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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2013
Having previously cruised on celebrity solstice , I expected - wrongly - that the Millenium would be of similar standard. The embarkation in Ensanda was a fiasco. The activities staff - other than a guy named Michael , were frankly lazy ... Read More
Having previously cruised on celebrity solstice , I expected - wrongly - that the Millenium would be of similar standard. The embarkation in Ensanda was a fiasco. The activities staff - other than a guy named Michael , were frankly lazy compared to the Solstice crew. The whole ship was less than impressive and despite a goodly number of Australian and European guests, overtly geared to just the American guests. The continual 'hyping ' up of people is tedious. I can only take so many " are you having fun !! " comments The formal nights were a joke - a joke that is if you expected that the majority of guests would be dressed in evening attire , my estimate is that about 5% were in tuxedos . Now I don't have a problem with that, just don't list a Formal evening if it isn't in reality going to be one. I'm happy with smart casual. I thought the staff, were like. Corporate clones, just followed the course instructions without using their brain or personality. I witnessed an I firmeder lady, who had been sent to pillar and post getting quite rightly very cross with an officer , who in turn instead of resolving the issue and showing a bit of empathy and initiative, inflamed the situation by saying, " I am not prepared to listen to you if you raise your voice """ The poor lady was rightly very cross at being given false information - twice and therefore had a right to be dealt with in an understanding manner and not having it made worse. I raised an issue with the cruise director, the every smiling ' Rich ' and he appeared disinterested and in fact - and I quote " Perhaps this product doesn't suit you " that is arrogant and not conducive to engendering a happy guest I am on the next leg to Australia but based on the last cruise I will not reccommend anyone to use this ship. It's sloppy any lazy. This cruise was not fun - at all The cabin staff and stewards however as usual are hardworking and very pleasant people. Celebrity will not be getting my business again for sometime   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2013
We were told to be at port at 10am in San Diago,to catch a connecting coach to Mexico to start the cruise. We had booked out of our hotel to follow this instruction. I can only describe the experience as terrible. We're told to pull ... Read More
We were told to be at port at 10am in San Diago,to catch a connecting coach to Mexico to start the cruise. We had booked out of our hotel to follow this instruction. I can only describe the experience as terrible. We're told to pull our own cases from one pier to another, then shouted at , and told to pull them back . Instructions were given to get a pedicab to take them back at our own expense. No one from the company knew what was happening and whoever was responsible failed to take charge all blaming one another. We were allocated a coach that left hours later at gone 5pm. Everyone was held in a large departure hall with few facilities, the toilets soon ran out of paper it was horrible. We finally boarded the ship gone 9pm, lifeboat drill was instructed at 945pm . This didn't t occur until 10pm, we didn't t have the opportunity to eat. My suitcase didn't t arrive until after 11pm. This episode was the talk of the ship, never once did anyone take responsibility or apologise We have also cruised with this line before,but would have to think hard before we do so again. I agree with comments re formal night. Celebrity you have let yourselves down. However, our cabin steward was great and his understudy plus all the lower grade staff including waiters and dinner maître ,d were good. Pity Celebrity had to rely on it's many staff to save the day, what about leadership and responsibility from the top.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2013
We are pretty new to cruising, our first and only other cruise was 2 years ago in the southern Caribbean with Carnival. Booked this trip to Hawaii with Celebrity for our 25th anniversary, along with friends. All we kept hearing from people ... Read More
We are pretty new to cruising, our first and only other cruise was 2 years ago in the southern Caribbean with Carnival. Booked this trip to Hawaii with Celebrity for our 25th anniversary, along with friends. All we kept hearing from people was how upscale Celebrity was, and that it would be much more luxurious than Carnival. Really? We had a great trip to Hawaii and a lot of fun while there, but that had more to do with Hawaii itself and the friends we were traveling with. To be honest we didn't find Celebrity to be better than Carnival in any way, certainly would not consider it a luxury line. Embarkation in San Diego/Ensenada was crazy. All passengers have to go thru the Pier in San Diego, they had limited sandwiches and water/lemonade available while we waited. No secure place to leave your carry on luggage, so unless you want to drag it around with you you're stuck there until the buses start to leave. We were just lucky to have been given the wrong bus number (the girl asked me if I was in a suite and not knowing any better I said yes - we were giving bus 6, our friends were given bus 30, but we managed to switch them to bus 6 when we noticed the difference) so arrived in San Diego 12:30 pm, on a bus at 4:00, boarding the ship at 8:00 and able to have a full dinner. Looking at the people getting off the last bus at 10:30 - 11:00 I recognized a few people that had been at the San Diego pier when we were there and heard lots of grumbling that there was no dinner provided for these people once they were on board. Found the food to be pretty average overall. Very little variety in the buffet, pretty much the same thing every day. Found I had to be careful with the omelets and fried eggs, staff tended to rush when there was a line up and you needed to make sure that the eggs were actually cooked. We did not try any of the specialty restaurants, don't see spending an extra $49 per person when I have already paid for my dinner. Formal nights? We made a conscious decision ahead of time not to bother with the formal nights - guys didn't want to carry suits just for 2 dinners. Sitting having a drink in Rendezvous we were very surprised to see what was passing as formal wear for some of the other guests - Hawaaiin shirt and jeans? golf shirt, khakis and running shoes? Didn't see any of these people turned away. Formal night on Carnival was more formal. Attended a couple of seminars while we were at sea. "Suffer from Back Pain" or "Want to Improve your Posture" - that is Celebrity code for Buy this Orthotic Insert ($179). "Learn How to Make Crepes" - Celebrity code for Come and Buy Crepe's for lunch or dessert ($5) or Come and Eat in Our Fancy Olympic Dining Room ($49 each) Accosted every time you passed thru the lobby on Deck 10 on the way to the pool by staff trying to sell you on the specialty restaurants. One thing we did appreciate is that we weren't forced to have our photo taken every time we turned around. Average age on our cruise was 60+, and we were told by one of the staff that it was much better than the previous cruise where it was 70+. Entertainment was very bland with 2 exceptions - Glenn Smith was very entertaining and native Hawaaiin entertainment from Honolulu was excellent. Ran into a few issues with the tipping. Our friend booked some training sessions at the gym and noticed afterward that they had added the 15% gratuity to the cost of the sessions. When he went to Customer Relations they wouldn't take it off. Sorry but if you are paying $120 for a personal trainer why do you need to tip them too? Also on our final night, we had a drink at the pool bar before going to get ready for dinner. My husband noticed the bartender look for the extra tip amount when he picked up our bill, and scowl when he saw it was empty. Not sure what he thought he did that warranted more than a 15% tip. We found the stewards and wait staff all very friendly and helpful. The final issue we had was the fact that you have to be off the boat by 9:30am on the final day - doesn't matter what time your flight is. With Carnival we were bused to the airport, but this time around we were on our own. It was suggested that we try to book an excursion that would drop us off at the airport - but that still would have had us at the airport about 6 hrs early. We decided to go to the airport and rent a car for the day since our flight wasn't until 9:30 pm. Looked into the shuttle provided by the boat but they wanted $25 per person to get us to the airport, checked with the taxis outside and it was < $30 to get all 4 of us to the airport. Despite spending a lot of money for our luxury cruise, I feel like Celebrity had their hand out for more, more, more every where you looked. Recommendation: Baked goods in the Cafe are much better than those in the Oceanview buffet, worth the trip downstairs to grab a muffin, croissant or sticky bun in the morning.   Read Less
Sail Date: October 2013
We were a group of 8 and we all enjoyed the cruise very much! The waiting in the terminal and bus ride to Ensenada was exactly what we expected. A long wait in a cruise terminal and a bus ride. Ran into a few people on the cruise who were ... Read More
We were a group of 8 and we all enjoyed the cruise very much! The waiting in the terminal and bus ride to Ensenada was exactly what we expected. A long wait in a cruise terminal and a bus ride. Ran into a few people on the cruise who were still bitching about it 4 days into the cruise. I made a mental note to avoid these "Debbie Downers". Celebrity did a great job- texts, phone call and email to let us know what to expect. We made it safely onto the ship before 10pm and we were one of the last busses to leave San Diego. The 5 Sea days went much too quickly! We were concerned that we might get bored, but it was just the opposite. Days and nights went by much too fast. The seas were very calm and by late the 2nd day the sun was out and the decks chairs were full. We went to the top forward deck and never had a problem finding a chair. The tendering experience in Maui was not good, as the harbor master who was controlling the tenders/ship movements was not allowing more than 2 boats to dock at the dock at the same time. Took a long time to get off ship get on shore. All other tenders and port calls went smoothly. Loved that we got to see both coasts of the big island. Only disappointment was the volcano/lava flow/mother nature did not cooperate the night we were cruising by. Food and service was above average in main dining room and we really enjoyed our Qsine experience. Ship was clean and overall in good shape. All staff we encountered from officers, excursion desk, photographers, room service, entertainers, room stewards were friendly and helpful. I find treating people like you would like to be treated goes a long way. Biggest negative was the walls between the cabin (we were aft port corner so only 1 one neighbor) were really thin. We could hear them when they talked loudly and when the TV was on. Opening the door and letting the sound of the ships wake in helped muffle the noise. We would definitely cruise on the Millennium again and with Celebrity Cruises. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2013
The cruise was great. Regarding: Celebrity Millennium. We did find most things a notch above Royal Caribbean. The ship interior was a bit nicer looking. The ship gym and spa area, not as nice a Royal Caribbean. The Officers on the ship ... Read More
The cruise was great. Regarding: Celebrity Millennium. We did find most things a notch above Royal Caribbean. The ship interior was a bit nicer looking. The ship gym and spa area, not as nice a Royal Caribbean. The Officers on the ship were very visible and attended many event. So friendly. The shows were great. The food everywhere was very good. Speciality dining restaurant The Olympic was a "10”. Our waiter not so great. Efficient but didn’t speak much, never learned our names. Our room steward was "efficient” also but didn’t really seem very warm.  The cabin was excellent. We had plenty of room for storage and we were very happy with how much room there was in the bathroom. We had robes in our room. Our cabin steward, while not overly friendly was very efficient. Loved that one wall was full of mirrors and it made the room seem much larger. The layout was excellent and our balcony was just fine. We loved that our room was fairly close to the elevator, and there was no noise. Boarding in Ensenada (after waiting 6 hours in San Diego) and then 90 minutes on the bus in Ensenada, and not having our luggage delivered until the next morning was terrible. We did get over it quickly the next day. Our excursions - Atlantis Submarine, Catamaran Ride and Zip Line were all great. Looking forward to sailing Celebrity again next year from Barcelona. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2013
We are HAL cruisers and are currently giving Celebrity a try for a few cruises. Millenium is a very pretty ship. No issues with maintenance, everything functioned and there was attention to detail. Meals were all very enjoyable. Martini ... Read More
We are HAL cruisers and are currently giving Celebrity a try for a few cruises. Millenium is a very pretty ship. No issues with maintenance, everything functioned and there was attention to detail. Meals were all very enjoyable. Martini Bar is very fun, live music was plentiful and professional with something for everyone. Showroom entertainment was typical but fun and worth the time. We had nice weather so the pool was busy and again, well attended to by the staff. We're poker players and this was the worst poker we've had on a cruise. The electronic table had a very old version of software and the play was very slow. That slow play kills the tournaments as the amount of hands between blind increases is so few, it is not really a valuable game. The live games start so late, usually 10:30 (advertised as 10PM starts) that not many people played. We felt there was not as much to do during the days as we are used to on HAL but we still had a great time. Planning to try Solstice class for next two cruises and looking forward to those ships. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2013
Celebrity Millennium Hawaii Cruise Review October 22 – November 2, 2013 Wow! What a great cruise. I cruise a lot and this has to be one of my best cruises ever. I am 50 and traveled with my elderly, disabled mother. We have cruised ... Read More
