Photo Review: Solstice 12 Night Great Barrier Reef Jan 2 2018

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Highland Village, Texas
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Joined Nov 2006
Originally posted by mahdnc
Looks like Cairns is a go for Solstice. She is anchored off of Yorkeys Knob with only 9 knot winds.


Great news for the folks onboard! We’ve got neighbors (here north of Dallas) who were set to be on Radiance on the 6th - they’re very disappointed and shocked that they’re trip was canceled.


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Deedee

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Originally posted by Cruise Junky
Radiance of the Seas did not survive her attempted stop in Airlie Beach. She's broken an Azipod and her April 6th cruise is cancelled. Smart move by the Solstice Captain.
That's interesting. I did find this post on the RCI board: Radiance cruise cancellation

The post says that the motor wiring on the starboard Azipod burnt out while fighting the winds/current at Airlie Beach.

Meanwhile at Cairns, Solstice is in calm seas (6 knot winds) with Cyclone Iris safely heading away from them.
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Jan 4, 2019 Reflection Roll Call Spreadsheet
Solstice FV 12/23/2019 12 nt New Zealand
Reflection FV 01/04/2019 14 nt S Carib
Solstice FV 8108 01/18 12 nt Great Barrier Reef
Infinity FV 8166 12/16 15 nt S America
Eclipse FV 8107 01/16 5 nt W Carib
Eclipse FV 8108 01/15 14 nt S Carib
Eclipse FV 8107 12/13 14 nt S Carib
Summit FV 8166 8/10 Bermuda
Millennium FV 7202 6/07 12 nt Med
Horizon HS 1016 3/05 10 nt W Carib
Infinity FV 8166 2/02 S Carib
Galaxy SS 1060 6/00 Alaska IP
Mercury FO 1152 5/98 W Carib
Century Cat 3 8231 4/96 E Carib
Jubilee E88 7/91 Mexican Riviera Total Solar Eclipse!
ORD (03-?), SDF (97-03), PHL (83-96), LAX (82-83)
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Originally posted by Wansbrough
While we are Solstice/Airlie Beach photo sharing here is one from 2017





Very nice photo. You don't get that view of a ship every day.

Calm seas today Day 2 at Cairns for Solstice. Here's a photo of Solstice as we tendered back to her on Day 2 Cairns (Jan 8):

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Jan 4, 2019 Reflection Roll Call Spreadsheet
Solstice FV 12/23/2019 12 nt New Zealand
Reflection FV 01/04/2019 14 nt S Carib
Solstice FV 8108 01/18 12 nt Great Barrier Reef
Infinity FV 8166 12/16 15 nt S America
Eclipse FV 8107 01/16 5 nt W Carib
Eclipse FV 8108 01/15 14 nt S Carib
Eclipse FV 8107 12/13 14 nt S Carib
Summit FV 8166 8/10 Bermuda
Millennium FV 7202 6/07 12 nt Med
Horizon HS 1016 3/05 10 nt W Carib
Infinity FV 8166 2/02 S Carib
Galaxy SS 1060 6/00 Alaska IP
Mercury FO 1152 5/98 W Carib
Century Cat 3 8231 4/96 E Carib
Jubilee E88 7/91 Mexican Riviera Total Solar Eclipse!
Baltimore, Maryland
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Joined May 2018
Thank you (and Suzanne) for this wonderful review! We’re booked on the Oct 29 sailing and this provided us with very valuable information. We’re researching excursions now.

I really wish we had the extra two stops. Feels too much like putting all our eggs in one basket (especially in light of the March cruise). But this cruise is actually an “extra” for us in the middle of a bucket list land trip to Australia and NZ. Some we’re trying to treat all the excursions as bonuses we can take or leave and not be too disappointed.

Btw, the extreme version of the Australia Zoo is my sister’s #1 bucket list item. So we’ll be sure to post a review.

Thanks again for all the info. I expect I’ll be referring back to it many times before we go.

Terri
ORD (03-?), SDF (97-03), PHL (83-96), LAX (82-83)
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Hi, Terri. On behalf of all the people that have contributed to this review, you are welcome. Despite the "missing" two days at the GBR, you are gonna love your cruise. Overall, it sounds like you a wonderful trip planned. Have fun with it.

