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Solstice reviews: have you noticed this or am I mistaken?


ChilliJim
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My wife and I are sailing to Alaska on Celebrity Solstice next month.  Ever since we booked last summer, I've been reading Solstice reviews on Cruise Critic that seem to fall into one of two categories:  basically negative critiques written by people who sailed in the South Pacific that point out everything from poor food and service to unclean conditions on the ship; and mainly positive reviews written by people who sailed anywhere else the Solstice goes (Hawaii, Alaska) who usually don't mention these kinds of issues.

 

I'm not making a judgement about anyone, I'm just wondering.  Do Australians and New Zealanders have higher standards for their cruise experiences than people from other countries?  Does the crew have a massive turnover when the Solstice re-positions every 6 months?  It's to the point that I don't pay any attention to a review if I can determine the author sailed out of Australia, because I don't think it will relate to our experience in Alaska.

 

Does anyone else have an insight on this?  If I'm imagining things, I'll be glad to admit it.

 

Happy sailing!

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We sailed the Solstice two years ago to New Zealand and then the Sidney to HNL leg. Just got off the Solstice doing HNL to Vancouver BC. So you have some context, we have over 40 cruises on various lines, most with Celebrity.

On both cruises we found the ship, crew, food and overall experience very good.

There will always be isolated cases where some has a bad experience and has to write about it. I think you will enjoy the Solstice and your cruise.

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The Solstice is a really nice ship.  We have been on this ship several times and really enjoyed  it. Staff tried really hard to please.   On our  cruise in Alaska, there was a turnover in staff the day we left Seattle.  It was helpful being an experienced cruiser as I was able to give some suggestions to some staff.  For instance, our room attendant in Aqua was having his orientation after we left Seattle.  Poor guy.  He worked really hard and was placed in an awkward situation.  

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As a New Zealander who is CC Elite we have sailed on the Solstice 4 times  and on many other Celebriity vessels we have noticed a noticeable difference in food quality , room service menus and liquor pricing from when we first started cruising in 2009. 

 

We just completed a 19 night Sydney to Hawaii cruise in April and we were dissapointed particularly in the MDR where the servings were smaller , less variety of vegetables and the Salads were very average with limited selection . We understand given how many sea days we had that there may be issues but surely with planning it shouldnt of been an issue . They ran out of so many items it was embarrasing for the servers to say " Sorry not available " 

 

The room service did not include poached or fried eggs as they have in the past . 

Fortunately as Elite members the Captains Club drinks package was available in all bars from 5 to 7 and was unlimited , that made for some very fun times drinking our way through the cocktail and wine menu .

 

We have started to now cruise on Seabourn and have sailed nearly 100 nights in the last 3 years , mainly due to the better food , superior room and infinitely better all inclusive liquor package that comes with the fare . One thing we really enjoy on Seabourn is that all the Restaurants and all the bars are open to all who cruise on her regardless of what room/suite you are in . 

 

We will still continue to cruise on Celebrity but its no longer our first choice however if it does change for the better than that may change .

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We just did 3 BtoB including NZ, transpacific and Hawaii disembarking May12.  We enjoyed Solstice very much.  The South Pacific leg was great and on a par with NZ in all aspects.  Weakest leg was Hawaii more due to entertainment than anything else. 

 

Don't stress.  Enjoy Alaska. Take some woolies though....

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Australians don't have high expectations at all when it comes to cruising.  In fact just the opposite.  We have to settle for old ships for one (that stay here year round) and always get the hand me downs.  I personally couldn't fault the crew on my March cruise - and the crew work so hard keeping the drinkers happy and get less money for it than in Alaska.  I would guess and say that most of the good Alaskan reviews were before the Aust/NZ ones which indicates to me that things are going a bit downhill with time.  One thing I noticed with the reviews is that everyone mentions the ship is looking tired and due for the drydock (including me)

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4 hours ago, Mr&MrsCookie said:

Australians don't have high expectations at all when it comes to cruising.  In fact just the opposite.  We have to settle for old ships for one (that stay here year round) and always get the hand me downs.  I personally couldn't fault the crew on my March cruise - and the crew work so hard keeping the drinkers happy and get less money for it than in Alaska.  I would guess and say that most of the good Alaskan reviews were before the Aust/NZ ones which indicates to me that things are going a bit downhill with time.  One thing I noticed with the reviews is that everyone mentions the ship is looking tired and due for the drydock (including me)

 

Be careful what you wish for...  I’m willing to trade you the Edge for the Solstice in an even trade. There are many of us in the US that much prefer the S class ships.

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We have been twice in the repositioning cruise from Hawaii to Sydney.

