Celebrity Solstice Postcard #45 – Singapore (The final 24 hours)

We had a great nights sleep and didn’t wake up until gone 7:30 this morning. When we pulled the curtains it was daylight outside we were able to see the surrounding area better and our room had a facing view of one of the runways so were able to watch the planes take off and land while laid in bed. We opened our room door to this view first thing.

Our package included breakfast which was in the form of a buffet and there was quite a varied selection available including many local dishes.
Having eaten as much as we could we made our way down to the pool where we found ourselves a couple of sunbeds and spent the best part of the day just basking in the sun. This hotel really has the most amazing pool, it’s been just perfect to relax by in preparation for the last leg of our journey. The only break I took from this blissful existence was when I briefly wandered outside to get a photo of the hotel exterior, it’s so unusual that I thought it warranted a special trip to take it.

Normal check out time at the hotel was 2:00 and as our flight departs at 11:30 we enquired about keeping the room a little longer, unfortunately this wasn’t an option so we made the decision to extend our booking for an extra night so we could have the room up until​ the last minute. This allowed us to go back and shower at our leisure and it also meant we could stay out by the pool until the sun had gone from view.

Because we are departing from terminal 3 it’s only a brief walk to the departures​ hall so it will help​ cut down the waiting time actually in the airport itself. It just made so much sense for us to do it.

So with the last few moments of free hotel Wi-Fi I will just sign off by saying until the next time……..

Celebrity Solstice Postcard #44 – Singapore overnight stopover

Our flight from Sydney to Singapore went without any problems, the flight itself on a Singapore Airlines A380 took just 7 hours and 25 minutes and we touched down at 8:35 pm local time.It got a little bit bumpy in places but nothing too dramatic.
We had elected not to do the 4 hour wait in the airport for the next and longer leg of the trip and instead booked a room at the Crowne Plaza at Changi Airport. Because we got in so late and with a 3 hour time difference we opted for a hotel at the airport to maximise the rest.
We were due to land at terminal 3 but a last minute change saw us go to terminal 2 which took us 6 minutes longer to get to the hotel. As it was dark on arrival we weren’t able to get a view of the outside of the hotel but the room itself is very spacious and has a large glass wall around the bathroom, not to worry though as we discovered a roller blind on the bathroom side to mask the activities you really don’t want to share with others.
We had a brief stroll round in the dark, found the bar had a quick drink and used the free WiFi to check in for the next flight. It was then back to the room and after a quick shower we hit the sack for the night. I can’t wait to see this hotel in the daylight, the photos I have seen on the internet look very interesting.


Celebrity Solstice Postcard #43 – Sydney & Disembarking

After listening to the sea pass reader bonging all passengers off from the previous two cruises it was now our turn for the final bong.

Before that though we managed breakfast in the MDR which is a bit of a ritual for us on the last morning.

By 8:30 we were off the ship and outside the terminal getting picked up by the driver for our morning tour around Manley and surrounding area before being dropped off at the airport for our flight to Singapore.

We had a fantastic last morning and got even more photos of Sydney from yet another perspective.

We are now at the airport and just waiting to board the plane. It’s a real luxury to have a decent speed internet connection.

Celebrity Solstice Postcard #42 – The Final Sea Day

The clocks went forward an hour last night as if to signify the start of our major time adjustment upheaval. It’s been a long time coming but our last full day was eventually upon us.

Can you spot the Koala in the tree?

We started the morning off with breakfast in the Tuscan Grille where we said our goodbyes to the team who have looked after us over the three cruises. They didn’t rotate the staff so we were able to build up quite a rapport with crew there in the morning. I took my last glass of medication before heading to guest services to exchange the luggage tags we had been given. We had been given 9:00 but needed it to be an hour earlier so we could meet our tour guide for the last trip before heading for the airport.

With that sorted we managed 3 laps of the top deck before rain stopped play. So it was back to the cabin to do the inevitable. Nicole is very efficient and organised and had it all worked out in no time at all.

We skipped lunch today because we both seemed​ to be feeling the effects of the last thirty plus days eating today. I dread to think how we would feel on an even longer cruise.

We eventually went to the Oceanview Café at 4:00 for the tea time selection but other than what I’ve mentioned above we have done very little today. Had the weather been better we would have sat out but that wasn’t to be today.

We are now ready to disembark and begin our journey home.



Celebrity Solstice Postcard #41 – Brisbane, Australia

This morning we arrived at Brisbane which is our last port of call before we arrive back in Sydney in two days time. It was a bit of a strange one in as much that the journey into Brisbane itself was a 50 minute drive on the shuttle which came with a $22 per person fee despite us docking in the middle of a commercial port area.

We pretty much got on the first bus just after 8:30 and were dropped at Anzac Square which is a central location in the city. Armed with a simple map we set off on foot to explore and see what we could find of interest.
After crossing the river on Victoria Bridge we passed through an area known as South Bank which was regenerated for Expo 88 and it really was a lovely place to visit. Slap bang in the middle is the Brisbane Eye which had just opened for the day and there were no queues so we promptly acquired a couple of tickets and went for a spin or to be precise 5 spins stopping at the top for a while on the first one. I think we had the whole thing to ourselves as I couldn’t see anyone else in any of the other pods.

