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My husband and I booked the cruise with Celebrity after several referrals from friends who have sailed with them before, one of whom sailed almost the same itinerary on a different ship last year. We booked the cruise for our honeymoon! This was only my 2nd cruise and my husband's 1st and he advised me that I had set the bar high by taking him on the Solstice! We are both 29 years old, and I would say two of what seemed like 20 people on the ship that were under 30 and weren't traveling with their parents ;) I thought this was great though, as I was certainly not looking for a party cruise and we met a lot of very nice people with a wealth of knowledge on the subject of marriage! We flew into Rome a few days before the cruise and checked into the Best Western Art Deco hotel on via Palestro close to the Roma Termini. This hotel was recommended to me by my travel agent and was quite excellent. Clean, safe, in a great location to see the sights, it had towel warmers, free wi-fi and included breakfast. Rome is a beautiful city and we saw as many sights as possible in the two days we had. A small suggestion: if you are buying souvenirs (as I did outside the Colosseum), HAGGLE with the guy or you'll end up paying 36 Euros for a medium-sized plaster statue of Venus like I did :) Ah well, we learn as we go, yes? We decided to take the train from the airport to the Termini (the train station is inside the airport), and also from the Termini to the port of Civitavecchia (CHEE-VEE-TA-VEK-EEE-AH). It was very inexpensive - I think it cost 9.10 Euros total for both of us to get to Civitavecchia, which was about an hour away from the Termini. Once at the pier, the embarkation process was very fast; we arrived at about 4pm and the ship was scheduled to sail at 6 and we were the only people embarking at that moment and I'd be surprised if it took more than 5 minutes before we were walking up the gangway! The Solstice is a beautiful ship; it is very clean and the decor is visually stimulating. The Lawn Club on the top deck was very nice; for someone like myself who is still trying to get accustomed to not seeing any land for lengthy periods of time, it is helpful to walk barefoot in some grass to get you through the sea days :) I did not watch the glass blowing show, as I have seen similar shows before in life in Venice as well as crystal blowing in Halifax. My husband watched one and said it was very interesting. I thought the service was excellent on the Solstice; everyone was always very willing to help and we always felt welcome wherever we went. I must say I was a little put off by some of the reviews I had read before leaving. I had already booked the cruise and so you can imagine my concern when I read about how Celebrity's service has gone downhill, and how some people would never sail with them again blah blah...well perhaps these people should sail exclusively with Cunard from now on, because I'm not sure what all the fuss was about! The only thing that we had a "problem" with, was that I had pre-booked a romance day package, which was to include special breakfast in the stateroom, a bottle of champagne and chocolate covered strawberries, special robes and slippers and a reservation at one of the specialty restaurants as well as rose petals on the bed at turn-down (hee hee). The only thing they do not mention, is that you need to specify to your stateroom attendant if you want the breakfast ON the romance package day, or the following morning as you have to fill out a special breakfast card the night before. I can tell you, that little detail did not ruin my cruise :) It just seemed as though many of the older passengers had nothing good to say about anything, and as a result, the cruise line's reputation suffered. Most of the people on board were happy though! We ate in the Grand Eparnay dining room every night except for three nights where we had reservations for specialty restaurants. I am a very picky eater and I must say that I was very happy with the meal choices. They have what I like to call the "Safety Menu" available every night, with items like Caesar salad, french onion soup, NY strip steak, glazed herb chicken & mashed, creme brulEe and NY cheesecake etc. for the nights where you weren't feeling adventurous. Otherwise one could expect to see oysters, lamb, frog's legs, filet mignon, lobster ravioli, veal, venison etc etc...the right side of the menu was different every night. Other restaurants and bars we frequented, were the sunset bar at the back of the boat - great views! Bistro on Five was totally worth the 5 dollar a person cover charge (drinks extra of course) as their crepes