We very much enjoyed our fellow Australian passengers - always very much fun to be with them!

 

However, we have heard several times from staff on different ranks, that their earnings in the 6 months South Pacific is significantly less.

 

First of all the number of drinkpackages seems to be significantly higher and thus the service charge for drinks, that are really paid for is much less. 

Additionally, in the past ( not sure if there have been changes in the last months) apparently the number of passengers who entirely remove the daily servicecharge  is much higher than on other cruises.

 

We have heard from multiple cases, where crew members told us that they don‘t see much sense having a contract in the 6 months in the Southpacific.

 

Edited by Yoshikitty
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2 hours ago, ipeeinthepool said:

 

Be careful what you wish for...  I’m willing to trade you the Edge for the Solstice in an even trade. There are many of us in the US that much prefer the S class ships.

Looking ahead  to 2021,  I was surprised to see that Silhouette  will  cruise to South America, other S Class elsewhere. Not that much S Class  choice from Fl ports except maybe Reflection or Equinox which is not getting the full renovation at this time.  We were looking forward to finding something on Silhouette but not a 14 day cruise to SA.  We are repeating Edge and also booked on Apex  and Summit but wanted Silhouette.  

 

We would love to try Eclipse or  a return to Solstice but they are also " away".  Wish they would rotate them more!

 

 

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1 hour ago, Yoshikitty said:

We have been twice in the repositioning cruise from Hawaii to Sydney.

We very much enjoyed our fellow Australian passengers - always very much fun to be with them!

 

However, we have heard several times from staff on different ranks, that their earnings in the 6 months South Pacific is significantly less.

 

First of all the number of drinkpackages seems to be significantly higher and thus the service charge for drinks, that are really paid for is much less. 

Additionally, in the past ( not sure if there have been changes in the last months) apparently the number of passengers who entirely remove the daily servicecharge  is much higher than on other cruises.

 

We have heard from multiple cases, where crew members told us that they don‘t see much sense having a contract in the 6 months in the Southpacific.

 

Well the bit about removing service charges in the last 6 months is BS. Service charges haven’t applied to Aussies booking from Australia for at least a year, maybe longer.

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So what does that mean?

 

is the service charge now mandatorily included in the fare,

 

- or will it be billed when you are on board,

- or is it still charged and removed ny the majority of the aussie passengers?

 

Edited by Yoshikitty
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I agree with some of the comments others have said.

Yes, we do get some crappy ships. I know of one that should be sunk, but I think some cruise lines are figuring it out that we won’t put up with this anymore.

I have heard from crew that they love the AUS/NZ cruise season because we are so easy going and can have a laugh with us. 

Gratuities are inbuilt into AUS/NZ cruise fares.

We cruised Solstice in March and had a great time. 

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To all intents and purposes included in the fare. So if you have been told that in the last six months most are removing it, that’s just wrong, because it’s not charged as a seperate item in the first place.

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46 minutes ago, GUT2407 said:

To all intents and purposes included in the fare. So if you have been told that in the last six months most are removing it, that’s just wrong, because it’s not charged as a seperate item in the first place.

 

Our last time on Solstice was in October 2018, so some dayslonger than 6 months - thus my remark.

And how is it dealt with older bookings - before the 6 months ago deadline?

 

And the question still is:

are the crew being fully compensated when DSC is not charged seperately anymore.

 

And have the fares risen accordingly?

If not, that could be an indicator, that the lack of the DSC is simply passed down on the crew compensation in large parts.

Edited by Yoshikitty
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4 minutes ago, emmas gran said:

The room service did not include poached or fried eggs as they have in the past . 

 

I don't ever remember seeing fried or poached eggs --only scrambled or omelettes

 

And I thought scrambled and omelets were fried.... I wonder how they cook them on the Solstice 

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We sailed Solstice 16 nights last year AUS and NZ cruise out of Perth in March 2018.  The ship was up to our standards in every way.  Crew was very friendly and service was excellent.  Food overall was very good but we did dine in Luminae quite a bit.  Cannot comment on the MDR food.  

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4 hours ago, Yoshikitty said:

 

Our last time on Solstice was in October 2018, so some dayslonger than 6 months - thus my remark.

And how is it dealt with older bookings - before the 6 months ago deadline?

 

And the question still is:

are the crew being fully compensated when DSC is not charged seperately anymore.

 

And have the fares risen accordingly?

If not, that could be an indicator, that the lack of the DSC is simply passed down on the crew compensation in large parts.

 

 

Basically what was happening as it was explained to us was that a large majority refused to pay the service charge.  The service charge is now included in the fares for that nation.  The company has established a compensation system based on 'tipping' following the American restaurant system of payment to servers etc.  For the employees to receive a competitive compensation, the tipping must be included.  As many have commented it is really just another way of increasing the fare and promoting a lower base price.  I have not heard that employee compensation systems have changed, just how the passengers are charged.  It's  a difference in national cultures and RCI has moved to mitigate employee impact.

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13 hours ago, ipeeinthepool said:

 

Be careful what you wish for...  I’m willing to trade you the Edge for the Solstice in an even trade. There are many of us in the US that much prefer the S class ships.

I didn't mean Solstice when I said old.  She is quite young (and 5 star)  compared to our permanent ships (the P&O fleet are in their twenties - the newest addition is the old Dawn Princess being 23 years old)

 

5 hours ago, Yoshikitty said:

So fares have gone up significantly in the last months?

The base fares for Aust/NZ went up a bit a year or more ago when the gratuity started being included. Still probably not much of a price difference to the old prices - just paying gratuity before the cruise rather than at the end.  The crew would be better off this way as they will be getting their tips from everybody and not just from those who didn't take off the auto gratuity.

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I'm from Australia.  I did Auckland to Sydney on Solstice in March.  My review is here:  https://www.cruisecritic.com.au/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=655276

 

This was my first cruise with Celebrity and on Solstice and I absolutely loved it.  I was worried about the negative reviews as well (I always worry when people complain about food because that's kind of an important part of cruising for me), but we were so pleasantly surprised on board by everything.  We really had a wonderful time.  We got home and immediately booked again on Solstice to do Sydney to Hawaii in 2021 - that's how much we enjoyed it.  It was just excellent.

 

Re tipping - I don't tip any extra.  It's included in the fare I pay.  I understand there is a culture of tipping in the US, and I appreciate that the crew work hard.  I made a point of taking down names of everyone who gave us great service and I listed them all on the compliment cards and in the survey at the end of the cruise, so I'm hopeful they received something out of that.  I had such a shocking experience with the bar staff on the ship (really one of the only negative things about the cruise for me), that I wouldn't have tipped them any extra anyway.  We did see people slipping the sommelier at Blu money but as we don't drink alcohol I didn't feel the need to.

 

Anyway, my point is that I'm from Australia and I loved it, but I know there were people complaining about the cruise I was on, so I genuinely don't know.  I guess everyone has different things that they get out of a cruise, and sometimes I might be having a great time, but it's not cutting it for someone else.  Different strokes for different folks.

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27 minutes ago, felicityd said:

I'm from Australia.  I did Auckland to Sydney on Solstice in March.  My review is here:  https://www.cruisecritic.com.au/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=655276

 

This was my first cruise with Celebrity and on Solstice and I absolutely loved it.  I was worried about the negative reviews as well (I always worry when people complain about food because that's kind of an important part of cruising for me), but we were so pleasantly surprised on board by everything.  We really had a wonderful time.  We got home and immediately booked again on Solstice to do Sydney to Hawaii in 2021 - that's how much we enjoyed it.  It was just excellent.

 

Re tipping - I don't tip any extra.  It's included in the fare I pay.  I understand there is a culture of tipping in the US, and I appreciate that the crew work hard.  I made a point of taking down names of everyone who gave us great service and I listed them all on the compliment cards and in the survey at the end of the cruise, so I'm hopeful they received something out of that.  I had such a shocking experience with the bar staff on the ship (really one of the only negative things about the cruise for me), that I wouldn't have tipped them any extra anyway.  We did see people slipping the sommelier at Blu money but as we don't drink alcohol I didn't feel the need to.

 

Anyway, my point is that I'm from Australia and I loved it, but I know there were people complaining about the cruise I was on, so I genuinely don't know.  I guess everyone has different things that they get out of a cruise, and sometimes I might be having a great time, but it's not cutting it for someone else.  Different strokes for different folks.

 

We were on that cruise too and we loved it.  Very sorry to hear about your bar experience.  We had a favourite bar and the staff were great to us (Ensemble) but we went to the bar for service because table service was always busy and so took longer.  I didn't see the Nikki Bennett main show, we are not keen on yet another person doing covers of pop or Broadway but her Helen Reddy matinee show (the story of Helen Reddy in song and commentary) was excellent.  We thought there were a lot of Kiwis and hardly any Americans (OMG if you thought that was a lot of Americans!!).  So much of what we look for in a cruise is personal.  We love sea days, we meet so many who can't abide them.  We enjoy fixed dining, so many don't etc etc.  Your review was very nice and thank you for posting.

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