Celebrity Solstice Cruise Review by gragra48
- Sail Date: November 2018
- Destination: Australia & New Zealand
- Cabin Type: Concierge Class
Everything about the cruise was just perfect, from the very quick embarkation procedure in Sydney to our sad farewell to Solstice in Auckland. In Sydney after we dropped our bags off it was pretty much straight through Customs and Immigration - probably a 15 minute process at the most. We went aboard and were greeted with the customary glass of champagne and then proceeded to Cafe al Bacio to kill some time before lunch and wait for our cabin to be ready. Shortly after we had finished lunch we got the call that cabins were ready so went to check ours out. As we might have expected our cabin was immaculate, everything as it should be in Concierge, including the welcome bottle of bubbly. We couldn't fault the cabin, plenty of storage, a very comfortable bed, quiet and a more than adequately sized balcony. Our Cabin Steward Eduardo was one of the most pleasant and obliging people you could wish to meet, times we didn't encounter him in the hallway or in or about our cabin when we returned made me wonder if he wasn't hiding in the wardrobe.
We dined most nights in Grand Epernay and the service and food was faultless. We opted to eat in Oceanview on the first night because we wanted to be up on deck for our departure from Sydney and it was certainly worthwhile. It was a beautiful clear evening and the buzz among fellow passengers on deck 12 as we cleared the International Terminal and eased out into Sydney Harbour was palpable. There was no hiding the excitement we were all feeling. The food on offer in Oceanview was also quite good - there was a very wide range of cuisines to choose from.
There were several good shows on offer to keep us entertained, "Amade", a tribute to Mozart was very enjoyable as was the Elton John tribute and Rock City. There was always something happening in the Sky Lounge or Celebrity Central or the Entertainment Court hosted by Lauren and Emily to keep passengers happy and laughing, just too many alternatives to mention but something to suit everybody.
The session in Solstice Theatre on our last sea day by Captain Tasos explaining the construction of Solstice was most interesting and very well received by a packed theatre.
The service we received could not be faulted, from the waitresses in Cafe al Bacio to bar stewards at ny bar you care to mention, at the Mast Grill or Mast Bar. Our Head Waiter, Assistant Waiter, Drinks Waiter and Sommelier in Grand Epernay were excellent, always had a smile, our drinks waiter did not need to be told what we wanted after the second day - he would ask to confirm that we wanted the same as we had previously and return with our drinks in a flash. Again, with this foursome nothing was ever a problem.
We only booked one shore excursion with Celebrity, the Blue Baths Tea and Rotorua Thermal Outing for when we were in Tauranga. In Dunedin and Wellington we chose to visit I-Site, the visitor information centre, in Akaroa and Bay of Islands we just did our own thing.
We were staying Auckland for a couple of days after our arrival and were in no hurry to disembark so we chose a 9.30am disembarkation. Due to some passengers having problems with Customs and Immigration there were a few holdups but we were off by 10am.
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Our cabin was about a third of the way back from the bulge toward the stern on the starboard side, not all that far from the elevators.
Port & Shore Excursion Reviews
Hilltop Tavern & Barry Bay Cheese FactoryA great tour with excellent commentary from the local driver. We visited Barry Bay Cheese Factory and then on to the Hilltop Tavern/Cafe for morning tea. Excellent views from there. On our return our driver asked if anyone wanted to visit the Giants House to which most of us answered yes whereby he dropped us off there to save us the climb up the hill. The Giants House is well worth a visit, countless statues done with mosaics.View All 12,810 Hilltop Tavern & Barry Bay Cheese Factory Reviews
Bay of IslandsWe took the tender ashore to Waitangi and walked the short distance to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. The Modern museum here is beautifully set up with really interestig displays. We opted to take the guided tour which turned out to be extremely helpful. Everyone in the tour group was given a portable headset so we could hear everything our guide was saying. As we walked from one location to the next the guide was explaining about Maori history and some background to the Waitangi Treaty. The first stop was at the war canoes where he explained about their construction and how they were used etc. From there we walked up to the flagpole which is located where the Tribal Chiefs Met with the British representatives to discuss and sign the treaty in 1840. From there we were taken to Te Whare Runanga - the carved meeting house where some Maoris performed a welcoming ceremony outside and then invited us inside to witness some Maori cultural dancing and singing. At the conclusion of that performance we were free to wander the grounds and inspect the renovated home of the initial British Goverment Representative in New Zealand, James Busby. What was originally in 1934 a four roomed house with a seperate kitchen, storeroom and servants quarters at the rear was extended in 1941 by adding three bedrooms at the rear.View All 40 Bay of Islands Cruise Port Reviews
View Cruise Critic's Bay of Islands Cruise Port Review
DunedinWe took the Shuttle from the port in to the Octagon. We had quick look around the market which was set up in the Octagon then headed for the nearby I-Site. There we got directions to the Otago Settlers Museum and set off on the half kilometre walk. After about an hour and a half looking around this very interesting and educational location we headed to the adjacent historic Dunedin Railway Station to admire it's beautiful architecture. From there we made our way back to Stuart Street which took us back up to the Octagon where we picked up the shuttle back to Solstice.View All 304 Dunedin Cruise Port Reviews
View Cruise Critic's Dunedin Cruise Port Review
Geothermal SpringsAn excellent introduction to Maori hisotry and culture from our Maori tour guide, talked about the Maori belief of how the Earth was formed and their different Gods, Steered us around the geyers (steam vents), Geothermal pools and Mud pools then took us back to the new education centre that has been built at Te Puia where talented young Maoris are taught the arts of Woodcarving, Stonecarving and Weaving.View All 29 Geothermal Springs Reviews
RotoruaA great excursion the The Blue Tea Rooms and the TePau Thermal Springs and Mud Pools. At the Blue Tea Rooms we were provided with a very nice Devonshire Tea. The Tea rooms are loacted in the historic Thermal Baths which were first opened in 1933 and operated until 1969 when a new swimming centre opened.View All 49 Rotorua Reviews
Parliament House and BeehiveA really interesting insight into the history and running of New Zealands Parliament, the Houses of Parliament and the Beehive. This is a 1 hour guided tour.View All 12,810 Parliament House and Beehive Reviews
** Note - on exiting Parliament House head to the gates straight ahead and then turn right, walk down to the traffic lights and you will see the yellow flag for the Shuttle pickup to take you back to Solstice.
Cable carWe walked from the shuttle drop-off to the I-Site centre and got directions to the Cable Car. About a 10 minute walk to Cable Car Lane and the bottom stop for the Cable Car. Bought one way tickets to the top and enjoyed a very smooth ride up to Kelburn. We had a look around the displays in the Cable Car Museum, well worth a visit, then decided to wander back down through the Botanic Gardens to Lady Norwood Rose Garden. A beautifully maintained Botanic Gardens with a lot of interesting displays and interepretive signs.View All 29 Cable car Reviews
Lady Norwood Rose GardenA huge beautiful display of an incredible range of roses supported by a very nice cafe attached to the Begonia House.View All 9 Lady Norwood Rose Garden Reviews