Background: This would be my fourth cruise but first with Celebrity. Both my parents have been on 10 or more cruises and have sailed Celebrity before.We flew into Rome on July 5 to catch up on sleep before riding to Civitavecchia on July 6 to board the Solstice. We took a train from Termini Station to Civitavecchia and it was alot cheaper than taking a cab. However, the air conditioning was minimal, but there were many people on the train that were boarding the ship like us- so it was easy to make some friends!Embarkation: We arrived around 2:30 and it was like a zoo! It was quick and only took about 30 minutes to get your cards and start embarking the ship- make sure all your paper work is filled out and credit cards are verified for your sea pass acount- makes it so much quicker when in the line. Our bags were even at our door when we arrived at the cabin! very fast service!Ship Info: The ship is BEAUTIFUL and HUGE. It makes all the other cruise ships look sooo little. We stayed on the 8th floor in the aft and it was the smoothest ride I have ever felt on a ship. There was only one day I felt a little nauseous and that was because of a storm that was off the coast. Otherwise, you can not even tell your moving. The public spaces are well lit and very clean. There are a lot of bars on the ship. The Lawn Club was interesting- personally not as exciting as it was made out to be- but none the less..very different than what could be found on any other ship. The Martini Bar was ALWAYS busy but it was so much fun to watch the bartenders make drinks. TJ is the best and is absolutely hysterical. I would reccoment the Martini Flight for about 18 dollars- you can sample 6 different martinis. The Casino was always busy at the late hours. There is only one 6 dollar minimum blackjack table- which was normally always crowded. However, it was the most fun to play. Be careful about who you are playing with though. Being that you can be 18 to get into the Casino, some of the players had NO idea how to play the game how you are supposed to and in essence can really mess up a hand or two. The slot machines never seemed to pay out well- at least for me- so I stuck with Blackjack and actually did pretty well! :)The Shows- Celebrity has never been known for its shows and I can somewhat see why. The shows were not awful by any means but not that appealing to me. There was a broadway style show- the talent is amazing! However, most of the broadway songs, I did not know. The comedian was funny and there is a Cirq Du Solei Show which was a lot of fun too. It really just depends what you like in a show. Some of them are a little cheesy but the preformers are well trained and very talented!
Dining- My family and I mostly ate in the main dining room at the 6:15 seating. Alot of the seats are open because most people eat in the late seating. There were alot of Europeans and alot of people from South America so they always ate later. You could tell the Americans/families were the ones that went to the early dinner- haha but overall, it was usually always busy. The food was ok- not fantastic but still had some really good entrees. I ate steak alot because the menu was not very diverse but it was still good. The food was never hot but I never had to bring it back to the kitchen to heat it back up. The wine list was really extensive and had some good choices and the sommielier was a help. The cafe' up on deck on 14 was good. There was the same food there during lunch and all, but there is sushi offered during dinner times, which was very good!We never went to any specialty restaraunts but from what I heard- you should make reservations ahead of time because it can be hard to get a table once you are on the ship. Nightlife: There was a lot of younger kids on the ship- which really suprised me. The Kids Club was usually busy- you would see them all walking around together at various times during the day. The Kids Club is closed while in port however- so sometimes the kids could be a little out of hand. The 18 and up crowd usually partied at Quasar, which was the resident club on the ship. It usually didnt get busy until about 12 and would stay open until the wee hours. Also the Martini bar is a hangout for younger adults to mid 30s and the Sky Lounge was so much fun. I really reccomend the Karaoke nights and the bands are SENSATIONAL. Disembarkation: We were literally the 2nd family off the ship and were fortunate enough to grab a taxi. All the luggage is stored according to the tags you are given at departure so it was not too hard finding them. There are only about 20 cabs in all of Civitavecchia so you need to get a hold of one as soon as you get off the ship or try and find someone to share rides with. Celebrity charges 90 a person for an airport transfer-which is RIDICULOUS..we got lucky and only payed around 180 euros to get to the airport and Rome- and that was for four people. So if you are with a family- def recomment a cab. if you are just 1 or 2 people- id suck it up and pay the transport fee because its the same price as the taxi- and at least your guaranteed
great balcony! in the back- so there is less movement than in the front. very spacious- the bathrooms are so much bigger than on any other cruise line
ABSOLUTELY BREATHTAKING! We stayed in fira. I would recommend taking the donkeys up- the line is not as long for them and the tram can sometimes break. It is 5 euro to take them up and it takes about 30 minutes to reach the top. The trip up is absolutely hysterical. I got very unlucky with a donkey I named Clutz- because he tripped and fell flat on his stomach- while I was riding him. The men that run the Donkey trail up are very persistent in getting the donkeys up in a timely manner- so slips and trips can be expected. I would not recommend taking them down- take the tram. Donkeys are ALOT more likely to trip and fall- not to mention there are stampedes of donkeys coming back down at all times. and they do not watch out for you- they will RUN YOU OVER..