were AMAZING! I couldn't get past the "Italian", it's the only one I tried as it was so good! Crepe filled with bananas and topped with a squeezed pattern of nutella and crushed green pistachios with whipped cream and raspberry sauce on the side...to die for! We tried the Martini Bar once and I really wish we went more often as the flair-bartending was amazing and the martinis were excellent (I had the French, it's my favourite :)), but there is SO MUCH to do and see on the ship I feel like we will have to sail on the Solstice again, perhaps for our two year anniversary as it will be in the Caribbean as of this spring for 3 or 4 years one of the crew members was telling me. We also went to the Sky bar a couple of times for events that were occurring there (late night dessert buffet etc.) and it was very nice, right at the front of the ship. We spent many late mornings/early afternoons in Cafe al Bacio, as my husband is a coffee person and he really loved their cappuccinos. I would have caffe lattes or darjeeling tea and chocolate chip cookies (I may have a sweet tooth). We also had drinks in the Ensemble lounge while waiting for dinner reservations. The Oceanview Cafe (buffet) was excellent. They had your usual pizza etc. but you could also make your own fajitas and there was an "Indian Curries" section. I can't speak for their dinner selection as we were always in the Grand Eparnay or a specialty restaurant. We went to the Mast Bar once for lunch and had burgers and hot dogs with onion rings and fries as it was nice and sunny outside that day. We tried two of the specialty restaurants, the Tuscan Grill and Murano. We went to Murano twice it was so good! I found the specialty restaurants pricey ($55 per person extra for Tuscan and $65 per person extra for Murano) compared to other cruises (as advised by my parents), but they were very nice and QUIET and relaxing. If you end up with a bottle of wine, as we did often, you could end up spending over $200 extra with tip for your meal. The food at Murano is considered "French Contemporary", and the meat was a much better quality than what you get in the Grand Eparnay...not that you notice at all until you can compare! I had filet mignon as well as lobster, and considering I don't eat seafood (I was trying to be adventurous) it was very tasty! You also get sorbet to cleanse your pallet before your entree, so if you are more accustomed to fine dining, then Murano will find you in familiar territory. Tuscan Grill was also excellent, again the meat was much more tender and that night was after the martini bar if I recall, and I couldn't decide between steak or spaghetti and so I got both :| (yes, you can order more than one entree if you like)...I have actually never been that full in my life and learned my lesson! They also had an excellent dark chocolate fondue for dessert with fruits and marshmallows etc. Other services/activities we participated in: my husband played in a couple of Hold 'Em tournaments (video poker though) and won one of them. I shopped a little bit; the boutiques are pricey and the shops were more mainstream. They often had "sidewalk sales" with various things, watches, pashminas etc. I had my first hot stone massage in the Aqua Spa - FANTASTIC! I think I've formed a new habit with that one. We did not attend any of the nightly shows unfortunately...as it was our honeymoon we really treasured spending time outside on the decks with cocktails during the evenings, or even playing cribbage in the card room. We heard from people who sat around us at dinner that the shows were quite good. Our stateroom was lovely, WAY bigger than the one I stayed in on the Pride of Aloha on NCL back in 2007 (which is more of what you expect on a cruise ship - tiny rooms). Plenty of space, with a nice couch and flat screen TV, the veranda was just lovely with a constant view of the sapphire waters of the Mediterranean and prime views of coming into and leaving ports. The bathroom was great as well, lots of drawers and it was always warm. The beds were very comfortable - I slept like a log. I found I spent a reasonable amount of time in the stateroom as I did not feel cramped at all (doing my nails, watching the History Channel etc.). There was only one half-day from Athens to Naples where it was rough and I found myself in bed for 5 or 6 hours during the day as I was quite ill (even after taking gravol and buying sea bands), but luckily by dinner I was okay. All in all a fantastic trip of a lifetime! I would definitely recommend it to anyone; the Mediterranean is a beautiful area full of ancient history and rich culture and Celebrity made it a most memorable honeymoon for us :)

The time of our lives!

