We thoroughly enjoyed our cruise. All our Celebrity Solstice employees went over and above to make our trip a good one without exception. We were on the 7th floor with a balcony room which was very comfortable.
We did not book any excursions with the ship which turned out just fine. In Messina, we walked past all of the taxi drivers and thought we might want to take the open double decker bus for a look at Messina. While walking through the square, we met Mario Astone, who turned out to be our favorite guide on the whole cruise. He had a van for six (the number in our group) and drove us up to Taormina in 30-40 minutes. We loved Taormina and our trip there with Mario who was so much fun. He dropped us off at the gates and askedus when we wanted him to take us back to Messina. We walked a few streets of Taormina and then went to the ancient ampi-theatre, which was cool and had great views. On the way back, Mario took us to a few "Wow spots" for cool pictures. We had a great day.
In Mykonos and Rhodes, we walked through town and headed to the beach (via local bus in Mykonos). In Rhodes we walked (20 mins or so) and had a good time.
In Athens, we took the local train to the Acropolis which was easy and clean (and cheap.
Ephesus was the only spot in which you need a private guide or to sign up for the ship excursion (if you don't mind big groups). The cost for a private guide for six was about the same as the ship excursion cost.
On Santorini, we loved Oia. After looking around the town, we found a cool pool bar where we spent the afternoon. All we had to do was pay for food or drinks and the swimming and shade umbrellas were free. This was a super spot on east side with a beautiful sea view. The local bus to Oia and back to Fira was crowded. Leave enough time to get back and down the hill without taking the trail down.
Getting to and from Rome to the port, we didn't have that much luggage (2 roller bags each) and opted to take the local train. We have traveled in Italy before and find the local trains interesting,and much less expensive. From Rome to the port, it costs 4.50 Euro apiece. A money belt or secure place for valuables is a good ideas whenever on a local train in Rome or Naples. Getting to the airport on the morning of disembarkation was easy. We bought tickets at 8 Am at Civitavecchia train station after walking off the ship around 7:40. We were checked in at the airport and already to the gate by 10:30 Am (which included a 20-min transfer in Trastevere .. 1 stop after St Peters and 2 stops before the Termini in Rome).
Good Cruise!! Celbrity Solstice manages everything carefully to ensure great service and efficient getting on and off the ship. They also have plenty of hand sanitizer thus making it a healthier cruise.