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18 Celebrity Solstice Cruise Reviews for Family Cruises to Europe - Eastern Mediterranean from Rome (Civitavecchia)

We flew to Rome on Monday and spent three nights there. Then we were escorted to the Port of Rome for our ten day trip. The ship is so beautiful. It was the 11th cruise my husband and I have taken and this was the most beautiful ship of ... Read More
We flew to Rome on Monday and spent three nights there. Then we were escorted to the Port of Rome for our ten day trip. The ship is so beautiful. It was the 11th cruise my husband and I have taken and this was the most beautiful ship of all. Our cabin had a balcony, which we have gotten use to inn the last 5 cruises. The staff was excellent. We had wonderful bathrobes waiting in our closet. The bathroom was large and every well accomadated. The nicest one we have found so far. The bed was very comfortable. Overall we loved this ship. The food was excellent. Reviews on this board had us worried about the food. But, it seems they have gotten a new chef from France recently and he did a wonderful job. Each night we were able to have escargot if we wanted it. We had duck, lobster, lamb, prime rib, etc. The portions were huge. The salads were very unique each evening. One thing, you did not get to eat in the dinning room at lunch. That was different for us. But, the buffett was the best I have ever seen. The selections were excellent and I am sure no one went hungry. For the first time ever I did not mind eating at the buffett. The entertainment was no so good. The usual type of entertainment and nothing to rave about. The ports were great. Ephesus was the main attraction. We chose a private tour for that as well and Athens. Used the ship's shore excursions for all other ports. The tours became a little of the same after a while. All of the Greek Islands were basically the same sites. They were beautiful, but after a while the ruins got to all run together in our minds. Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast were my favorite. Things that were not as great as other ships...they seem to no longer make the little animals out of the towels for your room. I noticed this on the last two Princess cruises as well. The photos of you coming on the ship and off were poor. The gladiator and Roman had on tennis shoes. Who wants a picture with the Roman wearing tennis shoes? Not us. There was no meet the Captain personally. He was on the stage at the theatre and spoke to everyone as a group. What's up with that? It use to be so nice to get your picture taken with the captain. No more. And the champagne was awful with no appetizers like you usually have. It was not a party at all. But, I don't want to be negative. The cruise was wonderful. The staff was excellent. The ship is just beautiful. I would go on it again. The ports were great. We had not been to any of them except Rome and Naples and even enjoyed repeating those. I would highly recommend the Solstice. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
This was my 25th cruise and I was happy to share it with my husband and several friends. Most of my cruises have been on Celebrity and Royal Caribbean, but I have also sailed on NCL, Princess, MSC, and several cruise lines that no longer ... Read More
This was my 25th cruise and I was happy to share it with my husband and several friends. Most of my cruises have been on Celebrity and Royal Caribbean, but I have also sailed on NCL, Princess, MSC, and several cruise lines that no longer exist. Embarkation Embarkation was perfect. We arrived at the pier at noon and were on board Solstice a few minutes later with no wait. The buffet was crowded with diners since it had been open from 11.30. Fortunate for us, since we were a group of six, one of our friends managed to snag an empty table and we each went off to check out the offerings in the buffet. Just after 1:00 they announced that the cabins were ready and about an hour later our bags arrived. Cabin Our Aqua Class cabin was very attractive and filled with many nice touches. On the bed were our Captains Club coupons and a bag with little aromatic spa goodies such as facial mist and lip balm and a pair of spa slippers. I loved the look of the new cabins, and especially liked the bathroom with the sliding shower doors. After unpacking, though, I agreed with those who don't like the storage design. The closet door was too close to my side of the bed, the safe takes up room inside the closet, the shelves next to the bed were small and open (on the other ships these were regular drawers you could use to store some clothes) and the storage shelves are all the way over by the desk near the balcony doors - not convenient for dressing at all. The drawers are also too shallow and there aren't enough of them. There is more storage space above the bed, but for short people like me, that isn't very convenient. By angling the bathroom there is a greater sense of space in the entryway, but I would rather have had a narrow entrance and the closet in the usual spot. (Note: After the initial whining on my part, we enjoyed our lovely cabin for our 11 day cruise and managed to get dressed several times each day without incident!) I thought the balcony chairs with ottomans were a nice addition and were quite comfortable. The towels in the bathroom were beautiful and very soft and the bedding was also luxurious in feel and very attractive. I also liked the leather (or leather look) of the couch and the desk chair - very sleek and modern. Our cabin attendant, Sanjay, came by to introduce himself on the first afternoon while we were unpacking. We asked for an extra towel and a few extra hangers. He quickly brought the towel and many more hangers than we needed. On this and every other occasion, cabin service was excellent. In Aqua Class we had a pitcher of flavored ice tea and bottles of water which are complimentary and were re-supplied each day. We also had a fruit basket, flowers, and champagne in an ice bucket, all of which came with the cabin, and all of which (with the exception of the champagne) were replenished regularly. In addition, I should mention a few other terrific features of the new cabin bathrooms. The shelves are now recessed and have glass doors so there is plenty of excellent storage in the bathroom. The new showers are wonderful... powerful spray from the overhead nozzle and extra water jets to squirt you from several directions... a really nice addition. The Ship I thought the ship was gorgeous. All of the design elements so many cruisers have mentioned turned out to be stunning in person. We spent much of the time admiring the look of the Solstice and the many new ideas incorporated into it. I especially loved the look of the two-story library and the tree that is suspended in the atrium space outside of it.... spectacular! The Solarium was my favorite public area on the ship - lovely blue, cushioned lounges and a lap-style indoor pool. At one end there's huge trellis with a wall of fuchsia flowers... stunning! I also thought the Spa area with gorgeous tiles in the Ladies Dressing Room and the Persian Gardens were very attractive. Each bar and lounge has its own look and ambience. Again, how many superlatives can I use to describe this ship? Another favorite area for me was the coffee lounge area with the stunning and unusual green chairs and sofas. Finally, a word needs to be said about the public bathrooms. One day I actually took a photograph of one of the Ladies Rooms, because they are so attractive... really amazing! I am told the Men's Rooms have the same design, which includes dark wood and unusual deep basins with what looks like etched glass, but is probably some sort of synthetic. Celebrity is still providing real linen towels with which to wipe your hands and has matrons monitoring the high traffic bathrooms. Someone told me about a men's room with gorgeous picture windows looking out to sea, but I can't personally vouch for that. Since my husband never notices a thing, it's possible he was in there, but if so, he didn't provide any confirmation. New and Improved Captain's Club Just before we sailed, Celebrity rolled out its new Captain's Club Program, and I was very happy to see that there are now significant "perks" for Elite cruisers. I love the new CC coupon for the discount on the computer package - finally a significant perk for CC along with the new laundry coupons (one free bag) and one free item dry cleaned. There is now a CC Club card for use in the Captain's Club Lounge in Michael's Club for CC Elite and (on our sailing also Suite guests, but apparently it varies) from 4-6 (with Continental Breakfast in the morning, too). We loved the Concierge Lounge on RCCL, and had high hopes that this would be as nice. On the first day we had to show our special white cards to the barman. There was a list of cocktails (not sure if they made cocktails other than those on the list), but they did have beer for DH. They had two little trays of hors d'oeuvres on the bar... a far cry from the really terrific spread on RCCL, but it was nice that they put out something. What I especially liked is that there were some lovely people there and we enjoyed chatting with them. The CC hostess, Daniella, was excellent and I enjoyed interacting with her all week. She was very good at keeping us informed and handled the situation very well when someone passed out in the CC lounge (and he was up and around by the next day so that was good news, too). Dining After a less than wow first night in Blu, I became a Blu aficionado and loved the food, the service, and the dining experience we had there at night for dinner and in the morning for breakfast. Whether it was a dinner of Corn Fritters, Waldorf Salad, Roast Beef served rare, and Crepes Suzette, or another dinner that started with an appetizer of Escargot and Spaetzle, followed by a Greek Salad and then Osso Bucco wrapped in Prosciutto capped off by Chocolate Cake with Grand Marnier, I loved eating in Blu. Stand-out dishes included Halibut, which was wrapped in Brik pastry accompanied by a Lobster and Corn Chowder base, the Pureed Cauliflower, special-order Profiteroles, Rack of Lamb served with Lamb Shank in a potato crust, and the Short Ribs. Our waiter, Krassimir, was wonderful and we were so well taken care of by the entire Blu staff (including Lorita, Dejan, Emilia, and even Kirk and Mildred - who were not our waiters, but became our friends), that it was difficult to leave Solstice and return to real life! The brunch in the Main Dining Room was nicely done and our lunch in the MDR was also fine, but because the buffet was so terrific, we ate most of our lunches there. This buffet is the best I've ever seen at sea. Everything I ate was delicious and I especially enjoyed the Asian selections. Most days I ate several Curries, Noodles, Roti, Dal, Raita, and whatever items were on offer such as Samosas, Dumplings, Mee Krob, and Spring Rolls. The Buffet choices included: Hot dishes, Barbecue selections, and stations for Mexican food, Indian curries, Carving, Asian Stir Fry, Pastas with sauces, Salad Bar, Sandwiches, Pizza, Burgers and Hot Dogs (the latter two served outside), and, of course desserts and ice cream. As is usual for Celebrity, service in the buffet was excellent. We used room service a few times for breakfast. The call and the food were on time on both occasions and the orders were correct. Entertainment There was some sort of entertainment in the theater every night, sometimes before our late-seating dinner (7:00 p.m. show) and sometimes after. Of the three production shows, the best by far was the last - a "Cirque-light" show called "Solstice," with gymnastics, juggling and aerial acrobatics. We also enjoyed a trumpeter named Gary Guthman, and a comedian and song impressionist named James Stephens III. The various musical groups around the ship were excellent. Since we are a cappella fans, we especially appreciated the group on board (despite their hokey name) "Soul'd Out." I did manage to catch the Hot Glass Show on the last day and enjoyed the opportunity to watch real artisans at work and to listen to the running commentary on what they were doing... quite interesting. My husband would have liked some scholarly enrichment. On offer was some sort of film director, but this was a cruise to the Ancient World and an art historian, archeologist, or historian would have been a much better choice. Itinerary We took this cruise for two reasons - Solstice and the itinerary. A great itinerary combined with mild and mostly sunny mid-November weather combined to deliver a wonderful vacation. Athens, Istanbul, Kusadasi, Mykonos, and Naples are great cruise ports. The one issue I had with this cruise regarding itinerary was the choice by Celebrity to arrive in the Santorini caldera at 2 p.m. on a November afternoon. Given that this was a day on which the sun was scheduled to set at 4:47, getting there at this hour was most unfortunate. Because we had priority tendering (and yes, that was a mess!), we were able to get off the ship quickly and over to Oia while it was still daylight. Most fellow passengers missed Santorini (and its terrific views) in daylight and got drenched when a rainstorm moved in just as the sun set. While the rain couldn't be helped, the schedule should have gotten us there earlier in the day or Celebrity should have substituted another port. The ports themselves, are, of course, all wonderful and we thoroughly enjoyed each of them (separate reports are posted in the Ports section). Fellow Cruisers There was a great mix of people on this ship. In addition to Americans from many different states, there were quite a few Asians and Europeans along with Canadians. I don't think I've ever sailed on a ship filled with nicer people. Fellow cruisers were extremely polite (with the exception of priority tendering where it was more or less "every man for himself") and very friendly. Debarkation I really like the way Celebrity does debarkation. We got up in a leisurely way, went to breakfast, and then grabbed our carry-on bags and left the ship in a totally relaxed way. The one problem was that two of our traveling companions found no suitcases in the luggage area. Although our experience was excellent, theirs was horrible so I need to describe what happened. Two pieces of their luggage vanished into thin air - put out the night before and missing in the cruise shed. Were they stolen on the ship... lost somewhere... or stolen from the pier? We'll never know, but they had to do a huge amount of paperwork for both Celebrity and the insurance company. Fortunately, they had bought an excellent insurance policy, so they will receive reimbursement soon (we hope!) Areas In Need of Improvement In addition to the problem with the stop at Santorini, getting onto the ships' servers was often a problem. Although I loved the WIFI in the room and all over the ship, I didn't love getting a "try again in a few minutes" message over and over and over. I usually enjoy eating in the Spa Cafe, but on this ship the offerings were disappointing. I don't know if it's because the space seemed to be smaller or because not all the items available were out (and if so maybe more signage would help?), but we only ate there once and then skipped it for every other meal... much better choices were available elsewhere. The Persian Gardens Spa area didn't seem to be functioning as well as it should. The first time I visited (in the late afternoon)the entire system had shut down and needed to be re-started (cold couches and no steam in the steam room!). On other occasions the couches didn't feel very warm. Over-all Impressions This was our first cruise in Aqua Class and our first on Solstice. On both counts, this was a winner. We loved Aqua Class, loved Blu, and loved Solstice. I'm looking forward to sailing on this ship again in June and to getting to know Equinox and Eclipse. With a few minor glitches, this was a terrific cruise. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
Solstice Review 17/08/09 Great Ship - Inconsistent Service One of the strange things that has been commented on before on Cruise Critic is that people on the same cruise can have vastly different experiences. I think a lot of this comes ... Read More
