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Three couples, after two years of planning, departed on the Celebrity Solstice for a two week cruise from Sydney, Australia to Auckland, New Zealand (with stops in Melbourne, Hobart, Fiordlands, Dunedin, Akaroa, Wellington, Napier, and Bay of Islands). The entire experience was perfect. The ship is beautiful and well cared for, the food was uniformly very good to excellent (main dining room, buffet, and specialty restaurants), the entertainment highly professional, and the crew incredibly well versed in outstanding customer relations. While ship cabins are relatively small, Celebrity does an outstanding job of maximizing space. Both of us, despite a total of three weeks of traveling (having spent a week in Sydney prior to sailing), had adequate space for all our clothes. Particular credit goes to the designer of the bathroom -- there was adequate space for all of our toiletries. The ports of call were unique -- with each offering a new experience. We were able to balance natural beauty with history, sightseeing, culture, and some of the nicest people. What we didn't do, with one exception, is use the ship's shore excursions. While many of them looked appealing, we opted to pre-arrange private tours (for the six of us). Even though the cost was, in some instances, a bit pricier than the ship's prices, we preferred not having to travel in large groups in a big tour bus. While traveling by land affords more time to visit specific places (having a single day in each port requires selecting a limited number of options), but for a part of the world that we will, in all likelihood, not return to, this was the perfect way to have a taste.

Once in a Lifetime Experience

Celebrity Solstice Cruise Review by troylover

6 people found this helpful
Trip Details
Three couples, after two years of planning, departed on the Celebrity Solstice for a two week cruise from Sydney, Australia to Auckland, New Zealand (with stops in Melbourne, Hobart, Fiordlands, Dunedin, Akaroa, Wellington, Napier, and Bay of Islands). The entire experience was perfect. The ship is beautiful and well cared for, the food was uniformly very good to excellent (main dining room, buffet, and specialty restaurants), the entertainment highly professional, and the crew incredibly well versed in outstanding customer relations.

While ship cabins are relatively small, Celebrity does an outstanding job of maximizing space. Both of us, despite a total of three weeks of traveling (having spent a week in Sydney prior to sailing), had adequate space for all our clothes. Particular credit goes to the designer of the bathroom -- there was adequate space for all of our toiletries.

The ports of call were unique -- with each offering a new experience. We were able to balance natural beauty with history, sightseeing, culture, and some of the nicest people.

What we didn't do, with one exception, is use the ship's shore excursions. While many of them looked appealing, we opted to pre-arrange private tours (for the six of us). Even though the cost was, in some instances, a bit pricier than the ship's prices, we preferred not having to travel in large groups in a big tour bus.

While traveling by land affords more time to visit specific places (having a single day in each port requires selecting a limited number of options), but for a part of the world that we will, in all likelihood, not return to, this was the perfect way to have a taste.
troylover’s Full Rating Summary
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Dining
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Shore Excursions
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Cabin Review

Concierge Class
Cabin C1 1068
More than adequate in size with a reasonably sized veranda. There was ample storage space, a desk, and a couch for relaxing. The flatscreen TV worked very well. The bed and bedding were excellent -- more comfortable than many five star hotels. The shower had excellent water pressure and faucets that worked well.

The cabin was laid out in a functional manner with sufficient under-the-bed space to store luggage and avoid taking up floor space.