Celebrity Millennium Hawaii Cruise Review October 22 – November 2, 2013 Wow! What a great cruise. I cruise a lot and this has to be one of my best cruises ever. I am 50 and traveled with my elderly, disabled mother. We have cruised many times before on NCL, HAL, Princess, and Carnival. Gone are our Carnival days. We prefer to travel with adults with polite mature behavior. No seat saving in the show room, no wall to wall kids with no parents in sight, no drunks making scenes. Celebrity is it! This was our second time on this cruise. So we were prepared for the San Diego/Ensenada transfer. It is just a necessary evil with this cruise. However, the cruise is so wonderful it makes the difficult transfer worth it. We flew to San Diego on the day of the cruise. We arrived around 11am. We had to wait around 30 minutes for the bus to the pier. The pier area was a zoo. There was one very long line. The check in area was just not large enough. It took us nearly an hour to get thru the check in procedure. We were given boarding number 27. We then had 6 hours to kill before our transfer would leave. Celebrity had a lovely lunch station set up with water, lemonade, and sandwiches. We were going to go out for lunch but this was free and delicious. After lunch we went for a walk down to Seaport Village, and looked around in the shops etc. It was quite a walk but we had nothing better to do. Finally we had nothing else to look at so we went back to the pier. The pier area was mass confusion and it was so crowded you could hardly move. The cruise pax had no idea what was going on and nether did the employees. We just sat and waited. There was no PA system and employees would walk around yelling out the bus numbers. Finally our bus was called and we were boarded. No one asked to see our boarding number and later I heard many people just boarded whenever they wanted even tho they had a later number. Dishonest people chap my hide. My mom and I were very excited to be on our way. We were having fun and on vacation. We tried to joke with the bus driver but he was not in a good mood at all. There were a few people around us who also were in a good mood but the majority of the bus were full of sour people. Come on people you are on vacation and heading to your cruise to Hawaii! What could be better? The border crossing was quite fast, however the drive was long. After around 2 hours we finally made it to our ship. You should have heard the collective groan as we arrived to find a line of around 20 buses ahead of us. We had to wait another 1 ½ sitting on the bus. Only one bus was allowed at the ship at a time. It took around 10 minutes for each bus to unload. Finally a Celebrity rep came on our bus and told us what was going on. Me and mom were joking with him, however the rest of the bus was ready to string him up. Poor guy. Finally it was our turn to get off the bus. We went thru security and finally boarded the ship. We were given free champagne. Then we had an ½ hour wait for the elevator to take us to our cabin. We found our cabin no problem. We had a lovely outside cabin on deck 6. We were exhausted. We knew it was going to be grueling. I think we arrived around 9pm. We then had to go to the muster drill. The dining room had open seating however we were too tired. We ordered room service to our room (which was very good) and relaxed in our cabin. We slept late the next morning. We then had a lovely 5 days at sea to rest up. Our room steward was from India and was wonderful. He always said God Bless you, which we appreciated. He kept our cabin clean , our beds made and never bothered us. Whenever he saw us coming down the hall way he would run and open our cabin door for us. Dinner was the highlight of our day. We had the most wonderful dinner companions and we looked forward to visiting with them every night. The food was exceptional. Our head waiter was Manny and asst was Andres. They were excellent. If you didn't like something he encouraged us to order something else. If we didn't know what to get. Manny would always have a suggestion. Many times I would just tell Manny to bring me what was good and he would. His suggestions were spot on. Soon the asst waiter knew what we wanted after diner and we wouldn't have to ask. He would just bring it. My mom loves dessert and she would order 2 or 3 every night. This was no problem at all. They tried to push the extra pay restaurants but we never went. We thought why pay extra when the dining room food was so exceptional. We never had a bad meal. I ordered two lobster dinners thinking the lobsters would be tiny. Imagine my surprise when our lobster came and the one tail filled the plate. And we had ordered two. To say we were stuffed is a under statement. One night we had fillet minion which was the best steak I think I have every had in my life. The shrimp cocktails were to die for and we ordered them every night. Mom and I would always order room service for breakfast. We only ordered toast. But you could get eggs, bacon etc. It always arrived on time and was never incorrect once. We would usually skip lunch and then go to dinner. There was just too much food. We couldn't eat non stop like everyone else seemed to. The ship sparkled and was so clean. At night I would see the crew washing the walls! I purchased an Internet plan. It was quite expensive as it is on all ships. I had some trouble getting hooked up at first but got some help from the Internet office and then had no trouble. It was slow (as usual) but I never had trouble getting service. I could use my lap top anywhere on the ship. In the theater, in my cabin or on deck. They had some special speakers on this cruise. One man had climbed all these tall mountains and spoke of his experiences. They had Hawaiian Island talks, however, this gentleman had such a heavy accent I had trouble understanding anything he said. Entertainment was excellent. We didn't make it to the welcome aboard show on the first night but made it to every show after that. Some shows were better than others but they were all good and entertaining. My favorite were the production shows, and the Hawaiian show we had one evening. Rich was the cruise director. We really liked him. He was the cruise director on this cruise last year too. Every night after the shows he would be at the exit of the showroom if you wanted to talk to him. Lots of people seemed to want to complain to him. Not us. We made a point to tell him what a wonderful time we were having and how everything on the cruise was wonderful. We had a nice meeting for cruise critic. I was embarrassed as everyone was still complaining about the transfer from San Diego. It was 4 days ago, get over it. The cruise director all the senior officers and the captain attended. I was able to talk to the dining room senior officer and arrange large print menus for my mom. I had told special needs of my request but they didn't get it done. One word to the proper person and my mom had large print menus that night and every night after that. Funny thing was we all wanted large print menus at our table as the printing in the regular menus were small but it could have been the very dim lighting. So mom's large print menus got a lot of use at our table. All the staff on this ship were so nice. Not fake nice but they seemed genuinely eager to please. Just walking down the halls, all the room steward even if they weren't your room stewards were so friendly. I did a stupid thing in Kona. I left my cell phone in my rental car and didn't realize it until I was back on the ship. The ship was leaving in 30 minutes. Security wouldn't let me tender back as no ships were going back to shore so late. The port agent tried to get my phone as the rental agency was right across the street from the pier but the car key was already put into a lock box and they couldn't retrieve my phone. The concierge on the ship were excellent. They let me call the rental agency on the phone several times and didn't charge me a cent. They didn't have to do this as this whole thing was my own fault. Thanks to them letting me call the rental agency I was able to get my phone back. The rental agency mailed it home to me. It made it home before I did. We rented cars in all the ports except Honolulu. It was inexpensive and it gave us the freedom to go where we wanted when we wanted. We would hit the beach, snorkel around, sightsee, drive down the road hit another beach etc. We were free to go to Hilo Hatties or K-Mart for some quick shopping sprees and not have to wait on their busy free shuttles. My watch broke in San Diego so I bought a cheap $10 watch on board. I had to return the watch twice because they kept quit working. I finally got a refund with no problem. Such is the nature of cheap watches. I finally bought a watch at K-Mart. We talked to the cruise director and he said they will not longer be doing this cruise from Ensenada as San Diego and Ensenada are not able to meet Celebrity's needs. Next year this cruise will be from Vancouver. No transfer will be involved and Canada Place is a huge and very nice pier to depart from. We are already booked on this cruise. :-) Perhaps we had such a wonderful cruise because we are so easy to please. Feed us, make our beds and at the same time take us to wonderful tropical ports of call and we are happy people. Celebrity is a class act and I can't wait to cruise on them again.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2013
With all the competition from cruise lines, Celebrity should be ashamed for the way they treated guests on the Oct. 22 cruise from Ensenada to Hawaii on the Celebrity Millenium. In fact, think twice before you cruise on the Millenium. Not ... Read More
With all the competition from cruise lines, Celebrity should be ashamed for the way they treated guests on the Oct. 22 cruise from Ensenada to Hawaii on the Celebrity Millenium. In fact, think twice before you cruise on the Millenium. Not only were there very few activities, but embarkation was a disaster, entertainment was awful, the stabilizers didn't seem to keep the ship from constantly rolling and making many guests seasick, and the facilities, especially the gym, was unacceptable. 1. Embarkation: I’m sure Celebrity has been inundated with complaints about how disorganized and awful the embarkation was for the cruise from San Diego to Hawaii on October 22. When we registered for the cruise, we were not told until we had completed our purchase in full, that there would be a 3.5 hour bus ride from San Diego to Ensenada to board the ship. In fact, we were led to believe that we were to be picked up at the airport and taken to the San Diego pier to board the ship. Many of the guests had been traveling since 5 am in the morning, and were made to wait at the airport for pick-up by Celebrity for two hours. Since most flights no longer serve food, hungry and tired guests who had waited for hours at the airport for pick-up were only given a dry croissant with one slice of turkey and one slice of cheese when they arrived at the San Diego pier. Passengers were then forced to wait in San Diego for hours with no real food or entertainment (a movie would have been nice) at the pier or even a movie on the 3.5 hour bus ride to the ship. Decent food and beer or wine would have put the tired, disgruntled passengers in a better frame of mind. Instead we were bundled on buses and when we arrived at the pier in Ensenada, there was no ship. We waited another 45 minutes on the bus until we could get into our cabins. Our luggage was not brought to our cabin until midnight which on EST time was then 3 am. The lack of coordination and consideration for the passengers left 2000 people with an enormous distaste for Celebrity. Lack of activities: For the 11 day cruise to the Hawaiian islands, there was very little to do...no ballroom dancing classes, art classes, bridge classes, or anything else for that matter. There were no movies to watch, especially from the gym and very few, if any, lectures. In fact, I complained about this on the second or third day and eventually towards the last day of the 11 day cruise, more activities were offered. Terrible equipment in the gym: Of the six elliptical machines in the gym, only three were working at any one time. One or two had no tv’s and the others had no resistance. Even with the tv's, the only channels accessible was FOX news and the ship's channels. Stabilizers on ship not working correctly: We have been on over 20 cruises and never had we had to experience the rocking that we had on the Millenium. The ship is old and rusty and the stabilizers apparently are not working properly. Shore excursions: In Bora Bora our shore excursion was cancelled one hour before we were to leave. No substitutions were offered. Throughout the shore excursion process, we were subjected to warnings that if we didn’t sign up for the ship’s shore excursions, there would be no private tours, public transportation or taxis available, This of course was not the case and there were many private tours available at each port. The shore excursion desk knew this and wouldn’t share this information with the passengers. If they had to cancel the shore excursion, they could have at least let us know that there were private tours available and good customer service would have found alternatives instead of just leaving us without anything to do for the day. I could go on and on about the rudeness we experienced, especially when we were denied service for lunch in the Metropolitan dining room because the maitre d did not like my husband's attire of long pants and a polo shirt. While denying us entrance, many gentlemen wearing bathing suits with a shirt over it and flip flops were allowed in, dressed considerably less formal than my husband. The amazing thing was, my husband had worn the same outfit for the previous two weeks at lunch and no one objected. This arbitrariness as well as the boredom on the Millenium made us realize that Celebrity doesn't really care about its customers.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2013
We sailed on a repositioning cruise on 'Millie' for our anniversary. It was a wonderful trip and one of the best cruises that we have taken. Overall, the ship was great. It seemed like every day got more and more incredible. We ... Read More
We sailed on a repositioning cruise on 'Millie' for our anniversary. It was a wonderful trip and one of the best cruises that we have taken. Overall, the ship was great. It seemed like every day got more and more incredible. We had 5 amazing days at sea and then toured the islands. Each shore excursion was memorable. We met so many wonderful people on this trip. We do have to say that all things associated with the trip to Ensenada from San Diego was not what one would hope to go through, but we just kept reminding ourselves that we had the cruise to look forward to, so it was tolerable. As I mentioned everything about the cruise was fantastic with one exception. Having sailed on many cruises with various cruise lines, I would have to say that we were somewhat disappointed in the quality of food served in the main dining rooms on several nights. We had heard so many great things about Celebrity that maybe our expectations were to high. Maybe this had to do with the fact that this was a repositioning cruise for the ship. But, for whatever reason, we were not impressed. Numerous other passengers with a vast history of cruising were also disappointed with this aspect of the cruise. That being said, every things else about our first cruise with Celebrity was wonderful. Our cabin was excellent. The service was very good. We were very impressed. One thing that impressed us was that this ship never seemed to be crowded even though the ship was close to capacity. We also enjoyed how quiet our hallway always seemed to be. The ship is well organized to allow you to move from one location to another. We did not have one complaint about our cabin. All other things probably exceeded our expectations. Although this was our first cruise with Celebrity, we would recommend this cruise line to anyone. We do have to admit that the atmosphere is different than you would experience with another cruise line such as RCL or Carnival (There were much fewer kids, perhaps due to the time of the year, and much more of a laid back atmosphere although there was plenty of fun things to experience on the ship. The entertainment was first class). We are already trying to plan our next cruise but may be spoiled now that we have experienced a trip to Hawaii! Overall, our cruise and additional days at Waikiki Beach were magical. We cannot wait to do this again. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2013