Solstice Review 17/08/09 Great Ship - Inconsistent Service One of the strange things that has been commented on before on Cruise Critic is that people on the same cruise can have vastly different experiences. I think a lot of this comes down to expectation and prior experience. I am writing this by way of warning because this review isn't from the point of view of a veteran mass market cruiser but rather someone new to cruising who is used to holidaying at resorts on land like the Aman Resorts in Asia, Sandy Lane in Barbados, Four Seasons anywhere, Stein Eriksen in Deer Valley... I will preface this review by saying that we had a really lovely family holiday aboard the Solstice. This was our second cruise, and our first with Celebrity (last year we sailed around Scandinavia on the RC Jewel of the Seas.) We had a really fabulous experience on our first cruise last year which led us to book aboard the Solstice. We booked with Celebrity on the basis that they seemed to offer a more luxurious, upmarket experience and were very excited about the new Solstice class of ships. The ship itself was certainly above and beyond our expectations - it is light, modern and luxurious. Sadly the service really lets the ship down, it is frustratingly inconsistent across venues and the staff ranged from very friendly to decidedly surly. The ship was completely full so Celebrity probably doesn't need any tips from me about how to run their business but in order to guarantee repeat customers I really think they need to focus on their staff management and training. Cabins: My cabin was great, a celebrity suite on deck 11 with an extra large balcony. Very comfortable with all the mod cons of a good hotel. My biggest tip to Celebrity here would be to remove the frosted glass between the living room and bedroom and replace it with clear glass and a blind. A few of the people in our group had the option to be in a Celebrity suite but preferred to stay in their sky suites because they didn't want to be in a bedroom which was essentially like an inside cabin. I really missed being able to see the sea from my bed - but all in all this issue is minor, I was very comfortable and well looked after by my cabin attendant. The Butler was pretty invisible but I get the impression this is only a perk if you have specific things for them to do. I didn't ask for anything and never ate in my room so the Butler service was close to nil, which suited me fine. I saw a Penthouse and a Royal suite both of which were very nicely appointed. Restaurants Murano: We arrived aboard thinking we would come here frequently but ate here only once on our first night aboard. Sadly the whole experience comes off as a parody of what one might expect from a Michelin starred restaurant on shore. Instead of attentive and polite the service tends to come off as greasy and obsequious. By way of background we all adore French food and have been lucky enough to eat at many very fine French restaurants in Europe and America - with this in mind the food is only just ok, but tends towards being stodgy and overwrought- the soufflEs were sadly sagging by the time they reached the table. The management staff went out of their way on a number of occasions to let us know that we were very lucky to be given a table because they were so busy - suffice to say that in good restaurants the key is making the customer feel the exact opposite, they they are pleased and delighted to have you as a guest regardless of how busy they might be. In short, the management staff at Murano have a great deal to learn about top class service, the snob factor they try to bring to the experience is almost comedically out of place at sea. Tuscan Grille: We ate here many times during the course of the cruise - the food is tasty and the service friendly. The restaurant managers were always very welcoming and charming but the basic level of table service was poor. Glasses would go unfilled, plates uncleared, all while 4 or 5 waiters would be working our table at once. It seemed that the staff had very limited training in the basics of efficient restaurant service. Orders were frequently taken wrongly or forgotten altogether, of course we're on holiday so we're pretty relaxed about all these sorts of details but they are worth pointing out in a review. The food is nice, the pastas are tasty, and the steaks competently cooked but certainly nothing you probably can't have at your local neighbourhood Italian. Silk Harvest: The manager at Silk Harvest was really great and always went out of his way to get us a table - but again the table service suffered from the same slightly amateurish problems as the other restaurants, but the food was always quick and tasty - the sushi was lovely and fresh. Oceanview Cafe: As far as buffet food goes it is very hard to fault the Oceanview, everything seems fresh and tasty, plenty of choice all day. The crowds can be a little aggressive at breakfast but all in all this venue does exactly what it should do, and it does it very well. Grand Epernay: We ate here twice and both times the food was good and the service friendly. The first time was at the captain's table which we all thoroughly enjoyed and the second time was towards the end of the cruise at our own table. The food here isn't haute cuisine, but it is prepared in a way that probably appeals to the broadest audience. I had Chateaubriand one night and pork chop the other and both were good. I had a middle course of soup one night which was pretty closely related to something you would probably find in a tin at your local supermarket but still all absolutely fine. We found all the napkin waving, light flashing, drum banging, Auld Lang Syne singing on the last formal night to be absolutely totally bizarre. It was like being in a TGI Fridays or something and again really totally destroyed any illusion of sophistication that had been carefully created by the dEcor and dress code. Although again, while we found it odd one or two of the tables around us seemed to enjoy it, so it might just be that we are totally out of step with the demographic and routines of cruising. Quasar + Martini+ Sky : The design elements of Quasar are cool but the space itself doesn't really work, it is an awkward corridor of a room and there is no natural flow between the bar and dancefloor. Conversely Sky is a really fabulous room but is sadly underutilized. There were a lot of Spanish speakers on our cruise and the DJ in Quasar played almost exclusively Spanish language pop music which was a bit disappointing and as a result really alienated a lot of English speakers we spoke to, who went once but didn't go back. Consequently the crowd was largely the same core of very young Spanish speakers every night. The DJ became friendly with them and had a clipboard to get all their facebook details on the last night... sometimes becoming overly friendly with a small group of passengers can affect the ability of staff to cater to a wider audience. The bartenders in Quasar were decidedly unfriendly and a cash tip really had to be laid down in order to guarantee any kind of consistent service. We found this to be an ongoing problem, I understand that for a lot of the barstaff their livelihood depends on tips but they really need to work on the basic upfront levels of politeness and friendliness. We spoke to some Australian people on the cruise who commented that they found many of the staff throughout the boat to be surly unless engaged in an activity which involved an upsell or a tip which was something that our party of 11 also consistently found. I agree in tipping for good service but (chicken and egg) the good service has to be forthcoming in order to warrant a tip... I understand that it is probably a very difficult life on board ship, but its really not the customer's fault. The Martini bar was a great venue for a pre/post-dinner drinks and the staff there really set an excellent example. Carlito always served us quickly and efficiently and went out of his way to make our experience a good one. Consequently we always went out of our way to make sure he was generously tipped. Celebrity really need to set the bar higher and spend more time auditing the behaviour of their staff. The good service here highlighted in many ways how patchy the service was elsewhere. The only downside is probably the music which is too loud and a terrible Euro/techno mix from about 1999. One time when we were in the bar alone we asked them to turn it down enough so we could have a conversation and our waiter very apologetically told us that management wouldn't allow them to turn the music down. By the pool was the same, bad pop music played much too loud. It's a little as though someone at Celebrity thinks that very loud music played by the pool (and everywhere else) creates a party atmosphere. In reality it just creates noise pollution and inhibits conversation. I'm 28 and used to nightclub environments so I can only imagine how annoying this must be for older passengers. Those used to real four and five star service will probably come away decidedly disappointed. If what you are looking for is huge amounts of food, huge numbers of people, huge cocktails and loud 'party' music piped throughout the ship then you will undoubtedly come away happy. I would recommend the Solstice, but with the important caveat that the overall experience is more Holiday Inn than Four Seasons. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
It's been almost 2 months since our return from the fabulous Celebrity Solstice tour around the eastern Med, but the memories are still strong and will be for some time to come. This being our 1st ever cruise we were somewhat ... Read More
It's been almost 2 months since our return from the fabulous Celebrity Solstice tour around the eastern Med, but the memories are still strong and will be for some time to come. This being our 1st ever cruise we were somewhat apprehensive - will cruising be for us? will we be bored ? will we suffer 'mal de mare ? Flying out to Rome the same day as departure, would we get to the ship on time ?? All worries that went through my head for months before the big day. So yes, of course we arrived at Civitaveccia in good time thanks to the pre-booked ships transfers, check-in was fast and efficient, we were on board and found our cabin with 30 minutes of arrival at the port. Our cabin which was spotless, comfortable and spacious with a good view out to sea (Deck 7), provided you didnt look down only to see the tops of the orange life boats. Next thing on the agenda was to find something to eat and drink - so we headed up to the Oceanview Grille and was greeted with a smiling face offering cocktails - lovely I thought, only to discover we were then signing the receipt for $9 each, but hey it tasted good and you did get to keep the glasses ! Found a table and went in search of lunch. There were numourous food stations with just about EVERYTHING you could wish for, all nicely presented, hot and tasty. Once fed and watered we returned to our cabin and our luggage was waiting for us outside, also, coincidently was our steward waiting to introduce himself. We instantly made friends with him and he kept us clean and tidy for the rest of the 12 days, bringing us everything we asked for including regular ice bucket replenishment and fresh lemons for my gin ! Before we knew it it was time to head up to the Sunset bar for sailaway.... and from then on we felt completely at home throughout the ship. We had 2nd sitting for dinner in the main restaurant and our waiters Lazaro and Carlos, tended to our every need, with recommendations thrown in for good measure. They instantly became best pals with our 12 year old son. Again food here was wonderful and could not be faulted at any time. We ate here most nights, but did experience Tuscan Grille on one occasion. In truth I think I preferred the Grand Epernay, the food at TG was good, but it was the only place on the ship where any ship movement could be felt - which un-nerved our son a little. 1st day at sea and we chilled out around the pool. Yes it was busy and the pools small for the number of passengers, but we wandered between the loungers and the pool bar, and explored the ship some more and the time flew by. Ports of Call - well the review is about the ship, so surfice to say that all the ports of call were great. We took no organised ships tours and did all DIY thanks to the heaps of research I had done before departure. Everything went according to plan. We saw everything we intended on seeing at a fraction of the cost by means of public transport. One day in Kusadasi we moored alongside Equinox - there was a great party atmosphere going on with the crew, who were meeting up with colleagues not seen for some while, then when we left, the ships were saluting each other with much siren blowing and waving - it was quite an experience. Ships Entertainment - we saw two shows, both excellent, didnt do the Quasar thing, not quite my 12 year olds scene ! My partner frequented the Casino for a brief time most nights - but we wont be booking our next cruise on his winnings !! The midnight buffet held one night in the Sky Lounge was a bit of a crush - we only went to see what was on offer, not that we could eat very much more, but it seemed the whole ship was present. I enjoyed a massage and facial in the spa, which was one of the special offers advertised in the 'dailies'. It was good, but of course was subject to some degree of hard sell for the products. I told the lovely Philippino lady that my partner had paid for my treatment so I had better not spend any more of his money - to which she then left me alone ! Before we knew it our time had come to an end. We had an early flight (10.50am) and so therefore was aware we would be one of the first off - however I think our 6.15 disembarkation was a little too early since we found ourselves at the airport a good hour before the check-in opened. So this was our 1st experience of cruising. A fantastic ship, with fantastic crew and fantastic ports... will we go again ?? ... you betcha !! Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
Our family had only taken 1 cruise trip before, so we were looking forward to an upscale trip on the Celebrity Solstice. The ship is absolutely spectacular. The common spaces were gorgeous! The martini bar had shaved ice on the top. The ... Read More
Our family had only taken 1 cruise trip before, so we were looking forward to an upscale trip on the Celebrity Solstice. The ship is absolutely spectacular. The common spaces were gorgeous! The martini bar had shaved ice on the top. The wine area was very comfortable. The library had plenty of books to chose from provided you were an adult (no kids books here). The service was spotty! Dinner service was not what we had expected from this cruise. Our server was very nice, but had no culinary knowledge and could not provide us with good advise on what to pick for dinner nor could he describe correctly what we were ordering. The bar service people rarely came by, so if you are having dinner at the main dining hall, bring your drink with you from one of the bars. The service at the pool was also not great. The servers rarely stopped to ask if you needed a drink, they just walked around the deck with prepared drinks not inquiring who needed something to drink. Cruise staff: we never saw the cruise director anywhere! Nor the Maitre D'. If you wanted to see the cruise director you either had to go to the theater where he presented information or watch him on tv. I found most of the crew to be rather off standish. The port shopping person was fine, but his office hours were only 5- 7 pm during the day. Cabin: Very comfortable, although there was not enough closet space to store our stuff. We had a balcony and it was perfect size for the 2 adults + 1 kid we had. The cabin staff was very friendly and helpful. Ports; We loved Santorini, Kudasai(Ephesus) and Naples. Istanbul was also fun, but we really did not have much time to see it all. There is not much to see in Delos - I would advise seeing Ephesus + AThens sites instead. Dinner/Food: The food at the dinning hall was not as good as I had expected. They only load food at Rome, so by the time you get to the 8th day the fruits are not as good anymore. Every fish entree we ordered we had to return. The chinese pork dinner was inedible - hard and tough to eat. The food at the informal dining area was ok. Pleanty of choices - not all of them good! To me there was too much to chose from yet not enough quality on any of it. Desserts were not good - except for Chocolate Ice cream and some chocolate desserts and pistachio dessert. Creme brulee was aweful! Tender Ports: When they tell you to line up for tender tickets at 9 am beware people are lining up starting at 7:30 am. We ended up waiting 1.5 hours to get off the ship in Santorini after following the advise of the cruise staff to be at the line at 9 am. Laundry - there is no self service laundry on this ship. Wait till the 9th day for a special $24.50 for a bag of laundry. Otherwise you'll end up paying $40+ to wash your undergarments. Embarcation/Disembarcation: They open the embarcation at 11 am and let you on the ship by 12. Your luggage gets delivered to your cabin by 2 pm. Disembarcation they tell you to plan flights after 11 am. You honestly can get off the boat by 7 am and make an earlier flight. We actually docked in Civitavechhia at 3 am. Other dining areas: WE HEARD THE REST OF THE RESTAURANTS IN THE BOAT WERE GREAT, BUT WE DID NOT GO TO THEM. Kids program: Had to pay for them to have dinner and lunch! I found this to be ridiculuous. We had already paid for this when we bought our tickets. Theater shows: did not see any except for the first two. We all fell asleep - not very entertaining at all. Kids teen club - my son who is 16 years old had a fabulous time hanging out with the rest of the teens. Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
Background: This would be my fourth cruise but first with Celebrity. Both my parents have been on 10 or more cruises and have sailed Celebrity before.We flew into Rome on July 5 to catch up on sleep before riding to Civitavecchia on July 6 ... Read More
