Alaska Cruise on the Celebrity Solstice &
Post Cruise Visit to Alberta, Canada

6/16/17 to 6/28/17

Due to the length of the review, it is in 4 parts to help with the download time. The links to the other pages are at the top of each page.

Page 1 – Embarkation, Ship, Dining
Page 2 -  Entertainment; Activities; Ports of Call: Ketchikan, AK; Tracy Arm Fjord; Juneau, AK
Page 3 - Ports of Call: Skagway, AK; Victoria, Canada; Post Cruise Land Tour:  Banff, Canada
Page 4 - Post Cruise Land Tour:  Banff to Jasper; Jasper; Jasper to Calgary, Canada


We had previously been on two Alaska cruises, with the last one including a land tour to Denali, Kenai and Fairbanks; so, we didn’t think we would be going on a third one for some time.  However, we have a group of friends that are called the Martini Mates.  The original Martini Mates were formed in 2005, on the Celebrity Infinity while on a re-positioning cruise from Vancouver to San Francisco.  On that roll call, one of the discussion topics was favorite drinks.  Everyone decided to meet in the Martini Bar each evening before dinner.  We did meet there every night, hence the name.  Not everyone liked martinis; but we liked each other.   Over the years, we have added more members. 

When the group decided to do a group cruise, we couldn’t pass it up.  We enjoy everyone’s company and look forward to getting together.  Since it is a long way from south Florida to Alaska, we decided to make the trip even more enjoyable.  We would take a post cruise trip to Alberta Canada to visit Banff National Park.  It has been on our bucket list for way too long and this would be the perfect opportunity to check it off.  Two of our Martini Mate friends, Paul and Gail from England, joined us for the post cruise trip.

Our group of 16 arrived the day before the cruise.  Jim, DrKoob on Cruise Critic, who lives in the Seattle area and is a wonderful cook, wanted to cook dinner for everyone the night before the cruise.  He also arranged all the transfers needed for the multiple trips before and after the cruise.  In addition to him personally picking up some of us from the airport and taking us to the hotel, he set up transfers with an excellent company, Seattle Express  They did a great job and we will use them again if ever in the area.  Here is a photo of our group that was taken on one of the Evening Chic nights.

Jim and his wife Kathleen prepared a delicious meal.  A good time was had by all.  We were grateful for all the hard work he put into the food preparation and planning to take care of his friends.



We wanted to get to the port early enough to be able to board before lunch, so a 9:30 AM pickup with Seattle Express made sense.  There had been recent issues with access to the ships at Seattle’s pier 91 since the Alaska season had started, so we wanted to allow plenty of time.  They picked all 16 of us and our luggage up from the hotel in a good sized mini bus.   The driver told us that the port traffic situation had been resolved, so we should be in good shape.  He was right.  We could see the Solstice waiting for us at the dock next to the Explorer of the Seas. We were in the parking lot by 10:20 AM.

The security line moved smoothly and we completed check in quickly.  We did have to wait a short while to enter the ship; but overall, it was a very easy embarkation.   We were in the buffet by 11:30 AM.  All was well and we were ready to cruise.

Before we set sail, we had the mandatory muster drill.  Muster drills are normally not worth mentioning in a review; but this one was, since it was so bad.  With this being our 47th cruise, we have been to a lot of muster drills.  When we came into the dining room, we moved far enough in where we could see the screen, where they show the safety film.  Previously, people have always been told to move to where they could see the screen.  Lots of people were sitting on the other side of the wall, where the screen couldn’t be viewed.  I asked the safety officer about it.  He said they didn’t have to see the screen.  Then why have even have a presentation on the screen?

Before the safety video, they have a cartoon video about washing your hands.  It is geared to elementary schoolers.  Then, when the safety video started, it was in the form of a silly spy movie.  It had a foolish plot that I didn’t follow and an occasional mention of what to do in an emergency.  People were not paying attention to it, and if you were, I am not sure that you would understand what to do in an emergency.   I was quite surprised that Celebrity would try to make such an important issue as safety into a silly movie.  Plus, it must have cost quite a bit to produce.  I guess that someone from Celebrity had always had the dream of becoming a movie producer/director.  I wish that they would just take the safety issue seriously, so that the guests would too.  This was particularly important since over 1,500 of the passengers were first time cruisers.