Embarkation Getting on board was fine for my wife and me. We followed advice from previous reviews to try to show up early and be on one of the early buses from the San Diego cruise terminal to Ensenada. Calling the Celebrity phone line, ... Read More
Embarkation Getting on board was fine for my wife and me. We followed advice from previous reviews to try to show up early and be on one of the early buses from the San Diego cruise terminal to Ensenada. Calling the Celebrity phone line, the call center agent said check-in would start 12 noon. We showed up a little after 10:30 am and check-in had started already. We eventually boarded the ship by 2:30. Waiting on the bus in the Ensenada parking lot took 30 minutes since they were queuing buses and only loading people onto the ship 2 buses at a time. From talking with other passengers, some people did not board until after dinner. Food Generally, food was okay to very good. Regarding the main dining room, dishes like the home style pork chop on the first night was about Marie Calendar's level and later on the week, the rib eye was almost Ruth Chris' level. Consistency is probably an issue depending when your order gets picked up on the queue line. For example the Chocolate Lava dessert was served twice in the week with the first time being excellent, and the second time being a little dry and cold. And the fish is, of course, hit or miss with it being perfectly cooked or overcooked. Portion sizes can be un-expectantly on the large size. Beware if you order any lamb shank because a Flintstones-sized leg will be dropped in front of you. My main criticism on the Main Dining Room is that it doesn't seem that much bigger than the main dining rooms of the Millennium class vessels, despite the Solstice class having a larger passenger capacity. As consequence, most of the Table for Two’s are only an inch away from each other which make them seem like six person table tops. I feel that couples may as well as opt for the larger tables because the person who is inches away from you is more likely to carry on a conversation, rather than Table for Two person who is trying to avoid eye contact. About the canapés for Concierge Class, it seemed like there were some budget cuts from when we last sailed on the Infinity. The canapés consisted mostly of tortilla chips, humus, and seasoned olives. Shows The three main productions were pretty standard for Celebrity: the Broadway revue show, the eclectic song/dance show, and the Cirque du Solei type show. The Broadway one was called Ghost Light and the plot device used to bring together such varied songs as We Want to Live in America and Defying Gravity is that the cast and crew of a closing theater are reminiscing their favorite acts. Because of the large attendance we couldn't get to see the eclectic song/dance show but I did catch the beginning where the homage to Stomp led into the Bugle Boy from Company B. As far as Solstice: The Show, which is the Cirque du Solei type show...you can either feel that this is an incredible show of sights, sounds, and celebration of the human body...or you can say that I've already seen the real show in Vegas. Public Areas The ship is clean and from the Kohler-like fixtures in the restrooms to the bright paneling on the walls, you really do get the sensation of Modern Luxury. There are also plenty of places to plant yourself for reading, playing cards, or sunbathing. The pools had enough deck chairs that I didn't notice any towel reserving chair hogs. Activities I have to give kudos to the Activity Staff here because I ran out of space on my comment card. Thank you to Michael, Von, Chris and Tanika for being excellent hosts. You encouraged guest to participate with your welcoming (but unobtrusive) personalities. As far as actual activities, the ship had a very good mix of Trivia, Xbox Kinect, Table Tennis, Egg Drop/Paper airplane/Karaoke Contests, and Scrapbooking. On this trip, there was no Pictionary or Water Coloring. On top of the usual luggage tag, lanyard, and pen prizes, Billboard magazine sponsored some of the music trivia, so guests were able to win music download cards. Disembarkation Because we had to leave early, we carried our own luggage and left the ship before the regular 8:30 am disembarkation. It was a direct walk-off for us with the only thing for us to do was the final swipe of our Seapass card. Overall I feel if you read the message boards and reviews ahead of time, you can make the most out of your cruise vacation. There are some noteworthy things about cruising or Celebrity cruising, but I'm not going to be the spoiler. :)   Read Less
Sail Date: September 2013
OK, just a quick review. I know that I looked on Cruise Critic daily and saw few reviews about the Celebrity Solstice. Background: Late 50's..ahh! Cruised Princess, NCL,Carnival, Disney and RCCL. First cruise with Celebrity. Overall ... Read More
OK, just a quick review. I know that I looked on Cruise Critic daily and saw few reviews about the Celebrity Solstice. Background: Late 50's..ahh! Cruised Princess, NCL,Carnival, Disney and RCCL. First cruise with Celebrity. Overall I would give it a 8 out of 10. We have done the repositioning cruise previously with RCCL and Carnival so we were prepared for the bus ride to Ensenada and check in at San Diego. Compared to the 2 previous cruises Celebrity actually did very well. On the Carnival Spirit we had the Worst bus ever. Ugh...it`was disgusting, you did not want to even use the restroom. This bus was very very nice no complaints and we were lucky only sat for 15 minutes in Ensenada before we boarded. Our bus driver was a good driver and took his time and I was very Thankful for that-too many bus accidents lately. And he did speak English-Carnivals driver did not! Felt like everything on Celebrity was just a little bit better. Champagne when you boarded, public restrooms on ship very clean, pretty and loved that they had wash cloths to dry your hands. Cold wet washcloths given at the pool area when you were laying out, and sorbet on a couple of days. Always could find a lounge chair and enjoyed that they were padded and you didn't have to check out towels. ServIce I thought was vey good. Our room steward was Excellent! Dining room was hit and miss. Steak and Lobster Delicious, another nites NY steak Tough.. Oceanview Cafe..same thing ever day...kinda boring but they would cook fresh salmon, veal white fish and that was delicious. We were very lucky to have Beautiful weather-a little rocky for day 2 and 3 but not bad. Ship is gorgeous! Didn't compare to Oasis that we were on last but not bad-just not as many activities. Loves: Martini Bar- they were so much fun and lots of energy I enjoyed the Celebrity dancers and singers and loved watching Zumba every day! Enjoyed both the Captain Club activities Dislikes: Ok..Most Boring Casino ever... Only Jen was fun all the other dealers didn't even talk and the casino was very slow.. They sat us in the back table by the kitchen and I hated that table! Great servers but bad location. Next time will request a different table when I book. They couldn't seem to move us after the first night, Thankfully we Loved our table mates. We also signed up for the Crusie Critic Meet and Greet like 3 x but still had no idea when they all met>?? Never got the invite or infor.? Would we do Celebrity again?? Of course! Loved the 11 nights and the ports..ok Maybe not Hilo..   Read Less
Sail Date: September 2013
It started with the meet and greet at the airport, we finally found the greeters and it felt like we were bothering them. they were short with answers and we had to ask passengers how to get the bus to the pier. There was no greeter at the ... Read More
It started with the meet and greet at the airport, we finally found the greeters and it felt like we were bothering them. they were short with answers and we had to ask passengers how to get the bus to the pier. There was no greeter at the bus stand to ensure you got the right bus. very confusing and frustrating. At the pier the welcomers were not helpful as my mom needs assistance with a wheelchair and it took us half an hour for the crew to find somebody to help with the wheelchair. They said they were busy, however when they took us to checkin there where only 6 people checking in. Once we got to the ship we sat in the bus for 3/4 hour while they processed all the buses. I t felt very unorganized and like they've done this for the first time. lots of people upset.. Once we got on the ship it was very nice. the stateroom attendant was pleasant. most of the ship was very clean, except for the hallway carpets. they looked like they didn't clean them. Two restaurants were exceptional, namely Tuscan and silk harvest. The munora we did not like, service was great, food not special, bisque very salty. The ephanry main dining was good, but Royal Caribbean was a step above, not vica versa. The oceancafe was very nice , nicer then the main dining room.. All excursions were fantastic. Getting a hold of guest relation was difficult. we tried 3 different times and they did not answer, had to go downstairs to deal with them. The shows were average, nothing special, We left early on several of them. When you come back from excursions you were suppose to be greeted with a Face cloth. On 5 excusions only once did this happen. In a nut shell it seemed like the staff was not trained well and celebrity claims they are a step above other lines. They are not. Royal carribean was much better. They were not terrible just average, but I will not use them again Read Less
Sail Date: September 2013
We just returned from our Hawaiian cruise on the Celebrity Solstice. .this was a repositioning cruise so I do understand some of the problems..... Some improvements could be made, but overall a good experience. This was our first time ... Read More
We just returned from our Hawaiian cruise on the Celebrity Solstice. .this was a repositioning cruise so I do understand some of the problems..... Some improvements could be made, but overall a good experience. This was our first time cruising with Celebrity, we have sailed with Princess, Carnival, Norwegian, and Royal Caribbean. We flew into San Diego( the morning of the cruise since the ship was not due to sail till 11:59pm,) where we were met by Celebrity reps that did not seem to know what quite to do, we were told to go outside and wait for a bus to take us to the San Diego pier where we would check-in. That process was a little on the long side, but what the crazy and aggravating part was, is the ride to Ensenada.. (about 3 hours), we were given a bottle of water and some cheese crackers for our ride to Ensenada....when we got to Ensenada we had to stay on the bus and wait over an hour, then we were allowed to get off the bus, but after we were given a little cup of juice, we were told to get back on the bus to wait for our turn to be driven about 50' to unload again to go through security and get on the ship. This was VERY unorganized, we missed the ships mandatory fire safety drill, so at 10:00PM we had to go do the drill.....we had been up since 4:00AM and very tired. Five days cruising over to Hawaii was so relaxing. we enjoyed the indoor pool area with soothing music and just sitting and catching up on some reading. We were required to go through immigration again since we left from Ensenada. before we got off the ship in Hawaii...we were told to go on deck 12 I believe and wait in line, after waiting in line for maybe 30 minutes a crew member showed up and told us to turn around and go back in the direction we were just coming from the last half hour, again the crew personal acted like they were not sure what to do or how to do it. Eventually we got through immigration and then began to enjoy Hilo, Hawaii, our first stop. We did the helicopter tour but the volcano was not very active, we were told it had a "blockage" so you could not see the molten magma, except for a couple small holes in the hardened magma, but it was still exciting to take the helicopter ride. We cruised that evening around to Kona, cruising by the volcano, we could see two small places where the red magma was flowing, but again since the blockage, there was no molten lava flowing into the sea......hopefully it will start up again soon, we would love going back to see it. Next two days on Lahaina, Maui. We did a tour to go see the seahorses...it was awesome and very informative. The last two days were on Honolulu, Oahu which we had planned on seeing the Arizona and Pearl Harbor, w(as closed on the days we were there with the government shut down, so again we will have to make another trip to see) Our balcony cabin was nice, but could have used a little larger drawer space since we were on board for 12 days. The evening entertainment was good, except the gentleman that juggled, he tried making jokes, but was not that funny. The piano player was awesome, would have enjoyed seeing him for 2-3 nights. The Solstice entertainers did a great job, could have watched their shows more nights. My husband did have some accupuncture treatments while onboard, (we had not seen offered before on other cruises that we have been on.) I also really enjoyed the glass blowing.......the three gentleman made several beautiful objects from goblets to bowls to hand blown fish. The green lawn up on deck 15 was nice for playing games on. We enjoyed the food in the dining room, we did not go to any of the specialty restaurants, and a couple of nights we went up to the buffet for dinner, which was great. We are booked on this ship again in March, sailing from Auckland, New Zealand to Sydney, Austrailia. We are looking forward to that cruise, one nice part is that we will know our way around the ship already. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2013
By way of introduction, we are a couple in our mid-80’s who bemoan the loss of consideration, politeness and gentility that so marks these times. My wife suffers from dementia so that the addition of a third party to share the care of ... Read More
