1. Home
  2. Cruise Lines
  3. Celebrity Cruises
  4. Celebrity Solstice Review
  5. Celebrity Solstice Cruise Reviews
Sail Date: October 2012
This was an astounding cruise and an interesting mix of exotic ports and many days at sea. The embarkation process was smooth in Barcelona and we were quickly aboard. The cruise started well with a celebratory glass of champagne as we ... Read More
This was an astounding cruise and an interesting mix of exotic ports and many days at sea. The embarkation process was smooth in Barcelona and we were quickly aboard. The cruise started well with a celebratory glass of champagne as we embarked. What we didn't know is that Celebrity allows passengers on board while entire corridors of staterooms are blocked off (this was a first in our many cruises). We were on board ship several hours before the announcement was made that the rooms were open. This left thousands of people roaming around with their carryon luggage trying to find a spot in the buffet or on the decks. Kind of messy and not the best first impression. The cruise took a turn for the worse when our luggage did not arrive by the time we sailed. We had already been aboard ship for 7 hours and had no idea where the luggage was hiding. Our cabin steward took me downstairs to the area where luggage is quarantined because there is a suspected forbidden item that requires security clearance. Our luggage was not there, wasn't on any list, no one knew anything, etc. Fortunately the bags arrived after we returned from supper. Our cabin steward said that he had received a call from his supervisor about the luggage, but the steward declined to give us details. Nothing was missing from the bags including the bottle of wine Celebrity allows per passenger and a corkscrew. Go figure. My anxiety level was running high because I wanted to complete the long job of putting everything away and getting a good nights sleep and that is a little hard to do when nothing has arrived yet. This glitch turned out to be our biggest issue on this cruise so all in all things went smoothly for us. We really liked the service and attitudes of the crew. In 16 nights aboard ship we could probably count on two hands the number of times an individual crew member did not take time to greet us or talk to us, and that includes the officers. Our cabin steward Miguel was completely accommodating to our needs and we appreciated the fact that he delivered a pitcher of water and ice to our room twice a day, and clean glasses. We were probably easy passengers for him as we always kept our room picked up and we tried to minimize the work our steward needed to do but when we made rare extra requests they were always granted, including obtaining another mattress pad as the beds are hard on arthritic hips. We were lucky about this as on the day we asked for the extra pad someone else had decided he didn't want his. Normally there are not extra pads around. The cabin on Celebrity Solstice was strange. We are used to a setup where the closet and shelves are located in the entryway. This closet was small and located next to one person's side of the bed. If my husband piled up a bunch of books or shoes next to his side of the bed I had to lean over sideways to try to get into the closet. Don't know what the designers were thinking when they came up with this. There is a lovely large storage space above the bed and the shelving situation in the bathroom is more than adequate so that made up for the closet inconvenience. The shower stall also has a closable door instead of the usual shower curtain and this was much appreciated. Our room was very far aft and so we had minimal traffic and noise outside the room. The balcony in this room (#7305) is also about 50% larger than others we have had. The down side was that because of the design of the ship it is not possible to look directly down into the water from the balcony, something we enjoy. We also had very loud neighbors who partied until bartime and then threw a mini party on their balcony every night. Sigh. The entertainment crew aboard ship was topnotch. Not only were they relaxed, fun loving people, but they were talented. The cruise director and his assistant were sometimes heard singing with the band--and yes, had voices that were enjoyable to hear. The list of activities was creative and although we did not participate in a lot of group activities we did enjoy spectating the Pool Olympics and a few other competitions. We also participated in the egg drop contest in which we had to build a craft that would carry 3 raw eggs and safely land on a target 4 stories down into the atrium without breaking the egg. The creativity of the competitors was amazing and watching this competition was lots of fun. Sadly 2 of the 3 eggs in our vessel did not make it but it was still fun. The dance lessons were given by the Stars of Solstice staff and were excellent although always very crowded. On the cruise before ours we heard that only 4 people attended the dance classes--try about 50 people on our cruise! My husband was disappointed that only one other person wanted to enter the casino poker tournament and so the tournaments were always cancelled. Even the slot tournament was canceled for lack of entries. The slots on this cruise were horribly tight and very few people were in the casino even at the tables. We loved the danceband Intenz who performed several times a day and were always fun whether it was ballroom dancing or get down and have fun dancing. We ponied up an extra $100 per person to have privileges to the Persian Garden heated stone recliners, showers, sauna, and private relaxation room. The latter was a nice refuge and excellent observation post on the day we went through the Suez as it is directly in the front of the ship. Was this $100 worth it? Maybe, considering how tired we were after some of the excursions and how good the heated benches felt to us. Maybe not when the benches were filled and the spa staff told us that they limit people to 20 minutes (and then don't enforce it in the least). I don't know if we would spend this money again. One of our other complaints was that chairs on the pooldeck would not be monitored by crew for inactivity. A towel on the chair seemed to guarantee that the chair was yours the entire day no matter how little time you were in it. That certainly hampered our enjoyment of the pool deck as it was hard to get a chair until late afternoon. The entertainment on board ship was very good. We enjoyed the production shows especially Ghostlight, and the Cirque du Soleil type of show. Don't miss the presentations by Glenmore Trenear-Harvey who is an expert about international intelligence and spies. His presentations about Mossad, Russian intelligence, and the Liberty, were especially good. We missed his presentation on piracy and couldn't see to catch the rerun on the TV. Drats! Would have enjoyed it. Another astounding presentation is the Corning Museum Hot Glass Show in which talented artists create blown glass vases, urns, etc. Wow! We are Celebrity Select members and the perks given with this patronage level were very much appreciated. We went to a theater backstage tour, a wine tasting, and a welcome party. We missed the Celebration Event but heard that that was very nice too. The food in the dining room was quite good of course depending on the day and type of food. We frequently tire of 3 course, 2 hour meals or have schedule conflicts such that we go to the buffet or the pool hamburger place for some variety. The fries and burgers at the latter are outstanding. I thought the buffet was the best I've had aboard 6 different cruiselines. The food was appropriate in temperature and hadn't seemed to be sitting around forever under a heat lamp, there was a significant variety in the food, a very nice salad bar,the crew was accommodating, there was always a place to sit and enough dishes and silverware. A bonus was the ice cream available about 10 hours every day and served by one of the bubbliest people on earth, Andreea Rau. How anyone could scoop ice cream 10 hours a day and be so happy and delightful is a wonder! The connectivity to the internet was advertised as being problematic on this cruise because of maintenance issues. I just wish that they had charged 1/2 of the usual price because it took so long to get anything done on the internet and even a quick check of email was impossibly long. It was amazing to us to be sailing in this part of the world passing Somalia, Yemen, Eritrea, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Sudan, Dijibouti, and of course Jordan, the Sinai peninsula, and Egypt. At one point we actually saw Yemen on the port side and Somalia on starboard! Yes, there were piracy precautions once we entered the Gulf of Aden. For the last 6 nights we were not allowed to open our stateroom drapery when we had lights on in the cabin, some ship lights were turned off, and most significantly, we were not allowed on the open decks after sunset. This did cut down on the enjoyment of the pool deck and their dancing lighted water show and we would have liked to have sat out on the deck at night under the stars but so be it. We felt safe and weren't worried about pirates, just had to plan ahead a little more. By the way, speaking of enjoyment of the pool deck, we do wish that the Celebrity Solstice had movies under the stars like Princess. Celebrity offered movies but the seats were quite uncomfortable and there is something about being wrapped in a cozy blanket eating popcorn and watching the big screen under the stars. We took this cruise because of the ports and the Suez Canal transit and all of these completely met our expectations. We would have liked 2 days in Aqaba, Jordan so that we could travel both to Petra and Wadi Rum, and we could have given up the extra night stay in Safaga, Egypt. Most people stayed on board ship the second day in Safaga so this is wasted time. We contracted with Our Egypt Tours for private tours of Giza, Dashur and Sakkara (Alexandria port for Cairo); Alexandria city tour; and the Valley of the Kings and the temples of Hatsheput and Karnak (from Safaga, Egypt port). We were very pleased with the services we received from this company, from the booking process in which we negotiated about what we wanted to do and did not want to do, the prices (which are less expensive or competitive with the ship's), and the trained and professional Egyptologist guides that explained and instructed us as we travelled through Egypt. It was fascinating to hear about the "peaceful revolution" from the viewpoint of our guides, and yes, we were very fortunate to be in Egypt before hostilities heated up in Israel, and before Morsi proclaimed total power setting off a new wave of protests. Our excursions into Egypt were wonderful and we felt safe and well informed because of our excellent guides and drivers. In Aqaba we took the ship's excursion to Petra and it met our expectations although it had the usual hassle of dealing with a busload of people, some noncompliant with the time expectations stated by our guide of when we would meet to start the trip back to the ship. Oh well. Debarkation in Dubai was smooth and we hailed a taxi into the city for the next stage of our adventure. It was probably one of the best cruises we have been on and we are very happy we experienced the long days at sea and the exciting shore excursions. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2012
Not exactly sure if I say any red sails but the words of Ulsterman Jimmy Kennedy seem appropriate for the a first cruise review by one of his countrymen. Chosen at random and in a rush we found ourselves on an Easyjet flight to ... Read More
Not exactly sure if I say any red sails but the words of Ulsterman Jimmy Kennedy seem appropriate for the a first cruise review by one of his countrymen. Chosen at random and in a rush we found ourselves on an Easyjet flight to Barcelona with less than a couple of hours to play with plunging headlong and blind into an experience I had only heard about from a few friends but which I had yearned for for many years. First of all lets get the complaints out of the way. 1. They made us get off the ship in Barcelona at the end of the cruise. OK enough of the moaning - what about the good points. How long have you got? I will try to keep it simple. Met at airport, whisked to ship, straight through registration, glass of 'bubbly' in foyer then straight to stateroom which was booked as 'guarantee' and came up trumps with Deck 6 centre aft and a glass of our own wine on the verandah as the sun set over the beautiful cliffside graveyard of Barcelona. We had stuck to the rules of two bottles of wine per stateroom until we passed through "check-in" and we allowed to purchase a further two bottles at the shops before boarding. To be honest they were 'plonk' and I soon wished I had'nt bothered. The next twelve days we had wall to wall sunshine - apart from a foggy entrance into Venice - and with the exception of the tender into Cannes we might as well have been sailing on a local pond such was the lack of movement on the ship. Those who responded to my pre-cruise paranoia will know that my main concern was 'drinks package or no drinks package?' I changed my mind at least four times and in the end decided to wait. Good decision. Not wishing to cast aspersions on those who did take the plunge but I reckon that in order to get full value from either the Classic or the Premium I would have been what is known in the Ulster venacular as 'permanently blocked' which means that while the ship might not have been rolling about I most certainly would have. As it was I was perfectly satified with the odd lunchtime glass of wine(when we were on board); the occasional pre-dinner tipple and a regular three large glasses with my dinner in the MDR. Coupled with an occasional 'premium' coffee I still finsihed quids in by the end of the voyage. As for the food ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, What can you say. We dined every evening in the MDR and could find no reason to consider any of the speciality alternatives. The food and service was magnificent. I had twelve different fish dishes and loved every-one. The starters allowed ample opportunity to experiment (frogs legs and snails for example)and the only problem with the desserts was having to choose. Having only been to Cannes before the other destinations were full of interest. While the excursions were expensive, as 'first timers' we did go for two of them to Rome and to Pompeii and the latter was well worth the money with an excellent guide who brought the whole visit to life. In Livorno we did our own thing and got a coach to Pisa with ample time to admire the area. Kotor, in Montenegro was amazing and all the more so as I had never heard of it before booking the cruise. Having said that the only way to see it in all its glory is to climb up to the Fortress. The estimated 90 mins accent does require a certain amount of basic fitness but the rewards are sensational. Dubrovnik was also stunningly beautiful but unlike other fortress cities where you might reflect on ancient battles centuries in the past it was alarming to realise that death and destruction was a fact of life here less than two decades ago and the evidence is still there for all to see. The 12 dollar return shuttle from the ship was more than value for money. Venice, despite the morning fog, was perhaps the highlight of the cruise. Forget the shuttle which takes you via the outer canal to near the centre, the best way to see the city is to walk. Five minutes from the ship to the 1 Euro elevated railway ride to the bus depot. Form there it is a delightful mile and a half (2.5k) to Plaza San MArco via the sadly heavily graffitied Rialto Bridge and a maze of facinating streets full of tiny speciality shops. One big disappointment is the Italian desire to charge for entry into places of worship and to deny photography of any kind (flash or no flash). Having spent nearly 20 years travelling the length and breadth of France visiting scores of beautiful churches which are only too glad to welcome worshippers or non worshippers I found this a strange Italian trait. Saint Mark's Square was 'mental' and I imagine the only time to really see it is about 6.00am! To be honest it is overhyped. The rest of the city is much more interesting and I said a little prayer of thanks to the inventor of digital photography as I filled up my 8gb memory card. As we only had a morning on day two we took a vaporetto from the bus depot down the Grand Canal - an experience in itself as it was rush hour and clearly the 'elf and safety' brigade have not yet reached Venice as I did not think it possible to squeeze so many people into such a small space. Tip - as you get on stop at the entrance and don't venture inside. Back to the ship. Everything was what I expected and then some. First class entertainment, wonderful service (thanks Madelyn for the wine advice), absolute cleanliness, great choice of activities (the Glass sculpture was wonderful - I just wish I could have afforded to bid for the finished products); and most amazing of all it was only on the very rare occasion that you had any idea of the number of people on board. All in all one of the most amazing experiences of my life and one which I cannot wait to repeat. The Canaary Isles beckon next October. I just hope that I was not spoilt by my Solstice experience. It will be hard to equal. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2012