After the muster drill, we all rushed up to the Sunset Bar on deck 15 to meet for sailaway.  It is always fun to be on the outer decks during sailaway and arrival to a port.  It was very windy up there, which made it cold for me, since I hadn’t worn a jacket for sailaway.  I was able to use one of the blankets on the deck chairs to help me survive, while I took photos of our group as well as some individual photos.




Our first time on the Solstice was during the 2008 naming ceremony, when the new class of ship was first launched.  It was so exciting to be one of the first people to experience the innovation in a new ship class.  A couple of months later, we had a Martini Mate reunion cruise on her; but with a much smaller group than this time.  Since then, we have sailed on this class of ship eight more times.  It is always a pleasure and I am sure we will continue to enjoy them.

The Solstice was still in great shape and being well maintained.  We did notice that many of the wooden veranda railings looked particularly bad.  After realizing that the maintenance department was in the process of refinishing them, I assumed that they had been partially sanded before replacement.  On the deck below ours, we could see where every other railing was taken off to be refinished and how much they needed refinishing.  Our veranda chair and table needed some TLC also.


With this being the eleventh review of a Solstice Class ship, I almost didn’t put in photos of the ship’s public areas. I decided to do it, since it had been nine years since we had first reviewed the Solstice; and there had been some changes. 

The various public rooms are shown below by category.

Dining Rooms -

Grand Épernay Restaurant – This is the main dining room in the ship where we ate most our dinners on this cruise; as well as one lunch when we were at sea.  It is a lovely room. 

The two story wine cellar is a focal point at the back of the restaurant.


The upper level on deck 4, which is the anytime dining section.  It has a nice view looking down to the main restaurant.


Oceanview Café and Bar – We prefer the island style buffet venues over the traditional long serving table type, since it allows more people to serve themselves at one time.  With there being plenty of space between the islands, it allows traffic to move pretty well; which is important when hundreds of people are running between islands with plates in their hands.



The seating areas run along the outside windows of the restaurant.  At lunch time, it was crowded; but there were always empty seats somewhere. 


One area that usually had seating available, is at the front of the restaurant on the starboard side.  It has high top seating.

An area where people were regularly lined up to be served was the ice cream counter.  With only one person serving most of the time, people did get frustrated with the wait.  More people were lined up also because the soft serve ice cream machine that was previously out by the Mast Grill area was no longer there; so, the only place to get free ice cream during the day was the Oceanview Café.

The area just outside the buffet offers a large covered area; as well as an open area to dine with a view to the ocean.  It seemed to be popular on this cruise with the mild weather.  It shares the space with the Oceanview Bar.


Mast Grill - We can always count on the Mast Grill, located on deck 14, to have very good hamburgers and hot dogs.  It is the go to place when we have had enough fancy food and just want something we know will be good.  This is also a place where they used to have soft serve ice cream; but it is no more, unfortunately.  As a result, the ice cream section at the buffet is even more crowded. 


Something that I hadn't seen before was the Alaskan King Crab Feast.  That was offered only at the Mast Grill.  It seemed rather expensive for mainly only one small king crab leg and not much else that should have had an extra charge. 


The $25 meal was highly advertised in the dining venus with displays in cages; but I only saw one person trying it during the cruise.  One thing that I really appreciated that was different in this Alaskan cruise, was that they had several Alaskan beers.  Alaskan Amber was my favorite and most of our friends choice also.


Blu – This is the dining room reserved for guests in the Aqua Class cabins.  It is a lovely smaller dining room with anytime dining.  The rose wall decorations are just stunning.  We really enjoyed dining in Blu on a previous cruise.



Silk Harvest Restaurant - Unlike most of the S Class ships, Soltice has the Silk Harvest Asian specialty restaurant, rather than Qsine.    The cost to eat there is $35 per person.