By way of introduction, we are a couple in our mid-80’s who bemoan the loss of consideration, politeness and gentility that so marks these times. My wife suffers from dementia so that the addition of a third party to share the care of Alice was both welcomed and important to our overall enjoyment of the cruise. We are not, by nature, gregarious people but did find several dear friends earlier on the Cruise Critic website who enhanced our joy. The Embarkation at Ensenada: We were delighted to receive a personal telephone call on the Sunday prior from Diego”, who assured us that all had been prepared. Unfortunately, his careful planning fell apart at the hands of Mexican Immigration. Both vans of our caravan (carrying ourselves and the other Penthouse occupants) and another private vehicle arrived almost simultaneously at the Gate of Ensenada Seaport. Despite our pleas that all had been planned for us to proceed directly to the ship, we were all forced to fill out some Immigration Forms, unload our luggage and then proceed to an awaiting van operated by the Mexican authorities. Our luggage was then piled in all the available space in the aisles, between seats, etc. for the 200 yard trip from Gate to Ship. We had expected to be among the very few first people embarking so early; however as we were proceeding to the ship three of the Celebrity busses drove up and occupied the usual unloading area. Our van was told to park several hundred feet away at a more isolated area and we were told to carry our own luggage back to the now crowded unloading area. With three bags and a hand luggage, this was becoming a difficult problem for Alice and myself when I finally rested a moment en route " looking for some target to aim at. At that point, Mario, of the ship’s crew, took us under his wing, had handlers take care of our luggage (using the xray machine for hand baggage) and instructing that they be taken directly to Room 1616. Mario then arranged to have someone escort us to the stateroom. Our friend got lost in the crowd and had her luggage delivered to the stateroom while we were at dinner around 7:00PM. I heard the other Penthouse couple say, "We are not used to travelling like this!” but I was much to concerned about Alice and myself to bother myself with naught but ourselves. In a few words, the Embarkation took on all the aspects of a Chinese Fire Drill " however once Celebrity returned to the picture all was handled with the care and service we truly expected. The Penthouse: Although I had seen pictures and movies of the stateroom, I was entirely in awe as all unfolded before me. I had expected some evidence of deterioration, etc after several years of hard service " in both stateroom and general areas of the ship " but was pleasantly surprised at how well everything has been maintained. In all aspects, the appearance, décor, and general condition belie her years of service. We had the Klaviarpiano playing shortly with our disks and " wonder of wonders " found that Hendrick’s Gin was included in the room and on board in addition to Bombay Sapphire. Since this had been consideration that I most regretted loss while on cruise, I was delighted that even this small loss of pleasure was no longer denied and supplied a lot of en suite entertainments. Nice. Captain’s Club and Elite Status: We were invited to the Senior Officer’s Table on the second night because we had opted for early dining throughout the trip. The event was in all respects akin to what is usually expected at such a celebration. However, because the shape of the table and high noise level in the room, it was impossible to carry on a conversation with anyone more than one person removed. We nonetheless enjoyed the evening which allowed the ladies to don their most chic evening wear for the event. We used few of the perks offered to Elite .. never attending the morning breakfasts and evening gathering of the Captain’s Club Elite. Our most favorite times on board were the casual en suite breakfasts which could be enjoyed in our robes. I usually went up to the buffet just before six AM to return to the cabin with coffee and Danish " to be enjoyed on the veranda to watch the sunrise. Breakfast was served about 7:30AM. While I have my own personal rule not to eat dinner out in any short sleeved shirt and, on this cruise, often wore a light jacket or dressy long-sleeve shirt when dining in the restaurants. It did dismay me that all too often people show little or no regard for others " arriving for dinner in much less formal attire  even reducing their efforts to a previously worn white T-shirt. One such woman coyly boasted on her shirt "I was born in a Brewery!”  a motto not much needed due to her girth and otherwise slovenly appearance. It is regrettable that many of the niceties of past times are forever lost " however I do commend Celebrity that while it must seek out cruisers of all sorts and financial stations, there were always islands of gentility available. In fact, it is amazing at how many different types are so well accommodated on Celebrity. It is equally amazing that with a full complement of passengers there were seldom times that we felt the least bit crowded in the variety of public rooms available. Priority Embarkation and Debarkation: Our one suggestion is that you devise some manner in which Elite passengers can avoid the long lines to get off and get on board ship. Fortunately, we were able to make our way towards the front of the lines " usually by commenting upon our Penthouse status " but running such interference ahead of long line does little to assure the more timid of such access and does a lot towards personal anger of others in the line. I would suggest a separate entry, suitably labeled, for Elite and suite Passengers, that would enable those in that category to proceed to a separate line which then merges with access to the gangway or tender. If nothing else, such an arrangement would certainly inspire many to consider such upgrades on future cruises. The Restaurants: We did not visit all the food establishments. Of those we did, we find that Blu was by far the most satisfying and appealing to us. Our two dinners in Tuscan Grille were also a delight with especially fine service. Our dinner at the Silken Garden on the first night was a disaster " at least for me personally, I am especially fond of Sushi and Sashimi and tripled ordered when I found them on the menu = preferring good raw fish to an entrée. However, the Tuna and Salmon Sashimi served can only be described as lightly colored cardpaper " with a texture and taste concomitant thereto. Better remove these items from the menu than mislead your guests. However, that single service aside, the meals were generally well prepared and presented .. the roast pork chop being exceptionally fine. The special brunch featuring ice sculptures was such a melee of people " thronging with loaded plates " that my wife and guest sought relief elsewhere with little improvement. The Bars: Without doubt, Raoul in the Sunset Bar was my favorite bartender and my favorite hangout. I had presupposed that I would spend my time at the Martini Bar and went there first on our first evening. However, I found it loud, disturbing, riotous and without decorum " so we never visited it again. There is no doubt as to its appeal to some. We were fortunate to find the Ensemble Lounge a perfect spot for our pre-dinner cocktail. The String Trio there was also a draw as was the very personal attention of the bar tender. In Summary: We enjoyed a totally delightful cruise to Hawaii " no doubt more to the luxury and ease of the Penthouse Suite than to all the many other activities offered. We never got to wet our toes in the pool, nor basked in the sun, or use the spa (we have such niceties in our home in Southern California) and never saw the Glass Show. We attended only a very few lectures, etc. preferring to host a cocktail party or entertainment in the Penthouse. The expanse of the Penthouse made us feel that is was a retreat from all the hustle and bustle outside " offering a second home with tranquility and peace of mind. I seriously doubt, after being in one, that I would ever consider even a Royal Suite for any future cruise  such was my joy and contentment. My one last comment on Hawai`I in general is that with the exception of Moloka`i it reminds one of the dry stretches of Southern Calilfornia with a similar touristy flavor. Our highlight excursion was the heli-tour of Maui and Moloka`I - seconded by a 2-hour tour of Honolulu Pedicab operated by one man for $50 - the rest was Disneyland surrounded by water.   Read Less
Sail Date: September 2013
My background: my 7th cruise, 3rd with Celebrity. Most recently on the Silhouette in Dec 2102. I'm mid 40s, cruised with my 80 year old mother and a couple of friends. Embarkation: because of Cruise Critic I knew to arrive well ... Read More
My background: my 7th cruise, 3rd with Celebrity. Most recently on the Silhouette in Dec 2102. I'm mid 40s, cruised with my 80 year old mother and a couple of friends. Embarkation: because of Cruise Critic I knew to arrive well before noon for check-in. We arrived around 11:00 and we got number 40 since we were not elite and were not in concierge, aqua or a suite. We were told it would be a short wait and it was. They didn't have enough "special" people to fill the early buses so they jumped to the mid 30s. We were on a bus by noon. The bus ride was fine, very scenic at times. We waited on the bus for about 45 minutes when we got to the ship, which would have been a lot easier to take if a rep had just kept us informed about why we had to do it. A little information goes a long way. Overall I was pleasantly surprised, but the key was getting there early. We had a great time, met lots of nice people, loved the general feel of Celebrity as usual. Never had an issue with deck chairs, though there were some hogs dropping towels on chairs for the day and disappearing. The pool crew would generally ignore it in the morning but start removing them mid afternoon. We only went to the circus type show, which we enjoyed. The other shows are a little too old school for me. We liked the deck party and the various dance events in the atrium. Our cabin attendant was the worst I've ever had, but it was all little things that you'd never go to guest services about. Problem is that when something lets you down almost every day, it adds up. It was bare minimum, certainly no "above and beyond". She had this weird thing about uncovering the bible, she moved my stuff off it every day. We had a good laugh about that every night at the bar. I couldn't wait for my first drink at the molecular bar. What a bummer that the bartender on day one was downright grumpy and gave me a glass of ice with a bit of drink in it. Luckily he wasn't around much after that. There was a girl there for the rest of the cruise who was lovely. She made better drinks than the 2 guys who seemed to be senior to her, and she had a much better attitude. The martini bar was very quiet. Service was adequate there, just nothing special. The buffet was good, minor gripe about how long it would take for used plates to be taken away. We did the 3 dinner package. Murano and Tuscan were wonderful, Silk Harvest wasn't great. Next time I'd order all appetizers there, they were a lot better than any of the 4 main dishes we ordered. To be fair it's not my favorite food. The best service I think was at cafe Al Bacio, though I only went a few times. I was disappointed to never find any finger sandwiches there, I loved picking up a few of those after coming back from shore when I was on the Silhouette. I only ever saw pastries on the Solstice. My biggest letdown: select dining. So, so rushed, my mother dreaded going there by the end. Second courses were served before some had finished their first course. You couldn't dare put your fork down to take a breather, your plate would be gone. A waiiter got an order wrong and then argued when the guest said it wasn't what they ordered. Food was mainly just ok, whereas on other cruises I've felt that the food was just as good or even better than in the specialty restaurants. We were almost never asked if we wanted bottled water. The sommeliers had no time to spend at each table, at least not for those of us ordering by the glass. Refills were rare or came when the meal was virtually done. It was all very impersonal. There was very little fun or relaxation. One night we sat on the railing and watched how empty the fixed seating was below us from 8:00 on. Hardly anybody showed up for the 8:30 seating. Here's a suggestion: keep one early seating on deck 3, then open the whole dining room to select dining afterwards. Guests and staff would be far more evenly distributed instead of cramming 75% of the later diners on deck 4 with inadequate staffing. Customs before going ashore in Hilo was a terrible experience, esppecially for the elderly. Why they couldn't have just called groups like they do for disembarkation is beyond me. We went when we were told to go, only to find a huge line snaking outside into the rain, which took over an hour to get through. We loved our time in Hawaii, especially Hilo and Lahaina. We didn't have any real problems with tenders, though they did a get a little, ahem, ripe by the end of the day. We had the bad luck of returning at the same time as all the busses coming from the luau, so we did have a very long line for the tenders that night. It was very discouraging at the end of a long day but It went faster than we expected, so it wasn't the end of the world. Again, hard for the elderly and no help from staff. At least we weren't on the bobbing tender from Hell. Disembarkation was very good on Celebrity's end, since customs was already done. After preaching to everyone I know that Celebrity is so much better than other cruise lines, I had to eat my words on this cruise. My mother enjoyed her Carnival Freedom and NCL Epic cruises more. The horror! ;) I really hope it was a fluke, I hope the Eclipse and Equinox will restore my faith. But hey, even a less than stellar cruise is better than no cruise!   Read Less
Sail Date: September 2013
Arrived from the east coast to San Diego, stayed at the Marriott Marina hotel in San Diego (fantastic), close to pier, excellent service. The next day, the four of us (2 couples) took a taxi to the pier, where celebrity had us go through ... Read More
Arrived from the east coast to San Diego, stayed at the Marriott Marina hotel in San Diego (fantastic), close to pier, excellent service. The next day, the four of us (2 couples) took a taxi to the pier, where celebrity had us go through the cruise terminal there, check in and board a bus for Ensenada Mexico. Bus stopped at border, given a customs/immigration form. The ride to Ensenada was about 3 hours, total. Once we arrived at the port in Ensenada we waited on the bus for close to an hour. Our bus was cool, but apparently some of the others had a little A/C problems and was very hot waiting to get off bus. My complaint was that no one from Celebrity came on board the buses to explain the hold up. Bad public relations, because the complaints started...and you know how that goes. Once on board the ship, everything went smooth. Although we didn't leave until midnight, and once again, not sure why that was. Prior to our cruise I called Celebrity to book the 3 package specialty restaurants and was told none was available. That confused me....so I booked at 2 different restaurants and then decide on the ship if we wanted to do any more. But once on the ship, some of the crew members were trying to get us to book the 3 specialty restaurant package! And by the way, I am traveling on Celebrity for new years and was told you can't book any specialty restaurant for that cruise....didn't advertise that when I made my cruise reservation. Entertainment was good. Ship was lovely. But I truly felt our cabin was small! When we first walked in we were very surprised how small it was and wondered if we would find a place for everything. Surprisingly we did. But we couldn't pass each other without waiting for the other to pass by, and we are small people. Bathroom was small as well. Deck size was okay. Enjoyed the café, where I had the best chai tea. Had access to blu restaurant, which we enjoyed very much. Our waiter, Bertram, was just fantastic, although not assigned a table, we usually had him as our waiter. But the whole staff was super friendly. All the specialty restaurants were very good, but our favorite was Tuscan. The crew on board the Solstice were very friendly and helpful. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2013
In summary – we had a FABULOUS cruise! We are Aussies, both in our 40s, and this was our eighth cruise, our third with Celebrity and second time on the Solstice. We flew Canberra to Melbourne to Los Angeles to San Diego and spent three ... Read More