We began our European adventure with two precruise nights in Barcelona..one of our favorite cities. Embarkation was a breeze at around 1pm. We purchased 2 bottles of wine at the duty free shops prior to boarding the ship. No problems. ... Read More
We began our European adventure with two precruise nights in Barcelona..one of our favorite cities. Embarkation was a breeze at around 1pm. We purchased 2 bottles of wine at the duty free shops prior to boarding the ship. No problems. The cabin was ready around 2pm. We had CC on deck 10. Our steward, Ronald and his assistant Rommel, were excellent. We are low-key cruisers. We don't ask for much; no turn down service; no extra anything. We enjoy spending time in our cabin relaxing when we are not enjoying the ports of call. Did not eat in the main dining room once during the cruise. We frequently ordered from the dining room dinner menu and had it delivered to our cabin. We also used room service for breakfast. Each time, our food was delivered prompt and hot! We enjoyed all of the ports of call; although we had previously toured several of them. Venice, Montenegro and Dubrovnik were the ports new to us this cruise. We toured all the ports on our own, except for the Cinque Terre excursion from Livorno. We also did a post-cruise tour to Montserrat, which was also excellent. Although port intensive, we truly had a relaxing vacation. I can not comment on any of the shows on the ship, because we did not attend a single one! The staff was top notch; and the shore excursions were well organized. Highlights from the cruise included the sail-in/out of Venice; the 2:1 special on gelato (yum); the drink specials; the sail-in/out of Montenegro and Dubrovnik; and the wonderful staff. There were also several ports of call enrichment talks onboard that were very informative. We are Elite on Celebrity and we enjoyed the perks! The captain's club wine tasting was probably one of the best we have attended. The negative were the slow internet connection, but this is pretty typical. Will we sail Celebrity again??? ABSOLUTELY Will we do another European Cruise?? ABSOLUTELY Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2012
-Let me first start off by saying that I have cruised extensively with Royal Caribbean and Carnival in the past, and this was my first time sailing with Celebrity. I had my Royal Caribbean credits transferred to Celebrity, though, so I am ... Read More
-Let me first start off by saying that I have cruised extensively with Royal Caribbean and Carnival in the past, and this was my first time sailing with Celebrity. I had my Royal Caribbean credits transferred to Celebrity, though, so I am an "elite" member of their Captain's Club program. -We started our vacation off by flying into Barcelona 2 days ahead of our sail date. (For new cruisers, if you are leaving from a port that is not near your home, it is most advisable to arrive at least 1 day ahead of time to give you a cushion against flight delays/cancellations and other travel mishaps.) Check in at the Barcelona port was an absolute breeze, except that the seapass card for a last minute addition (well, 3 days prior to sailing) to our stateroom was not ready. No big deal, though. We boarded the ship and were greeted with complimentary champagne and mimosas. Nice touch. The ship itself is very nice. It is well decorated and has a nice layout. The public areas are beautiful, for the most part - save an awkwardly decorated & enhanced foyer that you must pass through any time you want to go to the specialty restaurants or the Concierge lounge. (It is a room about 5x5' and has black walls with flowers on the vine painted on them, and ants are painted on the floor - all with 'outside' noises being piped in. The sky is painted on the ceiling and there's a large vase on a lighted pedestal. It's very strange, and the posted explanation doesn't clear it up much.) There is even a hot glass blowing studio on board, where you can watch glass blowers at work creating beautiful pieces of art. They cannot sell their work, but they do offer a charity auction at the end of the cruise featuring a few pieces made during the sailing. -Having sailed so much with Royal Caribbean (R/C), we were expecting everything to be at least 1 notch better on Celebrity, as Celebrity is billed as a Luxury liner and an upgrade to R/C. This turned out NOT to be the case in all areas except dining. We ate in the Oceanview Cafe (Windjammer for those used to R/C), the Dining Room, Tuscan Grill and Murano (both Specialty Restaurants which have a cover charge) and we ordered room service. Overall, the food was outstanding. The food in the Dining Room offered a great variety every day, as in there were many meal options to choose from for each meal. There is a standard set menu that is offered every day with soup, salad, steak, chicken, etc, and then there is the daily menu which also offers good variety from beef, veal, pork, chicken, lamb, vegetarian, etc. The "types" of food offered was a good variety, as well - it wasn't too heavily focused on one cuisine or another. The Specialty Restaurants we tried were both very good, as well, though in my humble opinion they made the food too 'fussy' for its own good. For example, in Murano I ordered filet mignon, and it came out as 3 mini-filets wrapped in puff pastry, each with a separate sauce and topping. Perhaps I'm just too used to Chops Grille on R/C, where a filet mignon comes out as a filet mignon that could put any Ruth's Chris, Morton's or Del Frisco's to shame. The Oceanview Cafe offered a good variety of food, as well, though it stuck to the same type of food every day. There was the indian cuisine station with some curry, the mexican station offered the same tacos, fajitas and chile con carne every single day without variation. The salad bar had the same cold salads every day. The sandwich bar had the same bread and meat assortments daily. The grill put out the same minute steak and grilled chicken breast daily. There was very little food that actually changed. This being said, the food was still very good. I do have to comment on our waiter in the dining room. Our table was 2 tables away from the Captain's table, but we apparently had a very inexperienced waiter. He lacked personality and confidence. He made no attempt to call us by our names (which is always done on R/C). The pace of the meal was so wildly off, despite repeat comments to the Maitre D. The first and second course would come out in perfect time, but it would be 20 minutes later before the entree would come out. It wasn't a backup in the kitchen, either, as tables around us with different waiters would get their meals well before us. Our assistant waiter was very good, though. -Moving on to service. We were in a Sky Suite which comes with a Butler. Our first butler went by "Chip." He was exceptional at attending to our needs and even anticipating them. Unfortunately, 3 days in to the cruise, out of the blue and with no explanation, we got a new butler named Tagu. Nothing wrong with Tagu, but he was not nearly as attentive as Chip and we felt it quite odd that our butler would have left a few days into the sailing without at least introducing us to his replacement. We later came to find out that Chip's contract had ended and he went home to his family, which is wonderful, but we felt at a minimum, he should have mentioned that he would be leaving, or introduced the new butler himself. Oh well, not that big of a deal. Our stateroom steward was not very attentive, either. We had to repeatedly ask for ice to be brought, and for other things to be done. One other important thing to note is that the sheets on our 12-day cruise were not changed at all! One of my roommates had a stain at the bottom of her sheets that was there the entire cruise. I was not aware of this until the last night when she mentioned that the stain was still there, or we would have told the butler or stateroom attendant to change the sheets, but either way, they should have been changed at least at the half way point of our cruise. Elsewhere on the ship, the service was all very good. It was no different from any R/C cruise we've been on, though. Everyone was polite and helpful for the most part. -We did notice that there were several issues of miscommunication or misinformation. There was a special tea being offered for elite members, but the location printed in the notice was non-existent. It took a while for us to find where the tea was actually being served. Also, we were anticipating invitations to a special Champagne High Tea (that cost $25 per person), which we had to sign up for twice, but the invitations never arrived. They said they put them behind our stateroom number sign outside the door one evening, but they were never there. I suggested that they either have the butler/stateroom attendant leave any notices/invites inside the room, or that they be slid under the door. When they put them outside the room, they can easily fall to the floor and then be picked up as trash, or mistaken for someone else's. -Now to Entertainment, or lack thereof. I personally am a fan of the production shows. I enjoy going to the nightly show after dinner and the entertainment is usually of good quality. Unfortunately that was not the case on this sailing. The staff singers were mediocre, at best. (I am a long time musician, so I feel it is appropriate for me to judge.) The dancers were also mediocre. The very first stage production show I would rate as 'below average'. The second one was very good, though. There was a pair of specialty dancers who were "very good," and an a capella group (Ringmasters, I believe was their name) who was also "very good." There was a juggler who was average. There was a stage 'funny guy' who got himself injected into shows where he had no business being. For example, one of the production shows was a danced-themed show that featured different styles of dance. The pair of specialty dancers came out to do a serious Tango, but the funny guy was all over the stage during their dance and it ruined the whole vibe of the show. I can say with complete honesty that this was the worst entertainment on a cruise ship that I have experienced in a very long time. That statement does not apply to the live musicians, or the a capella group, though. The live musicians - the ones who played during the shows, and the individual or bands who played throughout the ship - were outstanding. -Keeping with on-board entertainment, there wasn't very much offered in the way of regular entertainment during the day. What I mean is that a majority of the things to do revolved around items that cost money, such as spa or acupuncture seminars, wine or liquor tastings, art auctions, bingo games, special sales on items in the gift shops, etc. There was very little offered that did not cost more money. The a capella group would perform for 15 minutes twice a night, there was a jazz guitarist who performed for maybe an hour twice a day, a pianist who performed about the same, the hot glass show was about 2 hours long and it was done most days, and there was a movie being played somewhere, but it was one that was available through the free on-demand selection in your stateroom. -Lets talk about Guest Relations. Anyone who has cruised before knows that Guest Relations is your go-to point for almost any concern, complaint or issue that you might have. We found out, however, that with Celebrity Cruise Lines (much UNLIKE R/C), their Guest Relations officers do not have access to systems used by other departments such as Shore Excursions, or the iLounge/Internet. They could not tell me what excursion a specific charge on my seapass account was for. And for those who have sailed R/C previously and used their coupon books, specifically the free internet time, you simply go to Guest Relations and they apply the free minutes to your account right away. Not on Celebrity. You have to first sign up for an account, buy a package, then turn in the coupon to the Internet department and they will issue a credit within 2-3 days. Guest Relations might take your coupon for you and pass it along to the internet department, but they cannot actually make the adjustment themselves. Speaking of coupon books... The coupons offered by Celebrity were actually very good. As an elite member, I got a coupon for free laundry of up to 30 items, free pressing of 2 items, free dry clean of 1 item, a bag of laundry for $20, and 90 free internet minutes. There was also a coupon for a free specialty coffee while dining in a specialty restaurant, which is nice if you drink coffee (I personally do not). There were 3 $5 match play coupons for the casino, which is standard to R/C as well. (More on the casino shortly.) The other coupons were not very useful, but those I mentioned were of great value and it was nice to have them. It would have been nice to have some deals on the photos they take, or a coupon to use in their gift shop. (R/C usually offers a photo coupon that takes 15% off, or something to that effect, and a coupon for their themed merchandise for 20% off or something similar. These weren't offered on Celebrity.) -Lets talk gambling! The casino was a very nice size, and it was WONDERFUL that it was non-smoking! Three cheers to Celebrity for that! However, the slot machines were incredibly 'tight', almost unbelievably so. Don't get me wrong - I do not go into a casino expecting to win, but it is nice to be able to sit down at even a penny slot machine and be able to play for an hour on $20. You couldn't do that on our sailing. I was in the casino almost every day and/or night, and only ever heard of 1 big winner the entire 12-day cruise. (A lucky guy won $7,500 on a slot machine. It would have only been $750, except he was betting 10 credits per line. I wasn't even in the casino when that happened, but a cabin mate told me about the win as she witnessed it firsthand.) The casino tables were all set up for at least $10 minimum, with the exception of roulette, craps and a blackjack table that was set for $6 minimum. They offered a Baccarat table, though I never saw anyone at it. (Perhaps they only had it out since one of our ports of call, Nice France, had an excursion to Monte Carlo - the casino, and game, famous from the Bond films) -Now its time for shore excursions. I will talk in more depth about the ports later on during the Port Reviews section of this review, but I want to comment here on shore excursions overall. You have to be very careful about choosing which shore excursions you will go on, and you have to clear your expectations of what responsibility the Ship bears while you are on one of their excursions. At our very first port of call - Nice, France - I fell down into the mid-bus stairwell and injured myself, all because the bus driver did not wait until everyone was seated before taking off. The driver started driving then unexpectedly slammed on the breaks which sent me flying backwards down the exit stairwell in the middle of the bus. I fell backwards in an awkward position and hit my head on the closed door, and scraped up my back on the steps. I had to actively seek out a Celebrity official to make a report of the injury - which was witnessed by the entire back half of the bus. I was referred to the ship's Medical Facility where my statement was taken by the ship's security officer, and I was examined by a ship's doctor and given generic Aleve to take for the pain and swelling. I was told by the Doctor as well as 2 other officials in Guest Relations that they are constantly dealing with this problem of bus drivers taking off before everyone is seated. I also learned that every time a crew member goes on an excursion, they are required to fill out an observation form to report if the driver is using