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We finally had a window of time to travel to this part of the world. Our sixteen-night cruise was sandwiched in between two road trips to explore this beautiful area. We arrived a week before our sail away from Freemantle and were glad we had this time to explore a small part of WA. We spent four nights in Margaret River and four in Perth. Great wine, delicious food, and sandy beaches are the best way to kick start any vacation! We stayed at a Quest property in Perth across from King's Park that was an apartment hotel. This worked perfectly as it provided a way to launder a week’s worth of clothes before setting out on the cruise. It also was close enough to return the rental car and walk back to the hotel. We took a taxi from Perth to the port in Freemantle, a thirty-minute ride and $38 AUD. Once you board the ship and go through passport control you are not allowed to go back off the ship. However, you can drop off your luggage and board later if you want to see a few more things in port. Embarkation was smooth and we were in our Aqua 2 cabin by 1:30 pm. Our aft location had staterooms above and below and we found it to be very quiet. Our configuration had the sofa nearest the balcony which had two chairs and footstools. Our luggage arrived before the muster drill and there was adequate storage space to unpack. The luggage fit under the bed. Before we had lunch, we confirmed our dinner reservations in the specialty restaurants (purchased onboard 4/$125,) manicure in the spa, and purchased an internet package with our Captain Club discount. Connection speed was good during sea days. Demographics-Mostly American, Canadian, British, Australian, Kiwis. There were only 16 children on board. Dining/Drinks-Liked the Classic Beverage Package and the fact that you could pay the difference if you ocassionaly wanted something more expensive. Also, the package was convenient for getting bottled water at the bars or coffee at Café al Bacio Blu was a big factor in our decision to book an Aqua class cabin and we were not disappointed. We appreciated having a smaller venue for dinner and always got a table for two at our preferred later time. We were fine with getting a drink at the World Class Bar if we had to wait a bit to get a window table or to be seated in a preferred area. We found the food to be very good and enough choices including a few that were always available from MDR menu. Favorites were short ribs and corn soup volute. The sommelier was available when you needed him. The breakfast menu was ok but you could get both your bacon and English muffin crispy if requested! Tuscan Grill-excellent food with matching service. We wanted to try a few appetizers and they accommodated us with smaller portions. Veal Marsala with polenta fries and pappardelle were favorites. Silk Harvest-great variety of dishes to try and they also portioned them just right. All delicious with favorites being Black Bean Chicken and Orange Beef. Excellent service as well. Murano-Exceptional food and service. We recommend the Chateaubriand for 2. As we had visited some wineries before the cruise, we purchased a couple of bottles to enjoy with dinner knowing there would be a corkage fee. We brought one bottle with us for dinner but it appeared somewhat awkward as though this was more an exception. We just wanted to enjoy a local wine and something not available to us back home Chef’s Table-a definite splurge but well worth it. We started at Celler Masters getting acquainted with our fellow tablemates enjoying Champagne and canapés. We were then treated to a tour of the MDR galley and the Murano kitchen as well. The multi-course dinner and wine pairing with the chef was a lot of fun and delicious too! Oceanview Café-good for a quick bite with some buffet menu items changing from day to day. A large variety from breakfast options, salads, sandwiches, hot items, desserts. My favorite was Caesar Salad. Aquaspa Café-I tried this twice and did not find what I wanted. Only plain yogurt not basic vanilla. The turkey wraps were seasoned well but the tomatoes made them soggy. Too bad as I liked the seating area. Mast Grill-great burgers and you could get cooked onions on them too. Tables close to the rail in this area as well World Class Bar-great service either at the bar or in the comfy chairs. A good place to have a pre or post dinner drink. Usually entertainment offered as well Martini Bar-this iced bar was always buzzing and Espresso Martinis the best Cellar Masters-a cozy clubby atmosphere but service not the best Café al Bacio-great coffee and desserts. Often difficult to get a seat. Best get a take-away and go down a level to find a place to sit and read/plan your day The Lawn-a favorite spot but getting a seat is like winning the lottery Room Service-we used it three times and our breakfast arrived on time (even early) and at the right temperature. Even if you forgot to request something obvious like butter or jam for your toast it was included. Entertainment –We were pleasantly surprised with the entertainment onboard. Throughout the ship you would find a variety of musical genres being performed whether it was classical, R&R, jazzy, music in the Atrium for ballroom dancing. In the theater a variety of performers entertained us with song, comedy, and acrobatics. Some like Andy Joy and Belinda Marks even performed matinee shows on the many sea days we had. We also can’t deny how funny the “Newlywed and Not so Newly Wed” show and similar ones were as well as the Silent Disco. Things we never thought we would participate in. Also enjoyed the Corning Glass Show. Staff-Can’t compliment them enough for their hard work with a smile to ensure guests have a wonderful cruise Ports Freemantle/Perth-Great history with lots to see and do. We were so glad that we got to spend time in Western Australia and at the end of our long trip on land and sea it stands out as one of our favorite places. If you embark from here arrive early to enjoy this part of the country. Adelaide-Only an 8-5 stop and we arranged for a trip to the Barossa Valley wine country and liked it. Melbourne-Wish we had an overnight here as short time provided only an overview of the city. Would definitely return. Fjords-Dusky, Doubtful, and Milford Sound. Unfortunately, ours was the cruise that experienced a medical emergency and after sailing six hours away from Melbourne we had to return. This prevented our sailing through the Sounds as timing would not be viable once we were back on course. We understand this decision but for some guests it was a great disappointment after traveling so far. Dunedin-We booked a small group tour which included a visit to Larnach Castle. A fascinating story to a beautiful place. Akaroa-This is a tender stop. There is a small cluster of shops and cafes when you get off the tender. We walked around the shore and then walked up to The Giant’s House. It was definitely worth the $20 NZD as the life-size mosaic sculptures created by Ms. Martin are stunning as is her lovely garden. A real gem of a photo opportunity. Go inside and watch the video as it gives you a good background story. There is also a café on site. This is definitely an Akaroa highlight. Otherwise, as scenic as this stop is you may be underwhelmed for things to do if you plan to just stay in town. Wellington-Visit the National Museum Te Papa Tongarewa. The modern museum is well done and entry is free. A good place to learn about Maori art and culture. There was a free shuttle from the ship to the Tourist Information Center and you could walk to the museum from there. You can also visit the Botanic Garden riding the cable car up to the top. We explored this on our own by walking but it is a bit of a walk once you leave the garden if you don’t take the cable car back down. You can catch the free shuttle for your return to the ship. Picton-Marlborough Valley is a beautiful area. Book a tour and enjoy some wine! Sydney-sailing in at dawn and seeing the Sydney Opera House.....as they say...Priceless! Disembarkation Sydney-As at the end of any cruise I've taken, when you get off the ship you will find your luggage grouped somewhere in the terminal. It was pouring rain when we got off the ship and we were flying to Aukland to do a land trip. We had booked an airport transfer and glad we did. The only difficulty was having more luggage than was easily carried outside to the street where the coaches were parked without having a luggage cart or any porters to assist you and rain! This was a great cruise but I believe the contributing factor was having the drink package, Aqua with Blu access, and OBC that covered most of the extras. All perks that made a difference for a hassle free time. It would have been nice if more wines from Australia and NZ were on the ship's wine list since it spends a lot of the year cruising in this region.

