The Celebrity Solstice cruise that will bowl you over
By Joycee Smith
A romp on the lawn at sea
Walking barefoot along freshly-cut grass in the middle of the Pacific Ocean is a surreal experience.
Hard to imagine? Well, this was waiting for us on Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Solstice ship from Hobart to Auckland while playing barefoot bocce. Oh - the other bonus is the 360-degree view of the Pacific Ocean with its amazing deep blue water.
Getting the elevator (or walking the steps, of course) to deck 15 will find you at The Lawn Club. Here you can have a picnic, lounge around, play bocce, watch glass blowing or just find yourself a comfortable chair to watch the ocean go by.
Then there’s the incredible glass-blowing displays that will hold you spellbound…
This half-acre of thick lawn comes complete with cabanas! There’s a hire fee, but you can fit 2-4 people into these luxurious alcoves.
Why not pretend to be royalty for a day – depending on who you invite into your cabana, of course!
You will half expect to see an ancient (but good looking) Egyptian from the movie “Cleopatra” pop around the corner with a platter of grapes and one of those large Ancient Egyptian standard feather fans. You know the ones, with a papyrus handle and long ostrich feathers.
But wait, there’s more…
There’s a large screen for movies that are played during the day and evening plus the Sunset Bar for that refreshing drink to celebrate your bocce win – or in my case, a loss!
Yes, hard to believe, but on this particular ship you can play bocce on the lawn and watch the sunset approach over the ocean.
But…before bocce there was the hot glassblowing display to watch on the other side of the lawn. Honestly, how good is this cruising life?
Hot glass blowing
We watched, spellbound, as three glassblowers from the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York, each created a timeless piece over a two-hour period.
Seats were set up next to the lawn in front of their three furnaces and equipment – which reminded me of pre-war dental pliers! There is a glass protection barrier between the guests and the glassblowers, just in case the wind gets behind a piece of hot glass and it flips into someone’s lap. (The furnace reaches a toastie 2000 degrees!)
Warm blankets are handed out, as even though there are three furnaces, the wind gets a bit nippy at times, especially in the shady spots.
At the end of the cruise these stunning pieces were auctioned off with proceeds going towards scholarships at the Corning Museum of Glass and also the World Wildlife Foundation.
The auction itself was a lot of fun and although I did put in a couple of bids I soon began to worry about even scratching my ear as the bids were quite high!
Bocce on the lawn
After the fascination of glassblowing it was time to think about Happy Hour and investigate this game of bocce on the lawn.
What an unreal experience this was. Sipping a glass of wine while watching others play this game in the middle of the ocean! Then, when the players had tossed in the towel (ball?) it was our turn for a challenge!
Did you know that bocce is known as “the kissing cousin of lawn bowls”?
Now, although not a lawn bowler, I have heard terms such as – bias, fast green, centre line, more length etc. but none of those was needed for our game on the lawn, which was slightly uneven.
You do need a bit of concentration, with emphasis on the word bit. Really, it’s just a matter of aiming for the jack, the small white ball, and either throwing your bigger balls (you get four each) or have a go at a bowling motion. I tried the bowling action because it looked more professional, even though my result wasn’t!
Then it’s fingers crossed that your ball lands somewhere in the vicinity of the jack and doesn’t bounce off across the deck and down the steps. It's a throw and hope for the best type game with lots of laughter along the way.
After an afternoon of glass-blowing displays and bocce games, we had worked up quite a thirst. So, with sunset approaching we settled into a couple of comfortable chairs beside the lawn at the Sunset Bar.
Jessica Lajner who sings blues beautifully and plays guitar provided late afternoon music. This finished off such an enjoyable afternoon that we just sat and enjoyed the music, glass in hand waiting for the sunset.
Now… this sunset had tricked us because the sun hung around far longer than in the Brisbane sky and didn’t actually touch the horizon until 9.26pm. This meant the wait was slightly longer than anticipated – but no one was complaining.
Ah, the bliss of being at sea for a few days without a care in the world, surrounded by nothing but lawn and ocean.
Take a jacket for top deck activities.
Get a haircut – it’s always windy on a cruise ship.
Always check the sunset time on your daily cruise newsletter – it varies greatly