the a/c or heater appropriately, if they wait for all passengers to be seated before driving, etc. I was not aware that they did this, but it obviously doesn't do much good. Even after I reported my injury, the very next day on our next excursion in the new port of call, the driver took off before everyone was seated. This was a completely different tour company, in a different country. This situation could have been much worse, if it had been one of the more elderly guests of the ship who fell instead of me. I also broke my pair of $350 Maui Jim sunglasses that were less than a year old, and Guest Relations would not replace them due to the cost, but told me to select a pair from their shop and they would comp those. (For the curious, I ended up with a pair of Oakley sunglasses in a similar style to mine, but for those who do not know much about sunglasses, Oakley does not even come close in comparison to the protection and quality of Maui Jim.) We had a 2nd issue come up in Rome, and this is worth mentioning here. We have always been under the impression that if you are on an excursion that was offered by the ship, that the ship was responsible for you and would ensure you got back on time or would wait to depart until you had returned. This is not always the case, and was a very tough lesson for us to learn, so I'll tell you about our experience with the hopes that it might save someone else from having to go through what we did. When the ship docks in Civitavecchia, you are actually about 90 minutes away from Rome proper. So you have to take a transfer into Rome, and Celebrity offered either a Bus or a private train that would take us in to Rome and bring us back to the ship. We spent 5 days in Rome last year, so were already fairly familiar with Rome, and we chose to take the private train since it should be a little faster. The train ride was fine, and we were given a map that also had 3 numbers to call in case of emergency. The guide stressed this fact about having the 3 numbers to call in case of emergency. We got off the train and the guide was going to walk to the Vatican and then we would be on our own, to meet at a bar next to the train station at an appointed time for the ride back to the ship. Unfortunately, this guide was a very fast walker and had a large group of people following her. To top it off, she zig-zagged down different streets to get to the Vatican. To make a long story short, when it was time to head back, we could not find the train station and the map was completely useless - it wasn't a detailed, street-level map, and the photo representations of landmarks were not even close to being accurately oriented. The map showed that we came in behind and to the left of the Vatican. Unfortunately that was not correct. We tried calling all 3 emergency numbers, and 1 didn't work at all and the other 2 went straight to voice mail. We left several messages but no one called us back. We finally got in a taxi and he took us to the train station, and we arrived 5 minutes after we were told to meet. By that point, the group (and our train) had already left. We panicked since no one would answer the emergency phone numbers and our ride back to the ship had already left. Generally speaking, if you do not arrive back to the ship on time, it leaves without you and it is your responsibility to catch up to it at the next port of call. This would have been a disaster for us, however, as we had no clothes or passports with us since we were advised not to take our passports with us, and little money due to pickpocket concerns. We ended up buying train tickets at our own expense and just barely made it back to the ship with about 10 minutes to spare - the officers were literally there waiting to pull the gangway up. We went to a manager in the Shore Excursions department and showed them our receipts for the metro, the taxi and the train for all 4 of us, and showed them our phone and where we had been calling frantically with no return phone call. Celebrity took our information, said they would "file a report" and 2 days later we had a note left in our room that thanked us for our feedback and apologized for the disappointment we encountered. The appropriate response would have been to refund 1/2 of the excursion cost, as we did not get to ride the private train back to the ship, and we provided receipts proving that we had to pay our own way back and showed all of our attempts to reach someone with their emergency phone numbers. So, after all of that has been said, for the extra money that it costs to go on Celebrity, and having to suffer through all the little annoyances and sometimes bigger issues, we will just stick to Royal Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2012
We have recently cruised with both Royal Caribbean and Celebrity. Both ships carried well over 2500 passengers. Years ago we cruised the Eastern Mediterranean on a Greek ship which only held under 300 passengers and have also done a couple ... Read More
We have recently cruised with both Royal Caribbean and Celebrity. Both ships carried well over 2500 passengers. Years ago we cruised the Eastern Mediterranean on a Greek ship which only held under 300 passengers and have also done a couple of river cruises. The difference is very apparent. The larger ships provide indifferent service and basic restaurant food whilst smaller ships provide excellent food and knowledgeable staff. We will never use RC or Celebrity again. Our cruise with Celebrity Solstice in October 2012 was not a good on board experience. The stateroom was large and well laid out but the service in the restaurants was appalling. Whilst there was a reasonable selection on the menu, the food was always served on cold plates and we never had a hot meal. The service was so slow on occasions that we were too late for the shows and the Captain's Welcome Toast. Our meal time was 8:30pm and on the Captain's Welcome evening we didn't finish the meal till after 11:00pm so couldn't attend. When we didn't immediately leave after finishing the staff were extremely rude and made obvious moves to make us feel uncomfortable. We also bought a drinks package and were horrified that the assistant waiter kept pouring our bottle of wine into the glasses of the other passengers we were seated with. One evening we objected to this more than once but he still continued to do so. The other annoying feature was that we were constantly bombarded with staff attempting to sell products: photos; restaurants requiring extra payments; drinks packages; special offers in the shops; etc. etc. It seemed that Celebrity were only interested in fleecing us of as much money as they could. Overall we enjoyed our cruise simply because we visited such lovely locations. The embarkations and disembarkations were well organised for such a large number of passengers. It was just such a shame that the experience aboard left a lot to be desired. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2012
This was the easiest embarkation procedure that I have ever experienced. It took no time at all. My first view of the interior of the ship was dazzling. My companion who had never sailed before was equally impressed. The cabin we had ... Read More
This was the easiest embarkation procedure that I have ever experienced. It took no time at all. My first view of the interior of the ship was dazzling. My companion who had never sailed before was equally impressed. The cabin we had was quite comfortable but could have used a few more drawers. We found ourselves leaving clothes on the sofa. The food was very good in the dining room and the buffet. We had select seating and I was very impressed with the smoothness of the operation and the service we received in the dining room. We did not partake in the specialty restaurants by choice. We did however enjoy lunch at Bistro on 5. To bad we didn't find it sooner, we would have eaten there more often. The entertainment was disappointing. I am not sure if it was the scheduling of the show or perhaps the early morning departures for tours that made it inconvenient to see a number of them. What I did see was only so-so. My experience with the shore excursions was to say the least bad. The excursion to Florence and the one in Rome left a lot to be desired. Prior excursions on the same cruise were better. A complaint to the shore excursion desk resulted in a credit to my account. I would have been better off arranging private tours as many other people did. I spoke to a number of people who felt the same way I did and also complained. The activities were sufficient. I have no idea why everything is done in the morning though. There are many people who like to sleep in and miss some morning activities as well as those who are having dinner and can't be at the 8:00 pm drawings in the jewelry shop. I was not at all impressed with the merchandise for sale on the ship. Leaving the ship on the last day was almost as smooth as getting on. The fact that no announcements were made as to which group was to disembark made it a little difficult, but once off we retrieved our luggage and were whisked away by bus to the airport. In closing let me say that having taken this trip on the Millennium 10 years ago this one was better. Even with the complaints it really didn't discourage me from sailing Celebrity again and again. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2012
This was the 2nd time we were on this cruise as we had to curtail in May halfway through - this time we made it to the end and enjoyed every minute of it. We were in Aqua Class this time, basically because the cost was almost the same as ... Read More
This was the 2nd time we were on this cruise as we had to curtail in May halfway through - this time we made it to the end and enjoyed every minute of it. We were in Aqua Class this time, basically because the cost was almost the same as a Balcony Stateroom, and we enjoyed a number of nice benefits. We hardly ever compared our previous experience as being at the front on Deck 11 made it feel like we were on a totally different ship. I've read quite a few of the previous reviews and i honestly don't know where some of the people were coming from - this is a fantastic ship, with beautiful features and superb service everywhere, and we were royally entertained and serviced every day. We didn't want to get off the ship at all. We flew into Barcelona from Dublin very early in the morning but by 11.30 we were on board and relaxing awaiting our bags etc..i think at 2pm we got into our stateroom and the bags turned up not too long after that. we had signed up to the roll call meet up but we were very tired at this stage and gave it a miss. Solstice is a large ship, but has a much nicer design, in my opinion, to many of the other ships we saw docked in Livorno, Civitaveechia, Venice etc.. Our favourite place was the Cafe al Bacio and we fully made use of our drinks package there. we also loved the Persian Garden and relaxation room and i nodded off there once or twice. We hardly ever felt the movement of the ship at any time, and overall this ship is top notch. Our Stateroom was great, port views were excellent, and the facilities great. Aquaclass perks of iced tea drinks and afternoon canapes were totally wasted on us - who drinks that stuff? But we loved the shower!! And room service breakfast on the balcony is a real treat. We didn't do too many of the ship activities as we were on holiday! we used the gym a few times and Andrea also did a few of the classes - one was a bit much for her and had her in agony for a few days after!! For dining, we were in Blu. We had read all the fab reviews of this so we were expecting great things - however, we were a bit disappointed with dinner on the first 2 nights so we shifted back to the MDR. Then we alternated and suited ourselves. We grew to really like Blu, especially breakfast, but we found MDR to be more sociable and we talked easily to the tables beside us. Service everywhere was great - people who complain will always find fault but Celebrity know how to give first class service. Our room attendants weren't very chatty but they were professional and efficient and we have only praise for them. Also the dining room staff were also really good, and off course those at Cafe al Bacio. We thought the Entertainment was first class - "handsome" Alejandro, the cruise director, was really funny, and linked everything together so well in his unique style. All the shows were great but we enjoyed the Juggler/Comedian from the UK the best especially the unicycle sketch. The funniest event of all was the Dancing competition with the staff - it was hilarious and the creativity on show was really impressive. We did get sucked into some Spa treatments - am i going soft? They were good but Celebrity charges too much for this. They also charge too much for photos though we did get 2 of the best ones Our disembarkment went very smoothly and we made it home with no real issues of note. Overall, we had a great holiday, we were looked after so well and we are now planning our next cruise to the Baltic Read Less
Sail Date: October 2012
Sorry in advance, My English is not so good ( we are Germans) and the translation comes from Google. We are just back from our Cruise on the Celebrity Solstice from Barcelona to Dubai and we are Elite Members. Advance as a small ... Read More
Sorry in advance, My English is not so good ( we are Germans) and the translation comes from Google. We are just back from our Cruise on the Celebrity Solstice from Barcelona to Dubai and we are Elite Members. Advance as a small Info, we met a lot of old friends and crew members and have felt very comfortable on board. We had booked the Aqua Class and also the Blue Restaurant. The quality and presentation of the food were OK, but the Selection was disappointing.Specially wish for a Rib eye steak or Fillet Mignon were generally denied. Due to this unacceptable behavior, we moved into the main restaurant, which received more and flexible to the guests' wishes. But there were some things that not only ourselves but also others on board very disturbed The Port in Safaga is for a 5 star ship a real impertinence. No Infrastructure, no shuttle bus to the port gate, Dirty, filthy. It was a shame. There really Other alternatives. But the worst thing what did were annoyed us were the last 6 days of the Cruise. The ship was from sunset to sunrise darkened, all open decks 5,12,14 and 15th are closed and darkened The balconies were eclipsed and it was forbidden to use the balcony. Because of alleged attacks by pirates. (My wife wanted to see "Jack Sparrow" but absolutely nothing. The Sports Center the Hairdresser all lit up, the the same when they cleaning the Aqua or Blue the Restaurant brightly illuminated.The Pollbar remained open and enlightened because of the protests of the smoker but the pools were not allowed to be used. That was all quite ridiculous We were cruising also in January 2012 with the Brilliance of the Seas from Dubai to Oman, there was partying and no blackout. What is Eritrea or Oman to do with pirates. Absolutely Nothing. We are sailing only for one Day in the Gulf of Aden near the Coast of Somalia and by the Way very slow, only 15 Knots. This Safe Petrol for the Company. Understandable from an economic view, who can not use the Balcony or the Pools or the other open Decks for a walk around the Ship drink more at the bars, and allowing more money on board. And that makes me very angry, if one is fooled so obvious. It was totally exaggerated but I can still understand, " Safety first" But, ..... Why were we are not informed about these restrictions, as we had not booked the expensive Aqua Class but an inside cabin or we would not have booked the whole ride. However, anyone who thinks that there is a small compensation ( A Sorry Cocktail ) or even one, looks disappointed. Nothing I'm curious how the shipping company responds to the many disappointed comments. I can think of right now on until I write these sentences .... we got no Comment Card to fill .... funny. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2012
We were 2 couples with 3 of us celebrating our 60th birthdays this year. We had sailed on Celebrity Silhouette last year on a Western Mediterranean and so decided to celebrate by doing an Eastern one on the Solstice this year. We were ... Read More