In summary – we had a FABULOUS cruise! We are Aussies, both in our 40s, and this was our eighth cruise, our third with Celebrity and second time on the Solstice. We flew Canberra to Melbourne to Los Angeles to San Diego and spent three days pre-cruise to get over the flights and because we love San Diego, it was our fourth visit. We stayed at the Wyndham Hotel (previously Holiday Inn) which is located directly opposite the cruise terminal. You can’t beat the location for convenience, it is close to the airport and the trolley (tram) and train system operate just a couple of streets behind. Shopping is another couple of streets behind that. We met up with some Cruise Critic (CC) friends from our Infinity Panama Canal cruise in 2011 at Sea World and had a great day with them. The night before we sailed a group of us from CC met at the Elephant & Castle (the pub within the Wyndham) and had a pre-cruise meet and greet dinner. It was wonderful to meet so many lovely people face to face after so many months of ‘chatting’ online. On sailing day we went to the cruise terminal at 11am (a quick walk across the road). We were processed fairly quickly and then waited for our bus number to be called. We were on a bus just before noon, and we were given a bottle of water and a packet of crackers. The drive to Ensenada was two hours but when we arrived at the ship we had to wait almost an additional hour. We were kept on the bus because there were only two x-ray machines/security stations to process all of the passengers. This was an oversight; with 2800 guests and presumably hundreds of ship personnel needing to go through the security process you would think that someone would have thought two machines will not be enough. So everyone was kept on their buses, when we arrived there were 8 buses already there and it took a long time to process everybody. Once on board all was fine, the ship is beautiful, very clean the service is wonderful and all of the staff are super friendly. We had five days at sea on our way to Hawaii. We met all of the cruise critic people and a lovely lady named Betsy made us all a beautiful name tag. Thank you! We love to spend time on the ship, we love trivia and games and tried not to miss any of the sessions. We always have select dining, so we can eat whenever and with whoever we want. The service in the MDR was good, we only had one or two slip ups the entire time, overall they were attentive and the food is very good. We ate a lot as usual. We also had the classic alcohol package so we drank a lot as well. But we were on holiday, so we live it up. We ate at Murano for our wedding anniversary and it was delicious! We did the five senses menu ($89), they pair wines with the courses and it is just fabulous. The usual cost at Murano is $45. Make sure you don’t have lunch that day, because there is so much delicious food, and the service is excellent. The wines really make the additional cost worth it, and the sommelier and waiter go to great pains to explain how and why they work together with the food. It was a wonderful and memorable meal. Our waiter Eric was fabulous, he was a really nice and friendly guy, and he suggested that as we were also doing the next cruise (we were on the back to back to Sydney) we might be interested in the Chef’s table. See our next review for 4 October 2013 for detail on that. We spent time in the bars listening to the bands most evenings before dinner, there was a string trio, a jazz band, and a singer who had a big range of songs. There was also a party band that played by the pool and at night a lot. All of them were very good, and it was great to meet friends for a pre-dinner drink and be entertained with live music. The music in the Martini Bar is pre-recorded and is hit and miss, we spent more of our time in the Passport Bar and the Ensemble Bar. There is a show every night, and the majority were fabulous. We were also on the ship in March/April this year, so some of the ship’s company of singers and dancers routines were repeated so we didn’t go to every show. Also sometimes we were just too busy to make it to the show with dinner and meeting friends etc. Overall the shows we did catch were wonderful. The Solstice show is a Cirque-Du-Soleil inspired show, and it is amazing. Very good. One of the guest entertainers is an impersonator and we had also seen before, but he is just hilarious and a great mimic, so definitely worth a return to see him. I cannot remember his name, James? We also used Café Al Bacio a lot, the baristas are wonderful and make a great cappuccino and Raisa was a great waitress who remembers your names and your order and is always friendly and happy to see you. Raisa also was the drinks waitress at night in the MDR and even though we ate there at different times and at different tables she would keep an eye out for us and bring us our after dinner drink. Excellent service, she is a credit to the company. It was our first visit to Hawaii, so we were excited to get to the first port of Hilo. The US immigration officers came onto the ship to process everyone which was a long wait, we waited an hour to have our passport stamped. There were only about 8 officers I think to process the entire ship, and the first people got off the ship about 10.15am. We had a ship’s tour booked for the early afternoon (helicopter over the volcano and waterfalls) so we waited until the crowd passed before we got off. The helicopter tour was great, you could see lava and the caldera but there was not a lot of lava flow. It was very interesting, there was a small bush fire as the lava was burning the forest away slowly. The tour also takes you over the coast line of Big Island, and over the waterfalls, which are lovely. You can buy a DVD of your tour as well. The cost was $269 per person, but we considered this to be good value, and a once in a lifetime flight. You can do it slightly cheaper if you buy directly from the helicopter company, however you need to get yourself to and from the airport at the right time, and we were originally booked in for a morning flight which was cancelled because of the immigration hold-up. But because we were on a ship’s tour, there was no loss or inconvenience to us, we were just put on the 1pm flight instead. The next port was Kona, also on Big Island, and our first tender port. Here we did the Atlantis Submarine which was wonderful, it goes down over 100 feet and they show you a range of shipwrecks which are full of fish as artificial reefs. It was smooth and comfortable, nobody was unwell on the submarine, it was very pleasant. You can buy a big photo which comes with a DVD of the trip and your photo on the DVD too for $20 which was reasonable. When we got back on shore we went on the free shuttle to Walmart, which for us Aussies is always fun. We bought souvenirs and some flippers there. It was very warm at Kona. Then onto Maui, we didn’t have anything planned, so we just walked around for a couple of hours and checked out the amazing giant Banyan tree, looked at the shops, and walked a block or so up from the shorefront to Starbucks – where we had icy coffee drinks and free Wi-Fi, so we caught up on email. There was a supermarket next door to Starbucks, so we bought some stuff there too. We were at Maui overnight, so many people went to the Luau that evening, but we stayed on board as we had booking at Murano for our anniversary. The next day we went back over and did a similar walk around, and spent the afternoon by the pool. We had great weather just about all cruise, a couple of showers here and there but that was about it. We were very lucky. Then we sailed into Honolulu for an overnight, and there was a beautiful turtle swimming in the harbour. I love seeing wildlife from the ship, we saw flying fish most days from Mexico but not many birds. At Honolulu we had a Circle Island Tour booked privately (Lani’s E Komo Mai tour - $133 each) with some other CC friends, there were six of us in a large SUV and we were taken all over the island to different look-outs and beaches and we took some terrific photos. We also stopped at a macadamia nut farm, and our guide was surprised to hear from us that macadamia nuts are Australian, and the first plants were given to Hawaii about 200 years ago. Most people think they are native to Hawaii. We also stopped at a shrimp truck for lunch, and had a swim at a beautiful white sanded, bright blue clear water beach. I can’t remember what it was called, there were so many beaches. It was lovely. We awoke to another great day at Honolulu. The only sad part was saying good bye to so many new friends (the Hulagans!) as they got off the cruise. We were sailing on to Sydney so see the next review for more information. As we said, overall the cruise was fabulous!   Read Less
Sail Date: May 2013
Embarkation Day was just as bad as we expected and then some. The lines were very long and no provisions were made for the elderly and mobility impaired. There was no food provided until you were on your assigned bus to Ensenada and no ... Read More
Embarkation Day was just as bad as we expected and then some. The lines were very long and no provisions were made for the elderly and mobility impaired. There was no food provided until you were on your assigned bus to Ensenada and no water available in the huge tent. The lack of water was a good thing because there were only two portable bathrooms with - surprise - long lines. The buses were in poor condition; dirty and we had broken seats. When we arrived in Ensenada there was another long line to get on the ship. I can't imagine the logistical nightmare Celebrity had trying to offload 2800 passengers and get them to San Diego and then get 2800 new passengers onboard. This cruise was advertised as a Wine Tour up the Pacific Coast. The price was right and the itinerary was great - after the Ensenada debacle. But to call it a wine tour was misleading. There were wine tastings and seminars onboard for a hefty fee and there were no stops with easy access to vineyards. We found the wine by the glass on the ship satisfactory but the recommended bottle selections were high priced and not even high scoring wines. The wine stewards were overworked in the dining room and lacking in knowledge even though they tried to be helpful. The entire crew seemed overworked but eager to please. Towards the end of the cruise it appeared that several crew members were ill. Our cabin stewards were diligent and hard working. If we asked for something, they got it for us. We have cruised with Celebrity before and we noticed once again that the senior officers were not engaged with the passengers. The long lines for everything were a turnoff and the lack of a pleasant, quiet place to relax, read or have a drink made our trip less than great. The noise level all over the ship was terrible. We did not try the Solarium because the weather was very cool but we have been told that was a relaxing spot. The food was adequate; quantity over quality in many cases. Room service was fine and the heads up call before delivery was great. The buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner had a variety of items but they were repeated almost every day. It was hard to find a cleared table and several times I juggled my plate and cup back to the cabin so I could sit down to eat. The MDR is beautiful but the lights are so dim that it is hard to read the menu. Hint:Take a small flashlight with you. Service was fine after I asked the waiter to take our orders as soon as we came in. We had the late seating and being from the East Coast it was almost midnight our tummytime when our entrees were arriving. We didn't try the overpriced 'special' restaurants but we enjoyed the specialty coffee shop and the Bistro on deck five. Entertainment was spotty. The production shows were good but the early show was so crowded you couldn't get a seat unless you came in 45 minutes early. The late show at 10;30 was too late for us but I heard that it wasn't ever crowded. Celebrity would do everyone a favor by having shows at 6 and 8:30. The band and singers in the Atrium were loud and you couldn't escape the noise easily. The lovely room at the top of the ship was taken over every night by the free cocktail hours for the Elite cruisers. We were told we could come in but they wouldn't serve us until the Elites were leaving. The view up there was beautiful but the furniture was peculiar and uncomfortable. Overall the Solstice is a beautiful ship. Our cabin was very clean but smaller than any veranda that we have ever had on our previous 45+ cruises. The closet is inadequate, drawer space minimal. The bathroom was pretty but the faucet was not well designed and it was tight quarters around the commode. Our balcony appeared to be cut off and could have been extended another 3-4 feet. There seemed to be a ledge under the ship's name right where our balcony ended. I would not cruise on a ship this size again but I would recommend Celebrity to a younger cruiser looking for a good value. There is a certain buzz around the ship and that seems to appeal the younger crowd. The 1-2-3 deal was a good promotion and most got their money's worth judging by the lines in the bars. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2013
This was our first Celebrity cruise. We cruise often and have cruised with many of the other major cruise lines (Holland America, Princess, Norwegian, RC, Carnival). We did the CA Coastal repositioning cruise from Ensenada to Seattle. ... Read More