The Filling In-between

Celebrity Solstice Cruise Review by lilybob

Trip Details
We finally had a window of time to travel to this part of the world. Our sixteen-night cruise was sandwiched in between two road trips to explore this beautiful area. We arrived a week before our sail away from Freemantle and were glad we had this time to explore a small part of WA. We spent four nights in Margaret River and four in Perth. Great wine, delicious food, and sandy beaches are the best way to kick start any vacation!

We stayed at a Quest property in Perth across from King's Park that was an apartment hotel. This worked perfectly as it provided a way to launder a week’s worth of clothes before setting out on the cruise. It also was close enough to return the rental car and walk back to the hotel.

We took a taxi from Perth to the port in Freemantle, a thirty-minute ride and $38 AUD. Once you board the ship and go through passport control you are not allowed to go back off the ship. However, you can drop off your luggage and board later if you want to see a few more things in port.

Embarkation was smooth and we were in our Aqua 2 cabin by 1:30 pm. Our aft location had staterooms above and below and we found it to be very quiet. Our configuration had the sofa nearest the balcony which had two chairs and footstools. Our luggage arrived before the muster drill and there was adequate storage space to unpack. The luggage fit under the bed.

Before we had lunch, we confirmed our dinner reservations in the specialty restaurants (purchased onboard 4/$125,) manicure in the spa, and purchased an internet package with our Captain Club discount. Connection speed was good during sea days.

Demographics-Mostly American, Canadian, British, Australian, Kiwis. There were only 16 children on board.