We were 2 couples with 3 of us celebrating our 60th birthdays this year. We had sailed on Celebrity Silhouette last year on a Western Mediterranean and so decided to celebrate by doing an Eastern one on the Solstice this year. We were not disappointed although we thought the Silhouette was a little nicer. We did like the added attraction on this ship of the hot glass blowing and attended about 5 of their shows. We liked the life's lessons shared by the captain each day and enjoyed Alejandro as the cruise director. The food was good, the entertainment okay, but the itinerary of ports was excellent. With the help of Cruise Critic members and other sources, advanced planning really paid off. Here are some highlights of what we did: BARCELONA - spent 3 days pre-cruise at Marina View B&B Great place to stay! We did the 2 tours offered by Runner Bean Walking Tours which we also highly recommend. We booked our tickets online for Sagrada Familia with a time of 30 minutes following the end of our Gaudi tour. That worked out well, as the line for tickets was at least a 2 hour wait. CANNES, FRANCE - rented a car from Hertz and drove to St. Paul de Vence and followed Rick Steve's driving tour through the Gordes area. LIVORNO, ITALY - rented a car with Sifracar and drove to San Gimignano and over to Volterra. Enjoyed very much the Tuscany area. ROME - took the train from port into Rome Walked to Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain (tossed in our coins) and Pantheon with stops for gelato (try Giolitti's and Grom). Booked ahead tickets for Le Domus Romane which is an excellent exhibit--one of the top attractions on Trip Advisor NAPLES - took the hydrofoil to Capri, and then rode in the open air taxi up to Anacapri where we walked around and enjoyed the beautiful scenery and weather.KOTOR,MONTENEGRO - hired Milo, the taxi driver recommended on Cruise Critic who met us at the port and took us on a 4 hour drive around Montenegro--very scenic VENICE - took the vaporetto to Burano, ate gelato at Grom's, and did the 2 hour Row Venice excursion with Jane which was one of the highlights of our cruise. Absolutely loved the sail in and out at this port! DUBROVNIK - took a 2 hour taxi panorama tour which included a drive to Cavtet. Ate lunch at the Komarda restaurant and walked the wall. Another wonderful day as they all were! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2012
Having cruised on/off since 1998, we booked this cruise as an end of season "chill out." Having been on the The Millennium which was great, we really expected great things from this '5 star' ship and the 'glossary ... Read More
Having cruised on/off since 1998, we booked this cruise as an end of season "chill out." Having been on the The Millennium which was great, we really expected great things from this '5 star' ship and the 'glossary seemed to deliver what we were looking for. Sadly, it wasn't to be.The state room was great then its downhill from here. The dining room experience was less than professional..cold plates,, plates handed to you. or served across the body or over shoulders.....the food was 'ok'... not a fine dining experience and the presentation was non existant..eg..a steak with 3 sprouts and 3 sliced carrots that had barely seen hot water..no flare, no finesse at all! The self service restaurant was mixed....but often the food was barely warm. Who wants cottage pie when its 75deg' outside!! About the ship, the staff were multi cultural and some had bare English. The photographic staff were loud and at the point of being 'intimidating!', having said that, there was some great staff and the accommodation staff were fantastic.The shore excursions were astronomical!$89 each to be dropped off in Florence! If you wanted a coffee other than ordinary...like espresso...there was a charge and there lies what I think the ship was about, extracting as many dollars from the client as possible, add on add on add on! There is a 15% charge on every drink etc and then the ship adds up to $15 EACH PER DAY gratuity. I worked out that if everyone paid it would make in the region of $250,000!!! for the 12 days. Seems that the clients are expected to pay the wages of Celebrity staff! Security was OTT, a woman even had a piece of cheese taken from her and forget taking your own wine aboard, they tell you it is forbidden!, its taken away till after the cruise, As was a small decorative cheese fork we bought. It was taken from us,it showed up on the X Ray and I had to open the perfectly wrapped gift to show them,I pointed out that if i wanted a weapon, I could get far more lethal weapon from the dining room but, nope..they took it. Worst cruise I have been on! Fortunately, we have been to all the destinations before so knew our way around. No thanks Celebrity, you just lost 2 clients! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2012
Why? Having retired my wife and I look for a holiday that provides minimum fuss, unpack once but also provides a degree of comfort. Cruising provides all this and more, so like many we have entered this area with some enthusiasm. ... Read More
Why? Having retired my wife and I look for a holiday that provides minimum fuss, unpack once but also provides a degree of comfort. Cruising provides all this and more, so like many we have entered this area with some enthusiasm. When? We cruise whenever we get a good deal, so season does not really concern us. What? What was on offer was the Celebrity Cruise Barcelona to Sydney via the Suez, good price promising an interesting trip. THE GOOD. The Celebrity Solstice is a superb ship, it is difficult to fault, numerous bars, dining choices, relaxation opportunities. The pool area (3) is excellent, one is indoors (good for me with less risk of skin cancer)(5/5). The crew are top class; considerate, efficient, courteous and friendly(5/5). The AQUA class cabin was well laid out, good bathroom, well cared for and we both found it very comfortable (4/5). The entertainment was good, but spoilt by repetition (the 3 leg system), Room TV suffered from the same problem good but repetitive (3/5). Our cabin on Deck 11 at the rear was well located and I can recommend the location as convenient to most areas (4/5). THE BAD. The ship administration was below par(2/5); I think the SOPs were set up for short cruises (ie 14 days not 46). They have a system of 3 legs on this cruise, for example at the end of each LEG you had to get off the ship then get on again for the system to work. Some passengers even had to change rooms. What made this even worse to endure was the fact that confusion occurred when passengers who were disembarking got mixed up with those that were on excursions who on turn got mixed up with those who were getting off so the could travel on. I HAVE BEEN ON LONG CRUISES BEFORE AND THIS WAS NOT THE WAY IT WAS DONE(2/5). Another gripe I have is the system of 'VALUE ADDED PRICING', ie., price of drinks plus service charge. This frequently takes the price of such items above and beyond "land prices". THE UGLY. Australians have a lot to thank Americans for, World War II, Doris Day (my favourite), but Automated Gratuities is definitely not one of them. This dreadful system, introduced by companies on the justification that they pay their workers unfairly is not in keeping with giving everyone a fair go. Before company PR people get onto me let me say I earned a living supplemented by tips, more often than not receiving 5 to 10 times my wages, and this, in Australia, a land of reknown non-tippers. Tipping, in person, is a two way street, firstly it rewards the worker for good service instantly and personally, secondly it makes me feel good in that I have been able to show my appreciation, instantly. The Princess line operating out of Australia has stopped this practice Celebrity should consider the same. Put up the prices, pay a fair wage and allow me to show my appreciation in a timely fashion and personally.THE SUMMARY; In my retirement, cruising is my favourite holiday, each time I go it is better than the last. Cruise ships just seem to be getting better with each new ship. The Celebrity Solstice is no exception, it is a wonderful ship and I cannot wait for my next cruise. Having said that, I would think twice on going on a long cruise with Celebrity (ie more than say 14 days) as this leg 1,2,3 etc, leaves a lot to be desired in regard to Administration and repetition. Princess lines do it better, all be it with lesser ships. Finally, Value Added Pricing (same refer to it as Price Gouging) adds up to BUYER BEWARE, shipboard pricing techniques can be complex and well practiced so watch out; whether it is in the coffee shop, bar, gift shops, drink packages or dining choices sometimes it is not what it seems. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2012
We were on the sailing of 20th. September 2012. We are a professional couple who have cruised several times before. We had been staying in Madrid pre cruise and got the AVE Train to Barcelona on the day of the cruise. This was an ... Read More
We were on the sailing of 20th. September 2012. We are a professional couple who have cruised several times before. We had been staying in Madrid pre cruise and got the AVE Train to Barcelona on the day of the cruise. This was an amazing experience - 300kph with included meal and drinks. Taxi from station to port. We arrived at the Pier at around 2.30pm. Not many checking in and we had an allocated checkin being Aquaclass. Through in minutes. Cabin was of course ready and perfectly presented. Very spacious with a good sized balcony. Had a late lunch at the Aquaspa cafe. We ate every evening and several mornings at Blu save for one night. It is an excellent restaurant and relatively small. Service was exceptional. The wait staff including Adi, Luciano, John, Caesar, Yasim and others gave the highest degree of friendly service along with the sommeliers Leonardo and Margie. The food was very good just a bit lighter than usual which made it even better. We ate one night at Murano. You need to eat there but only once as the menu does not change. Again exceptional food and service. Lunch when onboard we ate at the Aqua Cafe. Ate one lunch in Bistro on Five. Not crowded and good food and service. We did not go to any entertainment but heard the shows were good. We enjoyed the three piece orchestra at the lounges/bars before dinner. Never crowded. We did not use any boat tours but had only private tours. In summary you would never know there were 3,000 passengers. There were plenty of empty spaces around the boat. Staff at every point gave excellent service. Disembarkation was a breeze. Put out our bags late the night before, had booked 7.30am departure. Walked straight off at that time. bags were arriving on carousel when we got there. We have cruised a number of times with different cruiselines and on smaller boats including Penthouse Class on Oceana. Overall we would rate this as our best cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2012
Cabin 2137 Sky suite excellent space both inside and outside. Storage enough for 4 let alone a couple Bathroom full size with both rain shower and ordinary shower. including luxury toiletries. Little or no noise from Ocean View cafe ... Read More
Cabin 2137 Sky suite excellent space both inside and outside. Storage enough for 4 let alone a couple Bathroom full size with both rain shower and ordinary shower. including luxury toiletries. Little or no noise from Ocean View cafe above. Our butler was excellent nothing was to much bother from breakfast to afternoon tea to canapes in evening. Dinning Tuscan Grille food was excellent only one thing waiting staff were a little over powering. Silk Harvest on the other hand now there was an experience not to be missed,and the staff knew to let you enjoy the delights. Blu well that again first class. Bistro on five excellent for lunch. and the MDR well the staff was superb , food to a very high standard we sat at a table of 10 and made a lot of new friends. Persian Gardens a total experience not to be missed from the body scrub to the rain shower and hot beds relaxation personified. Drinks the Martini bar is the heart of the ship early evening and the Sky lounge for late night drinks. Entertainment some of the shows let the ship down but others were right up there with the best. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2012
Just returned from cruising for the 1st time with Celebrity and have to say...WOW. Pat my partner has cruised many times with many cruise lines, I have cruised several times with a few and Marg & Bryn our Co- Cruisers also have ... Read More
Just returned from cruising for the 1st time with Celebrity and have to say...WOW. Pat my partner has cruised many times with many cruise lines, I have cruised several times with a few and Marg & Bryn our Co- Cruisers also have cruised a few times with different lines but we all agreed that Celebrity have come out Tops. We have to admit that the queueing to get on board did leave a lot to be desired and we really feel they could have / should have made proper announcements over the PA system notifying everyone as to why the delays ( It took longer to get the few hundred metres from Quayside onto the ship than it took for us to get from our homes to Barcelona ) 2 1/2 hours to be precise but once on board it was well worth it. The cabins were more than suitable and ours were inside cabins, and everywhere we went was immaculate and so clean, in fact we found it hard to spot anything that suggested the ship was of any real age. The food in all restaurants was first class and even though we did dine at Silk, one of the speciality restaurants we enjoyed the main restaurant food so much that we never strayed again as there was no need to. Service was that of 5* plus and staff attention was also 2ND to none. Sergio our waiter, Kenrick the Pool butler, Erol the Ensemble bartender, Sheldon the martini bartender, Marden our cabin attendant were the people who made our holiday that so much better and you felt that they felt better because they were making you happy. The entertainment started off a little bit poorly and it was only after Dave Heenan the comedian that things really did improve and as for Mark DonohueHe really was Brilliant and his Fiddle rendition of Devil went down to Georgia truly was something else. The Cirque de Soleil act was brilliant and Daniel Bouchet was really only good with his last songs every time when he was finishing his act ( operatic songs )as the rest of his act was far, far too CHEESY. My only real criticism of Celebrity is ......Your trips are far, far too expensive as we found out, we had a coach trip around Malta booked through Celebrity and our friends did the same with a bus trip booked off the ship and was a quarter of our price. Also the price of the photographs were ridiculous ....19.99 dollars for a not particularly well taken photo when I have some on my camera which are much better and will only cost me £3 or 5 dollars at snappy snaps....if they reduced their prices to 9.99 dollars they would probably sell 10 times more and this is only what I heard from other passengers. These are only silly gripes we have with the cruise and NO way did they spoil our Holiday, because we also met some Lovely people on their ..namely Linda & Lou from Vancouver or if Linda likes...YEEHAA country....Pat, Joan, Judy and Hilary from Wurzel Land or the Terrible foursome..lol. Linda & Bill from Birmingham way ( get the drinks in Bill !!! ) Oh yeah and the crazy 2 Russian couples from LA and St Peters burg...PHEW. Well that's it folks and all we need to do now is to get saving. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2012
We were celebrating our 50th Wedding Anniversary so chose a longer cruise in a different part of the world than we usually cruise. The flight over meant that we had gone without sleep for over 40 hours before boarding ship. Should have ... Read More
We were celebrating our 50th Wedding Anniversary so chose a longer cruise in a different part of the world than we usually cruise. The flight over meant that we had gone without sleep for over 40 hours before boarding ship. Should have stayed in Barcelona overnight. The ship was lovely, the wait staff attentive, the drinks prices reasonable, our table mates delightful, and the food excellent. We were in a Suite and Captain Club Select so enjoyed many perks. There was a problem embarking. At the Duty Free Shop we bought two bottles of wine for our room. Two men at ship said we could not take them to our room. The brochure clearly states that we may. They finally let us go but we resented the hassle. We ate in MDR except for one night in Silk and one in Tuscany. They were both very good, but I am glad we didn't have to pay extra for them. We did have two lunches at the outside grill. Yummy hot dogs, burgers with grilled onions, and the best french fries ever. The Cafe upstairs may have good food but it is a zoo and very confusing. We attended several shows that were good. Our one complaint was the loudness. Perhaps it was our center front seats, but I heard complaints from others in other areas. We went to one of the Captain parties but skipped the second. Again, the music was so loud we could not visit with fellow passengers. Many left early for that reason. The last day we never received a Comment Card. Disembarking went very smoothly. It is not Celebrity's fault that our flight home out of JFK was cancelled after 3 hrs on runway and we spent the night with skimpy airline blanket and pillow. It just made us hesitant of crossing the sea gain. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2012