This was our first Celebrity cruise. We cruise often and have cruised with many of the other major cruise lines (Holland America, Princess, Norwegian, RC, Carnival). We did the CA Coastal repositioning cruise from Ensenada to Seattle. It is hard to rate this cruise because it was very much a mixed bag but overall, we were very disappointed in Celebrity and probably will not sail this cruise line again. We did have a great time but this was in spite of the cruise line. We met nice people and enjoyed the port stops (did all non-ship excursions, none with the cruise line.) Ship - the ship was beautiful. We enjoyed the lawn, hot glass show and relaxation/indoor pool area. The layout of the ship was very easy to learn. Enrichment/Entertainment - The productions shows were very good. If you wanted to attend the early show (8:30 and 10:30 show times), you had to arrive 30 minutes early if you wanted to get a seat (not a good seat but any seat). They had Brent Nixon do two enrichment talks but due to poor planning, the talk on Orcas was completely full 30 minutes in advance (They used the Celebrity Central, which isn't big enough). About 20 to 30 people were standing and they were trying to bring in more chairs. It was chaotic. Other talks from other speakers were so boring and dull, we had to walk out. State Room - average. It was no better or worse than any other ship we have been on. There was one unusual thing. The sofa blocked half of the closet (had sliding doors) so you were forced to reach into the closet if you hung clothes in the other end of it. It was very odd and wasted space. We did have issues with noise most nights. We must have been close to a closet or storage area (though we checked the deck plans very well to avoid this and nothing appeared to be close to us). We had to call some nights to ask them to stop the noise (like someone was spraying a hose on the back of our wall, lots of banging of things, dropping things, etc). They handled it but it took a while for them to "find the source of the noise". Dining in Main Dining Room - We had the late seating. Some meals were very good and others average. The service was excellent. The food was no better than we have had on other cruise lines such as Carnival, Norwegian, etc. Sometimes the soups were not hot enough. Overall, a pleasant experience in the main dining room. Oceanview Buffet - Extremely poor selection (same thing every night) and service, the worse we have ever had on any ship. The staff and management seemed oblivious to the issues in the Oceanview Buffet. It was understaffed (one person taking omelet orders, one person manning an entire section). On most days, you had to walk to more than one tea/juice machine because the machine was out. For some reason, they didn't use all of the machines at one time so you had to figure out which machine actually had tea/juice in it. Once I poured tea and water came out. I had to walk around and find a staff person. He told me that it did have tea in it. I had to bring him over and show him that only water was coming out It took about 15 minutes to refill it. No other machines were working that day. This issue became laughable. They were often out of the "to go cups" for coffee and you had to tell them it was out. Things weren't refilled without someone being told it was out. It wasn't from lack of trying. I felt it was lack of training, leadership and management in the buffet area. Another example is, if you requested grilled chicken, they would grill it on the same part of the grill that they had just used to grill fish. Again, it was laughable. Clearly, it was lack of training because the staff was working hard and was very pleasant. Specialty Dining - Tried Bistro on Five for lunch, which was very good. Tried Silk Harvest (Asian Fusion) and it was like eating a typical frozen Chinese meal you buy at the grocery store that you cook in the microwave. We were shocked that they were charging $30 per person for the quality of the meal. Ports - We loved the ports, CA coastal, Victoria, and Seattle. Avoided all ship tours and so glad we did. I only heard negative feedback. Travel to Embarkation - This was a nightmare. I feel compelled to warn others about this experience because I feel it is a tragic accident waiting to happen if things do not change. The bus ride from San Diego to Ensenada was extremely dangerous. We were required to board in Ensenada and the ship arranged bus transportation for everyone. Check in was done at a tent at the Sheraton hotel in San Diego. There were portable bathrooms outside of the tent with extremely long lines. The Sheraton had guards at the doors so that cruise ship passengers could not enter into their hotel. The entire embarkation process was unorganized and long. The buses used was from a Mexican bus company. Our driver was speeding the entire time, changing lanes very often and overall driving recklessly. When I saw the signs" dangerous curves ahead and "landslides Zones" I thought he would slow down. He sped up! The transmission was making loud noises when gears were shifting. The bus was filthy. There was food and gum in the window will. My window had several almonds that had white, fuzzy mold on them. The bathroom didn't lock, smelled horrible and the sink had a board nailed over it. One bus got lost several times and the another one broke down and they had to get on a new bus. I did go to Guest Relations and told them the entire story and my husband and I had to put everything in writing (along with others at Guest Relations that were also complaining about their bus ride, not on our bus, but with similar experiences). We were told that these were not Celebrity buses, as if to say that this was not really their fault. This is when I lost faith in Celebrity. They booked these buses. They are responsible. The line for Guest relations was very long the first 2 days. There were many others complaining about their bus ride. Summary - Again, we had a great time in spite of the cruise line. I feel this ship has a lot of potential with great, hardworking staff (just not enough of them in certain places on the ship and many that need better training). I feel like somewhere along the line, someone in upper management has dropped the ball. Maybe things will get better but for now, we are sticking with Holland America (our favorite so far), Princess, RC or Norwegian. 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Sail Date: May 2013
This was my 11th cruise. In the past, we have chosen our ship and cruise line by destinations rather than loyalty to a particular cruise line and as a result we have been on ships from Holland America, Princess, Disney, Norwegian, Royal ... Read More
This was my 11th cruise. In the past, we have chosen our ship and cruise line by destinations rather than loyalty to a particular cruise line and as a result we have been on ships from Holland America, Princess, Disney, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, and Celebrity. Usually we take a cruise because we want to get away from the Seattle rain, and also because we want to see someplace new and different. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn't have been particularly interested in a cruise up the west coast of the US that stopped in places I had already visited many times. However, when we received an e-mail from a travel agent we had used before explaining the deal he had put together we decided it was just too good to pass up. Celebrity was doing a repositioning cruise to get the Solstice from Australia where it had bee cruising in the Southern Hemisphere summer to Seattle where it would be on the summer run to Alaska. They broke the trip up into 3 segments, the last being the trip up the west coast from Ensenada. I suspect they had a lot of empty cabins and they offered our travel agent some great prices. He offered to fly us to San Diego (air fare included)where we would check in and then be bussed to Ensenada, an outside balcony cabin, a drink package where drinks including specialty coffees, all soft drinks and bottled water, beer up to $5, mixed drinks up to $8, and wine up to $8 glass were all included and unlimited. Then to top it off, all gratuities were included. This was a 10 day 9 night cruise with stops in San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Astoria, Victoria B.C. and finally ending in Seattle where we live. The price for all this was $999 per person plus some tax and port fees which came out to a total of just over $1200. We could also leave early to spend extra time in San Diego at no extra charge except we would be paying for our hotel and any other pre cruise expenses. That package deal along with knowing we would be escaping the normal May rain in Seattle was enough to get me to pull out the old credit card. First, let me say Celebrity does many thing right, but the do some things very wrong. Because of the Passenger Vessel Service Act, an old law from 1886 meant to protect American shipping and American jobs, a foreign flagged vessel can't leave one American port going to another American port without stopping in a distant foreign port. The ship was coming from Hawaii so it couldn't end the cruise in San Diego. Likewise our cruise was ending in Seattle so we couldn't start in San Diego. We had to start in Ensenada. This was not Celebrity's fault but they had to transfer well over 2000 passengers to Ensenada. Everyone expected the check in to be a bit of an ordeal. Celebrity had never done this before since this wasn't a regular cruise. We had to check in for the cruise in San Diego and then get on buses for a two hour ride to Ensenada. We had to cross the international border with our luggage and nobody knew how long this would take. They said they were going to start check in at noon but we got there at 11:30 and they were already started. When I go on a vacation, I really try not to be upset by the little things and I understand and expect glitches along the way. I do know there was a lot of grumbling from people about how the check in was handled and I will explain what happened and maybe Celebrity will learn what they can do better next time. We got divided up into different lines at the check in. There was a drop off where we left our big bags before we actually started the check in process. These were to be taken directly to the ship by truck. The check in happened at the Sheraton Hotel where they had a huge white tent where people stood in line to get checked in. People who had the more expensive cabins or who had sailed many times on Celebrity got special treatment and got into shorter lines. That seems reasonable and I don't think anyone objected to that. We had sailed on Celebrity before but not enough to get into a short line. Still the lines moved pretty quickly and by 12:15 we were checked in and had been assigned a group number for boarding our bus. We were group 41. They had seats for us to sit with our carry on luggage. Celebrity had arranged for box lunches and water which were to be given out on the buses. I can understand that it takes time to move close to 3000 people but people were getting hungry and some people managed to get their box lunches early and were eating them and others including us were hungry and were told no lunches until we get on the bus. I understand that was a way of controlling who received lunches but as the afternoon rolled on, hunger was a problem. It was ridiculous to make us wait until almost 3 p.m. (when we got on our bus) for our lunch. The second problem was that while we were in groups waiting, there was a steady stream of people who were put at the head of the line. These were frequent cruisers on Celebrity who were allowed to jump to the front of the line and that created a lot of resentment to those who had been waiting. We finally got to board our bus at 2:45PM and got our box lunch. If I was making suggestions to Celebrity, I would say give people their box lunch as they finished their check in. Give people a number to get on the bus then and don't allow anyone the right to jump in front of other passengers just because they have sailed many times before. I didn't mind them having shorter lines for check in but after check in, then people should be treated equally. I also think nobody would mind if there were separate buses just for the privileged passengers but to see people continually allowed to jump ahead offended many who were waiting. We left San Diego just before 3 and were getting off the bus at the ship just before 5 PM. We went right to our cabin and they were announcing the lifeboat drill for 5:30. There was still over a third of the passengers who hadn't arrived. We went to the drill which was really just a video in the dining room and then went off to explore the ship. Since we had just eaten at 3 we were not hungry. We were very impressed with the ship. It is big and beautiful with lots of glitz. My dear wife loves her coffee and we found a specialty coffee place called Cafe al Bacio on deck 5 that serves wonderful coffees all free with our drink pass. We stopped for an iced specialty coffee that was made with espresso and chocolate and whipped cream and was fantastic. We sat down with some folks from Australia and had a great time just relaxing. A second thing that Celebrity does that I found annoying and dumb was they way they handled the service club meeting. Many passengers on cruises are members of service clubs like Rotary, Lions, Kiwanis etc. and most cruise ships have a time and a place where the members of the various service clubs can meet and talk about what their clubs are doing. They advertise the location and time for these meetings in the daily bulletin. It is a great way to meet your fellow passengers who share interests with you. So, I went down to the customer relations desk when it wasn't too crowded to ask if they were having a service club meeting on board. We had a great meeting on the last Celebrity sailing I was on but the people at the Solstice desk seems to have never heard of it. They said it was against company policy to put announcements for things like that in the daily bulletin. I would think they would do everything the could to get people who are in service clubs to cruise with them. It would be so easy to put the announcement in the daily bulletin for a day at sea. They said they would put a notice up on the bulletin board by the desk but of course very few people would read it. This whole episode just makes me wonder who is really in charge and how bright they really are. The way Celebrity handled this was very poor and I would actually hesitate to sail with them again just because they treated us so shabbily. They put the notice of the meeting up on a bulletin board that few read, and then put the wrong location on the notice. Then they took the notice down to fix their mistake but forgot to put it back up. Not surprising, we didn't get a big turnout. To me, this is just an example of Celebrity missing the boat when it comes to service. The ship itself was very nice. It was large but never felt crowded. The main dining room was in the back of the ship on decks 3 and 4. We chose select dining meaning we didn't have an assigned table or time. We ate on deck 4 for dinner and usually sat at a table for 8 or 10. We usually had new table mates for each dinner which gave us an opportunity to meet more people. We found many people were from the Northwest and were on the same cruise package deal we were on. The food was very good and we never saw a need to visit any of the specialty dining rooms where there was a charge. The first night, things were a bit confused with very slow service but after that, everything went very smoothly. Our stateroom was about what I expected. It looked very nice and the bed was comfortable. It had a bit less closet and drawer space than some ships I have been on and the way the closet was situated, it was hard to use. There was the couch set to within about 18 inches of the closet which was really just poor design. Other than that, the room was very nice and we lucked out because we were near the elevator. The room contained the normal amenities like a refrigerator and a safe. We had great cabin attendants who would make up the room promptly and deliver ice. Overall we were quite pleased with the accommodations. One of the best places to hang out on the ship was the solarium. This was an adults only pool on deck 12 that had a glass roof. It had a swimming pool and two hot tubs and lots of lounge chairs. Even when the temperature was in the 50's on our sea day north of San Francisco, the solarium was quite warm. With our drink card package, we could sit in there and read while imbibing on a margarita or a cold beer. The shows were very professional. They were at 8:30 and 10:30. The early show was always full and the late show nearly empty. I think they would have been better off to start them at 7:30 and 9:30. There were several comedy acts, a magician and some Broadway singing. Then there was a spectacular show with acrobats doing a Cirque du soleil type performance. Everyone says to make sure to see the Hot glass show. This is up on deck 15 where they have the lawn. I don't really see the need for the lawn on the ship but they have it. The hot glass show was interesting but it is cold up there and most people watched for awhile and then left. It was ok but not a can't miss as far as I was concerned. The observation lounge in the front of the ship is normally one of the nicest places to spend your time on a sea day. The lounge of deck 14 was very nice but I was disappointed that they decided to use this space for an art auction on our second sea day. They put art up in such a way you couldn't sit and watch the water. This took up the whole day and since this cruise only had 2 sea days, it meant that half the time the observation lounge was not usable. This again was just poor planning on the part of the people in charge. I know that the art auction makes money for the cruise but I doubt if there were 50 people interested in it out of 2700 passengers and it sure inconvenienced those of us who wanted to sit and look for sea life. My overall opinion of Celebrity was the ship was great, the food was great, the solarium was great. The cabin was pretty good, and decisions that allowed the art auction in the observation lounge, the lack of putting the service club announcement in the daily bulletin and they way they handled the busing and lunch for Ensenada was down right dumb. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2013
This cruise is a Pacific Coast Itinerary. This is the repositioning of the Solstice from Australia to Alaska. We started out in San Diego by heading to the Sheridan Marina to check in for our bus trip down to Ensenada Mexico which is ... Read More
This cruise is a Pacific Coast Itinerary. This is the repositioning of the Solstice from Australia to Alaska. We started out in San Diego by heading to the Sheridan Marina to check in for our bus trip down to Ensenada Mexico which is about 90 miles.to start our cruise. We got there around 2:00pm. At first I noticed a very long line for check in , however as everyone in my party had booked suites, our line was empty and the 8 of us managed to check in immediately. After check in we were told to walk outside to the buses and all of us got onto the waiting bus. It took all of 15 minutes to check in and get on the bus. We were given box lunches which were at best, fair and proceeded down to Ensenada via I-5. It took us 35 minutes to reach the US-Mexico border and going into Mexico uneventful. While in Mexico, our driver was going pretty fast towards Ensenada and the Mexican Police actually stopped us. Don"t think he got a ticket as we were on our way pretty fast (maybe a bribe?). At least he slowed down. Our trip took about 2 hours. Went aboard the Solstice and were able to go immediately to our cabins. Able to watch all the dogs sniff through our luggage section by section when it arrived at the dock. Th Solstice is gorgeous. Our cabin was on the 11th floor, beautiful and large. We had a 1/2 bath when you enter and a dining area with a bar , wine rack , refrigerator and a dining table that seats 6.. On the bar was 2 bottles of liquor and canned sodas for us. Very nice. The master bath is beautiful. With separate shower, whirlpool bath and double sinks with plenty of room for our toiletries. Bedroom is large with very comfortable bedding and pillows. There is a small makeup table with great lighting ( hairdryer is in the closet if needed) and a large flat screen TV. Really loved the Royal Suite. Will definitely reserve this room again. Centrally located, right by the elevators.My friends had the Penthouse suite, another Royal Suite and a Celebrity Suite. We even had our own hallway. Hardly ever saw anyone in the halls We ate in Blu the first night. Unfortunately we did not like. I actually had to send my food back. The chicken was bone dry and not eatable. Found out later that all the food trucks were not allowed over the border and the ship had to use the food left from the previous cruise (Hawaii) We ended up eating mostly specialty restaurants. Loved them all. I think my favorite was Silk Harvest. We ordered almost everything on the menu (no sushi). Very good. Tuscan Grill and Murano's were excellent. We traveled the Pacific Coast. I found the weather to be colder and rainier than expected. Had to purchase a warmer jacket. As I had had a part time residence in Southern California, I took our friends to the tourist haunts The San Diego Zoo in San Diego, . In Los Angles we went to Hollywood walk of fame, the "Hollywood" sign and went to the "Farmers Market/Grove" Managed to catch a taping of Extra" and were even part of the show. Lots of fun. Our next day at sea, I was invited by the captain to the Bridge. That was a highlight and fascinating. Security is very tight and we were frisked with the hand wand. before going in.That was definitely on my bucket list. Next we went to San Francisco and I must say my favorite. Took the trolley to Union Square and walked thru Chinatown, Little Italy back to the Embarcadero. Did everything on my list for that city. Another day at sea, then we were in Astoria Oregon. Very rainy, very cold. Felt bad for the vendors, they don"t get too many ships into their port. Did not stay on shore very long. Our last day was in Victoria BC, a lovely town and a beautiful day. Went to the Empress Hotel for afternoon tea. pretty expensive $59.95 per person for tea and crumpets . To go home, we decided to use Celebrity's Luggage Valet Service You need to sign up for this the first few days of the cruise. The cruise line does not tell you if they accept you until 24 to 48 hours before you leave. We were accepted and it is the best $20.00 per person spent.. They give you your boarding passes, luggage tags and instructions. We put our luggage out the night before. Got off ship and straight thru Customs and out the door at our leisure. No waiting around and no looking for our luggage. . Went to the airport, (where we happened to miss our connection), but our luggage still traveled with us. First ones off the baggage ramp after we landed. Highly recommend. This was truly one of the best trips for me. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2013
This being our first time on a Cruise Line other than Princess we were just plain amazed at the beauty of the ship inside and out. We did not have to participate in the bus adventure from San Diego to Ensenada to embark. We came into ... Read More
This being our first time on a Cruise Line other than Princess we were just plain amazed at the beauty of the ship inside and out. We did not have to participate in the bus adventure from San Diego to Ensenada to embark. We came into Ensenada on a Princess ship and then just walked across the pier to board the Solstice. Everyone that came from San Diego on the buses had their Sea Pass Cards already, but it only took about 10 min. for someone to take our information that the ramp and go make up our cards. We were onboard in about 15 min. from disembarking the Princess ship. With the lovely ship we were expecting great service, but that was not to be. The staff were efficient and did greet everyone, but it was robotic. We did see the Glass Blowing show, but there are not enough seats for everyone. The show was well done and explained in laymans terms. The Theater Shows were better than Princess with the Cirque style show above and beyond anything we expected to see at sea. Having the two level theater seating is a big plus. Having grown up on the West Coast and done other coatal cruises we did not take any of the tours offered. The Tender operation into Santa Barbara went very smoothly, good job. Our Veranda stateroom with the extra bed was a little tight at times, but the larger bath than on Princess with the glass shower and shower foot rest were pluses. The closet is much smaller with less storage space and I could not understand the cages under the beds just taking up space. The food was better than on Princess, but with a 10 person table being so long and thing one might as well sit at a 4 person table. The round 8 person tables were perfect for conversing. Service was good at all our meals. The buffet was very large and nice, but I do prefer the servers coming around with all the beverages and then serving them at the table. Then also having cups and silverware already on the table. Just get your plate of food and everything else is taken care of on Princess. We did not try any of the Speciality Restaurants as we deemed them too expensive. Some of the venues for events were too small or just not designed to be multi-purpose. Bingo was way overpriced and in too small of a space with no where to put down your cards. Ping Pong in a main thourough fare area, come on. I just missed hitting a lady in the face as I was going for a ball. Good for spectator viewing, but not for playing a tournament. The Martini bar was a great place if they would only turn down the Techno music. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2013
With airfare credit that was getting to the "use or lose" state, I had been keeping my eyes open for an expensive getaway, and found it in the Celebrity Solstice 9-night "Wine Cruise". We got a interior guarantee cabin ... Read More
With airfare credit that was getting to the "use or lose" state, I had been keeping my eyes open for an expensive getaway, and found it in the Celebrity Solstice 9-night "Wine Cruise". We got a interior guarantee cabin for a great price, did a bit of research on what to expect and started on our "adventure" to reach the ship. The point of this cruise was just to get away from reality and recharge my internal batteries. We planned very few excursions. I knew, from reading on Cruise Critic, that it might be an adventure to reach the ship itself. Due to the Passenger Vessel Service Act, the Celebrity Solstice was not allowed to sail from Hawaii to the mainland US. Instead, it was required to use a foreign port to disembark passengers finishing one leg of its trip, and embark new passengers. As a result, Celebrity provides service from San Diego to the ship in Ensenada, MX. I also knew that there might be issues with buses, but I was prepared to be patient, knowing I would have 9 nights to recover before starting back toward home from Seattle, WA. Monday, May 6: Upon reaching the airport in San Diego, we spotted a Celebrity representative near the baggage claim. We grabbed our bags, and she had us escorted to a bus to head to the nearby Sheraton for check in. We were told to leave our bags near the bus and they would be loaded onto a truck for transport to the ship. While a little nervous, we knew we had ID on the bags, as well as the cruise line luggage tags (which we put on there twice just in case), and we saw them moved away to a holding location for the next truck. We were transported to the Sheraton Pavilion for check-in. As we arrived, we saw they had already started checking in guests, about an hour earlier than they said they would begin. The line for regular (non-elite, non-priority) guests took about 30 minutes to move through. We checked in and were given transport group numbers in the mid-40's. At that point, we realized we had a bit of a wait, since they were only loading buses with groups in the mid-teens, and we had a while to go. Unfortunately, there was not a way to really go anywhere else, since we were traveling with a couple with an infant and no infant seat. The only restroom facilities were only semi-permanent, with long lines, and they had run out of water. While the cruise line was providing a "snack" for the bus ride, it appeared to be a sandwich and bottle of watter. The line for this snack was crazy, they had run out and were making more on the spot, and we realized that many of our fellow passengers were helping themselves to more than one lunch. Rather sad, but we didn't let it deter us. We decided, with a little while to wait, that we'd try walking over to the main part of the hotel to look for a snack there. We found a nice and clean restroom with real running water and and Starbucks. With refreshments in hand, we headed back to see what boarding group they were on. We finally got on a bus a little after 3pm. From the time we arrived to the Pavilion to the time our bus left, it was about 3.5 hours. This wasn't great, but at least I had known it might be an issue. If I take this trip again, requiring the bus ride, I'll seriously consider paying for a higher class cabin. Those with priority boarding did have an advantage here. Our bus was not as clean as I'd like, but it could have been a lot worse. I really appeared like a city bus after the end of a long day - nothing a good vacuuming and spray cleaner wouldn't have fixed. We set off for the border and ran into no issues. The driver stepped off to speak to the border guards, both on the US and the Mexico sides, but we had no issues. A dog walked around the bus, then tape was put on the compartments under the bus, and we were through. The bus ahead of us was not so lucky, as all luggage was being removed. I have no idea how long they were there. At the last stage of crossing the border, the driver stopped again, and a man with a guitar stepped on. We started driving through Tijuana to Mexican folk songs, like La Bamba, and as we neared the outskirts of Tijuana were asked for tips by the singer. The driver let the singer off the bus after he collected a little cash from some of the passengers, and we were off on the coastal road. The speed limit was 60 KPH (about 45 MPH if you need the conversion), and our bus appeared to be safely driving it. It was a pretty drive once we were on the coastal road. We had a good driver. Later on the ship, we heard some horror stories, both about buses in very poor condition or breaking down on the way as well as about scary drivers. We reached the ship, went through security, handed in our passports (they collected them and gave us a receipt) and boarded the ship just in time to hear the ships horn blow. We arrived at the end of the safety briefing. I knew they would find a way to get us the info, however, since there were plenty of buses arriving after us. Having been on the Eclipse and Reflection, I had a good idea of what would be in the briefing. We checked to see what emergency station we were in, and where that was, and headed to our rooms. As we got there, we found a red card stuck in the lock. Luckily, our room steward showed up just as we started to remove that card. Supriman, who answers to "Superman" would make many appearances over the next few days! Dinner was a bit crazy, as they decided to just seat everyone using Select style, but using the entire dining room a section at a time. We finished dinner and went for a walk around the ship to get a feel for what was different about the Solstice from the two previous S-Class ships we had been on. The most obvious thing was on deck 5, by the Molecular Bar, where there were fewer tables and chairs than on the Eclipse, and instead was a small "art gallery". This area was taken over by Park West and was a waste of space. Since it had been a long day, starting about 3:30 AM Central time, and it was after 8pm Pacific time, we decided to make an early night and get started again in the morning. "Clang" and "Bang" were heard a few times in the night, from our neighbors above us who couldn't control their cabin door. They also turned up their TV so loud that we could hear it through the floors, and then they yelled over it. Oh, well. While this happened a lot, it was never so bad that we called Guest Relations to complain. I was tempted to a few times, but their hours weren't terribly different from ours. Tuesday, May 7:We headed to breakfast about 8am in the Main Dining Room. There was a bit of chaos with getting the ship cleared, and Customs and Border Patrol had apparently decided to change how they were going to clear the ship. Instead of them clearing the entire ship at once, they instead decided to interview every person. We heard a few announcements over the intercom, asked our breakfast companions what that was about, and found out that we should have received a letter in our rooms before breakfast. It seems that all foreign citizens had to present themselves in the Sky Lounge and all US citizens in the MDR on 3 to be cleared individually. By the time breakfast was over, they had at least started letting passengers off the ship. We got back to our room, found the letter had been left while we were out. It told us to report to the MDR on 3 between 11am and 11:30am to be interviewed. So, we