Dining/Drinks-Liked the Classic Beverage Package and the fact that you could pay the difference if you ocassionaly wanted something more expensive. Also, the package was convenient for getting bottled water at the bars or coffee at Café al Bacio

Blu was a big factor in our decision to book an Aqua class cabin and we were not disappointed. We appreciated having a smaller venue for dinner and always got a table for two at our preferred later time. We were fine with getting a drink at the World Class Bar if we had to wait a bit to get a window table or to be seated in a preferred area. We found the food to be very good and enough choices including a few that were always available from MDR menu. Favorites were short ribs and corn soup volute. The sommelier was available when you needed him. The breakfast menu was ok but you could get both your bacon and English muffin crispy if requested!

Tuscan Grill-excellent food with matching service. We wanted to try a few appetizers and they accommodated us with smaller portions. Veal Marsala with polenta fries and pappardelle were favorites.

Silk Harvest-great variety of dishes to try and they also portioned them just right. All delicious with favorites being Black Bean Chicken and Orange Beef. Excellent service as well.

Murano-Exceptional food and service. We recommend the Chateaubriand for 2. As we had visited some wineries before the cruise, we purchased a couple of bottles to enjoy with dinner knowing there would be a corkage fee. We brought one bottle with us for dinner but it appeared somewhat awkward as though this was more an exception. We just wanted to enjoy a local wine and something not available to us back home

Chef’s Table-a definite splurge but well worth it. We started at Celler Masters getting acquainted with our fellow tablemates enjoying Champagne and canapés. We were then treated to a tour of the MDR galley and the Murano kitchen as well. The multi-course dinner and wine pairing with the chef was a lot of fun and delicious too!

Oceanview Café-good for a quick bite with some buffet menu items changing from day to day. A large variety from breakfast options, salads, sandwiches, hot items, desserts. My favorite was Caesar Salad.

Aquaspa Café-I tried this twice and did not find what I wanted. Only plain yogurt not basic vanilla. The turkey wraps were seasoned well but the tomatoes made them soggy. Too bad as I liked the seating area.

Mast Grill-great burgers and you could get cooked onions on them too. Tables close to the rail in this area as well

World Class Bar-great service either at the bar or in the comfy chairs. A good place to have a pre or post dinner drink. Usually entertainment offered as well

Martini Bar-this iced bar was always buzzing and Espresso Martinis the best

Cellar Masters-a cozy clubby atmosphere but service not the best

Café al Bacio-great coffee and desserts. Often difficult to get a seat. Best get a take-away and go down a level to find a place to sit and read/plan your day

The Lawn-a favorite spot but getting a seat is like winning the lottery

Room Service-we used it three times and our breakfast arrived on time (even early) and at the right temperature. Even if you forgot to request something obvious like butter or jam for your toast it was included.

Entertainment –We were pleasantly surprised with the entertainment onboard. Throughout the ship you would find a variety of musical genres being performed whether it was classical, R&R, jazzy, music in the Atrium for ballroom dancing. In the theater a variety of performers entertained us with song, comedy, and acrobatics. Some like Andy Joy and Belinda Marks even performed matinee shows on the many sea days we had.

We also can’t deny how funny the “Newlywed and Not so Newly Wed” show and similar ones were as well as the Silent Disco. Things we never thought we would participate in. Also enjoyed the Corning Glass Show.

Staff-Can’t compliment them enough for their hard work with a smile to ensure guests have a wonderful cruise

Ports

Freemantle/Perth-Great history with lots to see and do. We were so glad that we got to spend time in Western Australia and at the end of our long trip on land and sea it stands out as one of our favorite places. If you embark from here arrive early to enjoy this part of the country.

Adelaide-Only an 8-5 stop and we arranged for a trip to the Barossa Valley wine country and liked it.

Melbourne-Wish we had an overnight here as short time provided only an overview of the city. Would definitely return.

Fjords-Dusky, Doubtful, and Milford Sound. Unfortunately, ours was the cruise that experienced a medical emergency and after sailing six hours away from Melbourne we had to return. This prevented our sailing through the Sounds as timing would not be viable once we were back on course. We understand this decision but for some guests it was a great disappointment after traveling so far.

Dunedin-We booked a small group tour which included a visit to Larnach Castle. A fascinating story to a beautiful place.

Akaroa-This is a tender stop. There is a small cluster of shops and cafes when you get off the tender. We walked around the shore and then walked up to The Giant’s House. It was definitely worth the $20 NZD as the life-size mosaic sculptures created by Ms. Martin are stunning as is her lovely garden. A real gem of a photo opportunity. Go inside and watch the video as it gives you a good background story. There is also a café on site. This is definitely an Akaroa highlight. Otherwise, as scenic as this stop is you may be underwhelmed for things to do if you plan to just stay in town.