We loved our family Mediterranean cruise on the Equinox in August 2011 so much, that we did it again this year! This time, a 12 night cruise out of Barcelona on the Solstice, with an overnight in Venice. There are five of us - my husband ... Read More
We loved our family Mediterranean cruise on the Equinox in August 2011 so much, that we did it again this year! This time, a 12 night cruise out of Barcelona on the Solstice, with an overnight in Venice. There are five of us - my husband and I and our three technically adult children, ages 22, 20 and 18. Our daughter has a physical disability, cerebral palsy, and although getting around Europe with a walker or wheelchair is not the easiest thing to do, the staff of Celebrity make the journey very easy. The Solstice Class of ships in particular, are extremely handicapped accessible. Her stateroom this cruise, and last summer on the Equinox, was expertly outfitted with mobility/usage aids, including an automatic door opener - all she had to do was insert her SeaPass card and the cabin door automatically opened - super convenient and promoted her independence. All public doors, including the public bathrooms, on the Solstice Class ships open automatically or have a button to push - NO heavy doors to pull open, none. The Millennium Class ships, however, cannot make that same claim - most of the public doors do not open automatically, none of the bathroom doors do, and some of the doors which go out onto the outside decks are not only extraordinarily heavy, but are quite narrow. This is important information, I believe, if you are traveling with an assistive mobility device - the Solstice Class ships are definitely fully accessible, in our experience, but not so the Millennium Class. We arrived in Barcelona 2 days before embarkation, allowing for one afternoon/evening of independent exploration and one full day of touring with Barcelona Day Tours. We stayed 2 nights at the Hotel Casa Camper, which we absolutely loved. It is in a fantastic vibrant central location of the city. Please refer to my TripAdvisor review for more extensive details. We booked a full day tour with Barcelona Day Tours, months in advance of our arrival. We were thrilled with their knowledge and expertise. We did a full day tour of Barcelona including a drive to Montserrat where we saw the Black Madonna at the basilica. From home, we reserved timed admission to La Sagrada Familia. Again, for more extensive details on our tour with Barcelona Day Tours, please refer to my TripAdvisor review, but the bottom line is that we had a fantastic all inclusive super informative fun day! We boarded the ship on August 3 and had several sea days before our first port of Dubrovnik, Croatia. Having sailed on the Equinox last year, the Solstice, although older, did not show it - she is a beautiful ship, super clean, extremely elegant, all up to Celebrity standards. Throughout the voyage, we engaged in lots of trivia games; my husband again became very familiar with all of the poker dealers; our boys frequented the gym and engaged in the ship's version of the Olympics games, the official version of which was being held concurrently in London; and we enjoyed the onboard professional entertainment thoroughly. I don't know where Celebrity finds the talent in their shows - the dancers, several in particular, are always exceptional, Dancing with the Stars calibre. The Cirque-du-Soleil-style show, the various musicals including Doug Cameron and funny men Paul Boland and Steve Rawlings, for which I would pay big money to see, the dance parties, the acappella group and the flamenco guitarist, the party band - there seems to be a standard formula that Celebrity has for it's entertainment - all acts are exceptional and entertaining. We loved our cruise director, Alejandro, who as all cruise directors on Celebrity do, had boundless energy and addressed all pursuits with ultimate enthusiasm. The food ranged from excellent to very good. We had the 2nd seating in the Grand Epernay dining room and were very pleased with our serving staff. Since there were five of us, we had two cabins, 7139 which is accessible for our daughter, and 7137. Our stateroom attendant was notably fantastic - responsive, friendly, efficient, effective - not to mention quite adept at towel art! We discovered on our last cruise that on shore excursion days, it is difficult to mobilize a family of 5 and have them totally ready to go by 8 or 8:30 am. We came up with the idea that we would be able to maintain our sanity much easier if we had breakfast in our cabins - to not attempt to go to the dining room or buffet. This allows us to have more time in the bathrooms, time to dress, etc, while eating at the same time - one of the kids could be in the bathroom at the same time one of them was eating, etc. So on most shore excursion days, we ordered in-cabin breakfast service, and found that our stateroom attendant was our food server! He did everything for us, our in-cabin food as well as our laundry! Once when we had to call him to come and lock the stocked-for-purchase refrigerator in the cabin that our kids had, he was actually in the laundry room at that moment, doing our laundry! Apparently, the attendants carry phones with them so that calls from their guests go directly to them - very efficient and excellent for the guests, continuity of care, so to speak. (We did not find that to be the case on the Summit, however.) One of the absolute highlights of a cruise on a Solstice Class ship is the wine and cheese party on the lawn, in the Lawn Club. There was only one on this cruise, I was hoping for two, but at least there was one. It was held during the sail away from Naples. There you are, on a blanket on the lawn - ACTUAL REAL GRASS - with pillows, and a small stool used as a table to hold your wine of choice as well as a gratis cheese and fruit tray - relaxing as the classical guitarist plays in the background, as the sun is setting over Naples, looking out at Mt. Vesuvius - and you wonder how can such a magical perfect experience be happening to you? And then there is the Sunset Bar, which is also on Deck 15, my favorite place on the ship, when there is no wine and cheese party on the lawn, that is. It is situated aft, with the ocean around you on 3 sides. The Lawn Club is just behind you, port and starboard. The fresh air envelops you, the sun shines or sets on you (unless you want to sit under the tent top), all as your friendly server who knows you after the first day, serves you your favorite libation. Heavenly! Sadly, the Millennium Class ships don't have a Lawn Club, and their Sunset Bar is really the Oceanview Bar, so it isn't quite the same. I wanted to mention that the Captain's Club event is very nice - the Captain and top officers are there to greet you, wine and cosmopolitan cocktails are served gratis, lovely food stations, as well as an award presentation to the person/couple with the highest number of Captain's Club points on that sailing. We were very lucky to have been playing trivia with this couple, from Belgium, the whole cruise, so we felt almost like part of their family when they were presented with their award. The higher the number of points you accumulate through frequent cruising with Celebrity, the more of these events that are available. On this cruise, we were still a "Classic" member, but the party, though technically the most basic, was anything but that. Celebrity rewards their loyal customers, and I have "Elite" in my sites! Our first port of call was Dubrovnik, Croatia, on August 6, 2012. We booked the shore excursion DU10 Highlights of Dubrovnik Riviera. The stop at the Konavoski Dvori Restaurant was a bit of a throwaway as we spent nearly all of our allotted time there waiting in a very long line for the bathroom. We managed to snap a few photos and eat a quick snack of local ham, cheese, bread, wine, which was very nice, but hurried. I do wish the bathroom situation there had been better, as it was a picturesque spot - an old mill next to the Ljuta River. Cavtat was a beautiful seaside village, very lovely, scenic, although for us, frankly the highlight of this excursion came after our children took the bus back to the ship, leaving my husband and I to explore Dubrovnik on our own. We discovered the most charming local jeweler inside the old city, inside the wall; here is their information - BENI, vi Toma Barisa, Od Puca 25. It was a family run store, the son, his wife, and the 'old man'. I found a pair of traditional Dubrovnik Puca/Kolarin earrings - round silver balls, fairly ornate but also simple at the same time. I wasn't happy with the length of the hook, so the 'old man' in his broken English with the help of his daughter-in-law, completely replaced the hooks, put in a chain - all very nice, and extremely reasonably priced. My husband and I then walked the entire wall of the old city, up and down, in blistering heat, but loved every minute, finding the views unparalleled. He and I then grabbed the Celebrity shuttle outside of the walls and returned to the ship on our own. That is something crucial to know about nearly all of the Celebrity excursions - usually, you don't need to return to the ship with your actual guide/bus - the ship nearly always runs shuttles to the key destinations and you can leave your shore excursion and return to the ship on your own - very handy! Our next stop was Venice, the city of cities! The sail into Venice was spectacular - the ship really played this up, as they should have, as there is nothing like it - to slowly sail in on the Grand Canal with St. Mark's Square RIGHT THERE, a stone's throw from the decks, really amazing! For over an hour on the dramatic approach to the city, theme music was broadcast throughout the ship and on the public outer decks, by Sarah Brightman and Andrea Boccelli to name a few, setting the mood very effectively. On Day 1 of our stay in Venice, we booked the shore excursion VE02, Doge's Palace, St. Mark's Cathedral & Glass Showroom. This was an excellent excursion, covering key highlights of the city. Our guide was very good. I would enjoy returning in order to spend more time in St. Mark's Cathedral. It is definitely a spot where you just want to sit, stay quiet, and simply take it in. The tour of the Doge's Palace was excellent. The glass showroom, eh, was ok - there was a quick demonstration then time to shop, and given the world renown reputation of Murano glass, something to see for sure, but not really our style. After the tour, we were free to return to the ship on our own. We used this opportunity to take a gondola ride. This, we recommend strongly, you must do on your own - do not do this as a shore excursion. We are a family of five, and the ship shore excursion price for a gondola ride for the 5 of us was approximately $100 per person!!! However, doing it on our own, that is how much we paid IN TOTAL for the 5 of us - a tremendous and overwhelming savings!! To get a gondola ride is very very easy. There are reputable stands all over. We went to one of the ubiquitous Paul & Shark Yachting stands - they operate nearly all of the gondolas in Venice! - and had a wonderful tour, approximately 45 minutes in length, very memorable. Someday, my husband and I will return and take a romantic gondola ride at night, just the two of us, with the sun setting, but this ride was a wonderful family experience, for sure! On Day 2 in Venice, our 3 kids stayed on board, according to plan, and my husband and I went on shore excursion VE06, Secret Venice Walking Tour. WOW, we loved this excursion!! Our tour guide was super engaging, very informed, and to see the sights of Venice on foot, venues that are far away from the fray of Piazza San Marco - definitely a highlight of our cruise! We HIGHLY recommend this excursion!! Everything that we saw was as detailed in the description, but after the walking tour, instead of returning immediately to the ship, we spent several hours on our own in the city. We feel so lucky to have been able to have had this magical experience of exploring Venice completely on our own (with a map!), truly an opportunity of a lifetime, at least the lifetime of yours truly. Based upon a port exploration talk given on board, we took the gondola "bus" across the Grand Canal from the San Marco District to explore the Artistic District or Dorsoduro, and simply fell in love with the area - few people, secluded, lovely. We loved discovering the gondola workshop, Squero san Trovaso (as seen by us on CBS Sunday Morning several years ago!) as well as enjoying some delicious gelato at Bar Laguna. We walked back to the San Marco District on the Academia Bridge, spanning the Grand Canal, and returned to the Solstice on the Celebrity water shuttle. Split, Croatia, was our next port of call, and we booked shore excursion AT06, Dalmatian Coastline & Village Life. The Solstice docked at sea and the ship's lifeboats acted as tenders - this was handled efficiently and effectively. We met our tour guide at the dock in Split, where he ultimately brought us through Split as well as Trogir. The palace of Emperor Diocletian now essentially encapsulates the modern city of 'old' Split, the old and the new seamlessly meshing together. We especially enjoyed the smaller town of Trogir, a World Unesco Heritate Site. The Cathedral of St. Lawrence, with the klapa singers in the square, was very memorable. I had 'visions of Rick Steves' with the klapa singers - very enjoyable! Our guide then took us to Jurlinovi Dvori in Draga-Primosten for a full lunch - amazing! Authentic, delicious, very local! The pork chops there were the best ever! All of the dishes were served family style by the 'lady of the house'. Very lovely. Naples was our next port of call. Since we had docked in Naples last year, August 2011, on the Equinox, and had seen SO VERY much on our shore excursion NP08, Exclusive Amalfi Coast, Positano, Sorrento & Pompeii, we decided to do Naples on our own this year. We decided to divide our family of 5 into 2 groups, my 20 year old son and I, and my husband with the other 2 kids. Since my daughter has a physical disability, my husband and she and our 18 year old son, decided to go into Naples with the wheelchair and do the Rick Steves self-guided walking tour of Naples which focuses on the Centro Storico/Spaccanapoli. As it turned out, from an accessible perspective, the whole area was frought with hazards - lots of construction was going on at the time, so many walkways were hard to pass. They took a cab from the port directly to the start of Spaccanapoli - the cab driver ignored all red lights and made the drive particularly exciting/terrifying for my 18 year old son, who would go to Naples again any time if he could have the same cab ride experience! The city itself, other than parts of the Centro Storico, was heavily graffiti-ed and in general, ill kept, full of loose garbage, dirty - very sad considering the historic nature of the area. They happily stumbled upon Scaturchio, patisserie and gelateria. The sfogliatelle, the clam shell-esque pastry, was warm, with a delicious lemon filling - exquisite! My 20 yr old son and I, in the divide and conquer plan of attack on Naples, went to Capri. Since Capri demands a higher level of physical agility, I knew that my daughter who needs a walker/wheelchair, would be far less able to negotiate many of the aspects of the island. My son and I took the 8:05am SNAV Hydrofoil from the dock at Naples to Capri, arriving in Capri at approximately 9am. Our plan was to go directly to the Blue Grotto but we learned that the chop was too high that day, as well as the next, and so the Blue Grotto was 'closed', much to our disappointment. So, we took the funicular to Capri Town and then the bus to Anacapri. We then directly accessed the Ski Lift to the top of Anacapri Mountain. This is a single seat chair lift with no lock or bar over your lap - something that here in the USA would never be approved, for obvious safety