Just came back from 11 night Eastern Med on Solstice. My husband and I are both 50 and we were accompanied by out 13 yr old son. This was a second cruise for all of us, previously having traveled on HAL's Veendam to Western Caribbean. Although we have not cruised extensively, we have traveled pretty extensively, staying and 4 and 5 star hotels and resorts.
Solstice exceeded our standards. Do not believe the negative reviews. Solstice is a gem in almost every way. Embarkation went very smoothly. Our stateroom was lovely with a nice size balcony (which we all thought is an essential for a Med cruise). Although Celebrity claimed our Concierge Class room slept four, we felt three was the maximum. Concierge Class was definitely worth the extra money. We only paid about $200 more for all three people and we considered that to be a bargain. With the extra pillow top bedding, this bed was one of the best we have ever had in any hotel, including Westin and Four Seasons. We loved our Frette bath robes instead of the waffle robes in the other staterooms. I also chose different pillows and everything was delivered to our room with a big smile by our wonderful stateroom attendant Joseph. Instead of canapes, we had a cheese, fruit and cracker platter delivered to our room each day. The flowers and fruit platters were refreshed daily as well. In addition as CC travelers, we received a large blue Celebrity tote that is very similar to those made by Longchamps. The TV selection was very good as well.
The public spaces on Solstice were breathtaking. From the pools, to the spa to the lobby, to the restaurant wing, Celebrity has really outdone themselves. I sometimes forgot I was on a ship, only to be reminded by the gorgeous Med views as we were sailing. Nary a bump or bounce were felt during the whole voyage. The only way we knew if we had left or arrived at a port was by looking out a window. That is how smooth the entire voyage was. Captain Dimitrios and his whole crew do a great job and the Captain has a great sense of humor.
1038Concierge ClassQuiet cabinDoes not comfortably fit 4 as Celebrity suggests
In Santorini, we were supposed to have Nick Sirgios as a guide, but someone else showed up. She did a good enough job. She did take us to a fabulous fish taverna right on the beach called Galini. We took the donkey up to Fira and I strongly recommend doing that. My son convinced me to do it and I am glad he did. The sunset in Santorini was unforgettable. Breathtaking island built into the cliffs. Plus it is a living volcano!
We walked around Mykonos on our own and then went to the town beach. We took the shuttle to town. It was $10 per person and you could go back and forth as much as you wanted. Well worth it. We loved Mykonos. It is a charming town with great shopping and tavernas. We loved getting lost on the white washed cobblestone alleys.
In Istanbul we had 2 half days and had a great guide named Kagan Kosagan who took us to the major sites and turned everything into a fascinating story. He ordered street food for us outside the Spice Market nd that was really great. We also got into an old synagogue through his connections, even though the synagogue was closed to the public. We did not eat dinner on the ship. We went to 360 Istanbul, a very trendy and delicious modern fusion restaurant with 360 views. The restaurant is located on Istiklal Cadessi which is a pedestrian street and is quite the scene on Friday night. Istanbul is truly an amazing blend of east meets west.
Kusadasi was a surprisingly wonderful port. Great shopping and off course Ephesus. We had a superb guide named Nahide from Ekol Travel. She was both warm and extremely knowledgeable. She directed us to a terrific kebab house after the tour named Oz Urfa. It is on a side alley off the main pedestrian shopping street. Go There!
In Athens we used Tony from VIP Taxi Servicesalso wonderful. We saw the Acropolis, Plaka and the very hip Kolonaki area. We ate at Platanos Taverna in Plaka and it was very good. Pireaus, the port, is only about 7 miles from AThens but with the traffic it took much longer to get there. If you miss Starbucks, you can find them all over Athens. Wish we had more time to spend in this amazing city.
Our last stop was Naples. We used Salvatore of Drive Amalfi. He was wonderful . A real gentleman! He drove us to Pompeii. He was from Amalfi and really knew how to drive the very curvy roads. We did not hire a private guide there and that was perhaps our only mistake. Pompeii was overwhelming. It Turkey, for the price of a tour you get a driver and a tour guide. Not so in Italy and Greece. The driver acts as a guide, but cannot guide you through the ancient sites due to the local laws. Then he took us to Positano. The beauty of Positano and the whole Amalfi coast blew me away. Last stop was a mini-tour of Naples and a stop at Pizzeria Brandi where pizza was first invented. It was beyond delicious. At the end of the trip, no ATM would give us Euros so Salvatore was nice enough to accept a charge card,even though we were supposed to pay in cash.