We continued on crossing back over the river and then round the botanical gardens which was equally as good. We spotted lots of different birds and there were also many Eastern Water Dragons wandering around. We even came across a snake but I have no idea what it was or if it was dangerous. Thank goodness for the zoom lens!

As it was lunch time we headed back to South Bank and found a nice little pub where I enjoyed a nice local brew with burger and chips. I don’t make it sound like we did much but my Fitbit tells me that we walked over 12 miles today. We saw plenty and really enjoyed this last stop. Brisbane is a beautiful city and certainly somewhere I would love to visit again.

Time is of the essence so I hope you enjoy the selection of photos from today.

Celebrity Solstice Postcard #40 – A Sea Day

Time really does seem to be flying now, we have just three nights to go before we have to disembark from what has been our home for the last 5 weeks or so. We both are feeling a little subdued today but have been smiling while reflecting back on what has been an amazing adventure.

We actually enjoyed a bit of a lie in this morning and didn’t go to breakfast until 9:30,  for us this is much later than we have been used to recently.

With the weather very overcast we made our way up to the open decks and managed to do five full laps before finding a sheltered spot to do some reading and blog writing, not that there is much to report today.

The last couple of days we have really enjoyed watching the Booby’s fly along side the ship and then swooping to catch the flying fish. They have such precision and timing with very little effort needed. It really is an amazing thing to witness and just a shame I haven’t managed to get a photo of it as it all happens so fast.
We sat out until about 1:45 when we decided to chance our luck with the buffet and were rewarded with a table out in the open at the back. It’s nice for Nicole because she can get a much better selection of things to eat there.

The weather remained cloudy and we did get a couple of really light showers just to break things up a little. According to the information on the TV the air temperature was 28° C which did make the wind lovely and warm.

With the wind picking up we made our way back to the cabin to sit out on our balcony until 4:00 when we attended a From the Podium talk on Sharks and Rays by Dr. Dave.

It’s been a very relaxing and uneventful day and one which has given us plenty of time to reflect and appreciate what we have done over the three back to back cruises.

Tonight is the third Evening Chic of this cruise and our ninth overall and lobster is on the menu tonight so I know what I’m having.

Celebrity Solstice Postcard #39 – A Sea Day (Willis Island)

We are now on our way back to Sydney and into the last week of our cruise and all of a sudden time seems to have gone really quickly, we now have just 4 nights left onboard which is really quite scary.

After being onboard for all of those nights I still find myself waking up at around 5:30, even though I have been in different time zones​ for over a month my body clock is still behaving like I am back in the UK. Nicole on the other hand finds it difficult to wake up in the morning so I tend to do a bit of reading on my tablet until she comes to.

Today was a sea day with a bit of a difference, the daily described it as a technical stop. What happened was at 11:00 we arrived at a small island off the coast of Australia called Willis Island. The reef pilot who was still onboard then came over the ships public address to explain the procedure and reason for it.

As this cruise is all Australian home ports it isn’t technically an international cruise and therefore not allowed to sell any duty free items. To get round this the ship has to drop anchor very briefly off the coast of Willis Island so that it can be recorded in the ships logs and thus qualifying it as a international stop.

The whole process took around 45 minutes and during this time we were given a talk over the PA by one of the three meteorologists that live on the island for 6 months at a time. The weather station on the island is used to monitor and record weather conditions which hopefully will provide early warning against cyclones​ in the region.

As you can see from the photos it’s an amazing setting and very picturesque. As nice as it looks I don’t think I could spend 6 months there with just two others ​for company.


So at about 11:15 the ship dropped anchor and performed a 360° turn before giving 3 long blasts of the horn before continuing on our way. The upper decks were very busy with many coming up to witness this unusual event. Nobody got off the ship so no immigration to deal with so it is as described, just a technical stop.

The rest of the afternoon we spent cruising at sea heading towards our next stop which is Brisbane. The weather today has been glorious and we have spent the best part of it up on the Solstice Deck just relaxing in the sun.
Considering we have spent just short of four hours tendering back and forth over the last four days the chance to just sit back and take it easy was most welcome.

Celebrity Solstice Postcard #38 – Port Douglas, Australia

I’m sat in bed writing this first bit at 7:15 while they are loading a catamaran that goes out to the reef, it’s the last opportunity to take that excursion this cruise. We have spoken to quite a few people about their Celebrity excursions out to the reef and the general consensus is that the snorkelling was great but that was about it. A two hour trip each way with about 3 hours fighting for a small area of space to change and eat lunch on a cramped pontoon in the middle of the reef. It seems nothing has changed since I did it myself 14 years ago.

