This morning I awoke very early at 0500 to witness us sail through the Messina Straight on our course to Kotor, Montenegro, which is where we arrive tomorrow morning. It was a beautiful setting as the sun was just rising as we quietly sailed past the infamous volcano Mount Etna, which was smoldering. We also saw some dolphins swimming along with the ship, which was a memorable sight.
After eventually going back to sleep for a few hours, I got ready and popped up to the Oceanview Cafe for breakfast where I enjoyed an Apple Danish followed by an Orange and Lemon Organic Bread Muffin which was delicious. This, long with five other varieties can be found each morning at the AquaSpa Cafe, located within the Solarium on deck fourteen, forward between 0700 and 1000.
After breakfast, I then headed to the forward stairwell on deck ten where I was greeted by Rosario, the Events Manager aboard who escorted me through the crew areas to the Navigational Bridge for a private tour. Visiting the bridge of the Celebrity Solstice was great and the first, second and third officers were present and it was great chatting to them as they showed me the Radar, AIS Systems and the Bridge Wing and Main Console Systems. After thirty minutes or so, I was taken downstairs to the Captain's office and apartment/suite. It was a real honor to meet Captain Costas, not only on the bridge; but to visit his "home away from home" and spend quite a long time chatting to him about his career, my aspirations and just in general. His living quarters occupied a prominent position at the front of the ship, a few decks or two away from the bridge, but there is a staircase just outside his quarters which takes him right to the bridge door - in case he is suddenly needed. I wish I could write about everything I saw, but sadly I cannot. :(
Anyway, as soon as I returned from the Bridge and the Captain's Quarters, I took a stroll along the "Shops on the Boulevard" and ended up purchasing some Celebrity Cruises' logo merchandise in the shops, since it was 75% off. In the end, I exited with two polo shirts, a teddy bear (I collect a plush toy from each cruise I sail on), magnet, key ring, lanyard and a pen for just under $20. - a bargain or what?
After that little splash of retail therapy, I headed to the Sky Bar, located on deck fourteen forward for the Captain's Club Celebration - which was a little party for all those guests who are enrolled in Celebrity Cruises' loyalty program. The celebration is also where I bumped into Captain Costas again and introduced my parents to him and ended up chatting for quite a while again. We then took a seat and were offered complimentary drinks in addition to a gourmet buffet that was available including King Prawns, Smoked Salmon, Roast Beef and Chocolate Fondue! Entertainment was provided by the Acapella grounp "The Neptunes" and the "Stars of the Solstice" (singers and dancers).
Tonight is the first formal evening aboard and includes a toast with the Captain, in addition to a specially designed menu in the restaurants and everyone looking their best. I will be back tomorrow with tales from Kotor, Montenegro.