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4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
For the first time ever, we were extremely disappointed in our Celebrity cruise. We are long time Celebrity customers and for the last six years have sailed at least once a year in their aqua class cabins. It seems that each year, there ... Read More
For the first time ever, we were extremely disappointed in our Celebrity cruise. We are long time Celebrity customers and for the last six years have sailed at least once a year in their aqua class cabins. It seems that each year, there is another benefit missing from the aqua cabins .... we no longer get welcome champagne, the bottled water is now limited to 2 small bottles on the first day of the cruise (this was cut a couple of years ago), no pillow menu, no additional room service offerings, etc. We continued to book aqua class because we really enjoy Blu and also I love the Persian Garden. On this cruise, the Blu experience was really frustrating, due to the Maitre'D and hostess. We would constantly be given pagers and told there was a 15-20 minute wait, despite seeing lots of empty tables. It seemed like they were trying to seat all the guests at the same time, like in the dining room. We noticed that the window tables were saved for the same guests, instead of alternating among the diners. Celebrity is also selling Persian Garden passes, so it is more difficult for the aqua class guests to gain access and with one of the beds broken, it was inconvenient. The entertainment was excellent on our cruise, both the Solstice production cast, as well as the guest entertainers. We also want to give accolades to the service personnel, who continue to be the reason we have supported Celebrity for so many years. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
we chose this cruise totally based on price. we had planned to take a road trip in that area, and when we saw the price of this sailing, we felt that, while the experience would be different than a road trip, we would never be able to ... Read More
we chose this cruise totally based on price. we had planned to take a road trip in that area, and when we saw the price of this sailing, we felt that, while the experience would be different than a road trip, we would never be able to make the trip for less $$$. even though the ports on this sailing were familiar to us, we enjoyed each of the stops on this cruise. this was the first time that we sailed after being promoted to "elite-plus" in captain's club status. we enjoyed the perks of free laundry and more free wifi minutes very much! this cruise must have attracted many people who are at the higher levels in the captain's club, because at check-in, the lines for the higher levels (which are touted to be priority boarding) were the longest! i pretty much liked everything, and loved some things. the one thing that i did not like at all is the safety video that is shown for the safety drill. it is really stupid. it was probably made to improve the safety drill exercise, making it more entertaining, but, sigh. it is tiresome. we were able to have dinner once at murano (reservations for the earlier hours were very hard to come by!) and we loved that..service, food, wines, presentation... were all wonderful. we also had dinner at tuscan grill. this, too, was very good, but we were seated right by the window that is blocked out because of it being broken or damaged. we had to turn our chairs a little because we felt like we were facing a wall. we ate at silk harvest. without knowing anything at all about asian food. we told our server that, and she totally took care of us, making wonderful choices for our meal. it certainly exceeded our expectations. we had the seafood extravaganza at tuscan grill, and that, while very good, was our least favorite specialty dining experience. the rest of our dinner were in the main dining room, and we were satisfied with our choices there too. the buffet seemed less crowded than it usually does on ships, and the breakfasts and the lunches that we ate there were good...lots of variety. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
Quick observations and context: We sailed the Pacific NW cruise from Seattle to Astoria, San Francisco, Victoria & Vancouver. We have previously sailed multiple times on the Summit (and like the ship very much). We found the larger ... Read More
Quick observations and context: We sailed the Pacific NW cruise from Seattle to Astoria, San Francisco, Victoria & Vancouver. We have previously sailed multiple times on the Summit (and like the ship very much). We found the larger size and newer design of the Solstice VERY nice. Decks 4 & 5 (where the $$$ is) flows better than on Summit. We noticed the extra width and felt it was a more luxurious and relaxed experience. We also liked having more entertainment "out" in that area vs tucked away in a lounge. MDR was excellent as was (I can't believe I'm saying this) the buffet. We're not buffet people, but found this to be the first we went to where a) the food was fresh and really good, b) laid out clearly and easy to get what you want without standing in a long line, and c) staff was quick to clean/clear, meaning you could actually get a table. Overall - ship was run very well, clean, and felt uncrowded (I don't think they sold out, probably 90%). We would definitely sail on this class again! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2018
I took this particular cruise because travel agency it was too of the line. The staff was excellent as were the cabins. My biggest complaint was the food. I would rate it cafeteria quality at best. My friend who cruised with me was very ... Read More
I took this particular cruise because travel agency it was too of the line. The staff was excellent as were the cabins. My biggest complaint was the food. I would rate it cafeteria quality at best. My friend who cruised with me was very disappointed as well but didn't say anything until the cruise was over. Although they did have many stations in the dining room to choose from I went one day to the Mexican food bar and wanted some refried beans and they were like liquid. The desserts look absolutely gorgeous but they tasted like sponges. I love my food what was so very very disappointed in the quality. It also would have been nice to have coffee stations on the floors instead of having to go all the way up to the 12th floor to get a cup of coffee in the morning. The travel agency I went through to book the cruise said this was her favorite Cruise because of the food maybe I got on a different ship LOL but the food was anything but outstanding. Don't get me wrong it was edible but there wasn't anything I went back for seconds or thirds that's for sure. Also I felt on this particular cruise ship there wasn't really night clubs per se where you can dance and sit and listen to the music without being in the public areas. I thought that was kind of strange so I have been on many cruises before and by far right now my favorite is the star princess. I don't think I'll go celebrity ever again cuz I paid a lot of money for us to cruise and the ship really needed some updating. I hope this helps some just don't go on this particular cruise ship and expect outstanding food cuz you won't find it. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