Murano – The French style restaurant is the most elegantly appointed of the specialty restaurants.  The charge to eat there is $50 per person.  We did eat there once on this cruise.  The room in the bottom photo is the wine room.  It is a very nice area for a group of up to ten guests.



Tuscan Grille –This is the ship’s steak house, located at the back of the ship on deck 5 with the other specialty restaurants. Between the Silk Harvest and Tuscan Grille restaurants is a an area with some artwork.


The dining charge at Tuscan Grill is $45 per person.  I have heard that the quality has decreased to where it isn’t worth eating there anymore.  Since we haven’t tried it lately, I can’t give a firsthand opinion; but I am not anxious to find out.



Sushi on Five – This specialty restaurant was recently added to replace the Bistro on Five.  It is an ala carte restaurant for sushi, that seemed to be rather expensive.  Rather than a low flat price for the meal, like Bistro on Five was, diners paid for each piece of sushi they ordered; which could be expensive.  I never saw many people in the restaurant.  A down side of this restaurant was that they stopped serving sushi in the buffet every day.  We were invited there on a previous cruise for a Captain’s lunch and the food was outstanding.  I would have tried it again if we had time on this cruise.  They offered many items other than sushi, that were quite good.  They had a very nice selection of Asian beverages available for purchase.



Café al Bacio – This premium coffee bar is always a very popular venue.  The various coffees and teas are very good; but there is a charge.  For those of us that have reached Elite status or above, most of the coffees are not charged for.  It is an excellent benefit for those that enjoy cruising with Celebrity.  They also have a nice selection of free fresh pastries and cookies available to have with your coffee. Carol visited there every day.  Her caramel machiotto had a nice message on it.


Gellateria – This is an extra charge ice cream venue.  Across from Café al Bacio.  With our Elite Plus status with Celebrity, we receive a free scoop of ice cream each cruise.  Since I don’t find the ice cream to be any better than what is served at the buffet.  I didn’t even bother getting my free scoop this cruise, but Carol did and says she thoroughly enjoyed it.


AquaSpa Café – This small restaurant is located next to the Solarium.  It has healthier food items for breakfast and lunch.  The spa food is pretty tasty; but they only have a limited menu.  I didn’t have a chance to eat there this cruise.



Lounges (Link to Menus)-

Passport Bar – This bar is located in the main lobby area on deck 3 across from Guest Relations.  It is particularly popular in the evening when musical groups entertain guests in the atrium right next to the bar.

Cellar Masters – This is a nice sized bar dedicated to wine.   Since we aren’t big wine drinkers, we have never been in a Cellar Masters other than to pass through, take photos or attend a meeting there.  It does seem to be the most underused venue on the ship, which is a shame, since it is a nice room.  Apparently, I also underused it this cruise, other than for our Cruise Critic Connections party that we attended. I somehow didn't take photos of the room other than those shown later in the activities section of the review.

Quasar – The night club has been reduced in size to make room for a larger Future Cruise Office.  It made a lot of sense to do this, since Quasar was too large for the number of people using it late at night.  Plus, the smaller size makes the club seem fuller and more intimate; which is better for guests’ interaction.


Martini Bar – This is always the most popular bar in the evening.  The martinis are very good and the bartenders entertaining.  It is fascinating to watch them throwing the bottles and glasses around as they are making the martinis.  Plus, they have great personalities.  The bar surface is chilled to create frost on it.  It probably doesn’t do much to keep the drinks cold; but it is fun to play with.  With the new drink package rules, we could pay the difference in the Classic package maximum and the drink’s price.  Much better than having to pay for the whole thing.  As a result, I paid the extra $3 for a better martini here than at the other bars.  It is a change that I really appreciated.


Crush – This bar is in a corner of the Martini Bar.  It is also an ice bar; but is focused on serving top shelf vodkas.  The area is also an overflow for when the main Martini Bar is full.  They used to have a separate Crush menu with many specialty vodkas; but it is no more.  I don’t know if they even offer the other vodkas now.

