April 2016 - 8 Night South Pacific (Sydney Roundtrip) Cruise on Celebrity Solstice
We initially sailed with Royal C. in the S. China Sea in 2012 and enjoyed the experience with some reservations. Then we sailed with Celeb. Silhouette in the Med in 2013 and saw and felt the difference. So we chose Celebrity this time and were not disappointed.
Silhouette and Solstice are almost identical ships except that Solstice retained the glass blowing show, much to their advantage - a great show and some people do enjoy seeing it more than once! We booked this cruise late and the room options were very limited so we decided on a concierge room on port side, right at the back of the ship on deck 10 and it provided double benefits - a larger veranda and the extra walking distance must have helped with our waist lines, at least a little.
The whole ship was impeccably clean as was our cabin. Concierge is a doubtful benefit but we were happy to be on the ship and lapped up the small extras (except the afternoon canapés). We dined mainly in the main DR for dinner and found plenty of variety - agree with some who say not outstanding for every dish but nothing I would complain about and certainly some memorable dishes. The service from our waiters (Augustika and Cristopher) and sommelier (Sandra) was outstanding - everyone around the table agreed, we all wanted to take at least one of these people home! We dined in the MDR for breakfast and lunch at times; the food was just as good but the service was a bit missing sometimes - is this the difference between having the same waiter at a set time for dinner as opposed to just wandering in? don't know. The Oceanview Café was nearly always busy but seats were not too hard to be found and we never had to wait for any length of time. Again the food quality was fine and most of us (we talked to everyone we sat next to wherever we were) thought the variety was excellent, certainly too much to say I tried it all. We were on our honeymoon and celebrating our first wedding anniversary (where did that year go to!) and we spoilt ourselves by going to the Wine Connoisseurs Dinner in the Tuscan Grill and had a magnificent evening - one of our evening waiters had secretly spread the word and all the waiting staff around our table in the TG presented a cake and sang Happy Anniversary - this just made the night. The food was delicious, the wine excellent and very much free flowing. We had room service breakfast with full choices hot and cold and this was superb for port day starts. Our only disappointment food-wise was Café Al Bacio which was nearly always crowded, the take-away line too long and someone noted that the build up of dirty dishes in the serving area looked a little worrying. But when we did successfully consume here, it was as good as ever. Perhaps so many people getting the free Drinks Package (us included) has put extra pressure on this facility but they need to resolve this to maintain an acceptable standard.
The ship was full and at times it was crowded in places, especially in the evening when the shows were starting, but there was always a quiet spot to be found if one wished. The evening shows were entertaining but not outstanding; we believed Royal C. had better entertainment, but maybe all cruise lines did four years ago before budgets were tightened. Sure many of the activity options didn't suit us but there was always something to do around eating. walking and reading a good book; for the first time on a cruise we enjoyed a free in room movie or three and the choices were fine for us ( fitting in the time was the challenge). Wine and cheese on the top deck lawn a couple of afternoons was great especially when accompanied by easy listening jazz. We enjoyed a dance or two, relaxing in the lounges and on our veranda, shopped a little, enjoyed Captains Table events etc. but did not test the casino.
We thoroughly enjoyed this ship and this cruise and could not understand why some people - and very few in number - would complain about anything, and we generally finished such conversations quickly as we enjoy being positive about things. The bottom line - there were 2800 guests on board and the crew did a great job ensuring we were looked after with a smile in the vast majority of occasions.
Already talking about our next cruise with Celebrity - some travelling companions booked two more cruises before they got off!
The last day was a sad day. But getting off was as easy as getting on, but still sad!