Celebrity Solstice Cruise Review by Delilah11

Trip Details
My husband and I booked the cruise with Celebrity after several referrals from friends who have sailed with them before, one of whom sailed almost the same itinerary on a different ship last year. We booked the cruise for our honeymoon! This was only my 2nd cruise and my husband's 1st and he advised me that I had set the bar high by taking him on the Solstice!
We are both 29 years old, and I would say two of what seemed like 20 people on the ship that were under 30 and weren't traveling with their parents ;) I thought this was great though, as I was certainly not looking for a party cruise and we met a lot of very nice people with a wealth of knowledge on the subject of marriage!
We flew into Rome a few days before the cruise and checked into the Best Western Art Deco hotel on via Palestro close to the Roma Termini. This hotel was recommended to me by my travel agent and was quite excellent. Clean, safe, in a great location to see the sights, it had towel warmers, free wi-fi and included breakfast. Rome is a beautiful city and we saw as many sights as possible in the two days we had. A small suggestion: if you are buying souvenirs (as I did outside the Colosseum), HAGGLE with the guy or you'll end up paying 36 Euros for a medium-sized plaster statue of Venus like I did :) Ah well, we learn as we go, yes?
We decided to take the train from the airport to the Termini (the train station is inside the airport), and also from the Termini to the port of Civitavecchia (CHEE-VEE-TA-VEK-EEE-AH). It was very inexpensive - I think it cost 9.10 Euros total for both of us to get to Civitavecchia, which was about an hour away from the Termini.
Once at the pier, the embarkation process was very fast; we arrived at about 4pm and the ship was scheduled to sail at 6 and we were the only people embarking at that moment and I'd be surprised if it took more than 5 minutes before we were walking up the gangway!
The Solstice is a beautiful ship; it is very clean and the decor is visually stimulating. The Lawn Club on the top deck was very nice; for someone like myself who is still trying to get accustomed to not seeing any land for lengthy periods of time, it is helpful to walk barefoot in some grass to get you through the sea days :) I did not watch the glass blowing show, as I have seen similar shows before in life in Venice as well as crystal blowing in Halifax. My husband watched one and said it was very interesting.
I thought the service was excellent on the Solstice; everyone was always very willing to help and we always felt welcome wherever we went. I must say I was a little put off by some of the reviews I had read before leaving. I had already booked the cruise and so you can imagine my concern when I read about how Celebrity's service has gone downhill, and how some people would never sail with them again blah blah...well perhaps these people should sail exclusively with Cunard from now on, because I'm not sure what all the fuss was about! The only thing that we had a "problem" with, was that I had pre-booked a romance day package, which was to include special breakfast in the stateroom, a bottle of champagne and chocolate covered strawberries, special robes and slippers and a reservation at one of the specialty restaurants as well as rose petals on the bed at turn-down (hee hee). The only thing they do not mention, is that you need to specify to your stateroom attendant if you want the breakfast ON the romance package day, or the following morning as you have to fill out a special breakfast card the night before. I can tell you, that little detail did not ruin my cruise :) It just seemed as though many of the older passengers had nothing good to say about anything, and as a result, the cruise line's reputation suffered. Most of the people on board were happy though!
We ate in the Grand Eparnay dining room every night except for three nights where we had reservations for specialty restaurants. I am a very picky eater and I must say that I was very happy with the meal choices. They have what I like to call the "Safety Menu" available every night, with items like Caesar salad, french onion soup, NY strip steak, glazed herb chicken & mashed, creme brulEe and NY cheesecake etc. for the nights where you weren't feeling adventurous. Otherwise one could expect to see oysters, lamb, frog's legs, filet mignon, lobster ravioli, veal, venison etc etc...the right side of the menu was different every night.