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Jan 4, 2019 Reflection Roll Call Spreadsheet
Solstice FV 12/23/2019 12 nt New Zealand
Reflection FV 01/04/2019 14 nt S Carib
Solstice FV 8108 01/18 12 nt Great Barrier Reef
Infinity FV 8166 12/16 15 nt S America
Eclipse FV 8107 01/16 5 nt W Carib
Eclipse FV 8108 01/15 14 nt S Carib
Eclipse FV 8107 12/13 14 nt S Carib
Summit FV 8166 8/10 Bermuda
Millennium FV 7202 6/07 12 nt Med
Horizon HS 1016 3/05 10 nt W Carib
Infinity FV 8166 2/02 S Carib
Galaxy SS 1060 6/00 Alaska IP
Mercury FO 1152 5/98 W Carib
Century Cat 3 8231 4/96 E Carib
Jubilee E88 7/91 Mexican Riviera Total Solar Eclipse!
Missouri
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Great review, and a huge thanks for posting it - we are about to pull the trigger and book this same cruise for January 2020 and your review has been most helpful. Thanks!
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ORD (03-?), SDF (97-03), PHL (83-96), LAX (82-83)
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Thank you, cricketgirl. You will be glad that you booked that Jan 2020 cruise. If you have planning questions in the future, just post it on this thread or you can email me at mahdnc at yahoo dot com.

David
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Jan 4, 2019 Reflection Roll Call Spreadsheet
Solstice FV 12/23/2019 12 nt New Zealand
Reflection FV 01/04/2019 14 nt S Carib
Solstice FV 8108 01/18 12 nt Great Barrier Reef
Infinity FV 8166 12/16 15 nt S America
Eclipse FV 8107 01/16 5 nt W Carib
Eclipse FV 8108 01/15 14 nt S Carib
Eclipse FV 8107 12/13 14 nt S Carib
Summit FV 8166 8/10 Bermuda
Millennium FV 7202 6/07 12 nt Med
Horizon HS 1016 3/05 10 nt W Carib
Infinity FV 8166 2/02 S Carib
Galaxy SS 1060 6/00 Alaska IP
Mercury FO 1152 5/98 W Carib
Century Cat 3 8231 4/96 E Carib
Jubilee E88 7/91 Mexican Riviera Total Solar Eclipse!
Chicago, via NJ, via Miami, via London, via Northern Ireland
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David, I had bookmarked this review a couple of months back and just got back to it today and read it in one page-turning sitting. I have never cruised "Down Under" but it's now a future bucket-list destination but only after I (a) retire and (b) get Buenos Aires to Valparaiso under my belt as that calls to me. Still 5 years away.


Meantime I have Cuba and Norway cruises to look forward to-shorter, more do-able cruises for a working man.


Thanks for bringing me along on your trip and for the generous use of your stellar photos to propel the narrative!


Norris
in Chicago
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Originally posted by Bimmer09
David, I had bookmarked this review a couple of months back and just got back to it today and read it in one page-turning sitting. I have never cruised "Down Under" but it's now a future bucket-list destination but only after I (a) retire and (b) get Buenos Aires to Valparaiso under my belt as that calls to me. Still 5 years away.

Meantime I have Cuba and Norway cruises to look forward to-shorter, more do-able cruises for a working man.

Thanks for bringing me along on your trip and for the generous use of your stellar photos to propel the narrative!

Norris
in Chicago
Norris, thank you for your kind words. I am glad that you found the review informative and I do hope you get to do an Australia cruise some day.

I agree with your priorities and we ended up doing the South America (Valparaiso to Buenos Aires) first--the year before. We very much enjoyed that cruise (Dec 24 2016 Infinity review). It was fun, it was exciting, and it felt very exotic.

David
in Frankfort (IL)