The most enjoyable part of our cruise occurred while on a tour from Skagway Port. We disembarked and found Skagway Tours. Though we hesitated to take the 3+ hour tour up to the Yukon, we are extremely glad we did! We had the best guide ... Read More
The most enjoyable part of our cruise occurred while on a tour from Skagway Port. We disembarked and found Skagway Tours. Though we hesitated to take the 3+ hour tour up to the Yukon, we are extremely glad we did! We had the best guide and driver that anyone could hope for: River. This wonderful woman proved to be informative, considerate, helpful, and kind. She made this trip the highlight of our off-ship exploring. Not only did she entertain us with stories of the region but she also provided an ongoing narrative about the way the mountains, rivers, and lakes were formed and continued to exist. She pointed out animals and things to look for and then, when she would spot one, she would stop the bus and we were able to take many pictures and video of these sights. Our most memorable sight was this absolutely gorgeous black bear. He was just strolling along the roadside munching on tasty grasses and shoots. He seemed to not even notice us but continued to graze while thrilling us with his actions. He finally lumbered off into the brush but we remember saying: "Well, that just made every dollar we spent for this trip worth every penny!!" River even stopped along the road to see if a fellow motorist who appeared to be having car difficulty might need some help. She said that up in this remote region, if someone breaks down, it's common practice for another motorist to stop to see if he can help. Who knows when another vehicle will pass by and the motorist may become stranded there. We were very impressed with River's compassion and fellow feeling for others. River slowly toured us through the town of Skagway explaining how it came to be and how it managed to function that far away from everything. We thoroughly enjoyed her stories and insight. We were very privileged to have somehow chosen to take the Skagway Tours bus with River as our driver/guide. Our experience there could not have been better. We will continue to tell our friends and family about our amazing cruise topped off by this absolutely unbelievable experience with River for as long as we live. We will recommend to everyone that they must take this cruise and experience this tour to the Yukon from Skagway, if at all possible. We are certainly hoping to return on the Solstice to Skagway and perhaps explore even further, if possible, especially if we are privileged to have River as our guide. Our on-board experience far exceeded our dreams. We enjoyed the pleasant atmosphere and generous seating on the upper decks. We were able to view the scenery easily from almost any place on board. Our stateroom had a lovely balcony from which we could sit and watch the ocean anytime we wanted, privately and quietly. We appreciated the entire staff aboard the Solstice. Each staff member greeted us with a kind word and a smile no matter where we encountered him or her. The Ocean View Cafe provided excellent cuisine with a great variety of foods to satisfy all our cravings. The seating was adequate and when the weather permitted, we enjoyed the outdoors seating as well. The wait staff in Blu far exceeded our expectations. Especially Orlando, Wayan, and Budi. Not only did they provide excellent service, but they also provided abundant information about all our dining choices; doing so with smiles, laughs, and wonderful stories. The food proved to be superb! Gormet at least! Every dish we ate was scrumptious. Truly a memorable experience each time we dined. We must praise the Staff aboard the Solstice more than anything else as they are the ones who made the entire cruise so enjoyable for us. Celebrity as hired an excellent staff that is determined to be pleasant, joyful, helpful, and kind no matter what a guest may ask or require. Our Stateroom assistant, Mara, was a joy to interact with each and every day. She was sweet and kind. Always cheerful and smiling. We will always remember her. We thoroughly enjoyed our cruise and would recommend to everyone wanting the cruise- of-a-lifetime, to take this cruise with Celebrity Solstice to Alaska! No words can adequately describe the scenes and vistas your eyes will barely believe you are seeing! Go! Enjoy! It's worth every dollar spent! Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
This was our first time sailing on Celebrity, and having sailed on Carnival, Princess and Royal Caribbean ships over the last 20 years, we found this to be the best ship we’ve ever been on. We stayed at a hotel the night before the ... Read More
This was our first time sailing on Celebrity, and having sailed on Carnival, Princess and Royal Caribbean ships over the last 20 years, we found this to be the best ship we’ve ever been on. We stayed at a hotel the night before the cruise and chose to book it through the cruise line. This was worthwhile because our luggage was automatically picked up in the room the morning of the cruise. We had a free shuttle to the ship. Our luggage was brought to our stateroom. It was nice not to have to handle luggage that morning. We were fortunate to have good weather through most of the cruise, and Alaska was beautiful and majestic. • This ship is geared to a middle aged crowd. I would say 80% of those on board were in the 35 to 65 age range. There’s very little for children to do on this ship and there were virtually no kids on board, save a few toddlers and infants. • We liked the design of the ship. Everything just feels like it is convenient and it’s not too big, never seemed too crowded. The buffet on at sea days gets really busy but not as bad as other ships. Restaurants and lounges, the Solarium, theater, and