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As a first-time cruiser, I choose this cruise because of the dates fitting in with my work Christmas closedown and the opportunity to visit friends. Unfortunately, when I got the booking sorted, Napier had fallen of the list of ports to visit. I also chose Concierge Class because of the room location and concerns about safety as a solo female traveller. Embarkation. Slow and no promised (Conceirge Class) priority check-In. I never met my Conceirge during the entire trip. Also promised but not delivered for Conceirge Class was the exclusive departure lounge, priority disembarkation, welcome sparkling wine and fresh fruit. I forego the daily delivery of afternoon savouries as there was something that looked like cat’s vomit left on the coffee table. Room – 12th Deck. The attendant was very pleasant and kept the room very clean and tidy. Though tired, the room was functional, and the bed and pillows were incredibly comfortable. The shower was great for me (little person) but my 6’3” son would have had to shower on his knees if he wanted water on his face or shoulders. Food. My first night experience in the main (Grand Epernay) restaurant found a menu of limited variety and contained ingredients I don’t eat (and I’m not a fussy eater). What I ordered (bolognaise) came with no vegetables and was cold. Breakfast was generally taken first thing (6-6.30 am) in Ocean View Café where the food was more likely to be hot and fresh, and I could enjoy a slow and leisurely meal with my book or puzzles. By 9-9.30am the Cafe was bedlam and best avoided. While there was plenty of variety at lunch and dinner, the selection was much of a muchness. I found the lunchtime soups delicious and with a couple of pieces of French loaf and a sprinkle of parmesan (caesar salad bar) and spring onions (stir fry bar). After hearing conflicting reviews about the specialty restaurants, I decided the extra charge would probably not be worth additional cost and more disappointment. The best meal was at the Mast Grill (Deck 14). The hamburgers and chip were really good – much moreso than that on offer in the Ocean View. Service. The Ocean View Cafe was dirty at times, a point noted to a senior staff member was food and crumbs still on the bench seats at 6 am. The staff member commented that someone had complained the previous day but he obviously hadn’t checked the night cleaning crew had upped their game. The cafe also ran out of black tea on a regular basis. On the first occasion just after leaving Dunedin, a query to a senior staff member elicited a response that they had run out and they couldn't resupply as you can't buy [black] tea in NZ. Need it be said, irrespective of running out, the tea stations were intermittently resupplied. The other resupply of the coffee stations was chaos with access to cups being cut off while coffee filters were prepared on the cup counter. The Grand Epernay also lacked in service. Having tried to book a large group (20 pers) in for a lunch the following day, the Maitre D said she couldn't pre-book so to arrive as a group. When we arrived, there was a lot of eye rolling and muttering about why we wanted to be seated as a group. Bar Service. The pool bar closed earlier than advertised nearly every day. Previous travellers with Celebrity also commented on the lack of poolside service. One quickly worked out it was better to go to the bar than wait for service. At the Poolside Bar the service was generally quick and efficient except for the propensity to pour inferior wines. In the Ocean View you are more likely to leave without a drink than wait for service at a table. Here, cafe bar staff ignored patrons and would do a round of the room without taking a single order prior to returning to the bar to spin jokes with workmates. It was also annoying that the bar staff would flip the drinks menu onto it’s side (a sign that you don’t want a drink) without asking if you did want one. In the Grand Epernay, one of our lunch group had asked for a particular wine, was told they had run out, then after specifically asking for champagne was served sparkling wine. The wine waiter then magically turned up with a bottle of the wine they had previously ‘run out’ of. When making an objection another wine waiter back-chatted and said that with her attitude she was lucky to have anything to drink. A ‘house’ wine on offer was proffered as a very good NZ Sauvignon Blanc but it was a bottle you could buy for $12 from the supermarket. Entertainment. An old and very limited selection of movies both on the lawn or on the room TV. Gave up on the main theatre entertainment that was mediocre at best and the comedian worst (fell asleep). Listening to fellow travellers unanimously agreed Motown was good, and Rock City in the later stages when the acrobat joined the stage. Many of us didn’t get that far as the opening was aweful. On Deck 4 the house bands and dance lessons were held in a very tight area with very little seating, floorspace, at the bottom of a ‘grand’ stairway and where a constant stream of traffic moving between two bars, lifts and shops. Three of the group I met up with got a skin rash from the spa pool and insect bites on top lawn. The better entertainment included the Naturalist talks and Captain Tasos’ onboard commentaries, Liars Club and talk about the Solstice. Excursions. An excursion talk on the first day hinted that visitors to the little blue penguin colony at Oamaru might get a peek in the hutches and to maybe even hold a penguin. I know this not done and Celebrity should not hint at the prospect. The same excursion talk offered a visit to a high country farm and the opportunity to see livestock and maybe get to see other native NZ mammals. It is a shame that the only land based NZ mammal are bats and highly protected. Through Dusky Sound the Naturalist lauded about being able to hear the birds if you listened carefully but spoke the whole way thus denying any opportunity to hear anything. I did local onshore activities on my own arrangements and booked fellow travellers onto a train trip in Dunedin at 1/5th of the Celebrity excursion price. Up-Sell. The up-sell was constant including being accosted at the entrance to the Ocean View Café and on disembarking at shore destinations with people dressed in weird outfits and a guy waving a miniature lifebuoy for a photo opportunity. It was also the case for specialty restaurants, pushing to buy packages. Once we hit the Tasman inbound for Sydney it was a constant tirade of buy buy buy. Disembarkation. The disembarkation directions were not relayed to outdoor speakers. Fortunately I had a later flight and by time I joined the queue grinding it’s way offboard I was thankful that I could sit on my suitcase when the grind became a halt. Heard of many other complaints from fellow travellers include a lack of advertised services such as babysitting, toilet paper resupplied reluctantly, and passengers confined temporarily to a wheelchair not able to get a disabled suite when there were others 'upgraded' to a disabled suite. In all, if it hadn’t been for a great bunch of people I met up with, I would have cut my losses and bailed at Dunedin. I would recommend a 10 day stay in a spa resort with a decent restaurant. It would be cheaper, the food would be better and service of a much better quality.

