February 2014 - Celebrity Solstice to South Pacific - Australia
This was the second half of our back-to-back cruise of New Zealand and Australia and comments might be different for single cruise passengers. Overall the ship is excellent with roomy staterooms, excellent service and elegant common spaces. Many stops on this cruise are dictated by the size of the ship rather than interest or accessibility of the ports. Thus the stop in Port Hedland was basically a waste of time - it was very hot and there was nothing to do in a town which is basically an iron ore export site. The stop in Airlie Beach is also dictated by the fact that it is the only port in the area accessible to Solstice Class ships. The best stop was Bali, Indonesia and Celebrity's handling of visa formalities was excellent (although it would have been nice to know about in advance!) with Celebrity charging the visa to the onboard account and Indonesian officials issuing visas onboard. Stops at Darwin, Airlie Beach, Brisbane and Freemantle were enjoyable although access to town varied by stop. At Brisbane the only option was a 19 dollar shuttle bus (or a Celebrity tour). There were 10 day sea days on this cruise so if you don't like entertaining yourself this is not the cruise for you. Celebrity is known for its onboard lecturers but on this leg there was only one and he repeated lectures already given on the previous cruise. Ships officers who gave talks about the ship were not all fluent in English. (on the other hand, videos on demand describing the ship were excellent) The gym on board was good although not all machines were working properly and it could be crowded. Food was excellent but repetitive for those onboard the full 35 days. Speciality restaurants were good but pricey. The sense of two classes onboard - Elite Class members and Aqua and Suite guests - vs. the rest was strong with tender tickets available to the 1st class at the expense of the rest not to mention special dining for Aqua Class guests. There is nothing wrong with 2 classes onboard but Celebrity should be more upfront about it.
This was our first Celebrity Cruise and we would definitely rate Celebrity among the best cruise lines we have experienced.