reasons! We were a bit freaked out with no locking mechanisms on the lap bar, as the chair lift goes on and on, a 12 minute ride, very very high, with the land well below your dangling feet, ending at the top awarding the hearty traveler with amazingly spectacular views of the entire island but particularly of the Faraglioni rocks, the iconic rock formations that are the symbol of Capri. We took the ski lift back down to Anacapri, explored Anacapri for some time enjoying the fresh granitas, then the bus back to Capri. The sights and scenes that are viewed from the bus themselves and from every vantage point on the island are spectacular, beautiful, not to be missed. In Capri Town, as I had mentioned earlier, we had wanted to go to the Blue Grotto, but since it was 'closed' due to high chop, we wandered around the dock area, not sure what to do but not willing to give up on our quest, looking a bit forlorn and disappointed, when we were approached by a hearty soul, a local fisherman who's t-shirt advertised himself as the Pizza Man, "Rent a Boat with the Pizza Man" - is what his shirt said. He looked super local, authentic, and he seemed to know everyone around (thus, I though, hmmm, he must be safe!). He asked us if we wanted to take a cruise in his fishing boat around the island and the long sublimated adventurer in me said, "YES! WHY NOT!!??" We negotiated a price, which actually means that I accepted without question the price that he quoted, and off my son and I went. I am so glad that we did! Though the Blue Grotto was off the list, we still saw fantastic scenic water sites, rock formations that were breathtaking, other less famous but stunningly beautiful grottos that he negotiated his boat into, plus, he took us through the Faraglioni rock formations! He even opened a bottle of white wine which the 3 of us shared, on our 80 minute journey. We have fantastic photos that Pizza Man took of us going through the rocks! He was a skilled tour guide, broken English but still able to get across his points, such an adventure, in his smallish fishing boat, just my son and I, an adventure never to be forgotten! I know I am using the word 'adventure' often, but truly, that's what it was! Our next port of call was Civitavecchia, the gateway to Rome. Since we spent nearly three days touring Rome last summer and enjoying it thoroughly, we decided to take an alternate non-Rome shore excursion, deciding on CV25 Olive Oil Tasting & Scenic Drive. We enjoyed this very much. We saw a good deal of Tuscany/Tarquinia/Piansano, and got a fantastic narrative from the tour guide as we proceeded along. We enjoyed the historical village of Tuscania but the highlight was the lunch at the Cerrosughero Estate, which is a working olive oil plantation, as well as an Inn, where many varieties of olive oil are produced on site. We were served a lovely lunch of several varieties of their olive oil, their own jams and honey, several hams, artichokes, salads, breads - very rustic, authentic, delicious. We sat on the outdoor grape-vine-enwrapped patio overlooking the estate, quite picturesque. We were there for a bit over an hour, and were given an opportunity to purchase the olive oil, but at no time was any pressure put on us to do so. We did buy some to take home with us, as the oil was outstanding, and also very reasonably priced. On the drive back to the ship, we saw several Roman aqueducts still in place along the roadside dating back to Emperor Trajan, very neat to see. Our next port of call was Florence. This was our first time in Florence, and we were rather devastated after we booked the cruise, to learn that we would be there on a Monday - the one day of the week when the two most notable major museums in Florence are closed, the Uffizi Gallery and the Accademia. (WHY do these museums close once a week??? GRRRR!!!) What this meant is that we would not be able to see the actual "David" by Michelangelo nor Botticelli's "The Birth of Venus" - two of the most iconic works of art anywhere, ever. I was seriously ready to cancel our plans for the cruise, but, luckily, sanity prevailed and though it is true that we did not get to go to these two museums, Florence is a huge gorgeous uber historical city unto itself, and along with Pisa, there was no shortage of things to do. Not to mention that though we didn't see the ORIGINAL "David", we saw umpteen life-size copies, including the one in Piazza della Signoria which is where the original stood for centuries, where Michelangelo intended it to be. The ship docks in Livorno, about 12 miles from Pisa. We did not book a ship shore excursion as we knew that we wanted to not only see as much of Florence as possible, but also to climb the Leaning Tower of Pisa - myself and my 2 sons - and there was no shore excursion that combined both, for obvious reasons of time constraints. Therefore, months earlier, we booked a private excursion for the five of us through Tuscany Car Tours "www.tuscanycartours.com", and we are so thrilled that we did. Our driver/guide, Paolo Rigacci, picked us up at the Solstice at 8am for a 9 hour private tour. Paolo was very friendly, and very informative. He took us directly to Pisa (we had pre-booked our timed tickets to climb the tower); he parked very close. We spent probably two hours in Pisa, climbing, exploring, taking lots of the kitschy photos of us trying to prop up the tower. On our ride to Florence, Paolo continued his informative talk about the area - Tuscany - focusing in on wine production and classifications, knowing our interest in wine. In Florence, he took us first to Michelangelo Square which offers a breathtaking panorama of the city, including the famous Ponte Vecchio. Paolo made sure that we saw all of the major sites in the city, parking very close to them. Though we weren't able to go into many, as there is so much to see, we had time to walk around on our own and ultimately we were glad that the two major museums were closed. We got a fantastic thorough overview of the city itself, and next time we visit, as Florence will surely be an overlapping port of call on a future Celebrity cruise for us, we will visit specific museums. Paolo recommended a local authentic cafe for lunch which we absolutely loved - La Grotta Guelfa (please refer to my TripAdvisor review for more specifics.) We had a fantastic day in Florence and Pisa! Our next port of call was Toulon, France, where we decided to book the shore excursion TU03 Aix-en-Provence. Such a beautiful picture perfect postcard of a town! Our guide gave us an informative guided walking tour, leaving us plenty of time at the end to explore on our own. We happened to be in town while two markets were going on, a big clothing market and a farmer's and flower market. At the farmer's market, we purchased fresh peaches and fresh apple-pear cider. The cider was delicious but the peaches were extraordinary, ranking in our minds as the best peaches we have ever had along with the peaches from last summer's cruise on the Equinox, the peaches from the village of Sirince in Turkey. We definitely recommend this shore excursion as it provided an excellent trip into the countryside and a lovely visit to Aix. We had no interest in seeing Marseille, from our research, and we were very happy with our choice. An excellent cruise, and in our opinion, for our family, a Celebrity cruise is the best way to see Europe. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2012
We joined the Solstice on 27 August in Barcelona having travelled from Dublin with Aer Lingus for a 12 night cruise The transfer to the ship was also included (there was a little confusion at the airport to the coach getting all passengers ... Read More
We joined the Solstice on 27 August in Barcelona having travelled from Dublin with Aer Lingus for a 12 night cruise The transfer to the ship was also included (there was a little confusion at the airport to the coach getting all passengers together!) Smooth check in at port and as we have been on the Eclipse and the Equinox we were familiar with the layout of the ship This was a Mediterranean cruise and we had been to some of the ports previously so were looking forward to seeing some new places Rooms were available after 1pm and our bags arrived promptly We usually use Concierge Class but this time were on deck 8 cabin 8236 on the starboard side mid ship there was a pool of water on the balcony but our stateroom attendant said it was coming from higher decks when they were cleaning! Never had this before ! and it was only on our balcony ! We reported it( it never really went away during the cruise!) also the remote for the tv was held together with tape but guest services replaced it Our stateroom attendant was not as good as others we rarely saw him and he seemed reluctant to replace soap tissues etc or forms for room service until we asked also extra hangers were needed and we got the wire ones used for laundry We had noise from the tv and people in stateroom next door but following a call to guest relations it was stopped straight away The restaurant staff were excellent we opted for 2nd sitting at 8.45 table 432 on deck 4 We felt the food was not as good as the other Celebrity ships but the service was fine Wines as usual are very expensive on cruises The entertainment was good especially Fuse the violinists and the acrobats the dancers we felt were just average but Alessandro the cruise director was excellent and one of the best he was brilliant a great personality The itinerary was excellent but we felt that it would have been helpful to have landmarks etc pointed out as the only information was given when the captain made his announcements at 10am so we did not know what some of the islands etc were also there were 3 sea days with the last 2 days at sea it would have been better if these could have been split up We feel that the Eclipse and Equinox were better than the Solstice for service and entertainment but this is the oldest of the Solstice class so maybe that is why but it did not affect our enjoyment There was a long wait to get off at Villefranche we had a ticket 106 for the tender it was much quicker at Montenegro with no delays there We did two shore excursions one in Livorno a boat trip which was very interesting as we had been to Florence previously also an excellent one in Montenegro to the church of our Lady of the Rocks we also used the shuttle in Dubrovnic Our disembarkation was smooth and the transfer to airport good We did not visit Rome (been before and a very hot day !)but walked along the promenade in Civitaveccia where there are stony beaches and we had a pleasant day there also Livorno is worth a canal tour if not going to Florence as we had been before also We will definitely cruise with Celebrity again though maybe not on the Solstice Read Less
Sail Date: August 2012
We chose this cruise to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary and the cruise itinerary was the primary reason. Embarkation at Barcelona was trouble free and we were soon on board exploring the ship whilst we waited for confirmation that ... Read More
We chose this cruise to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary and the cruise itinerary was the primary reason. Embarkation at Barcelona was trouble free and we were soon on board exploring the ship whilst we waited for confirmation that our cabin was ready. We booked cabin no. 1579 which was Aqua Class and we were suitably impressed with the size and the layout of the cabin, and were pleased that we had opted for the balcony. First impressions - The Solstice is a superb vessel and is a credit to the staff who pay particular attention to details, in particular the cleanliness of ALL areas of the ship was faultless. Ports of call - Included Barcelona, Dubrovnik, Venice, Split, Naples, Rome, Florence and Toulon. This Itinerary was the main reason that we chose this cruise. Restaurants - Cruising Aqua Class we already had exclusive access to the Blu restaurant on board, however upon embarkation we chose to purchase a speciality restaurant package that included a visit to Silk Harvest, Murano and Tuscan Grille. The food in all of the restaurants and cafes was superb and was always served with a smile. My only criticism was that not everybody abide by the dress code and we saw fellow cruisers in shorts and T shirts even in the speciality restaurants which was disappointing. Blu - This is the restaurant that we ate in the majority of the time and the menu choices and quality was of the highest standard as was the service from the minute we arrived, but you do need to request a pause between courses to allow your digestive system to rest! Silk Harvest - This is an Asian themed restaurant and again the quality and menu choices were plentiful. Murano - This is a restaurant for those special occasions, as the food is exquisite, but possibly a bit rich to visit too frequently! Tusacn Grille - Plenty of space here and probably one of the best Steaks that I've ever had. Main Dining Room - This is an enormous restaurant and despite the food being of great quality we found the service to be too rushed. Entertainment - Generally it was good and in particular the stage shows, the acapella singers and the jazz trio in the cocktail lounge were the pick of the acts. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2012
We have been on 19 cruise and this was our second time on Solstice and our 6th Celebrity cruise. We decided to spend 2 days prior to the cruise at the Hotel Silken Las Rambla. The two days at the hotel gave us time to get into ... Read More
We have been on 19 cruise and this was our second time on Solstice and our 6th Celebrity cruise. We decided to spend 2 days prior to the cruise at the Hotel Silken Las Rambla. The two days at the hotel gave us time to get into 'holiday mode' and we were able to enjoy the delights that Barcelona has to offer. Embarkation was smooth and we were soon able to get our cabin in order. This time I had booked cabin 7354, it was starboard aft and had a slightly larger balcony thanks to it's irregular shape.The cabin was fine but on reflection I think I would have chosen the next floor up for a slightly better position. Having said that, the starboard side for this cruise was great! The stateroom and his attendant were excellent. The food both in the Oceanview Cafe and Main Dining Room was of excellent quality. We were on the Constellation at Christmas and I have to say that the food on the Solstice was by far superior. I think that the food had improved in quality and the service we received in the restaurant was wonderful. The 'brunch' buffet was amazing and was well worth attending even if you didn't eat anything! We are now Elite members with Celebrity so we were invited to a special social hour each evening at 'Michael's Club'.This was very well presented and gave us an opportunity to meet fellow cruisers over a pre dinner drink.We also attended another couple of 'Captains Club' events that were very enjoyable. The entertainment on the ship was good and this was definitely helped by the fact they had a brilliant cruise director called Alehanjdro from Argentina. He had lots of energy and really helped the ship 'rock'! The ports of call were great and we enjoyed getting off the ship and exploring, particulary Dubrovnik, Montenegro, Venice and Valletta. Our son who is 17 also travelled with us and thoroughly enjoyed the cruise too and met a good group of friends. I would definitely book another cruise aboard this friendly ship! Read Less
Sail Date: August 2012
This was our second Celebrity Med cruise in 2 years, last year we cruised the Eastern Med on the Equinox which set a very high bar for the Solstice to reach. We had two veranda staterooms, which were adjacent but not adjoining so we had ... Read More