Background: This would be my fourth cruise but first with Celebrity. Both my parents have been on 10 or more cruises and have sailed Celebrity before.We flew into Rome on July 5 to catch up on sleep before riding to Civitavecchia on July 6 to board the Solstice. We took a train from Termini Station to Civitavecchia and it was alot cheaper than taking a cab. However, the air conditioning was minimal, but there were many people on the train that were boarding the ship like us- so it was easy to make some friends!Embarkation: We arrived around 2:30 and it was like a zoo! It was quick and only took about 30 minutes to get your cards and start embarking the ship- make sure all your paper work is filled out and credit cards are verified for your sea pass acount- makes it so much quicker when in the line. Our bags were even at our door when we arrived at the cabin! very fast service!Ship Info: The ship is BEAUTIFUL and HUGE. It makes all the other cruise ships look sooo little. We stayed on the 8th floor in the aft and it was the smoothest ride I have ever felt on a ship. There was only one day I felt a little nauseous and that was because of a storm that was off the coast. Otherwise, you can not even tell your moving. The public spaces are well lit and very clean. There are a lot of bars on the ship. The Lawn Club was interesting- personally not as exciting as it was made out to be- but none the less..very different than what could be found on any other ship. The Martini Bar was ALWAYS busy but it was so much fun to watch the bartenders make drinks. TJ is the best and is absolutely hysterical. I would reccoment the Martini Flight for about 18 dollars- you can sample 6 different martinis. The Casino was always busy at the late hours. There is only one 6 dollar minimum blackjack table- which was normally always crowded. However, it was the most fun to play. Be careful about who you are playing with though. Being that you can be 18 to get into the Casino, some of the players had NO idea how to play the game how you are supposed to and in essence can really mess up a hand or two. The slot machines never seemed to pay out well- at least for me- so I stuck with Blackjack and actually did pretty well! :)The Shows- Celebrity has never been known for its shows and I can somewhat see why. The shows were not awful by any means but not that appealing to me. There was a broadway style show- the talent is amazing! However, most of the broadway songs, I did not know. The comedian was funny and there is a Cirq Du Solei Show which was a lot of fun too. It really just depends what you like in a show. Some of them are a little cheesy but the preformers are well trained and very talented! Dining- My family and I mostly ate in the main dining room at the 6:15 seating. Alot of the seats are open because most people eat in the late seating. There were alot of Europeans and alot of people from South America so they always ate later. You could tell the Americans/families were the ones that went to the early dinner- haha but overall, it was usually always busy. The food was ok- not fantastic but still had some really good entrees. I ate steak alot because the menu was not very diverse but it was still good. The food was never hot but I never had to bring it back to the kitchen to heat it back up. The wine list was really extensive and had some good choices and the sommielier was a help. The cafe' up on deck on 14 was good. There was the same food there during lunch and all, but there is sushi offered during dinner times, which was very good!We never went to any specialty restaraunts but from what I heard- you should make reservations ahead of time because it can be hard to get a table once you are on the ship. Nightlife: There was a lot of younger kids on the ship- which really suprised me. The Kids Club was usually busy- you would see them all walking around together at various times during the day. The Kids Club is closed while in port however- so sometimes the kids could be a little out of hand. The 18 and up crowd usually partied at Quasar, which was the resident club on the ship. It usually didnt get busy until about 12 and would stay open until the wee hours. Also the Martini bar is a hangout for younger adults to mid 30s and the Sky Lounge was so much fun. I really reccomend the Karaoke nights and the bands are SENSATIONAL. Disembarkation: We were literally the 2nd family off the ship and were fortunate enough to grab a taxi. All the luggage is stored according to the tags you are given at departure so it was not too hard finding them. There are only about 20 cabs in all of Civitavecchia so you need to get a hold of one as soon as you get off the ship or try and find someone to share rides with. Celebrity charges 90 a person for an airport transfer-which is RIDICULOUS..we got lucky and only payed around 180 euros to get to the airport and Rome- and that was for four people. So if you are with a family- def recomment a cab. if you are just 1 or 2 people- id suck it up and pay the transport fee because its the same price as the taxi- and at least your guaranteed Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
Well we started our big family vacation  in Rome a few days before the sailing so that we can show our kids (teenagers ages 18,15, 12 and younger daughter age 8) .the sights, smells and wonders of Rome. We stayed at the Hotel Ponte Sisto ... Read More
Well we started our big family vacation  in Rome a few days before the sailing so that we can show our kids (teenagers ages 18,15, 12 and younger daughter age 8) .the sights, smells and wonders of Rome. We stayed at the Hotel Ponte Sisto which was a great place to stay for an American family . the rooms were modern and very clean  and the front desk personnel all spoke English and were very helpful with taxis and restaurant recommendations. Also, the hotel has a beautiful courtyard in which they serve a lovely breakfast including eggs, bacon, etc..  Onto the cruise...   We took a car service to the port which in retrospect was a good idea because the town of Civitavecchia was a bit confusing and I heard from other people on the boat that some of the car rental agencies were closed for lunch and taxis were not easy to find...The check-in process was smooth and were were able to get on the boat by 12:30 for lunch...the rooms were then ready a short while later. We had two conceirge class rooms on deck 10 which worked out very nicely. We had 3 people in each room, and though i was concerned about space and storage, it all worked out fine as the rooms had good places to store clothes and the bathrooms were terrific also had storage space for toiletries.   The ship is beautiful, every where you go there is an interesting architectural detail and a comfortable chair to sit in. The staff on the ship work very hard and kept al of the public areas very clean. I was impressed by the cleanliness of the Oceanview Cafe ( Buffet dining room) .you did not see empty trays, or glasses for more than 2-3 minutes before they were picked up, and the presentation of all of the food at the buffet was always clean and fresh.   The main dining room had some nice views and again the staff was fantastic. The food was very good and there were always many choices for dinner to please all. We also ate in the Tuscan grill and the Asian restaurant Silk harvest. Once again the service in these two dining rooms was outstanding .Reservations were made for both of these restaurants once we got on the ship with no problems.   My youngest daughter enjoyed the youth programs which like Royal Caribbean was open from 9 am until late at night if you chose to do the slumber party options (10pm-1am )..She mostly went in the afternoons or evenings and was very happy with the staff and the activities. The teens ages 12-18 had a much looser schedule but were very happy...I would encourage teens to go to the get together events the first day so that they feel comfortable with the group in the beginning.   The shows were very good and the music on the ship was impressive. Check out the A cappella group on the boat..Sold Out..they performed in a few of the shows and at various spots around the ship...The band ( headliners?) was also very good.   The cruise director Drew had a great sense of humor and by the end of the trip I would stay at the end of each show just to hear his stories and jokes.   Overall a busy itinerary but great ship! Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
Just came back from 11 night Eastern Med on Solstice.  My husband and I are both 50 and we were accompanied by out 13 yr old son.  This was a second cruise for all of us, previously having traveled on HAL's Veendam to Western ... Read More
Just came back from 11 night Eastern Med on Solstice.  My husband and I are both 50 and we were accompanied by out 13 yr old son.  This was a second cruise for all of us, previously having traveled on HAL's Veendam to Western Caribbean.  Although we have not cruised extensively, we have traveled pretty extensively, staying and 4 and 5 star hotels and resorts. Solstice exceeded our standards.  Do not believe the negative reviews.  Solstice is a gem in almost every way.  Embarkation went very smoothly.  Our stateroom was lovely with a nice size balcony (which we all thought is an essential for a Med cruise).  Although Celebrity claimed our Concierge Class room slept four, we felt three was the maximum.  Concierge Class was definitely worth the extra money.  We only paid about $200 more for all three people and we considered that to be a bargain.  With the extra pillow top bedding, this bed was one of the best we have ever had in any hotel, including Westin and Four Seasons.  We loved our Frette bath robes instead of the waffle robes in the other staterooms.  I also chose different pillows and everything was delivered to our room with a big smile by our wonderful stateroom attendant Joseph.  Instead of canapes, we had a cheese, fruit and cracker platter delivered to our room each day.  The flowers and fruit platters were refreshed daily as well.  In addition as CC travelers, we received a large blue Celebrity tote that is very similar to those made by Longchamps.  The TV selection was very good as well. The public spaces on Solstice were breathtaking.  From the pools, to the spa to the lobby, to the restaurant wing, Celebrity has really outdone themselves.  I sometimes forgot I was on a ship, only to be reminded by the gorgeous Med views as we were sailing.  Nary a bump or bounce were felt during the whole voyage.  The only way we knew if we had left or arrived at a port was by looking out a window.  That is how smooth the entire voyage was.  Captain Dimitrios and his whole crew do a great job and the Captain has a great sense of humor. While mostly everything was perfect, there were a few things Celebrity can still work on.  Yes it is true you have to get up by 9AM in order to secure a good chaise by the pool, but the ship is filled with so many nooks and crannies of seating area that it didn't really bother me.  What did bother me was the loudness of the music at the pool area.  I found it difficult to read sometimes and would opt for the quiet of my stateroom verandah.  It would be nice if there was more music free time by the pool area. The food was uneven.  Although everything sounded delicious in The Grand Epernay, the execution wasn't always the same.  There were some really good dishes however.  I live in the NYC metro area and am very fussy about food and will say that everything was certainly very edible.  One very pleasant surprise was the wine list.  It was both affordable and varied.  I am not a Chardonnay drinker and like other less common varieties.  I was able to find almost all of the wine wine I like to drink on the wine list.  That really shocked me.  My travel agent gave us a bottle of wine onboard (Chardonnay) and our wine steward very graciously exchanged it for a bottle to my liking.  Service in the MDR was outstanding!  Aker, our waiter, was so terrific that we all wanted to take him home with us.  I really enjoyed breakfast and lunch at the Aqua Spa Cafe.  The lunches especially were all delicious, creative and portioned appropriately.  We also ate at Silk Harvest and Tuscan Grille.  Both were very good and the service was top-notch! As a New Yorker and having seen many Broadway shows, I can say the shows don't compare to the Great WHite Way but they were entertaining enough.  I loved getting exercise on Sea Days on the jogging track.  I used the gym once, but I didn't want to wait so I preferred to walk outside.  The spa was beautiful and I had the best massage I ever had.  I also felt they weren't to hawkish about selling the spa products which I liked. The shopping on the ship was decent.  I loved a cosmetic product at home and was surprised to find the exact same product onboard for the regular price.  The last sea day they even made a "Solstice Grand Bazaar" which sold items from all the ports we visited.   The best part of the cruise was the outstanding itinerary.  Celebrity really has a gem with this one.  Every single port was amazing.  Since I have come back friends and family have asked which port was the best and I can honestly say they all were the best.  We started in Santorini.  I got on line for Tender tickets at about 8 and was able to get on the first tender.  We hired private guides at every port but Mykonos.  We were very glad we did.  In Santorini, we were supposed to have Nick, but someone else showed up.  She did a good enough job.  She did take us to a fabulous fish taverna right on the beach called Galini. We took the donkey up to Fira and I strongly recommend doing that.  My son convinced me to do it and I am glad he did.  The sunset in Santorini was unforgettable. We walked around Mykonos on our own and then went to the town beach.  We took the shuttle to town.  It was $10 per person and you could go back and forth as much as you wanted.  Well worth it.  We loved Mykonos.  It is a charming town with great shopping and tavernas. In Istanbul we had 2 half days and had a great guide named Kagan Kosagan who took us to the major sites and turned everything into a fascinating story.  He ordered street food for us outside the Spice Market nd that was really great.  We also got into an old synagogue through his connections, even though the synagogue was closed to the public.  We did not eat dinner on the ship.  We went to 360 Istanbul, a very trendy and delicious modern fusion restaurant with 360 views.  The restaurant is located on Istiklal Cadessi which is a pedestrian street and is quite the scene on Friday night. Next was Kusadasi, a surprisingly wonderful port.  Great shopping and off course Ephesus.  We had a superb guide named Nahide from Ekol Travel.  She was both warm and extremely knowledgeable.  She directed us to a terrific kebab house after the tour named Oz Urfa.  It is on a side alley off the main pedestrian shopping street.  Go There! In Athens we used Tony from VIP Taxi Servicesalso wonderful.  We saw the Acropolis, Plaka and the very hip Kolonaki area.  We ate at Platanos Taverna in Plaka and it was very good. Our last stop was Naples.  We used Salvatore of Drive Amalfi.  He was wonderful too.  A real gentleman!  He drove us to Pompeii.  We did not hire a private guide there and that was perhaps our only mistake.  Pompeii was overwhelming.  It Turkey, for the price of a tour you get a driver and a tour guide.  Not so in Italy and Greece.  The driver acts as a guide, but cannot guide you through the ancient sites due to the local laws.  Then he took us to Positano.  The beauty of Positano and the whole Amalfi coast blew me away.  Last stop was a mini-tour of Naples and a stop at Pizzeria Brandi where pizza was first invented.  It was beyond delicious.  At the end of the trip, no ATM would give us Euros so Salvatore was nice enough to accept a charge card,even though we were supposed to pay in cash. We used Zelit limo for our transfers to and from the airport.  they worked out well and they were the most reasonable we could find.  Disembarkation literally took 2 minutes.  It was that perfectly executed! All in all the trip of a lifetime.  The combination of the luxury of Solstice and the outstanding ports created a vacation we will never forget! Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
Let me start by saying how great this site is.  It was a huge help to us in planning our port days/shore excursions!  I  have never written a travel review but felt if I could pass on any helpful tips to someone I should try! We were ... Read More
