Overall Rating: Excellent
|# of Nights:||9-10 Nights|
|Overall Value:||Very Good|
We always choose our cruise for the itinerary & cruise line. This is our first European cruise & about our 6th on Celebrity (including Azamara). We have also sailed NCL, Carnival, Princess & Costa. Embarkation was smooth & easy as always with Celebrity. Our cabin was in the section jutting our around the atrium on deck 6 (NO obstruction from lifeboats) and this was a superb location as it was right off the elevator. Cabin was best layout of any cruise we have taken including the following features: LARGE bathroom w/lots of storage, ladies foot rest in glass enclosed shower (also ample size); storage in cabin also ample w/ space under the bed for luggage, shelves above the bed, & two drop-down racks inside closet for shorter items (pants, tops). There also was a full-length mirror outside the bathroom, nice wood decor & great soundproofing. Cabin doors did not slam shut but were always closed completely upon release.
Dining--Specialty in Murano was excellent--we ate there on our anniversary & had the best meal ever on a cruise. Service, food, & ambiance were superb. Tuscan Grille was very good also--one complaint--it's located at the stern & the setting sun was shining through the window & even though there was a shade, the sun was too close to the horizon to work effectively. There is a special 2 for 1 fee on sailing night in any specialty restaurant. MDR was good most of time, with a couple of complaints immediately fixed by requesting a replacement from the waiter. Oceanview cafe (buffet) was well layed out with many food islands & it was open 24/7. Ice cream available every afternoon; only the egg specialty section was poor, with insufficient chefs and not enough room to wait for food being prepared. Beverage stations were also crowded & not enough of them.
Room service--we utilized this several times for early breakfast when touring. Food was always good w/excellent menu & was delivered at the beginning of the 1/2 hr. time selection chosen, w/prior phone call indicating it was on the way. Great way to get ready prior to excursions.
Public areas--The entire ship was very well designed for excellent passenger flow. We had approx. 2700 PAX on our holiday time cruise with approx. 100 families. After the first two days, kids were NOT noticeable as they were in the kids' programs or with their parents. There are also facilities for them near the top deck. We enjoyed the HOT Glass show on the Lawn Club, but there is insufficient seating for this & it is outdoors with insufficient circulation of air. The bar located behind the Lawn Club at the stern also did not receive movement of air. I enjoyed sitting/laying on the grass for sunbathing in shorts when not poolside. There appeared to be the same problem as on any ship with PAX reserving loungers (which were comfortable & padded) for the day. No crew seemed to remove towels for those not utilizing their chair. We utilized the whirlpools in the solarium (adults only) but again air circulation is nonexistent. Public decks for stores, casino & entertainment were designed well, except for chairs outside Quasar which were an obstruction when trying to walk the corridor. There are no table tennis or shuffleboard facilities, but there was lawn bowling, croquet & golf putting. We handled most of our photo shopping using the interactive TV in the room. We did feel the DVD for the ports was worth purchasing as a keepsake.
Excursions--we used Celebrity's tours in every port except Santorini (which we did on our own) & found them to be worth the money. We had excellent local guides who spoke very good English. Most of the tours we took were between $40-$90 (5-7 hrs) with two exceptions--the tour in Naples of Pompeii w/lunch & the Amalfi Coast by motorlaunch ($150 & 9 hrs.) & the Vatican tour w/transfer to the hotel in Rome (approx. $130 including transfers--7 hrs).
Entertainment--We loved the three main show performances because they were unique & not the standard old-style Vegas show. The stage was designed to accommodate these shows. We also enjoyed the violinist (not usually my cup of tea) & had seen Jack Walker (vocal entertainer) on two previous cruises & he performed the same show as our last cruise in Feb. 2010 (on Princess). There was an a cappela mens' group (Voice Males) which traveled to multiple venues on the ship, along with the standard poolside band (who also performed in other venues), a string quartet & of course the ship's band of about 10 musicians. We enjoyed a performance by local dancers while in Kusadasi (performed in the ship's theater) & the "dance lessons" conducted by ship's dancers (performers).
Service/staff--Celebrity is always top-notch in service, with staff always smiling, accommodating & eager to please. We especially enjoyed the officers' interactions with the PAX (lawn bowling & Dancing w/the Stripes). We have never sailed with such personable officers who also would chat w/us in the lounges. Staff in guest relations also was very eager to accommodate our requests/complaints.
Summary--We usually sail the Caribbean, but the combination of the Med. sea (smooth like glass) & the Solstice class ship, gave us a cruise experience of the smoothest sailing ever - we never felt the ship's movements. We got everything we wished for & planned to see/learn & hope to return to the Med again. We appreciate Celebrity's service (premium, not standard) & feel like first-class PAX (we have not sailed the luxury much more expensive class such as Crystal or Seabourn) as Celebrity does not make more than one announcement (except on sea days to indicate the activities) & we appreciate not being "hounded" by pushy sales/announcements. They are truly a first-class experience & we can't wait for our next Celebrity cruise!