Sydney, Australia; Embarkation day (Jan 2, 2018); taken from Solstice.
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Jan 4, 2019 Reflection Roll Call Spreadsheet
Solstice FV 12/23/2019 12 nt New Zealand
Reflection FV 01/04/2019 14 nt S Carib
Solstice FV 8108 01/18 12 nt Great Barrier Reef
Infinity FV 8166 12/16 15 nt S America
Eclipse FV 8107 01/16 5 nt W Carib
Eclipse FV 8108 01/15 14 nt S Carib
Eclipse FV 8107 12/13 14 nt S Carib
Summit FV 8166 8/10 Bermuda
Millennium FV 7202 6/07 12 nt Med
Horizon HS 1016 3/05 10 nt W Carib
Infinity FV 8166 2/02 S Carib
Galaxy SS 1060 6/00 Alaska IP
Mercury FO 1152 5/98 W Carib
Century Cat 3 8231 4/96 E Carib
Jubilee E88 7/91 Mexican Riviera Total Solar Eclipse!
27 Posts
Joined Jun 2007
Great reviews and not only super helpful but got me inspired to get in gear for my excursions and also very excited for our B2B cruise of Australia and New Zealand this Oct/Nov. I do have one question - after reviewing the different material and on line info - do you know if there is any excursion where you can do the GBR snorkeling AND a helicopter ride as well? The helicopter ride looks amazing - but you miss out on all the wonderful snorkeling. Only having two opportunities to see the GBR - I hate to give one of them up. Thanks
ORD (03-?), SDF (97-03), PHL (83-96), LAX (82-83)
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Originally posted by mollygreen
Great reviews and not only super helpful but got me inspired to get in gear for my excursions and also very excited for our B2B cruise of Australia and New Zealand this Oct/Nov. I do have one question - after reviewing the different material and on line info - do you know if there is any excursion where you can do the GBR snorkeling AND a helicopter ride as well? The helicopter ride looks amazing - but you miss out on all the wonderful snorkeling. Only having two opportunities to see the GBR - I hate to give one of them up. Thanks
Hi mollygreen. Yes, there is a way to do both--snorkel and do a short helicopter ride all in one excursion. The way to do it is to book a snorkel excursion that takes you to one of the large floating pontoons anchored out on the Great Barrier Reef. These pontoons serves as a platform to offer snorkeling, scuba diving, submersible rides, underwater observatory viewing, and helicopter rides. The scuba and helicopter rides cost extra and are not included in the price of the excursion. The helicopter rides are short enough that there is plenty of time leftover to do snorkeling. The helicopter rides are sold on board the boat that takes you from the cruise ship to the pontoon.

Celebrity offers excursions that involve a pontoon (and hence you can buy a helicopter ride) at Airlie Beach (IE05 Great Barrier Reef Snorkeling). We took that excursion and saw the helicopters taking off from the floating heli-pads located a small distance away from the pontoon (see photo). That excursion is run by Cruisewhitsundays and I imagine they will be handling this shore excursion again in October.

At Cairns, Celebrity offers a snorkel tour that uses a pontoon--CN01 Great Barrier Reef (see page 25 in this linked document). We did not take this tour as we took CN30 (Exploring the Great Barrier Reef) which did not involve a pontoon. Our tour (CN30) was run by Reef Magic Cruises. I am fairly certain that Reef Magic Cruises also ran CN01 using their large Marine World pontoon. Here is a description of Marine World and if you look under "Optional Activities and Services", you will see helicopter rides being offered.

My helicopter ride was done during our Port Douglas day. Celebrity did not offer a snorkeling tour at this port so we booked independently with Quicksilver. However your sailing does not visit Port Douglas.

If this is the answer you were looking for, it might be a good idea to verify things by calling the shore excursion company directly. Except for the shore excursion desk aboard Solstice, I would not expect Celebrity to know anything about the helicopter options as part of the snorkeling excursion since it is not even mentioned in the excursion description.

Here is a photo of the two floating helipads that we saw during our Celebrity snorkeling excursion at Airlie Beach. The photo was taken from the Heart Pontoon run by Cruisewhitsundays. The pontoon is located at Hardy Reef.
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Jan 4, 2019 Reflection Roll Call Spreadsheet
Solstice FV 12/23/2019 12 nt New Zealand
Reflection FV 01/04/2019 14 nt S Carib
Solstice FV 8108 01/18 12 nt Great Barrier Reef
Infinity FV 8166 12/16 15 nt S America
Eclipse FV 8107 01/16 5 nt W Carib
Eclipse FV 8108 01/15 14 nt S Carib
Eclipse FV 8107 12/13 14 nt S Carib
Summit FV 8166 8/10 Bermuda
Millennium FV 7202 6/07 12 nt Med
Horizon HS 1016 3/05 10 nt W Carib
Infinity FV 8166 2/02 S Carib
Galaxy SS 1060 6/00 Alaska IP
Mercury FO 1152 5/98 W Carib
Century Cat 3 8231 4/96 E Carib
Jubilee E88 7/91 Mexican Riviera Total Solar Eclipse!
27 Posts
Joined Jun 2007
Originally posted by mahdnc
Hi mollygreen. Yes, there is a way to do both--snorkel and do a short helicopter ride all in one excursion. The way to do it is to book a snorkel excursion that takes you to one of the large floating pontoons anchored out on the Great Barrier Reef. These pontoons serves as a platform to offer snorkeling, scuba diving, submersible rides, underwater observatory viewing, and helicopter rides. The scuba and helicopter rides cost extra and are not included in the price of the excursion. The helicopter rides are short enough that there is plenty of time leftover to do snorkeling. The helicopter rides are sold on board the boat that takes you from the cruise ship to the pontoon.

