More than 1 million Australians took a cruise holiday in 2014. Australians now account for 4.5 per cent of the world’s 22 million cruise passengers. Most importantly, Aussies no longer have to travel overseas to enjoy first class luxury cruising.
Today’s cruise passenger is much more discriminating than just 10 years ago. The average guest of any age is looking for quality inclusions such as signature restaurants and wine appreciation classes. Today it’s less about midnight ‘all you can eat’ buffets and more about first-class experiences.
Celebrity Solstice was voted Australia’s Best Cruise Ship at the AFTA National Travel Industry Awards 2015. Celebrity is also the highest rated cruise line in Australia in the 2015 Berlitz Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships. Aboard Celebrity you can most certainly enjoy the high-life on the high seas.
Solstice features some of the most spacious accommodations at sea with 85% of suites and staterooms with their own balconies, all with multi-jet showers and Egyptian cotton linen. With nearly 1 to 2 crew-to-passenger ratio, Solstice is more floating country club than cruise liner.
Solstice like its sister ships have the Lawn Club with 2,130 square metres of manicured grass and 2 full-time lawn keepers. Yes, you can feel the grass between your toes as you play bowls or bocce on Deck 15 or simply relax under the sun or stars in your private cabana.
There are 9 restaurants and 22 bars, with 630 Food and Beverage employees out of a total 1200 crew. 13,000 meals are prepared each day aboard Solstice. There is the Grand Epernay, as well as Asian fusion restaurant Silk Harvest, the Tuscan Grille that specializes in steak with panoramic views and exclusively for Aqua Class guests there is BLU with dedicated spa or ‘clean’ cuisine. Luminae is a fine diner for Suite guests only where every dish is reportedly an art piece.
Celebrity Cruises have a longstanding reputation with superior dining rooms including the decidedly French and romantic ‘Murano’ This Magnificent Life recently enjoyed an excellent Valentine’s Day lunch in Murano whilst Celebrity Solstice was in port.
Some of the restaurants require a supplement including Murano. Guests can enjoy the ‘Meet the Chef’ nights with Shane Straiko Executive Sous-Chef, Specialty Dining cooking tableside for just 10 guests in the Wine room. Classic French dishes like Chateaubriand and Dover Sole Veronique are perennial favourites at Murano.
Guests choose between a set menu with expertly matched wines or a la carte. Wine is taken seriously on board Solstice with more than 950 labels from around the world. In Murano wine is served in the correct Riedel glassware to match the sommelier’s comprehensive wine list. Wines from all the world’s greatest regions including Sonoma, Bordeaux, Margaret River, Marlborough, Napa, Champagne, and the Hunter Valley all feature.
The lavish special abbreviated menu featured selections designed to best showcase the restaurant’s celebration of the classis. Old-school service is a welcome treat – appropriate but not stuffy. The amuse bouche was a perfect start – a lightly chilled red wine marinated strawberry ‘soup’.
From the 5 First course choices we selected the creamy pea and morel mushroom risotto with ‘cappuccino’ of mascarpone and the ‘pretty as a picture’ Crab salad with avocado, cilantro (coriander) and citrus emulsion. Both delightful starters were served with a choice of a delicious Napa Merlot or buttery Sonoma Chardonnay.
For the second course who could go past the butter poached Lobster tail with fricassee of baby vegetables & black truffle emulsion. Or the perfectly cooked Filet Mignon with fingerling potatoes, shallots, smoked bacon and Dijon emulsion. I would have loved to try the herb marinated lamb chops with ratatouille, feta and mint – they looked delectable. For desserts we opted for the chocolaty Gianduja Soufflé with Donatella gelato and the Ivory Caramel Tart with cognac flambéed banana.
Details are everything in Murano, from the carefully crafted pyramid of butter to the delicate silver and porcelain Rosenthal dinnerware. This is a restaurant for date night: where sharing from each other’s plate and indulging in each other’s company is mandatory.
Disclaimer: TML were guests of Celebrity Cruises