World Class Bar - This used to be called the Molecular Bar.  Under either name, they served expensive exotic drinks.  The drinks are priced from $12 and up.  With the new drink package rules, we could pay the difference in the Classic package maximum and the drink’s price.  Unfortunately, they have reduced the number of drinks they offer.  The ones they currently have are not that special.  I assume that this venue will have a change in the offering in the future.


Casino Bar - Since we don’t gamble, we don’t normally hang out at this bar. I didn't take a photo of this bar.

Ensemble Lounge – This lounge is one of the largest on the ship.  It is normally very dark and cozy.  At night, they have musicians playing there.


Sky Observation Lounge - This is the largest lounge on the ship.  It is used for late night entertainment and dancing; as well as other large functions.  Each evening between 5:00 - 7:00, there was the Elite cocktail hour before dinner.  This is for passengers who have reached the Elite level or higher in the loyalty club.  It is very nice, since the drinks are free.  They don’t use the top shelf liquors; but the drinks are quite good.  They also pass around appetizers.  It is a great place to meet other experienced cruisers.  Since we were in a large group and had a drink package, we didn’t always attend the Elite cocktail hour this cruise.  The large wrap around window at the front of the room was very popular for our cruise into the fjords to see a glacier.  It provided an excellent view in a warm environment.




Oceanview Bar - This is the bar that is located at the back of the Oceanview Café.

Mast Bar - This bar is on deck 14, right above the pool deck.  It is there to service people who are out on the sun decks.

Sunset Bar – This bar is at the back of the ship on the top deck.  It is a wonderful location and right next to the lawn area.  It is the standard meeting place for sailaway get togethers for people who have met on the roll call boards before the cruise.  It is always nice to meet folks who you have been communicating with, but have never met in person.

The extension coming out from deck 15 is part of the Sunset Bar.  It provides additional covered area for the buffet. From the railing on the back, you can get a nice view of the aft balcony cabins and the wake.

Pool Bar - This is always a popular bar when the sun is shining and warm, since it is right next to the pool area.


Entertainment -

Solstice Theater –  It is a very large and comfortable theater.  There are entrances on both sides of the theater.  Just inside the doors are staircases to the balcony on deck 5.  Like most of the newer ships, the sound system and lighting were first class.   The only minor negative is that there are several seats in the back part of the theater that have obstructed views due to the support beams. 




The seats had plenty of leg room.

I really liked the colorful ceiling pattern.  During performances lights would shine different patterned lights on it to accent it.


Celebrity Central – This is a smaller venue that can be used for some of the guest speakers, movies and some of the smaller entertainment shows.  It allowed for a more personalized presentation.  It is a great room for these activities; but it only holds 200 people; which can be a problem for some events.


Entertainment Court - This is the area right outside the theater and Celebrity Central.  Its main purpose is to be a lobby area and for people to pass through when going to the theater; and where they can set up tables to sell merchandise.


Hot Glass Show - This is a facility on the top deck adjoining the lawn area where a glass show is performed.  With so many sea days, they had a lot of shows.  I have seen quite a few of these shows, so I wasn’t interested in seeing the whole show again; but I did go up one cold windy day to watch.  Fortunately for me, they had plenty of blankets for the guests watching the show.  As always, the staff is very talented and professional.  They enjoy teaching people about their craft; and they make some beautiful objects.  Some of the pieces they had made were on the floor in front of work area.


It is fascinating to watch them take blobs of molten glass out of the 2000+ degree ovens and turn them into such beautiful pieces.




Shops -
Shops on the Boulevard - There are many shops on deck 4.  Too many to put photos of each one.  They are right across from the casino.  This area always has some interesting statues along it.


The problem with this area is that when the ship has sales going on, this area can become quite congested.  As a result, we frequently went through the casino to avoid the crowds.

Galleria Boutiques – There are various shops on deck 5.  Here is a view looking down the hallway.



Future Cruise Vacations – This was one change that I was really pleased about.  The previous office was much too small for the activity level.  I booked a future cruise there a few days after we boarded.  It turned out to be one of the few times that there wasn’t a line waiting to see a representative. It is a very popular place.