A First (and Last) with Celebrity

Celebrity Solstice Cruise Review by heather62

9 people found this helpful
Trip Details
As a first-time cruiser, I choose this cruise because of the dates fitting in with my work Christmas closedown and the opportunity to visit friends. Unfortunately, when I got the booking sorted, Napier had fallen of the list of ports to visit. I also chose Concierge Class because of the room location and concerns about safety as a solo female traveller.

Embarkation.

Slow and no promised (Conceirge Class) priority check-In. I never met my Conceirge during the entire trip. Also promised but not delivered for Conceirge Class was the exclusive departure lounge, priority disembarkation, welcome sparkling wine and fresh fruit. I forego the daily delivery of afternoon savouries as there was something that looked like cat’s vomit left on the coffee table.

Room – 12th Deck.

The attendant was very pleasant and kept the room very clean and tidy. Though tired, the room was functional, and the bed and pillows were incredibly comfortable. The shower was great for me (little person) but my 6’3” son would have had to shower on his knees if he wanted water on his face or shoulders.

Food.

My first night experience in the main (Grand Epernay) restaurant found a menu of limited variety and contained ingredients I don’t eat (and I’m not a fussy eater). What I ordered (bolognaise) came with no vegetables and was cold.

Breakfast was generally taken first thing (6-6.30 am) in Ocean View Café where the food was more likely to be hot and fresh, and I could enjoy a slow and leisurely meal with my book or puzzles. By 9-9.30am the Cafe was bedlam and best avoided. While there was plenty of variety at lunch and dinner, the selection was much of a muchness. I found the lunchtime soups delicious and with a couple of pieces of French loaf and a sprinkle of parmesan (caesar salad bar) and spring onions (stir fry bar).

After hearing conflicting reviews about the specialty restaurants, I decided the extra charge would probably not be worth additional cost and more disappointment.

The best meal was at the Mast Grill (Deck 14). The hamburgers and chip were really good – much moreso than that on offer in the Ocean View.

Service.

The Ocean View Cafe was dirty at times, a point noted to a senior staff member was food and crumbs still on the bench seats at 6 am. The staff member commented that someone had complained the previous day but he obviously hadn’t checked the night cleaning crew had upped their game. The cafe also ran out of black tea on a regular basis. On the first occasion just after leaving Dunedin, a query to a senior staff member elicited a response that they had run out and they couldn't resupply as you can't buy [black] tea in NZ. Need it be said, irrespective of running out, the tea stations were intermittently resupplied. The other resupply of the coffee stations was chaos with access to cups being cut off while coffee filters were prepared on the cup counter.

