akaroa, Dunedin, Dusky, Doubtful and Milford Sound, Hobart, Melbourne and Sydney. We spent five days in Auckland and the North Island prior to the start of the cruise and visited Hobbiton and Rotorua prior to sailing. I really enjoyed the additional time we had to explore prior to the start of the cruise and would strongly recommend this to others considering this itinerary. Auckland is a relatively small city and is easy to walk around to explore. Having the time to explore Hobbiton and Rotorua independently was well worth the additional expense (especially since the entry fee to Hobbiton is only $75 NZD and Rotorua was also much cheaper to explore on your own than through the cruiseline's tours). Embarkation in Auckland was quick and easy and after boarding and having lunch in the Oceanview Cafe we were able to be in our cabin by 1 pm or so. The Solstice is very large but easy to navigate though there was a wait for the midship elevators often. For the most part the food in the Oceanview Cafe and the MDR was acceptable and we found it to be equivalent to hotel convention food. Unfortunately, the "Top Chef" menu night in the MDR was by far the worst food served during the entire cruise. If I were Top Chef I would not want to be associated with the quality of the food that was served that evening. We did not want to pay additional money for food on a cruise which is supposedly all inclusive so did not eat at any of the deck 5 premium restaurants. On other cruises we have taken we didn't find the additional expense worth it. The disembarkation in Sydney was extremely poorly organized. If your luggage tags had an odd number you got off on deck 5 but if you had even luggage tag numbers you got off on deck 2. However, they didn't announce this or even have a sign posted explaining this at the disembarkation gangways. Thus, many people ended off disembarking and then getting back on the ship since they got off on the wrong deck. This was the only extremely poor organization we experienced but it left a bad impression for people at the end of the cruise. Anyway, I will never be a person who primarily cruises for my vacations and Celebrity is basically equivalent to other cruiselines I've been on (Holland America, Princess). We enjoy cruising since you can travel to several places without having to worry about packing and flights between the ports. It's a sedate and non-stressful way to travel but it is far too easy to overeat and you are limited to traveling to places accessible by the sea.

Good Itinerary, Great Ports, Great Service, Mediocre Food

Celebrity Solstice Cruise Review by BayAreaBC

1 person found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: January 2015
  • Destination: South Pacific
  • Cabin Type: Deluxe Veranda
I am a relatively amateur cruiser who has cruised half a dozen times on several different mass market cruiselines over the last decade or so. Following is a brief summary of highlights and lowlights of my most recent cruise from Auckland to Sydney with stops in Bay of Islands, Tauranga, Akaroa, Dunedin, Dusky, Doubtful and Milford Sound, Hobart, Melbourne and Sydney.
We spent five days in Auckland and the North Island prior to the start of the cruise and visited Hobbiton and Rotorua prior to sailing. I really enjoyed the additional time we had to explore prior to the start of the cruise and would strongly recommend this to others considering this itinerary. Auckland is a relatively small city and is easy to walk around to explore. Having the time to explore Hobbiton and Rotorua independently was well worth the additional expense (especially since the entry fee to Hobbiton is only $75 NZD and Rotorua was also much cheaper to explore on your own than through the cruiseline's tours).
Embarkation in Auckland was quick and easy and after boarding and having lunch in the Oceanview Cafe we were able to be in our cabin by 1 pm or so. The Solstice is very large but easy to navigate though there was a wait for the midship elevators often.
For the most part the food in the Oceanview Cafe and the MDR was acceptable and we found it to be equivalent to hotel convention food. Unfortunately, the "Top Chef" menu night in the MDR was by far the worst food served during the entire cruise. If I were Top Chef I would not want to be associated with the quality of the food that was served that evening. We did not want to pay additional money for food on a cruise which is supposedly all inclusive so did not eat at any of the deck 5 premium restaurants. On other cruises we have taken we didn't find the additional expense worth it.
The disembarkation in Sydney was extremely poorly organized. If your luggage tags had an odd number you got off on deck 5 but if you had even luggage tag numbers you got off on deck 2. However, they didn't announce this or even have a sign posted explaining this at the disembarkation gangways. Thus, many people ended off disembarking and then getting back on the ship since they got off on the wrong deck. This was the only extremely poor organization we experienced but it left a bad impression for people at the end of the cruise.
Anyway, I will never be a person who primarily cruises for my vacations and Celebrity is basically equivalent to other cruiselines I've been on (Holland America, Princess). We enjoy cruising since you can travel to several places without having to worry about packing and flights between the ports. It's a sedate and non-stressful way to travel but it is far too easy to overeat and you are limited to traveling to places accessible by the sea.
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