October 2015 - Celebrity Solstice to South Pacific
We enjoyed our second cruise to the South Pacific & Fiji this time on the Solstice (Dawn Princess 2014) in October/November 2015. We loved it so much we booked again on the Solstice this time for New Zealand in 2017! We chose cabin 6210, a partially obstructed deluxe veranda stateroom. We loved the larger veranda/balcony space and the glass front was perfect for enjoying the view while sitting down (we had a hole in a metal surround on the Dawn so felt spoilt with the glass). We did not find the partial obstuction a problem and chose this stateroom so knew ahead of time after research and pics from past cruisers what we would have. The only request I would have made to make this more comfortable was a foot rest with the recliner chairs and table but I made do with feet up on the other chair when husband preferred to stay inside or up on the glass. The cabin we felt was large enough and larger than the Dawn and enjoyed the long lounge where we could sit comfortably and watch TV or get ready to go out instead of sitting on the bed. The bed and linen was very comfortable and hubby and I slept like logs (him thanks to the extension cord they provided at request for his CPAP machine as the only plugs were across the room at the desk. The long cord did cross the floor and technically could have been a tripping risk but we had no probs). We loved the bathroom and found it again larger and more functional than the Dawn. It had a good amount of storage space and we hung our toiletry bags with little problem and with the help of a strong magnet hook we could hang clothes to air or dry above the toilet with no problem. We did miss a clothes line or airer and laundomat but hubby (who usually does our washing) managed washing the clothes in the sink and hanging in the shower with magnetic hook or over the chairs near the glass door with big pegs on the two wash days on the 12 day cruise. We chose our clothes to be quick dry and had enough to last us and wore things a few times with an airing (dinner clothes were only worn a few hours and we swapped and accessorised to jazz it up - scarves/pashminas are great for this). We are Australian so bought 3 adaptors with us, 2 European and 1 US (powerboards are not allowed) after studying the desk plugs (thanks to other cruisers' photos) so we were able to have the CPAP plugged in, and charge the phones/iPad/GoPro and had no problems. We bought our own magnetic hooks/clips to put around the room but the Solstice had a good amount of hooks around the room but more would be great and the cupboard had ample hangers and space for my clothes (hubby prefers to use is suitcase like a drawer under the bed). Our room stewards were great and friendly and kept us in ice, clean towels, our daily newsletter and a neat and lovely place to retire to in the evening. So that I think is all about the cabin. We loved the extra veranda space with the forward facing view so much we booked on again but one deck up for our trip to NZ.
Food was amazing, service helpful, thoughtful, friendly and could not be faulted. Atmosphere relaxing and spoiling, there were free activities we enjoyed and others for a fee that we enjoyed. I did the IOS course with my iPad and phone (take them with you) which I think was about $24 US for 4 lessons and I learned things I did not know that I now use in my business as I use my iPad almost exclusively where as there were older generations there that got to learn the basics to keep up with their younger family members. We found the organised activities slowed down the further we got into the cruise and did find ourselves walking the ship to find something to do as we are not swimmers but in hindsight it would have been a good time to find a nice hideyhole and listen to my audiobook and music while enjoying the ocean, sunshine, etc which I did do at night on our balcony while hubby caught up on the good range of movies and shows free on the TV. I watched about 5 movies that took me 10 days to watch as I was so relaxed at night I kept falling asleep ;). Room service was free unless you wanted something after midnight (or 11pm depending on which person took the order). We did try to take some food back to our room at one time but a new staff member was stopping people taking plates out but this was reviewed and had no problems after. One of the highlights was cheese and wine on the lawn as we listened to one of the musical entertainers as we pulled out of one port. We also did a port tasting (fee a bit pricey but interesting and something hubby and I were both interested in). We tend to go in separate directions due to our interests which I found a bit frustrating that we had no way to communicate when apart so found ourselves going back to the room regularly to find the other or notify of our whereabouts on the ship. This time could have been used relaxing in the solarium, on a deck or enjoying another activity without feeling the other would be wandering looking for the other. We are looking into the Ship mate messaging or similar. Ship mate is an amazing app by the way. I found it in 2014 when looking for a count down to the cruise for my very anxious husband who would not allow himself to get excited about our first cruise/real holiday due to various reasons. He is however competitive and the count down did the trick and every day he told me the days to our cruise and allowed himself to start to believe that it was real and would happen. Thanks Ship mate crew we love it, all the upgrades and recommend it to all cruisers. Anyway getting back to our lovely cruise on the Solstice. Food was lovely and we dinned in the main dining room most nights but did enjoy a meal in the Silk Harvest for my birthday as a treat (which I did not think had gone through via the website when trying to book pre-cruise and when I tried to do it again could only get the later dining time so did not book and had a lovely surprise when there was a lovely message left at our room as a reminder that we had the dinner the next night (complete with birthday cake) which is typical of the efficient service we enjoyed on the Solstice. These people run what amounts to a city in the middle of the ocean and they do it so well. We had the classic drink package as part of our package and loved being able to have a drink or two without worrying about the bill at the end of the cruise. I would recommend a drinks package and they also offer discounts on the fee required restaurants for multiple purchases and I would like to take this offer up again after experiencing the Silk Harvest even though I managed to lose my new Pina colada on the floor (by accident and it was my first alcoholic drink so no I was not under the influence) but the hostess had it cleaned up and off the floor and a new one in my hand before I had time to get my tissue out to dry my embarrassed tears. There is so much more that I can share such as the efficiency of the excursions, the entertainment was a mixed bag and entertaining (I did miss a pianist playing the baby grand in the foyer each evening that we had on the Dawn however), the excellent medical service I had to use (always get travel insurance) and the lovely massage I enjoyed but generally we loved our time on the Solstice and were thrilled with our cruise and came home very relaxed to enjoy my son's wedding. Things we would change? Keep a wide berth from the art gallery! The very friendly staff will chat you up, invite you to an auction, give you an entry into the free competition which hubby won and was very excited about and we went up to collect his prize which he had a choice of some prints (none that would fit in our home decor or were to our taste) but we graciously picked one but then were informed that we had to pay the postage from the US of $60+US and we could also choose to have it framed but none of the frames were under $100+ and declined that. So with our tight budget we had been "conned" into a cost that we did not want and the prize and competition lost its sparkle. We did however have another stroke of luck when I won a lovely pearl necklace complete with packaging and bottle of champers (that son and daughter-in-law enjoyed on their honeymoon) and were thrilled because not only did I win a beautiful prize it did not cost us a cent. It was a shame hubby could not make it a trifecta in the casino. Tips!!! *Pay for excursions/restaurants/drinks packages/gratuities, etc in the booking and registering stage online in Australia cause you are paying in $AU. Once you are on the ship it is in $US. *With anytime dinning, book your table for dinner the next night when you arrive at the restaurant for dinner. We did the 5:30 - 6pm sitting and always had a table for two to ourselves but tables are close enough that you can chat to the people next to you or ignore them completely. Up to you. *A couple we met told us they load money into their cruise account before the cruise and at the end of the cruise they go to customer relations and get back in cash what they did not spend. *Celebrity had free shuttle buses to shopping areas for the guests not going on booked excursions which was very much appreciated. *Keep the magnet of your evening bag and phone case away from your cruise card or you will be at the services desk getting it reset to get in your room. But they were so kind and always apologised to me even though I had wiped it by accident.
I hope someone will find this useful for their upcoming cruise as I have found past reviews and articles when planning ours. Sure helped to lower the anxiety for this couple who are just starting to stretch their wings and fly.