Other restaurants and bars we frequented, were the sunset bar at the back of the boat - great views! Bistro on Five was totally worth the 5 dollar a person cover charge (drinks extra of course) as their crepes were AMAZING! I couldn't get past the "Italian", it's the only one I tried as it was so good! Crepe filled with bananas and topped with a squeezed pattern of nutella and crushed green pistachios with whipped cream and raspberry sauce on the side...to die for! We tried the Martini Bar once and I really wish we went more often as the flair-bartending was amazing and the martinis were excellent (I had the French, it's my favourite :)), but there is SO MUCH to do and see on the ship I feel like we will have to sail on the Solstice again, perhaps for our two year anniversary as it will be in the Caribbean as of this spring for 3 or 4 years one of the crew members was telling me. We also went to the Sky bar a couple of times for events that were occurring there (late night dessert buffet etc.) and it was very nice, right at the front of the ship. We spent many late mornings/early afternoons in Cafe al Bacio, as my husband is a coffee person and he really loved their cappuccinos. I would have caffe lattes or darjeeling tea and chocolate chip cookies (I may have a sweet tooth). We also had drinks in the Ensemble lounge while waiting for dinner reservations. The Oceanview Cafe (buffet) was excellent. They had your usual pizza etc. but you could also make your own fajitas and there was an "Indian Curries" section. I can't speak for their dinner selection as we were always in the Grand Eparnay or a specialty restaurant. We went to the Mast Bar once for lunch and had burgers and hot dogs with onion rings and fries as it was nice and sunny outside that day.
We tried two of the specialty restaurants, the Tuscan Grill and Murano. We went to Murano twice it was so good! I found the specialty restaurants pricey ($55 per person extra for Tuscan and $65 per person extra for Murano) compared to other cruises (as advised by my parents), but they were very nice and QUIET and relaxing. If you end up with a bottle of wine, as we did often, you could end up spending over $200 extra with tip for your meal. The food at Murano is considered "French Contemporary", and the meat was a much better quality than what you get in the Grand Eparnay...not that you notice at all until you can compare! I had filet mignon as well as lobster, and considering I don't eat seafood (I was trying to be adventurous) it was very tasty! You also get sorbet to cleanse your pallet before your entree, so if you are more accustomed to fine dining, then Murano will find you in familiar territory. Tuscan Grill was also excellent, again the meat was much more tender and that night was after the martini bar if I recall, and I couldn't decide between steak or spaghetti and so I got both :| (yes, you can order more than one entree if you like)...I have actually never been that full in my life and learned my lesson! They also had an excellent dark chocolate fondue for dessert with fruits and marshmallows etc.
Other services/activities we participated in: my husband played in a couple of Hold 'Em tournaments (video poker though) and won one of them. I shopped a little bit; the boutiques are pricey and the shops were more mainstream. They often had "sidewalk sales" with various things, watches, pashminas etc. I had my first hot stone massage in the Aqua Spa - FANTASTIC! I think I've formed a new habit with that one. We did not attend any of the nightly shows unfortunately...as it was our honeymoon we really treasured spending time outside on the decks with cocktails during the evenings, or even playing cribbage in the card room. We heard from people who sat around us at dinner that the shows were quite good.
Our stateroom was lovely, WAY bigger than the one I stayed in on the Pride of Aloha on NCL back in 2007 (which is more of what you expect on a cruise ship - tiny rooms). Plenty of space, with a nice couch and flat screen TV, the veranda was just lovely with a constant view of the sapphire waters of the Mediterranean and prime views of coming into and leaving ports. The bathroom was great as well, lots of drawers and it was always warm. The beds were very comfortable - I slept like a log. I found I spent a reasonable amount of time in the stateroom as I did not feel cramped at all (doing my nails, watching the History Channel etc.). There was only one half-day from Athens to Naples where it was rough and I found myself in bed for 5 or 6 hours during the day as I was quite ill (even after taking gravol and buying sea bands), but luckily by dinner I was okay.
