Having sailed on Celebrity’s Eclipse last year on the Baltic I was expecting the same high standard on her sister ship Solstice, well nothing could be further from the truth.
The overall vibe of the ship was a bit hit and miss, there were some good aspects, some not so good.
Let’s look at the good stuff.
The cruise itself, 18 nights plenty of sea days and wonderful weather.
Embarkation in Honolulu was smooth and efficient
The welcoming champagne a nice touch
The ports of call interesting especially Bora Bora and Moorea
The cabins have plenty of room although the balconies are looking a little worse for wear
The cabin stewards get the job done
The ship its self is stylish and plenty of room to move around
The Solstice theater some good shows some not so great compared to the lavish productions on the Eclipse.
The tendering process was seamless
A number of the staff was attentive and professional
The cafe on deck 5 was well patronised, remember to ask for a double shot if you want a decent coffee.
The crossing the line ceremony was well done and the added touch of a certificate added to the experience.
The public areas were clean and uncluttered.
The staff members on the guest relations desk were helpful and responded in a timely manner with any inquiry
Murano dining was exceptional
The Café on deck 5 was fantastic, well patronised and service professional.
Some of the Ocean View cafe items available were just fantastic, roast beef, fresh bread, steaks cooked to order, and fresh pizza yum!
Let’s look at the not so good aspects
Food and Beverage.
The main dining room menus no way reflect the supposed 4 star quality that Celebrity advertises
According to Celebrity’s web site their Main Dining room is the centre piece of their enriching culinary experience.
Well I wouldn’t call a slice of Apple Pie with a scoop of ice cream dropped onto a plate with no garnish or decoration or a piece of steak with some boiled broccoli and partly cooked carrots as an enriching culinary experience, Suffice to say the menu and its choices were far from a “Culinary Experience” and unfortunately the service from the stewards couldn’t have been any less professional.
I think the F&B manager has a lot to answer for.
In any culinary experience it’s the attention to detail that makes or breaks the customer’s experience rewarding and pleasurable, and in this case there was no attention and no detail.
Let’s look at the Ocean View Café, and according to Celebrity’s web site
"This café's décor and offerings reflect that of an international marketplace. With a menu influenced by multiple cultures, the cuisine takes diners on a voyage around the world. Stations available in the marketplace include: made-to-order pasta, stir-fry, pizza and sushi, a full salad bar, and a variety of appetizer entrées and desserts. Open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night."
But scratch a little below the surface and what do you get, tired old salads poorly presented, tasteless baked beans, scrambled eggs luke warm that taste powdery and removed of all seasoning.
Vegetables that appear stale and plain if we “eat with our eyes” then I’d be pretty hungry.
The rest of the offerings were nothing better than Coles Cafeteria standard circa 1970
For me the overall standard was not consistent with what Celebrity advertises on its web site and also what was provided on Celebrity’s sister ship Eclipse
One element that would prove my point would be, a label on the buffet which described the dish below as, and I kid you not, “Broiled Scottish Skippers”
As I said earlier attention to detail
Oh yes let’s make sure there is very little available when guests return at 2:30pm from their shore excursions
The Pool/mast grill, how hard is it to make a hamburger? Not that hard one would think.
With all the accolades thrown about by the cruise director towards the F&B team and the cooking demonstrations by world class chefs, one would think that supplying a bun, meat patty some salad with beetroot would be a walk in the park, well think again little puppy.
Obviously there was a worldwide beetroot shortage as well as tomato famine and cucumber was still subject to WW2 rations given the miserly portions dished up by the attendant, (whose ability to place items on a plate or even close to the bun could have been bettered by three year old grandchild)
I know firsthand that the ship ran out of Coke Zero, some beer and wine items, now if you are paying big dollars per day for the beverage package and you cannot get your fav drink someone should be asking questions
Finally the activities, an analysis of the daily activities showed the only 33% of the activities had no dollar value, were not promotions for the spa or a massage, or coffee making or similar.
With only what appeared to be 2 qualified activities staff for ship with more than 2,500 customers one would successfully argue that Celebrity have no desire to entertain their guest with organised, original activities that they didn't have to put their hand in their pocket for.
For example, eleven sea days at least seven of them in tropical/subtropical waters and only one pool game day!
I can clearly recall sailing on Celebrity’s Galaxy in 2008 and Infinity in 2011 and running from place to place chasing down organised table tennis, trivia, pool games and more, there was a real feeling of fun and community on-board, even the cruise directors got their hands dirty
Finally the state room entertainment system, the screen continued to freeze, the program choice was limited to a few movies.
This is just my view on this particular cruise but given my previous experience with Celebrity and other cruise companies I think the standard was well below par, and while talking with other guest I don’t think mine was an isolated view.
Some may argue that mine is a first world problem, so be it, but we all paid first world dollars
Clean tidy, plenty of room.
But you can see the outside is now suffering from all those years at sea.
In room entertainment system, mediocre, viewing choices are limited.