If you want to take a trip to the reef that is how it works with the larger companies, all Celebrity have done is inflate the price by nearly 100%. Because of the port timings nobody has been able to book a private excursions out to the reef so they have monopolized the situation completely. I wonder if word has spread because the boat from above looked empty.

After breakfast we made our way down to the Ensemble Lounge which is the meeting point for loyalty club priority tendering and were soon making the 30 minute trip into Port Douglas marina. Once I had got my bearings we found the main street and headed for the opposite end of it in search of Four Mile Beach and the safe swimming area. The beach and Port Douglas itself are exactly as I remember them and little seems to have changed since my last visit.

We stayed on the beach until about 1:00 and then went to grab some lunch and do a bit of shopping in some of the many boutiques along the main street.

For lunch we ate a place called the Iron Bar and it’s one of the establishments that I particularly wanted to revisit. That was followed by a little bit of retail therapy which Nicole really enjoyed as there are lots of really nice boutiques all selling the things she likes.

Just like yesterday the weather suddenly took a turn for the words and once again we were treated, if that’s the right word to another torrential downpour. After waiting  30 minutes for it to ease we made our way back to the ship.

Another great day today and one that will certainly produce plenty of smiles when we look back on the photos.

Celebrity Solstice Postcard #37 – Cairns (Yorkeys Knob), Australia – Day 2

Between 2:00 and about 3:30 this morning it felt like the world was coming to an end, thunder and lightning with the most torrential rain I have ever seen. The fact that it woke me up is a testament to the noise it made. Fortunately this morning things had cleared for our day out.

Early start this morning and were able to catch the tender across to Yorkeys Knob at 7:10. From there we called the car hire who promptly dropped our car off at the boatclub within 10 minutes​. After dropping him back off to his office on route we then headed on to Freshwater Station to catch the 9:55 train to Kuranda. Most people either go up or down on the Sky Rail and do the return leg on Kuranda Scenic Railway but as there is not a hope in hell of Nicole doing the cable car we took the train both ways.

We had time to enjoy breakfast at the station which was a nice change from ship food. Our journey up was booked in a Gold Class carriage which means better carriages with more comfortable seats and you are served drinks and snacks on route. It was a really lovely way to travel along this small scenic railway which was hand made over 100 years ago. Lots of tunnels, cuttings and bridges and fantastic views all the way up to Kuranda.

We had two hours at the top wandering around the village which in itself was really nice, very laid back with lots of little shops and bars to immerse yourself in.

On the train back we travelled in a normal carriage which was equally as good in its own way. We sat on the same side of the carriage as going up so were able to get the view from the other side.

On arrival back at Freshwater Station the skies again opened and we had to make a dash for the car. Being as we had use of a vehicle we headed north along the Captain Cook Highway for ¾ hour which is a road I enjoyed driving along 15 years ago on a previous visit here. Not the same experience today in the rain but still nice to see it all the same.

On the way back to the boat club we picked up the car hire man so he could take the car straight back after we had finished with it. It’s been a great day and I have little time to say much tonight so will leave it at that and just add a selection of photos.

Celebrity Solstice Postcard #36 – Cairns (Yorkeys Knob), Australia – Day 1

We woke up this morning with our heads still buzzing with our trip yesterday but now we needed to turn our attention to the next few days and in particular today and tomorrow when we overnight at Cairns or more specifically the tender port of Yorkeys Knob. We had nothing planned for day one because of the late arrival so decided to see once we get ashore if we could hire a car either for both days or just tomorrow. Day two we have something planned and all being well we won’t experience the same tender experience as Airlie Beach. Yorkeys Knob doesn’t have much in the way of facilities and the the tenders arrive at the local boat club.

Again the ships focus was tours out to the Barrier Reef and they were the priority passengers leaving the ship. The next 3 days that destination will be the number one priority.

We had a very leisurely relaxed morning which was in complete contrast to yesterday.

We arrived at 10:30 and we just sat back today as everyone else scrambled to get ashore.

You can just about make out Cairns on the left of the photo above and Yorkeys Knob to the right. It would have more appropriate to call this port Yorkeys Knob (Cairns) instead of the other way around.

As everything settled down we used our loyalty status to get us to the front of the queue for the next available tender and were ashore by 11:50. There is very little at Yorkeys Knob and the shuttle into Cairns takes 30 minutes each way and would have cost $18 per person. Having  been to Cairns before I know there was little of interest to us there so we decided to do a bit of preparation for tomorrow and hire a car. Taxis at Yorkeys Knob are few and far between and we need to be somewhere at 9:30 so to hire a car seemed like a more reliable option. Below is the main street that runs through Yorkeys Knob.

Once we had organised that we headed for the local beach where they have a safe swimming area set up to protect you from the stingers. The water was the warmest I have ever swam in ever, it was so refreshing and very welcome to be able to escape the humidity for a while.

Whats in the bucket you ask? Only the local life guards pet Box Jelly Fish.

We stayed on the beach until about 3:30 before making our way back to the ship. An early start tomorrow so we won’t be late up tonight.