Wellington-Visit the National Museum Te Papa Tongarewa. The modern museum is well done and entry is free. A good place to learn about Maori art and culture. There was a free shuttle from the ship to the Tourist Information Center and you could walk to the museum from there. You can also visit the Botanic Garden riding the cable car up to the top. We explored this on our own by walking but it is a bit of a walk once you leave the garden if you don’t take the cable car back down. You can catch the free shuttle for your return to the ship.

Picton-Marlborough Valley is a beautiful area. Book a tour and enjoy some wine!

Sydney-sailing in at dawn and seeing the Sydney Opera House.....as they say...Priceless!

Disembarkation Sydney-As at the end of any cruise I've taken, when you get off the ship you will find your luggage grouped somewhere in the terminal. It was pouring rain when we got off the ship and we were flying to Aukland to do a land trip. We had booked an airport transfer and glad we did. The only difficulty was having more luggage than was easily carried outside to the street where the coaches were parked without having a luggage cart or any porters to assist you and rain!

This was a great cruise but I believe the contributing factor was having the drink package, Aqua with Blu access, and OBC that covered most of the extras. All perks that made a difference for a hassle free time. It would have been nice if more wines from Australia and NZ were on the ship's wine list since it spends a lot of the year cruising in this region.
lilybob’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
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Cabin Review

AquaClass
Cabin A2 1658
We felt the cabin had attractive decor, sufficient storage space, and a balcony with a place to put your feet up. Some of the drawers had wear and tear marks but not an issue. We could have used a few more outlets to charge our devices. Would also have been nice to have international news like BBC or CNN on TV.
Penthouse Deck Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Barossa Valley
    Our guide met us outside the cruise terminal and we were the only couple we were able to visit two wineries that we were familiar with, Peter Lehman and Yalumba as well as Turkey Flats and Langmiel recommended by the guide. It was great being at our own pace and we learned the back story of the wineries in addition to the great tastings. Lunch was also included in our tour. We booked the tour online with speedy confirmation and had a great day with our guide, Inez, in the Barossa Valley.
    View All 7 Barossa Valley Reviews
  • Akaroa
    Akaroa is an attractive town with the area near the tender stop filled with cafes and shops. It is pleasant enough towels around and go up to the small lighthouse. The highlight of the port is a visit to The Giant's House. It may seem pricey at $20 NZD but it will make your day. The mosaic life size sculptures that fill the yard are exceptional. The gardens are pretty spectacular as well. Go inside and watch the short video to get some background about the artist and the house. It is a photo stop gem. If you only plan to walk around the town you may find this stop underwhelming to fill your day, despite its natural beauty.
    View All 161 Akaroa Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Akaroa Cruise Port Review
  • Larnach Castle
    Our guide Mark met us at the terminal and we were off. The morning part of the full day tour included stops at the Worl'd's steepest street, the cemetery, the university and the train station all with a bit of history. The highlight was the afternoon visit to Larnach Castle. A fascinating story behind this beautiful building and surrounding garden. The area is also quite scenic. Enjoy some lunch at the cafe on the grounds before you head back. Book ahead online.
    View All 28 Larnach Castle Reviews
  • Walking Tour
    After taking public transportation into the city we met our guide in front of the State Library of Victoria. The tour lasted 3 hours and it was a good overview of the city. We covered old places like the prison, the urban art center, the UNESCO exhibition hall, and more. The tour ended near the train station by the river. You should tip the guide what you feel was an appropriate price for the tour. After having lunch and exploring on our own we were able to catch the #109 bus back to the pier.
    View All 2 Walking Tour Reviews
  • Perth (Fremantle)
    We met our guide at the WA Visitor Center at 10 am and joined another couple on our historic and cultural walk of Perth. It was a good orientation of the city and interesting to see the historic buildings dwarfed by the skyscrapers. The walk lasted around 90 minutes and ended at Elizabeth Quay on the Swan River. Tours can be booked online and cost is 20 AUD.
    View All 12,995 Perth (Fremantle) Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Winery Tour
    We took a winery tour with "Your Local Chauffer" and initially we were off to a chaotic start with several winery tour companies arriving in the small parking lot by the visitor center and getting everyone sorted for their tour. After the first tasting, our small group were laughing and having a great time with our knowledgeable guide Neil. We visited a few wineries, stopped for a bit of local shopping and had lunch at the next winery. The scenery is spectacular and the wine is great. We arrived back in town in time for a walk around before returning to the ship.
    View All 13 Winery Tour Reviews
  • Wellington
    Be sure to visit the modern National Te Papa Tongarewa museum. They do a fine job of explaining the Maori culture and entry is free. You can also take the cable car up to the Botanic Garden.
    View All 363 Wellington Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Wellington Cruise Port Review