The shops are so cute and you can find many different tourist items. Most shop keepers do speak english and love to help you around as much as possible. My mother and sister reccomend finding a place to eat where you can sit clifeside and see the town. It is very much worth it
Mykonos is beautiful- much like Santorini. However, there is no hill. haha it is 10 dollars to take unlimited transport to and from the ship. otherwise it is a 45 minute walk from the port- into town. Mykonos is much like Santorini with the blue and white houses and roofs- go see the windmills- there are beautiful and very well known in Mykonos. There was a sidewalk cafe right near a beach and we had lunch- it was very nice! We did not stay there long- unless you like to wander aimlessly- there is not much to do in the town besides shop and eat some greek food- but overall it is beautiful
one of the most interesting ports of call I have ever been to. There are over 20 million people in Istanbul alone. We took a cab ride into the city- which was much like Mr Toads Wild Ride. The turks certainly know how to drive- weaving in and out of traffic- abrupt starts and stops and constantly waving and yelling at other cab drivers in order to get ahead. Our cab driver did not speak much english but enough to get buy. they ALL know somebody who owns a carpet store and will prob try and get you to go buy there shop to give u a "good deal"-
Went to topaki palace and it was very beautiful- go early morning before the heat- because in the palace it smells like body odor. there is no air conditioning the palace so you can imagine the odor that can arise after a certain amount of time. the jewels are exquisite. it is an extra 15 euro to see the harrah and where the unics lived- so be prepared to pay if you want to see their quarters. topaki palace takes ONLY LIRA!!!! most of the time in turkey- they will take the lira, euro, or the dollar- but not at the palace. make sure u exchange money before getting there- or you will be in a much longer line than neccessary.
the Blue mosque is also very interesting. your shoulders must be covered and shoes taken off- head covering is not required unless you are islam and stay in the visitors area which is around the back of the blue mosque- there are men that will guide you to it.
the grand bazzar was HUGE- you could get lost in there easily- so make sure to keep track of where you are. shopkeepers will CONSTANTLY talk to u to get to buy things- dont make eye contact with them or you will be stopped. ALWAYS ALWAYS bargain with them- they purposely make the prices much higher than should be and will take lira, euro or the dollar. pay attention to the prices!
we ate a place called cafe devine- it was the best food I have ever had in my life!!! we had turkish tea to compliment the tea- I would reccomend the apple tea- it is so good. I would reccomend a lamb dish because meat is a speciality there
We took a tour to Ephesus and it was a bout a 30 minute bus ride from Kusadasi- very very hilly. we booked tours through turaturizm and i would highly recommend them. the guide was very knoledgable and the tour only lasted about 3 hours which was nice. go in the morning- the heat can be pretty intense and bring water! there is a complimentary carpet showing at the end of the tour as well.
I would recommen going to a carpet showing you have never gone before- it is pretty interesting and tea is served at every showing. if you have been to one before- than your not missing out on much. most viewings are the same.
Ephesus is beautiful and there is alot to see and talk about. there are plaques along most of the buildings so you can go with out a tour- it would prob take less time but it is interesting to hear extra details the guide will tell u. and the air conditioned bus is def a plus too. most turks do not seem to use air conditioning in their car- they prefer the window.
Kusadasi has a beach which is not far from the port if you are looking for a beach day- there is a mini grand bazzar as they call it and the salesmen are 10 times more aggressive than in Istanbul. They make most of there money off tourist in Kusadasi because ships only come here in the summer- so be prepared to be talked too..
we pull into Piraeus which is attached to athens. you can take a cab or a bus into athens to to go the Plaka. We took a tour to the Acropolis which is a must see. Go as early as you can- the line is RIDICULOUS around 12. it took us almost 30 minutes just to get down from the Acropolis with all the people leaving. We did take a tour and booked through Celebrity and had an air conditioned bus as well. We also stopped by where the Olympic Games were held and stopped in the Plaka for some additional shopping. If you have been to the Plaka before, I would not suggest getting off the bus. You have to take your own personal transportation back and Athens traffic can take 45 minutes to an hour to get back to the port of Piraeus- but its ultimately up to you.
Athen is HUGE and I had no idea- but it is soo pretty. the people are very friendly and will help you if they can. It helps to know a few phrases in Greek though- just in case
make sure in Naples- you do not just stay in Naples. It is a dirty town with not much to do. we didnt know that when we went. we literally walked around for about 30 minutes and gave up. I would reccomend taking a tour on this port unless you want to do it yourself. Go to the amalfi coast or sardinia for sure!
and EAT SOME PIZZA- it was made here of course!