Our Celebrity Solstice New Zealand cruise departed from Sydney, Australia, and took us to New Zealand where it finished.
Day 1 | Celebrity Solstice departs Sydney
We woke up early to watch the sunrise over the Opera House. We also saw the Celebrity Solstice enter Sydney Harbour and dock at The Overseas Passenger Terminal.
At 10.30, we got our luggage tags and did our bag drop. There wasn’t any queue and we were able to go straight to Check-In. After completing formalities, there was a short wait before boarding commenced. We were close to the front so it only took 5 minutes and then we were through to Customs and Immigration.
After exploring the ship, we headed up to the Sunset Bar for our first drink of the day. It was amazing sitting up on Deck 15, looking out onto the Opera House.
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At 1 pm, our cabins were available so we headed to Cabin 9155 to check it out. Our luggage was already waiting for us outside the door so we decided to unpack before having a late lunch.
All guests are required to attend the Emergency and Lifeboat Drill. Ours took place in the theater so it was comfortable and the safety video was quite entertaining. Certainly one of the better ones we’ve been to.
Back up to Sunset Bar for Sail Away. It was pretty busy this time as it is at the AFT of the ship so provides great views backing out of the harbour.
There was plenty to see as the ship made her way out to the heads.
As we had Any Time Dining, we went down for dinner around 8 pm.
Day 2 | Newcastle
The travel distance to Newcastle was 65 nautical miles and we arrived at 8 am.
This dock is a working port and guests are not permitted to walk in it. Therefore, a courtesy shuttle was provided to take us the 15-minute journey into Queen’s Wharf Tower. The guide on the bus was very informative and provided us with lots of useful information about the city.
We have friends that live close by so met with them for a drink at Six Degrees Cafe.
It was a boiling hot day (around 40 degrees) so nobody was up for sightseeing or walks so we headed to one of Newcastle’s beaches, Merewether Beach.
We watched Sail Away from our balcony and listened out for the traditional 3 gun salute.
The Celebrity Showtime was The Other Guys in the Solstice Theatre. They were a group from the UK covering songs from all the decades and were absolutely brilliant. One of our favourite performances onboard.
Day 3 | At Sea
A relaxing day at sea as we made our way down the coast of Australia towards Hobart.
The highlight of the day for us was the Heartbeat of Operation: Galley Tour. It was an insight into how much thought, preparation, and hard work goes into providing food for the 2,850 guests plus crew. Execute Chef Edward looks after a staff of 250 Chefs and Cleaners who work 24/7 and serve up to 16,000 dishes per day. Here are just a few of the consumption figures of an average 7-day cruise:
14,542 pounds of beef
12,652 pounds of fish
1,600 pounds of lobster
32,652 pounds of fresh fruit
35,000 liters of beer
12,450 bottles of wine
Day 4 | Hobart, Tasmania
The ship was docked by 8 am at Macquarie Wharf Number 2 Terminal which is a few minutes’ walk into the centre of Hobart. There’s a taxi rank and a meeting point for tour operators and shuttles outside the terminal building.
You get a really good perspective of the ship when you walk alongside it.
The Sky Lounge was our choice today to watch us leaving Hobart through the River Derwent to the open Tasman Sea.
Day 5 | At Sea
A day of relaxation and onboard activities followed by the show, Rock City. It wasn’t the best we’ve seen but was ok.
It was Evening Chic night, Celebrity’s equivalent of Formal Night, so we all dressed up. There was a mixture of attire from long evening gowns to smart pants and tops for the ladies. Men are not required to wear a tie or jacket.
Day 6 | At Sea
Today was rainy and the seas were a bit rougher as we crossed the Tasman. So, only one thing to do, a Celebrity Solstice Bar Crawl 🙂 We thought the Classic Drinks Package was worth the money for us, even on port days. We’d have a coffee with breakfast and come back from a day out and have a cocktail. Then maybe a pre-dinner drink, a glass of wine or two with dinner followed by a port. Some nights we would go to one of the bars for a whiskey or cocktail to end the night on.
Day 7 | The Sounds
We set our alarm for 7 am to ensure we were on our balcony to see us sail into the narrow fjords of Milford Sound. You can read more of our day on the post Cruising through The Sounds.