All in all a fantastic trip of a lifetime! I would definitely recommend it to anyone; the Mediterranean is a beautiful area full of ancient history and rich culture and Celebrity made it a most memorable honeymoon for us :)
Delilah11’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Cabin 8270
We stayed in cabin 8270, which was a bit further back of mid-ship. I thought this would be the best area for me, as I get seasick really easily and you don't get as much movement as at the front and back of the ship.

The room itself was very spacious and not just for a cruise ship stateroom, I would consider it spacious compared to many hotel rooms in Europe! There was plenty of storage for clothing and toiletries, and this is coming from a compulsive over-packer! The washroom was also more spacious than I expected, and decorated with warm colours and modern fixtures and of course the bar in the shower to rest your leg on while shaving - definitely a plus!

The mini bar was pretty standard, although they had quite a selection of vodkas! There is a hair dryer and a mini keyboard in the "desk" drawer, however, no irons are permitted on board nor do they supply them, so especially for formal nights, plan ahead and send your clothes to be pressed (bags are hanging in the closet).

The balcony/veranda was amazing and worth the extra cost to me. Perhaps you wouldn't normally spend much time in your stateroom, but I found ours so comfortable and inviting, and we even ordered room service a few times at the cost of meal options in order to enjoy our veranda.

I did find that a lot of people slammed their doors, but I don't imagine that was due to our cabin location specifically.

We were close enough to the elevators for convenience, but not so close to hear the chimes of their arrival.

We loved it and I would even go so far as to request that specific cabin again in the future.
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Athens (Piraeus)
    Athens is a very large city! Not so large as Istanbul, but definitely sprawled out into the countryside. There really aren't many tall modern buildings here, but that only makes the view of the Acropolis that much more spectacular. The tour we took here was "Taste of Athens". It was an alright tour for what it was; it was a bus tour around some of the major attractions of the city, but the main portion of the tour took us up to the Acropolis to see the Parthenon and one of the temples to Athena. The history of the buildings on the Acropolis was fascinating to me, but beware, that had to be one of the busiest if not THE busiest attraction we visited on the trip, second probably to the Sistine Chapel. Definitely worth the trek up though! You also get admission tickets to many of the other sights such as Hadrian's library and the Temple of Olympian Zeus etc. The tour overall was fairly short, which gave us about 4 hours of free time in Athens. We had lunch at a little restaurant where I had an authentic Greek salad with a BRICK of feta, I was so happy :)
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  • Istanbul
    Istanbul has a huge port; I loved watching us pull in here. We took the "Best of Istanbul Without Lunch" tour over two days. Our tour guide's name was Sayat and he was just awesome. A wealth of knowledge, he was able to answer any question. The carpet demonstration at the end of the second day was very informative. They did not pressure us at all unless you hung around afterward. We were interested in buying a small carpet to put on our wall, and my husband definitely had to haggle the man down to a reasonable price. It was kind of comical; the manager comes over a few times to say that it absolutely cannot be any lower than X price, they are punching madly into calculators to come up with figures and conversion rates, really though, look at the original price (generally in Turkish Lira) and have an idea of what you would be willing to pay (in Euros or US dollars) and just don't waiver from that. Last resort, start to walk away and they will quote a lower price. The grand bazaar is something to behold! To be honest, it is pretty overwhelming. We made it maybe 50 feet into the main corridor of the covered area and that was it. Bought a lovely pair of gold earrings though! If you are looking for jewelery, the grand bazaar was (in my opinion) the best place for it on the whole trip. Remember though, you must haggle! Another highlight for us were the doners (DOE-NAIRS); essentially it is a shwarma with lamb or chicken in a wrap with lettuce, tomato, onion, mayonnaise and in our case french fries (ha-ha). The meat is carved off of a turning spit. It is VERY tasty, but be sure to get it from a more popular looking place as the doner we shared in Kusadasi (the next port) made us sick (probably the mayo). Another highlight for me on this tour was the treasury area in Topkapi palace; there was an 86 carat diamond on display! Stunning!