There was an easy-to-operate safe that allowed for the safekeeping of items (e.g., passport, iPad, etc.)
Resort Deck Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Akaroa
    After an effortless booking process with Doug (the owner) who helped develop our itinerary for the day, we were met by Wayne who spent a glorious day with us. Our day was spent enjoying the magical nature of Akaroa while always being educated about Maori Culture. The vistas of the ocean and of the farmlands are unique and some of the grandest sites we had ever seen. Working with Wayne, we spent as much (or little) time as we wanted and his guidance helped structure the day so we could balance seeing as much as possible with having sufficient time at each stop to fully enjoy it. Towards the end of the day, Wayne visited the Giants' House with us -- a one-of-a-kind experience that is difficult to describe. It is an artist's gift to the community with figures and pieces of art throughout the property made out of pottery and tiles. Truly, no description can do it justice -- but a must-visit if in Akaroa. As an aside, Akaroa is a newer port of call since the earthquake that devastated Christchurch several years ago -- but should continue being the area's port of call given it's scenic wonders.
    View All 12,622 Akaroa Cruise Port Reviews
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  • City Tour
    A relatively small city that is, in and of itself, only marginally interesting. Our brief tour did, however, afford us the opportunity to see the key settings in the city so as to provide us with an overview.
    View All 40 City Tour Reviews
  • Dunedin Train Station
    Beautiful building (exterior) that's worth a few minutes to appreciate and photograph. Unfortunately, tour buses are allowed to park in front so it's hit-or-miss whether or not you'll be able to get a good photograph (I was fortunate).
    View All 18 Dunedin Train Station Reviews
  • Larnach Castle
    The castle is interesting from a historic perspective offering a glimpse into a time and place that is unique to Dunedin. Some of the rooms have been refurbished and the time period recreated; others are less so. On our visit, the weather was poor with almost no visibility (which is a highlight, based on pictures, of a visit to the castle) and the rain made visiting the gardens impossible. This setting is worth a visit but it's not the "must-see" that literature about Dunedin makes it out to be.
    View All 28 Larnach Castle Reviews
  • Olveston House
    Visiting Olveston House was a last-minute addition to our tour for the day and proved to be the highlight. The house was willed to the city by the last surviving daughter of the builder of the home and included all furnishings, artifacts, etc. -- so this is an absolute time capsule view of the era the home was used by the family. It is in magnificent condition and affords the visitor, through an amazingly thorough one-hour tour, a sense of the family, the community, and the overall city. This is a must-see for anyone visiting Dunedin. A true gem.
    View All 11 Olveston House Reviews
  • Hobart
    During a full day with Paul (our guide) we had an overview of Hobart, a visit to Richmond Historic Village, Port Arthur Convict Village, and an opportunity to see some unbelievably stunning coastal scenery. Paul was very engaging and incredibly knowledgable -- always able to respond to our myriad questions. The tour was constructed through email discussions with Heather Henri (company owner) and was crafted to meet our interests within the time constraints of our time in port. An outstanding experience from booking to touring.
    View All 12,622 Hobart Cruise Port Reviews
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  • City Tour
    While this company provides no-cost fairly large group tours, we opted to contract with them for a private tour of the six of us traveling together. Lenny was our guide (we had booked through Justine (Operations Manager) and he provided us with a extensive four hour walk through the city. We learned the history, saw or visited an interesting cross-section of sites, and felt that while our time in Melbourne was limited to one day, we did and saw far more than we could have with a larger group experience. Whether one is content with a large group (and a cost-free experience) or the more individualized one (the cost was about 60AUD/person), this is an outstanding tour provider.
    View All 20 City Tour Reviews
  • Napier
    John, owner of Tailored Travel Hawkes Bay, developed a full-day tour and afforded us a magical day. We not only learned about the town (with a chance to walk around), but also the 1930s earthquake that resulted in the building of an Art Deco town. We were also able to visit a winery (and sample local wines), view some beautiful sites (both coastal and inland), and gain insight into the areas' history and culture. John was an engaging guide who ensured that we had as perfect an exposure to Napier that one can have in one day.
    View All 12,622 Napier Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Blue Mountains
    Comprehensive tour that gave us a thorough experience of the area with a focus on the scenic beauty. Unfortunately poor weather limited some of our activities but the guide did everything possible to ensure we had a positive experience.
    View All 27 Blue Mountains Reviews
  • City Tour
    A full day visiting specific Sydney neighborhoods, learning about the city and its history, and providing an outstanding overview that allowed us to visit specific sites that we wanted to see in more detail on our own.
    View All 20 City Tour Reviews
  • Harbor Bridge
    One of the most exciting and thrilling opportunities ever!!! It is not a difficult climb and they go to incredible pains to ensure that everyone is safe and well cared for. The guide for our group (groups are maxed out at 14) was amazing and providing detailed information about the bridge and Sydney that heightened (pun marginally intended) our experience. The views are stunning!! While pricey, it is a Sydney experience that should not be missed. Of note, they proudly state that they actually tour a 100 year old woman -- if she could do it, so can you.
    View All 4 Harbor Bridge Reviews
  • Sydney Opera House
    The building is beautiful (inside and out) and the tour was very interesting and informative. I view this as a must-do if in Sydney. My one complaint is that they severely limited photography in their two main venues (ostensibly because the stage materials were proprietary -- and yet one of the venues had nothing on the stage and the other had a simple screen. I suspect they would rather visitors purchase a book with the pictures. Nevertheless a fascinating opportunity to visit a cultural icon.
    View All 17 Sydney Opera House Reviews
  • Wellington
    A most unusual experience. We had been working with Mike the Guide for over a year and had developed a tour for the day that would afford us an overview of Wellington, a cable car ride and visit to the Botanical Gardens, a visit to Old St. Paul's Church and Parliament, an opportunity to view some of Wellington's magnificent coastline, and a stop at the Te Papa Museum. Less than two weeks prior to our trip, Mike had an injury that precluded his touring us -- but he arranged for a colleague (BJ of Black Car Tours) to care for us in his stead. While we were certainly disappointed that Mike was unable to guide us personally, we were incredibly pleased with BJ. He was most informative and engaging -- providing outstanding information about Wellington and the surrounding area. He ensured that despite a very full day, we were able to enjoy each of our stops. While we enjoyed everything we did, highlights were the Parliament Building (virtually no security), Old St. Paul's Church (no longer in use but a beautiful, simple building that has a special connection to U.S. Marines from WWII), and the Te Papa Museum with a stirring exhibit on Galipoli. Wellington is a beautiful city/environs and I could not recommend Miketheguide.com or Black Cars more.
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