Celebrity Solstice Cruise Review by zonacruiser25
- Sail Date: April 2018
- Destination: Transpacific
- Cabin Type: Deluxe Veranda (partially obstructed view)
We live in Mesa AZ and started our adventure on April 4, 2018 flying on American to Sydney. The flight from LAX to SDY was almost 15 hours on a beautiful 787.
We arrived in Australia at about 7am. No problems on arrival and we took a cab to our hotel. Sydney has so much road construction; at times it is faster to walk. We arrived at the Holiday Inn Old Sydney at Circular Quay at about 10 AM and were given our room right away. DW and I walked around the area for a couple hours and that made us so happy we chose this hotel. So much to see and do and we were right in the middle of it all. DW was tired from the flight and decided to just lay low the rest of the day. I did the Sydney Bridge climb that afternoon. What a treat. I was on top of the bridge for sunset for my first night in Australia. Off to a great start.
The next day we too a trip on the Chef Led Hunter Valley Wine tasting. Our host picked us up and we started with a visit to Sydney’s fish market. Then breakfast at a beautiful riverside setting. Then we visited 3 different wineries were we were treated to great wines. Our host had food prepared for us to be paired with our tastings. He had scallops, stuffed mushrooms, kangaroo sliders and a sushi roll (that we had made at our breakfast stop) and then a dessert served with a port wine at the end. GREAT TRIP.
Then we spent Sunday just getting around in Sydney. We bought Opal cards and were able to use all busses, trains and ferries for about $2.50 AUD for the entire day. Great deal if you are there on a Sunday! We did go to Manly Beach, a beautiful beach and a fun community. Great place to spend a day. They also have an ALDI supermarket there right at the ferry landing. Great place to get wine for the cruise.
Monday we went to the Blue Mountains Day Tour with a group of new friends we had been chatting with on our roll call. This was done with Anderson's Tours. We were able to see much of the countryside with narration as we left the city and all the way to the Blue Mountain area. We saw many great spots, a tram ride seeing the Three Sisters and great walking through lush vegetation. We went to a wildlife park, fed Kangaroos and say Koalas. The return was a drive back, a quick trip through the 2000 Olympic park area then a ferry ride back to Circular Key. Another great day.
Other activities in Sydney were a buffet dinner at the Sydney Eye and a sunset dinner cruise in Sydney harbor. If you want to visit the Sydney Eye, don’t do the buffet dinner! It was just another buffet and makes any ships buffet look good. To enjoy the view, just go to the desk and say you want drinks at the bar. Ride up, enjoy a beverage or 2, and you will be up there for a revolution of the bar so you will get a 360 view of Sydney. Don’t waste your money on the buffet dinner! The Sydney Harbor Dinner Cruise was great. We took the window seat option. Our boat was not full and we had a great time.
On Wednesday April 11 it was time to cruise. We walked our luggage across the street from the hotel to the Overseas Passenger Terminal, this was quick and easy. We had a late checkout so we went to board just before 1PM. Check in and boarding was a smooth process and we went right onto the ship. Our cruise has begun!
This was our first time on the Solstice. We had access to our cabin so we dropped off our back packs first thing. We were in cabin 6299 an obstructed view balcony at the aft of the ship. The view was not obstructed but since we were above Blu, the top of Blu extended out below us and we had no view straight down to the water. This cabin was very quiet. Our balcony had a great view of the Opera House! Our cabin steward was Cipta and he was a gem. All of our needs were met, he would race to open our cabin door for us if he saw us returning with water or tea in hand. He got off the ship and was headed home to the Philippines to get married after our cruise.
Then we did the usual touring around the ship. The drill was at 4:45 and was done by video. Then, SAILAWAY! We headed up to the Sunset bar and loved sailing out of Sydney harbor. We ran into several of our fellow CC members that we already toured with and others we had chatted with. We managed to stay up for the show, OZ Boys of Motown which was very enjoyable. Our cruise director was Liam and he was great. He even put together a 4 man acapella group the did a matinee show in the show room and was excellent.
Throughout the cruise, we participated on trivia (up to 3X per day) some Polynesian Specialist activities and various other typical daily cruise activities. It seemed that many activities that we wanted to do happened at the same time as other things we wanted to do so we had to make choices. I would have joined the choir they had however it seemed that the practice was always during a presentation by Mary Amanda or Brent Nixon, our on board enrichment speakers.
Mary Amanda did presentations on New Zealand, Maritime women, movies from New Zealand, Titanic and more. Great information and we learned she is a ball of energy and loves her position. Brent Nixon had presentations on sharks, whales, turtles and many more. Both presenters were genuine and original(and they are husband and wife). They were a highlight for our sea days.
We had 2 sea days to relax. We also had our CC meet and Mingle on our first sea day and over 100 attended. Always nice to see a good turn out for the M&G. We had a production show Broken Strings one night which was excellent and a guitarist Bayne Bacon and he was quite good as well.
Our first port was Bay of Islands in NZ. This was a tender port and if you did not take a ships excursion you basically had to wait about 2 hours before getting off the ship. This precluded us from buying any excursion off the ship. We did get off and took the local ferry over to Russell Island. We walked around the town, found a couple of watering holes and they took the ferry back. The tender line was long, we went to the Bay of Islands Yacht Club(which we were lined up in front of) were we were greeted with great hospitality. We enjoyed several beverages there and caught the last tender back to the ship. The performer was Daniel Mallari, a vocalist. On to Auckland.