had an hour or so to goof off on the ship, then got in line. We were given back our passports by ships security and proceeded to the other side of the dining room to show them to CBP and back out. Another waste of time, but I blame CBP. We could finally start our day! Luckily, our plan was simply to walk down to the USS Midway. We paid our entrance fee to the Midway and spent the next 4.5 hours there. For us, it was a great day. We arrived back at the ship in time for Tea - warm scones to tide us over until dinner. While at dinner, we spoke with Vladimir the Asst Maitre D' with a special request - Spanakopita. He was happy to request it for us - stating it used to be on the menu but was no longer on there, and that he missed it himself. We received it a couple of nights later :) Oh, and it was formal night. After dinner, we reported to the theater for the showing of the emergency video and quick demo for those of us who missed it. Then, the Captain's Toast - except the Captain didn't make it. Instead, the newly arrived Cruise Director handled it. Hmmm, she is from Chicago and attended SEMO. We know where that is! Wednesday, May 8: LA. The ship took forever to be cleared for passengers to go ashore. Since it was a nice day, we decided to stay on board and get some sun. We headed to the Solstice Deck. They had removed the sign allowing topless sun-bathing, which had reportedly been at the steps previously. We could see where it had been. I wonder, is that because they were now in the US? We ran into the IT Manager, and learned that they were in the middle of upgrades to their network and had satellite contractors on board working. We decided the Solstice Deck would be a good place anyway. There were very few passengers that high on this day. Unfortunately, we never saw a bar waiter while up there. On previous sailings, a bar waiter would walk through every 15 minutes or so. We also noted that the blue pool towels often seemed worn and thinner than we remembered. Later in the afternoon, the previous two days caught up with us. A nap was in order. Upon waking and showering, I realized I had a mild sunburn. Dinner in the MDR, a check in with the kids at home, and we pulled away. At some point, I also managed to put my elbow through the sheet on the bed. It apparently had a thin spot. Thursday, May 9: Santa Barbara. Again, the ship took forever to be cleared for passengers to go ashore. This was complicated by the fact that Santa Barbara was a tender port. We sat in the Cafe al Bacio, watching tenders go back and forth, seeing that it looked pretty, and trying to decide if we wanted to go ashore. The sun came out, and we stepped outside. We ended up having a nice conversation with Rachelle, the ship's Concierge. A beautiful young woman, we found that she shares some of our taste in music and likes the same wines we do. We shared that we had decided to make the day a "sea day" of our own and enjoy the ship while it was nearly empty. We visited with her for 10-15 minutes and found out that the reason things seemed "off" for a Celebrity cruise was because the Mexican authorities refused to allow any crew to join or leave the ship while in Mexico, and that the US authorities were very selective in who they would allow to join the ship. Plus, the ship had just come off a Code Red a few days earlier, and the crew was quite tired. She asked us to come down and see her in her office later in the day. When we did, she asked us our room, and what kind of wine we liked. What a surprise! I guess it was just for being nice? From what we later heard, a lot of people had been complaining up and down like crazy. We spent some time in the Solarium so as to not make my sunburn worse. Definitely a lack of bar waiters. Also, I noticed that the towels in my room looked rather worn. Kind of like the once I trim, zig-zag with my sewing machine, and send to school (PE) or camp with my teenagers. Not what I expect from Celebrity's Modern Luxury. We had lunch today in the Bistro on 5. Yum! Friday, May 10: Sea Day - everything was crowded. The weather was not friendly to being outside, and there was not enough to do inside. Park West took over the Sky Lounge for an art auction. When we had bad days like this in the Caribbean in February, the Hotel Director showed movies in the big theater. Not here! The ship had a new (she boarded on Tuesday) Cruise Director, and I think she was still getting into her job. We spent some time in the Solarium just chilling. Again, no bar waiters in 3 hours. Not sure what is up with that! No worries - Rachelle sent us a delightful bottle of wine. Saturday, May 11: San Francisco. We had purchased tickets for Alcatraz a couple of weeks before, and was glad we did! The early sailing were all sold out! The ship cleared a little faster, but not as fast as it should have. We reached Alcatraz Cruises about 8:45 for our 9:10 sailing. We spent the morning out at the island, learned a lot, and arrived back hungry. We considered a few other places, but we have been to San Francisco before and didn't need anything. Checked in with the kids, all is well back home. Sunday, May 12: Mother's Day, and a day at sea. The "Brunch" is today. We avoided that chaos since the same food is available elsewhere on the ship. DH took a few photos of it. Formal night as well. So, we dressed up. Afterwards, I wanted to relax in the Solarium. The pool and hot tubs are supposed to be open until 10-11pm. We got up there and they were drained! The left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing. Monday, May 13: Astoria, OR. It is raining. We'll stay on the ship. I think everyone from Astoria is on the ship to visit it! All wee there have been groups touring the ship, but even more today! Lunch isn't being served in the MDR because we are in port, but the buffet is CRAZY! I think they should have opened the MDR. Tuesday, May 14: Victoria, BC. We finally cleared the ship and stepped off. It was a very steep ramp off from deck 4 (I think). I don't understand why they used so high a deck. In the Caribbean, we often left from 2-3 instead. A number of the passengers struggled to get down that ramp. We were on shore just a few minutes, then decided we were cold and went back to the Solarium. We know we have to go home tomorrow. And darn, there is definitely a lack of bar waiters! Wednesday, May 15: Seattle, WA. We have a disembark time of 9:20. They only have one line open to leave the ship for passengers, not two like in Florida. That line is rather long, but does seem to move pretty fast. Getting off the ship was easy, Customs didn't even want to see our passports. Just handed in our declarations and went looking for our ride. We had transportation booked with "Already There" car service. We reserved an SUV with a car seat. I don't know that I'll do that again - the car seat wasn't installed and the driver didn't know how to install it. The car was older - a 1999 model and the car seat was a number of years newer, and didn't have the extra clip to secure it correctly in that older car. Plus, the car STUNK of smoke. By the time we reached the airport, we needed to pull out the Benadryl and inhaler. In all, the Solstice is a nice ship, but is showing a little wear compared to her sister ships. She was under-staffed and it showed. There were not enough bar waiters, not enough sommeliers, and a couple of the sommeliers were poorly trained. Yes, I would take this trip and sail this ship again, but I wouldn't want it to be my first Celebrity sailing. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2013
This was our first cruise on Celebrity. I had heard that the food was way better than other lines we had been on and the ship was gorgeous. I have to say, I don't agree with either. We flew into San Diego and were greeted by celebrity ... Read More
This was our first cruise on Celebrity. I had heard that the food was way better than other lines we had been on and the ship was gorgeous. I have to say, I don't agree with either. We flew into San Diego and were greeted by celebrity staff. Celebrity provided transfers to Ensenada, where the ship was departing from. We arrived at the airport at about 11 and were taken by bus to the Sheraton Marina for checkin. The lines were long and we had to wait for a bus to take us to Ensenada. The bus trip took two hours and we had no problems. We did have to wait in line before we were allowed to get off the bus. This cruise became the "queue" cruise. It seemed we waited in line an awful lot. Our bags arrived in a timely fashion and after muster we had dinner in the main dining room. We ate all of our meals in either the MDR or buffet. The food was adequate, but not as high quality as I had been expecting. I thought the variety of food was lacking and my husband and daughter had to send their steaks back to have them cooked properly. The breakfast buffet was ok, but lacked variety and was boring after nine days. We did have the free drink promotion, so we were able to get fresh squeezed orange juice every morning, which we enjoyed. We felt the entertainment on the ship lacking also. We skipped most shows as they did not interest us. We went to see the comedian, Dave Burleigh, who was very good. The next night was a comedian/impressionist. We left before the end of the show. Also, the cruise director was the most absent cruise director of any ship we have ever been on. She didn't do anything to make the cruise entertaining. After nine days, my daughter had no idea who she even was. The ship is pretty, but we missed the active promenade area that we are used to on the Royal Caribbean ships. There was no real gathering place on this ship, except for the martini bar area, which is very small. The ships interior trim and quality was beautiful and the cabin decor was very nice, but the cabins are on the small side. This sailing was definitely an older crowd and as far as we could tell, most people went to bed after the first main show. We were disappointed in the lack of activities at night. We went to a "jeopardy" type game show and there were about 8 of us there. Same goes for the trivia and karaoke. Most activities at night involved music, which were the same every night in various venues. We did enjoy Patricia and her Zumba classes and party. Since the weather was so cold, we were not able to really use the lawn area or the hot glass show. We went up to watch once and it was just too cold to stay. Not Celebrity's fault on that one.We did love the itinerary though. We did the San Diego zoo, California Adventure(which was cut a little short due to the ship not being cleared for over an hour and a half once we arrived), cable car, Chinatown and fisherman's wharf in San Francisco. Saw only a bit of the Golden Gate Bridge going under when we arrived and departed as it was shrouded in fog the entire day. Walked around downtown Astoria, where all the locals went out of their way to make this stop enjoyable and finally Victoria, where we toured Butchart Gardens and enjoyed their downtown, shopping and having a beer at a Scottish pub. Overall, we had a good time. I liked not being hounded for extra money for everything, although i thought the charges for the specialty restaurants were a bit high. Loved the ports, the ship, not so much. It was definitely an older crowd (and we are in our fifties), With scooters parked out by the stairs. We will stick with Royal Caribbean. We enjoy a livelier cruise with better entertainment and activities. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2013
Embarcation started smoothly at San Diego Airport. Celebrity met us and directed us to buses and our bags were taken to trucks. I asked the representative if we needed our paperwork i.e. set & sail pass and was told no just needed ... Read More
Embarcation started smoothly at San Diego Airport. Celebrity met us and directed us to buses and our bags were taken to trucks. I asked the representative if we needed our paperwork i.e. set & sail pass and was told no just needed credit card and passport, which I found out was wrong after getting bussed to a Sheraton hotel for processing along with thousands of other passengers. At the processing it was by room class so even being elite we end up in a 45 minute waiting line and then have a new girl with a lap top that never seemed to work take another 30 minutes to reenter everything I had entered online including swiping my credit card over 40 times before it seemed to be approved. (the next day I was summoned to pursor when to redo it all again). Then we massed together in a mob of 200 to run for box lunches and the buses to be transported to Ensenada and to go through immigration. Three hours later at 6 pm we boarded. Our bags arrived at 10 pm after open seating dinner at 8:30. Of course almost all entertainment was either delayed or rescheduled I guess since mostly we never found out until too late and were too exhausted to do much but hit the sack after getting notice we would have to through immigration again the next day in San Diego to get off the ship. The next day we waited for the ok to go ashore, finally after no announcements we were down to deck 4 and found lines with hundreds of people who like us received no announcement. After wasting all this time half of our time ashore was gone so just went to the USS Midway museum nearby (which was great)grabbed a soda and headed back to the ship.So we had wasted the better part of two days, everything we wanted to go like the welcome party and meet and greet was either cancelled or rescheduled and we missed them. As for the ship it was nice, clean and very concerned with sanitation as they had some prior norovirus problems I was told. The room steward Ronald and his assistant were exceptional, it seemed they were always working, but always willing to answer questions or be of service. The food in the MDR was very good though it seems the number options has dropped and only 4 or 5 entrees. We dined in the Tuscan Grille which was good in parts; my filet was great, my spouses blackend ribeye was tough and chewy sent back and replaced by one even worse. Desserts were pretty but bland. The buffet was very good particularly in the Morning for eggs, omelets and pancakes. The coffee bars and restaurants on 4 and 5 very good. The main problem with the cruise was there never seemed to be a place that wasn't jammed. All of the public areas near both elevator shafts always seemed full. Both floors of the library , the team earth floor, the internet room,the card room, the lounges, the bars, the guest services, excursions, everywhere you looked it was packed( atleast from 6 am to 10pm). Partly this was due to cool weather no one used the open air pool areas, bars, or lawn areas even the solarium was usually empty. And consequently the elevators were always running and waits were long. The other factor was it seemed everyone on board was 65 or older, active but not ones to partake of strenous activity or cool weather. We were told there were 600 Elite cruisers, but it seemed everyone I met was, and if not Elite they were Suite or Concierge Class.We have another cruise booked with Celebrity in the fall on the Summit going to Quebec from New Jersey which with 123 program and cooler weather looked to have the same clientel and weather which I probably will cancel after having been on this cruise. This wasn't a bad cruise it started very poorly and was very disorganized (like everyone was new to their jobs)but the crew seemed overwhelmed and proccupied. We will cruise with Celebrity again as it was our favorite line but we certainly will think a lot more about it Read Less
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