We loved the Blu restaurant, with it’s two massive sculptured rose walls, it’s chandeliers, it’s modern port hole multi coloured wall, and its small menu (changed nightly). We also loved the flexibility of this restaurant with no need to pre-book. Some nights we ate early and went to the late show, other nights we went to the early show and dined afterwards depending on our mood on the night.
The small menu changed each night. The food was superb, as was the service.
Some days we ordered breakfast in our room (a free service). Eating it on the balcony, how good was that! Other days we had breakfast in our Blu restaurant.
First port of call after two days at sea was the Isle of Pines. We’d heard nightmare stories of people on other ships queuing for hours to get a place on the tenders to be taken to shore. I must say the Celebrity Solstice provided an impressively efficient service. I don’t think anyone would have waited longer than 15 minutes – we certainly didn’t.
One side of the Island had a bit of a reef system ideal for snorkelling. We had forgotten our own snorkelling gear so had to hire some on the island. It was worth a look.
Then back to the main swimming beach, with it’s pleasantly warm water on the ship side of the Island.
Next days port of call was Mystery Island where we booked a guided snorkelling tour. It was deemed to be ‘extreme’, and only for experienced snorkelers. It’s always a bit of a worry when you book something that’s listed as being for ‘experienced’, as one never knows what the benchmark is that delineates the difference between a novice and someone with experience. As it turned out it did involve a lot of swimming to keep up with our guide, but we managed easily enough. The only hard part was climbing back into the boat – never easy climbing a flimsy boat ladder from out of deep water. None of us found that easy, but with much pulling and pushing we all managed.
There was loads of brightly coloured fish, and coral. Deep below us we saw a couple of rather large reef sharks that may have given cause for concern had our guides not warned us they prefer to keep a comfortable distance, and will swim away if we get to close.
Next stop was Loyalty Island, another lovely swimming beach. Apparently there was another lovely snorkelling spot there, but we opted for a short swim this time, then lay under the coconut palms for a while before returning to the boat.
The crew provided a welcome treat for all the returning passengers after each beach stop, a lovely drink of iced water, and a cool wet face cloth for a cool, refreshing wipe down. What a pleasure!
Our last stop was Noumea, the capital of New Caledonia. It lived up to it’s reputation of having nothing much there worth photographing or writing about. Some passengers did an Island tour and I believe they found it to be quite amazing. Perhaps we should have done the same, but we felt we’d had our share of swimming and snorkelling. Maybe next time…..
Then our return to Sydney.
The last two sea days on the cruise left some people on board, including some of the crew a little under the weather as we sailed back towards Sydney in the wake of Cyclone Debbie. The seas were rough with the high swells tossing the big ship around as if it was a small boat. The top decks and pools were closed I believe. I never went up to look myself – it wasn’t a place one would have wanted to be in such rough conditions.
On the second to last night sleep was a bit elusive for most on board, including us, as the ship crashed and rocked towards home. We berthed on time to a wet and rainy Sydney. Then our flight back to WA in time to drive home for a night in our own bed. As with any trip away, it’s always nice to come home again.
Will we cruise again – maybe? We enjoyed a lot of it, some of it was disappointing. It was certainly relaxing. We have friends that love cruising. Perhaps one day we’ll do a cruise with them if we can find one that appeals at the right price. That’s if I haven’t proved myself to be too much of a party pooper for them to want to cruise with.