First Time on the a Cruise Ship: Celebrity Solstice Cruise Review by hatteraskat

Celebrity Solstice 5
Member Since 2010
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First Time on the a Cruise Ship

Sail Date: March 2010
Destination: Eastern Caribbean
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
My mom (age 57) and I (age 24) decided to take a cruise. Neither of us had ever cruised before. Our travel agent recommended Celebrity Solstice. She said it was more upscale (for my mom). Although I knew, going into it, there weren't going to be many people my age, I was very excited to go. We chose the Concierge Class, as the agent recommended, because you get early embarkation/disembarkation, an expanded room service menu, a larger cabin and a few other things. The veranda was huge! There were two heavy mesh chairs with foot rests and a teak topped table. The panels beneath the railing were glass/plexi so we could always see the water and beautiful scenery.

We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale at 2:30. Our arrival was later than most people, but we were able to get a direct flight from RDU and avoid the necessity of spending the previous night in Ft. Lauderdale. In baggage claim, we got our bags and wheeled toward the main doors where we were met by very nice people who separated More the cruisers into groups according to which ship we would be boarding. One gentleman led us out (this is when wheels on suitcases are a must!) and down the sidewalk to a large bus. Only about 8 of us boarded the Trailways type bus and we were headed to the boarding building. In all, this took maybe 30 minutes. The embarkation/disembarkation building is huge, with lots of agents to handle crowds quickly. Somewhere along the way they took our large suitcases and issued us our golden tickets (debit/credit type cards for ID and charges). We carried our roll-ons with us up a gangplank and onto the ship. We were met by a formally dressed waiter with a choice of Mimosa or juice and waited for the elevator to our cabin.

Upon entering our cabin, we were happily surprised at its size and beautiful decor. The bed was very comfortable and the large flat screen tv, vanity/desk, large leather sofa were welcoming and contemporary. At that moment, we met our favorite thing about our ship, our Stateroom Attendant, Ninfa. He is the nicest, most gentle man with a beautiful smile who, we would learn, could anticipate our every need. He was never intrusive but always available.

We hurried up to Oceanview Cafe to catch the buffet before it closed. At first it was a little overwhelming because there were so many people and so much food. Some of the buffet repeats itself so it can be a little confusing, but provides plenty of access for everyone. After eating, we did a little exploring. We went out to the Pool Bar, where a welcome band was playing and had some drinks. Victor Hooker is a great bar waiter, funny, and a great salesman.

The 2 pools outside were beautiful. We never used them because they were always crowded and in the full sun. We really preferred the Solarium (16+) was great. Quiet, no kids, diffused sunlight. We enjoyed this only 2 days out of the week. Since we live at the beach, we don't feel the need to sunbathe. Later in the day, it would get busy and we would have to go reserve a seat if you wanted one by the pool. The hot tub in the Solarium is a little strange. There is nowhere to put your feet down, so you have to sit Indian-style.

Our only disappointment all week was the Water Package option we signed up for ahead of our cruise. We had bought the Water Package for $14/day per person. Let's just say it needs to be tweaked a little bit. We quickly learned that you have to present your card (understandable) and then wait for the server to print a ticket that you then sign each time you order one, whether at a bar or from a server, even though the ticket says $0. In our opinion, this interrupted the all-inclusive feeling. We asked at Guest Relations and they said that this is primarily for the servers and waiters, because there is an incentive program for the staff to sell the most drinks.

The Water Package states that you can receive an unlimited amount of water. Technically, this is true, although we found it to be misleading. They would only allow 1 water per ticket and it's annoying when you are visiting a port and would like to carry more with you. Although the price for the small bottles ranged from $2.88 to $4.88 (we were erroneously charged, then credited a few times) we doubt that we ever used $14.00 per day each and would recommend you not sign up for this option. We understand that someone could take advantage by ordering 5 or 10 bottles on his package and distributing them, but in truth, he could just visit several bars and do the same. Not sure what the answer is to this issue.

One thing which is nice is they provide a table before the gangway so you may purchase water for excursions. Wondering if they allowed non-Water Package people to purchase more than one bottle. One irony was that they would allow us only one bottle but it could be a large bottle, but not two small ones?

The food was amazing. We ate in the MDR/Epernay 3 evenings, Murano (French) once, and the Tuscan Grille (Italian) twice. The first night Mom recognized Don Diamont (Young & the Restless/Bold & the Beautiful) and his family waiting to enter the dining room. Needless to say she was thrilled and tried not to be intrusive but he insisted he make a pic with her. Turned out he was a guest speaker for the week and was very friendly along with his beautiful wife, Cindy and three of their boys. Mom said that's obviously why they call it a "Celebrity" cruise.

We loved the Tuscan Grille. They have great filets as does the Murano. We ordered the Surf & Turf at the Murano and it was fabulous. The Murano & Tuscan do charge extra ($30 to $50, per) but the food and the service were, what we thought to be, a notch above the regular restaurants. Overall, the food on the ship was amazing everywhere. We never once had a bad experience. The prices for drinks were pretty average for a resort. A 15% gratuity is already added to all the drinks unless you have a drink package. A strawberry daiquiri and a glass of white wine were each $7.87. A Mimosa runs about $6.