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  • Kusadasi
    The port of Kusadasi is more tourist friendly than Istanbul, and the waterfront area is very nice, with a boardwalk along the water and ice cream/snack stands along the way. Across the street are restaurants with patios etc. I personally enjoyed Istanbul more, because I felt that I got a better sense of the Turkish culture there, whereas Kusadasi is a resort town. The tour we did here was "Ephesus, Didyma & Miletus with lunch" and it was a great tour. The ruins of Ephesus were wonderful, highlights being the Celsius library and the gate of Hercules, where your tour guide will tell you to stretch your arms out and touch each side as legend has it, this is supposed to give you the strength of Hercules. Didyma is where we stopped for a buffet lunch of local fare. The main course was fish (a whole fish, head and all) and alas I did not partake, but my husband ate the fish and really enjoyed it. We also saw the Temple of Apollo, which you could see from where we had lunch. We got to spend a fair amount of time there after lunch and it was quite amazing. What remains of the temple is absolutely enormous! Great photo opportunities there. Miletus was another set of ruins boasting a well preserved bath house; it was quite interesting, but if you take the Pompeii tour, which we did later on in the trip, you'll see a truly preserved bath house! I did not do much shopping here, as we had a shop-fest in Istanbul, but I did buy some of that delightful apple tea many of the shops serve you. It is really more like an apple cider, but sweeter - very tasty!
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  • Naples
    I think Naples was my favourite stop of all the ports, although we really didn't spend any time in Naples! I really enjoyed Italy so much! The tour we did was called "Exclusive Amalfi Coast, Positano, Sorrento and Pompeii with lunch" - amazing tour! There were only 14 of us on our bus, which was a smaller van-bus, so we were able to get into Positano, which would be impossible on a regular coach. Positano was so beautiful, you can tell instantly why Jackie O vacationed there frequently. Sorrento is also beautiful, and we had lunch in an historic hotel with a terrace overlooking the sea - just fantastic! Common souvenirs were anything to do with lemons :) limoncello, lemon soap, lemon taffy, lemon spread, lemon infused honey! There were also many nice kitchen textiles like table cloths and napkins and place mats, as well as colourful ceramics. Finally, Pompeii...words cannot describe! I have a degree in history, so as you can imagine I was in heaven! Just fascinating, the discoveries there and how intact a lot of the floor mosaics are, it is all so incredible. You really get a feeling more-so than any other ruins I have visited to date of how the ancient Romans lived and what their city really looked like. Definitely the highlight of the whole trip for me! Outside of Pompeii is a cameo factory, also very fascinating as I always thought cameos were carved from ivory! I bought my mother a nice one set in silver that has a pin to wear as a brooch as well as a loop to wear on a chain. Very beautiful pieces, and you can definitely haggle a bit here too.
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  • Santorini
    Beautiful place! We were tendered in, but be sure to get your tender ticket as early as possible. We thought we would wait out the crowd and we didn't get across until 2 hours after we docked and we were only there for 6 hours or so. We did not sign up for a shore excursion as it is so small, we were able to walk around to everything that we wanted to see, with the exception of making it to Oia to see the famous blue-roofed church as we just did not have the time to cab there an back. We took the donkey ride up, which I believe was 5 Euros per person (the funicular/cable car was 4 Euros per person + the longest line ever). The donkey ride isn't for the faint of heart, as they pretty much trot all the way up and you're there in 10 minutes! Also, watch your left leg as they love to hug the walls :) It was pretty fun though! We walked down ourselves, which took longer than 10 minutes, but saved my sanity by not having to wait in a huge line again (I hate lines!!). Santorini is just beautiful and after shopping a bit, we found a little terrace bistro where we had a beer and a coke and literally watched the sun dip down below the water. I found the price of jewelery there to be ridiculously expensive and so just stuck to evil eye bracelets etc :)
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