We have sailed on 4 Celebrity ships all in Aquaclass, and enjoy the access to BLU as well as the Spa amenities. We chose Solstice for the itinerary, as New Zealand was on the bucket list. We stayed in Auckland, on Princes Wharf, so we were able to leave our hotel room, walk to the end of the building, drop our luggage, and enter the cruise port within a few minutes. We were directed to a line for Aqua passengers, and were boarding the ship within 10-15 minutes.
Service and food quality in Blu was exceptional. We dined around 7pm most nights, and did not have to wait to be seated. The waiters and assistant waiters worked together as a team, and quickly learned our names and preferences.
We found the bartenders and waiters went out of their way to find a selection of wines to match our beverage package. The choices available in the outside bar at Oceanview tend to be narrow, but the inside Oceanview bar always had multiple premium wine choices to pick from.
We enjoyed the range of daily activities on the ship for sea days. We only booked one shore excursion through Celebrity, and it was well done. We had 3 tender days, and were very impressed with the speed and efficiency displayed by the captain and crew in handling the tendering process. We also found the Disembarkation to be very smooth. We typically walk off, with our luggage, but as we were staying on in Melbourne, we chose to set out our luggage the night before. We were able to enjoy a last trip to Blu, and were able to relax in a lounge, and our number was called 10 minutes before the assigned time of 9:15 am.
Overall the ship was as outlined in great shape, and the staff across the board were excellent. If there is one thing that Celebrity needs to stop, it is the upselling. We always had to bypass 3 photographers getting off of the ship, and then multiple portrait stations in the evening going to dinner and returning, Everyone has an iPhone, if we want our picture taken, we will ask someone to take it.
We found the ship interior and out cabin to be in great shape. This was our second time on Solstice, and the prior time the cabin and common areas were clean, but we noticed little things like a tear in the drapes, and chipping paint on the balcony. It appeared that things are being attended to, as the linens, drapes, carpet, furniture was in great shape this time, and we returned to the ship one day to find a crew repainting the balcony ceiling.
Cabin attendant John was responsive, and attentive without being intrusive. The room was cleaned and well stocked twice daily. He was usually available in the hall if we needed something, or could be reached via phone. This room has the overhang from the pool deck above, which we prefer, as it is sheltered from sun and rain.
DIY - Devonport:
Easy trip via Fullers Ferry to Devonport. The town is quaint, and the views of Auckland from Mount Victoria Summit are beautiful.
Took small group bus trip to Rotorua. Guy our guide was very knowledgeable and provide details about the history and culture of New Zealand, Rotorua and the Maori. We toured Okere Falls, a Kiwi Farm and a Maori Village.View All 63 Rotorua Reviews
Boat tours leaves from the Tender dock. We cruise the harbor, seeing many birds, hector dolphins and a tiny penguin.
Easy walk to town for some shopping or lunch.View All undefined undefined Reviews
We did not want to spend 8 hours on a bus or trail tour, so we took the shuttle from the port, one way into Dunedin. We did a DIY walking tour of the town, ending at the Dunedin Train Station. After touring the station, and enjoying the beautiful tiled interior, we took The Seasider train trip. It takes you along the Blueskin Bay out to the Pacific Ocean. The narration along the route was very well done. We were able to exit the train back in Port Chalmers, and walk back to the ship.View All 21 Dunedin Train Station Reviews
We cruised Dusky, Doubtful and Milford Sounds. The morning was a bit rained, but the weather kept improving, and by the time we were leaving Doubtful Sound the sun was out, and the visibility in Milford was perfect. It was a very scenic and relaxing day in Fiordland National Park.
Having been to Sydney before, we chose to take the Ferry and tour the Taronga Zoo and Manly Beach. The Zoo is well maintained, and staffers are available to advise and answer questions. You can but tickets online in advance. Many Beach is a nice place for a swim, or walk along the ocean. Lots of shops and restaurants.View All 11 Ferry Reviews