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Having completed 6 previous cruises mostly with Cunard, we chose the Celebrity Solstice on recommendation. Embarkation Embarkation at Fort Lauderdale was long and tiresome as we had to wait 2 hours after being herded in a seating area before being allowed to board. This was in order for US customs to check the ship and crew which we were told was routine for ships coming into America after months sailing Europe. Just a shame we were not forewarned. Pre-Cruise Hotel The overnight stay in the pre cruise Hilton Hotel was exceptional, the room was clean and recently refurbished with a large flat screen interaction TV and great balcony views of the yachts. First Impressions First impressions were promising, the Solstice being a clean nearly new ship with impressive modern features. Ship Experience It was only after getting settled that you realised that the impressive modern look of the ship masked serious fundamental flaws. The modern bars and casual lounges were poorly designed with seating that looked impressive but gave a less than comfortable feel. We got the feeling of always being on show in the bars and lounges as there were few nooks and niches to relax. The bar servers looked sullen and table service took longer than you would have expected. There weren't the usual relaxation areas inside the ship to sit which led us to stay in our cabin over prolonged periods. The Bingo Experience I'm not a bingo player but when in Rome... The ticket pack for the 2 of us was very expensive, $60! The prize money was relatively low. Poor value and best avoided in my opinion. We paid the extra and booked the speciality restaurants throughout the cruise after reading poor reviews about the main dining restaurant. The Buffet Area There was a good variety of foods served here from salads to burgers and something for everyone. However we and others found the English style breakfast items cold and only cold plates were available to use. Poor Buffet Opening Times One major complaint was the buffet closing after 1am. If your hungry for a late night snack it's not easy ordering from the only available food source, your room service, especially when your wife is asleep in bed! Tuscan Grill Food quality was inconsistent, we pre-booked Tuscan on 4 nights. You would have thought the Tuscan staff would remember us but not a bit of it, after tipping well throughout, on the last night we were shown the worst table in the restaurant, in a corner next to the kitchen door which kept opening and closing. To make matters worse this was the last formal night with my wife dressed up to the nines facing the wall as if she were some naughty school girl. Afternoon Tea This was held during the afternoon in the Tuscan Grill and was a complete and utter shambles. The staff clearly had no idea how to serve afternoon tea which is a predominantly English affair. Even though there were more staff than guests, we and other guests were constantly ignored. We only managed to get one small cake and sandwich throughout the experience while staff walked round with full platters of which they seemed to have no inclination to empty. Murano Our impression was of an overrated pretentious service. When we asked the sommelier to help choose a wine for us he took it upon himself to open a £150 dollar bottle of wine without first checking, presumably to maximise his 15% beverage gratuity on our bill. We only learnt the true cost of the wine when it came to pay the bill which we paid reluctantly to avoid embarrassment. This ruined our cruise experience Silk Harvest Reasonable Asian cuisine but with poor overbearing table service. Bistro on 5 This was by far the best experience for us at the least extra cost (an extra $5 dollars per person). The food was fresh and exciting with a good menu with plenty of salads and crepes. Service was exceptionally friendly throughout. I would wholly recommend this restaurant. Deck Grill Serves burgers, hot dogs and chips. These were of good quality. Try the onion rings in beer batter which were exceptional State Room The Stateroom was a good size, well thought out bathroom and private glass/perspex balcony. Good large flat screen TV with swivel arm allowing bedtime viewing. The interactive service was exceptional allowing up to date viewing of our on board costs. There were a host of free newly released films to watch as well as videos of the bookable excursions. In Cabin Breakfast Service We liked our breakfast food delivered so we could eat first thing on our balcony. Food was always delivered hot and then followed by a phone call an hour or so later from the kitchen to check everything was all right, top marks for this service 10/10. Disembarking Took over an hour, quite tiresome and not well directed. On Board Advice, Tips & Excursions If you don't want to pay the daily $12 dollars a head automatic cabin gratuity, ask guest services to remove this from your bill. Many seasoned cruise travellers do this to focus on those providing exceptional service. In my experience, paying your cabin steward a little in advance with the rest at the end will ensure attentive service throughout. Our cabin steward was exceptional. Try ordering breakfast in bed from the breakfast menu in your cabin and then sit eating it on your balcony. You can order as many breakfast items as you wish but spare a thought for the poor steward who has to carry the tray down. Those Virgin Trans Atlantic flights are tiresome especially if your economy seating, I'm no bulky person but the seats are extremely narrow with little leg room for tall persons. Extra leg room is worth the extra cost or better still, premium economy provide more comfortable seating. You can save money by just getting off ship and doing your own thing. This proved easy for us to do, we were soon walking around the more interesting parts of the port town of Porto Rico. By asking which were the safest taxis to use, for a few dollars, we were relaxing on the best and quietest beaches on St Kitts and St Martin.  