Let me start by saying how great this site is.  It was a huge help to us in planning our port days/shore excursions!  I  have never written a travel review but felt if I could pass on any helpful tips to someone I should try! We were first time cruisers and sailed the Med.on an 11 day cruise on July 6th. What a Beautiful Ship!  Everyone that we talked to that has cruised in the past told us this was their favorite ship and although I have no other cruising experience I have got to believe this is true.  It is very clean and modern and although It was completely booked you never felt crowded.We are a couple in our late 30's-40 and we traveled with our 11 yr. old son. One thing that I had a difficult time finding on this site were reviews that matched our age group, especially reviews from people traveling with children.  I was nervous that my son would not have many other kids to interact with but no need to worry.  There were many kids on the boat (One parent said 500, I am sure during the school year this number drops.) There were kids of all ages on the boat and my son had a wonderful time.  They have a great kids program with organized daily activities that my son enjoyed participating in on sea days. Scavenger hunts, art projects, bingo, video games, foosh ball, etc.   (They have organized activities daily but he did not participate on port days.)  There are so many things to do on the ship! There is something for every age.  We enjoyed the pool,(on sea days you do need to be there early for chairs...they go FAST) health club, and the glass show.  Try to get to at least one glass show, I thought it was so relaxing to watch...the girls are so talented and do such a nice job describing the art of glass blowing.  We thought the food was good.  We loved the crepe place (bistro on five) worth the $5.00 charge and we also loved Silk Harvest.  This was the only specialty restaraunt we ate at and were very glad we did.  The food and service were great!  We went to three shows on the cruise and enjoyed each one.  They do a great job with the shows, there is a woman who impersonates other singers that we really enjoyed...try not to miss her...very funny and talented!PORTSThis is the portion of cruise reviews that I was always most interested so I will try to be detailed and pass on useful information!Civitavechia:  We arrived at 12:00 and got right on the ship.  Took a tour and had lunch.  We stayed in Rome two days prior at the Caesar house.  Nice accomadations close to the Colloseum but a bit expessive.  We stayed at the hotel Canada Best Western two days after the cruise and this was very nice too but much less money.  We met three other couples at our hotel who were also going on the cruise.  We shared a van to the ship at a cost of 50e per couple, arranged by the hotel.Santoroni: I got up early and went down to get tender tickets.(7:30a.m.) just a few other people were down there but within half an hour people were lining up quickly, we were able to get off at 2:00. What a  Beautiful island!  We rented a car on our own and were so happy we did.  We took the cable car into Fira and rented a car from Motor Inn.  The man who helped us was so nice and gave us a map and suggestions on beaches. We spent a few hours at a beautiful beach enjoying the perfect water and black lava rock beach (our 1st)  the water is clear and so blue, it was so peaceful.  We the drove to Oia...do not miss this area...it is gorgeous!  A good place for a nice walk, cute shops and restaraunts and great picture taking.  We drove back to Fira, dropped off the car and got in the line for the cable car (allow plenty of time for this.)  A great peaceful day.Mykonos: Another beautiful island and another rental car!  Once again we were so happy we rented a car.  We took the bus transfer into town and tried to find the car rental place, we ended up taking a taxi to the rental place and did not know that they (the car rental place)  would have had a car waiting for us at the port.  If you think you want to rent a car book it in advance and have it waiting.  It will save you time and the expense of not needing the bus transfer.  We rented a jeep from Kosmos.  The man who helped us was fantastic, very accomadating with suggestions and when we dropped off the jeep they drove us to the port so we did not need to use the bus transfer.  We walked around Mykonos and then drove down some narrow winding roads to Super Paradise! WOW!  This place is great...I could spend a few days there.  Beach chairs/umbrellas for rent with an outdoor restaraunt/bar.  We loved this beach!  We wished we had started for the beach earlier and spent more time here.Istanbul:  What a unique city.  We decided to do this on our own and had no problems.  The only time we needed Lira was for subway tokens, so be prepared with a bit of Lira before you purchase tokens, we just got a bit of money at the cash machine in the subway and then purchase our tokens.  Using the subway was not difficult at all, a bit crowded at 7:00p.m. (this is there rush hr.) otherwise not an issue.  We went to the Topkapi Palace and also purchased tickets for the Harem rooms.  I really enjoyed the tour of the Harem rooms.  (On a side note, there is a vendor who sells icecream a little walk before you get into the Topkapi Palace.  The icecream there is made with a product that allows it to stretch a bit and when you get a cone he does a little show..flips the cones, etc. my son loved this.) We went to the Grand Bazaar after the palace and although I am glad we saw it, it was way to much for me.  You get approached constantly asking "Where are you from?" to start a conversation and everyone wants to sell you there rugs, jewelry, etc. not at all relaxing.  We planned to eat in Istanbul for dinner but we were all so tired we went back to the ship and had dinner on the boat.  The next morning we took the Subway back to Haghia Sophia (gorgeous) and then went to the Spice Bazaar.  This was much more enjoyable.  People aren't as aggressive and we were able to purchase a few souveneirs.Ephesus:  We loved our day in Ephesus! This port is very nice and clean and has nice shopping (including a starbucks) right at the dock.  We arranged a private tour with Ekol travel.  A very sweet girl named Phylis (hope I spelled her name right) was waiting for us with our last name on a sign.  I knew it was going to be a great tour when I saw her smiling face and her bright red hair...she was great and gave us so much insight into the lives of people from the area. There was a driver who took us in a van while Phylis would give us history/information on the way to our tours.  We were so happy to have this private tour...many times you see large numbers of people following someone with a paddle.  I am not saying that these aren't good tours too but for the same cost you can do your own private tour and have someone answer all your questions and stop when you want to look a bit longer, etc.  I think it is a great way to see a port and learn more about the people who live there. We went to the ruins of Ephesus and toured the terrace houses.  This is a must!  This was an amazing tour.  We never went to Mary's house but many people on the ship said the same thing about that.  We drove to a little village called Sirince where local women made products and sell them, along with other vendors, on the streets.  We ate lunch there and did a bit of shopping, this was a very enjoyable stop.  On the way back to the ship Phylis gave my husband the name of a place to have a Turkish Bath. My son and I did some shopping in the port while my husband had his turkish bath..he was glad he tried it.  Athens: This is another port that we did on our own.  We used the subway system (which was the most confusing public transportation we used...it isn't impossible but you make 3 transfers to get to the Acropolis) We took a taxi back which cost 8e (on the way out of the port they wanted 25e, taxi drivers are hoping to pick people up at a higher cost...ask before you get in....once you are away from the port it is much cheaper.) We walked around the Acropolis, went into the beautiful new museum and walked around the Plaka...all this is in easy walkable distance of one another.Naples:  We booked a private tour with AP tours.  We had another wonderful day with our driver/tour guide Victorio.  He was very charming and sweet and always asked if we wanted more time for sights or if we wanted to stop to take a picture, etc. On the drive he would give us lots of information on the people from the area, tourism, the cost of living in the area, he was very easy to talk to and we enjoyed his company.  We started our tour with Pompeii. Victorio dropped us off and told us he would be waiting.we decided that 2 hrs. would be sufficient. (There is absolutely no way to see all the ruins in 2 hrs. but we also knew we wanted to see the Amalfi Coast and honestly we were a bit "ruined out".  We got to see about 1/3 of the ruins...it is a large area...and we were fine with that. Some people may want to make an entire day of this and then you would want to look into touring just Pompeii.)  We then took off on a lovely drive to Positano...what a beautiful little town on the cliffs of the Amalfi coast. The Amalfi Coast is absolutely beautiful and I am so glad we saw it.  We did a bit of shopping and walking around and then we drove to the top of a cliff and ate at a fantatic Italian restaraunt called La Tagliata...if you go bring your appetite. They keep bringing food and it is all delicious!  After lunch we drove to Sorento and walked around the town a bit...also a beautiful area.  Victorio then drove us to the Hydrofoil in Sorento and we took it back to the Ship.  A Super day!  Another option to this...our table mates had seen Pompeii so they weren't doing a tour.  They took the Hydrofoil from Naples to Capri and had a wonderful relaxing day.  It would be impossible to do all these things so it is important to decide what is most important and plan from there.  Maybe we will be lucky enough to visit Capri at another time!No matter what you choose to do during your port days you will have a great time.  This is a beautiful Cruise and I hope your trip is as enjoyable experience...it is a trip of a lifetime! Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
The Ship is beautiful, classy and well laid out as mentioned many times before.   The buffet area was a bit of a bun fight on occasion and on sea days the ship was busy but most of the time it never seemed too crowded anywhere ... Read More
The Ship is beautiful, classy and well laid out as mentioned many times before.   The buffet area was a bit of a bun fight on occasion and on sea days the ship was busy but most of the time it never seemed too crowded anywhere and it was easy to enjoy quiet times on much of the ship. The lawn was well kept and we found it great to walk, sit, drink and play on it. Staterooms We had a  c.c room right at the back of the ship, 1676, which was a little tight for 2 plus an untidy 13 year old but very comfortable and well appointed, the bathrooms are spacious with a good large power shower and lots of room for 'stuff' .  One word of warning! The back balconies are great for relaxing (no soot noticed) but one evening we returned to find vomit all over the balcony. My wife lost the urge for our late night drinks al fresco after this. Guest Relations failed miserably when I reported this.   Service On the whole service was very good. Our room attendant Deniz worked unobtrusively and catered to all our wishes. Our waiters in the Grand Eperney were magnificent! Imade and Imade, collectively known as Eminem were so charming and friendly but very professional, remembering our previous requests and likes and ensuring we never had to ask again for them on following mealtimes. The kids and teens were looked after so well that they looked forward to dining there every night. The sommelier, Mihaela, was an absolute peach, professional, charming, knowledgeable and pretty to boot! There were great drinks to be had in a few of the bars, the Martini bar and the Ensemble Lounge in particular were memorable though a martini too many and you wouldn't even remember what day it was. Particularly disappointing were the drinks in the Theatre, we had badly made ones, some with wrong ingredients, some sickly sweet and once so late in coming that the show had finished! don't worry though , the martini bar is just outside and we quickly learned to bring one with us to the shows   Shows/music The Solstice 'cirque style' show was great and the 'Starring you' guest talent competition was obviously a lot of fun because..well it starred us, the guests! Note to Entertainments Officer - I'm not sure if having 2 violin based shows is a good idea, hearing The devil went down to Georgia, Riverdance, and Popera's greatest hits more than once is too much for anybody in a 10 day period. Some great musicians were to be heard around the ship, hats off in particular to cheeky young accapella quartet Soul'd Out with great vocal arrangements of Creedence and Neil Diamond in that 50's do wop style. A swinging piano trio cropped up around the ship, augmented by hip young(ish) vocalist Victor in the Ensemble Lounge coming on like Mel Torme, Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennet rolled into one - excellent. A mention must be made of the piped music and pool D.J also, it is difficult but I believe Celebrity have got it just right with cool jazz, soul, ballads and R&B, laid back but not too commercial and cheesy as can happen when trying to cater for a large cross section of people. The D.J managed to play contemporary chilled out House music with broad appeal too; as someone who finds most of that 4/4 techno club music mind numbingly dull I enjoyed sizzling out on the deck with the music and sunshine!   Food The buffet was a bit 'samey'  with little imagination or variety but the quality of ingredients were very decent. Coffee was an improvement on last years Sea Princess voyage but still dire! A big plus was the thirst quenching and not too sweet still lemonade available around the clock. We dined on the second sitting and had good, sometimes excellent food most of the time however a couple of times the food was a little tepid served on cold plates, you could see the waiters are aware that there is a service issue from the kitchen side of things, come on chef, sort it out, you know it can be done! The last formal evening's dinner was disappointing with cold unappetizing food and a crap menu. Again, you can see the waiters fire fighting, bringing extra dishes to taste and entertaining the kids and such but bad is bad I'm afraid. Speciality Dining We dined in Murano, the French fine dining restaurant for an extra 30 bucks a head.   I really don't know anywhere you can have a classic and impeccable dining experience like this without blowing a really serious amount of money.   Putting aside the food, which was beautiful - whole Dover sole, properly boned tableside, gorgeous snail tortellini and the best soufflE I've eaten in years, so often these days they are twice baked and taste like flavoured omelette soufflEs now I have stopped ordering them in restaurants. If you really loved something they are happy to bring you another portion, as they are elsewhere but without another 100 bucks on the bill!   Oh yes, putting aside the food, the ambience is refined and elegant and the service is outstanding, both cheeky and professional at the same time, and drinking a favourite wine in the correct glass is a joyful experience.   I predict this place will start to appear in the guides soon though I don't know how Michelin will stretch to sending their inspectors on a cruise!   We also dined at Silk Harvest, the Asian Fusion restaurant that carries a 20 dollar surcharge. It is a great room and dining there is fun with the sharing plates, you can order the whole menu if you like but I wouldn't recommend it! My wife cannot eat rice and they were happy to make a large plate of sashimi for us, Tuna, shrimp, eel, tilapia and salmon. Unfortunately the fish was all a little flaccid and the rest of the food was just so so. I would not return to a restaurant serving this food back home in Blighty,  it was more cheap noodle joint or chop suey house than 'upscale Asian Fusion'      Ports The ports of call on this 10 night cruise were Civitavecchia, Messina, Athens Mykonos, Kusadasi, Rhodes, Santorini, Naples, then  back to Civitavecchia. We really enjoyed the itinerary of this cruise and these were our personal highlights;   Mykonos What a funky little Greek Island, the people were friendly and we spent half a day lounging on the beach in the Town centre and being whipped by the coarse sand and ferocious wind - very nice and cheaper than the exfoliating massage on board. I sneaked off for a chicken giro that I had been pining for.   Kusadasi Another great place to wander around, we planned on Ephesus but it was just too damn hot to be wandering around ruins after touring the furnace that was Athens. The girls went mad in the shops, terrorising the young Turks and giving them a taste of their own medicine 'You have no nice bags, why? These are cheap, not good quality, do you have a cousin' we laughed a lot and I bought a suit as the sea air seemed to have shrunk everything I had brought with me. A Turkish bath and massage was had by all (and a couple more kebabs).   Santorini Wow! Dramatic scenery or what! After a trip up the cable car and a wander around town the 7 of us hired a boat to take us around the sites. I wish we had found Stathis and his boat 'Anemos' earlier. For a couple of euros more per person than the big boats which were choc full of people we had this amazing boat to ourselves with the charming Stathis at the helm. After a trip along the coast and a visit to the Caldera we were lucky enough to get to the hot springs without another soul in sight, we had a half hour lolling in the murky yellow hot water and as we swam back to our boat 3 more big boat loads arrived and about 200 people threw themselves in the sea heading towards us, we felt privileged to have had it to ourselves, a delightful trip You can find Stathis down on the waterfront and his number is 22860 22932 or 6937 199 033. We asked him for a restaurant recommendation and spent the rest of the afternoon eating grilled fish and drinking beer with a view. An outstanding day.   Napoli I overheard someone on board saying they had walked into Naples and found it lacklustre so returned to the ship. Oh dear, they never discovered why Naples was first stop on the itinerary of every Gentleman and Lady's Grand European Tour back in the day, why they say 'see Naples and die' or why it was once the most visited place in Europe after London and Paris. The architecture is magnificent and the views of the bay, well they really are to die for! If you do not want to take the ships afternoon tour which my Italian Aunt did and proclaimed excellent you can take the open topped tourist bus that we took (family ticket 66 euros for 2 adults and 3 kids up to 18), the recorded commentary through headphones is interesting and do make sure you do the coastal route as 4 different routes are available. It was hotter than July and I also learned patience is indeed a virtue.   A fabulous plate of spaghetti vongole in a backstreet trattoria ended a magical day.   For anyone wanting a trip to Herculaneum the local ferry takes 10 minutes and costs 3.5 euros, it departs at 9.10 but give yourself time to buy a ticket from the office right on the dock by the cruise terminal. There are a couple of ferries back in the P.M but you can also get the local train. I never knew it was so close by sea; cheap too; I shall try not to miss it next time!   Conclusion There were 11 of us on the cruise ranging from 7 to 70 and we all enjoyed it and felt well catered for. I would probably not cruise on Solstice again - I now know that I prefer a smaller ship as it is easier to bump into people more than once but I shall look forward to sailing on another smaller class Celebrity ship in the future.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
