A few weeks ago we received an email offering a fairly good price on a balcony cabin for a 3 night cruise to nowhere on Celebrity Solstice. Being great cruise lovers,we snapped up the deal. We had cruised on this ship last January and enjoyed the experience.

We tried to board at around 2pm at Sydney’s International Cruise Terminal and were told by a man at the entrance that we could not board without a computer print out of our online registration.

I had attempted three times to complete this on-line form, each time with the pages dropping out. Finally after convincing the man that we did in fact have a paid ticket. We proceed to the upstairs registration, where Royal Caribbean staff completed the registration formalities.

We were directed to our cabin, which was in our favourite position, near the centre of the ship on Deck 6, with a slightly oversized balcony. So far, so good.

Unfortunately we were later to find out after smelling cigarette smoke, both on our balcony and in our cabin, that we were located directly above one of the designated smoking areas, situated on the deck immediately below.

We attempted to change our cabin, which was excellent in every other way, but unfortunately for us, the ship was completely full. This did lessen our enjoyment.

After the mandatory boat drill, we decided to book a dinner in one of the alternate restaurants. As we had tried most of these previously, we decided to try “Murano”, the French restaurant. To my surprise, the maitre d’ said that the restaurant was fully booked for the whole cruise, but there was one table available that same evening,which we booked.

NOTE: Alternate restaurants on most ships are very popular and often book out completely before sailing. If alternate restaurants are your thing, you may consider booking on-line, if possible, prior to departure.

Short cruises are an ideal way for newcomers to sample the joys of a vacation at sea. Unfortunately these shorter cruises,at often bargain prices, attract less than favourable shipmates, who appear to want to party all night and consume as much alcohol as possible. Fortunately our cruise had a mix of all age groups.

I believe one of the real problems with over exuberant passengers, are the alcoholic drink packages, sold on board.

Many of them offer virtually unlimited alcohol throughout the cruise and some passengers certainly use them to the fullest extent to get their money’s worth.

A watchful eye should be kept on this problem as many possible future cruisers could be put off booking a cruise.

Food, in the extensive buffet, alternate restaurants and main dining room was certainly of a very high standard, as was most of the service. Room service, which we tried for breakfast and an afternoon snack,was fast and efficient. Our cabin attendant looked after us so well.

Some of the problems encountered on short cruises, just do not happen on longer voyages and those considering booking a longer cruise should not be put off.