It was a little rough the first 2 days, more than I would have expected. I asked around and some that had cruised before said they agreed that it felt a little choppy. There were more of kids on the cruise ship than we expected because of Spring Break and Easter. I met a couple of people my age, but mostly hung with my mom. We loved the gelato (especially the chocolate) and the Sky Lounge (deck 14). Less

Published 04/16/10

Cabin review: C11044 Concierge Class

We were in C1, Concierge class, room 1044. We had a larger balcony since we it was on a diagonal. The room was always immaculately clean. The bathroom was very large, with it's own shower doors. It had tons of storage and it was so cute. The room itself had a fold out leather couch, a small desk with chair connected to the mini-fridge, drawers, and mounted flat-screen TV. The sliding glass door was from ceiling to floor. There was storage above the bed. Our beds were very comfortable. It was a great space and very quiet!

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Port and Shore Excursions

We did the Segway Fortifications Tour which was $95/person, booked through the ship. I highly recommend you do that because even though it was $10 more than if you were to book through the shop itself, you are assured that the ship won't leave you. I do recommend booking prior to the cruise because a family came in to try and do a tour but it was all sold out. It took some warming up to the Segway for me. My mom had already done it once so she knew what she was doing. The tour was amazing as well as the tour guide. We visited fort El Morro and were able to ride all the way up to the front rather than walking. It's a very long walk if you go to El Morro so it was nice to ride all the way up. We rode all through the city, stopping at places to take pictures & rest for a bit. As our tour guide said, "If you can Segway along the cobblestones and hills of Old San Juan, you will be able to Segway anywhere." We took some great pictures and it was a lot of fun. It probably was one of the best excursions on the trip.

Read 2979 San Juan Reviews

While at St. Maarten we did the Tiki Hut Snorkel Park. I had never snorkeled and was hoping to do this while here. You take about a 10 minute boat ride around to the Bay. They keep all your belongings, in plain view, in plastic grocery baskets behind the register at the Tiki Hut. This was nice because I didn't have to worry about my sunglasses falling in the water or anything. They have a 4 feet deep enclosure that you can stand in to get used to snorkeling. I had thought it was glassed in but I was wrong. The small fish come in and out of it. I didn't like the fact that the water was very murky (very windy that day) and you couldn't really see anything. There were hardly any fish. Some people said that if you swam out to the sunken boats (which they have sunk themselves), that there were more fish. But the visibility sucked. I am weird in that I don't like to be anywhere I can't touch or see the bottom so I just laid in the sun. Lots of kids had no problems learning, so I'd say it's a pretty good place to learn. The staff is quite nice and helps you relax. They have great burgers and great rum punch! We arrived at about 9am and stayed till about 1pm. My mom enjoyed snorkeling and resting in the floats. It wasn't my cup of tea. There were a small group of kids who were constantly jumping off the side of the boat. It was annoying and it was scaring any small fish away. Also, other boats come in and out of the bay to drop off snorkelers. This was probably due to the windy conditions making this spot better than most in lee of the wind. At most, only 60 people can be at the Snorkel Park, which was nice. The water was warm. The boat comes back and forth about every 30-45 minutes and will drop you at the ship or at the town docks, which we did.

After the Snorkel Park, we enjoyed the boardwalk and Front Street in Phillipsburg. I highly recommend trying the Guavaberry Colada, which is their signature drink. It's very good!! We found a small restaurant to have lunch on the beach which was fun (ribs, beans & rice), as we people watched along the boardwalk, and then took the water taxi ($4 per person, payable when you get there) back to the ship's dock. We were told it would have been a 15 min walk back (we were carrying our own snorkel stuff although they provide for you at TH) and that the land taxi might get in traffic and be as much as $60. All in all, it's a great place. While we were there, there were 4 other ships there including the Oasis of the Seas. Although the Snorkel Park wasn't my favorite at least it didn't seem crowded and Phillipsburg was really crowded when we got to the boardwalk.

The ship arrived at Road Town, Tortola at 7am on Thursday and we quickly got off the boat about 8 after breakfast, since we had to be back by 12:45pm/ship leaving at 1:30. We had decided to go to Brewer's Bay since we read that it wasn't as crowded as Cane Garden Bay. A Carnival ship was there as well. We entered the small tour building and were referred to a taxi (mostly vans) with a driver named Gene. He was a little upset with the dispatcher that there were only 2 of us wanting to go, since he makes more money with more people in the cab. We were not interested in sharing, so we could return when we wanted. It cost us $28 fare ($35 w/tip) each way to and from Brewer's Bay. We didn't mind paying since this wasn't a paid excursion. Gene was an excellent tour guide. The drive was incredibly beautiful. Gene pointed out the key attractions in Road Town. It was a little scary, to me, going around the mountain but my mom just laughed and said Gene knew what he was doing. The views of the Harbor from way up on the hill were amazing. It took approximately 12 minutes to get to Brewer's Bay. When we arrived, there is a restaurant called Nicole's but it wasn't open yet. We grabbed some beach chairs and pulled our chairs to the left under the trees to get some shade. It wasn't till 10am or so when more people started coming in. After about 11 quite a few large (15-20) groups came but we enjoyed the warm, tranquil, clear waters.

Nicole's opened up about 10am and they charge $5 a chair, which isn't bad at all. We didn't do any snorkeling but there were plenty people who did. I highly suggest bringing bug spray. I got bitten by "no see-ums." And I think it would be best to find a place under shade. The beach wraps around but it is not as big as Cane Garden Bay. I enjoyed the exclusivity of it and that there weren't a lot of people there.

You must try the Pina Colada. One of the best Pina Coladas I've had. We got 4 bags of chips, a Pina Colada, and a white wine for $13. Since we had to be back on the ship by12:45, we asked that Gene come back and pick us up at 12. He got there about 11:45. Traffic was a little busy on the way back, so he took us on a short cut and we arrived at 12:25pm.

This ranked as one of my top 2 places on the cruise. It was very relaxing and exactly what I pictured in the Caribbean.

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