A Wonderful Cruise: Celebrity Solstice Cruise Review by prim8keeper

Celebrity Solstice 5
Member Since 2009
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A Wonderful Cruise

Sail Date: December 2011
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
Due to previous problems with Norovirus and the fact that the ship was returning for the first time from Europe we had a delayed boarding that did not start until 2 pm. In addition to doing extra cleaning the ship was dealing with a coast guard inspection and immigration (we later found out from a crew member that they had all been up since 4 am, many getting very little sleep the night before). We had been notified by Celebrity about a week before that the sailing would be delayed. We were staying at The Atlantic Resort and we waited until noon to check out because of the delay and then went to a leisurely lunch. We waited until just after 2 pm to actually show up at the port. Unfortunately they were still not checking people in and the line now snaked out in front of the building twice. We just took our place and made the best of it, we had also packed minimal carry-ons, just a backpack each, anticipating this, which worked out great. Celebrity was handing out water, snacks More and making sure older people who needed to sit where taken inside. In my opinion most people seemed to be in good spirits about the whole thing, although it did seem like there were a lot of people who did not realize the ship could be so delayed even without the noro, which only added to delay, because of returning from Europe (Thank you CC members!). Once inside check in was a breeze. The Aqua Class line was pretty short and we were on within 15 minutes.

Once on board we found out the cabins would not be ready until 5:30 pm. No worries though, we had purchased the premium alcohol package and headed up to the lawn club bar to meet up with other members of our roll call. We also did a little exploring around the ship, making sure to avoid the buffet area! YIKES! I was so glad we had already eaten when I saw that place. The cabins were ready around 6 pm and because of it there was no dress code the first night. We also left port late. I believe it was almost 6:30 pm by the time we finally headed out. We dropped our stuff off, met our room steward and then headed off to Blu.

We had cabin 1610 and my parnters parents had cabin 1608. Both cabins are on the hump and had huge balconies. We were also able to get the room steward to open up the divider which made the balcony even bigger! It was great. The rooms were also in a great location midship and just a short walk to the elevators. We'd heard of people having noise concerns in that location, but we had no problem whatsoever.

We dined in Blu for breakfast every day except for two early port days where we ordered room service. Room service breakfast was ok, but I much preferred dining in Blu. We also ate in Blu all but three nights of the cruise. We loved Blu. The food was very good, always cooked perfectly and we had the most amazing sommelier. We made sure to sit in the same section every night just to make sure we had her. She knew we had the package and then made recommendations based on that and what we ordered. It was fantastic! On the other nights we visited each of the specialty restaurants - Tuscan Grille, Silk Harvest, and Murano. Tuscan Grille was very good, however I was not impressed at all with the service, which I felt was lacking. There seemed to be similar service issues in Silk Harvest, although there it seemed as though there was not enough wait staff for how many people were actually dining there that night (it was almost full). I had heard that Silk Harvest is almost always empty so we wondered if they just ended up swamped that night. Our waitress did her best though. As far as food I personally just thought it was hit or miss. Murano was an outstanding experience and I thought the food was wonderful. However, it seemed like they were trying just a little too hard, and it came off as a little pretentious (just my opinion). However, we will still probably go back on our next cruise. We also ate at Bistro on 5 which is worth the $5. Make sure you try to the Italian Crepe for dessert. We also frequented Cafe al Bacio & the Gelato counter daily. It ended up becoming our return-from-port afternoon activity.

We were kept pretty busy with four port days and only two sea days. At each port we did something (all private tours/activities, nothing through Celebrity). It was because of this we really didn't go to any of the shows, not our style. For the first sea day we had several planned actives from our roll call (cabin crawl, poker run, bar crawl, etc.) that kept us busy. We also had a slot pull one night that was also really fun. The other nights we just divided our time between the Martini Bar and the Molecular Bar. There wasn't a whole lot of night life on the ship, however we always found people to talk to and had fun. On the last day we did the Riedel wine tasting. It was very interesting and truly amazing how different the wines tasted in the different glasses. That said being our first time on Celebrity there were so many things that we wanted to do but just never manged to get to.

Overall despite the late boarding the cruise was a wonderful experience. We enjoyed it so much we even booked another cruise while on board and managed to get the same cabin again, this time on Equinox. Less

Published 12/28/11

Cabin review: A11610 AquaClass

This is a great cabin with an over-sized balcony due to being on the slant. It is about three times the size of a normal balcony. Most of it is covered though. We found this to be a plus because it kept things nice and cool, however if you want lots of sun you may not be happy. It is also located right off the elevators, but noise was not a problem. The bed is located next to the bathroom. There was plenty of storage for all our stuff. They do keep a service cart right in front of cabin 1608 (next door) however we did not find this to be an inconvenience. This is a great cabin, we have even booked it again for our next cruise.

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Port and Shore Excursions

For this port I organized a group of people from our roll call for the Chacchoben Extreme Tour run by a local tour company. Because of our group size they picked us up right at the port and we were off. Our guide for the day, Ivan, had been born and raised in the area and was very informative about how things have changed in the area over the years. One of his more memorable stories was about the arrival of Coca-Cola to the area; it's now cheaper than purified water. Our first stop was the Chacchoben Mayan Ruins where we spent about two hours. We arrived well before the cruise ship groups which was great because it allowed us to get photos of the ruins without lots of other people in them. Ivan was very informative and shared all sorts of interesting facts about the ruins and the area, etc. including what is planned for the future. He also showed us pictures he had of when they first began excavating the ruins and some artifacts he had found over the years. Afterwards we headed to Lago Bacalar (Lake of the Seven Colors) where they also had lunch and drinks waiting. After lunch we ventured down to the lake where you could swim, lie on the beach or go kayaking. It was also during this time that Ivan continued to answer questions and talked about the whole "2012 end of the world" rumors. It was a great day and Ivan was by far the best tour guide we have ever had. Through our group we also organized and collected school supplies that will be distributed by Ivan to local school children in Costa Maya.

We choose this particular beach club because they limited the number of people to 100 for the day. With several other ships in port in Cozumel the passenger count for the day was well over 15,000. We had a very relaxing day. While not much to look at as you are pulling in it's wonderful once inside. Since everything was included we had our own little area with chairs and umbrellas and a waiter who made sure we always had drinks and then brought lunch, which was very good. They also had a pool and hot tub which was a nice way to rinse off after swimming in the ocean. You could also rent a variety of items, however we did not.

If you venture outside of the sanitized port area you will find an island suffering from abject poverty. We heard from several people who just decided to walk around that it was not the best experience. That said though just up the street from the port there is a store called "Made in Roatan." It's a store that is run by volunteers (two Canadians) that sell items made by people on the island. There is information about the people who made the particular items and the money then goes straight back to those people. My advice for those who visit this port would be to make sure you book an excursion either with the ship or independently as it is a lovely island. We ended up visiting Upachaya, a wellness lodge on the other side of the island away from the port. It was about a 20 minute drive (they picked us up) but it was well worth it. We went kayaking, snorkeling and then came back to the lodge for lunch. The lodge did everything possible to be environmentally friendly and they were helping to restore their property. They also had all sorts of other wellness activities. It is actually run by two Americans who decided to move there a few years ago. The owner Barb is very knowledgeable and happy to share stories about the area, etc. and makes sure you experience there is wonderful. She was also one of the people who told us about the "Made in Roatan" store and how it was one of the good ones.
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