We have just returned from a really great cruise on the Solstice and the overall experience was very good. We are quite experienced cruisers and have travelled on P&O, Carnival, Princess, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity. Each cruise ... Read More
We have just returned from a really great cruise on the Solstice and the overall experience was very good. We are quite experienced cruisers and have travelled on P&O, Carnival, Princess, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity. Each cruise line has its own individual 'flavor'. This year our cruise was from Rome so we decided to stay 2 days in Civitavecchia. I chose the Hotel Miramare and was not disappointed. It was situated in a great location right on the sea front and just steps away from some lovely restaurants and the market. We had a suite as there is my husband and I and our teenage son. The rooms were simple and clean and the walk to the port even with suitcases was not to strenuous. We boarded the Solstice at lunchtime. Its a lovely ship with great amenities including a fabulous gym. Our son really enjoyed the teen area and hanging out with new friends. We had made friends with some people on our Celebrity Connections thread and arranged to meet them - we had a wonderful time together and dined with them most nights. The cabin was, we feel, the best designed one we have had. Even with the pullman bed out it was easy to walk round and was perfectly spacious for all three of us. The bathroom had been ingeniously designed and had loads of storage space and the cabin storage was fine too. The bars we used were great of particular note was the Martini Bar with its great performing barmen and also the bar outside the Murano restaurant which had a lovely atmosphere. We dined in the Murano restaurant one night and were extremely impressed. Although there is an additional cover charge for this it is well worth it, the food was excellent (my lobster was out of this world!) but my advice is don't be tempted to fill up on bread before hand because the portions are very generous The food in the main dining room was a little disappointing and tended to be on the luke warm side at times, however, we made a comment to the Maitre D' about this and the service after that was much better, however, I would say the quality of the food was not quite up to the standards we have come to expect from Celebrity. We used the Oceanview Cafe for lunch and breakfast and were very impressed with the facilities and quality/choice of food here. We did play croquet on the lawn area and watched the hot glass show, both very enjoyable. Also the shows put on by the Celebrity theatre were very good particularly the one with the trapeze artists. There was also a late night comedian in the Celebrity Central venue and he was really funny. One thing we did miss was and outside deck party with a buffet. They did put on a deck party but there was no food and it just seemed to lack the fun that we had had on previous Celebrity cruises. Embarkation and Disembarkation was stress free. All in all we had a lovely cruise. Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
We have just returned from a family vacation on the Celebrity Solstice and we are all still talking to each other! The trip consisted of my husband and I, two teenagers and my In-law's. The crew on the ship could not have been more ... Read More
We have just returned from a family vacation on the Celebrity Solstice and we are all still talking to each other! The trip consisted of my husband and I, two teenagers and my In-law's. The crew on the ship could not have been more friendly. They always had a smile on their face and genuinely willing to help you with anything. First the check in was the most efficient check in process we have ever had on a cruise. No problems at all and no waiting in line. My husband and I were in an Aqua Class cabin (1523). Our room was very spacious, lots of useable storage space. We had 2 extra large suitcases and they both fit under the bed along with another carry on size suitcase. The bathroom was a nice size. Our veranda had two chairs with foot rest and a table. We had coffee there every morning. Our room was toward the front. We only had movement a couple times during the cruise but the water was a little rough and even down on the 4th and 5th floors towards the middle it was moving a little. Not enough movement for motion sickness unless you are really sensitive. Our cabin steward was Marco and I don't know how he did it but our room was cleaned every time we left! Our teenagers had an inside cabin on the same floor (1532). We thought this room would be across from us but the door to it is actually on the other side of the hall. It was ok for us because our children are 15 and 17 but if you had smaller children this would not work. I did not notice much difference in size of the room or the bathroom. It was just missing the veranda and some of the amenities were a little better in our Aquaclass room. I did enjoy having a lighted make-up mirror and hair dryer that was almost full size. The jetted shower in AQ class was nice too after a long day of sightseeing. But, all the rooms had the necessary toiletries (shampoo, conditioner,lotion, cotton balls, q-tips) and hairdryers. My in-law's had a regular balcony room (7247). Their balcony was a little bigger because it was located on the part of the ship that jogs out a little. Very private though no one else could see onto the balcony. The lifeboats were below them but did not obstruct their view in any way. Because we were in AQ class we were supposed to eat in Blu every night. We did the first night but then got moved to the main dining room so we could be with our family. That was bitter sweet! The food in Blu was much better than the dining room. We felt it was more important to be with our family than to eat well. The dining room was probably our biggest disappointment. The food was fine just not as good as other cruise ships we have been on. The staff was great but the food was a little lacking. The food at the Oceanview Cafe was better than the food in the dining room. In talking to others on board the food at Blu was the best. The coffee and tea onboard was wonderful. Wine prices were reasonable. We spent a lot of time in the Cellar. Great wine bar! Also, don't miss the ice bar for some great martini's.  We did not do a tour of Santorini or Mykonos. We spent the day just walking around and shopping. I would suggest the cable car vs the donkey in Santorini! Also, don't miss the sunset on Santorini. It is most beautiful. We did private tours in Istanbul and Ephesus. We used Ekol travel. Nur with Ekol was great to work with and very professional. Our tour guide in Istanbul was Ezel. She was absolutely fantastic. She was right there waiting for us as we left the gangway. Not only did we get a great 2 day tour with Ezel she arranged for us to have dinner in Istanbul the night the ship was docked there. That turned out to be the most fun night on our cruise. Our reservation was at the Kalamar Restaurant. The restaurant  picked us up at the port and took us to the fish market district. We had a fantastic dinner. The food was excellent. I recommend the Salt Encrusted Sea Bass. We even had belly dancers come around to our table. It seemed to be an area that the locals gather after work. A lot of fun and a beautiful area. When we were done the restaurant took us back to the ship. The shuttle to and from the restaurant was free but we of course gave them a good tip. Thank you Ezel. Our tour in Ephesus was also through Ekol. Our tour guide was Sky. She must be the most patient person ever and very fun! When you do the tours in Ephesus make sure you see the Terrace Houses. They were just opened to the public in the last 2 years and they are unbelievable. We also went rug shopping and Sky never made us feel rushed. She took us to two different places. We fell in love with a rug from Ege Hali. We have been to Istanbul and Ephesus before and we bought a silk rug back in 2000 in Ephesus. So we are familiar with several different carpet venues. The people at Ege Hali were really genuine and trustworthy. I have their contact info if anyone would like to have it. My in-laws did a ship tour of Athens. They were not impressed with the Athens tour. They couldn't hear the tour guide, the guide didn't explain what they were seeing very well and they got separated from the group due to the caos around the Acropolis. However we all did a tour of Sorrento and Pompeii with the ship and it was great. It all depends on the tour guide you have. I'm not sure who the ship used for the tour guide in Athens but they used Aloschi Brothers for the Sorrento and Pompeii tour and our guide, Hakim was great. He offered great stories and was very funny. Loved the tour of the farm in Sorrento where they make mozzarella and lemoncello. When you are getting back on the ship after being on shore the crew is there with cold towels to wipe your face and hands off, cold water or juice to drink and hand sanitizer. It's the small things!! Back to the ship....we were not fans of the lawn club. Personally I think they should use that space for more chairs to lay out in and another pool area. The show on the last evening was really good, similar to Cirque du Soleil. It would have been nice to have more shows like that on the ship. Our teenagers stayed busy at the X club and playing basketball. They both meet some other kids their age and hung out at night and days at sea. The pools shut down at 8 which I think is early especially if the kids want to swim but I think most cruise ships do this for safety reasons. The gym is nice. We only used it 3 times but good space and machines. My husband and I missed the champagne brunch but my mother in law said it was magnificent. We had a great time on the Solstice. It is beautiful and designed well. We will definitely sail with Celebrity again. I think our next one might be on Azamara without the kids though!  Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
My husband and I were traveling with my 2 older sisters.  We have been on many cruises, but this was the first time that we had sailed with Celebrity and for the most part we were extremely pleased with the experience.   The Solstice ... Read More
My husband and I were traveling with my 2 older sisters.  We have been on many cruises, but this was the first time that we had sailed with Celebrity and for the most part we were extremely pleased with the experience.   The Solstice was a new ship that had only been out a couple of times before our cruise, so it still had the sparkle that a lot of the older ships seem to lose after being in service for a while.  We got to Rome a couple of days before we were scheduled to depart and stayed at the Eurostars International Palace in Rome.  We were pleased with the hotel.  The rooms were pretty good size for a European Hotel and it was central to most of the sites we wanted to see, with convenient transportation to everything else.We checked out of the hotel in the morning and got to Civitavecchia around noon.  We were able to check in.  The process went very smoothly.  There were 10-15 people checking the passengers in, so there was almost no wait time.  They said that the rooms would not be ready until 1:30pm so we went to lunch.  As you walked into the Lido Buffet, there was a crewmember standing there with hand sanitizer, making sure everyone used it before they went in to eat. (This was consistent through the whole trip at all of their restaurants).  We really appreciated this since we were cruising just after the swine flu "epidemic" began.  It was the first time that we have been on a cruise that one of us didn't come back with a cold.   We did not book any excursions through the Celebrity Solstice.  We booked all private tours  just for the 4 of us before we left.   They were not only cheaper than the ones Celebrity offered, they were more flexible and built the tour according to how much time we wanted to spend at a site. On a couple of the tours, we actually changed parts of the itinerary as we went along. Things we liked about the cruise:The food was really good most of the time.  The only time we had issues with it was once or twice at night in the Oceanview Cafe.  They didn't have a lot of variety and sometimes it was cold. I think they wanted to encourage you to go to the dining room.  The food in the dining room was excellent.  We never had a bad meal there. The cabin attendants were awesome.  They always seemed to be on duty.  I don't know when they slept but they seemed to be available to us 24/7.  The waiters were also incredible.  They seemed to anticipate your every need.  The acupuncturist, Grace was very knowledgeable and was worth every penny I spent.  In general the whole staff was very good. The ship itself was beautiful and very clean.  It was easy to find your way around on the ship, which says a lot since I tend to get lost easily on cruise ships.  If you did get turned around, all of the crew were very knowledgeable and helpful in directing you to the right area. Things we didn't like:The ATM machines ran out of money about 3-4 days before the end of the cruise.  That in itself was bad enough but the front desk kept telling people that it was unable to get the signal when they were close to shore.  Of course after 2 days when it still didn't work we realized it was more than the signal.  One of the front desk crew finally told us that it was out of money and there was no way to fill it until the end of the cruise.  Unfortunately the others were still telling people that it was the signal until the day we disembarked.  They only had 2 ATM's on board for 3800 people. The meal times - They were 6:15 and 8:45.  The first one was too early, the last one too late.  We had the later time but switched half way through the cruise.  If you had the late dining, the show didn't start until 11pm  which was hard if you were going out the early the next day (10pm would have been fine).  Their shows were not attended well at all and I think part of it was their weird dinner times.  Everyone complained about that. The photographers were not as active as some of the cruises we have been on.  In fact we didn't even know that they were taking pictures at the dinner tables until several days in the cruise. Even on formal night, they still didn't take pictures of everyone in the dining room. They just seemed to do one side of the room and then left.  We are used to them being much more involved with the guests activities. Even though there were a few minor annoyances, It was a really good cruise, probably one of the best we have been on. We would definitely sail again on the Solstice. Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
Our family of 6 (2 grandparents, 2 parents and 2 teen age kids) had a fabulous time on Solstice while traveling the Mediterranean.  We were worried about what all of us could do together and separate on this cruise and Solstice was the ... Read More
