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Old October 9th, 2011, 03:27 PM
Jason Leppert
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Yesterday we were in Kotor, Montenegro, and today and tomorrow are relaxing days at sea as we prepare to arrive once again in Barcelona to disembark our ship. Kotor was the gem of our cruise. I had never been there previously, and I was very taken with the beauty of this fjord and port.


Our ship sailed into a bay surrounded by mountains that stretched high into the sky. Similar to Alaska’s mountains in scale, these were considerably less covered with vegetation, but the trees that did spot the mountains appeared specifically placed, very much like those you would see within a model train set. In fact, the whole port appeared like a giant model train set to me, with the stunning mountains above and the Old World buildings uniformly skirting the coastline. All that was missing, it would seem, were the trains themselves.


Like Dubrovnik, Kotor has an ancient walled citadel just a short walk away from where the ship’s tenders tied off. It is nestled cozily at the base of the mountains and allows access to a fortress further up the mountain. However, the cobblestone path is very steep and uneven. With the 80% chance of rain predicted for the day, my parents and I decided to forgo journeying up a path that would no doubt become slippery too. They also charge 3 Euros just to be granted access up the mountain.


We instead decided to explore the base camp of the fortified citadel with its hodgepodge of streets and alleys flanked by the usual shops, cafes, and churches as well as night clubs and casinos. It felt very much like a condensed version of Dubrovnik’s old citadel, but that might only be because of the meandering nature of the dense passages. Overall, the construction is less consistent and grand than in Dubrovnik but is ever full of that appealing European veneer. Kotor was certainly a great conclusion to our cruise’s ports of call, and the pictures from here continue throughout the post.


My parents and I joined up with the rest of my family for dinner last night at Silk Harvest, Solstice’s Asian specialty restaurant. The service was very attentive and the dishes arrived at our table more consistently than they did at Tuscan Grill. The sushi was extremely flavorful as were the small dishes prior to our main meal. Appetizers included cream cheese wontons and spring rolls. Everything is served family style with the plates placed in the middle of the table for everyone to dig in. For the main course, our table ordered selections such as pad thai, orange chicken, and fried rice. The pad thai was nice and spicy and was not sweet like I’ve seen it served elsewhere. All the dishes were extremely tasty.


Just this evening, we ate in the main dining room for the final formal night. According to our great waiter, this was the first cruise where they offered lobster prepared with a crab stuffing which he explained was causing a bit of a delay in the galley. Brief delay or not, this dish was fantastic and the crustacean meat was very succulent. Even the menu specifically outlined the usually unwritten “surf and turf” option which added a nice steak pairing.


This final formal dinner concluded with the traditional staff fanfare and parade but without the flaming baked Alaska nor the corny rendition of Auld Lang Syne, a pleasant omission in my opinion. Instead, the beautiful retro dining room exercised its fantastic LED strip lighting to the entire spectrum of colors and to the beat of modern pop music. It was really rather impressive.


Another culinary treat on the Solstice is Bistro on Five, a casual creperie open all day save for only four hours in the very early morning. With only a $5 service charge, you are rewarded with a seldom busy dining venue that offers a wide selection of delicious crepes ranging from French to Mexican in preparation and concludes with dessert crepes. Panini sandwiches, soups, and salads are also available. I highly recommend trying out this restaurant at least once during a voyage. You very well may find yourself wanting to come back for more.


In concluding my virtual cruise reports, I’d like to celebrate the exceptional crew onboard. The captain has a great sense of humor. The wait staff in all of the restaurants have been extremely personable. And our room steward, Anil, and his assistant have been extraordinary. He always greets you by name and both are extremely friendly and pleasantly dutiful. Celebrity has done extremely well with its staffing.

It has truly been my pleasure to share my cruise experience with you all! Until next time...
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