Celebrity Solstice Cruise Review to Alaska - Inside Passage
First, a sidebar. Pre and Post cruise we stayed at the Sutton Suites Seattle. For a two room suite for four adults, we paid a fraction of the costs associated with the name brand hotels. This included airport and cruiseport shuttles. Although the hotel is old, the owners are doing a good job on the renovations. Despite a couple of glitches (of which most were taken care of quickly) I found it to be good for the price. Note that if you are handicapped and cannot comfortably navigate steep hills or stairs without help, you may want to reconsider staying here, as they have no elevators (they do have ground level rooms, but you should check with the hotel management to ensure you get one).
The Seattle seaport was hectic on check-in, but went quickly. We showed up about 11:30 and were on board by 12:15. Leaving the ship, however, was a madhouse -- way too many people in a small area waiting to get their rides.
Now for the main part -- The Solstice. While it was a great ship, I feel that it lacked any personality. Each bar or entertainment area seemed isolated from the rest of the ship -- as if it was a totally separate entity. Add that to a rather confusing layout (dead end hallways on the main decks, stairways only feeding to one side of the deck and no easy way to cross over from one side to the other, it sometimes made it inconvenient. Additionally, it seemed as if there was a lack of entertainment avaible on board other than the theater shows (very good performances, but the show itself was not that well scripted) and the outstanding "Beyond the Podium" shows by Brent Nixon and Miss Amanda, who provided very in-depth talks about the Alaskan nature and port calls.
The room (Deck 10 Balcony 1059) was great. It was about the same size as a Carnival room, but the balcony was twice as deep. Coupled with the sliding balcony door, it was a very nice space to spend quiet time. The Steward (Enrico) made sure that we always had a clean room and never wanted for anything.
The bathroom seemed a bit larger than Carnival, and appeared much nicer -- especially the glass enclosed shower with door rather than the clinging shower curtain.
The MDR was well laid out and the food was outstanding, as was the very attentive wait staff (Jesso and Kenneth).Due to the outstanding nature of the MDR, I did not try out any of the specialty restaurants.
The Buffet was widely varied in their offerings and offered truly international choices for breakfast, lunch and dinner. All food was served at a good temperature and tasted very good. Seating never seemed a problem.
The photo department was a black eye on Celebrity's excellence. Although the photographers were very good, the service lacked. After ordering a set of pictures late Thursday afternoon (shortly before 4:00) we were told that they would be delivered to the room that afternoon. After a couple of drinks, we returned to the room to find a package of very good pictures, but of someone else. We went to the photography shop, but they were closed (due to being in port). We went to Customer Service and were told to return to the photography shop, as there would be someone waiting. We went back to the shop and met with someone who said they would take care of it immediately. She went to a back room where, from the shouting, it was obvious that the photography people were having a very good time. After a few minutes the lady came back out and said it would take about an hour to complete. I told her I wanted to go to the port, and she stated that the photos would be delivered to the room before 10:00 PM. After going ashore and returning at 10:00, the photos had not been delivered. Again down to CS, who phoned the photography manager, and then back to the shop to meet with the manager. She stated that she was aware of the problem and would ensure the photos would be delivered by the next morning, as they are not allowed to work while in port (?? I realize they cannot sell during port calls, but not allowed to process pictures??) and they would be delivered by 7:00 the next morning. Since the suitcases had to be in the hall by that night for debarkation the next morning, that meant that providing they got the order right this time, it would have to be packed in the soft-sided carry-on. If the order was not correct, then I would not get the pictures. Luckily, they did deliver the correct pictures and I was able to pack them carefully in my backpack.
Port calls were wonderful. We decided to pass on any organized excursions and go with self-guided walking tours. Ketchikan and Juneau were great, but Skagway required a long walk to the cemetary. Although we had a great time at all three Alaska ports, I think I will take an organized tour in Skagway next time. In Victoria, we opted for a pedicab tour of Chinatown and Government centre. It was an outstanding decision as the tourguide seemed very knowledgeable and personable.
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