Celebrity Solstice Cruise Review by Traveler60plus
- Sail Date: November 2018
- Destination: Australia & New Zealand
The organization was quite good with smooth tender boats operation. However the embarkation was quite chaotic, with one older lady having difficulties controlling the crowd. And we were told to check-in not later than at 3 pm while the departure from Auckland was at 8 pm. On the other hand the disembarkation was the smoothest I have ever had. The emergency and lifeboat drill was half an hour long - longer than on any of my previous cruises. Since only half of its time was devoted to the drill I felt that it was inconsiderate to the older passengers who had no choice but to stand in the crowded room without a place to sit. The last weak point was in Picton where there was a long line (approximately half an hour) to get off the ship because the shuttles were unavailable. It would have been nice to hear an announcement about estimated waiting time at the gangway instead of the usual "you may now proceed to the gangway".
The Cruise Director Rich was excellent. We had a different show every day and the quality was impressive. That includes the Maori performance in Tauranga. The Solstice ship's star aerialists were amazing. I would say that other ship's star performers were second only to NCL performers. I was glad to attend some lectures about ports of call, but some of them were before we returned to the ship and conflicted with our excursions. So the timing was inconvenient. Also there could be more activities for the days at sea.
The main restaurant was very good with exceptional service. The food was great, enough choices and daily changes of the menu. We had an amazing waiter, Peter: prompt, friendly, knowledgeable. Whenever we could we had lunch at the restaurant too, because the weakest part of the cruise was the buffet at Oceanview Cafe. The best part of the buffet was that it was still partially open for late lunch when we were returning to the ship around 4 pm after our excursions. I would say that about 60% of the food was well prepared/had good quality ingredients. There were enough choices to find something good, but every day the menu was the same. There were theme days, but often there was the same dish with a different name: one day it was a beef stew, the next day Hungarian goulash, without a trace of paprika, so it tasted like beef stew. It was the worst buffet of the 8 cruises that I took. That includes desserts. For example when the Australian lunch was announced I went to the buffet to sample the Pavlova dessert. I enjoyed the Pavlova at the Cafe al Bacio very much, but in the buffet the Pavlova dessert was not as good: it was a meringue cake and some soggy fruits without any cream. The best buffet we had was on Holland America when both the main restaurant and the buffet were outstanding.
The ship excursions were very expensive, so mostly we booked our excursions with local tours. However in Akaroa we booked with Celebrity and it was very well organized.
All in all we are happy we took this cruse and will book with Celebrity again.
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