shops are all easy to access. • Outstanding multinational crew. All of the staff on this ship were not just friendly, but efficient, and all seemed as though they were happy to be there and wanted to make everyone’s vacation an enjoyable experience. • The main dining room food was the best we’ve ever had on a cruise ship. I was really surprised at the selections and quality. Prime rib, rack of lamb, short ribs, seafood were excellent. “Could I please have 2 lobster tails?” – no problem sir. The shrimp cocktail was great, could we get 3 more – no problem. Can I have asparagus with my meal instead of broccoli? – no problem. This service is common on cruise ships but especially well executed on Soltice. Great freshly baked breads. And the ship’s still water was delicious, better tasting than bottled water. We had Select (anytime) Dining, and we never had to wait long to be seated even though we never called ahead. We chose a table for 2 each meal, usually close to other conversational and engaging diners. • Buffet - Last year we sailed on the RC Anthem of the Seas. Huge ship. Their buffet was basically prison mess hall quality IMO. The buffet food on Soltice was very, very good. Always seemed fresh and well prepared. Service - almost overstaffed, with crew everywhere helping guests get served and seated. Separate servers bringing drinks from the bar were also very attentive to guests. • Balcony stateroom – We liked the layout with the desk near the slider and the bed closer to the bathroom. Everything was in good order and clean, and the bed was very comfortable. Lighting was adequate, although there should have been more outlets available. • Concierge Class – I felt this was worth the extra cost. You get a preferred location on the ship and priority boarding, with a Concierge greeting us before we even reached the counter at check in, giving us his card and phone nbr to assist us if needed. We had confirmed Select Dining but were set up with late seating in error. Our first night I called the Concierge and he had it corrected. There are some additional small amenities for your cabin (no big deal). However, one really nice perk was on “welcome aboard” day Concierge Class passengers can dine in the main dining room with full table service and a regular menu. This avoids being limited to the ship’s buffet with large crowds of people. • Go Best Package - $630 per couple for the 7 day cruise. I think this was, for us, a good value. You get unlimited internet on the ship for 2 devices (I use my laptop on board). We are both drinkers and this includes the Premium drink pkg. Premium wines and alcohol run $10 to $13 per drink normally. So just 4 drinks each per day plus bottled waters made it worthwhile. You also get pre-paid gratuities and $300 ship board credit applicable for excursions, specialty dining, etc. A summer promo also gave us an additional $300 discount. • Luggage Valet Program – something new for us on a cruise. $25/person. You provide a form to C/S with your flight info 2 days prior to arrival back in port. The night before docking flight boarding passes, flight baggage tags, & shuttle transfers along with your departure priority code are delivered to your cabin. Your check in luggage must be left outside your stateroom the night before as usual, but you don’t see you bags again until your flight lands back home. We left the ship at 8am, got right on a shuttle bus to the airport, through security and straight to our departure gate. When our flight arrived back in Burbank CA our bags were quickly available in the baggage area for us. This whole process had me a bit worried, especially when our reserved flight was cancelled & we had to switch to a new flight, but all went well. A great service. Improvements: • In our opinion the specialty restaurants are not worth the extra cost. We ate at Murano the second night ($100). The service was impeccable and a beautiful room. However, the food in the dining room was so good we declined other specialty choices for the rest of the cruise. If the cost were like cruises of old, say $20 to $30/person, it would have been more inviting. • Celebrity did not send us our cruise documents, which should have come to our e-mail. I called our travel agent right before the cruise to follow up. She forwarded them to me, but by then it was too late to get Express Boarding passes on line. Turned out our embarkation process went very smoothly & quickly without it, but that should have been handled more thoroughly. • Celebrity is not alone in closing their main dining rooms for lunch on in-port days. This means there are no table service venues open other than the extra cost sushi restaurant. In Ketchikan we were off then back on the ship before lunch. It would have been nice to have a full service option. • The day we arrived on board we did not get both pcs of our luggage delivered to our stateroom until about 5pm, which was 30 min after the ship sailed. This was disconcerting. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2018
We arrived in Seattle the night before embarkation to allow stress-free checking in. It took less than an hour from arrival at the pier to on boarding. We chose to keep our carry-on luggage as recommended which we shouldn't have to. ... Read More
We arrived in Seattle the night before embarkation to allow stress-free checking in. It took less than an hour from arrival at the pier to on boarding. We chose to keep our carry-on luggage as recommended which we shouldn't have to. Our luggage arrived by 1:30 pm at the same time that stateroom was ready! 5 Stars - Cruise amenities, activities, public area, Aqua class experience, Stateroom, Cabin Steward, Food quality, Spa experience, Fitness classes Blu restaurant - very good dining experience each night. 4 Stars - Excursions - We selected all of our excursions directly from Celebrity pre-cruise which is a lot cheaper than purchasing on board. All the tours arranged smoothly. Minus one star because one of our excursion was cancelled without any offer for replacement. Oceanview Cafe - Good variety of food and dessert! Minus one start because of overcrowded and competitively seating by the window! They should break up more tables into two so that all the seats are occupied. Most of the time table for 4-6 would have been occupied by two people. We really enjoy daily dessert selection, Lavazza coffee, indian food, stir-fry bar, ice-cream station, and daily fair. Breakfast is good, you can come and leave quickly without hassle. Should have more lunch spots and "grab & go" or quick lunch for people that don't eat much and want to do something else while on cruise. Oceanview is always busy at lunch time, you will have to spend at least 1 hour for lunch. It felt a bit uncomfortable to bring plate to your room, so many people at the entrance of the restaurant. Entertainments and Lectures - Every nights and on the sea day, it is packed with several things to do. We purchased fitness class package ($55/5 classes + $50 spa credit). We took zumba, yoga, spinning, and pilates classes. The spa credit is a joke since it can only be used on sea day and cannot be combined with other sea day discount. So, you end up paying almost the same price for already reduced price for sea day spa service (e.g. massage = $150/$115 on sea day, if using $50 credit, you will pay $150-50 = $100). 3 Stars - Itinerary, we arrived at Tracy Arm Fjords very early in the morning, followed by another port of call, Juneau which you barely spend half-day at most in the capital city of Alaska. There are many things to see and we were not able to fit all into our calendar. We almost missed Sawyer's Glacier, they only stopped for less than 15 min and left quickly. We were at the restaurant and did not know that we have arrived! Ketchikan - nothing much to see at this port, would rather spend only half day and preserve more times at Tracy Arm Fjords or Juneau. Victoria - arrived late, nothing much to see as our excursion was cancelled (whale watching tour). Almost three-day at sea (Day 2, Day 6 and Day 7 as we arrived late in Victoria) which could have been improved compared to other cruiseline itinerary. The Solstice did not visit Hubbard Glaciers, which should have been included in the itinerary, unlike the Millennium. 2 Stars - Service at Blu restaurant. On one night, we have to wait for > 30 min until someone can take our order. Constantly, we have to ask to refill water on our empty glasses. They were either disappeared or busy chit-chat with other tables. Constantly, they keep asking us to give them 10/10 on post-cruise surveys. The quality of food and daily selection deserved 5 start, but minus 3 stars for the very poor service. The hostess did not do well in fitting people on the table. At one point, we have to wait for more than 15 min to seat despite several empty tables. In my opinion, the set up, service type and resource management at Blu cannot accommodate too many large group dining. We have one table of 15, several tables of 8+ people every night. They need to allocate enough waitress to allow for this type of service and not shared with other "small" tables. In-room dining. No paper menu, limited selection on smart TV. Breakfast was poor but delivered on time. No water, again? 1 Stars On board payment and up selling. We paid over $1K despite some $250 credit we received from the travel agency. No coffee, no water without buying a package. They do not allow you to refill water from oceanview cafe to your individual container. We ended up paying in-room minibar daily for water (which is also not included in basic drinking package). A 1L bottle of Evian costs $6.50. We don't need Evian, just to be fair, spring water is good enough but that is $2/500 mL bottle and you have to walk to the cafe to purchase one (plus tax + service charge). To promote healthy and prevent certain compromised infection, they shouldn't have been so difficult about water. We don't want to purchase a package because we have to walk to cafe to get bottle water daily or multiple times a day. We ended up asking our cabin steward to bring two Evian bottles daily to our room and pay for the mini-bar service. Overall, despite some "flaws", I almost gave 5 stars to our wonderful travel with Celebrity Solstice on Aqua class. We will definitely book our next cruise with Celebrity, but may upgrade to suite class for better service overall. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
This was only or second cruise and it has been many tears since the first. We found the ship to be incredible. It's amazing what can fit on a cruise ship! The common areas were awesome and we never felt crowded wherever we went. As ... Read More
This was only or second cruise and it has been many tears since the first. We found the ship to be incredible. It's amazing what can fit on a cruise ship! The common areas were awesome and we never felt crowded wherever we went. As for the staff, our room keeper, Rhonda, was a dream. She never intruded on us and somehow managed to keep our room spotless. We had several servers at Epernay that were beyond amazing. Froilan, Christina and Ranburne. They gave us amazing service. We experienced some snarkiness at the martini bar and the third floor bar. In my opinion, the martini bar servers were more interested in showing off than providing service. Other than that, the service was great. Excursions: Ketchikan-we did the nature hike. It was ok. Our guide was knowledgeable enough and we were stoked to see some bears in the water fishing for salmon. Skagway-Mendenhall canoe trip. All I can say is be prepared to work. And work hard. It's a lot of paddling (6 miles there and back). My shoulder still hurts! It was beautiful, yes and our guide Mitch was entertaining but it was not as I expected. Juneau-Eagle preserve raft float-the most enjoyable trip! Saw lots of bald eagles and it was so relaxing. Our guide was an expert on the eagles no doubt. Gorgeous. Victoria-Beautiful place! We enjoyed the lantern tour at Butchart Gardens. Absolutely stunning scenery! One thing we wished is that we had more time in each port. If you do an excursion, there is little to not time left to explore the city. That was a bummer. If you're planning on souvenirs, I thought Ketchikan was the best for that. I did feel like all of the ports were reasonably priced though. We would definitely go again! Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
Seattle to Seattle, cruised with family (2 fifty something couples, 70s grandma and 20s granddaughter, and single 50s), 4 cabins in a row, first cruise for all but two of us. We had 1066, 1068, 1070 and 1072. The only thing I would ... Read More
Seattle to Seattle, cruised with family (2 fifty something couples, 70s grandma and 20s granddaughter, and single 50s), 4 cabins in a row, first cruise for all but two of us. We had 1066, 1068, 1070 and 1072. The only thing I would change is to be one deck lower. The 10th deck on Solstice had these large diagonal support posts for the large overhead awning above the top deck, so although they opened the veranda partitions for us, we didn't really have a seamless veranda between rooms. We did a lot of communicating on the veranda, so having to climb through these posts was not great. We will pay attention to that next time. Otherwise, we were mid-ship, the rooms were nice, had plenty of storage and the bathrooms were large enough for 2 of us. First a BIG thank you to everyone who posts on these boards, I read extensively and felt prepared for my first cruise. Here were the best tips we used: 40# magnet hooks to hang hats, lanyards, fleeces, laundry bags, etc... Next time we will bring 10 per room. Brought thin hangers and put the thick wood ones from the cruise above my side of the bed since I can't reach that cubby anyway. Purchased lanyards with plastic holder prior to cruise - indispensable. I don't care if I look like a tourist - I am one, and it was handy. Used reusable plastic baggage tag holders. Only needed one pair of waterproof tennis shoes as my outdoor shoes for Alaska. Glad I listened to seasoned cruisers on this one. Chose Chilkoot Charters for the Skagway train tour. Loved having an assigned seating time for dinner (6 pm), we enjoyed getting to know our servers and sommelier, it enhanced our experience. We purchased for only $100 each the classic beverage package when booking the cruise (it was part of a promotion) and even though my husband doesn't drink alcohol, he drank sodas, seltzer, bottled water and fancy coffees, all of which were included. I drink alcohol and liked that if I wanted a high end wine or fancy martini, I only had to pay the difference of $3 or so. Also loved the Cafe al Bacio for lattes, which were included in the package. I don't think it would have been worth paying the full price of $55/day (plus service charge). This was a great cruise, we felt pampered the entire time by every single person on staff. Hubby was worried about motion sickness, so he wore the patch and no issues. I used Bonine, and no issues. Excursions, all A+++: Ketchikan: Alaska Coastal Expedition: This was the Zodiac boat tour, purchased through Celebrity. We paid $129 each. Worth every penny, great guide, saw a whale, each of us got to pilot the boat. A little rainy, but they provided excellent rain gear. Juneau: Mendenhall Glacier by Helicopter, walk on glacier, 2 hours 15 minutes: Purchased through Celebrity, we paid $379 each. I waited too long to book, had I booked in January, I would have paid $349 each. It went up to $399 on the ship. We LOVED this excursion, and we were fine with only 20-25 minutes on the Glacier. Great guides, we felt safe. Skagway: White Pass Summit Rail, 3 hours 15 minutes: Purchased through Chilkoot Charters, $119 each. Outstanding decision - smaller buses (we did bus up, train back), out guide Jennie was awesome, knowledgeable and funny. The advantage to the small bus was we got to stop in different places and shorter time getting on and off the bus, easier for my Mom with mobility issues. Plus easy to hear our guide Jennie. Sit on the right side of the train on the way down. Naturalist: Brent Nixon - we went to his Humpback Whale talk, it was informative, but he is not really my style of speaker. I am more of a "give me the facts, no nonsense" person, but I will say that most of the crowd really enjoyed his style. He is extremely knowledgable. Entertainment: The production cast was talented, although the first show's "storyline" (Amade) was a little disjointed. The Rock City show was high energy and fun. Two in our group saw the last day comedian Rich Aronovitch and really enjoyed his show. The musicians around the ship were talented, but often the music wasn't really my cup of tea. No big deal though. Fitness: get to the gym early or late, by about 8 AM or after 12 pm, it was pretty crowded. It was cool to see a whale while on the Elliptical machine! We loved it so much, all 7 of us booked a "placeholder" before leaving for our next family cruise. The ship was lovely, there was a lot of different options for food, we enjoyed the main dining room, and did one lunch at Tuscan grill. I will say the food at the Tuscan Grill did seem to be higher quality than in the main dining room. The service from everyone was top notch. The food in the MDR was, in my opinion, better than the food in the buffet. We enjoyed dressing up for the Evening Chic nights. We did Concierge class, and felt it was worth it to us. We liked having lunch in the main dining room the first day. It was a relaxing way to start. I am not really a buffet person - I like having a table that I don't have to wander around to find. It seemed like the couple of times I went to the buffet, it was crowded and hard to find seating for a group of 4 or more. Our assigned concierge was great and had a reception on the heliport leaving Skagway, which was really special. He also arranged for a wheelchair for my Mom to get off the ship within 5 minutes after Guest Relations told her it would be an hour or so since she didn't have an assigned number. Embarkation: We arrived around 10:30 AM by Uber. Normally in Seattle Uber has to drop off a pretty good distance from the ship, but since my Mom has mobility issues, our driver made sure we got dropped off up close. Someone got our bags immediately, and my Mom was put in a wheelchair and the 3 of us were whisked into the ship in minutes. The rest of our crew went through the Concierge line in minutes and we all got on the ship before 11 AM. Disembarkation: We used the Port Valet service (AMAZING!! -boarding passes given to us on the ship and saw our bags again in San Diego) and had a 12:05 flight out of Seattle. Ship docked by 6 AM and I think people were getting of the ship by 7 am, maybe earlier. We had a latte and then got off the ship and into a cab by 7:30 AM. We were to the airport, through security and at our gate by 8:30 AM. We could have made the 10:15 AM flight. I am afraid to try other cruise lines now, this was such a great experience. I can't stress enough how accommodating and wonderful every single Celebrity staff person was to us the entire cruise. Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
We had booked stateroom 6236 through AAA Miami Valley in October 2017 for $4123 for both of us. The cabin was a deluxe veranda room on the continental deck in the rear center of the ship on the right side (starboard). We opted for a $262 ... Read More
We had booked stateroom 6236 through AAA Miami Valley in October 2017 for $4123 for both of us. The cabin was a deluxe veranda room on the continental deck in the rear center of the ship on the right side (starboard). We opted for a $262 trip insurance that we didn’t use. We had to pay $500 down and the rest by June 24. We chose the prepaid gratuities (~$200 value) and the classic drink upgrade (~$200 value) packages as our free bonuses and also got a $50 shipboard credit. We could have selected the $249 Wi-Fi package instead of one of those. Excursions were optional and extra cost. Choosing to eat in one of the four specialty restaurants would also be an up charge. Choosing expensive top shelf alcohol or wine would also be n extra charge. We signed up for “Select Dining” vs “Traditional”. Select dining allows you to eat in the main restaurant when you want vs having the set seating times of 6:00 or 8:30 pm. Traditional “set time” seating is best for large parties or if you don’t want to wait during peak dinner hours. On the ship, we chose to purchase the ship WIFI service for one device for the entire cruise for $249. We were able to sign on our phones and iPads, one at a time, with reasonable network speed. After we did the Celebrity on-line check in mid-August (we signed up for a 12:30 check from the 10:30 to 2:30 window), AAA was able to print out our travel documents that included an express check-in receipt and Celebrity luggage tags with our cabin numbers printed on them. We flew out of Columbus, Ohio on Southwest Airlines taking advantage of their two bags fly free policy. Southwest requires you to check in 24 hours prior to boarding to receive a “boarding position”. This is where you will stand in line to get on the plane. There are no assigned seats. I hit the button online exactly 24 hours prior and was only able to get a position 65 back out of 175. On our return flights I got online about 18 hours prior and got 85th of 175. Kathy and I were able to sit together on all the flights although near the back of plane. August 30 in Seattle, Space Needle, Chihuly Gardens, Museum of Pop Culture We returned our rental car to the Sea-Tac airport and used Shuttle Express for a ride ($51 two people, reserved for 7am, but you can show up anytime within 24 hours) to our Homewood Suites (208 Western Ave. West) hotel near the Space Needle. We were lucky to be able to check in to our room at 9:00am instead or placing our bags in storage. We walked the one-mile to the Space Needle, Chihuly Gardens and Pop Culture Museum. We purchased City Pass ticket bundles for entry into all three places plus the Seattle Aquarium and a Argosy harbor cruise ($89 per person total). You have nine days to use the five admissions so we planned to visit the remaining two when we returned from the cruise. The Space Needle ride to the top required us to trade our tickets for a “time to return” pass. Since it was not very crowded, our time to return was immediate. Great views from the top as well as a glass floor section that slowly rotates around. The Chihuly Gardens were very impressive and well worth visiting if you are into glass sculptures. We had an excellent although expensive lunch at their Café. The Pop Culture museum was right up our alley with sections on fantasy, science fiction, horror and rock and roll. Lots of props and costumes from movies and television. The temporary exhibit was about Marvel comics and movies. August 31 Set sail from Seattle We used the Homewood Suites shuttle ($7 each person) to get to Pier 91 and our cruise ship. We took the 11:30 shuttle and got there around 11:45 with a 12:30 check in reservation (it didn’t seem to matter what time we had signed up for). The shuttle dropped us at the luggage area where the bags were collected in short order. We walked to an entry queue where our express check in and passport was checked, then another queue for airport type security screening, then a really long queue where we were issued our Seapass ID / credit cards. We got on the ship about 1:00. Several workers stopped us on our way into the ship offering the drink package upgrades but they were not pushy about it. Since we already knew the Classic package offered all sodas. frozen drinks, Captain Morgan rum and Jameson Irish Whiskey, we weren’t interested in the upgrade to premium. We did end up paying an extra $2 for a couple of “premium” fancy drinks during the cruise. The premium drink upgrade cost was $12 a day per person and not worth it for us. We were able to get food immediately at the Spa Café on deck 12 (healthy alternatives, tuna salad, salmon salad etc.). The Oceanview Café (buffet) on deck 14 was also open. Being so close to the spa on the pool deck early was a good thing as the spa people were circulating in the area. Kathy was able to book a massage at her choice of time for the next day (all day at sea). The pool bar was open and also the pool / hot tubs if we had thought to keep our suits with us. There was a mandatory muster drill at 3:30, you report to the station number printed on your seapass card and watch a video on life jackets and what to do in an emergency. Our meeting place was in the Grand Epernay restaurant on deck 5. There were many signs directing traffic to the various stations. The briefing didn’t start until everyone had checked in. The select dining option worked well for us. We walked into the Grand Epernay around 8:00pm the first night, gave our names and cabin numbers and were given a table for four within a few minutes. On our first night we were lucky enough to be sat at table 444 with Ramburn and Nadiia as our wait staff. They were a joy to talk with and really made our meals enjoyable. On the following nights we were asked if we wanted the same wait staff and we always requested Ramburn. One night we had to wait about 30 minutes to be seated (prime time around 7:00) but otherwise it was a short wait. September 1 at sea Clear to partly cloudy all day. Caught the sunrise and sunset at sea. Excellent massage for Kathy at the Canyon Ranch Spa ($209) September 2 in Ketchikan Alaska, Rainforest Canopy and Zip Line excursion ($179 each), shopping for a Totem Pole Our day in the rainiest place in Alaska started out in drizzle and overcast skies. It was a short 5-minute walk into Ketchikan from the ship and we had two hours to shop before meeting our excursion bus on the pier. We had some trouble finding our bus as the excursion ticket said “meet at 9:15 on the pier”. The pier was a mile long with three ships and a long line of buses. After walking up and down the pier, we finally found the person to direct us to the correct bus at the kiosk area nearest our ship. We rode the excursion bus through drizzly Ketchikan on the 30-minute trip to the Rainforest Zipline / Wildlife Sanctuary / Totem Park. The driver narrated on the way, making special mention about how Ketchikan was the rainiest city in Alaska with rainfall measured in feet vs