Saturday, October 22, 2016

Australian Cruise: Final Two Days On-Board– Day 13 and 14

Written: Friday, 21st October

Day 13 –Thursday


Somebody must have spiked my iced-water last night! I didn’t wake-up until 7.45! - so much for the Gym at 7 then!!!
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If we were to get a prime position on Deck this morning, it was a good job we’d ordered breakfast in our room, because by the time we got to the Solstice Deck (where the best combo of sun and shade is) most of chairs, beds and sofas had gone. Luckily, we found a spot and quickly set up ‘base-camp’. We’d only been snoozing for about 45 minutes when we felt a spot of rain…
Storm cloud

...then the spot turned into ‘proper’ rain (to remind us of home)
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…and then we had a full-scale monsoon!
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Everybody and everything got soaked, and while most people headed for cover, we hung on for the next 15 minutes and waited for it to pass. Then, in typical monsoon-type fashion, it was over, and the Sun returned. We wrung out the towels, reversed the cushions, and we were soon soaking-up the rays again.

And then it started raining again!
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…then it stopped (for good this time) and within 30 minutes, it was all over, and everything steam-dried. Now it was hard to tell that it had rained at all!

The heat returned, and by noon, I’d had enough of the heat, leaving Ann to top-up her tan. Later in the afternoon, we took a short nap and then got ready for the last of the ‘elegant chic’ nights. As I’ve mentioned before, most guests ‘get’ the dress code, but even after all these days at sea, there are still a few who seemed to think that tonight’s more formal arrangement simply meant rotating their baseball hat by 180°!
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Another excellent meal in the Blu Restaurant tonight helped somewhat by our wine-waiter who over-poured my glass by quite some amount – and then had to top-up Ann’s to make them equal!
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Last day on board tomorrow!

Day 14 - Friday

A super-lazy day planned - and executed!
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Ann had the foresight to start the packing last night and I’d say we’re 95% sorted, so we’ve got a lot of time on our hands today.

It’s therefore our  last chance to sample the delights of the Solstice. We started off in the Ship’s area called The Solarium – a covered area, but with a glass roof because (unusually for this trip) the day started off quite overcast (we’re jut 300 miles SE of Singapore). Then in turned to light rain!
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The Solarium

In between the showers, I took the opportunity to get as many photographs of the Ship facilities as I could. No doubt, I’ll bore you readers to death with them at the next opportunity.
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Another Day in Paradise!

We had lunch in the healthy restaurant- salads all round! (some mistake surely!) whilst outside, the weather brightened up, so we then headed out on deck until around 4ish where we enjoyed the perfect combination of sun and breeze for the final time on this Cruise.

Then it was back to the Cabin Stateroom for a shower, before our last evening meal in the Blu Restaurant. Last task of the evening was to finish the packing (as all cases have to be outside our room by 11pm tonight).

Just one day in Singapore tomorrow, and we’re thinking of heading out to Jurong Bird Park so I’ll probably post one more Blog before we head for Changi Airport and home.

Bye-bye Celebrity Solstice! It’s been a blast!!
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Fancy Cruising?

So, as first-time Cruisers with the Celebrity brand, but overall serial-cruisers, what did we think? We hope these comments will be helpful to those of you thinking about a holiday on the seas..

Well, over the period we were aboard, we grew to love the Ship (a change from our mixed views in the first couple of days). They certainly got an awful lot right on the Solstice and the whole experience felt very luxurious. 

Staff
The Staff are clearly trained to an exceptionally high standard – and it shows. As an example, an ongoing issue with our balcony was handled with the upmost professionalism and concluded with an outcome that suited everyone. The Waiting staff are at the top of their game and every other member of ship’s crew we met was happy/smiley and always passed the time of the day – from the Officer’s to the guy polishing the banisters.
five star

Ship’s Design and Layout
The Ship’s design and layout, initially, felt overwhelming with the minimal signage making things even more challenging – we think there must still be some guests, who, even after this many days at sea, still can’t find The Persian Garden. However, the mix of designed-in sun and shady parts on-deck, a separate burger-bar, an extensive Library and of course, the Glass Blowing Studio are all pretty unique in our cruising experience.I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when they first proposed the Glass-Blowing Studio as a permanent feature. “It’s 80-90° degrees on the deck so let’s add a 2000° oven for our guests to sit in front of” – bizarrely, based on the number of people at each event, it was a mega-success. 
five star

Eateries
The eateries are big enough to feel relaxed in; and my affectionate term for the Café – ‘The Troughery’ – now somehow feels inappropriate as most times, it felt very civilised, and the quality of the food was well above average. Overall,the food quality and the food service definitely got better (and that coincided with a crew-switch a day-or-two before).
four star

Entertainment
The entertainment offered, for us, was typical of most Cruise lines – occasionally good, but mostly cheesey and stuck in a 70s/80s time-warp.To us, with a few exceptions, Cruise ships seem to be the place where entertainers go to die – and it always seems such a slow death!
two star

The Gym
The Gym was amazing. I’m sure that many towns back in the UK would be delighted to have such a range of equipment.
four star

Living Quarters
Our Cabin Stateroom overall was fine. Plenty of room, super-comfy bed, widescreen TV, ample toiletries and a shower cubicle with doors rather than one of those stick-to-skin curtains. In fact, the only sticking point was a humungous window cleaning structure (1 of only 4 on the Ship) that ruined the view and the overhang from the deck above, cut out any sunshine – but at least that was resolved by the Assistant Guests Relations Manager, Deborah in the shape of a very generous discount off a future Cruise.
four star

Dress Code
We love the idea of dressing up occasionally – especially if I haven’t got to go to the trouble of going ultra-formal with a penguin suit. But look!, it’s very simple. Either have rules about the evening dress-code AND ENFORCE IT – or else abandon those rules and let everyone do their own thing. Having taken the time to pack a load of appropriate clothing that took up valuable sink space in our cases, it really irritates me that on the few ‘Elegant Chic’ nights there were individuals wandering about in flip-flops and baseball caps!
one star