Day 8 | Port Chalmers, Dunedin
It was a beautiful morning when we cruised into Port Chalmers around 8 am. The views coming in are beautiful and worth going up on deck for.
This was our favourite port and we loved our day in Dunedin.
Back on board and we had a wonderful dinner with a stunning view and then headed to the Martini Bar.
Day 9 | Akaroa
This was the only tender port in our itinerary so we decided to have a relaxing morning and wait for the queue to go down. While taking in the picturesque surroundings from our balcony, we spotted a pod of dolphins alongside the ship.
It didn’t take us long to get a tender and soon we were off to explore Akaroa.
Day 10 | Picton
Another early start to watch the sunrise over the Marlborough Sounds and see us cruise into Picton. The Queen Charlotte Sound is mesmerising and quite a sight to behold.
Read what we got up to when we hired a car in Picton.
Day 11 | Wellington
After a fabulous day in Wellington, Captain Tasos announced that the seas were rough outside the safety of the port. It was too rough for the Pilot to leave the ship, so he ended up coming with us to the next port. Considering how it looked outside, the Celebrity Solstice handled it very well and we didn’t feel seasick at all. They do give out free tablets if it is going to be a bit bumpy.
Day 12 | At Sea
This was our last sea day of the cruise. We spotted some more dolphins playing in the waves of the bow so we stayed and watched them for a while. The Trivia is always a lot of fun and held in one of our favourite places on the ship, the Sky Lounge. It is located at the front of the ship and has amazing views out of the massive windows.
The presentation by Captain Tasos about how the Solstice was built, was not only fascinating but funny too. He could be a stand-up comedian if he wasn’t a Captain 🙂
Our second chic night and delicious lobster for dinner. The show tonight was Euphoria, which was a very enjoyable acrobatic performance.
Day 13 | Tauranga
It was an early arrival of 5.30 am into Mount Maunganui port, which is just a few minutes walk to the small town. We spent the time in Maunganui but there are plenty of options for day trips from Tauranga.
Our last night dining at the MDR and it was sad to say goodbye to the amazing and dedicated waitstaff that had become like friends to us. These wonderful people helped make it a cruise to remember.
We watched our last sunset from this gorgeous ship then went and packed our suitcases as they had to be left outside the cabin by 10 pm.
Day 14 | Auckland
Captain Tasos had told us that it would be interesting to watch the arrival of the Celebrity Solstice into Auckland. This is due to it being a tight squeeze and so close to the hotel next to us (tip: make sure you’re wearing something before you open your curtains!).
As you can imagine, breakfast was very busy with everyone trying to have something to eat before leaving.
After disembarkation, we headed straight to our accommodation for the night to drop our bags off before exploring the city of Auckland.
Celebrity Solstice New Zealand Cruise – Our Thoughts
We’d been excited about this cruise due to the mainly positive feedback from other cruisers.
The positives for us were the size of the bathroom and design of the cabins, the bars and the wonderful staff in the MDR. Our cabin steward, Alex, was friendly, helpful and always kept the cabin clean. We don’t really participate in many group activities but did enjoy the trivia in the Sky Lounge. We thought the food in the buffet was of a high standard considering it is a buffet that caters for a huge amount of people.
Captain Tasos was the best captain we’d had; funny and gets involved with meet and greets as well as sports and games. Unfortunately, he is no longer on the Solstice but if you go on the Equinox, you may be lucky enough to have him. Make sure to listen out for his daily report from the Navigational Bridge, it’s hilarious.
Now for the negatives. The food in the MDR wasn’t quite as good as what we had on Princess. We didn’t think much of the entertainment except for The Other Guys and Euphoria. The activities on sea days could have been better. The constant upsell on the first few days of the cruise to purchase drinks and specialty restaurant packages became a little annoying.
Overall, we loved it and would definitely cruise Celebrity again. The positives way outweighed the negatives especially as the entertainment and activities aren’t our reason for taking a cruise. The itinerary was what we were looking for as well and something that needs to be taken in consideration when looking for a cruise.
Hopefully, this will help you decide whether a Celebrity Solstice cruise to New Zealand is for you or not. You can see photos and our review of the ship here.
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