inches. After we arrived at the zipline facility and totem park, we were loaded into a track vehicle that took us up the steep muddy road to the start point. At the start building there were real restrooms. We were outfitted with the zipline harnesses, hard hats and gloves and divided into two groups. My wife and I were in Paul and Emma’s group of eight riders. We got some zipline training and proceeded to the first short (35-ft) test ride. Paul went first on each ride and basically caught us. Emma snapped each of us onto the cable and sent us off then came across last acting like a wild woman. Riding the zipline requires you to step off the platform while steadying yourself holding onto a two-handed handle and letting the harness support you. You use one gloved hand to press down on the overhead cable to brake when Paul started yelling “brake” as you approach the end of the ride. There were seven zip lines of various lengths and three suspension bridges to cross. The light misty rain stopped while were zipping and Paul said we were lucky because the wet cables are faster. You can get up to 50 mph on the longest line if you ball up and keep your weight directly under the attach point. I’m 59, don’t like heights and get a little vertigo looking straight down but really enjoyed the rides. I zipped a camera into my jacket and took a few pictures and video from the platforms as we went. We saw a black bear foraging in a stream 100-ft below us. Standing on the 150-ft platforms and having the tree sway slightly was unnerving as was walking across the three narrow (15-in total width) suspension bridges. I’m not sure why Celebrity listed the excursion as “strenuous”. There weren’t any flights of stairs or ladders to climb up or down. Walking the upward portion of the sagging suspension bridges was the only taxing thing, roughly the equivalent of climbing two flights of stairs. Maybe the excitement and adrenalin makes it strenuous. After the last zipline, we repelled down to the ground, turned in our gear and were awarded souvenir medals. We had about 30 minutes until the return bus arrived in which we shopped in the gift shop, purchased our zipline photos (3 at $15 each) and explored the totem displays and animal pens. Rain started falling as we loaded the bus and we drove back in heavy rain. It was our good fortune that the rain stopped by the time we got back to Ketchikan and the rest of the day was sunny and in the 60’s. I’d give the excursion a 5-star rating, the views from the tree tops were spectacular and the rides were exhilarating. Paul and Emma obviously knew / loved their jobs, were great fun and took very good care of us. Later that day back on the ship, Kathy made a glass flower during the Hot Glass Show on the lawn deck 15. The two glass blowers assist volunteers to make flowers, ornaments and other blown items. Your choices start around $60 and are delivered to your cabin after they cool down for two days. You must sign up for a spot and they only work glass while the ship is moving, not while you are in ports. We had clear skies and smooth sea that evening and saw a breath taking sunset and some humpback whales from the Solstice deck on 15. September 3 – Tracy Arm Fjord Catamaran to Dawes Glacier Excursion ($209 each) and Juneau We were up early on a lovely clear morning to have a full breakfast delivered to our room at 6:00am. Each day you can fill out your choices and hang the form on your door the night before. We ate on the balcony as we approached Tracy Arm Fjord. The ship television was broadcasting commentary by the ship naturalist as we entered. Unfortunately, we missed some of the scenery going in as we were assembled and waiting in the Grand Epernay for the catamaran from 7:15 to around 7:45. Once the couple of hundred of us were on board the smaller ship, the Solstice left us behind and proceeded to Juneau. We were able to navigate through the icebergs to within ¼ mile of the Dawes Glacier. The majority of the glacier was a brilliant blue in the sunlight. We saw three calving portions of the glacier hit the water as well as some otters and porpoise in the calm waters. After 45 minutes or so, the catamaran left the glacier area and sailed for two hours back to the Solstice docked in Juneau. During that two hours, we got up close looks at a bus sized iceberg, a couple of glacier in the distance and several waterfalls. There were free hot chocolate, coffee and donut holes available throughout the trip. You could also purchase hamburgers, reindeer dogs ($6) and drinks. I’d also give this excursion a 5-star rating. We don’t know how far the Captain was able to take the Solstice into Tracy Arm Fjord but seeing the glacier up close was worth the extra money. We toured Juneau for a couple of hours but returned to ship for dinner with Ramburn. We didn’t like Juneau as much as Ketchikan, Juneau was much busier and less picturesque. September 4 – Skagway Golden Glass Experience ($199 each) and White Pass Summit Train ($139 each) It was another clear sky day although chilly in the morning when we toured Skagway. Meeting up with D in a well-marked area on the pier for the glass blowing excursion was easy. D was very nice and a pleasure to speak with. We took a short bus ride to the Jewell Glass and Gardens where we met Spenser, the glass instructor. Kathy and I blew a glass ornament, choosing our own colors and design from a large selection. You have the no cost option to add real gold flakes to your globe. The ornament and shipping home were both included with the excursion along with coffee, tea or soft drinks and a plate of pastries. We had time to tour the gift shop and the gardens before returning to the pier. If you like glass blowing, this was a five star excursion due to D and Spenser, but except for the gold flakes, it wasn’t much different than the glass blowing offered on the Solstice. We had been on the fence about signing up for any of the White Pass Summit excursions offered by Celebrity. Train rides up and back were offered along with train one way and bus the other way. At the last minute, we decided to ride the 12:40 train only to the summit and bought tickets around 12:20. This trip takes close to three hours round trip and only stops at the summit long enough for the engine to switch ends then returns, there is no exiting the train. People sitting on the left side of trains swap sides with the right side people on the way down. There are toilets on each train car. They sell a snack box as well as souvenir hats / videos. Several trains run on the same line and some continue to the next stop for people to