The Grand Epernay also lacked in service. Having tried to book a large group (20 pers) in for a lunch the following day, the Maitre D said she couldn't pre-book so to arrive as a group. When we arrived, there was a lot of eye rolling and muttering about why we wanted to be seated as a group.

Bar Service.

The pool bar closed earlier than advertised nearly every day. Previous travellers with Celebrity also commented on the lack of poolside service. One quickly worked out it was better to go to the bar than wait for service.

At the Poolside Bar the service was generally quick and efficient except for the propensity to pour inferior wines.

In the Ocean View you are more likely to leave without a drink than wait for service at a table. Here, cafe bar staff ignored patrons and would do a round of the room without taking a single order prior to returning to the bar to spin jokes with workmates. It was also annoying that the bar staff would flip the drinks menu onto it’s side (a sign that you don’t want a drink) without asking if you did want one.

In the Grand Epernay, one of our lunch group had asked for a particular wine, was told they had run out, then after specifically asking for champagne was served sparkling wine. The wine waiter then magically turned up with a bottle of the wine they had previously ‘run out’ of. When making an objection another wine waiter back-chatted and said that with her attitude she was lucky to have anything to drink. A ‘house’ wine on offer was proffered as a very good NZ Sauvignon Blanc but it was a bottle you could buy for $12 from the supermarket.

Entertainment.

An old and very limited selection of movies both on the lawn or on the room TV.

Gave up on the main theatre entertainment that was mediocre at best and the comedian worst (fell asleep). Listening to fellow travellers unanimously agreed Motown was good, and Rock City in the later stages when the acrobat joined the stage. Many of us didn’t get that far as the opening was aweful.

On Deck 4 the house bands and dance lessons were held in a very tight area with very little seating, floorspace, at the bottom of a ‘grand’ stairway and where a constant stream of traffic moving between two bars, lifts and shops.

Three of the group I met up with got a skin rash from the spa pool and insect bites on top lawn.

The better entertainment included the Naturalist talks and Captain Tasos’ onboard commentaries, Liars Club and talk about the Solstice.

Excursions.

An excursion talk on the first day hinted that visitors to the little blue penguin colony at Oamaru might get a peek in the hutches and to maybe even hold a penguin. I know this not done and Celebrity should not hint at the prospect. The same excursion talk offered a visit to a high country farm and the opportunity to see livestock and maybe get to see other native NZ mammals. It is a shame that the only land based NZ mammal are bats and highly protected.

Through Dusky Sound the Naturalist lauded about being able to hear the birds if you listened carefully but spoke the whole way thus denying any opportunity to hear anything.

I did local onshore activities on my own arrangements and booked fellow travellers onto a train trip in Dunedin at 1/5th of the Celebrity excursion price.

Up-Sell.

The up-sell was constant including being accosted at the entrance to the Ocean View Café and on disembarking at shore destinations with people dressed in weird outfits and a guy waving a miniature lifebuoy for a photo opportunity. It was also the case for specialty restaurants, pushing to buy packages. Once we hit the Tasman inbound for Sydney it was a constant tirade of buy buy buy.

Disembarkation.

The disembarkation directions were not relayed to outdoor speakers. Fortunately I had a later flight and by time I joined the queue grinding it’s way offboard I was thankful that I could sit on my suitcase when the grind became a halt.


Heard of many other complaints from fellow travellers include a lack of advertised services such as babysitting, toilet paper resupplied reluctantly, and passengers confined temporarily to a wheelchair not able to get a disabled suite when there were others 'upgraded' to a disabled suite.

In all, if it hadn’t been for a great bunch of people I met up with, I would have cut my losses and bailed at Dunedin. I would recommend a 10 day stay in a spa resort with a decent restaurant. It would be cheaper, the food would be better and service of a much better quality.
heather62’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Service
Onboard Experience
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Cabin Review

Concierge Class
Cabin C2 2108
Room – 12th Deck.
The attendant was very pleasant and kept the room very clean and tidy. Though tired, the room was functional, and the bed and pillows were incredibly comfortable. The shower was great for me (little person) but my 6’3” son would have had to shower on his knees if he wanted water on his face or shoulders.
Resort Deck Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins