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Nancy Wallis

Age: 58

Occupation:hospitality business owner

Number of Cruises: 15

Cruise Line: Celebrity

Ship: Celebrity Solstice

Sailing Date: 2010-11-7

Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean

All of our previous cruises have been on RCCL, so we decided to try Celebrity since it is supposed to be a "step-up". We did a "back-to-back" Easter/Western Caribbean. First week was fine. Only complaint was food in dining room was so-so. "Table for 2" really was only 6 inches away from tables on either side so wait staff had to literally turn sideways to get between tables. Being so close to other tables of 4 caused awkwardness...you felt had to talk to people so close but no one really seemed to know if you were part of their table or not...I expect this in NYC restaurants where you will never again see the people at the next table...but when you are seeing them every night...just awkward. Kind of like "make believe tables for 2".

Our first week the room stewards were right on top of their game but the second week was another story. The main room steward left and a new one came on the ship...we never did meet him, nor did we ever find out his name. Normally, at the beginning of the cruise, you receive all the paperwork (schedule for first day, etc.). we received absolutely nothing at the beginning of the second cruise...not even our dining room table number...we had to go to Guest Relations to find out. Robes & sheets were never changed. Either the assistant was over-worked or just figured he could skip us since we supposedly knew what was going on.

We had booked our excursions months earlier online but the tickets for the second week didn't get delivered on the second week. We went down to the Excursions Desk and they "reprinted" them for us, giving us instructions to return them if the others turned up...turned up? Well, the night before our excursion in St. Thomas, we got a phone call at 11:35 PM from guests 2 cabins away who had received our tickets. These are PREPAID with our name and cabin number on them. Getting a phone call at 11:35 pm with someone asking for you by name, startled us....first thing you think of is a family emergency at home...

The instructions on the excursions ticket had us meeting on the dock at 8:15 am. We were the 4th & 5th people off the ship. No one in sight holding up a sign for our excursion...so we asked one of the Celebrity staff standing around...she pointed to a man talking to someone on a walkie-talkie who then walked past us. There was a group of us looking around at each other asking if anyone knew where we were to meet for the Ferry to St. John. The man who had walked past us made announcements facing the other direction, so none of us could hear him....he wasn't holding up any of the usual excursion signs. We went over to him and another woman who was standing in front of him said, 'Could you please repeat what you just said so we can all hear it?" His answer was, "I don't bother doing that because no one listens anyway." What???!!! So everyone in the crowd starting holding up their tickets for him to direct them where to go (maybe this makes him feel important). When i held mine up he said, 'I am not going to take you." What does that mean?? I had another woman in our group try again and he finally just pointed to the farthest end of the pier. When we got to the end of the pier, we waited on line to board the ferry. Some people were given boarding passes by the man who wouldn't give us directions. so here we were standing on a line that we weren't even sure was the right line. When we got on, they took our excursion ticket. So we all board the ferry and proceeded to sit in the hot sun until 9:20...why did we have to be on the pier at 8:15?

When we got to St. John we again had to wait sitting on the ferry until they called each group to disembark. When we got off we had to ask which "truck" to get on...the answer was the red truck...there were 3 red trucks and they weren't all going to the same place. We again sat and waited because it seemed some people had gotten on the wrong red truck. Our guide then explained to us that he would stop at various points and "to pay attention because he spoke very quickly"...yes, he actually told us that he spoke quickly so we would have to listen closely! He told us that the ferry was going to leave at 12:15, so we have to be back by then. He then started to drive down a road that WE could all see was blocked off...so he backed up several times explaining, " Down the blocked road were the bathrooms we were going to stop at, but now you will have to wait for the next bathroom stop." Say what ??

We stopped 3 times for photos, one of which was a bathroom stop- 10 minutes to use the bathroom and walk down to see the beach. Most of the group didn't get to see anything but the bathroom. To say that this was a hurried, quick excursion is being polite. We were dropped back by the ferry at 11:20...so let's see- we spent $58 each to spend 1 hour and 20 min ride in a truck, listening to someone who we didn't understand (who would speak to someone on his cell phone at every stop) and didn't get to see much of anything. We spent a total of 2 hours (of our 4 hour excursion) waiting. Do not waste your money on any of the ferry trips to St. John!

We are Elite Captain's Club Members which sounds like you are going to be treated special...well, you are in as much as they can treat about 500 Elite Members special. I know when we first started cruising on RCCL, there were many more perks for the repeat cruisers. Now the perks are things like "Priority Embarkation"...(where available)...I guess it wasn't available because we were herded on en mass. There are laundry and dry cleaning discounts but when you are on a 7 night cruise and you can't use the offer 3 days prior to arrival...most of the coupons they give you are useless- Except for the free internet time...the internet on the ship is ridiculously slow-it takes over 2 minutes to log-on and at $0.65 per minute...you can rack up high usage rather quickly.

We usually book our future cruises while on the ship so we can get the on board credit. This time, the cruise we wanted to book didn't have prices showing on the computer, so the staff member told us she would do some research and contact us. After not hearing from her for 3 days, we went back to her office...of course there was a huge waiting list for appointments with her. although she had directed us to not wait on line and just walk in, I felt uncomfortable pushing my way in front. She was still unable to make us any reservations, so we did a generic future booking so we will get the credit on whatever cruise we choose.

To be honest...I don't know if I want to book on Celebrity or go back to RCCL...you get treated like cattle on both. The exceptional service was in Murano and Tuscan Grille...food was excellent and service was impeccable...but of course you can rack up hefty bills if you frequent them several times. I do feel the lack of concern by the room steward is because of the guaranteed tips...they know they are going to get a tip regardless so their is no incentive to give superior service.

Breakfast & lunch buffet were excellent. The normal dining was okay...one prime rib had some odd sauce on it that was being used to mask the flavor of the meat...maybe it wasn't so fresh? I couldn't eat it. The dinner rolls were always interesting and fresh. Food at Murano & Tuscan Grille were excellent.

First week, iI had to ask them to clean the bathroom because there were plastic containers & sequins on the floor from previous guests and no garbage liner in bathroom. Second week left a lot to be desired.

Shows on board were excellent. Only complaint is that the chairs in theater are the most uncomfortable seats...seems that so many big people have been sitting in them that they are tilted down and you slide out of them...it killed my back every night. All the seating in the dining rooms (except the buffet) were much too long in the seat, so unless you were 6'8", you had to lean forward so your feet would touch the floor. This was also the case in the casual chairs that are scattered about the decks. I could never pull the dining chair close enough to the table so I could lean back & relax.

Don't do the Ferry to St. John

Not so sure we wll rebook on Celebrity for our next cruises. I noticed they called after the first cruise survey but didn't call to speak to us about the second cruise which I had complaints about...maybe they don't REALLY want to know.

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