This was our second Celebrity Med cruise in 2 years, last year we cruised the Eastern Med on the Equinox which set a very high bar for the Solstice to reach. We had two veranda staterooms, which were adjacent but not adjoining so we had the balcony divider removed which made it easy to move from stateroom to stateroom. The stateroom although outwardly clean had some attention to detail issues such as a little bit of mould around corners of the shower, nothing to get too upset about but something we didn't experience on the Equinox. The stateroom attendants also seemed to refuse to throw out such things as obviously finished Coke bottles etc. They were efficient but not as good as a couple of previous cruises. We noticed other issues such as public washrooms which had run out of towels and there didn't seem to be as many people cleaning the public spaces like we noticed on the Equinox. We also had an incident in the MDR where a kid had thrown up her supper nearby the entry where we were seated and it took about 15 minutes for someone to clean it up, pretty disgusting while you are eating. Again no major vacation ruining things just issues we noticed. In the MDR both our waiter and assistant waiter were excellent as was the food throughout the ship. Drink waiters and bartenders were also excellent throughout the ship. We ate at the Silk Harvest one night, very good food and service. Ship passengers were about 1/3 from the UK. 1/3 Spanish speaking and about a from North American, lots of kids. We met some great people mostly from the UK which made the cruise for us. Spanish people seem to stick with their own and (sorry for the stereotype) seem to be oblivious to those around them. Entertainment was good and not so good, the first theatre show was typical poor man's broadway type singing and dancing, the last couple of days were much better with some acrobatic performances and a cool magician who looked like the lead singer of Duran Duran. The "party" band's lead male singer had the ability to ruin just about any song, however the jazz trio and several of the solo artists were excellent. Ports: Rome -- we rented a car and drove around the countryside as we were in Rome last year. Naples -- took the hydrofoil to Capri, very easy to DIY. Kotor -- favourite stop, walked up the mountain to the old fort, quite a climb, then we wandered around the old town. People were very nice and it was inexpensive, we want to go back. Venice -- looks better from a distance but you have to go. Very crowded, we took the people mover the first day from the port and walked to Piazza San Marco. Very hot and some of the smells from the canals.....yikes. Second day we did the Dodge's palace, very interesting place. Dubrovnik -- a close second favourite stop. Don't take the Celebrity bus it's a rip off, take a taxi. We really liked our taxi driver so opted for the 50 euro tour which was great otherwise the drive to the old town is 10 euro. He took us all the way to the top of the mountain above the old town, then we wandered the old town which was very crowded as the Carnival Breeze was also in port. Malta -- made the mistake of taking a ship tour, the "4 x 4 Malta adventure". The vehicles did not appear to be 4 x 4's and the stops did not even require a 4 x 4 vehicle. Definitely did not live up to the brochure. We broke our own rule by taking a ship's excursion and should know better. Overall a great vacation and a great experience but the ship and service did not quite live up to the Equinox, it may be because some of the Celebrity novelty has worn off or we are used to newer ships, not sure, but we would definitely sail with Celebrity again. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2012
We set off from Barcelona on Friday 3rd August, of course I like Barcelona I live here so no problems for me. We boarded about 11.30 12.00, no problems maybe we waited ten minutes. We went straight to the top deck to have a look around ... Read More
We set off from Barcelona on Friday 3rd August, of course I like Barcelona I live here so no problems for me. We boarded about 11.30 12.00, no problems maybe we waited ten minutes. We went straight to the top deck to have a look around and have a couple of beers and just chill out. We waited until the call came saying the rooms were ready and then we went to have a look at our cabins.. Our impression was good but the balcony was a bit smaller than our other two cruises but for the two of us it was big enough. First impressions of the boat were good, nothing negative there was plenty of room to move around the boat. The first two days were at sea days so it was time to relax. Of course it wasn't easy to get a lounger but I expected that problem. I made use of the gym, going to some spinning classes too, normally even if the gym was full you didn't have to wait long to get a machine. We were on select dinning and we were very happy with the meals, we didn't try the other Specialty Dining restaurants. I thought the main restaurant was good and the staff worked very hard but maybe the place was a little "cold" because of the decor but everyone has different tastes. We tried breakfast there one morning but we weren't impressed, too slow. We had breakfast in the cabin a couple of times, no problems and the Oceanview Cafe was good, we ate twice there in the evening for a change. The people we met were great, without a doubt they helped to make the cruise a fun time. Now the ports of call. Dubrovnik, very hot and a lot of people, try to get there early to avoid the queues and the crowds, a small tip there is less of a wait to walk the walls if you go in the entrance near the port. We also took a taxi for a private tour which cost us 50 Euro, try to find someone to share the cost, the driver was very good and he explained some history of the town. We didn't eat there we just had a beer, most places would take Euros or Dollars. Venice, we arrived early afternoon great views while the ship is going through Venice. We went into Venice with the ships shuttle, we went after 5 so it wasn't as hot and fewer people, we stayed for a few hours, a beautiful place but very very expensive. The following day we went back again and took in a museum and walked the streets, very crowed and hot. Try to go early to avoid the crowds and the heat. Split was next and a nice surprise when we got off the boat we took the tour bus (about 20 Euro) it took us around Split which isn't very big and that lasted about 45 minutes and then we had a guide to walk us through the ruins which was very good, we enjoyed it there, not too many people. Some people went to the beach, there are a couple of beaches within walking distance. Naples; here we did a private tour with APT tours, it was very good we went to Herculeum, Positano and Sorrento the guide was very good and I would have no problems working with this company again. A couple of negative points traffic but no one can control that and we were unable to catch the ferry back so that meant we had only a short time in Sorrento. We all had lunch there and maybe that was a mistake because we could have just bought a sandwich and saw more of Sorrento but no one was to blame for that it was our choice. Civtaveccia (Rome). We took the express train to Rome, it is run by smartcruisetours.com. No problems, the train station is about a ten minute walk from the shuttle drop off. In Rome we took an open tour bus run by the same company. We had lunch near the Spanish steps The Restaurant is called Life Via della Vite 28 a good restaurant. Livorno (Florence) here we just stayed on ship, we were very tired after Rome and we had already visited Florence before, it was good just to relax and of course the boat was very quiet. Toulon (France) here we had another tour booked this time with http://www.ssk.fr. Very good, not stressful like in Italy, we only did 6 hours because I felt this would be enough for the last day.This is what we did Aix en provence. Marseille Lunch to the Cassis. Here we didn't have a guide but the drivers were very helpful and explained things as we were in the van. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2012
Background Info: This was my 25th cruise and our first cruise being Captain's Club Elite level on Celebrity. We both considered this cruise to be one of the best trips we have ever taken (on sea or land). It was quite simply ... Read More
Background Info: This was my 25th cruise and our first cruise being Captain's Club Elite level on Celebrity. We both considered this cruise to be one of the best trips we have ever taken (on sea or land). It was quite simply fantastic (albeit exhausting). Great itinerary, great ship, outstanding food and even better service. Simply put, this ship would be very, very hard to beat. Travel To Port of Embarkation: We stayed 2 nights in Barcelona pre-cruise and were very glad we did. I had not been in Barcelona for 20 years and our time was well spent doing the HOHO bus to all the major sights/attractions -- including Sagrada Familia. If you go to Sagrada Familia it is well worth the wait and price to go inside, especially to take the lifts to the top of the spires and take the long spiral staircase back down -- tremendous views and a totally unique experience. Pre-Cruise Hotel Info: We stayed at the Hilton Diagonal del Mar. If you are an HHonors club member it is worth staying here for the great concierge lounge on the 15th Floor with a great balcony and views of the city and the sea. It is however located a good distance away from the major tourist attractions - in a newer neighbourhood that doesn't hold much tourist appeal (but close to the beaches); so taking the Metro is involved (but you can also easily catch the HOHO bus from here as well). Would I stay there again? Probably not -- would stay in a more central location, but not disappointed in this hotel. We knew the pro/cons of the location when we booked it and we were pleased overall. Embarkation: Very smooth. Celebrity does this well. We arrived at the port around 1:30pm and there were no wait times at all. We were on the ship within about 10 to 15 minutes of arrival at the port. Couldn't have been easier. Stateroom: We chose Aqua Class stateroom 1676 which had an aft facing balcony on Deck 11. We really liked this cabin. Our room steward and his assistant were excellent, the room was kept spotlessly clean and we would definitely book it again. Would be nice if it was a little closer to a stairwell -- but we would definitely book this cabin again. Ship Info: Wow. This was our first time on an S-Class ship -- and I must say that we were VERY impressed. It will be hard to go back to the M-Class now...or to any other ship for that matter. The only thing I didn't like on this ship was the pool area -- it is a zoo. Don't believe anyone who tells you it is not. I realize I am probably alone in my opinion of the lawn club -- but I wish they would just rip it up and put some nice deck chairs up there instead....as it really was impossible to get a chair near the pool on sea days if you weren't up bright and early in the morning. The M-Class pools and sun decks are so much better. In fact, they are so much better that I might actually choose to sail on them in a hot weather itinerary instead of given a choice...but it would be a very tough call. I just absolutely hate fighting for deck chairs and feeling stacked on top of everyone else. This deck chair issue aside, we were very pleasantly surprised with the S-Class -- we found it hard to believe we were actually sailing on a much bigger ship as it was laid out so well and (other than when we were at the pools) we never encountered any crowding issues at all. Perhaps this was because we were eating in the smaller Blu Restaurant...so we didn't spend much time in the buffet at peak breakfast times etc....but we felt like we had the best of both worlds in Aqua Class -- a small ship feel with the amenities of a larger ship when you wanted it. Good job Celebrity! If only Princess could have achieved this on their Grand Class behemoths....although they do have much better pools! :) Dining: I can not rave enough about both the quality of the food and service we received in Blu. Having recently been on the solisticized Infinity in January -- we knew that Blu was going to be good -- but we had no idea it was going to be THAT good! This was the best food I've ever had on any ship -- including Azamara and Celebrity (before Royal Caribbean took over). If you can afford the extra to sail Aqua Class -- go for it. You will not regret it. If however the difference in price is substantial -- sail in a regular cabin and pay for the specialty restaurants. We ate in Blu every night except one (we chose to go to Silk Harvest one evening and wish we hadn't as it was very sub-par in comparison). There were very high marks from all on board for Murano and Tuscan Grille though -- so guess we chose the wrong specialty restaurant. Activities: I took significant advantage of both the jogging track and the fitness classes. Fitness instructors were great -- and loved the track as well. Due to the port-intensive itinerary, we quite simply didn't have time to do anything else! ;) Staff & Service: Best ever! This is a fantastic ship with an even better crew. Every expectation was exceeded. I don't think there could be a better crew at sea - at least I haven't encountered one yet! Entertainment: Didn't go to many shows -- not overly impressed with the ones we saw, but the cruise director was very good as were the activities staff on this ship. They did their best to keep everyone entertained and had a high level of energy. I do wish Celebrity had a more active night life....but again, due to the port-intensive nature of this cruise everyone was pretty exhausted. Shore Excursions: We booked our own private excursions for all the ports -- and were glad that we did. The priority tender tickets we received being Elite with Captain's Club came in very handy for getting off the ship early and meeting up with our tours. Disembarkation: Super fast and efficient. Really well organized. We were off the ship with our bags in hand by 8:30am. Couldn't have been easier. Summary: I simply can't rave enough about this ship. It was wonderful. I consider the cruise very close in comparison to our 18 night Azamara Quest cruise in Asia a few years ago -- and I thought no mainstream ship would ever be able to come close to that experience. Honestly, the Solstice was almost as good -- and was even better than Azamara in several aspects -- so we can't wait to cruise on another S-Class ship again in the near future. I am anxious to see what the Reflection will be like! Next up however will be the Xpedition to Galapagos for an entirely different cruising experience. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2012
After many hours trying to plan a land trip to Italy, I finally took a friend's advice and booked a cruise with Celebrity. We have a 9 year old and wanted both a very nice ship that was also kid friendly. Celebrity delivered. ... Read More
After many hours trying to plan a land trip to Italy, I finally took a friend's advice and booked a cruise with Celebrity. We have a 9 year old and wanted both a very nice ship that was also kid friendly. Celebrity delivered. We flew in to Barcelona 4 days before the cruise and stayed at The Casa Fuster Hotel. It was perfect. Great location and the city of Barcelona is fabulous. We hooked up with other cruisers through cruise critic and went on a day excursion to Costa Brava and Girona through spanish-trails.com What a great day. Met new friends, and had one of the best, most affordable tours on our vacation. I can't say enough about Derek, our Guide. The whole Barcelona experience is unforgettable. The tapas bars: especially Catalana Creveseria were amazing as well as Moniel Gastronimic in the Borne district. Wonderful. Getting on and off the ship was very easy, no problems. The port in Barcelona is close to the airport and I was given the advice to not pay extra for transports, taxis are everywhere. So true and saved $75. each way. We were upgraded to concierge class and given a new room that was on a higher floor. All appreciated. The room was perfect. It had plenty of storage and is beautiful. Very clean as well. Kid's club was good for my son. We had an issue on the last night that was unfortunate, the Director could have- or rather SHOULD have handled much better, but other than that, it was a good experience. Meals were all good. Some better than others. Given the number of people they are preparing food for, they did a good job. We ate at all the specialty restaurants more than once. We enjoyed the more uncommon much more than the usual; the beef tartar was so good at Tuscan Grille, but the fried calamari was just average at best. The arugula salad was great, the ceasar salad was not. We chose select dining, which for us was perfect. You are so tired when you get in from a port that you may or may not need wind down time. General Port Advice: Make solid plans prior to getting on the ship. Internet is expensive and a bit slow on the ship. Do all of your homework prior to going. Utilize trip advisor to the fullest. Book excursions- we used RomeInLimo for the big 3- Naples, Rome and Florence and tell them your personality, what you like to do and what is important to you and ask them to match a driver to that. We had 2 Rock Star drivers and 1 just OK, not because he was just OK, but because he would have been more well suited with a bit older history buffs. Carmine in Naples created memories for us that we will have forever. He took us to an amazing restaurant on the Amalfi Coast and it was breathtaking! La Tagliata, what a day with RomeinLimo and Carmine! Make reservations in each Country if food is important to you prior to going. The good restaurants are booked and you can't just walk in. Get off the beaten path! Crowds can be overwhelming. Do the big attractions first thing in the morning and then go somewhere amazing for lunch or strolling & swimming and leisure for the afternoon. We swam everywhere possible which was great on warm days and the water was clean and beautiful. We brought towels and a change of clothes and enjoyed ourselves. Getting out of the crowds and having a personal experience will be where memories are made in my opinion. This would be my advice for everywhere but Rome. Rome is a beast, and you will spend the whole day seeing everything you can. A driver or ship excursion in these 3 places; Naples, Rome and Florence, I found critical. Otherwise, you can plan your own days and have fun without spending the extra on an excursion. The beverage package debate: This can be costly. I found it good for us to do the premium non-alcoholic bev package. We almost only drink red wine and they allowed us to bring a couple of great bottles on the ship. In addition, other than sea days, you are in a port, drinking wine with lunch, not on the ship. We bought a package for 5 dinners at specialty restaurants and that came with 5 bottles of wine. This for us was perfect. The spa was nice, got a massage and a manicure. Both very, very expensive. Bring your own polish girls unless you have a big budget! We did not see any shows. Speaking of budget, make sure and get euros before going. This trip was a 10 of 10. I look forward to going again some day. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2012