We docked in Auckland and had a CC group on the Cruise Ship Combo Tour from Terry at Absolute Tours. It was a rainy day on Auckland but it was a good tour and we saw quite a lot around the city and surrounding area. Terry also set up a wine tasting at The Cave, a wine dealer, and it was nice. Bought a couple bottles and brought it back onboard with no problems! This was an all day tour and we arrived back at the ship 30 minutes before all aboard. The show was Cameo Rascale, acrobatic presentation and very entertaining. Off to Tahiti and 4 sea days.
We started with 2 Mondays (International Date Line). Monday 1 the entertainment was Suzanne Prentice, a vocalist who has performed with many acts from the 60’s and beyond. That night was the Dateline crossing party in the Grand Foyer. Monday 2 we had a show by female violinist Yoomia. Very high energy! Next day had 2 presentations, Coral Reefs and Female Mariners, both excellent.
We went to the Chef’s Table for dinner. This is an evening to be pampers, and wined and dined. We started at Cellar Masters with champagne, toured the galley as they served dinner, and then went to a private table at Murano for our dinner. 10 of us enjoyed the Chef prepare our food at the table. Different wines were served with each course. Desert was served and paired with a port wine. A great experience but be careful, the food is great but very rich. The wine was basically unlimited. Pace yourself for this if you do it.
Papeete. We joined a group and took a tour to the center of the island(Tahiti Half day tour). There were 8 of us on benches facing each other in the back of a pick up truck. Not a 4 wheel trip but it was rough enough to make fillings fall out of your teeth! We saw so many beautiful look outs and so much green scenery. This was an excursion offered from the ship as we say many trucks with tags for a ships excursion. I would not recommend this type of trip for anyone with a back problem. The port itself was a bunch of shops and not very pretty. Wi-fi was not readily available and mostly you had to buy something to get a code to use it.
Moorea. We did the Viatour All day cultural tour. We were met at the pier and traveled in a small SUV with A/C. We went around the entire Island. We had a lunch at a beautiful beach was we went swimming and snorkeling. After our tour, we stopped at the Intercontinental Hotel. It was nice to see the cabins out on the beautiful water. They also had dolphins there and we saw them perform for a few minutes. There was not much available within walking distance of the dock . We tried a café for internet but it was lousy. Others did find several bars closer to the Intercontinental Hotel that we heard they enjoyed and it had internet.
Bora Bora. The highlight of our cruise. We joined CC members on Patrick’s ¾ day tour and it was outstanding. We boarded a catamaran and made several stops. Our first stop was for snorkeling and swimming with rays and sharks. The water was so warm and there were so many sharks and rays around and it was safe and amazing! Our next stop was snorkeling around the coral. So many fish and just beautiful coral. Lunch was like a luau on a private beach. Patrick presented the emu where he had prepared our lunch of roasted pig, fish and veggies. Drinks were also included and you had a choice of sitting at tables in the water or up on the beach. Patrick also did a fire dance after lunch. Then a ride through the beautiful water back to our pier. Back to the ship.
4 more sea days. When we crossed the equator there was a party and the pollywogs on board (those that had not previously cruised across the equator) were initiated to become shellbacks. Many kissed a fish they had and some did jump in the pool afterwards. Everyone on the ship received a certificate for the equator crossing.
We enjoyed dinners at Murano, Silk and Tuscan. All were excellent food and service. Murano was our favorite, we ate there twice. The filet and lobster was prepared tableside and flambéed and was sooooo good. Crepes were also good and flambéed as well. Get the 4 dinner package for the best pricing. There were people offering discounted pricing for the specialty restaurants most days but other than the Chefs table we only ate there for our 4 dinner package.
Our dining was on deck 3 and was something we actually looked forward to on the evenings we decided to eat there. We had a table for 8 with 6 great table mates. On lobster night, collectively we had 35 lobster tails and had quite the pile of tails on the table when we were done! Joseph and Janet took care of us at dinner and they were great and helped make it fun each evening.
Hilo. Weather was rainy all day. We had decided before the cruise that we were not going to visit the Volcano’s Nat’l Park. We just took the Hopa on Hopa Off trolley and enjoyed Hilo. Turns out we should have visited the Volcano as it had just started the current eruption and was still safe to see an amazing site. 20/20 hindsight!
Maui: A lazy day, relaxing in Maui. We went to the Old Lahaina Luau in the evening. A wonderful evening and a great authentic Hawaiian experience. The food was good, drinks were included and it was right on the ocean. It was only a 15 minute walk from the tender port.
Honolulu: The ship docked at a newer cruise ship dock. I had always been at Aloha tower in the past. The port is closer to Waikiki and about a 5 or 10 minute walk to the Aloha tower. Disembarking was quick and easy. We were off the ship and at our hotel in Waikiki before 10AM.
We stayed at the Ohana Malia Hotel right on Lewers St for 5 nights. A great hotel in a central Waikiki location. We did quite a bit of walking while we were there. Breakfast was at Cheeseburger in Waikiki and was $6 apiece each morning. Great way to start the day. One day we visited 3 Honolulu Breweries and made a day of that. On Wednesday night we went to the Brewseum for dinner and brews. This is a place that keeps WWII history alive. There is so many items and memories from Pearl Harbor and around Oahu from the war. They have a speakeasy bar and a brew pub bar. This is a must see if you are at all interested in history. The location is off the beaten path so look for it and enjoy!
We flew home on Hawaiian Airlines. This was our choice since they had a flight at 12:30 and had us in Phoenix at 9PM so no all night flying.
Now it is time to get all the planning done for our next adventure.
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