Celebrity offers excursions that involve a pontoon (and hence you can buy a helicopter ride) at Airlie Beach (IE05 Great Barrier Reef Snorkeling). We took that excursion and saw the helicopters taking off from the floating heli-pads located a small distance away from the pontoon (see photo). That excursion is run by Cruisewhitsundays and I imagine they will be handling this shore excursion again in October.

At Cairns, Celebrity offers a snorkel tour that uses a pontoon--CN01 Great Barrier Reef (see page 25 in this linked document). We did not take this tour as we took CN30 (Exploring the Great Barrier Reef) which did not involve a pontoon. Our tour (CN30) was run by Reef Magic Cruises. I am fairly certain that Reef Magic Cruises also ran CN01 using their large Marine World pontoon. Here is a description of Marine World and if you look under "Optional Activities and Services", you will see helicopter rides being offered.

My helicopter ride was done during our Port Douglas day. Celebrity did not offer a snorkeling tour at this port so we booked independently with Quicksilver. However your sailing does not visit Port Douglas.

If this is the answer you were looking for, it might be a good idea to verify things by calling the shore excursion company directly. Except for the shore excursion desk aboard Solstice, I would not expect Celebrity to know anything about the helicopter options as part of the snorkeling excursion since it is not even mentioned in the excursion description.

Here is a photo of the two floating helipads that we saw during our Celebrity snorkeling excursion at Airlie Beach. The photo was taken from the Heart Pontoon run by Cruisewhitsundays. The pontoon is located at Hardy Reef.
Awesome and thanks so much for your detailed reply. I had thought I picked up on the helicopter part of Airlie Beach excursion - but couldn't find anything on celebrity. But clear now. Again - thanks so much for your detailed review of your cruise earlier this year. You saved me so much research and gave me a great head start on the planning!
ORD (03-?), SDF (97-03), PHL (83-96), LAX (82-83)
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mollygreen, you're welcome. I want to re-emphasize that you should contact CruiseWhitsundays (Airlie Beach port day) and Reef Magic (Carins port day) to confirm that they are doing the pontoon shore excursions for Celebrity and verify their helicopter ride services (cost, how to book etc). They is little room for planning error and yes, snorkeling the reef and seeing the GBR from the air are two different, yet impressive, experiences. Good luck.

Here are a few more pictures:


Sat Jan 6 (Airlie Beach port day). Here is a shuttle boat ferrying passengers back to the pontoon. They just finished their helicopter ride (helicopter pad is in the background). Tour operator is CruiseWhitsundays. Location is Heart Pontoon at Hardy Reef.




Tue Jan 9 (Port Douglas port day). The above photo was taken just before I boarded this helicopter for my tour. A ten minute ride for $150 AUD. I booked this snorkel tour independently thru Quicksilver. Their pontoon is located at Agincourt Reef. This helicopter had room for the pilot and six passengers. Seating is assigned to you when you board as they try to properly balance the helicopter. I was lucky enough to get the front seat next to the pilot which gives you the best view of the reef and the instrument panel (if you like that sort of thing). There are 4 seats in the back that each have their own window--2 of the window seats are forward facing, while the other two are rear facing. The sixth passenger's seat is a middle seat. We are waiting on the platform as an employee is manually refilling the helicopter's fuel tank using cans of fuel. Our tour was not narrated although headphones were provided to all passengers for communication.