Other -
Swimming Pools – The two main pools were used the last few days when the cooler temperatures we had experienced increased to warm.  The area is nicely designed and during this cruise, there always seemed to be deck chairs available.  The padded chairs and large beach towels that were available made it a most enjoyable place to chill out.  The two hot tubs were also quite popular.



Solstice Deck – This is a very comfortable area at the front of the ship on Deck 16.  It can only be accessed by stairs from deck 14; there is no access to the stairs from deck 15.


Grand Foyer – This area in the center of the ship on deck 3 was used for many activities.  It is an attractive area, since the large atrium extends up to the top of the ship.  This allows people to look down on the various activities taking place on deck 3.  This is needed, since the main activities take place between the grand staircase and the back of the elevators. This arrangement doesn’t allow for a lot of people to sit or stand around to see what is going on. 




A standard feature on all of the Solstice Class of ships is the live tree suspended between the elevator banks.


Guest Relations – This customer service desk is located on one end of the Grand Foyer area.  The few times I needed their assistance, they were friendly and helpful.  The daily news flyer was put out at 10:00 AM.  They have versions for different countries and in different languages. 

Shore Excursions - This area for learning about and booking shore excursions is at the other end of the Grand Foyer. 

Casino - The casino itself appeared, to me, to be well equipped for most gamblers.  Since we don’t use the casino, I usually really appreciate that we didn’t have to walk through it to get from one end of deck 4 to the other.  However, on this cruise, it was easier to walk through the casino to get to the theater, because there were so many tables set up for sales near the shops.  The design of this class of ship has a walkway between the casino on the starboard side and shops on the port side.  This means that only people that want to use the casino need to go into it. 



Celebrity iLounge – This is on deck 6, where the staff did computer, iPad and other technology classes.  They also provided assistance with those that were having problems connecting to the internet.   This ship now has the Xcelerate internet service, which is supposedly much faster than the previous system.  It does appear to be a little faster.  It would probably be a lot faster if so many people had not received the free internet perk.  This seems to be offsetting part of the benefit of Xcelerate. 


Team Earth – This is mainly a nice reading room. The area is supposed to be about environmental awareness.  It is located on deck 7 next to the center elevators.



Card Room – Located on deck 9, this room was well used on this cruise.  There were many card and game players and there was rarely an empty table.


The Library – The library is located on decks 10 and 11; but since there did not appear to be a way to get up to the books on deck 11, it was merely a room with a high ceiling.


Solarium – The Solarium is a lovely and very comfortable area for relaxing, swimming and just hanging out in a hot tub.  Since we live in South Florida, laying around a swimming pool isn’t that special for us when cruising.  With the pool being covered, it is very popular during bad or cold weather.  It has a lot of comfortable lounge chairs.




Canyon Ranch Spa Club – The spa area is always a beautifully decorated area.  It is designed for comfort and relaxation.  It is located at the front of the ship on decks 11 & 12.



Fitness Center – The ship has a very large well-equipped gym.  On longer cruises, I normally like to go there to keep up my normal workout activities.  However, on this cruise, I only used the facility to pass through to the outside viewing area.



Just in front of the gym is a large deck area that is great for viewing from the front of the ship.  Most people don't even realize that it is there.


Promenade Deck – The promenade is less desirable on this class ship than some other lines, who have promenade decks that go completely around the ship.  Those type promenade decks make for a great walking track.  Also with this class, the lifeboats obstruct the view of the ocean, meaning there aren’t many good areas for the lounge chairs on the deck.  The offset to this is that there are more cabins that don’t have the lifeboats obstructing their view.


Art Gallery - The area that is now used as the art gallery is much better since it is out of the way from the main traffic areas.  It took over the area formerly used as the display cases for the printed photos, that are no longer used.  The art gallery is on deck 5 in front of the theater balcony.

Photo Gallery - Now that Celebrity is using digital photos rather than prints, the area is much smaller.  It is also easier to use.  The idea is that when you have your photo taken, you give the photographer the your cabin card, so that it is attached to your cabin.  This is supposed to allow you to look at all the photos you are in on your in cabin TV.  Unfortunately, that didn't work on our cruise.  I was able to go to the photo gallery to see which photos I was in.  It does work much better in my opinion and should be much more profitable for Celebrity, since they don't have to print out thousands of photos that might never be purchased. 