This Celebrity cruise was our fifth but the first in the Mediterranean and it was great. We flew direct from Philadelphia and landed in Barcelona at 8:00 am and took the Celebrity shuttle at about 10:00 to the ship. We were registered in ... Read More
This Celebrity cruise was our fifth but the first in the Mediterranean and it was great. We flew direct from Philadelphia and landed in Barcelona at 8:00 am and took the Celebrity shuttle at about 10:00 to the ship. We were registered in 10 minutes and boarded at 11:00 am going straight to the Ocean Grill buffet for lunch. The rooms were ready about 2:00 pm and the luggage delivered about 5:00 pm. We selected the 6:15 dinning time and had great service with Gusti at table 229. When I asked him what one special dessert was but ordered another, he brought both.........he knew I wanted to try each one. The show that evening was run by Alejandro who was bilingual as the majority of cruisers were Spanish speaking. So we were at sea for two days, which was good as we adjusted to the 6 hour time difference. There were several talks about the Port by Lisi and Lenora Mill, from Geo Washington University about the artist Titian that were very helpful. We had a balcony on deck 8, which was good as we had cabins above and below us, so never much noise. It was 6 decks up to the 14th deck where the Ocean grill buffet was located. We generally ate breakfast and lunch here and found a lot of variety. Plenty to eat and good quality as they changed the dessert selections each day although they had pears only on the first day and the apples were just OK, not crisp. The dinner service was excellent and our waiter was always interested in taking care of us. He often made suggestions regarding the Ports and asked us what we liked. It is interesting on the next to last night they honor all the staff that work on the food and beverage and by recognizing them and when they asked the question who has the best waiter every table hooted and clapped and so that is an indication of great service. We had plenty of choices and every night had a chicken, dish, salmon or steak as the set menu and then usually 6 or 7 options for your entree. Many were unique and we enjoyed trying different foods we did not normally eat. One night we tried the Murano due to a free credit there and it was excellent and the service and food quality was above the main dining room, which was great anyway. The pool area outside was crowded on sea days but there was an indoor, air controlled pool area that generally had lounge chairs. It had a small pool and was relaxing. The shows were felt for the most part to be the best we had seen on a ship. Several that come to mind are Doug Cameron and his violin, Antonio Salchi with the grand piano and the Broadway show tunes. Ports: Dubrovnik They had a shuttle to take you into town for $12 round trip that made it easy to reach the city that was about 2 ½ miles away. It was welcome on the hot day we were there. We took the 8:30 am shuttle, as we wanted to walk the walls before it got crowded and hot and it worked out well. There is a ticket office just inside the gate where you buy your tickets for about 70KN ---they take credit cards but not Euros. Waling the walls opened up different views and we found ourselves taking pictures every few steps. There are some refreshment stands on the wall and even a free bathroom about half way around. We walked and got off near the cable car and took that to the top of the nearby mountain. Great view from on top. There is a rest there but we came down and walked on the main street to the Portun Rest. At Sigurate street for pizza and drinks and appreciated the AC. We also had some gelati on the street but it is not real ice cream but made with vegetable fat and so was only 1E. Go off the main street like on Old Puca street and look at the different shops and the art gallery that was bombed during the 1991 wart and see the damage that was done. It was in the 90s so we retreated back to the ship by early afternoon. Venice We arrived about 11:30 and sat up in the Sky Bar for a great view on the right side of the ship. We ate quickly and went off the ship at 1:00 pm and took the people mover (1E) each way to the Piazza where we bought the tickets for 36 hours for 25 E per person so we could use the Vaporriti or waterbus to unlimited locations including Murano where we went after connecting at St. Marc Square. (#2 to St Marc and 7 to Murano) very busy and packed with people at times but you do see the city. We walked around Murano after getting of at the lighthouse or I think Faro stop. NOTE many shops sell glass made in China so look for signs that say no glass from China. We walked the main street called Fond dei Vetrai. The glass blowers were not open as it was August so not actual glass blowing going on. We did find out the glass blowing was started by 5 families and we went to one shop owned by one of those families -- RAVANELLO. They had beautiful crosses and other Murano glass. We left here at 4:30 and headed over to St. Marc Square where we went up Rassa ST. looking for sandwich shops mentioned in Rick Steve's Guide I had on Italy. (highly recommend this book as well as his free download Aps on many locations). We ate at one he recommended but not happy with this recommendation "Verde" but did eat lukewarm pizza and hot ham and cheese sandwiches that was good. We walked into St. Marc square for a gelati break and did the Bell tower as the wait was only 5 minutes. After that we took the Vaporriti back to our ship. The next morning we were back at St. Marc's square taking the Vaporriti down the Grand Canal we went through the Dogge Palace that was incredible. We used the audio tour and it was worth it. Paintings were unbelievable. After this we waited for about 20 minutes to tour St. Marc's Basilica that contains the bones of Mark the Apostle. We walked over to the Rialto bridge and had lunch ( 2E cover charge for eating at the Grand Canal) We then want back to the ship taking #2 toward the Ferrovia ( train station). Highlights were the Dogge Palace, riding the Grand Canal, our Gondola ride and ST Marc's Square but will not miss the crowded streets and hot weather Split, Croatia We tendered in (no wait) and walked around this city rather than doing a guided tour. Cellar was interesting as was the Basilica built on the Mausoleum for the Emperor Diocletian (he and his wife were moved out of it to build the church) I purchased a watercolor from an artist and we walked out the eastern gate to a fruit and fish market and even into a supermarket where we bought some snacks with our credit card. We also bought some handmade bags for 22.5E bargained down from 30E just because that is all the E we had at the time. Naples we did the Amalfi Coast boat tour with Pompeii. Both were unique. The coast was beautiful and the boat ride a great way to see the unusual buildings hugging the cliffs. In Amalfi we toured the Basilica of St. Andrew with his bones recovered from Egypt and buried inside the church. The church was built on a hillside and it is so much larger inside than it looks. Take the tour if you go here. After lunch, we toured Pompeii and it is just hard to comprehend that way it was destroyed by the volcano ash and hot gas. Rome We did the 9-½ hour tour and it was packed and included lunch. Since it was over 1 hour away, we wanted to make sure we got back on ship. We did the Trevi fountain (another gelati stop) the Roman Forum, Coliseum, then lunch and then the Vatican and St. Peter's Basilica. Plenty of pictures and memories and a very busy day. Plenty to see and not enough time but we did enjoy all the history and sights. Florence Our Celebrity sponsored tour guide was Anna Lisa and she was excellent. We took the waling tour for 2 hours and then on our own for 3 hours. The walking tour showed us what we might want to go back to and we did go back for the Domo Basilica to tour it after having lunch on the San Lorenzo Square at Rist. Finisterrae -- again what else pizza and soda. The domo was built with no scaffolding which was incredible as it took over 400 steps to reach the top. We purchased leather purses form the outdoor shops that line the street near the square. We checked out the Leather School behind the Basilica but found prices high and not worth the trip back there. Oh for gelati near the Domo try Guma -- all natural ingredients and great. We took many pictures and enjoyed walking the streets. Aix en Provence We took the tour that included a walking guided portion and then were on our own Isabel took us for 1 our and we saw the market on the main street, the fruit market, the old street, old theater and the Basilica where we saw a refurbished painting with the King and Queen kneeling before the Baby Jesus and the town of Aix in the background. I don't know how they can afford to keep up these massive churches but they must. Very small streets and shops and just a picturesque town......of course another Crème glace. Barcelona we took a tour after getting of the ship that lasted for 8 hours as we were leaving the next morning. We selected Barcelona Day tours based on the reviews in Trip Advisor. http://www.barcelonadaytours.com/ Our guide was Nardin and he was excellent. His background in architecture really added to our tour especially knowing a lot about the sites we visited. We did the Barcelona and Montserrat tour. Visited many interesting buildings, the Olympic village, the National gallery of Art, the SagradaFamilia Cathedral, the Basilica with the Black Madonna, Montjuic Castle overlooking the harbor and the Rambles. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2012
We boarded the ship in lovely Barcelona on 27th August. Check in was speedy enough process but delayed because our xpress passes had been unavailable, despite us having fully completed our online checking in with full details, including ... Read More
We boarded the ship in lovely Barcelona on 27th August. Check in was speedy enough process but delayed because our xpress passes had been unavailable, despite us having fully completed our online checking in with full details, including credit card information for sea pass accounts onboard. This is my second Celebrity cruise within a few months & same thing happened previously as well. Makes me wonder what is the point of going through it all online - only to have to repeat most of the process again at check in?! Also, what is the problem with Celebrity sending out the luggage tags requested pre cruise? Again for the second time in a few months, no luggage tags were ever received. You can get them at the port of course but it makes a bit of a nonsense out of the whole thing when they promise to send them-& then don't bother to! The ship itself is lovely and is extremely well maintained. Spotlessly clean throughout & a credit to the teams of hard working staff onboard. We were in a balcony cabin on deck 8 which was perfect for us as only other staterooms above & below us, so less noisy. We were on an early sitting -6.15pm- which worked out very well for us & meant the show time of 8.45pm were great. Well, apart from the times when they changed the timing of the shows that is! If it ain't broke....leave it alone Celebrity!! On the subject of the entertainment onboard. A mixed bag....the A Capella group...the Ringmasters were superb...on stage the first night and around the ship at various times & locations throughout the cruise. Amazingly talented group of 4 young Swedish guys. Also worthy of special mention is a superb vocalist called Philip Brown, he was first class & my husband & I agreed we have never heard a better rendition of Old Man River or Mr Bojangles. As good as the original singers! Superb! The Solstice singers & dancers were excellent also & we especially enjoyed the show where they performed their version of Riverdance & Broadway musicals. We did not really enjoy the Cirque de Soleil type show on the last night as much, very talented people but started to drag after 20 minutes or so. Too much of the acrobatic type stuff and not enough music or singing. Several people around us left half way through the show, which is never a nice thing to witness. The food in the Grand Epernay restaurant is excellent & service consistently good. Worthy of special mention here are Francisco & Sergio (not our main waiters but they both served us at lunch (open seating) & we agreed that we would have loved to have had either of them as our waiter in the evening at fixed seating dinner. Ours was good...not excellent. Another point here which I feel I should mention is that it is more than a bit unsettling, not to say ungracious on the part of the waiter concerned is that upon giving him an envelope with a gratuity in excess of $100, he felt it more important to urge us to mention him by name on our comment card, rather than to say thank you for the envelope. Am I right in thinking that tips are not mandatory or compulsory bur rather an acknowledgement/appreciation of services rendered? Same as with stateroom attendants, we left an envelope on our bed on last evening before we went for dinner at 6.15pm containing well in excess of the recommended tip amounts & yet no acknowledgement whatsoever. Envelope and extra gift had been taken but, unlike on our previous cruises when the room attendant came to say thank you, this time the was nothing whatsoever. Leaves a bit of a bad taste & is poor form in my opinion. Just some basic good manners & common courtesy would have been appreciated. Our fellow passengers were a mix of all nationalities in varying degrees, a lot of Spanish onboard, to such a large extent that Alejandro, the cruise director, had to make his announcements in the theatre in both English & Spanish every night. Also a significant number of North Americans as well as Brits & Scandinavians. A good mix of age groups as well, although fewer children than on previous cruises, probably due to school holidays now over. All in all a great cruise on a beautiful ship and with a superb itinerary. One thing I would say is that the shore excursions are vastly overpriced & a bit misleading for Celebrity to say there is nothing to see in Livorno (because they are selling tours to Florence!?!) when it is actually a lovely place and well worth seeing. We spent a wonderful day there & enjoyed a great boat trip where we learned a lot about the Medici family's influence in Livorno etc. Highly recommend Livorno as Florence tour is very tiring. The only thing I need add is that if you are reading this review before doing a cruise on lovely Solstice is...have a wonderful time and Bon voyage! Read Less
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

Find a Celebrity Solstice Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click
Compare and book excursions for your next cruise