Our family of 6 (2 grandparents, 2 parents and 2 teen age kids) had a fabulous time on Solstice while traveling the Mediterranean.  We were worried about what all of us could do together and separate on this cruise and Solstice was the answer.  While my in-laws are seasoned cruisers, we had never thought about taking a cruise...ever.  This was truly a vacation to remember that met all of our needs plus some. If you are looking for a vacation that could be a great balance for varying age ranges, this itinerary and ship are it!We won't duplicate what others have written positively or negatively.  Things we found in addition to share are as follows:1.  Our kids really enjoyed the teen programming and friends that they met from all over the world.  I am sure some adults on the cruise were not as happy to see the larger number of kids on this cruise, but we did not find the kids to be rude or disrespectful when we "accidentally" ran into them (other teens) on deck.  It was great to see the kids all interacting and learning how to find their sealegs of proper socializing.  Too boot, Solstice is also great to find privacy almost at any turn.....it is an amazingly designed ship.2.  We found the sea days rather perplexing as with most cruisers for the lack of consideration by seat hogs but in addition thought people who left their used towels on the chairs without intention of returning even more rude.  You did not know if chairs were open or not without bothering the people relaxing next to them.  3.  We really enjoyed the Solarium for adult lounging, the hot tub a little cooler than US standards..but you could stay in longer!  We really loved the clam shell round lounger chairs too!  Most of the time the security assisted the under 16 youth away from the area after the first day.  4.   We greatly enjoyed meeting back up before dinner each night on our veranda for cocktails/mocktails when we could. We brought over 2 chairs from my in-laws room and sat on the veranda each night to talk about our daily excursion experiences.5.  We loved our veranda room and found it not as bad as everyone said with 4 people sharing the room.  I guess since we're newbies to cruising we did not notice the difficulty in sharing sleeping arrangements.  Plus we have a sailboat and are very efficient in our space usage in general!  The pullman and couch made a great bunkbed situation for our kids to share at night and stored nicely each morning per the room attendants.  After all, how much room do you really need at night?  I must say it did force our kids to keep their stuff organized and neat daily!  6.  We took advantage of the $29.00 coupon for laundry and that probably saved us some space issues by reducing our clothing needs for 10 days on a cruise and 6 days post cruise in Rome.7.   We did a mixture of on our own, private and Celebrity tours.  When used the public and taxi transportation at the ports we found them to be easy to use.  By using a taxi and metro in Athens, we saved a bunch in time and saw the Acropolis with virtually 100 people max in the morning!  Can't say that about my in-laws and their Celebrity tour who were there about 10am.  The best for us to recommend is to do your research and plan your excursions based on your personal needs.  My in-laws were more likely to take the Celebrity tours.  They did the Taoromina in Sicily, Athens bus tour, Santorni wine tour, Delos tour in Mykonos...all were 4 hour tours and they raved about them with the exception of Athens. We talked them into 2 private tours in Naples and Kusadasi that were absolutely unforgetable.  They were actually better for my father in-law who struggles to keep up due to his knees and "pre-cruise" unplanned hernia surgery!  The private tour bus was great for easily picking him up at the entrance of a site and sometimes half the price at the cruise tour.  The tour guides were informative and locals to the area.  Again, absolutely incredible excursions all around.8.  If you are in a large traveling group, don't be afraid to do separate port excursions.  It made for great conversations to hear what different options we experienced upon meeting up post excursion.  The lawn area became another of our favorite areas to watch Solstice leave port when all 6 of us wanted to chat and share!  9.  We had an early dinner seating per my in-laws request.  I found it to be a little too early for me as that the pools were closed each night before we finished dinner (8pm).  If we had a longer day in the port, we rushed to get to dinner at 6:15, especially for the formal nights where we wanted to look our best.  I guess both dinner seatings have their pros and cons.  If you like to swim and relax....it does make it hard to get it all in on a port intensive cruise like the Mediterranean.  I think the only time we enjoyed a louging pre-dinner dinner was when we skipped our 6:15 dinner and ate at the buffet, which BTW was really good option each time we ate there.  The kids loved the waffles for breakfast and the ice cream any time of course!10. Our last point to share, if you are going all this way to see the sites..don't hold back.  Plan to spend a little money on this trip to do it right.  Document it with pictures, notes, nice souvenirs and great conversations.  This was a trip we won't easily forget and it will be difficult to top in future vacations.  Celebrity did a great job keeping us happy.  They were not perfect, but then again none of us are.  I have to say that when we did have a concern, they addressed it quickly and if needed, corrected within minutes of being brought to their attention.  All staff seemed eager to please and helpful. Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
This is my fourth Cruise. 1st was Carnival to Mexico, 2nd was Windstar to Western Med, 3rd was Windstar to Costa Rica, and now this trip to the Eastern Med on Solstices. My first impression was Wow, big ship. The ship is big, and ... Read More
This is my fourth Cruise. 1st was Carnival to Mexico, 2nd was Windstar to Western Med, 3rd was Windstar to Costa Rica, and now this trip to the Eastern Med on Solstices. My first impression was Wow, big ship. The ship is big, and comfortable. Most of the staff were very nice. The Glass blowing by Corning was outstanding. But... It's not Windstar or Carnival. In both cases OUTSTANDING food. This trip, the food in the main dining room was less then good. Broccoli way over cooked, lousy steak, dry over cooked chicken. Don't get me started on the Salmon. The sauces were over salted or too rich, or just bad. OK so the food was not their main selling point. The interesting thing was the quality of the food in the Ocean View Cafeteria was way better, and much better tasting. When I asked the Brown suited gentleman that was in charge of our section about the food, he got very upset, and said that we were not aloud to complain. I'm sorry, say what? I spoke to customer care, and were very surprised to learn such a rule had been implemented by one of their staff members. As for the other restaurants, it got very expensive, very quickly. At $30 per person, and then add drinks (4 people) it's not something I was interested in especially after both my Windstar experiences and Carnival. The term nicked and dimed comes to mind for the other things. A bottle of beer is $5.75, Coke or Diet Coke was expensive too. But they made a deal for that, For $6+ a day you could buy a cup that would be refilled as much as you liked at any bar. On an 11 day cruise that's $66 worth of Soda pop. Understand, once you buy the cup, you are charged automatically, whether you use it or not. As for the things to do, The glass blowing is very interesting and is a must see. On the other hand the onboard entertainment was painfully BAD!!! That trumpet player must go, he never found the note he was looking for. The dancing was somewhere between silly and stupid. I don't play bingo, so that sort of ends the things to do.The automatic tipping $11.95 a day, means the staff is not busting their butts for the tip.Now to some of you reading this, you might be writing me off as someone who just complains, about everything, because I enjoy complaining. Yes, I know people like that. This is not the case. Though I do not have tons of experience, the people I went with did. Including the Queen Mary II. They too, made the same observations. Indulge me in one more example. The tour I had signed up for was to be for 3:15 min, Starting at 2:45pm and ending at 6pm. OK... They put us in the Solstices forward theater stage area, were the people on stage were cracking jokes and talking. All the while you relies that the tour is almost half over and your still waiting. The every three min this guy comes by trying to sell you a bottle of water for $4.50. The first twenty times you tell him no thank you, does not change his enthusiasm to sell you very over priced water. At 3:45 they start telling us to get ready to go, another 15 min later, we go. So the three hour tour was about 1.5 hours. No refund, no "I'm sorry", no free water. Just an attitude of what do you want me to do about it. I know it's a new ship (first trip was Oct 08) and this was it's first trip in the Med. The GPS in the room was still set to Florida, Why. It's really seamed like nobody was in charge, or the people in charge were over their heads.  Am I just spoiled by the Windstar experience, and this was a normal cruise. Everything I mentioned was "Normal". I hope that's not the case. The Mexico trip was fantastic, the pool and jacuccis were open late, so after you been on shore all day, you get back to the ship, Eat, then relax, drink, swim if you like. The food was outstanding. The people making up the rooms were fun and clever. Did I mention the food was very good.Then Windstar, what can I say... Outstanding food, crazy fun stuff to do, Beach BBQ's swimming off the dive platform. Hang out on the bridge with the Capt. Anytime day or night (except when docking), Kitchen tours, cooking demonstrations and lessons.Something is missing from the Solstice and I would guess it's in the management area. Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
Not to be long winded, The food in the main dinging room was uninspired and marginal The waiter was slow and non-responsive The assistant waiter had personality, ran to serve, and should have been the head waiter The ... Read More
Not to be long winded, The food in the main dinging room was uninspired and marginal The waiter was slow and non-responsive The assistant waiter had personality, ran to serve, and should have been the head waiter The rooms were great, but the technology sucked. TV's in both rooms (Suites) did not function, the GPS and cameras never worked, the internet was down most of the time we tried, and the onboard accounting system was days behind The pool and jacuzzi closed way too early and they were way too undersized for such a large boat The green was closed alot and you could not even putt on the green, which is one reason my boys were not happy The kids club and teen room were closed all the time, and did not have the services advertised The soda plan worked well, and we did not have carry those dopey glasses around The entertainment in the theater was lousy, lousy, lousy, I have seen better in a Club Med, where the people are not trained to entertain The entertainment in the rest of the ship was great, only problem they quit just as the evening was getting started. Not everyone eats at old people time (6:00). The cruise director told me that the target market for this boat was families with older (teen) children. Guess what, they missed this completely. my children do not mind a little classical music (violin, etc.) only problem was that the music ended before cocktails and dinner, and the shows had odd hours that if you ate late you were screwed to see the shows though we did not miss much, in our opinion. Never quite figured out what the purpose of the butler was. He really didn't do much, it was the cabin attendant who seemed to work and always be outside our door. Field trips/excursions were OK, but where were the ones for people under 75? Jet skiing, snorkeling/diving, parasailing, hiking, climbing, beach, boating, sailing, golf, tennis, shooting, all day trips with climbing or as the brochure says "Strenuous" stuff, etc.. The most "strenuous" thing was climbing a few steps on the bus. Their problem is that with no teen type activities, no teens should be on this boat, hence they are not really marketing to who they say they are "families", just couples and old people. We did like embarkation and disembarkation, this process was fairly painless, with the exception of trying to get my daughter a drinking ID as she was 19, and allowed to have a glass of wine with dinner (After living in France for many years this is standard practice) The specialty restaurants were for the most part the only place to have a decent dinner. I agree with other opinionaters, the buffet had better food. The Asian restaurant needs to learn how to make and serve sushi, it was terrible, the French had the best food and service on the entire boat. The rooms were nice, but we had suites, so I can not say what the others must be like, and the baths were bigger than we thought they would be. The photo shop/photographers did a decent job, but don't buy anything until the last day as they lower the prices significantly rather than through the stuff out. The would be better served to have a way to view your photos without having to print and throw away so many photos, which also means less chemicals, etc. in the environment. We thought drink prices were fairly moderate, and we brought our own "special" liquor on board. They said they would confiscate it, but never even looked, just xrayed and let it past. We did not have a problem with paying for their liquor, but their selection was pretty limited. Thinking about it there are a couple of pet peeves: Hardly anyone wore black tie, what's with this? If you have black tie nights, then everyone wears black tie. We did not feel like wearing formal wear, as we wear it all the time, but did to be in the spirit, or so we thought. Why would you schedule an excursion to a place without head sets, when you know you will not be able to be heard without one over the din of 1000's of other tourers, and everyone else has them but Celebrity???? You can't even buy a piece of the Corning glass, why??????? Why do they close jacuzzis on a boat at 7:30?????? What is the incentive for good service if you tip ahead of time?????? Why do they have such nice TV's if you can;t use them??????? Why advertise things you do not deliver on (Teen Club)??????? Why did we spend 4 hours at a rug store??????? We actually did not, we left the tour and went to a ceramics place, where other tour companies take their tours, but when no one else is there they will cut a deal on some beautiful stuff. Why when you are in Ephesus would you not go to see the Virgin Mary's church? They talk about it at length on the bus to the site, but then ask you to see a stupid show. (we did not we left the group and walked 200 yards to the site), and guess what?? it was one of the better preserved sites. In fact a private tour guide had 2 people with him and told us that not all the tour companies blow off the church, only those that want you to stay at the rug place for 4 hours in hopes you will buy something. To be perfectly honest, I would much rather go to a travel agent, book hotels and air to travel around Greece, and rail to travel around Italy, pay for a nice 5 star hotel, eat in very nice restaurants, and save a bunch of money. The cruise would have been OK for just me and my wife, if all we wanted to do was rest, and take a couple of excursions. By the end of the trip, we had blown off the boat programs and did our own. Why would Celebrity not offer do it yourself land trips or make arrangements to rent cars, boats, etc.? I now know why so many people do their own things on each of the stops, but then if you are going to do this, then why cruise at all, just pack 1 bag (leave the tux and dress at home) and travel around, particularly Greece where the ferries and air are very convenient, and Italy where the trains are very convenient. Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
Celebrity Solstice Review - May 4, 2009 - Eastern MediterraneanABOUT USFirst off let me give you some general information about us. We are both in our mid 30's and have two young children (who didn't come with us on this cruise). ... Read More
