It's been almost 2 months since our return from the fabulous Celebrity Solstice tour around the eastern Med, but the memories are still strong and will be for some time to come. This being our 1st ever cruise we were somewhat apprehensive - will cruising be for us? will we be bored ? will we suffer 'mal de mare ? Flying out to Rome the same day as departure, would we get to the ship on time ?? All worries that went through my head for months before the big day.
So yes, of course we arrived at Civitaveccia in good time thanks to the pre-booked ships transfers, check-in was fast and efficient, we were on board and found our cabin with 30 minutes of arrival at the port. Our cabin which was spotless, comfortable and spacious with a good view out to sea (Deck 7), provided you didnt look down only to see the tops of the orange life boats. Next thing on the agenda was to find something to eat and drink - so we headed up to the Oceanview Grille and was greeted with a smiling face offering cocktails - lovely I thought, only to discover we were then signing the receipt for $9 each, but hey it tasted good and you did get to keep the glasses ! Found a table and went in search of lunch. There were numourous food stations with just about EVERYTHING you could wish for, all nicely presented, hot and tasty. Once fed and watered we returned to our cabin and our luggage was waiting for us outside, also, coincidently was our steward waiting to introduce himself. We instantly made friends with him and he kept us clean and tidy for the rest of the 12 days, bringing us everything we asked for including regular ice bucket replenishment and fresh lemons for my gin !
Before we knew it it was time to head up to the Sunset bar for sailaway.... and from then on we felt completely at home throughout the ship.
We had 2nd sitting for dinner in the main restaurant and our waiters Lazaro and Carlos, tended to our every need, with recommendations thrown in for good measure. They instantly became best pals with our 12 year old son. Again food here was wonderful and could not be faulted at any time. We ate here most nights, but did experience Tuscan Grille on one occasion. In truth I think I preferred the Grand Epernay, the food at TG was good, but it was the only place on the ship where any ship movement could be felt - which un-nerved our son a little.
1st day at sea and we chilled out around the pool. Yes it was busy and the pools small for the number of passengers, but we wandered between the loungers and the pool bar, and explored the ship some more and the time flew by.
Ports of Call - well the review is about the ship, so surfice to say that all the ports of call were great. We took no organised ships tours and did all DIY thanks to the heaps of research I had done before departure. Everything went according to plan. We saw everything we intended on seeing at a fraction of the cost by means of public transport.
One day in Kusadasi we moored alongside Equinox - there was a great party atmosphere going on with the crew, who were meeting up with colleagues not seen for some while, then when we left, the ships were saluting each other with much siren blowing and waving - it was quite an experience.
Ships Entertainment - we saw two shows, both excellent, didnt do the Quasar thing, not quite my 12 year olds scene ! My partner frequented the Casino for a brief time most nights - but we wont be booking our next cruise on his winnings !! The midnight buffet held one night in the Sky Lounge was a bit of a crush - we only went to see what was on offer, not that we could eat very much more, but it seemed the whole ship was present.
I enjoyed a massage and facial in the spa, which was one of the special offers advertised in the 'dailies'. It was good, but of course was subject to some degree of hard sell for the products. I told the lovely Philippino lady that my partner had paid for my treatment so I had better not spend any more of his money - to which she then left me alone !
Before we knew it our time had come to an end. We had an early flight (10.50am) and so therefore was aware we would be one of the first off - however I think our 6.15 disembarkation was a little too early since we found ourselves at the airport a good hour before the check-in opened.
So this was our 1st experience of cruising. A fantastic ship, with fantastic crew and fantastic ports... will we go again ?? ... you betcha !!
Cabin was fine, clean and spacious even with 3 in the room - had a pullman which made it a little crampt when this was down. Balcony a bonus, bathroom couldnt be faulted. All just lovely
Lovely place full of little maze type streets. Bus tender to the town not really a problem, wouldnt like to have walked it. REALLY WINDY although you wouldnt have known it on the ship
Magical place - done alot of research prior to trip so was able to DIY - all went according to plan - saw all the major sites, but would still go back at the drop of a hat !
Had done Ephesus before so decided to have a beach day - having done prior research we knew to get a dolmus (mini bus) for the 10 minute drive to a local beach - chill out in the sea, have a beer and a bite in a beach bar, then make our way back to port and a spot of shopping.
Have stayed in Rhodes before - knew where to go and how to get there - decided to take a taxi 15 mins ride to the water park, then returned to old town for an hour or two.
More DIY research took us by from ship to train station then on to Acropolis - took us a while wandering around before we found it (yes hard to believe I know !) - slow wander back via Plaka and back to ship - all cheaper than ships tours.