We were very disappointed when we couldn't find some of our group photos that were taken.  There were sixteen of us in the photos.  They looked everywhere trying to find them.  By chance a person in a cabin next to one of our group, said that they had their photos taken just before ours.  That should have made it much easier to find. The gallery person looked for it and then realized the problem.  He said that they don't offer photos for more than 12 people in digital format.  How could they have not realized this when we were looking for them earlier.  They were told that there were 16 people in the photos.  There was a group of 35 people in front of us for a group photo.  A person in that group had paid over $300 for the digital photo package; which allowed them to have every photo taken of them.  When they couldn't find their group photo, they were told that it wasn't in the package; and that they would have to purchase individual prints for $20 each.  They had to pay over $300 more to provide copies for the people in the group photo.  That is truly unbelieveable!  

Outer Deck Area – There are many areas to sun on the outer decks.  The below are on deck 15.


These are some of the deck areas on deck 14, the pool deck.


With the cooler weather on this cruise, the stage area next to the pools wasn't used; at least when I was outside.  It is very populare during Caribbean cruises.

Sky Conference Center – There are two conference rooms on the port side at the front of deck 14.  They are used for various private functions.  One is larger than the other.  On this cruise, the wall was collapsed and the room combined.  At least it was when I was there.


Jogging Track – This is an area designated by a colored path on the sunning area of deck 15.   The track is an eighth of a mile long.

Patio on the Lawn –  These are the side sections in front of the main lawn area.  They have seating areas and are a great place to relax on a warm day.


Lawn Club – This has always been a unique feature of the Celebrity Solstice class of ships.  Much of the area on the lawn has been taken up by cabanas that can be rented.  On the recent dry dock, a screen was added to show movies and other things.  Since I only went up to the lawn for sailaway and to watch part of a hot glass show on a very cold windy day, I didn’t see how else it was used on this cruise.  They also have cabanas to rent.



Basketball Court - Located on the front of the ship on deck 15 is the basketball/soccer court.  To me the location couldn’t be worse, since there is no protection from the winds there.  There is also a nice lounge/sunning area in front of it.




We booked cabin 8230, which is on the hump in the middle of the ship. Its location is perfect in that it is close to the midship elevators.  This is important on the Solstice Class ships, since there is no aft elevator.  Cabins near the back of the ship require much more walking to get to different areas of the ship.  Cabin 8230 also has a balcony that is 3 times larger than the standard balcony.  Since we have had these cabins on several of the Solstice Class ships in the past, we knew we would be very happy with it again.

The cabin is nicely arranged and relatively roomy for a non-suite cruise ship cabin.  We had plenty of storage space and the luggage fit nicely under the beds.   The only minor inconvenience was that this cabin had the bed near the closet, rather than by the veranda, like we prefer.  Since Carol has her TravelScoot, I had to pick it up and carry it over the bed to get it out of the way when she wasn’t using it.  Fortunately, it only weighs 35 pounds.



The storage space above the beds is nice to have.  In addition to storing things we didn't use much, we also used it to store the large wooden hangers from the closet.  Carol brings wire hangers that don't take up as much closet space, so that more can be stuffed into them.

The desk has two US plugs and one European two post plug.  We bring a European plug adapter to use for one of our US plugs.  It helps out a lot with all the electronics we bring.  We also bring a US multi-plug adapter in case we need it.

With the cabin veranda being about 3 times the size of a standard veranda, it was a real pleasure on this cruise, since the weather was so nice and we could spend more time out there. 


With us being on the hump, that extends out from the main body of the ship, the views from the veranda are much better.  Looking down is mostly unobstructed, unlike most of the verandas.


The bathroom is adequately sized and there is plenty of storage space.


Our Stateroom Attendant was German from the Philippines.  He pronounced his name as Herman.  He did a good job and was most pleasant and helpful when we saw him.  Since we didn’t spend much time in the cabin and it was a short cruise, for us, we had less interaction with him than we normally have with our cabin attendants.