Celebrity Solstice Review - May 4, 2009 - Eastern MediterraneanABOUT USFirst off let me give you some general information about us. We are both in our mid 30's and have two young children (who didn't come with us on this cruise). We grew up in Southern California and now live in the San Francisco Bay Area. We are big time foodies, enjoy going to the theater and like listening to music ranging from jazz standards to top-40. Somewhat new to cruising, this was our first time on Celebrity but our third cruise.We booked this trip to celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary. For this vacation, we tagged 3 nights in Paris pre-cruise, then took an overnight train to Rome to catch the ship for this 11 night Eastern Mediterranean cruise with ports in Santorini, Mykonos, Istanbul, Kusadasi/Ephesus, Athens, and Naples/Capri. We then took 2 nights post-cruise in Rome before heading back to California.EMBARKATIONWe connected with 3 other couples through Cruise Critic and arranged transfer from Rome to the Port of Civitavecchia. A large van from Rome Cabs picked us up at Rome Termini approximately 11:00AM then drove through the city to pick up others from their hotels. Timing was perfect and we arrived at the port of Civitavecchia at around 1:00PM. With this being Solstice's first Eastern Mediterranean sailing, we weren't sure if we would be allowed on the ship prior to the posted boarding time of 3:00PM. When we arrived, there were plenty of other guests who mentioned they were on the ship well before noon. We were told the rooms weren't ready, but we went ahead and dropped of our carry-on bags in our Aqua Class room on Deck 11. We had room 1450 just under the Aqua Spa Salon. After dropping off our carry-on bags we headed over to the Aqua Spa Cafe for a nice, quiet and delicious lunch. We were so tired from the train travel that we didn't want to deal with the crowd and lines at the Oceanview Cafe. Our impressions of the food at the Spa Cafe were better than expected. More on food below.THE SHIPNot going to say too much about the ship as others have already commented. This ship is absolutely beautiful! There were other ships doing similar itineraries but one of the main reasons we booked Solstice was because it was a new ship with design and decor that match our tastes. In two words... Contemporary Elegance. Reminded me of the Sofitel brand of hotels we see throughout the world. However, speaking with other guests on the ship, some said they hated the decor and used words like "antiseptic" or "sterile" to describe it. Many of these folks sailed on the Millennium class and were constantly making comparisons and complaints. I couldn't say much to rebut since we haven't sailed on those other ships. We personally love the ship's design and decor and the pictures you see posted on-line don't do justice.THE STATEROOMOur AQ cabin was spacious and beautiful. Again not going to mention too much to avoid repetition from other reviews. I specifically chose the location of the cabin under the Aqua Spa Salon because there is no activity in the salon in the evenings and that it is also very close to the relaxation room, spa, and gym. We never heard any noise from the deck above. We would highly recommend that if you're booking an AQ cabin and use the Spa amenities often, to book one of the forward cabins. This also avoids the "alleged" soot that some have mentioned on prior sailings. My only complaint was that there is very little storage space for an 11 night cruise. We overpacked! but managed to get everything stored and hidden. We know now for our next Europe cruise to pack light and make use of the ships laundry and dry cleaning services.Aqua ClassTo us, AQ was definitely worth the couple of hundred dollars difference from Concierge class. Not sure how else to describe, but here's a list (in no particular order) of main points (positive and negative) about AQ class- priority embarkation line was short when we arrived at the port - loved the large jetted shower- fresh flowers were a nice touch- extra toiletries were especially nice and not overly scented- proximity to Aqua Spa amenities (if booking a forward cabin)- food in Blu was excellent (more on food later)- more diverse room service options (used it several times)- huge fluffy towels and bathrobes- we enjoyed receiving fresh fruit daily (great to have on hand after spending time in the gym)- ice tea has a strange after taste but was refreshed daily and tasted better with sweetener or sugar- daily water bottles (we requested 4 per day) were appreciated for taking with you to the gym and on a couple of the hot port days- relaxation room was great however, it is not exclusive to AQ guests. It got quite loud sometimes since the room is also used as a waiting room for those getting a spa treatment. - the afternoon canapes are disgusting! Tried them the first day. It's like eating wallpaper paste! We overheard some folks in the halls complaining why they don't automatically receive them anymore and now have to fill out a card to get them, but I see how wasteful it could be if they provided them automatically to everyone in CC and AQ.THE FOODBlu - Because we were booked in an AQ room, we were assigned to Blu. We decided to choose late dining because of the port intensive itinerary. Again, we're foodies and eat at many fine dining establishments in the San Francisco Bay area and Napa Valley. So, after reading many mixed reviews of Blu, we were a little worried and came in with low expectations. In the end, we were actually quite impressed with the food there. The service was great but a little spotty (e.g. water glasses weren't always filled). But this didn't bother us. The Maitre 'd came by our table every night to see how we were doing and to chat with us. We also had wonderful "table mates". The menu selection was very diverse, and the portion sizes were just right. Not too little and not too large. We never left the table feeling hungry or bloated and we were always satisfied. Preparation, presentation, flavor and freshness were on par with many of the great land restaurants we've dined at. Heard a few complaints about there not being enough food on the plates. I say if you want more, just order another dish! Our server figured out from the beginning that we enjoy pasta. So she came with a pasta/starch dish every night for us to taste and share along with our main entree. We also thought the dessert selection was excellent. Not too sweet and not too bland. Everything was just right. We had breakfast in Blu once and it was also a wonderful experience. Breakfast service ended in Blu at around 9:00am. Because there were so few people dining there in the morning, the service was great and the food came very hot. It was a nice, quiet and intimate breakfast. I only wish we could have woken up earlier to enjoy the breakfast experience there more often. But sleeping in is a must when you're on vacation! In general, eating in Blu was truly a clean dining experience. We tended to stick with our servers recommendations which were spot on. Eating there and avoiding the Oceanview Cafe was also a great way for us to maintain portion control yet still feel very satisfied with our meal. Happy to say that we actually maintained our weight after returning from the cruise. We were curious about the specialty restaurants and had a chance to eat at all 4 of them.Bistro on Five - This was a surprise! Ate there for lunch one day and thought it was delicious. We highly recommend the Cowboy and Mediterranean crepes. Minor issue for us there is that the texture of the crepes seemed to be more like a tortilla. So it was more like a quesadilla than a crepe. It wasn't as much an issue for the savory dishes, but it was for the dessert crepes. We expected the dessert crepes to be soft, light and fluffy (the way the French do it). But it was the same tortilla like texture of the savory crepes. Flavors however were still excellent. For dessert go for the Banana Nutella crepe!Tuscan Grille - We ate at Tuscan Grille after spending a day in Athens. This was a mistake. We should have booked Tuscan Grille for another day because we had a fairly large, but very delicious authentic Greek meal for lunch while in port. So we came back to the ship feeling not too hungry. The food portions at Tuscan Grill were way too large. We felt very wasteful by not finishing each plate. I was already pretty full after the delicious crabmeat appetizer I had. All-in-all the flavors of the food at Tuscan Grille were great. The steaks there are just as good as the ones offered in Blu. Except Tuscan Grill will give you a steak 2-3 times the size. So, in our opinion, if you eat in Blu, there's no need to eat at Tuscan Grille. But if you are not in Blu, eat at Tuscan Grill but be prepared for a very large dinner.Murano - This was our best dining experience. Service was excellent and the waitstaff was very friendly. I only wish they were a little more personable as they seemed to be very robotic. They seemed too concerned about what fork or knife to lay down, and to make sure no breadcrumb was left on your table. We personally don't care about all this and really are more into the food flavors, ingredients, and preparation. But alas, the waitstaff came to life when we engaged them in more conversation. When we were seated, we were shortly presented with a mise en bouche of salmon pate with creme fraiche and caviar. This was delicious and left us wanting more! If you like fois gras, the fois gras appetizer they have is hands down the best we've tasted. We each ordered it along with a second appetizer. The cheese souffle there was also excellent. Salads were also fresh and perfectly seasoned. After the salad and soup, we were then served with a refreshing intermezzo of mango granite to cleanse our palates. Since it was formal night and we didn't want to miss out on lobster, we each ordered the surf and turf entree. Again, food was prepared well and tasted great. We declined the cheese course and ordered dessert which to our surprise was just okay. In general, the appetizers were the highlight of the meal. The next time we eat there, I would be inclined to just order multiple appetizer and salad courses and I would be happy. This is the only specialty restaurant that I would recommend as a must-do.Silk Harvest - This was our biggest disappointment. I had some high expectations after reading the rave reviews on Cruise Critic about this Asian fusion restaurant. The atmosphere in the restaurant was buzzing. There was a large group of 20+ people occupying the center table and they were being quite...festive. Some complained but it didn't bother us. As far as the food goes, I really wanted to like this place. Maybe it's what we ordered or maybe we ordered too much and got full after the first few dishes, but something was just not right. We ordered a couple of the small plates for appetizers as well as a sushi sampler plate. These we pretty good but not great. Then came the green curry pork and the pad thai. We are both asian so these were just not tasting right at all. I don't know what was fusion about it at all. I had no idea of what they were trying to fuse....asian-french, asian-american, etc? There was no flavor to the dishes at all and the pork in the curry was too chewy. The waiter came by and I asked for more fish sauce, chili, cilantro and some other seasonings. They were happy to provide this but we later just gave up and decided to get dessert. Then the Maitre 'd came by and spoke with us. Great guy! We had a wonderful discussion about the ship, various dining venues and the great service we've been receiving. He then asked about the food. I was honest and told him what we thought and he took notes. He basically explained that this is their first time trying to do Asian fusion and Silk Harvest has been having a very difficult time trying to balance the flavors to appeal to everyone and that they've been working to fine tune the menu. Our general impression of this place is that the food here is definitely not fusion. Basically, we can get a better pad thai or green curry at our local hole-in-the-wall Thai restaurant for less than $10 total. And land based P.F. Chang's is 10 times better. On the brighter side, the Maitre 'd was appreciative of our comments and the time we took to talk with him. He said verbatim... "well, you are a key customer and we want you sail with us again". Thought that was a strange comment. To our surprise, when we returned to our cabin, we saw that the cover to the restaurant was credited back in full. Wow! We were very surprised with this gesture!Oceanview Cafe - We only ate at the Oceanview Cafe buffet 3-4 times during the entire trip and only for a light breakfast or to pick up a small late night snack. So can't say much about their lunch or dinner. In general, food was pretty good and very diverse. We enjoyed the various egg type dishes as well as the pastries. The chocolate desserts there were delicious! They had this one awesome melt-in-your mouth chocolate desert that looked like a Hostess Ding Dong. It made for a great late night snack to go with tea or coffee.Grand Epernay - We had lunch once in Grand Epernay. Lunch was good but not great. A little bland. But if the lunch we had in Grand Epernay is indicative of what their dinner is like, then I'm glad we booked AQ for Blu alone. We also went to Grand Epernay for the "Mother's Day Brunch". The staff handed out single stem roses to all the women which was nice. The food station setup was beautiful and made for nice pictures. There were two chocolate fondue fountains flanking a huge dessert presentation. There were meat carving stations, a cheese station, a waffle station, several entree stations, etc. Lots off food to choose from. Food was pretty good. As far as flavor goes, it's pretty much what you would get at the Oceanview cafe for breakfast and lunch. THE PORTS OF CALL:Santorini - Wish we had spent more time here. It is such a beautiful place. The ship arrived at 2:00PM and was scheduled to leave a 11:00PM. So we felt very rushed to take it all in. The daily newsletter indicated that tender tickets would be available for distribution beginning 8:00AM. So, I decided to be the first one in line at 7:30AM. It was a good move as I later learned that many folks didn't get on to the island until close to 4:00PM! We took the tender a little after 2 and took the cable car. After a little searching for the bus stop to Oia, we learned that the bus only ran hourly. By the time the next bus came, it was already 3:30PM and we didn't make it to Oia until almost 4PM! After rushing to view the Oia sights, we were fortunate to bump into some friends we met on our Rome-Port transfer who had rented a car. We hitched a ride with them back to Fira and had some time to walk around and have delicious souvlaki and lamb meatball dinner. Near the end of the day, the line for the cable car was very long and wrapped around a couple of blocks! It was getting very cold so we decided to walk down the donkey trail! Interesting experience and it got very challenging to try and "dodge the bullets" as the sun started setting. In hindsight, we should have rented a car as the island seems to be very drivable. Those that booked excursions through Celebrity had no problem getting to the island early, but everyone still ended up in Fira to either catch the cable car, ride the donkey, or walk down back to the tender. Lots of congestion. We were the only ship in port that evening, so I can imagine what a nightmare it would be if there was another one scheduled to depart in the evening as well.Mykonos - This was our lazy port day and one of our favorite ports. We took our time getting out of bed and eating breakfast. I had purchased shuttle tickets to take us to town ($10 each). Saw a few walking to town but glad we didn't as it is not very scenic and there is no pedestrian walkway. We spent time strolling the shops, taking pictures, and enjoying the scenery. Before heading back to the ship, we ended the day sitting at an outdoor restaurant/cafe and had some delicious Greek salad and a mixed seafood plate while watching the people pass by. Istanbul - We toured Istanbul on our own. Unfortunately, the first day we were there, we made the mistake of buying shuttle tickets through the ship. Traffic was terrible going into town and much worse getting back to the ship. Coming back was almost a 2 hour process. Also, the shuttle stops running at around 6:30. This didn't make sense to us since it is an overnight port. First day we visited the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and the Grand Bazaar. That evening, a large group of us (arranged through Cruise Critic roll-call) went to Sultana's, a Turkish dinner show. It was a very good show not only featuring some belly dancers but also some authentic Turkish folk dancing. There was some audience participation that also featured some of our Cruise Critic friends. The food at Sultana's was also quite good and featured some authentic appetizers and desserts. For the 2nd day in Istanbul, we decided to take the tram and spend the morning at Topkapi Palace. The tram was quick, easily accessible and around 2 Lira. After an exhausting day, we headed back to the ship and enjoyed room service lunch on our balcony as we sailed away from Istanbul.Kusadasi/Ephesus - This port was the unexpected surprise port of our cruise. We had little knowledge and went in with no clue as to what we were going to see. We had arranged a private tour through Ekol Travel and did a Jeep Safari tour to the village of Sirence followed by a tour of Ephesus and the Terrace Houses, and a visit to the House of Virgin Mary. Surprisingly, there were only 3 or 4 other cars from our ship that caravanned along with us. We thought this was the best way to see the countryside as the driver and guide took us off-road for some beautiful scenery. Be warned though that this excursion is not