Tue Jan 9 (Port Douglas port day). This photo was taken from the helicopter minutes before it left the floating helipad. The boat is taking passengers from the previous helicopter tour back to the pontoon (background). As a safety measure the helicopter doesn't take off until the boat is well clear of the helipad. In the background of the photo, the pontoon is plainly visible. Immediately to its right is the Quicksilver boat that transported us from Port Douglas to the pontoon. To the right of the boat are two submersible boats that give passengers a view of the coral reef through its glass bottom. The submersible ride does not cost extra. Tour operator is Quicksilver.
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Jan 4, 2019 Reflection Roll Call Spreadsheet
Solstice FV 12/23/2019 12 nt New Zealand
Reflection FV 01/04/2019 14 nt S Carib
Solstice FV 8108 01/18 12 nt Great Barrier Reef
Infinity FV 8166 12/16 15 nt S America
Eclipse FV 8107 01/16 5 nt W Carib
Eclipse FV 8108 01/15 14 nt S Carib
Eclipse FV 8107 12/13 14 nt S Carib
Summit FV 8166 8/10 Bermuda
Millennium FV 7202 6/07 12 nt Med
Horizon HS 1016 3/05 10 nt W Carib
Infinity FV 8166 2/02 S Carib
Galaxy SS 1060 6/00 Alaska IP
Mercury FO 1152 5/98 W Carib
Century Cat 3 8231 4/96 E Carib
Jubilee E88 7/91 Mexican Riviera Total Solar Eclipse!
ORD (03-?), SDF (97-03), PHL (83-96), LAX (82-83)
4,624 Posts
Joined May 2000
Originally posted by mollygreen
Awesome and thanks so much for your detailed reply. I had thought I picked up on the helicopter part of Airlie Beach excursion - but couldn't find anything on celebrity. But clear now. Again - thanks so much for your detailed review of your cruise earlier this year. You saved me so much research and gave me a great head start on the planning!
One other thing to add: I noticed that at Port Douglas all the helicopter flights were full on our snorkel/scuba excursion. In other words the tour operator was able to sell all of the seats. So be sure to book it as soon as you can--whether you buy it on the boat ride to the pontoon or at the pontoon itself.


Tue Jan 9 2018, Agincourt Reef
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Jan 4, 2019 Reflection Roll Call Spreadsheet
Solstice FV 12/23/2019 12 nt New Zealand
Reflection FV 01/04/2019 14 nt S Carib
Solstice FV 8108 01/18 12 nt Great Barrier Reef
Infinity FV 8166 12/16 15 nt S America
Eclipse FV 8107 01/16 5 nt W Carib
Eclipse FV 8108 01/15 14 nt S Carib
Eclipse FV 8107 12/13 14 nt S Carib
Summit FV 8166 8/10 Bermuda
Millennium FV 7202 6/07 12 nt Med
Horizon HS 1016 3/05 10 nt W Carib
Infinity FV 8166 2/02 S Carib
Galaxy SS 1060 6/00 Alaska IP
Mercury FO 1152 5/98 W Carib
Century Cat 3 8231 4/96 E Carib
Jubilee E88 7/91 Mexican Riviera Total Solar Eclipse!
NSW
221 Posts
Joined Nov 2007
David
Your review and photos are absolutely fabulous. Would you mind if I used some of your photos for an information session I am giving on some of these ports - I have not seen any as good elsewhere!!
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Baycruising


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ORD (03-?), SDF (97-03), PHL (83-96), LAX (82-83)
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Originally posted by baycruising
David
Your review and photos are absolutely fabulous. Would you mind if I used some of your photos for an information session I am giving on some of these ports - I have not seen any as good elsewhere!!


baycruising, you may use any of my photos for your information session. Note that some of the photos were posted directly by other people. Thanks for your compliment.

David


Sent from my iPhone X using Tapatalk
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Jan 4, 2019 Reflection Roll Call Spreadsheet
Solstice FV 12/23/2019 12 nt New Zealand
Reflection FV 01/04/2019 14 nt S Carib
Solstice FV 8108 01/18 12 nt Great Barrier Reef
Infinity FV 8166 12/16 15 nt S America
Eclipse FV 8107 01/16 5 nt W Carib
Eclipse FV 8108 01/15 14 nt S Carib
Eclipse FV 8107 12/13 14 nt S Carib
Summit FV 8166 8/10 Bermuda
Millennium FV 7202 6/07 12 nt Med
Horizon HS 1016 3/05 10 nt W Carib
Infinity FV 8166 2/02 S Carib
Galaxy SS 1060 6/00 Alaska IP
Mercury FO 1152 5/98 W Carib
Century Cat 3 8231 4/96 E Carib
Jubilee E88 7/91 Mexican Riviera Total Solar Eclipse!