exit and take a road vehicle. The ride was interesting with some great views but a little too long. I’d give this version of the excursion 4 stars. Frontier Excursions, an independent company, offers an excursion that is train one way and a SUV ride the other with stops for photos and wildlife viewing that is a little less expensive. We would have taken that versions but it wasn’t offered the day we were in Skagway. After the train ride, we only had about 90 minutes to get on a shuttle ($2 each) into town, shop and return. September 5 – at sea The return day at sea was not in the inside passage, so there wasn’t any land close to the ship. We used the day to rest up, watching a couple of the free recent release movies in our cabin and eating all three meals in the Grand Empery restaurant. September 6 at sea and Victoria BC Canada, Butchart Gardens Chinese Lantern Excursion ($89 each) It was another sunny day when we arrived in Victoria about 5:30pm. We walked though the customs building to a well-marked area with all the different excursion buses. No one checked our passports. It was a 45-minute bus ride to the Butchart Gardens, the bus driver gave us narrative on the way (and the way back). We were given our garden admission ticket and a Chinese lantern as we left the bus. We had about 2 and ½ hours to tour the gardens. We chose to eat a sandwich when we arrived. In hindsight we should have eaten on the ship and left more daylight time to tour the gardens. The Butchart Garden were spectacular. We had wondered if things would be in bloom in late summer, but we were not disappointed. A 5-star excursion for us as flower fans. The Chinese lantern part was a complete waste of time, not giving enough light to help see and turned out to be just something we had to carry around with us. During the last hour, things were getting pretty dark. We had to skip the Japanese garden section because it was too dark to appreciate. We made sure we had 45 minutes for the gift shop. The driver dropped us back at the pier and again we passed through the customs building without showing anyone our passports. We had filled out custom forms on the ship two days earlier so maybe filing those was enough. September 7 - Disembark in Seattle, Seattle Aquarium, Harbor Cruise We chose to self-embark in Seattle. This option required us to exit the ship before 7:15am and carry our own luggage with us. Our other choice would have us meet up with our luggage at the time and place designated by our cabin (around 8:20 at the theatre deck 5). We got off the ship without much waiting. I had scheduled a Shuttle Express ride ($18 each) to our Hampton Inn hotel (18850 28TH Ave South) in the SEATAC airport area (again 7:00 reservation but show up within 24 hours). We had a 15 minute wait at the very end the pier for our Shuttle Express after we checked in. At the Hampton Inn, we were lucky enough to be able to check into our room at 09:00 instead of leaving our bags in storage. We used the hotel shuttle ($5 tip each) to get to the Angle Lake light rail station. For $6 each we purchased a round trip ride to the West Lake downtown stop near the Seattle Aquarium. The ride took about 30 minutes with 12 stops along the way. It was a short three block walk to the aquarium. We used our City pass tickets for admission. The Aquarium was worth touring especially since we arrived just in time to see the 11:40 Sea Otter feeding. Afterward we used our last city pass ticket to reserve passage on the 12:40 Argosy harbor cruise leaving from the next pier. While waiting, we had lunch at The Fisherman near the giant Ferris wheel that’s on the pier between the aquarium pier and Argosy harbor tour pier. The harbor tour was interesting but not spectacular. We saw the city skyline, a close up view of a sea lion, a navy dry dock and the giant cranes loading 40-ft steel containers. A good dinner at Dave’s Diner within walking distance of the hotel wrapped up our day. September 8 – Fly home We used the Hampton Inn shuttle ($7 each) to get the airport. We were lucky enough to get TSA pre-check and avoided a really long security line. Overall Comments We would definitely recommend the Celebrity Solstice for the inside passage Alaska Cruise. The ship was clean, well maintained and the crew were friendly and helpful. They went to great length to encourage people to wash or sanitize their hands making us feel better about not catching something. Our cabin steward took good care of us without being any bother. Our room was smallish but comfortable with the two beds pushed together to make a queen-size bed. We were able to unpack four suitcases worth of stuff without too much trouble, storing our empty suitcases under our beds. The bathroom was a little cramped but worked well enough. The shower was good with plenty of hot water. We didn’t notice noise from our neighbors much, just some loud talking on the balcony on the first day. The balcony was great. We noticed almost all their cabins have balconies that have two chairs and a table. Our Grand Epernay wait staff of Ramburn and Nadiia was the stand out highlight of our on-ship experiences. We got to try many wonderful foods from a wide variety of choices and always looked forward to the meals. I really don’t know why people would want to pay more for the specialty restaurants. We didn’t sample much of the entertainment options nightly. We attended the port shopping show (mostly advertisement for jewelry shops) on the first day at sea and saw a pretty good comedian on the last day. The variety acts and vocalists didn’t interest us nor did the lounge acts, we spent most of our spare time catching up with our brother and his wife. Having a selection of a dozen recent movie selection on the TV was nice. There were also even more recent movie selections for a $16 charge. The casino was a good size with a good selection of slot machines and table games. I gambled a little most nights and ended up taking home some of their money. The relaxed dress code for chic (formal) night suited us well as we didn’t care to dress up. We posed for a few professional photos and ended up buying three for $20 each (digital download) Spending the day before and the day after in downtown Seattle was really worthwhile for us. It eliminated the stress of missing the cruise or our flight home. The City Pass tickets saved us about 50% on entry costs since we used all five tickets. We were able to avoid driving and parking costs in Seattle by selecting well-located hotels and using the Seattle light rail system. Read Less
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