for the faint of heart. One couple turned back likely due to fear of heights. At many points during the excursion we were hugging the mountainside along some steep cliffs. Our guide Tanner was excellent. He's a graduate in archaeology and ancient civilizations and gave us so much information. At one point we did end up at a rug presentation following a great lunch at the same location. But that was okay with us as we know this business is their livelihood. We also weren't able to see a presentation when we were in Istanbul so it was quite interesting. After a long 8 hour excursion, we were dropped off in Kusadasi then headed to a restaurant for an authentic Turkish dinner.Athens - We had arranged a private tour of Athens with Jordan Ntaioglou and shared it with another couple we met through Cruise Critic. He was highly recommended on the boards and we were very lucky to secure him. Jordan is a very funny and informative guide. He is so proud of his Greek culture and was very happy to educate us about Greek history. Prior to stopping at each site, he would give us a brief explanation of the site as well as the history of its existence. He would then drop us off to allow us to spend time at the site as well as for some photos. After returning back to the cab he would quiz us on what we learned. He sure kept us on our toes! He took us to many of the main Athens sites as well as a chance to see the changing of the guard. It was a warm day, and by the end of it, we were "ruined" out! The highlight of the tour was when he took us to an authentic Greek taverna for lunch. The food was probably the best tasting food we had on the entire trip! As much as we loved our tour guide and visiting the Acropolis, we probably wouldn't visit Athens again. We found it to be too smoggy and dirty, and on a warm and crowded day at the ruins, it is not very enjoyable.Naples/Capri - With this being the last day before the end of the cruise we made this another lazy port day. Having been to Italy before, we decided to go to Capri again. We took an early hydrofoil to Capri at around 8:30AM. Got to the island and immediately bought our return ticket back for 2:30PM. Luckily there were no huge lines for the funicular. Once we were up at the top, we had some delicious pastries and espresso with our table mates from Blu. We then walked lazily around the town for a little souvenir shopping and visited the gardens of Augustus for some photos. As the day progressed, there were more and more people on the island. So, we skipped lunch, had some gelato then headed back down the funicular to catch the hydrofoil back to the ship for a late lunch at the Mast Grill. We were so in the mood for burgers!THE GYM/SPA:With all the food we were eating, we thought it would be good to spend some time in the gym. I enrolled in 3 spin classes (@ $12 per class) while my wife spent some time on the treadmill. The machines were never crowded and there seemed to always be availability.Following our day in Capri, we headed back to the ship early and took advantage of the 50% discount they had on spa treatments. We each had the hot stone massage and thought it was one of the best massages we've ever had. The great thing is that I never got a sales pitch for product. However, my wife did and promptly said "no".ENTERTAINMENT/ACTIVITIES:There were 3 main shows. Two of them seemed to be your run-of-the-mill variety cruise show. We were happy to see that the Broadway review show featured some of the more modern musical pieces. But I think a lot of the guests just had no idea. We saw a lot of blank stares when one of the singers sang a song from Wicked. The Solstice show was pretty unique. It was Cirque du Soleil'ish but definitely not as good. The singing and vocal quality for the shows were just okay. But we have to give credit to the two principal dancers that were very good and were seen in all three shows.Oceans 4 was great, but we got tired of hearing them every night after the main shows. There were 3 other guest headliners playing; one a former broadway actor who was pretty good. He sang excerpts from various musicals and some standards. The other headliner was a vocalist/impressionist/comedian. I didn't care for her at all. The final headliner was a juggler whom we did not see.Surprisingly there was a lot to do in the evenings. There was a dance band "Top Secret" playing in the Sky Lounge until midnight almost every night. We enjoyed listening and dancing along with them but many retired early because of the early morning ports the following day. Spoke with the lead singer of the band and this sailing marked the end of thier contract. So not sure who's replacing them.To our surprise, Quasar was a happening spot (second to the martini bar)! Quasar was packed on a couple of the nights and we enjoyed meeting people there for drinks and dancing until 2:00AM on the nights before sea days. I think the large youthful international presence on board made for a great nightlife. One of our favorite days at sea was at the lawn club. We met so many great people and decided to meet up for some bocce and drinks. Pre-cruise, I personally didn't care much for the lawn based on reviews I've read, but now we are so happy with it. It is probably one of the best features this ship has to offer. That sea day spending time with new friends on the lawn will be one to remember.We later met up with the same people for some drinks at the martini bar. We ordered a few drinks including the flight of 6 which made for a great show.My wife sang karaoke one night and was called to compete in the "Starring You" competition as one of the top 6! We were so excited even though she was a little anxious to perform in front of 100's of people. She did a great job singing but unfortunately did not make it to the top 3. We had so much fun, and it was also a great way to get to meet new people who stopped us in the hallways, elevators, and lounges to congratulate her for a job well done.THE STAFF:Throughout the cruise, we had a lot of chances to talk to many of the wonderful staff members. These included the dining staff, entertainers, concierge, housekeeping, etc. These discussions were not about, "I need this" or "please bring me that". These discussions were about them and their lives. They have such a difficult job of making sure that we are all safe and taken care of. And regardless of their personal situations, they always put a smile on their face and always provided us with great service. We have much respect for them and for all the crew on Solstice.The last night of the cruise, we were quite surprised to get a call from one of the activities staff members to get together for some drinks. We met up with several of the activities coordinators in Quasar where we had some champagne and had a chance to talk about our cruise experience. It was great to get to know these folks on a more personal level and gathering also offered us a chance to let them know of how appreciative we are of the great job they were doing in bringing life to the guests. One interesting bit of info....turns out a lot of the staff on Solstice may be getting transfered to Equinox.HOT TOPICS:Dress CodeFormal nights were great on this sailing. It makes for a different buzz throughout the ship. My wife and I enjoy getting dressed up. We rarely get a chance to do this with two kids at home. And I work in a very casual environment. So this is something we enjoy doing. I wore a tux on both formal nights and my wife wore long dresses. I would say a good 50% of the men were in tuxes and the rest in dark suits. The women were all dressed very elegantly. Didn't see anything outside of the dress code on formal nights in the dining room.Smart casual nights was a different story. Keep in mind however that this sailing had a very international crowd. Lots of folks from South America and Europe. So, the definition of smart casual and their interpretation varied widely.In regards to the Cruise Critic hot topic of jeans on smart casual nights, I was able to get clarification from guest relations and also from the Maitre 'd at Blu. To set things straight for those on Cruise Critic, jeans are okay in the main dining rooms on smart casual nights and fall are under the definition of "pants". None of the documentation or cruise dailies mention anything about not wearing jeans. The pants just can't be torn, faded, or have holes. It was in the minority but I saw plenty of well dressed folks wearing dark jeans in the dining rooms. Women wore them with heels and nice blouses. Men wore them with blazers. We partook in the jean wearing trend on a couple of the nights. Put together well, we think it looks very nice and fits with the overall theme and decor of the ship. Go to any nice restaurant in Europe and this is what you'll see. But for the most part, we saw lots of what we call "casual office wear" (slacks/khakis and dress shirts and polos). In fact those that wore Hawaiian shirts and khakis were those that seem to stand out in a crowd...especially with this being a Mediterranean cruise. In the end, no one seemed to really care who was wearing what on smart casual nights. Everyone was there to have a good time.DEBARKATION:Debarkation was quick and painless. A few days prior, we received a questionnaire asking about our transport arrangements. We had arranged an early transfer back to our hotel in Rome so had a 7:15 debarkation time. BTW, we stayed 2 nights at Albergo del Senato post cruise. It's a great hotel! Despite the small rooms, it was a great location. Our room with a view of the Pantheon and Piazza della Rotonda was amazing! The buffet breakfast they offer in the morning is also pretty extensive for Rome hotel. The per diem is a little pricey but well worth it for the location and view. X FOR A NEW GENERATION:My general impression of these new class of ships is that if X is trying to market to an new demographic, they are doing the right thing with the Solstice class. It's no doubt that the annoying complaints we heard on the ship from some seasoned X cruisers are due to "changes from the norm". But we were hinted by a few staff that in order to maintain a stronghold in the industry there are some changes in the works as X is working hard to revamp and re-establish their image from a line that caters to baby-boomers and above to a line for a new generation with more expendable income and different needs and expectations. At the same time they still aim to be a cut above the rest. Perhaps X now stands for "X-Generation"...We were so happy with our cruise and thoroughly enjoyed the ship and what it had to offer. This sailing has a diverse itinerary with ports offering a great history lesson on ancient civilizations, the Ottoman empire, and a taste of the Muslim culture. Along with it a splash of some beautiful ports for leisure and relaxation. Solstice brings a fresh new look different from what one would expect from a traditional megaliner. The food was excellent and the service was great. Sure, there were some minor bumps we encountered. But we are all human and with time, things will improve or change. It certainly was the best vacation that we've had to date. To top it off, we've made so many new friends and hope to be in touch with them for years to come. Gotta love those social networking sites. The Solstice class is one that we will stick with for a long time. It has the contemporary elegance that we look for in a vacation experience. We've booked our next cruise on Eclipse for Northern Europe and are looking forward to another great time...and to what new changes X has to offer in 2010. Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
I just wanted to drop a few notes on our recent cruise on the Celebrity Solstice. This was an 11 night Mediterranean Cruise departing and returning through Rome. Most of what I want to mention are the private tours and transportation but ... Read More
I just wanted to drop a few notes on our recent cruise on the Celebrity Solstice. This was an 11 night Mediterranean Cruise departing and returning through Rome. Most of what I want to mention are the private tours and transportation but also a few comments on the Solstice. Previously we have cruised 4 times on Princess. Overally I would say we enjoyed Celebrity as much as Princess although there were a few differences. On Princess we really enjoy the anytime dining which is not available on Celebrity. Overall though it was not a big deal as we enjoyed visiting with the same servers night after night. The one thing we did miss was not having any laundry facilities on board. It would be nice to be able to do some laundry on board with Celebrity but alas there are no washer/dryers. However, all in all if you plan right it is not that big of an issue. We had 2 cabins, 7237 and 7239 which are both balcony. Our teenagers were in one room and we were in the other. Overall the cabins were fine. We only had 1 "issue" which was closet size and positioning. My wife thought the closets were a bit smaller than expected and a little difficult to maneuver around. Overall though we were very happy with our cabins.We had hear quite a bit about the grass area on top of the ship. From our perspective we really liked the grass area. There were activities such as Bocce and Croquet. When you are at home you can play those games, but who really does? We had a lot of fun on the sea days playing a few games like these. By the way, our kids are 17/19 and they too had a lot of fun with these. Alos on top was the Corning Glass Show where they created glass bowls, figures etc. My wife and daughter must have seen about 7 shows, I saw 2. They are very interesting to see. The food was good, service was great, layout of the cruise was spectacular! A mention too about our ship captai,. All I know is he was Greek and named Demetrious. He was the most personable and engaging Captain I have ever heard speak and could probably be a comedian if he wanted. All I can say is if you sail on a ship and he is the Captain dont miss any announcements - they were a gem!A few comments on private tours and transportations.Rome - we used Italy Cab. http://www.italycab.com/  We had a special need in Rome which was going from our hotel in town to the aiport to pick up our son who flew in a couple days after us. In addition to that we used them to pick us up at the port and get us back to the airport. Overall they were excellent. They were on time, professional, courteous and the pricing was very fair. Istanbul - we used Ekol Travel for our private tour. http://www.ekoltravel.com/ We were very happy with their guide, service, delivery, etc. The price included a driver and a guide. I would recommend them.Ephesus (Kusadasi) - again we used Ekol Travel. Once again, excellent. This time I would specifically mention our guides name is Mustafa Orkan Kulak. His direct e mail is orkankulak@hotmail.com All I can say is he was the best guide we had during our trip. Intelligent, Courtous, speaks very good English, Considerate of the time and our needs and just an overall nice person who wants you to enjoy their tour. Athens - we used http://www.athenstaxi.com/ You will see much written about them and the principals name is Paul. They too were excellent. We had on of his sons and orur friends had one of his other sons. Our driver was very professional, courteous, excellent English and just an overall nice person. We enjoyed him very much. You may need a guide at the Acropolis because Athens Taxi is not a licensed guide. If you do get a guide I recommend you ask the guide to give you a 5 minute overview. I say this so you can decide before you pay whether you will like the guide or not and whether their delivery is what you expect. Our guide was not very good. She spoke too fast, felt like she was preaching to us and her delivery left much to be improved on. So, if I do it again, try the guide on before buying.Naples - we used http://www.tourofitaly.com/. Again, these are drivers and not tour guides. We had the father Giovanni. Overall our experience was good. I would use them again. He reommened a guide for us at Pompeii - actually he called him in advance. I dont recall the guides name but we were very happy with him. We did the Pompeii tour early in the morning in jus under 2 hours. If you use Giovanni I would say to ask him to set up a guide for you because he will want to make sure you are happy. The other thing he did which was kind of nice ( we had 6 on the tour) was to provide us 6 bottles of red wine. There was a lot of his advertising on it but we found it was kind of a nice touch. We also visited Santorini and Mykonos. We did not plan anything special there although we did do the Donkey ride to the to the top of the hill to get to town. It is an interesting experience! Overall we had a really nice time on thise cruise and we woudl cruise on Celebrity again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
Celebrity Solstice Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 4.5
Dining 4.5 4.1
Entertainment 4.5 3.8
Public Rooms 5.0 4.6
Fitness Recreation 5.0 4.1
Family 4.0 4.1
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.7
Enrichment 5.0 3.8
Service 5.0 4.4
Value For Money 4.5 4.0
Rates 4.0 4.2

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