Dining (Link to Menus)

I have included copies of the menus for the main dining room along with photos of some of the food items at the Menus link just above and at the top of each page of the review.

Main Dining Room – With a group of 16 people, we knew that we couldn’t get all of us at one table, nor would we want to, since it would be too large of a table to be able to talk to other people.  Jim had his TA request two tables of 8 to be close together.  When we boarded, Jim went to check to make sure that our reservations had been done correctly.  Unfortunately, they had not.  They were able to give us a table for 6 and a table for 10 next to each other on the anytime dining floor.  With the table for 10 being a long table, it was difficult at best for those at the ends of the table to be able to communicate with the other ends.  Since there were no assigned seats, we all got to eat at the different tables and with different people each night.  It worked out; but two tables of 8 would have been much better.

On the bright side, we had a fabulous waiter, Savio from India, and his assistant, Jose, also from India.  They provided the great service we are used to with Celebrity, making our evening meals most enjoyable.  For some reason, I never took their photos.  Probably because we only had dinner there five nights. One night we ate at Murano; and the last night of the cruise, when I always take waiter photos, we were on an evening tour in Victoria.
The meals for the most part were quite good, although the portion size on many of the items continues to get smaller and the meats get thinner slices.  Not that we needed more to eat; but a thicker steak just tastes better.  With this being our 22nd cruise with Celebrity since 1998, we have noticed gradual reductions in quality and service levels; but we still enjoy it.

Celebrity changed their formal nights to what they call Evening Chic; which allows guests who don’t want to wear formal attire to wear just nice casual clothes.  This is the trend on most cruise lines.  I personally prefer not to have to bring my tux, since formal clothes add a lot of weight to our luggage.  With the airline baggage weight restrictions, it can be challenging.  During the Evening Chic nights, some people were in formal attire, while men wore suits, jackets or just nice shirts and pants.  On the second Evening Chic night a group came in wearing the cabin robes over their casual clothes.  I guess they thought they were being cute; but it was quite inappropriate.  We were most surprised that they were even let into the dining room like that.

Buffet – We can always count on finding something to eat at the buffet.  They have a wonderful selection of Indian and Asian foods, as well as Mexican, British and Italian, if you get bored with the American food.  We ate there every day for breakfast and all but one lunch, when we ate in the main dining room.  The only issue is the crowds and finding seating at popular times.  Fortunately, with the good weather, people could take their food outside to eat, which took some of the load off of the interior seating.

Murano – Our group was able to get two tables of 8 one night.  The food, as always was very good.  We were lucky to be at the table that received the normal excellent service.  The other table, for some reason, had very slow service.  Our friend, Paul, had ordered Dover sole at the other table.  They made it table side as they are supposed to and then put it aside.  By the time the other meals were ready to be served (they serve all the meals at once), Paul’s fish was cold.  He asked them to prepare a fresh one.  Instead they took it back and microwaved it to heat it up.  When Paul told them that sole should not be reheated in a microwave, the waiter gave him a hard time.  He wouldn’t replace the order.  Rather than causing a scene, Paul waited until the next day to discuss it with the proper people who were able to resolve the issue.  It is unfortunate that the most premium restaurant on the ship, didn’t provide the premium service that is expected.

Mast Grill – It is always nice to be able to have a hamburger or hotdog rather than a full meal on occasion.  We were only able to eat there one time during the cruise.  The hamburgers seemed thicker than on previous cruises.  The next time we cruise with Celebrity, it will be on the Constellation, which has the Top Deck Burger Bar.  Since that is an extra cost venue, we will only get to have burgers from the buffet.  We hope that the Top Deck Burger Bar is not successful, so it won’t be put on all the ships.  We just can’t see paying for a hamburger when on a cruise. The service was very slow at the Mast Grill.  I don’t understand why, since it should be a fast process.  This was particularly upsetting on the last day of the cruise, when many people were wanting to get a burger before their Victoria excursions.  Since the dining room and buffet didn’t open until 6:00 PM and the tours started at 6:15 PM, there weren’t any other options.

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