The Celebrity Solstice - A Fine Ship With Fundamental Flaws

Celebrity Solstice Cruise Review by Basil_100

Trip Details
Having completed 6 previous cruises mostly with Cunard, we chose the Celebrity Solstice on recommendation.
Embarkation
Embarkation at Fort Lauderdale was long and tiresome as we had to wait 2 hours after being herded in a seating area before being allowed to board. This was in order for US customs to check the ship and crew which we were told was routine for ships coming into America after months sailing Europe. Just a shame we were not forewarned.
Pre-Cruise Hotel
The overnight stay in the pre cruise Hilton Hotel was exceptional, the room was clean and recently refurbished with a large flat screen interaction TV and great balcony views of the yachts.
First Impressions
First impressions were promising, the Solstice being a clean nearly new ship with impressive modern features.
Ship Experience
It was only after getting settled that you realised that the impressive modern look of the ship masked serious fundamental flaws. The modern bars and casual lounges were poorly designed with seating that looked impressive but gave a less than comfortable feel. We got the feeling of always being on show in the bars and lounges as there were few nooks and niches to relax. The bar servers looked sullen and table service took longer than you would have expected. There weren't the usual relaxation areas inside the ship to sit which led us to stay in our cabin over prolonged periods.
The Bingo Experience
I'm not a bingo player but when in Rome... The ticket pack for the 2 of us was very expensive, $60! The prize money was relatively low. Poor value and best avoided in my opinion.
We paid the extra and booked the speciality restaurants throughout the cruise after reading poor reviews about the main dining restaurant.
The Buffet Area
There was a good variety of foods served here from salads to burgers and something for everyone. However we and others found the English style breakfast items cold and only cold plates were available to use.
Poor Buffet Opening Times
One major complaint was the buffet closing after 1am. If your hungry for a late night snack it's not easy ordering from the only available food source, your room service, especially when your wife is asleep in bed!
Tuscan Grill
Food quality was inconsistent, we pre-booked Tuscan on 4 nights. You would have thought the Tuscan staff would remember us but not a bit of it, after tipping well throughout, on the last night we were shown the worst table in the restaurant, in a corner next to the kitchen door which kept opening and closing. To make matters worse this was the last formal night with my wife dressed up to the nines facing the wall as if she were some naughty school girl.
Afternoon Tea
This was held during the afternoon in the Tuscan Grill and was a complete and utter shambles.
The staff clearly had no idea how to serve afternoon tea which is a predominantly English affair. Even though there were more staff than guests, we and other guests were constantly ignored. We only managed to get one small cake and sandwich throughout the experience while staff walked round with full platters of which they seemed to have no inclination to empty.
Murano
Our impression was of an overrated pretentious service. When we asked the sommelier to help choose a wine for us he took it upon himself to open a £150 dollar bottle of wine without first checking, presumably to maximise his 15% beverage gratuity on our bill. We only learnt the true cost of the wine when it came to pay the bill which we paid reluctantly to avoid embarrassment. This ruined our cruise experience
Silk Harvest
Reasonable Asian cuisine but with poor overbearing table service.
Bistro on 5
This was by far the best experience for us at the least extra cost (an extra $5 dollars per person). The food was fresh and exciting with a good menu with plenty of salads and crepes. Service was exceptionally friendly throughout. I would wholly recommend this restaurant.
Deck Grill
Serves burgers, hot dogs and chips. These were of good quality. Try the onion rings in beer batter which were exceptional
State Room
The Stateroom was a good size, well thought out bathroom and private glass/perspex balcony. Good large flat screen TV with swivel arm allowing bedtime viewing. The interactive service was exceptional allowing up to date viewing of our on board costs. There were a host of free newly released films to watch as well as videos of the bookable excursions.
In Cabin Breakfast Service
We liked our breakfast food delivered so we could eat first thing on our balcony. Food was always delivered hot and then followed by a phone call an hour or so later from the kitchen to check everything was all right, top marks for this service 10/10.
Disembarking
Took over an hour, quite tiresome and not well directed.
On Board Advice, Tips & Excursions If you don't want to pay the daily $12 dollars a head automatic cabin gratuity, ask guest services to remove this from your bill. Many seasoned cruise travellers do this to focus on those providing exceptional service.
In my experience, paying your cabin steward a little in advance with the rest at the end will ensure attentive service throughout. Our cabin steward was exceptional.
Try ordering breakfast in bed from the breakfast menu in your cabin and then sit eating it on your balcony. You can order as many breakfast items as you wish but spare a thought for the poor steward who has to carry the tray down. Those Virgin Trans Atlantic flights are tiresome especially if your economy seating, I'm no bulky person but the seats are extremely narrow with little leg room for tall persons. Extra leg room is worth the extra cost or better still, premium economy provide more comfortable seating.
You can save money by just getting off ship and doing your own thing. This proved easy for us to do, we were soon walking around the more interesting parts of the port town of Porto Rico. By asking which were the safest taxis to use, for a few dollars, we were relaxing on the best and quietest beaches on St Kitts and St Martin.
 
Basil_100’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
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Cabin Review

Cabin 1070
1070 is a great outside balcony cabin, quiet and located mid-ship with a good clean private full view balcony.
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews