1. Home
  2. Cruise Lines
  3. Celebrity Cruises
  4. Celebrity Solstice Review
  5. Celebrity Solstice Cruise Reviews
Sail Date: January 2008
We have been on 28 cruises over the past 15 years and recently completed a two week cruise/trip to Italy, Greece, and Turkey. Upon arrival at Leonardo Di Vinci airport ( which is located some 30 to 45 minutes drive from Rome, depending on ... Read More
We have been on 28 cruises over the past 15 years and recently completed a two week cruise/trip to Italy, Greece, and Turkey. Upon arrival at Leonardo Di Vinci airport ( which is located some 30 to 45 minutes drive from Rome, depending on traffic and 1 hour or more from the port) we were met by our hotel shuttle driver. Rather than stay in Rome, we elected to stay one night at the Hotel Bramante, located near our departure port at Civitavecchia. The Hotel Bramante is a nice, moderately priced (E150.00 per night) clean hotel. The beds were really hard but we were only staying one night and after our long flight from the southwestern USA, they were a welcome sight. The cost of the hotel's shuttle service was E140.00 and well worth it. This was far cheaper than a taxi and because we were a group of six adults the actual cost was a mere E47.00 per couple (E23.50 per person) and the shuttle was able to hold all 12 pieces of our luggage as well. Try putting that in a European Taxi! Once we had rested for a few hours we walked into Civitavecchia for dinner. We had pre-arranged to meet (for the first time) a group of up to twenty of our "Cruise Critic" friends at a wonderful ristorante and pizzeria called "Aqua". We were greeted by the owner and escorted to his large outside covered terrace which was a lovely setting. Aqua had a wonderful Italian wine list (we took 2 bottles on-board ship with us), outdoor dining, and an authentic 350 year old wood burning brick oven. If you like thin crust pizza, you will LOVE this pizza. Our cruise aboard Celebrity Solstice was everything a cruise should be and more. The cabins, the food, the service, the entertainment, the spa, and the public areas were all superlative. We stayed in the aqua class which gave us an upgraded shower and upgraded bath products in our cabin. We also had our own private dining room called Blu and unlimited access to the Persian garden, fitness area and relaxation room. Personally we did not feel that this class was really an upgrade from Celebrity's concierge class and we would not pay extra for this class in the future. Our dining room, Blu, had its' own menu (different from the ship's main dining menu) which offered a leaner menu with smaller portions which were sometimes quite exotic. This forced us to try some things that we probably would not have otherwise tried. Although the food was good, it really didn't suit us, especially my 'meat and potatoes" husband. The specialty dining venues were exceptionally good and really worth the extra charge. I would recommend the Silk Harvest and the Tuscan Grill especially. The ship sponsored tours were, with one exception, excellent and really worth the money. The very best were the Messina (Sicily) Wine and Mt. Etna tour (MY08), the Athens & Cape Sounion with lunch tour (PR03), the Best of Epheses tour (KD04) and the Amalfi Drive and Pompeii tour (NP04). we do not recommend the Village of Oia and Santorini Island tour (SO01) as it was just a bus trip to Oia and a gondola ride ticket back down to the port. These things you could do on your own for a lot less. The village of Oia is worth seeing, however. At the end of our cruise we planned an extra day and night in Italy so that we could see Rome. After researching all of our options for hotels in Rome or near the airport, transportation from the port in Civitavecchia to the hotel and transportation to the airport for a 10:00am flight the following day, meals, and sightseeing in Rome we made the best vacation decision we have ever made. We hired a private tour operator, www.rome-tours.org. Filippo (the owner of the company) picked all six of us up in a nice Mercedes van at the dock in Civitavecchia on the morning of our arrival. He then transported us and all of our luggage to our hotel, the Hotel Club Isola Sacra in Fiumicino which is near the airport. This hotel was clean, moderately priced at E132.00 per night which included the price of the shuttle to the airport the next morning and we would recommend it for a short one or two night stay. The beds and pillows were like bricks and the staff was not very helpful or welcoming and only understood English when it suited them. Filippo, our tour guide, waited while we checked in and deposited all of our luggage. At 11:00am we were all on our way to Rome, which is about a 30 to 45 minute drive depending on traffic from our hotel in Fiumicino. Because of a special Roman Tour Operators license that allows small vehicles to enter the city of Rome, Filippo was able to drive us right up to "the entrance" of many of the magnificent sights of Rome. Our guide was both very knowledgeable and very personable and he spoke excellent English. In one day we toured the Colosseum (with no waiting in line for tickets), th Forum, The Trevi Fountain (both in the day and again at night), ate some really good pizza, toured the Pantheon, Navona and St Peter's Square, The villa Borgase Gardens, The Spanish Steps, the highest spot in Rome (which gave you a fabulous view of the entire city), and lastly ate a fabulous 4 course Italian dinner at Cesare's Ristorante before being returned to our hotel in Fiumincino at 10:00pm. To say the very least, our day and night in Rome was the highlight of our entire trip and would you believe??? It only cost E100.00 each plus the cost of our meals and entry tickets. If you are traveling with a small group of 2 to 8 people "rome-tours.org" is absolutely the way to see Rome. They are also an excellent dock to airport or dock to hotel option from Civitavecchia. This is especially true if you are traveling with a small group as most taxi services (if you are able to find any) are much more expensive and can not accommodate more than 3 people per vehicle (plus the driver) and a very small amount of luggage. If you are interested I believe that "rome-tours.org" also offers excursions to other parts of Italy as well. If you want to have a great Eastern Mediterranean cruise this is the one! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2008
Celebrity Solstice Review It could be argued that the new Celebrity Solstice is the prettiest ship at sea. I doubt that you would find many who would not agree. But there are a whole lot of steps along the way that make Solstice ... Read More
Celebrity Solstice Review It could be argued that the new Celebrity Solstice is the prettiest ship at sea. I doubt that you would find many who would not agree. But there are a whole lot of steps along the way that make Solstice unique. Celebrity has done a great job focusing on the total cruise experience and beyond. It seems that new builds these days all have a flashy signature feature that sets them apart from others. Solstice is no exception. The big one here is the Lawn Club. Located high up on deck 15, Celebrity has grown an expanse of short golf green-like grass about the size of a football field. Ok maybe more like a large backyard but it sure seems like a huge space in person. It's something you just don't expect to see on a ship and nothing can quite prepare you for the experience. Home to picnics, various "yard" games, and even private parties, the Lawn Club comes complete with its own shop, cafe and bar. If this were a Carnival ship they would call this the "Fun Deck" because it also houses the Fun Factory Kids club, a basketball court, Video Arcade and another unique experience, the Hot Glass show, where professional gaffers craft works of art right before your eyes. But this is nothing you will find on a Carnival ship or any other brand for that matter. These unique experiences have been really well done in a unique signature way that will prove to set Solstice apart from even her sister ships that will follow. It all comes down to ground level where what they do directly impacts the guest experience. As with so many other successful ideas it is the details that make the difference. Bartenders that can open a bottle of beer tossed in the air, Pool Butlers actually paying attention to guests and anticipating their needs, as well as very well educated crew members who know their jobs well, make the difference. Someone was paying attention here when they designed how this was going to go. Often overlooked while an organization struggles to cover the bases, Celebrity not only covers but blows the bases away, creating an experience like no other. It is as though someone said, "Ok, design a ship, but make it the very best one you can possibly make it. Spare no expense. Leave nothing out. Dream up new features. And make it all very user-friendly". Take for example, the live tree growing in the middle of the ship. Yes I said live tree. Make that "huge live tree". It's not enough to have it; the crew all knows details about how it was planted, lives and will grow six decks high eventually. The crew does not hesitate to approach the casual viewer to let them know all about it too. I think this is one of the most unique parts of the onboard experience. The crew here really goes out of its way to enrich the experience. It is as though not only the needs but the unexpected desires of guests have been not only anticipated but are constantly brought to their attention. The staterooms are a great example of this. A quick glance would leave one with the impression that these are nicely appointed but nothing unique. Further examination though reveals many innovative features. In the bathroom, for example, a low level illuminating light is on constantly to lead the way in the dark. A huge flat-screen television boasting a nice selection of movies, internet access, ordering for room service and more swivels away from the wall enabling it to be positioned just right for viewing anywhere in the cabin. 15% larger than most Celebrity staterooms on other ships, these offer a very nice space you may not want to leave. But leave you will as you explore areas of the ship that flow seamlessly from one to the other. Arguably the largest selection of shopping at sea, the "Shops on the Boulevard" flow into the largely non-smoking casino which is an extension of an assortment of lounges, and an area known as the "Entertainment Court". Aptly named, the Entertainment Court features a central space where live music emanates into the surrounding areas very nicely, tying them all together. While other cruise lines seem to be cutting back on live entertainment, Celebrity has taken a few steps back in time and brought back a wide variety of talent. Case in point; on deck entertainment. I was on deck enjoying a leisurely afternoon one day, steps away from food and bar service, an indoor pool should the weather turn bad, and the an assortment of lounge chairs, hammocks, and private areas. As the stage was out of sight, it took me a while to realize that the enjoyable and thoughtful music I was hearing was not prerecorded but a live five piece band. Later, when their set was over, a different band came to play, followed by a solo guitar player and then others. This theme was repeated many times over throughout the voyage. A string quartet filled the atrium area, a jazz trio played in one of the lounges, and a full band played in the showroom, even a piano player in unexpected areas at unconventional times made for a rich experience. Dining options also added to this deep, enriching theme. In addition to the stunning single main room, Grand Epernay, dining options are plentiful. The Aquaspa cafe offering refreshing spa cuisine as well as the always open Bistro on Five with Crepes and Sandwiches in a casual setting. The Mast Grill I enjoyed while on deck was only steps away from the signature Oceanview Cafe, a scatter-style buffet with an assortment of stations well-suited to most any taste. Specialty dining with a nominal cover charge was not limited to just one or two offerings. Murano, a sophisticated dining experience featuring European style service and wines from around the world is a headliner. Silk Harvest, featuring the exotic tastes of Asia in a casual, family-style setting is very popular. The Tuscan Grille offers a sophisticated steakhouse with and Italian accent and robust wine list. Finally "Blu" has private dining for AquaClass guests only featuring clean, modern cuisine from the old and new world. The Aqua class area of the ship offers some of the most well appointed staterooms on board too. But more than just extra features like a superb shower and upgraded amenities, the whole AquaSpa area of the ship is unique unto itself. This area anchors a "Wellness" theme featuring a full service spa enhanced by the solarium and a quiet renewing space called the Persian Garden as well as medi-spa, salon and fitness center. The whole Wellness concept extends to other areas of the ship as well. All staterooms and verandahs, for example, are non-smoking. A bold move on the part of Celebrity, this idea came directly from guest requests and comments. There are adequate but largely removed areas for smokers but the Celebrity is really trying hard to make a statement as part of the whole experience. Smoking is restricted to a small area of the casino, slots only. The whole feel of it all reminded me of when restaurants had smoking and non smoking sections before turning all non-smoking. I suspect that Celebrity will be the first line to pull off the entirely non-smoking concept, once tried but failed by Carnival's Paradise several years ago. To me, the extent that Celebrity is willing to go with the smoking issue is a great example of the direction they are going with this ship and the experience it elicits. A great diversion from real life is the hallmark of a cruise. Celebrity, through the unique features of this ship, also gives you something to take home with you. Whereas the end of the cruise often meant the end of the experience, Solstice leaves the door open, allowing one to take home the feel of it all. If you are one of the lucky ones who has fully embraced all that a cruise has to offer you may have felt renewed and maybe even a bit changed by the end of the voyage. The Solstice experience allows you to not only be changed, but to do something with that change once you return to real life. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2008
Solstice Naming Cruise Nov 14th to Nov 16 2008 We feel honored that Celebrity invited us to attend this very special event. We left early on Friday morning on a 3 hour drive to Port Everglades to board the Solstice at 11 am. The ... Read More
Solstice Naming Cruise Nov 14th to Nov 16 2008 We feel honored that Celebrity invited us to attend this very special event. We left early on Friday morning on a 3 hour drive to Port Everglades to board the Solstice at 11 am. The ship is everything I could have imagined and more. It is something to behold and must to seen in person to get the full effect. When we stepped on the Solstice we fell in love with it. We were given a deluxe ocean view veranda on the 9th Floor (9176) and it was stunning. Nothing like a new room with new furniture, sheets, towels etc. The room was very tastefully decorated and my wife thought the storage was more then adequate if you used all the provided areas including the overhead space above the beds. The showers on the Solstice have NO curtain but two lucite doors that each slide open in a semi circle. The shower space is 30% increased compared to the C or M class ships. It was a pleasure taking a shower in this cabin. The faucets and fixtures were very upscale and worked well. Each room has a nice refrigerator which has adequate storage. The food court was the best we have ever seen at sea. I cannot call it a buffet because that would not be doing it justice. Its a huge opened room with many dedicated areas of different cuisine, ie, Mexican, Sushi, Steaks and Potatoes, desserts, Pizza and Burgers, ice cream and the best low fat frozen yogurt (no charge), cheeses and crackers and much more. The Sea Bass on the first night was excellent but nothing bested our filet mignon at Tuscan Grill which is an Italian Steakhouse. All the Captains Club Members were invited to one of the Specialty Restaurants on Saturday night. The ship naming was very touching and I have attached some videos of the ceremony at the end of this review. The crew on the ship was excellent as expected and it was great to be in the company of Richard Fein (Chairman of RCL) Dan Hanarhan (CEO Celebrity) and Adam Goldstein (CEO Royal Caribbean). There was a question and answer session with these gentlemen on Saturday morning that was very interesting. I learned a great deal from this session. Simon and Nick Weir were the perfect hosts as Hotel Director and Cruise Director. It is great seeing friends like Simon and Nick. As I told Dan H, 80% of the reason we cruise with X is because of the outstanding people in his employ. When you have taken a few cruises and get to know the ship staff you feel like part of the Celebrity family. There was a show on both nights and they were excellent. Ghost of Broadway was the best show I have ever seen on a ship. The dancers and singers were incredible. Cannot wait to see the show again on a future cruise. This event was spectacular and I am very grateful to Celebrity for including us in it. I hope to do a lot more cruising on the Solstice in the near future. Link to Video and Pictures: http://good-times.webshots.com/album/568709023aLXIrE Read Less
Sail Date: November 2008
I want to start out by saying this was my first Celebrity cruise. I normally just cruise RCCL(44 credits with them)..and I will say I was VERY impressed. Friday got there around 11.......checked in and had my pic taken right at the ... Read More
I want to start out by saying this was my first Celebrity cruise. I normally just cruise RCCL(44 credits with them)..and I will say I was VERY impressed. Friday got there around 11.......checked in and had my pic taken right at the counter (for my seapass)..that was different....... Got on the ship and was greeted by a line of employees, all wearing white gloves!! They help you with your carryons/luggage and walk you to your cabin..............oh yea, they also offer champagne/mimosas as you board........... Went to my cabin........it was a balcony cabin(category 1Bcabin # 9109)..........very pretty decor, but not set up very functionally........closet space was VERY limited.......and the beds were very close together. Maybe 6 inches.......wouldn't be a problem if the bed was together as one, but traveling with a friend, its kinda close.....plus its right next to the closet and only one person at a time can access it........ The flat screen TV on the wall was nice........its over the desk area so if you want to watch it while in bed, you can pull it over and slant it towards you.......... The bathroom was very nice..........lots of storage but not much counter space......but it was fine for me..........had some toiletries(lotion,shampoo,conditioner,qtips,cotton balls, shower cap).....waffle robes...... Balcony had two chairs and round table on it.......deck was wooden...... Did see other cabin categories( Celebrity suite # 1237).......Concierge Class(#1231).....AquaClass(#1602).....SkySuite(#2120)...Sunset Veranda(#7317)......Deluxe Oceanview(#7286).......and inside accessible(# 8164) Went exploring and hit the Oceanview cafe first for some lunch....AMAZING is all I can say........more choices than I have ever seen.....pastas,salads,sandwiches,pizzas,Mexican food, a Churasso(Brazilian) station and sooooooooo much more..............and the desserts.......WOW!!! Not your average cookies and pudding..... After eating, I went walking around more to check it all out (not sure I even have seen it all now)..... AquaSpa is very nice...heated lounge chairs, spa treatment rooms, specialty restaurant(Blu),etc......the AquaSpa cabins are located right there, so you don't have far to go........the one AquaSpa cabin I saw was exactly like my balcony cabin that was on deck 9..... The Lawn Club is really unique......I saw people playing croquet,golf,bocce ball (which glow at night).........Not sure how well, the grass will hold up after a few sailings though. You can already see where it is worn........... The Corning Glass shop and demo is right there as well........saw a demo on Saturday night and it was impressive. They had raffles and gave away some pieces, but they wont be selling any of what they make. They will display some/get rid of the rest...... In the 2 days onboard, I did manage to visit a few bars.........My favorite was the Sunset Bar..(aft near the Lawn Club)........very nice location to watch the sun go down (this is where we had our sailaway)..........another favorite was the Martini Ice Bar........the counters are actually frosted over with ice. The bartenders so their Tom Cruise impression (juggling bottles) and are quite entertaining. They have a martini tasting, where you get a flight of 6 flavors. Good way to see what you like best... Enjoyed the teas,coffees,pastries from Cafe al Bacio,,,,,,,,,,and had some crepes at Bistro on Five........didn't have any gelato at Gelateria,but they had several choices that all looked good......... You wont go hungry on this ship..........as I mentioned the Oceanview Cafe has many, many choices. Then there is the mast Grill (deck 14 midship) which had burgers, hot dogs, nacho fixings and more).........The beautiful Grand Epernay Restaurant (decks 3 and 4).....then there are the specialty restaurants...........Murano(contemporary French),Silk Harvest(Asian), and Tuscan Grille (Italian Steakhouse)......I got to eat at Tuscan Grille and 2 days later, I am still full..........it was wonderful.........I had calamari,a argula Goat cheese salad, mixed grill(lamp chop, veal, chicken, Italian sausage all on rigatoni)........for dessert, I had chocolate fondue with strawberries, bananas, pineapple,marshmallows,brownie).........SINFUL!! Some very nice shops and the typical souvenir shops........casino looked OK, even though I didn't spend too much time (or money) there........ Quasar (disco on deck 5) was hopping every night.......Sky(deck 14) had wonderful views overlooking the seas............... Did not go to any shows.......not much time to see it all in 2 days......... The highlight of the weekend was the naming/christening ceremony. It took place Friday night at 4:30pm.It was held in the Solstice Theatre(decks 4 and 5).....started with a fanfare of bagpipe players then the orchestra then played A. Beautiful Day (by U2)..... A French Horn fanfare then played and in walked the Godmother procession (including the godmother and the VIPs) The Godmother is Professor Sharon Smith.She is the first scientist to be a godmother. She holds many degrees and is a biologist oceanographer. She has survived cancer twice. She is truly the perfect pick for this position. After blessings by a rabbi and the seaman's pastor, they played the Greek and American National anthems. Richard Fain spoke then it was time for the actual christening. The Godmother cut a red ribbon which went thru out the ship and ended up at the top deck where a bottle of champagne was attached to it. The bottle then swung across, hitting the ship and thereby christening it. There is so much to see and do and like I mentioned, did not have time to do it all.........hope to book it (or one of the others in the class that are upcoming) someday......... Read Less
Sail Date: November 2008
I will start off by providing you with my ship experiences so that you can better understand my reasoning for rating this ship. I have sailed on Princess (golden class) 2 times, RCCL voyager class 12 times, RCCL Freedom Class 3 times and ... Read More
I will start off by providing you with my ship experiences so that you can better understand my reasoning for rating this ship. I have sailed on Princess (golden class) 2 times, RCCL voyager class 12 times, RCCL Freedom Class 3 times and Celebrity Millennium Class 3 times. My wife and I are between the ages of 45 to 52 and are very fit and enjoy good food and good night life (dancing late hours)and a good fitness center. With that said, let me state that of all our cruises, this ship surpassed all aspects of previous cruise experiences, that is the ship look, food and service was at the top 5+ rating. The styling of this ship is very retro/south beach hip. Lots of light colors and wonderful lounges and open areas.At 12:00 noon we enter onto the 5th deck and immediately notice a Bistro serving 24/7 wonderful healthy crepe's filled with well prepared veggies/chicken/Meats with excellent sauces. (all freshly made to order). Additionally the deserts at the Bistro were excellent. On the same deck directly across from the Bistro is a cappuccino bar with fresh coffee and more deserts. Next to the cafe, was a gelato bar with fresh gelato and ice cream. We tried 1 chicken and pesto crepe , a flank steak and caramelized onion with blue cheese crepe and had some expresso, and gelato. All were magnificent. We then proceeded to visit the buffet (just to see the food display and layout). Well CCL did an excellent job of strategically placing stations which avoids lines from forming and the display and food quality were above those of the RCCL and Princess class and in line with the infinity and Millennium ships. However, the buffet stations were the best placed/ positioned of any buffet area on any ship we sailed. We then proceeded to the fitness center which was smaller than the Voyager and Freedom class ships but bigger than the princess and infinity and Millennium class ships (nice machinery, cable,free weights and cardio options to satisfy those who choose to stay fit ... Then we proceeded to the Celebrity lounge on the upper deck which was absolutely perfect in color and style with furnishings again to be on the hip/retro south beach side. Then we proceeded to the shops which had the nicest looking store fronts of any ship I have sailed and the shops were in area's where the ceiling heights were over 25 feet (great look). The bars and martini bars were excellent and the dining room was well appointed. But now let me get to the best part of the ship (restaurant row) that is there are 4 specialty restaurants in a dedicated part of the ship with a grand entrance to each restaurant which is also where Michael is also located. There is also a dedicated fabulous bar in this area to service those who would like a drink before going to dinner. The 4 restaurants are Muranos, Tuscan, BLU and a Tia restaurant) I tried BLU and Murano's. We will start with BLU, the BLU restaurant is for AQUA SPA quests with a menu that changes nightly, the food and service here was much better than Princess speciality restaurants and RCCL Portofino's and Chops and in line with the Infinity USS united states and Olympia on the Millennium, however the seating and look and feel of the restaurant was again awesome. Then we ate at Murano's one night and my wife and I had the best meal we ever had in our entire life (land or sea and we ate in some fabulous restaurants in NYC and Las Vegas)The Service was amazing and even if you can imagine it being better than that of the USS unites States and the Olympia. The food preparation and flavors were beyond ones imagination. Also, the food in the main dining room for lunch and dinner far surpassed those of RCCL and Princess. (variety/service and taste) Also, the pool area's were well appointed with cabana'a and very comfortable seating. A real special treat/surprise to us was the upper deck/ the lawn (real grass) for boci, golf and other fun activities. Also there was a glass blowing facility on the lawn where several times a day you had an opportunity to see how wonderful works of glass art are made. Another item that impressed us was the disco (I mean at 12:00 there were actually folks up and dancing where on many of our past CCL sailing it seemed that by 10:00 or so every evening most folks went to bed, where as on this ship most folks were out having even more fun. That were I get the reference to this is the game changer that is, you have the Celebrity service and food with a retro feel and the ability to draw a younger hipper crowd who demand great food and great service without sacrificing the feel an the look of what todays baby boomers are looking for. Also, before I forget, let me tell you a little about the rooms. We had a balcony (typical size room, however the bathroom was bigger, including a bigger shower area with a closing door rather than a curtain. Also the desk and cabinet area had granite counters, with a real nice leather couch. In closing please feel free to email me to ask further questions and to provide you with pictures of my experience on board this great ship. I have over 300 pictures of every facet of this ship including the food plates for each and every meal we have. You will not be disappointed on this cruise ship. (ya the port of call are your typical) however, once your on this ship, you may not want to get off at the ports. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2008
We are great fans of cruising on Celebrity ships (Elite captains club members) and we took the opportunity to try out the new Solstice for a 2-night cruise. Embarkation at Ft lauderdale was SLOW; the staff seemed untrained and unclear ... Read More
We are great fans of cruising on Celebrity ships (Elite captains club members) and we took the opportunity to try out the new Solstice for a 2-night cruise. Embarkation at Ft lauderdale was SLOW; the staff seemed untrained and unclear as to how to enter our data into their computer even though we had completed the "Express" process prior to Embarkation. Lunch in the cafeteria was an adventure in finding where everything could be found. The quality and variety of food was very good and the decor was interesting. We spent the afternoon exploring the ship and our summary is that we were most impressed with the design and execution of this large ship. It does not seem so big because of the clever design. The cabin was pleasant with a small well-designed bathroom. We found the closet space to be limited. The 1/2 acre of grass was different but already showing signs of wear. We watched the glass blowing demonstration at the "Corning museum of glass' and found it excellent. The master glass blower "Annette" is a true professional. Dinner in the main restaurant was a big disappointment. Both nights I was given food other than that which i had ordered; it was also half-cold. On the second night I asked to speak to the Maitre'd to complain; after repeating my request 3 times, and waiting over 20 minutes he showed up and gave different explanations for his delay and for my food being unsatisfactory. The wait staff were unfriendly and resented my complaint. Other diners around us told us that they had the same experiences. This is the worst experience we have ever had in a Celebrity restaurant. This was the first Celebrity cruise on which we were not asked to complete a "comments" card before departure. The message seemed to be that the cruise line did not want our comments, so I went to Guest Relations and asked to make a comment. I was given a post-card sized form to complete and on submitting it I saw that it was added to a large pile of other cards. The evening show named "Solstice" was truly a new experience. We would recommend that everybody who travels on Solstice should see this show. Disembarkation was quick and easy. Overall a great ship that was spoilt for us by poor service at Embarkation and in the restaurant. What a pity Read Less
Sail Date: November 2008
Our cruise to no where was a charter cruise to see Celebrity's new ship so that we will advertise it by word of mouth. My husband & I who have sailed quite often and have been on several Celebrity ships were excited to see this ... Read More
Our cruise to no where was a charter cruise to see Celebrity's new ship so that we will advertise it by word of mouth. My husband & I who have sailed quite often and have been on several Celebrity ships were excited to see this beautiful new ship with all its amenities and experience the best service they had to offer. Unfortunately they have a long way to go to offer the "best" in services. Let me start with the Ship design. The Pool Area: I absolutely loved the new design out by the pool with the extra shaded area on the deck above the pool. The new seating areas with the wicker love seats and chairs are a very nice touch. There are large lounging beds spaced between all the regular lounge chairs and a hammock enclosed with sheer curtains that adds a romantic touch. Jacuzzis were nice, but did not work and the water was ice cold. I lied out by the pool for over 2 hours and not one waiter came and asked if I would like to order a drink! The weather took a drop in temperature, so we moved into the Solarium for warmth. Well the air temperature was very cool from the air conditioning; I could not even take off my cover-up and had to cover myself with a towel. I decided to go into the Jacuzzi in this area to warm up, only to find out that the heaters were not working either, and neither were the Jacuzzis outside by the pool. We located 3 workmen in the area, who were trying to fix the waterfall that wasn't working. They said they knew the Jacuzzis weren't working and could not figure out what was wrong. Then I over heard some women talking that were coming out of the Spa that the Sauna wasn't warm, it wasn't working. So I left the Solarium area. But I must say that the different types of sitting areas were very nice especially the large egg shaped lounging beds for two. The Lawn Club Area; what a different touch to a ship. There is a grassed area for playing Bocce or Croquet, but due to cold weather and wind, no one was playing outdoors. In this area is a demonstration of Glass Blowing put on by the Corning Company. It was extremely interesting to watch. Several shows where put on during the day. At the last show on the last night, they give away all the pieces that they had made, which were quite beautiful. Unfortunately that show was at 11:00pm and with the wind and cold temperature, we did not attend. The Buffet area is beautiful, very open, lots of room with plenty of tables. Unlike other Celebrity ships that we experienced, this ship does not offer the serving trays to carry your plates and does not offer the personal service of someone who carries your tray and finds you a table to sit at. Large square plates, that were very heavy, had to be carried around several food stations. I expected a better variety of food offered, and I expected the hot foods to be hot which it never was. I wonder if the board of Health knows about this? Only the stir fry food because it was cooked to order and the pasta because it was warmed up just before giving it to you were hot. In fact, the plate got so hot carrying it, I had to run over to a counter to put it down or else I would have dropped it. I did burn myself carrying a cup of hot water for tea. When holding the mug by the handle, my ring finger was positioned against the cup. I did not want to drop the cup on the floor, so by the time I quickly ran to my table, my finger was quite red from the heat. By the time you walked around, had to find a table, and get your drink, you never stood a chance to eat food that was warm. There weren't any signs over the food telling you what it was. You did not know if you were getting a seafood item or a meat item. This limited me in tasting the foods. I couldn't find out where the silverware was & was told it was on the tables. When I looked around, some of the tables did have silverware wrapped in linen napkins on the table, yet there were plenty of tables that were cleared off that had no set ups. If you didn't get a seat that had the set-up it was awhile to get someone to get you some. Again, never did anyone come to our table to ask if we wanted to order a drink. Now this ship has bars in the Buffet area, so I guess they want you to go over and order your own drink. Again, less service for the increase in price that this ship will be offering. Main Dining Room, well I just don't know where to start here. We were traveling with another couple. We asked to be assigned to the same seating (Early) and be assigned to the same table. We were assigned different dining times and the table numbers were different. When my husband went to the Maitre d'; this gentleman was quite rude, and told him that we would have to go to open seating on the lower floor of the dining room. So we went there for the first seating at 6:00 pm. The doors opened and it was a free for all. People pushing to run in and grab tables where ever they could, where was the service of being seated by someone? After finding a table, it was a while before anyone come and brought over a serving bowl with assorted bread (where was the personalized service of the server who walked around with a basket and asked what you would like?). We had to flag someone down to get water. Someone did come over to take our drink order, and that arrived in a timely matter. But after that, the timing was off. So much help were running around like chickens with no heads, yet no one was being served. They brought 3 meals and the 4th meal came out minutes later after everyone else had to start eating. The food was cool, borderline cold. I had ordered tenderloin of beef and veal. I asked for the beef to be medium, it was quite red (very rare) and the veal was not cooked all the way through. My husband ordered the Orange Roughy and he said it was delicious but cold. The waiter never came over to see if everything was OK. Then they started to clear the tables before everyone was finished & I still did not eat because the meat was raw! The food that our traveling companions ate was also cold. The coffee & dessert were great! It took so long to be served that the next seating that started at 8:30pm could not come into the dining room because people were just getting served their desserts. Then they turned on all the overhead lighting to tells up that we needed to speed up the eating, but what could they do to speed up the serving? We ordered a Specialty coffee from the waiter to get from the bar. He said they did not know how to make it & wanted to know what was in it. So we told him, and off he went to the bar. Now we are being served coffee, tea and dessert. We ask the waiter where is the Keokee Coffee? He tells us that he is getting it. Well, time past and we are now getting up from the table to leave & the waiter brings the Keokee Coffee; it is ice cold, we did not accept it since it was cold and we were now leaving. The Stateroom, was a lovely room, a little more space than usual that it made it very comfortable. There was a sofa and small table in front of it, but the sofa was wedge so close to the closet door, it made it very difficult to open the door and hang clothing. The bathroom was wonderful. It had plenty of storage and added space to actually move around in it. The shower had sliding curved doors that enclosed you and prevented the water from going everywhere. We asked our cabin steward if were could get a pitcher of ice water. She told us that she did not have water; that we had to buy it at a bar. I told her that I did not want to purchase bottled water & a pitcher of water would be fine. She told us that she could not do that, but she would give us ice and we could get water from the sink in the bathroom. Again, where is this "service" we received on other Celebrity ships?? The 2nd night we never got any ice & when we called no one answered the phone in room service, so we called Guest Relations and expressed our displeasure with the service, they sent someone up with enough ice, I could have built an igloo. Was there some underlying message that they were trying to tell us?? I realized that we also never got any little chocolates on our pillows as in other cruises. The gift shops had the usual items for sale. But since we were on a cruise to nowhere, there was a 3% sales tax that was added. Who gets that tax, is it actually paid to a state, if so, what state? The Casino - it was great not having people smoke in the Casino! I don't like the electronic slot machines that don't pay back in coins. You print a receipt and then take it to the cashier. Also, how come I only got back $58 for my $60 winnings? The cashier told me that was what I got! Who got the other $2.00? It will be a few years before I would give this ship another chance. I was told all personnel were experienced and came from another ship, well, something is wrong with the service if it isn't inexperience! Also, I wish they would get new entertainment. The want you to be a steady customer; yet the entertainment is rotated among their ships and we see the same thing over and over again. What we saw this weekend, we saw last year on our Greek cruise with Celebrity. Kathy J-Lake Worth, FL Read Less
Sail Date: November 2008
I am not as experienced a cruiser as some on here, but I do have 5 cruises under my belt (so far). My experience has been confined to NCL, Royal Caribbean and now Celebrity. We booked the inaugural 2 night 'cruise to nowhere' ... Read More
I am not as experienced a cruiser as some on here, but I do have 5 cruises under my belt (so far). My experience has been confined to NCL, Royal Caribbean and now Celebrity. We booked the inaugural 2 night 'cruise to nowhere' on Celebrity Solstice out of Ft. Lauderdale. My travel partner lives in the area, so we had no hotel. As a little background, this 2-night cruise, while it was the maiden voyage, was a charter. The Solstice is, of course, brand new and the first of the Solstice-class ships from Celebrity. Knowing Celebrity's reputation for excellence, we were looking forward to this cruise very much. To summarize the more detailed review below, the ship is absolutely gorgeous. The service, unfortunately, did not live up to our expectations. First, the good/great: The ship is beautiful. I don't have all that much to add to the cruise-critic review or the previous member's reviews, but as far as the ship itself goes, everything that they said is true and more. My travel partner works as an interior designer and she could not stop talking about the creativity, quality and beauty of the interior spaces. Myself, with the exception of a couple of spaces that did not appeal to me, I found the interior of the ship to be visually stunning. In particular, the main dining room was light and airy. Missing was the often gaudy and over-busy decoration that is found in ship's dining rooms. Solstice's was a relaxing and engaging place to be. Other highlights for me were the Sky Lounge, Michael's Club and the Tuscan Restaurant. The decorative beam work on the ceiling of the Sky Lounge tied in beautifully with the structural form of the window frames, Michael's Club, although apparently not unique to this ship, is an elegantly comfortable space. The Tuscan Restaurant, with its 'tunnel' entrance is visually stunning. The only spaces I didn't like were the Quasar club, which seemed kitschy and not very inviting or functional, and the Care Baccio, which was just a matter of particular taste; the yellow/green theme was not appealing to me (however, the coffee and gelato were superb). These are, admittedly, just a matter of personal taste, and not really a criticism of the ship's design. You can't please everyone all of the time. The only other small criticism I have of the ship's design concerns the large Celebrity "X" on the outside of the ship. This "X" is rendered on the side of the ship by dark tinting of the glass on stateroom verandas. The "X" is very striking in the exterior view of the ship, but if you happen to be one of the unfortunate ones occupying one of the staterooms with the tinted veranda glass, your view of the ocean is impaired (the tinting is transparent, but very dark, so it's difficult to see through the glass when sitting on the veranda). This is a small thing, but just seemed to me to be one of the few places where design has compromised function. Apart from that, the staterooms were very nice. There was plenty of storage, the large flat-screen TV was a nice touch, and the bed was very comfortable. The room seemed a little bit larger than average, as was the bathroom. Entertainment of the ship was limited, but this was likely a result of the short nature of the cruise. There was a variety show that we did not attend, and a comedian that we did not get to see because there was no room left in the performance room. My main disappointments with this cruise were with the service, the food and activities. With regard to the service, we found the stateroom service to be just a little below the standards of attentiveness that we have experienced on other cruises. While the service was adequate, missing were the little touches that make a cruise special (mints on turndown, towel animals, etc.) The mini bar was empty when we arrived. It was filled the day after we arrived, but we were not allowed access to it. Our attendant told us the reason for this was that the mini-bar order/inventory forms had not yet been printed, but it seemed to us that the real reason was that they were stocking the mini-bar for the 7 night cruise that immediately followed ours, and they didn't want to have to restock it again before that cruise. We were invited by our attendant to go to the bar and get our own drinks. Room service was an unmitigated disaster. The first night, I waited on hold for 20 minutes. Eventually I hung up. We did manage to get through to them later for a late-night snack, but the order we received was not correct (the cheeseburger had no cheese, and instead of the bottle of cabernet sauvignon we ordered, we received chardonnay instead. We probably wouldn't have minded a swap of one red wine for another, but to swap a red for a white is not generally done. When we called back to return the wine, room service told us that we needed to get our stateroom attendant to correct their error. They wouldn't do it. The next day, we ordered a late-afternoon snack. It was promised in 30 minutes. When it had not arrived after 90 minutes, I called room service to inquire; again, they would not pick up the phone. After another 15 minutes on hold, I gave up. It required a call to the guest services to get through to room service. As I was speaking to them, the food arrived. We sent it back as we no longer wanted it, but did notice that the order was, again, not correct. The food was delivered by our stateroom attendant who told us that she had received the pick-up call from the kitchen only 10 minutes before. Clearly they have some bugs to work out with room service. The main dining room experience was also a disappointment, both the food and the service. The service was extremely slow. We ate there on both nights. The first one we were seated for over half an hour before the appetizer was delivered. The courses for me and my partner were delivered at widely different times, forcing one of us to let their food grow cold while waiting for the other to be served. The second night, we sat for an hour before the appetizer arrived. The main course was similarly delayed. The problem appeared to be not with the wait staff, who delivered the food from their stations as soon as it arrived. The problem seemed to be with the kitchen that was extremely slow delivering the plates to the waiters. The food itself was also a disappointment. The appetizers were good but not in any way exceptional. The soups were excellent, but the main courses were of low quality and poorly prepared. As an example, on the first night, we both ordered the same thing: tornados of beef and pork. I ordered my beef medium rare, my partner medium. Both of our dishes arrived the same: very well-done; dry and tough as shoe leather. They were also of only luke-warm temperature, apparently having sat in the kitchen for a while before arriving at the waiter's station. The aspect of the dining room experience that I disliked the most was one of policy not quality. The seating system that was used on this cruise was a hybrid between the traditional assigned seating and sister line Royal Caribbean's 'free-style' program. Unfortunately, Celebrity seems to have taken the disadvantages of each program and combined them. When we booked the cruise, we were asked what kind of table we would like to reserve (small table), but when we arrived at dinner the first night at the upper level entrance to the dining room, we were sent away because the upper level was only for those with a reserved table. When we explained that we thought we did have a reserved table, the host would not check and simply sent us downstairs where there was open seating. Besides one of the times on the cruise that we were made to feel like second-class citizens (more on that later), there were no small tables available downstairs. The advantages of assigned table / assigned time dining are that you have to opportunity to get to know your table-mates and you have the same waiters each night. The waiters get to know your particular likes and dislikes, and I have found that to be one of the pleasures of cruising. The disadvantage is the lack of flexibility: you have to eat at your assigned time. The advantage of free-style type cruising is that you have choices as to what and where you want to eat. Under Celebrity's system, you have no flexibility - you eat in the dining room at your assigned time, but you also eat with different people and have different waiters every night. It is true that Solstice does have specialty restaurants, but these were completely booked before we ever got on the ship, and we were given no opportunity to pre-book (this may not be Celebrity's fault, but rather the agency, as they were unable to deliver our cruise documents to us until the day before the cruise). Another issue that we found distasteful was that we were made on more than one occasion to feel like second-class passengers on the ship. The first time was, as I mentioned, being dismissed by the host who would not check on wither we had a reserved table as we believed, instead sending us downstairs to open dining room seating. The second time was in the restaurant Blu. This restaurant is, apparently, reserved for only Aqua class passengers. We walked into Blu late at night, just to see it. At the time we walked in, it was near closing, and in fact was empty of diners (so, you know, there was no risk of the hoity-toity being offended by our plebian presence). We just wanted to have a look because it is a visually stunning restaurant. We were informed by the host that this restaurant was not for us. In principle, I guess I don't have a problem with a line offering premium services to higher paying customers, but I also don't think this should be done in such a way as to alienate your other customers. The restaurant is physically freely accessible and inviting. I would suggest that they could adopt a model more like they do with the private Persian Lounge. Put it out of sight, were the mainstream cruisers are not subjected to being told that they are second-class and not welcome. It made me wary of walking into other places on the ship for fear of being similarly rebuffed. As a final comment there are two reasons that I will not be anxious to take another Celebrity cruise. The first is that it did not live up to my expectations as a premium product. I think that the food and service was actually better on all of the four previous cruises I've taken. Because of this, I felt that there was no reason to bear the premium cost of a Celebrity cruise. Now, in defense of the line, I heard it said that ours was not a 'real' Celebrity cruise, being a special charter. But I paid as much for it as I would have a 'real' cruise, the ship and the crew were from Celebrity and therefore representing the line, and they certainly were not shy about trying to sell future cruises on board. Secondly, the atmosphere on the ship was lacking in (for lack of a better term) fun. The musicians stopped playing early, most of the venues were deserted by 11:00-ish. We were the only ones in the Sky Lounge (the last bar open) after 11:30. There was little in the way of dancing or any other activity going on in the evenings. Perhaps it was was the demographic of the passengers, or the fact that the ship was only about ¾ booked. Perhaps it was the lack of any of the organized evening activities one often finds on cruises (e.g. karaoke, piano bar, games). A cruise-director was not seen or heard from at any time on this cruise. Honestly, I don't think I can blame this on Celebrity, they can't force the passengers to have fun, but it is nonetheless a factor in my feelings about taking a future cruise with them So in summary, we found the Solstice to be an absolutely gorgeous ship, but lacking in the quality of food and service, and perhaps also lacking a little soul. I hope that these negatives might just reflect start-up pains and will be overcome. I'll keep an eye on future reviews to see if I should consider giving them another chance in the future, but for now, I'm sticking with their sister line RCCL where my experiences have been much more positive. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2008
We booked 2 balcony rooms...one for us and one for our teen aged grandsons who had never cruised before. The ship was truly beautiful...sophisticated elegance is how I would describe it's design and interior. Our staterooms were ... Read More
We booked 2 balcony rooms...one for us and one for our teen aged grandsons who had never cruised before. The ship was truly beautiful...sophisticated elegance is how I would describe it's design and interior. Our staterooms were supposed to be adjoining but were not so we had to change room keys at guest relations as they would book one adult with one child in each room per their rules. The room was large enough for my wheelchair and oxygen concentrator. The bathroom was roomy with a curved glass shower door so you could even bend over to wash your feet without getting water all over the floor. Our room stewardess finally brought a small container for ice at 4 PM and the next night she didn't give us any at all. Room service was very slow...the boys ordered cookies and milk and they brought warm milk so they put it in the refrigerator. The buffet lunch was very good the first day on arrival but the next day's breakfast was cold, coffee tasted really bad and the orange juice was watered down. We had to take silverware off another table and get our own drinks as none of the attendants bothered to help us. Dinner in the main dining room was very slow and the food was not hot. We had reservations and they knew I was disabled but I had to walk all the way to the back of the room to our table. I was expecting to have some bottled water and cans of soda in our room but we had to drink water from the bathroom sink. The worst part of our cruise was that there was NO SMOKING on the balcony or anywhere but a few outdoor areas...The port side of the deck 5 had some chairs and ashtrays with a view of the life boats and the port side of the Mast Bar had standing room only most of the time. We were not told about the smoking when we booked the cruise. To top it off, I forgot to pack cigarettes for my husband! We thought we could buy them on board at the liquor store but because it was a 2 day cruise no cigarettes or alcohol were sold. One of the other passengers heard of my husband's plight and gave him 2 packs. The entertainment was very good both nights especially the Solstice aerial circus the second night. The comedian didn't come on til 11:45 so we missed him both nights. We enjoyed the jazz trio in the Ensemble Lounge both nights. We have traveled Celebrity twice before but the service, food and attitude of the employees was not up to par. There was no comment card in the room to tell them what they were doing right or wrong. I did not feel welcome like I have on other cruises. It was a lot of money for 2 days. I think we will stick to Princess and Royal Caribbean from now on. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2008
Overall the Celebrity Solstice was a beautiful ship, but I'm not sure we're cruising folks. I had cruised on the Carnival Elation 3 years ago but found out I am not a Carnival cruise party type. My husband has travelled ... Read More
Overall the Celebrity Solstice was a beautiful ship, but I'm not sure we're cruising folks. I had cruised on the Carnival Elation 3 years ago but found out I am not a Carnival cruise party type. My husband has travelled extensively around the world and I have done a lot of travel in the US and Europe, so we have a lot of travel experience. This was a special price for the Solstice inaugural, so I felt I found a fairly good deal. While most of the problems we had were minor and didn't have the time to try to rectify them (for example the breakfast service was wrong but we had a tour to get off the ship to attend so no time to reorder to get the right items). I did bring these items to the attention of Celebrity after the fact, and I only mention them for future cruisers information. They did not make or break the cruise, but rather just lessened the impression we had of this claimed outstanding service of Celebrity. Embarkation: We had cruise air connections which turned out really well because it was about $400 less than I could find for airfare from North Dakota to Fort Lauderdale. As it turned out, Celebrity couldn't find the airfare for less either as the ticketed price was twice what we paid for it and we had first class seats on the flight from Fort Lauderdale to Minneapolis. I do note that I do not see our town in North Dakota as an option for cruise air any longer. The transfer people to pick us up in Fort Lauderdale were not easily found though. We saw every ship company but ours. After we collected our luggage, we asked the Princess transfer lady who sent us to the other end of the terminal building where she thought our transfer person was. She was not, so I called Royal Caribbean's line and they said they would send someone over and to just wait right by the luggage carousel. We did and a person eventually came and made us feel rather stupid. Apparently the person with the Royal Caribbean sign was to get the Celebrity folks as well, but I never saw him with the sign. The transfers continued to be confusing and waiting for long periods of time. The confusion and hurry up and wait mentality included the next day with our transfers from the Marriott hotel to port. We were to bring ourselves and our luggage to a ballroom, according to the instructions given the day before, but the ballroom was closed. I went up the bell desk who said there aren't enough Celebrity people so I don't know why they told you that, just wait in the lobby starting at 11:30am. No clear instructions were given and we eventually asked other travelers (when the Celebrity personnel said to just wait in the lobby and there will be an announcement) and the other folks told us that the Solstice people were around the corner. Luckily we followed and found the bus. We mostly waited, standing up except for the last 20 minutes on the bus, until 1pm. Once we got the terminal, it was a smooth embarkation though. Ship: She is a very beautiful ship. The public spaces are absolutely lovely. The art is rotated often, even throughout the cruise. The welcome aboard mimosa was nice (though I had to ask for it as the lady on one side only had champagne). No one took our carry ons or even told us where our rooms were but we managed to find it. One huge problem they need to fix are the elevators. It isn't bad when all are in service, but during the day often 2 elevators would be out of service. When you have 8 midship and 3 stern, this slows down the elevators and causes congestion. I understand they need to clean the outside of them but it would make much more sense to do so at night when people don't use the elevators. Room: We were in Concierge Class balcony room 1142 on sky deck which is deck 10. This bed is next to the balcony. Loved the balcony with the 2 chairs that can be moved to make the backs go down, 2 foot rests and a nice table. The sliding glass doors were great, but be sure to turn the handle closed when shutting it as the wind will whistle if not properly shut. The bed was OK. Everything is down and I'm allergic. So we had to ask for regular pillows and 2 of the scratchier blankets which aren't as soft as the duvet. This pillow menu appears not really to exist since when I said are there different pillows without down, the stateroom attendant said I can give you regular pillows. The larger flat screen TV that swings out so it can be seen from the bed. Nice selection of channels though the location option on the TV isn't our actual location other than to give latitude and longitude but is an animated map of our general path on the cruise. There is a nice more detailed map on the 3rd floor though it doesn't give exact location, it was better. We had our welcome champagne, 3 fresh flowers, fruit daily (except our 2nd sea day) and canapes every afternoon. The fluffy robes were convenient and nice. The shower with the half moon design was acceptable and the shower head can be directed away from the doors or more toward the wall, but the whole unit cannot be moved up and down. We did have a leak between staterooms on the balcony which took the repairmen 2 tries on different days to fix. It was coming from above down a bolt, so I'm not even sure what caused it. The sofa was comfortable enough for having the leathery/plastic type material covering it. One warning though is to make sure your door shuts. Even with the balcony door shut (and it is very hard to open the door with it open), the door to the hall has problems opening and shutting. Our stateroom attendant left the door unlatched most days after she went in. Anyone could have walked right into our room and we have no idea for how long the door was open before we would get back. Food: This is one area where I found problems. The food was good generally but maybe we're just regular folks. The service was not. In the dining room, I felt like we were a bother to our waiter and assistant waiter. I went for long periods with an empty water glass, but perhaps they were trying to encourage wine purchase which we only did on our formal first night. The bread basket got empty without even an offer to fill it and dirty dishes sat on the table for quite some time before taken (even when its clear there is nothing left on either of our plates). As such we only ate in the dining room 3 nights. We did eat at Silk Harvest which was OK but for $25 per person it was not worth it ($20 per person plus the suggested tip of an additional $5 per person at the restaurant). The buffet and the pool grill were good as was the Bistro (for an additional $5 per person) but nothing that wowed me. The biggest problem was the timeframes for meals. My husband doesn't like breakfast food but that was the only free option until 11:30am or later. And we arrived at the Oceanview buffet at 11:30am but before noon and they were not ready for lunch at all. There were some breakfast items still out and the few lunch items out still had the plastic wrap around them. And it was rather tiring to have the same options for supper from 6pm to 9:30pm at the buffet. While the sushi, pizza and pasta are good, I just don't see why they cannot offer something else. If we wanted anything else, we had to go to the dining room, where we felt like we were a bother or pay extra either in charge and tip or just tip for room service. The 2 room service requests were messed up too. The breakfast was just a few minutes late but it was also a cherry compote instead of the strawberry compote with whipped cream (no cream), and no pain au chocolate was included. The dinner service was accurate though the chicken quesadilla was rather different. I wonder if the stateroom attendant had just too many rooms to which to attend, as we saw her really farther down the hall one day. This may have caused the problem. Ports: San Juan was fun to see though I would have liked to have been there earlier in the day to be able to get out of the city to El Yunque but a 2pm dock is just too late to accomplish that. St. Kitts was OK. We walked around a bit, but it is a dirty and very poor city. A taxi took us to the closest beach which felt dirty. I loved St. Martin and did Bernard's Tours. We had Slim as our guide and he was fantastic with a great personality. Loved Orient Beach and Maho Beach tremendously. Debarkation: This went well. We arrived as group 5 in the Solstice Theater 10 minutes before the appointed time and was told our number had been called. Customs was quick and the bus transfers were logical to find. Overall: I'm not sure we're cruisers at heart. Nick Weir is a fabulous cruise director and the steel pan and guitar players were great. The shows were OK, though the Cirque de Soleil type show the first formal night was kind of strange to me as was the xylopunk guy that was the featured entertainer. The acrobats are obviously very talented, though I would actually rate my Carnival Elation nighttime entertainment higher. The lecturers were outstanding though. We had Walt Cunningham (Pilot of Apollo 7) and Bill Miller (cruise historian) as well as the photographer for the Beatles and other celebrities, which didn't interest us. We did go to all 4 of Cunningham's and Miller's lectures. They were fabulous. My husband played the casino. It was OK, though it would be nice to explain that you need to sign up in advance for the poker tournaments which he didn't find out until right before the tournaments were to start. The shops were overpriced. The lawn thing really didn't do much for either of us. The hot glass shows, as well as other shows, were at really awkward times. For example, the comedian started at 11am but the gala buffet started at 11:15am. The lectures were often at the same time as other activities as well, but there were large pieces of time where there was nothing appealing happening. We also quickly tired of the hand out for tips constantly. The mandatory tip plus the option for extra tip on each meal, each gelato and each specialty restaurant added up quickly not to mention the $144 in tips at the end of the cruise. From now on, as much as we both love the ocean, we'll stick to independent tours on land as we can get twice as much vacation for the same price unless it's a truly fabulous price. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2008
Here is my in-depth review of our maiden voyage experience onboard Celebrity Solstice. First, my background. I have travelled on most of the mainstream cruise lines including Celebrity over 10 times, Princess, RCCL, HAL, Cunard and ... Read More
Here is my in-depth review of our maiden voyage experience onboard Celebrity Solstice. First, my background. I have travelled on most of the mainstream cruise lines including Celebrity over 10 times, Princess, RCCL, HAL, Cunard and Carnival. We are in our late 30's and traveled with friends and family members. Celebrity is our cruise line of choice. Embarkation was very easy and well coordinated. We arrived at the port about 10:45 am and after a short time in the waiting area we proceeded to the check in area. I was impressed that there were 60 check-in stations. The one thing I noted about the embarkation was that the ramp going up to board Solstice was extremely steep. I have never boarded such a steep ramp to a ship before. This was not a problem for us, however I could see where someone that had mobility issues could be challenged. Our stateroom was balcony cabin 7163. We were immediately impressed with the new layout and decor of the cabin. The huge interactive flat screen TV is wonderful. It works quickly and has a great picture. It functions more like a computer than a TV. You can access your onboard account, the internet, typical TV programming, movies on demand (some are free, some are a charge) and most impressively your onboard photo's. It also has a great navigational screen showing very clear maps. I have to believe that they have face recognition software as all of our pictures showed up from throughout the cruise. We only had our card scanned once before a photo, and that was for our embarkation photo. The closet is noticeably smaller, however we found it more than adequate for our hanging clothes. There is storage above the bed which is very nice and spacious as well as several drawers under the TV. The bed is noticeably higher which makes it easy to store your luggage. There is a great feature in the bathroom which merely dims the light when you turn off the switch, creating a nightlight. There is a dimmer switch as you walk into your stateroom, which is wonderful. A very annoying feature that took us a bit to figure out is the power switch on the upper bank of switches as you enter your stateroom. When you engage it, it turns off all power to your cabin. The bathroom is very nice and large. The attacking shower curtains are a thing of the past. The shower stalls have the capsule-like doors like the Radiance class of RCCL have except these showers are noticeably bigger. The towels seemed to be upgraded, however it could be because they are new. The verandah was a very nice size and the furniture is wonderful. It is much like that on my own deck at home. There is a full size white leather sofa which is quite nice and comfortable. The one complaint I have in regards to the stateroom is that they have removed the water pitcher. The silver ice bucket and glasses are there but in place of the pitcher is a large bottle of water for purchase. A sign of the times I suppose, I guess they need to increase revenue where possible. The safe is noticeably larger and is located in the closet. The pools were very beautiful. We did not step into them the entire cruise as they were ice cold. I think I saw a small handful of people throughout the week in them. The disappointing part is that they are not heating the solarium pool. I realize that it must be very expensive to heat the pools, but I believe they should be heating the solarium pool at a minimum. I truly miss the thalassotherapy pools of the m-class. The solarium is beautiful, though! As for deck chairs, there are tons of them. The best point is that all of the deck chairs on all of the decks have pads and are very comfortable. My favorite area was that of the Solstice deck, forward on deck 16. The Solstice deck is quiet with wonderful views and is non-smoking. I have a major complaint about the outside deck above the pool, however. They have designated the port side of the pool deck as smoking, which is fine as there are thankfully very few areas for people to smoke. The problem I have is that the Mast Grill (port side above the pool, forward) and the Mast Bar (starboard side above the pool, forward) is also designated as smoking. The big issue here is that the tables with smokers are surrounding the Mast Grill (imagine standing in line for your food and having to choke on the smoke from all of those around you). Then, with the Mast Bar, you have a number of tables full of ashtrays and smokers on the non-smoking side of the ship. Being this bar is forward of the pool area the smoke is blowing past all of those trying to enjoy the sun on the non-smoking side. With this being said, there is not a smoke-free area above the pool to enjoy the sun. They need to make some changes in regards to this! The Oceanview Cafe is much improved. The food was wonderful and the selections were great. The new stations are really nice. There was plenty of seating at all times. The outside seating area behind Oceanview is fantastic. There are comfortable chairs and tables as well as some sofa seating. This area is much larger than on the M-class and it is all non-smoking. The elevators seemed very nice, although we try not to use them. With all of the decks on Solstice we got our workout climbing stairs! I like that they have blue lights over the elevators normally and when your called elevator arrives it turns red right above it to alert you as to which one has arrived. Murano was a truly wonderful experience. It is slightly different than the M-class specialty dining, so go open-minded. The menu is quite different however everything was absolutely fabulous. The menu now offers you 3 choices (appetizer, soup or salad and then your entree) verses the old 2 choice menu on M-class (starter and entree). There is no longer a cheese course, however. We did see the cheese cart around the corner but I am assuming it is now for those that order the food/wine pairing. The service and food were both exceptional. I had the goat cheese appetizer followed by the mushroom soup and portobello gelato (truly awesome!) and then the filet which was outstanding in quality and flavor. Murano is much smaller than any of the other specialty dining rooms I have ever seen which makes it much more intimate and special. As usual, we had several staff attending to our every desire for our table of 6. Problems started later in our meal, though. Unfortunately, the problems had nothing to do with the staff or the food, but rather an unruly passenger. There was a larger table that was seated just before us in the center of the small dining room. There was a woman seated there that decided to ruin not only everyone else's experience in the dining room but possibly some of the staff's future in their career. She began badgering the staff about things like how she did not feel "special", that her food was not good, that there was not a soufflE on the menu, something about water, and on and on. She did this very loudly, clearly creating a scene for all of us to hear. Slowly, more and more staff went over trying to appease her and quiet her down but to no avail. Eventually she caused enough trouble that other officers were brought in to try and make her happy. In the meantime, we all had to listen to her make a fool of herself and treat the staff like dirt which is very hard to listen to. She even went on and on about how she had made reservations online and paid for them in advance and why were they charging her again. This was completely untrue and impossible. I know for a fact that due to a glitch in their system prior to this cruise (we had tried to make Murano reservations for weeks, and you could not, confirmed paid reservations were available only for Tuscan Grill and Silk Harvest). My biggest problem with this is not about what her ranting did having to listen to her, but for what she was doing to the staff who work so hard to please us. The staff are people too. When you push the staff so hard that outside officers are brought in to the situation, you have caused severe problems for the staff that could cost them their job or future promotions. She was the most selfish passenger I have ever encountered out of more than 30 cruises. Later while out in the public areas I did let her know of my dissatisfaction with her unacceptable behavior but I do not think it did any good. The most interesting part was that when she left the dining room the rest of the passengers in the dining room started clapping at her departure! We enjoyed Tuscan Grill. What a beautiful dining room and what wonderful food! I have to make a note, though, about how much food you are served. We were so full! I had the crab appetizer to start followed by the onion soup and then the veal parmesan. It was the best veal parmesan I have ever had! Production shows were amazing. The first one was a cirque-like show that was reminiscent of many Cirque shows that I have seen. I could not believe what a wonderful performance it was. The second show was a new rendition of the broadway show and it was wonderful as well. Onboard entertainment was very good. Jefferson Ang performed many times over the cruise. He is a fantastic guitar player and singer. Look for him on future cruises and don't miss his shows! The comedian, Steve Cauoette, does a fantastic comedy act however you only need to go to one of his performances as he has only one act. He appeared 4 times on our cruise in the new "Celebrity Central" which is a great new theatre built for smaller venues such as comedians. I think it is great that he appeared so many times, but it should be listed as a repeat performance so that you do not stay up until midnight only to find it is the same show you already saw. The Martini bar is much bigger than on the rest of the fleet. The first night we went the techno music was so loud that we finished our drinks and went to another venue. We did revisit it one other time later in the cruise and the volume level was better. The Martini Bar is located just off the atrium on this ship. We preferred having our before dinner cocktails in the Ensemble Lounge or Michaels Club, which are wonderfully decorated areas with super comfortable lounge furniture. Our favorite bar waiter was in Michaels Club, so we visited there most often. There was often a piano player/singer or string quartet playing which we really enjoyed. The Grand Epernay is the main dining room on Solstice. We were seated on the lower floor at table 225 which was towards the rear of the dining room. The dining room is stunning. The furniture is super comfortable. There is gorgeous lighting throughout the dining room that changes colors on different nights (blue one night, white another and so forth). The new menus were fantastic. I do not know how anyone could complain about the food, selection or service. I and the rest of our table mates were all very happy with the food. There were a couple of isolated items that did not meet our satisfaction, but that is to be expected on the maiden voyage with a new menu and ship! Overall the food was excellent. The potato accompaniments to most entree's were exceptional. The sauces, which give most dishes their flavor, were also exceptional. The photographers really dropped the ball on the second formal night. We were all dressed in our tuxes and gowns and wanted a picture after dinner (which we have done many times on other Celebrity vessels). Once the dining room finale was over (the staff introductions, etc) we left along with the majority of 2nd seating guests. There were people taking their own pictures all over the atrium area because the photographers were done for the night. Hopefully they will change their hours a bit so that they do not disappoint future cruisers. Our first port of call was in San Juan. We simply got off of the ship and did a walking tour of the forts and town. A very enjoyable afternoon! San Juan appeared to be much cleaner and better kept with many buildings having fresh paint than all of us remembered. Our second port was St. Maarten. We have been there many times and decided to try a tour that we have not done before and found some recommendations for Captain Alan here on Cruise Critic in the ports of call section. I booked directly with him for his 3-stop snorkel excursion. He arranged for a taxi to pick us up at the port to take us for the 10 minute ride to the marina. Captain Alan and his wife, Colleen, have 2 beautiful power boats, Awesome and Awesome Too. There were 18 of us and they took both boats so that we would not be crowded. They run a first class operation! Their boats are beautiful and you can tell they truly care about their business. They took us first to Green Cay then to Pinel Island. After that they took took us to another island where we enjoyed a gorgeous beach and a mud bath! We all had a great time and I was very excited to see parts of St. Maarten that I had never seen before. The third port was St. Kitts. We booked directly with Red Sail Sports for their morning catamaran trip. Again it was a perfect excursion on a gorgeous big catamaran. They served a very nice lunch and we were well taken care of the entire trip. We walked to their docks, which were just minutes from where the ship docks. The Glass Show onboard is wonderful. Very neat and unusual. The show runs quite often, and you can show up whenever you would like to. They do not sell their work, but instead they raffle it off throughout the cruise during the show. The disembarkation was very smooth and even ahead of schedule. We virtually walked off the ship, through immigration and picked up our luggage in a matter of minutes. In summary, Solstice is a new generation of cruising for Celebrity and I applaud them for creating a wonderful new ship. The service, food and whole experience far exceeded my expectations and I cannot wait for our Cruise Critic group cruise in March 2009! I have a new favorite ship... Celebrity Solstice! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2008
SOLSTICE MAIDEN VOYAGE - Nov. 23 - 30, 2008 Cabin 7317 - Aft Sunset Veranda SOLSTICE DAY 1 - Embarkation & Sailaway We waited for more than 18 months to embark on the Solstice maiden voyager. To say we were excited that the day ... Read More
SOLSTICE MAIDEN VOYAGE - Nov. 23 - 30, 2008 Cabin 7317 - Aft Sunset Veranda SOLSTICE DAY 1 - Embarkation & Sailaway We waited for more than 18 months to embark on the Solstice maiden voyager. To say we were excited that the day finally arrived was an understatement. We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale the day before sailing and spent the night at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66. We were up early the next morning and walked up the causeway across from the hotel...and sure enough - our ship had indeed arrived! We left the Hyatt around10:00 AM and headed to Port Everglades. The entrance we entered (north of the entrance you use if arriving from the airport) had a port security guard that didn't want to allow us to enter. She told us we couldn't enter until 11:30 AM. We were actually going to drop luggage and then head to the airport with Host Joe to drop off his rental car. We explained that and she didn't want to believe us but did let us through. When we arrived at the terminal there was lots of passengers already sitting there waiting for the boarding process to begin (at least 100 or more). When Andy and Joe got back from the airport around 10:45, the guard at that entrance waved them right through. We were then seated in the terminal building until 11:00 AM when they began the embarkation process. It was quick and easy and we were on board the ship before 11:30. Lunch was available in the Oceanview Cafe on Deck 14 and they were asking that you wait to go to your cabin until 1:00 PM. We headed up to the buffet and enjoyed a very nice lunch on the aft deck of the Cafe. I found this area to be much larger than that of the M-class ships with a wide variety of furniture. Tables and chairs for two, four and six and rattan love seats with small tables. The buffet has a different way of providing silverware. It is now rolled in napkins and placed on tables throughout the cafe (inside and out). In theory, it's a great concept. You can easily see where there is an open spot to eat. However, they need to ensure that tables are quickly cleaned and new silverware is provided as there is nowhere in the buffet area to grab silverware any longer. There are teaspoons at the four coffee stations in the buffet but that's it. At 4:30, we had our muster drill. This is the best way I've seen any ship do this drill. All passengers are assigned to one of the public areas on deck five (specialty restaurants, lounges, theater) and the safety instructions are provided on flat screen tvs or projectors. You sit and listen to the instructions and then you are released. It's fast and easy, comfortable too. We did not have to go outside to the lifeboats. A big thanks to Celebrity for this terrific improvement. Cruise Critic Gathering Cruise Critic members gathered at the Sunset Bar for a wonderful Sailaway from Ft. Lauderdale. Many showed up to meet one another as the shoreline faded away to a spectacular sunset. A very special thanks to Joanne & Bob (Penney80) for their wonderful Cruise Critic member name tags (a wonderful memorabilia item) they prepared. They were AWESOME! And thanks to C 2 C (Arno) for maintaining the list of member names for the cruise. It was a big task and everyone appreciated the efforts of Arno, Joanne & Bob After Sailaway, we spent some time at the Oceanview Bar (just below the Sunset Bar) listening to Jefferson Ang, a fantastic guitar player, while we chatted with Jocelyn, the bartender for this location. Jocelyn had previously been on Millennium and Century. Many of the crew on board has been on other Celebrity ships. Within the first several hours we had run into six or seven crew members we know from previous cruises. This is one of the nice things about sailing with Celebrity on a regular basis. As we headed off for dinner following Sailaway, it was a little bit of a that there was nothing special today to celebrate this inaugural sailing. It was a little surprising and a little disappointing after waiting 18 months for the sailing to arrive. Other than a mention from the Captain during the muster drill, nothing was mentioned about this being a maiden voyage. Now that we are on board for a full seven-night cruise (we were fortunate to have been on board for the Naming Ceremony and two-night sailing last weekend), we've had the chance to unpack and check out the storage in the cabins. I'm not wild about the location of the closets, but for us there is more than enough storage. We still had unused space after completely unpacking. I also need to say that now that we are in our aft sunset veranda, the cabin is very nice and the veranda doesn't seem as small as it did last weekend when it was an open cabin for viewing. I think because our veranda last weekend was a bit bigger, when we saw the sunset veranda, it felt "smaller." But walking into the cabin today, the veranda seems fine. It's still a shame that they didn't elect to extend these verandas somewhat since they certainly could have, but it's nice. I do think that the blue extension with the solar panels that are on top of Tuscan Grille is an eyesore (already dirty, catching items that blow off the upper decks) for the verandas just above it (decks 6, 7 & 8). We chose to meet in the Martini bar for pre-dinner drinks. Some semi-private alcoves surround the bar itself and we ordered drinks from one of these. But the piped in music was far too loud and had the "hip, techno" beat that after about 20 minutes started to get on your nerves. We moved to the Ensemble Lounge for a soften atmosphere where a jazz trio provided the perfect background to drinks and conversation. After Sailaway and before dinner, we headed to the internet cafe to set up a wireless account. It was a bit chaotic as they were trying to start a computer class and help people trying to just use the internet. The ship is wireless throughout. So if you are using your laptop in your cabin you must set up a wireless account (User ID and password) and then purchase a package when you log on to the internet. You can do this from your stateroom but since I had a Capt Club coupon that gave me 20% more minutes when I bought a package, I had to go to the internet cafe to turn that in. The internet was not working properly the first day so everyone received free wireless until the morning of Day 2. Internet time on a per minute basis is kind of expensive for internet time ($.65/min) so we purchased a package. Package pricing is: 75 minute package - $40.00 125 minute package - $60.00 185 minute package - $80.00 263 minute package - $100.00 The BEST thing about tonight, however, was dinner in the Grand Epernay restaurant (main dining room). Our table was on the lower level and our servers were very good. The menu was interesting and varied. Appetizers received rave reviews - two of us had the pork potstickers while everyone else had the eggplant parmesan. Everyone love both of them. The spinach salad that followed was equally as good. But the highlight of the evening was the entrees. Andy had the lamb chops with a mixture of other lamb items such as lamb sausage. He raved about it. The rest of us had the beef tenderloin and veal filet with scalloped potatoes and creamed carrots. I'm not kidding....it was terrific. It was followed by crème brulee, a chocolate parfait (really a mousse) and sugar free crepes for dessert. If the food in the main dining room is as good the rest of the cruise as it was tonight, Celebrity has found a way to return to its outstanding food. Our waiter explained the entrees may take a bit longer than normal because they are being prepared as the orders are placed instead of mass plated ahead of time. It seemed to make a difference. Additionally, the varied plates (mine was oblong while my husband's was a wide bowl-like dish) and presentations made for a perfect dinner experience. Boy, was it good! Sadly, while there are still lots of things happening the first night, we were too tired to do anything else. A good night's sleep will get us ready for a full day at sea tomorrow. SOLSTICE DAY 2 - AT SEA It was a bit of a "rocky" night. Pretty high seas to start this cruise. While we are experiencing some good movement, I think Solstice is handling the waves pretty well. We had some brief showers early this morning but the sun came out and the skies turned blue although the waves were still significant and it was very windy. There is plenty to do inside so people had a good chance to get to know Solstice pretty well this morning. We ate breakfast in the Oceanview Cafe. We lost an hour the first night so we were in the cafe pretty early (7:30 eastern time; 8:30 ship time). Consequently, there weren't many people around. The variety of food is good but the quality is hit and miss. The waffles, when hot off the waffle maker, are great (I waited for some) as those in the warming tray aren't the same. Carved ham and bacon were very good but the sausage links were not. The omelet I had last weekend was great. I'll be anxious to see how the waffle station works once it is very busy in this area. They still have things backwards here. The butter/syrup, etc. are before you get the waffles/pancakes so you have to go "back" to the beginning of the line to get these things. So you pick up your plate, walk past the syrup and toppings, then get to the waffles, pancakes and French toast and then have to return to the beginning of the line next to the dishes for toppings. Unfortunately, they won't be able to remedy this situation on Solstice as the area where the trays full of waffles, etc are located are on a built in warming station while the toppings are just placed on the counter. Poor design in this area that they will hopefully switch for Equinox. Cruise Critic Party We had a great turnout for our Cruise Critic Connections party. In addition to our Cruise Critic members we were joined by Cruise Director Nick Weir and his brother, Simon who is the Hotel Director; Ken Ismail who is the Guest Relations Manager; Robert Flack, Food & Beverage Manager; and Kim Heroux, the Events Coordinator who worked to set up the party. Coffee, juice and pastries were served and there was plenty of time to meet members and take photos. A large group photo was taken by the ships photographer and later sent free of charge to all Cruise Critic members cabins who signed up for the Connections Party. It was a terrific photo and a lovely gesture on Celebrity's part to send each of us a photo. We headed to the dining room for lunch following the party and found the service and food to be very good. Andy had the potato leek soup and a cobb salad while I had fried mozzarella (it IS vacation after all) and shrimp scampi. Both my items were delicious (although two mozzarella pieces would have been plenty instead of three). The scampi sauce and the shrimp were very, very good and served over pasta. So far, they are doing pretty darn good in the food department. Shortly after lunch, we reassembled about 35 Cruise Critic members for a cabin crawl. We visited eight different cabins in a variety of categories. For the most part, cabin size and configurations for all cabins below a Sky Suite (that means inside, Oceanview, standard balcony, sunset veranda, concierge class and aqua class) are the same. Concierge class and Aqua Class have upgraded amenities but the cabin layouts themselves do not differ. Some of the standard balconies (1A's for example) do have oversized verandas. These are the cabins when you look at the deck plan that have angled balconies leading to the hump section of the ship. One cabin you want to avoid is 1549 (an Aqua Class cabin). It has a permanent obstruction from window washing equipment. It does have an oversized veranda but the view is definitely affected by large pieces of equipment. Celebrity should probably consider downgrading this cabin. We also toured a Celebrity suite. Lovely living room and a wonderful veranda (1615) but the bedroom is completely enclosed making it feel somewhat like an inside cabin where the bedroom is concerned. A frosted window could be removed or made of clear glass so you could have a view of the ocean from the bedroom as well. Thanks to all the Cruise Critic members who opened their cabins for viewing! After a short nap, we ventured up to the Oceanview Cafe bar at the rear of the ship where Jefferson, the AWESOME guitar player (I swear he sounds just like Jim Croce and James Taylor when he sings their songs) serenaded us to a beautiful sunset. FIRST FORMAL NIGHT What a lovely evening. We started off with drinks in Ensemble Lounge. Live music from a jazz trio entertains pre-dinner, although the hours were a bit odd. They play from 6:45 - 7:45. Early dinner is at 6:00 and late is 8:30. So they don't really play much while there are actually guests in the lounge. I would say 98% of the guests dressed formally. We didn't notice anyone in the dining room that didn't comply with the dress code. We did see one gentleman walk through the lounge towards the specialty restaurants with a bright orange "Hawaiian-type" shirt on (the Ensemble Lounge is at the entrance to the Specialty Dining area). He walked back through the lounge past us a few minutes later (we noticed because his shirt was bright orange and he stood out quite a bit) and then five minutes later returned with a jacket on. Our guess was he was asked to put a jacked on by the restaurant. Most guests remained in formal attire throughout the evening. We then went to Sky Lounge for a very nice "Officers Party" for Capt. Club Elite members. It was very crowded, Top Secret played dance music and the captain spoke to as many people as he could. This is a very, very nice lounge and the nicest of any of these types of lounges (Observation-type) on any of Celebrity's ships. Dinner in the dining room was again outstanding. Our table had one of two appetizers - I had the seafood medley - a shrimp on top of four quarter-sized lobster medallions with a crab claw (all was delicious; the crab claw was exceptional); others had the crab stuffed mushroom caps (five or six of them) with a Boursin cheese sauce. They said it, too, was delicious. Salads were reported as very good as was the mushroom bisque with truffles. For my entrEe I enjoyed Chateaubriand. It was served with broccoli, another wonderful potato dish and a tomato and onion relish. My meat was perfectly cooked medium-rare and served with two sauces - bordelaise and bEarnaise. The apple tart with caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream was a wonderful "closer" that everyone at our table had. It was served warm and it was delicious. From there it was onto the show. This was the first "production" show but it was far more than that. There isn't any other ship that has this type of "production" show on board. It was called SOLSTICE - The Show. It is a Las Vegas Cirque du Soliel-type show. Even if you do not enjoy this type of entertainment, I highly recommend seeing it. It was phenomenal. When you see the things these entertainers do on a moving ship (we had some good motion at the time), it is just amazing. I keep trying to determine which "act" I enjoyed most and I can't pinpoint one. They were all fantastic. Following the show, Oceans Four, the ship's a capella group performed and were another hit. But sadly after that (around 12:15) even though there was supposed to be other venues with entertainment, the only place we found that had any entertainment still going on was the disco. The rest of the ship was pretty quiet. Upon returning to our room, we found a comment card on the bed that asked if there is anything they can do to help make our cruise more enjoyable. I can't ever recall getting this type of comment card (different from what you get on the final night) during the cruise. I mentioned a couple of items. This was a nice way to share thought during the cruise instead of just after its over. SOLSTICE DAY 3 - San Juan It was a leisurely day for us as we decided to remain mostly on the ship for the day. We started with coffee and Danish on our veranda followed by taking in a lecture from Ian Wright, a photographer who covered many of the up and coming bands of the 60s in England. He was very interesting as he shared how he got into the business and how entertainment in northern England in the 60s had so much impact on music. We had to leave the lecture a little early to catch a 10:30 bridge tour for elite Capt. Club members. The bridge was interesting as always, especially the new security room that is now located to the rear of the bridge. It was nice to have the opportunity to visit the bridge. After the bridge tour, we took in "Brunch" in the dining room. There was no separate breakfast or lunch in the main dining room on this day; instead it was a combine "brunch." I thought it was very nice. A large selection of breakfast items (my husband said that while the eggs benedict weren't very warm, they tasted very good), salads, carving stations and hot food. I selected an individual chicken pot pie. As I was picking it up another passenger told me not to bother; he said it wasn't worth the effort. I took it anyway and really liked it. I mean, it was a chicken pot pie. It had plenty of chunks of white meat chicken, carrots, peas and onions in a chicken cream sauce. It was flavorful enough and fine as a part of a brunch menu. I was expecting it to be awful considering the comment from the passenger. Oh well, different people enjoy different things. From brunch, it was back to the theater for another lecture (wow....two in one day - I don't think we've ever heard a lecture on board a ship prior to this). William Miller presented a talk on Floating Palaces: The Great Atlantic Liners that took us back to the 1800's and through the ensuing decades to discuss great Oceanliners. He was fantastic. The photos took you back to a different place and time. He will be offering several additional lectures throughout the cruise. Then we enjoyed the rest of the afternoon on the pool deck. There are plenty of deck chairs (which are very nice - all have padded cushions) and there was no problem finding an open chair. The pool band (Top Secret), members of the Celebrity Orchestra, the activities staff and the Celebrity Singers and Dancers were also on the pool deck rehearsing for a Latin Dance Party to be held on deck that evening. It was fun to watch them run through their routines and see how it all comes together. One comment about the pool deck. While there are plenty of deck chairs, they are tightly packed together. There are no small tables available for drinks like on previous ships so the chairs are side by side. There is very little room available to separate the chairs and the go up to about 18" of the pool. In order to get to the pool steps (which are tucked next to the hot tubs, you have to walk past all the deck chairs lined along the pools. As deck chairs are moved (even slightly), access to the steps can be difficult. It didn't take long before passengers would moving chairs to gain a little space. I can see hands being pinched between the chairs packed so close together. You've probably figured out by now that our favorite afternoon thing to do was to enjoy a drink at the Oceanview Bar and listen to Jefferson as the sunset. He's usually here for Sailaway although we aren't sailing away from San Juan and St. Maarten until later in the evening. Jefferson is the best guitarist we've heard on a cruise ship. We had an 8:30 PM dinner reservation in Murano's on this evening. This Murano's is smaller than the one on Century and the other gourmet specialty restaurant's on the M-class ships. But it gives it a more intimate feel. We had a lovely table to the left of the entrance. Our service and food was outstanding. The first "little" item we received was a "bite" of goat cheese wrapped in prosciutto. Delicious! Everyone (except me) loved the mushroom soup appetizer with mushroom gelato. I don't care for mushrooms so I'm not sure what prompted me to try the gelato...it wasn't for me. But everyone else raved about it. My dinner filet mignon was very good and everyone else enjoyed their entrees as well (my husband had the rack of lamb which he asked permission to pick up the chop to get every last bite of meat). Desserts were wonderful. Kirk had the dessert samplers. It was beautifully presented and he said each of them were delicious. All in all, it was a lovely night that everyone enjoyed. There was a table just beyond us that were very unhappy and were loudly discussing their displeasure with the head waiter. Then the Maitre 'd and other managers arrived to speak with them. The discussion went on for quite some time so that the entire restaurant could hear what was happening. It would have been much more appropriate for the passengers to approach the Maitre 'd away from the dining room to discuss their concerns. As they left the dining room, to my surprise, the entire dining room clapped. After dinner we headed to hear the comedian in Celebrity Central. This is a perfect "Comedy Club" type venue that is small and close to the stage. The comedian, Steve Caouette, was outstanding. He engaged the audience and everyone had a good time. We'll have to see him again as he'll be performing a couple additional times. SOLSTICE DAY 4 - St. Maarten We opted to stay on board Solstice all day. We enjoyed a nice breakfast in the Oceanview Cafe on the aft deck. It really does give a totally different feel to this area than on the M-class ships where the tables are tightly packed in. I visited the spa for a 50 minute Swedish massage today. The women's locker room does indeed have a complimentary steam room attached to it. The relaxation room where you wait for your treatment is at the front of the ship and very large. It's extremely comfortable with drinks available (flavored water, tea) and blankets on every relaxation bed. Very nice. My massage (Laslo was the therapist) was terrific. Very relaxing and much too fast ;-) The cost of a 50-minute Swedish massage on a port day was $107 plus gratuity. The rest of the afternoon was spent relaxing at the pool. Plenty of open chairs since we were in port and not sailing until 11:00 PM. The ships in port with us were Crown Princess, the Oceana and Carnival Glory. We were the last to leave. Dinner in the dining room tonight was good. This was the first evening we weren't "wowed" for choices when we looked at the menu. For our main course, all of us but one got the beef short ribs (my husband had the duck). The short ribs were actually very good. It just didn't seem like there were many great options tonight. As it turned out, we were all pretty happy with the meal. By the way, they do have an "always available" alternative that includes: shrimp cocktail, strip steak, salmon, chicken and a couple of additional items. By the end of dinner, we were all so tired, we called it an early night as we have an early tour in St. Kitts the next day. SOLSTICE DAY 5 - St. Kitts We met for breakfast at 8:00 AM as we had to be off the ship at 9:00 to head to Red Sail Sports to check in for our catamaran snorkel trip. It was a two-block walk to their shop. It's in an area that has been built right at the port to service cruise customers. It's very nice with lots of construction still occurring. They were a little slow checking in all the customers and we ended heading out about ten minutes late. It was a short walk to the catamaran and once on board, we had a fantastic time. The crew of four was wonderful. We sailed to a cove not too far from the ship as the original location we were supposed to head to on the other side of the island had very rough seas. The catamaran held 50+ passengers but there were only about 35 on this sailing. Just perfect as there was plenty of room for everyone. After about an hour snorkel a very nice lunch of curried chicken, tuna salad, green salad, cole slaw and carrot bread was served. Soft drinks, beer and rum punch were also included. Shortly after making it back to the dock, it began to rain. We stopped in the local grocery store (Ram) across from the port shops to pick up a couple of different hot sauces then headed back to Solstice in a light rain. We headed up to the Oceanview Bar for Sailaway and guitar music. What a spectacular sailaway. As the rain showers pelted St. Kitts, a beautiful double rainbow appeared. At the same time, the sun was setting. It was hard to decide which was the prettier scene - the rainbows or the setting sun. It was one of the magical, rare sights that I hadn't seen in the 15+ years we've been cruising. What a wonderful way to remind us we had so much to be thankful for on Thanksgiving day. Dinner tonight was scheduled for Tuscan Grille. When I made the reservation on-line, I forgot that it was Thanksgiving. We all talked about it and decided to stick with Tuscan Grille. First, we stopped for pre-dinner drinks in Michael's Club (did I mention they need to move the piano in here - PLEASE move the piano so everyone can see and hear the piano player) and enjoyed the tunes of Jeremy Oren at the piano. There would be lots more folks in here enjoying pre-dinner drinks if people realized that there was entertainment in here and if there was a place for folks to dance as there is in Michael's on the M-class ships. Hopefully, there will be some re-arranging of furniture here before we are back on Solstice in March. One of our favorite bartenders, Zeljko from Croatia, is the the bar server in Michael's. He was also in Michael's on Constellation last year. He is an absolute delight and reminds us how many great crew members there are on Celebrity ships. It's so good to sail with them again and again. Onto Tuscan Grille. Everyone at the two-day pre-inaugural who dined here loved it. And rightfully so. To start, it's a beautiful room. The colored glass chandeliers are very unique and pretty. The menu has far too many things to try. Let's start with the bread basket. It had four or five different types of bread. My favorite was the foccacia with tomatoes baked on top. On the table were a trio "toppings" - roasted garlic; a crushed tomato tampenade and olives. I spread the roasted garlic on the foccacia and could have eaten the entire bread basket this way! Between the six of us, we tried three of the appetizers: the crab dip, the calamari and bruschetta. The crab dip is served in individual small cast iron pots. One of these would have been enough for two or three people. It was very, very good and delicious spread on a piece of bread. Andy had the calamari and said it was some of the best calamari he's ever had. Bev had a trio of bruschetta and enjoyed that as well. Next, some of us had the onion soup while others had the San Francisco fisherman's soup. The onion soup was terrific. Prepared differently from a French Onion soup, this is a cream based soup that is pureed (no pieces of onion in it) with a piece of bread and cheese baked in the oven. WOW....all of this and we had even gotten to the entrees yet. Entrees for our group included veal parmesan; filet mignon; rib eye; and papardelle pasta with Kobe beef meatballs. With the exception of the pasta with Kobe meatballs, we all loved our meals. The piece of veal parmesan with linguini was large enough for two people to share (it measured about 8 inches by 3 inches. I could barely eat half of it and it was delicious. I also had a bite of the filet (it melted in your mouth) and the ribeye (which had good flavor but of course isn't nearly as tender as a filet). Already stuffed, we had to try desserts as they all sounded great. I had the crème brulee (very good), which was served with a beautiful small bowl of raspberries, blackberries and strawberries; Andy had the chocolate fondue, which was served with banana, marshmallows, a chocolate brownie and pineapple. Truly a fantastic meal. Service was great and the food outstanding. If I had any suggestion here it would be to make the portions just a bit smaller as none of us could finish everything. SOLSTICE DAY 6 - At Sea It's a beautiful sunny and warm day. We found a second waffle station that had two waffle irons (the station in the middle of the ship only has one iron - not nearly enough). However, one of the irons wasn't working and in their rush to try and get the line down, they were taking the waffles out of the working iron before they were done....so they were undercooked. I went back to the original station to wait for waffles. It was worth the wait. Hot off the iron they are terrific. We stopped and watched the Hot Glass show after breakfast. These folks are true artist creating beautiful works of art. The pieces they are making are raffled off to guests - one or two per show. As it takes some time for the pieces to cool, they raffle off the pieces made yesterday, today. Be sure to stop at some point in your cruise to watch these artisans work. The lawn itself is going to be an "interesting" thing to watch. There is a lot of it. And it's not in great shape. Don't expect the putting lawn to be like a putting green - it's not. It's more like your back yard. But still a fun spot with lots of people using it. A bocce class was held in the center lawn this morning just behind the Hot Glass Show area. People seemed to be having fun there as well. I'll be anxious to see what condition the lawn is in by March. There are no lawn chairs, towels or shoes with high heals allowed on the lawn. They also "close" it at times to "rest?!" The rest of the day was spent relaxing by the pool. The pools on Solstice are plenty big and the deck space is more than sufficient. Pretty blue pool towels are provided on chairs and at towel stations. Pool butlers picked up used towels regularly. There was never a time that you couldn't find a lounge chair, maybe not right at the pool but on the upper deck for sure. The Solstice deck at the very top of the ship is a lovely area with larger rattan loungers with cushions. It was often very windy up here, however. There is entertainment on the pool deck continuously today. I think all the entertainment on board has been very, very good. The entertainers are friendly and talented. It's nice to see them being showcased in so many venues. We opted for burgers from the Mast Grille for lunch. This is located on the upper pool deck, port side. They served burgers, hot dogs, tacos, and wings. On the opposite side of the deck (starboard), you'll find the Mast Bar. Both of these areas are nice and both have a fair amount of seating. The challenge, however, is that Celebrity has both of these venues smoking areas so while you are waiting in line for food at the grille, many people are smoking. And you can't go to the other side of the area (near the bar) as people are smoking there as well. The problem on the starboard side of the ship is that even though it is non-smoking, smoking from the Mast bar drifts all along the upper pool deck here. So essentially, the entire upper deck around the pool feels the effects of cigarettes. What they should have done was switch the Mast Grill and the Mast Bar so the grill was on the Starboard (non-smoking side) of the ship. I did see a gentleman ask a lady who sat down on a starboard upper deck lounge chair with a cigarette to kindly put it out as she was in a non-smoking area. He pointed out that the Mast Bar area was smoking but not the lounge chairs. She kindly complied. As for the smoking situation, I thought it was pretty good (other than having the Mast Bar and the Mast Grill areas both smoking). The new policy is prominently displayed in each Celebrity Daily and in a letter given to us at embarkation. Smoking areas are: · Port side of Sky Lounge · Mast Bar and Mast Grill (I hope they switch these areas for future ships and make the Grill non-smoking....I really prefer to get and eat food away from a smoking area). · Port side of Pool and Sun Deck (but not in the Solarium or Solstice decks) · Deck 5 Port Side Promenade We did not smell any smoke on our balcony throughout the cruise. Some passengers said they had a problem with it on their balconies. My suggestion is to call the Guest Relations Manager (not your cabin attendant or Guest Relations desk) and discuss the matter with them directly when you smell the smoke to report it as these kinds of situations must be handled as they are happening. There were plenty of smokers on the ship but from what I saw, they were all abiding by the rules. I'm guessing there will always be some who don't. SOLSTICE DAY 6 - Formal Night So you know I'm being totally balanced and honest, the second formal night was less than stellar for a Celebrity ship. We had and enjoyable time pre-dinner in Michael's Club. They have changed the music timing and there is now live music (Jeremy Oren on piano tonight) before dinner. But the disappointment started with dinner. I can't recall a formal night when I read a menu and nothing sounded particularly interesting. Five of the six at our table started with the French Onion soup. We each took one bite and couldn't eat it. It tasted like lightly flavored water. There was barely any cheese on it, either. In fact, at first I didn't think there was any cheese. It was interesting that when our waiter picked up the bowls that he didn't ask how it was or if there was a problem. When we mentioned it to our head waiter later in the evening, he said he already knew there was a problem with it and he'd be discussing it with the chef. For my entrEe, the only item that was marginally appealing was the tournedos of beef. It was very good and again, the potatoes served with it were yummy....someone is doing potatoes very well. I actually also asked for the vegetarian dish (creamed leeks with vegetables in a puff pastry) for the table but when the food arrived, our waiter brought a pasta dish with seafood. Perhaps he misunderstood. There was also a mixed seafood plate that had half a rock lobster tail (it looked a large shrimp in size). Several at the table ordered the dish. It also had two scallops and shrimp. I haven't cared for lobster on a ship in a long time but if you were a lobster lover, I don't think you'll be happy with this dish. For dessert, they have done away with the baked Alaska parade and instead offered a smaller, similar version of the dessert with a name I can't recall nor could pronounce (it started with omelette). The wait staff sang after dessert was completely served. From dinner, we wanted to get a group photo for formal night. The lines for photos on the way to dinner were very long. As we exited the dining room (about 10:20), the photographers were all tearing down. When we asked if we could get a group photo, we were somewhat rudely told, "Sorry, we're done for the evening." We weren't the only ones. There were about 7 or 8 additional couples/groups who came out of dinner after us who wanted photos. I ended up taking photos for several on the main staircase. In this day when there is a concern about profits, formal night photos are likely their best sellers. When finding a supervisor and discussing this with her she said the "three dinner seatings are confusing them." What???? The timing of early and late seating in the dining room hasn't changed. And those who are eating in the specialty restaurants are eating within the same time frame. It simply sounded like an excuse...and a missed opportunity. Off to see the show, Ghost Light, which I saw on the pre-inaugural. This cast is very, very good as is the Celebrity Orchestra on this ship. It's a great show with lots of talent. The Captain gave a farewell toast to the audience just before the show started. He is very personable and friendly and was seen all over the ship all week long. To close the evening, we were going back to see the comedian at midnight. Unfortunately, after listening for ten minutes we left, as all the material he was doing was a repeat of what he had done the first night we listened to him. While he was very funny the first night, it's not the same hearing it two nights later. Don't get me wrong, it was still a very pleasant evening. Just a little disappointing after having such wonderful food the rest of the cruise. SOLSTICE DAY 7 - Our Last Day What a spectacular weather day. Warm and sunny, less windy, smooth sailing. Following breakfast in our favorite spot (the Oceanview aft) we went down to check out the photo gallery. They are utilizing a new system that must use face recognition software. When we boarded on the first day, we all provided our sea pass when they took our embarkation photo. From then on, all photos of you are supposed to be available for screening on your TV. Something must have happened when they scanned our card as our photos never showed up on our TV account. But the four others we were sailing with had all of their photos from the week appear on their TVs. We found our photos, nonetheless, in the gallery (as they still print them...I hope they stop doing this at some point as it wastes a lot of paper and materials) and many of them were nice. We purchased one of us in front of the ship that was great. We also stopped in the shops as they were having some sales on items. The shops have lots of nice items. I wasn't overly impressed with the Solstice logoware (I think they could have done a bit more) but there were lots of nice gift items (the glass heart and ball ornaments were beautiful). The staff in the shops were pleasant and friendly. One last opportunity to enjoy some pool and reading time. You have no problem hearing the entertainment from the pool deck on the upper deck. Sometimes, like when Top Secret was playing, it was very loud. Pool sound system is fantastic. I'm sure it will just take a little time to fine tune these kinds of things. At 3:00 PM, we made our way to Celebrity Central where Bill Miller and Len Weir (Nick and Simon's dad) was doing a little Cruise history and Q&A. Mr. Weir was Celebrity's first cruise director back in the 60s. It was very interesting. Later in the afternoon we headed back to the Oceanview Bar when we played our final round of Mexican Train Dominos (which we started earlier in the cruise). One final sunset listening to Jefferson and drinking Comos made by Jocelyn. What a lovely late afternoon. Then we had to do the dreaded "packing." It wasn't too bad. Your disembarkation tags are now all done by numbers (1 - 30 something) instead of colors. We had number 22 which was scheduled to disembark at 9:35 AM. Then it was off to our final dinner. Pre-dinner drinks in Michael's Club and then down to the dining room. The menu again didn't do much for me but I selected the firecracker shrimp for an appetizer (which I enjoyed) and the turkey schnitzel for my entrEe. Both were very good. There was a crepe stuffed with veggies for another appetizer that many enjoyed. However, the eggplant parmesan was mis-titled and was actually an eggplant cut in half and stuffed with a vegetable medley. There wasn't anything parmesan about it. Andy sent it back and requested the turkey. Bev ordered the always available strip steak and she too sent it back as it was overcooked and tough. She went for the strip loin dinner off the main menu. She said it was much better. It was off to sleep shortly after dinner. DISEMBARKATION We docked in Port Everglades just before 5:00 AM. Breakfast in the dining room was from 6:30 - 8:00 and in the Oceanview from 7:00 - 8:30. Disembarkation was quick (they actually announced they were ahead of schedule) and we were off the ship about 9:40 - a few minutes ahead of what we anticipated. Overall, we loved Solstice. It is a beautiful ship, with a wonderful crew. We could easily sail this ship over and over again. Sure, everything wasn't perfect, but for its first 7-day sailing, it definitely exceeded our expectations. I heard from several people that there were passengers who were unhappy and complained about many things. All I can say is that some will be unhappy no matter what. I choose not to be one of them. To all sailing Solstice and her future sister ships, enjoy every moment. AWESOME ELEMENTS Crew All cruise experiences start and end with crew. We found the crew (especially for a first time sailing) to be overall exceptional. Muster Drill - The best going. Having it in a lounge where people can be seated is terrific. The video instruction makes the entire drill go much quicker. Kudos. Accessibility for the Disabled - I heard more than one person comment how accessible the ship is for those with disabilities. They even have someone signing for the hearing impaired in the Solstice Theater for nighttime shows. A very nice tough. Public Restrooms - Almost every public restroom as a button outside and inside to automatically open and close the door to the restroom. That means you can wash your hands and then hit the button with your elbow, avoiding additional contact with door handles. Additionally, these are by FAR the prettiest public restrooms I've ever seen. Cabin Bathrooms are large and functional. Great shower heads (they don't slide up and down but the show head can be rotated if needed). Pretty wall titles; largest shower I've ever seen in a standard cabin; nice bedding; great flat screen TV; wonderful sliding doors to the balcony; nice shower amenities in standard cabin; very nice veranda furniture. Food - I know this is a subjective item, but for us, we felt the food was overall outstanding for the price we paid for the cruise. Certainly, some items could be improved upon but we felt when you look at the food package as a whole, we were very pleased. Elevators - Fast, efficient and pretty (the one's that are glass in the center of the ship. Public Spaces - The lounges, the specialty restaurants, the main restaurant, the casino, the shops, the theater - all are beautiful. While not every person may like every area, overall, this is the prettiest and classiest ship I've sailed on. Kids Area - For a ship that doesn't have all the bells and whistles of ice rinks, climbing walls and surf riders, the kids/teen area on Solstice are wonderful. I was amazed. There were a fair amount of children on this sailing and we never (almost never) saw them. I'm thinking the fantastic areas for them kept them busy and having fun. Comfortable Furniture - It was everywhere. With an exception here or there, the furniture throughout the ship (lounges, dining room, pool decks) was extremely comfortable. For the wide variety of different types of chairs, couches, etc. Celebrity did a great job selecting extremely comfortable furniture. Entertainment - From the production shows to the pool band; from the jazz trio to my favorite guitar player and more, Solstice is filled with talented people to entertain the passengers. We enjoyed them all! Specialty Restaurants - We ate in all three specialty restaurants (Murano and Tuscan Grille on this cruise and Silk Harvest during the pre-inaugural). All were winners in our book. Tuscan Grille was my overall favorite but all were great. Afternoon Ice Cream in Oceanview Cafe - Lots of great flavors (four or five each day) plus soft serve. AND toppings such as M&Ms, chocolate chips, jelly beans, etc. Hot Glass Show - Not only is it interesting to watch, the glassblowers truly love what they are doing and it shows through to engage the audience. Raffling the pieces off is an added benefit! Individual Wine Tastings - Great idea to have three different "levels" of tastings at Cellar Masters with a variety of red and white wine available. Need to make sure we get there more often on the next cruise. NEEDS IMPROVEMENT Cabin · Better orientation of the closet. Tough to get in and out of. · Telephone system. It didn't work correctly our entire cruise. People would call us and I'd answer but I couldn't hear them. Also, people would call, it would ring once and go straight to voice mail. · Varnish the arms of the deck furniture on the veranda. Ours was rough making it very easy to get splinters. The future itself is very nice. · Replace all of the brass plates at the balcony door that make it "seem" like smoking is permitted. These signs should specifically state: Smoking is NOT permitted in your cabin or on the cabin veranda. · Give us our water pitcher back! Solarium · Tile floor is far too slippery. Someone fell the first day and I slipped while carefully walking. Caution signs were up the rest of the cruise. My guess is these tiles will be eventually replaced as they are a real hazard. · Pool is not heated. It's very, very cold and few people ventured into the pool throughout the week. · The A/C seemed to be on "high" in the solarium. Too high. It often felt like a refrigerator. Combined with a non-heated pool, it was a combination to keep us away. Too bad...it is a beautiful area. Oceanview Cafe Aft Furniture Some of the furniture out here (love seats and heavier tables) are fantastic. But the metal based tables and chairs are already suffering from rust as is the Oceanview Bar. This is going to be tough to maintain long term as they already look bad. Atrium Tree While novel, this tree is continuously losing leaves and making a mess of the elevators. An artificial tree (and no one would have known the difference) would have served the purpose here, been much less costly to maintain and caused much less mess. Avoid taking three elevators out of service for cleaning during busy hours. Oceanview Cafe · Layout of some of the stations so you don't have to back track to get items. · Ensure that tables are cleaned in a timely manner and clean silverware is replaced so everyone knows seats that are open. Concept is great but needs better execution. · More waffle irons. One is not enough at the station in the middle of the cafe. Photography Staff - When passengers want to have photos taken on formal night, ensure that the staff is on duty at least 30 minutes after late seating dinner is complete. And if a passenger walks up and wants a photo taken, never say "sorry, we're done for the night." Evening Entertainment · Ensure there is pre-dinner entertainment before early and late seating. Passengers enjoy pre-dinner drinks with live music for the hour before they head to dinner. For most of the cruise, live music was scheduled from 6:45 - 7:45 when early dinner guests were already eating and late dinner guests were getting ready for dinner. It's not fun for entertainers to play to and empty lounge, either. · Consider some pre-dinner entertainment (guitar player; a capella group) in Cellar Masters. Great concept but we kept forgetting about it because nothing was scheduled here before dinner. Passenger Attitudes - While there were certainly MANY wonderful and pleasant passengers on board, we witnessed far too many who were unhappy, complaining about everything passengers. I often wonder if we could possibly be on the same ship when I listed to some complaints. When challenges arise, as they often do, I recommend trying to approach the situation with a kinder attitude rather than starting off confrontational. It can work wonders. MISSED THE BOAT Maiden Voyage Celebration - With the excitement of not only a new ship but a new class of ship, there was no fanfare or real tie-in that this was a maiden voyage. Since we had never sailed a maiden voyage before, we didn't have real expectations, but we did think that there would have been a certain level of excitement on board (even something like the first daily could have sail: Welcome to the Solstice Maiden Voyage). There really wasn't anything. A nice glass suncatcher with a ribbon that says "Inaugural Voyages" is pretty but there wasn't anything to make this a special, memorable first sailing of this ship. Many people mentioned this. Even a nice parchment certificate with the circle Solstice logo, Maiden Voyage with the dates, our names and signed by the captain would have been lovely. The fact that the ship is beautiful and we had a great time, helped, but we certainly wouldn't select a maiden voyage again for the excitement, because it wasn't there. Promenade Deck - This is my least favorite element of the entire ship. I love promenade decks. For all intent and purposes, Solstice doesn't have one. There is a very limited area with a handful (10 - 15) of deck chairs. The majority of the promenade is completely blocked by the lifeboats. On of my favorite ship features has been lost on Solstice. Mast Grill and Mast Bar - Making both of these smoking areas essentially makes the upper pool deck area smell of smoke. You can't help it when the wind blows. Switch these venues on future ships and make the Grill area non-smoking. Captains Club Benefits This would have been a perfect time to roll out a new Captain's Club program instead of just stating it was "new" on the sheet of coupons provided. There was nothing new or innovative provided. In fact, I think the coupons have gotten worse instead of better. Solarium - The pool should have been a T-pool. One of the best M-class features was sadly left out of Solstice. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2008
This will probably be the most difficult review that I have ever written. In just a few sentences I will run out of adjectives and superlatives, so what can I do? I'll soldier on, nevertheless. I had to strain myself to come up with ... Read More
This will probably be the most difficult review that I have ever written. In just a few sentences I will run out of adjectives and superlatives, so what can I do? I'll soldier on, nevertheless. I had to strain myself to come up with something to criticize, and managed to come up with a few items, which I will reveal in this review. What can be said about the Solstice that hasn't been indicated by the lucky few who have already sailed on her? Being our 16th cruise, and probably the most anticipated one of all, our expectations were very high. It is safe to say that Solstice has found a way to even exceed those expectations. In short, I can sum the experience up in just a few words: book a cruise on this ship as soon as possible. The particulars: EMBARKATION: We were booked on the inaugural sailing, 11/23/08. We pulled up to the terminal at 11:05am, dropped off our luggage, went to the parking lot right next to the ship, went through the check-in process and were on the ship in 33 minutes. We ascended the long gangway to the red carpet on deck 5, proceeded to enter the ship, and received the complimentary champagne. That never gets old. THE SHIP: What can you say; it's brand new, meaning everything is perfect. Whether you've already been on the ship or not, you've probably seen dozens of pictures that have been taken. The ship has a modern, contemporary feel, and like no other ship on the seas. Everything onboard seems to have been thought out to the nth degree. I heard someone complain about the "lack of color." If someone says that, they should stick with NCL or Carnival, because that is not what this ship is about. In other words, your retinas will NOT be challenged! Thank goodness for that. The ship has a plethora of color; just none of the loud, gaudy colors you see adorn other ships of a far lesser caliber. Though the ship had 2,400 passengers, it never felt crowded, including the pool deck. Each room had a specific feel, with incredible furniture, fabrics and appointments. Each of the dining areas had their own theme, with dEcor and flatware/cutlery to match. Even in the Oceanview Cafe, the plates, bowls, coffee cups and table sugar holders all had the same design. As I said, EVERYTHING seemed to have been thought out. THE FOOD: There was never a time that I "didn't like" something, though there were a few minor disappointments. We took breakfast and lunch in the Oceanview and at all times there never seemed to be a wait or a line. True, there may have been a few minutes wait for a waffle, an omelet or fresh-to-order pasta, but that is to be expected. Criticism one: the breakfast potatoes. Hash browns would have been better (I told you it was hard to find something to criticize). Also, if you were wondering, the trays are gone. The dining room was an incredible site, so much so that, upon first look, my wife broke into tears. I am happy to say that people observed the dress code, which lent to an elegant experience. The food did not disappoint, though my wife had a piece of veal that was a bit dry. I will say that if you are a fan of lamb, wait until Saturday, because the shank was awesome! The one dish I didn't care for was the sea bass that was served on Friday night. It just didn't do it for me, but again, I'm being extremely picky. The dining room service was at its usual top notch best, the best of any line we've cruised. We dined at Murano (no review necessary) and at Silk Harvest, which was incredibly good. Actually, SH was probably the best meal we had on board, though we are fans of Asian cuisine. We did not dine anywhere else. ENTERTAINMENT: Since this is a brand new ship, it has the latest in lighting and sound technologies, which made the shows vibrant and magnificently entertaining. The show "Solstice" takes a page straight out of Cirque and was THE best show we've ever seen on a ship. Every show was a must-see. The other entertainers all about the ship were equally as entertaining. Obviously, Celebrity hired the best of the best from their other ships to staff this new beauty. Pay special attention to the jazz combo in the Ensemble Lounge. They were under-ratedly good. THE CABIN (1253): We had a concierge class balcony, and thoroughly enjoyed it. The position of the closet was a bit awkward, but the room overall made up for this minor flaw. LOTS of storage space in the bathroom, a great shower, a very interactive television, and beautiful appointments made for the most elegant room we've had on any ship. The pillows and the mattress were a bonus. I wanted to take the mattress home it was so comfortable. It was firm but not hard. What a great sleep! The veranda was a standard size, not too big, but perfect for two. Finally, here are some extra tidbits of review information that may be helpful to anyone considering booking passage on the Solstice (trust me, just book it): the lawn is wearing. They "rested" the lawn several times throughout the day, and they may need to re-evaluate the lawn, as in making it smaller near the hot glass exhibition so that passengers are not standing on the lawn. The hot glass show was more interesting than I thought and it is a must-see at least once. The library was very impressive, as were the shops and art gallery. The Sky was also a beautiful room, and one that I wish we spent more time in. BTW, the famous round chairs in Quasar are already biting the dust. During our cruise, three of them were removed. I'm glad that one supported my 200 pounds when it did so I at least got a picture. The Celebrity staff lived up to their professional billing. They must be told that if a passenger makes eye contact, you must greet them. That makes me feel very comfortable and as if they appreciate my patronage. What else can I pick on? Personally, I didn't like the cruise director (Nick Weir) very much. Before I get hate mail on this one, let me say that this is a personal opinion. I like a CD that you see all about the ship, but I hardly ever saw Nick. I actually saw his brother Simon more. Nick was a bit too rote for me, but again, that is my own personal taste. Many people seemed to enjoy him. Note to Nick: if you want the act to hear the applause, shut up for a second and let them! He would bring an act back on stage for another bow, but would talk the entire time. Nick, shh! Also, I thought that the deck where the life boats are, where you can walk on deck, was too narrow. With the lifeboats in the way, you can't see the water pass you by, and I found that to be a design flaw. I like sitting on that deck (what's it called?) and watching the waves pass by. I missed that on this ship. One other note, those of you who smoke, please observe the rules. Someone in a cabin on our deck did not and received a warning the first time, and from what I hear, a $500 fine the second time. There is no smoking on the verandas, so I highly suggest you book a cabin near the smoking areas to make for a shorter walk. Celebrity has found a way to elevate the game of cruising for the mainstream cruise lines. They have set the bar very high where many other lines will find it difficult to compete with. They have given cruisers a premium line ship and experience without the premium line price. Whether you are a Celebrity fan or not, you owe it to yourself to book this ship. Can't wait for the Equinox! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2008
Background Information: My spouse and I have cruised multiple times on Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, NCL, Crystal, and Radisson/Regent. We have traveled extensively in Europe and Asia. We sailed on the inaugural 7 day sailing of the Solstice ... Read More
Background Information: My spouse and I have cruised multiple times on Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, NCL, Crystal, and Radisson/Regent. We have traveled extensively in Europe and Asia. We sailed on the inaugural 7 day sailing of the Solstice out of Ft. Lauderdale to the S. Caribbean. Hotel Info: Prior to departure, we stayed at the Hyatt Pier 66 which was nice and convenient. Ship Info: This was the Solstice's first real cruise - it is a brand new ship. Prior voyages were practice 1-2 days journeys out to sea and back with no destination. Everything on the ship is clean and new. There are many high-end touches. The ship had many spaces to relax each with plenty of private seating and completely different atmospheres. We particularly like the dark lounge located just outside the specialty restaurants - it had soft jazz and a charmingly witty bartender named Brian. The martini bar was always packed and loud. The theater and casino were large and impressive. There were some irritants which hopefully will be resolved for future sailings. To list a few: 1) There was a very strong sewer smell on floors 2-10 from the main elevators to the back of the ship. This occurred on several days and was shocking and quite unpleasant. 2) Drink glasses in the theater were quite large and uncomfortable to hold. There were drink holders in the arms of the seats but unfortunately, the diameter of the glasses was too large for the drink holders. Since the wait staff was slow about picking up empty glasses, we ended up holding these large empty glasses for entire performances. 3) On a rotating basis, there were always two of the eight main elevators "out of service" for cleaning. This reduction in elevators was frustrating during rush periods (meals and on-shore embarkations) The constant cleaning seemed to needed due to a large live bush which is suspended in the atrium over the glass elevators. The bush dropped a significant amount of leaves on the elevators. IMHO, Celebrity should "lose the bush" and replace it with artwork or an artificial tree. 4) Suites are located next to the elevators so noise is a constant factor for suite dwellers - do not plan to sleep late in these rooms. A neighbor referred to his "Royal Suite" as a "Royal Pain". 5) Internet service "dropped" every time I used it - usually in the midst of my finalizing an E-Mail message. On the first night and second day of the cruise, the Internet service didn't work at all. 6) Several times, Orange Juice ran out during buffet breakfast and ice cream ran out during every buffet lunch. Service: Over all, we found the service (guest relations, bar staff, room stewards) to be quite average. It seemed to take a long time for bus people to clear tables in the bar and dining areas. Bartenders never offered to provide second/third drinks unless you asked, and sometimes it took awhile to get their attention even if no other customers were around. Shore Excursions: Like most Caribbean cruises, the shore excursions were limited to two main categories - Shopping or Water Sports. Solstice's excursions were no different from other similar cruise lines. Stateroom: Nice, clean, well appointed. The bathroom was very nice compared to older ships. The room and balcony were small but well designed. We found the bed to be uncomfortable - our backs and shoulders began hurting after the third day. The balconies have removable walls between them so guests with adjoining rooms can merge their balconies. During our cruise, we were never able to use our balcony because several of our neighbors were in a large group and they "merged their individual balconies into one large party area. They used their merged balcony constantly for smoking, drinking, and loud partying from morning until late at night. Smoking is not suppose to be permitted on the balconies, but this didn't stop our neighbors. Since smoking is officially banned in most areas of the ship, illegal smoking on private balconies seemed to be the only convenient way for smokers to indulge their habit. Dining: We found our dinner service to be very professional and prompt. We never waited or wanted for anything. The menus were nice but not always well executed. On the other hand, Breakfast and Lunch servers never smiled or seemed to like their jobs. Breakfast and Lunch food was very average and almost identical from day to day. We tried the specialty restaurants which all required an additional up-charge. All three restaurants were attractive but we didn't feel the food was worth the extra money. The restaurants didn't come close to the service and taste offered on higher end cruise lines and comparable land restaurants. If you like "real" Asian food, you will be disappointed with Silk Harvest, the Asian restaurant. The food is American with Asian inspiration. Entertainment: We found the cruise director, we think his name was Wier, to be annoying. He clearly liked center stage and the sound of his voice. His announcements were shockingly blunt (e.g. "please remember to booze when you cruise so you spend more money - we need the money") Disembarkation: Very fast and efficient. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2008
This was a much anticipated cruise.  Our group consisted of 9 people with varying cruising experience.  Myself I cruise several times a year and have cruised several different cruise lines. We had one teen (19 yr/old), two children (11 ... Read More
This was a much anticipated cruise.  Our group consisted of 9 people with varying cruising experience.  Myself I cruise several times a year and have cruised several different cruise lines. We had one teen (19 yr/old), two children (11 and 12 yrs/old) and six adults ages from 26-47 (most of us being in the older range).  With that said this review is strictly my opinion and observations based on past cruises and vacations.The only pre-trip item I will mention is that because we had a rather large group two of us were in charge of getting the luggage from our hotel to the ship the morning of embarkation while the others returned one of our rentals at the airport.  We loaded up the mini van (also a rental) with everyone's luggage at 9:30 Sunday morning and headed to the pier.  When we first arrived at the pier there were maybe 4 or 5 other cars there and several porters sitting around.  We had to get out of the van and start unloading the luggage before anyone came over to assist us.  Not a big problem since it was early and they were probably not expecting luggage drop off that early...just mentioned it.  We then headed to the airport to drop of the van and meet the rest of our party and wait for the shuttle to the pier. FYI--the shuttles don't start taking passengers to the pier until ~11:15 AM, but they were right on time and convenient.  KUDOS to FLL, because last time I sailed out of Miami this wasn't the case at Miami airport.We arrived at the pier around 11:30 AM and we were on the ship in under 15 minutes. My first impressions were amazing...she is most definitely a beautiful ship, very sophisticated.  We headed upstairs to the lawn to see the real grass.  While we were waiting for an elevator we noticed that cruise ship "sewage" smell. While normal on cruise ships I never expected to be so prevalent on a new ship on the first day of sailing.  But that wasn't going to deter our good time, so up to the top we head.  The Lawn club is absolutely gorgeous but the grass was roped off patchy and resting (a trend throughout the cruise).  It was still a nice touch, though I don't know how they will manage this over the long haul (BTW ResidenSea has grass and it is apparently think and thriving-moot but wanted to mention it).  We went to the Oceanview cafe to get some lunch while we waited for the cabins to be ready. The layout of the cafe was easy to maneuver and not very crowded (this was true throughout the cruise).  The food was just mediocre (again true throughout the cruise--more on that later).Muster was quick and painless, we attended the CC party at the Sunset bar afterwards and the CC Party on Monday...everyone we met and encountered was absolutely wonderful.By the time we all finished eating the cabins were ready and off we went.  We were on deck 10 AFT Port side.  We were all pleasantly surprised at the cabins, I didn't find them much larger than other cabins on other ships but the layout worked (mostly) and there was more than enough storage space for two people (you had to be a bit creative, but we managed to find a place for everything).  We had the cabin with sofa closest to the closet and that was a miserable experience, because the long side was hard to reach with having to squeeze between the sofa and door.  Very bad design. Otherwise the room was nice.  Our balcony was dirty (I'm not talking sea spray) which was surprising, I know that it happens but again first sailing I expected it to be clean. CABIN: We had a Concierge cabin and the fruit was in the room as advertised as were the flowers, but no pillow menu...not a biggie but the pillows that were on the bed were horrible.  The bed itself was quite comfortable though.  Two days later I remembered to ask the room steward for some other pillows, I never found one that was comfortable. Our steward, Elizabeth was awesome.  The canapes that were delivered were not very interesting and mostly left uneaten.  There was always an empty plate left in the room (for the fruit and canapes I suppose), but it was more in the way than useful.  I asked Elizabeth to remove the plate on several occasions and she finally did on the fifth day of the cruise.  I had to take the champagne out of the bucket too because she just kept icing it. Just a funny thing to mention...space on the counters was at a premium and these things just took up space.  Note: you have to remove the fruit in order to get fresh fruit or it just stays and stays....Dining/Food:  We didn't try any specialty restaurants, though we went through the fiasco of trying to book one pre cruise. We did get notice that our reservation at the Tuscan Grill was confirmed for that Monday, we canceled it because we weren't prepared to go as the card came sometime the afternoon on the day of.  I never checked to confirm it at the desk when we boarded, having given up on it. Now for the places I did eat.  I tried Bistro on the Five...not impressed.  OVC...decent on par with other buffet venues on other ships, the waffles were good (the wait was too long).  Grand Epernay...we had great wait staff, the food was only average and some dishes were absolutely horrible.  Note: I'm a very, I mean very finicky eater...I don't cruise for the food, because I have only been wowed a few times on ships.  The dining room itself was nice, elegant a little bland (decor wise).  I tried the brunch, it was nice, not spectacular.  I had breakfast and lunch there at least once, again nice not outstanding.  Room service, I didn't use it, but my daughter used it everyday and loved it, she can be as picky as me, so that's a positive.  I do want to mention that the chef made a couple of special dishes for some people at our table...I didn't try them but they like it.  Entertainment:  I went to the Solstice show and left early, I didn't make it to any other shows...others in my party did and they were unimpressed.  As for the Solstice show, it was nice but I saw something similar to that on the AOS last December on ice. Nick the CD didn't impress me at all...his constant announcements about getting out and spending money I found offensive and tacky.  IMHO there wasn't enough variety in the daily activities, nothing for my 19 y/o to do.  And at any given hour there was generally only one activity scheduled, if you didn't want to attend the lecture or tea there was no alternative (other than the casino or shops...hmmm spending money).Other: I spent several afternoons on the pool deck.  It must be noted that the first two days of the sailing the bars were out of several supplies...again new ship why wasn't it stocked for the first sailing? Anyway...I had to go the bar to get a drink every time I wanted one...the servers would just pass by and not ask, unless they were "pushing" (selling pre-made drinks).  I did not experience chair hogging, I was always able to get a lounger where I wanted it and the cabanas were always empty when I was up there...I attended the Senior Officers party for the Select/Elite members but it was quite uneventful, a departure from others I've attended on other ships.  I didn't attend the Captains Club party for this reason.I was in the casino with one of my fellow travelers and we literally timed how long we sat at our slots before a bar waiter came by, it took over an hour and even then I had to stop him to get service.  The elevators always had at least two out of service during the busiest times of the day, due to cleaning and leaves caught in the shaft...maybe Celebrity should rethink the suspended tree. Overall the staff was friendly and helpful, no real complaints there other than the bar manager needs to do better with waiters attending to the pax.Overall, it wasn't the best cruise I've ever taken, but then again there is no such thing as a bad cruise (in my book).  Would I sail Solstice again? Perhaps in the future but I'm not chomping to return. I may not be sophisticated enough for this new Celebrity class or just not old enough...Any questions please feel free to contact me.... Read Less
Sail Date: November 2008
Review of Celebrity Solstice Inaugural Sailing My brief biography: I am a 39 year old professional interior designer and licensed general contractor. This is my 31st sailing. Previous cruise lines sailed include: Carnival, Holland ... Read More
Review of Celebrity Solstice Inaugural Sailing My brief biography: I am a 39 year old professional interior designer and licensed general contractor. This is my 31st sailing. Previous cruise lines sailed include: Carnival, Holland America, Princess, Cunard (Queen Mary 2), Royal Caribbean and Celebrity. I have also visited the Queen Mary (1) docked in Long Beach. I am very interested in classic liners and modern cruise lines. Having worked in the service industry for most of my life and knowing how difficult it is try please the general public I try to take a positive approach and give the benefit of doubt to anyone in the service industry. With all that I've learned in life my motto is: "If you know the difference.....you can make a difference!" For the sake of ease I will give a rating in each category based on 5 stars. Embarkation: 5 One of the smoothest I've ever encountered. There were 60 stations waiting to greet and check people in. Wow! What a great addition! The rampway to the ship was steep. I'm sure it had to do with location of the deck in comparison to the 2nd floor of the terminal. There was help available if anyone needed it. Solstice: 5 At first glance everything about Solstice is absolutely beautiful. At second glance it's confirmed. The interior design of this ship is magnificent. I enjoy the creativity of the new designs combined with the traditional elegance. It makes for a very new and modern feel while keeping the comfort of the and spirit of past. Staterooms: 4.75 One of the first thing that I noticed is that the entry doors are recessed from the hallway. I love this feature. It allows people to pass freely as you are entering or exiting the rooms. It also keeps the hallways less cluttered. In the stateroom the the wall as you walk in is not straight. They have alternated the layouts of the rooms. The bed in our room was nearest to the bathroom while the bed in the next room was nearest the balcony. With that the common wall between the rooms had a staggered design. The wall bumps out where you walk around the foot of the bed in each room. Warning! The beds and bedding are extremely comfortable. It made it difficult for me to want to get up in the morning. The beds are also raised a couple more inches to easily accommodate luggage. The sofa in the room is a cream colored leather. It is probably the most comfortable stateroom sofa that I've ever sat on. I laid on it and could have slept easily if I wanted to. The drapes are very nice. They've done away with the upholstery drapes and gone to a sheer over block-out liner. It is a very nice updated touch. The lighting is wonderful. I love the new ability to dim the lighting in the stateroom. The bathroom light now goes to a dim state instead of turning it off. It takes away that harsh shock of light in the middle of the night and makes for an excellent night light. The new large flat-panel tv's are great. They are attached to the wall and pivot for perfect viewing. The picture quality and interactivity is phenomenal. They've added mp3 music to the music channel with endless selections and genres. Rumor has it that Celebrity contracted with Apple, Inc. to create the system. Whomever did it I applaud. The closets are very different that see on any other ship. They are not located next to the entry door which is very nice. They are on the common wall with the bathroom. The closet is much smaller with very limited shelf space. There is adequate hanging space for clothes and a very large safe (will hold a laptop). The doors are also very odd. They are sliders with both handles on the same side of both doors. It take a bit of getting used to as most people are used to the handles on the outsides of the doors. Extra clothes storage is above the bed and in drawers in the the tv cabinet. The storage above the bed could be a bit difficult for some vertically challenged people to reach without standing on the bed. Overall, the storage quantity is comparable to other ship staterooms but tends to be smaller spaces and more "nooks and crannies." The bathrooms are probably some of the best designed. The shower is a very large curved "capsule" design. It is very easy to enter and exit with sliding curved doors. The days of the "attacking shower curtain" are gone! The shower head does not have a hose but is on a flexible neck that can allow it to spray almost anywhere. I'm sure that this will be much less of a maintenance issue for them. I found it also to be very convenient. They've also added a bar for the ladies to put their foot on for shaving. The vanity cabinets and basins are very beautiful. The cabinet now has a plate glass door for a very modern feel. I like the new design of the bowl on the top of the vanity. It also has a large European faucet. It will be more of a cleaning issue for the attendant but, nonetheless, is very nice. I know that other posting reviews have complained that the faucet makes it difficult for shaving but I didn't find it a problem. In the past many people complained that the faucet was too short....now it's too long. I found it much better. The tile border in the bathroom is stunning. It consists of a ½ inch glass and tumbled marble mosaic. Overall the feeling of the bath is wonderful. I am glad to see the "plastic" bathroom feel become a thing of the past. Our group organized a "cabin crawl" which was very beneficial for seeing the different types of cabins. For the most part the cabins were pretty much the same with the exception of the inside cabin with, of course, no window or balcony. They are, however, beautiful and spacious. The suites are beautiful, elegant and well laid out. They have a large walk-in closet, separate bedroom and large balcony. Main Dining: 5 Some have already disagreed with the food quality but I give it rave reviews. Based on several other cruises that I've been on this experience was fantastic. The quality was great, flavor excellent and presentation superb. Food is always subjective. I loved just about everything presented. Others hated everything. I can't think of anything that was so bad that it was memorable. Of course, there were a few things that I didn't care for but I wouldn't give the food service any negative marks. Specialty Dining: 5 Murano-I will compare to the "M" class dining in "Ocean Liner's, S.S. United States, etc. so go with an open mind. If it were the same as the "M" class experience then what would be the point? The elegance is there but a bit more relaxed and less stoic. The service, quality, atmosphere....everything, was fantastic. At first you will notice that the dining area is much smaller, probably to accommodate the other 3 specialty restaurants and venues. I found it to be a much better use of space. The food quality was top notch and cooked to perfection. The service was above and beyond as expected. The only real thing that I noticed to be missing was the cheese course which is probably only presented now with the "full chef's recommendation & wine pairing" option. For me it wasn't a big loss. Unfortunately, we did encounter one of the most embarrassing and appalling spectacles. A woman who thought that she was the "Queen" (also indicated by the tiara that she was wearing) was probably the rudest person that I've seen in years. She complained about everything including. We and all other tables in the dining room could hear her rant and rave about not feeling "special." Get over it!!!! I won't get into it. If you want the details you can read Host Joe's review of the ship. He was dining at the same time and had much the same experience and opinion. I certainly appreciate the other diner's applause as the woman left the dining room. I sincerely hope that her spectacle does not create problems for the staff and their future careers. Buffet: 5 The food quality and presentation was everything I've come to love about Celebrity and more. The have done away with the trays for large plates. For those who complained about the lack of trays they haven't thought about a few things. First, there were plenty of staff ready and waiting to help carry anything to your table. Secondly, I can imagine that this drastically cuts down on food waste and overindulgence. It is easy with a tray to get excited about too many food selections. With what you can safely put on one plate it helps you think twice. It is not a problem whatsoever to go back for more if needed. The silverware and napkins are already on the tables when you sit. I liked the new stations in the buffet area. It is more closely related to Royal Caribbean's Radiance class. I did always find it a bit of a haul on X's Millennium class to 2 very long buffet areas separated by long walks. Entertainment: 5 The one show that I did see was tremendous. It was a Cirque do Soleil type show. The Solstice Theater is equipped with rigging for these special shows. The performers did a great job for such an intricate show on a moving ship. Pools/Pool Decks/Loungers: 4 There were more than enough loungers around the pool. The lounger all had padded tops making them more than comfortable. Additionally, there were plenty of loungers for everyone. On a full ship even the chair hogs may have a hard time keeping up with all the extras. Smoking Policy: 3 I really appreciate that Celebrity has instituted a new non-smoking policy. Because of the zero tolerance policy for smoking in the any cabin or on any balcony for the first time that I can remember I was able to enjoy my balcony without choking on smoke. The daily paper states that there is a $250 fine if you are caught smoking in forbidden areas. I read another review that stated that someone did receive a fine on this cruise. Celebrity still allows smoking in a designated areas including a section of the casino near the shops. Unfortunately, the smoke does permeate into other areas. Another problem area is the Mast Grille on the port side and Mast Bar on the starboard side of the upper pool deck. I can understand smoking at the Mast Grille being that smoking is allowed on the port side, however, allowing smoking at the Mast Bar on the starboard side makes absolutely no sense. The smoke, as you can imagine blows directly down the starboard side of the upper deck into the non-smoking area. I hope that they change this immediately. Another problem area is the Sky Bar. While there is smoking allowed in only on the port side it still fills the room with smoke. Lawn Club: 3 I appreciate the efforts that Celebrity designers are making to try something new. The lawn certainly reflects that attempt. While I think that it is a very unique concept I do have some reservations as to how long it will last. Maybe the lawn needs time to stabilize but for now I can see problems. The area near the Hot Glass Show seems to be taking a beating already. Because of the popularity of the show there are people standing on the lawn in that area. Having seen many festivals in my home town I know that the grass take a lot of punishment with constant amounts of people on it. I did notice some people playing Bocce Ball on the side lawns which looked fun. Unfortunately, the large section of the lawn doesn't seem to have much intended use yet. You can put chairs or towels on it for lounging and when I did walk on it the lawn seemed rather over saturated. As with other reviews there were several chained-off areas with "Lawn Is Resting" signs. It seems like a lot of work for little reward at this point. My guess is that the lawn will eventually be replaced with an artificial turf. Hot Glass Show: 5 This is a very cool concept. You get an entertaining and educational experience all in one. The professionals from the Corning Glass Company are very talented. Sadly, they are not allowed to sell the glass products but they do have a drawing for one piece at the end of the show. Overall: 5 The overall design and appearance of the ship is great. I can't imagine anyone not liking their experience on it. Kudos to Celebrity!! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2008
EMBARKATION: We flew into Ft. Lauderdale and stayed in a guest house for 2 nights. On Sunday, we returned the rental car and they shuttled us to the port about 11:30 a.m. It seemed busy out front and I was expecting a long line to check ... Read More
EMBARKATION: We flew into Ft. Lauderdale and stayed in a guest house for 2 nights. On Sunday, we returned the rental car and they shuttled us to the port about 11:30 a.m. It seemed busy out front and I was expecting a long line to check in but to my relief, once we were inside, it took only 10 minutes to board the ship. I was in a Concierge cabin which has it's own line but it looked like there was minimal wait times for all. I highly recommend flying in at least the day before. Ft. Lauderdale is a great place to play. If you do, try to find a viewing spot along the entrance to the harbor around 4:30 p.m. to watch the procession of ships leave on Saturday night. It was really fun. Once onboard, we were greeted and given champagne and/or wine. A really nice treat that set the tone for the whole cruise. They were not allowing anyone to proceed to their cabin until after 1 p.m. so we headed up to the Oceanview Buffet for lunch. As you may have read on other reviews, it is laid out with stations and did not have any long lines even though a good amount of people were there. I have only traveled on Royal Caribbean and it was very similar to the Windjammer but the food seemed to be just a bit better. They had a lot of variety from Asian to Italian stations, salad bar, breads, cheeses, burgers, etc. You should find something that you like. After having our fill, we took a stroll up top and then headed to the cabin as they announced it cabins were inspected and ready. CABIN: We booked a Concierge Cabin CC1. Our cabin number was 2101. It is located on the resort deck steps from the elevators and the entrance to the pool area on the port side. I was a little concerned when I booked that there might be some noise but found it very minimal during our stay. You could here an occasional noise from the deck above since we were directly under the open deck near the entrance to the Oceanview Cafe but it was not enough to overcome the advantage of being right by the elevators and pool. The cabin itself is the standard 194 s.f. version and really lives up to the pictures on the Celebrity website. The colors lent a very sophisticated look and the leather sofa, granite desk tops, 32" flat screen that can be angled for the bed were awesome. I had heard about lack of closet space but the storage over the bed makes up for that and was fairly easy to access and the larger bathroom is worth the smaller closet. Being in a CC1 cabin, we did have a bottle of champagne waiting as well as a fruit tray. Everyday Canapes were delivered to the room and we really enjoyed that. Our cabin attendant, Resty, showed up promptly and oriented us to the features of the room and was very cordial about answering our questions. Of all the cruises I have been on, I would say she was one of the best. I cannot find one thing to complain about in this area. The bed linens were very comfortable and there was even room in the mini fridge for my own libations..shhhh.... FITNESS AND RECREATION: I did not utilize these facilities but did tour the spa and gym. Both were well done and while not as large as what I was used to on the Voyager and Freedom class ships at RC, they seemed to be very adequate. I guess the level of availability will differ each week depending on the number of cruisers who partake. Also, the jogging track on Deck 14 was used quite a bit but as on all ships, it can get crowded with sunbathers, walkers, etc. ENRICHMENT: There seemed to a lot of different seminars throughout the cruise. I attended a wine tasting that was only $10 per person and it was really enjoyable. Of course, the Hot Glass show is a must. Very interesting but get there early if you want a seat. RATES: Celebrity offered some really great specials when they moved up the delivery date of Solstice and I actually got my CC1 for around $1000 per person. I met a lot of others who said the same thing. I don't know if that trend will continue but I hope you find a bargain as well. Anytime you can get a balcony for 7 days for around a $1000 is always a good deal. Getting a concierge cabin for that price was a really special bonus. DINING: There is so much to cover here due to the number of dining options on Solstice. The Grand Epernay main dining room is spectacular. We had a six top on Deck 3(lower level of dining room) off to the side. You could tell that the crew was still learning how to operate but our service was fine. The food once again seemed to be a step up from the good food on Royal Caribbean and I did not have a bad meal. We did eat at two of the specialty restaurants and these were worth the price. First, we went to Silk Harvest, which offers a variety of asian inspired cuisine. It was too much food. If you like sushi rolls, then you will love the Solstice Roll. We also ate in the Tuscan Grill. It was hard to find a time because we waited to make reservations till we boarded. Several days into the cruise, we had made several friends and we all decided to try to eat together. I called the reservation line for Tuscan Grill and was put on a wait list. The next day I was left a message saying they could get us in. Later that evening before dinner, we wanted to add one more diner and I called to see if this was possible. When they looked, they did not show my reservation for that evening and still had my old reservation in the system. Once again, I would attribute this to the crew learning new systems. I walked over and talked one on one with the maitre'd and he was able to get us in. Since there was seven of us, we all ordered the different appetizers and entrees and shared tastes. Everything was excellent for the most part. There was some confusion with the wine list and what they had in stock but as I said, with a new ship there are going to be little issues like that. Two of the friends we made that week were in the Aqua class and invited us to dine with them. The Blu dining room is so nice and contemporary. The service was great and that night was Lobster night and it was one of our most enjoyable meals. Most likely, unless you are Aqua class, you won't be able to eat there but make some friends and see what happens. The breakfast buffet was pretty typical with some cultural stations for guests from other parts of the world. The big difference was they have a waffle maker....you may have to wait a few minutes but they were delicious. For lunch, as described on the day of embarkation early on, was good in the Oceanview Cafe. I did eat at the Mast Grill which is outside only and they had chips and salsa (yeah, we are from Texas), guacamole, burgers, hot dogs, fries, onion rings and more and I would recommend this if you are laying out or swimming as a good alternative. We never did try Bistro on Five or Murano. I heard good things about them from other cruisers so maybe next time. The Cafe al' Baccio was a nice place to sit and listen to live music and enjoy a specialty coffee (for a price)and the pastries and desserts were free. ENTERTAINMENT: There is music everywhere on the Solstice. Look at your schedule and you will find something to your taste in one of the many bars and lounge areas. The production shows in the Solstice Theater are similar to what you may have seen before but they are very well done and are worth seeing. The cast is allowed to hang out in the bars after shows and they were really friendly and engaging. Take a chance and have a great time. Nick the cruise director is funny and seems to take the time to make sure all is being handled. I know it is a huge job to open a new ship and I really don't know when he slept. SERVICE: For a new staff on a new design ship, I was really impressed with the level of service in all areas. Aside from some procedure issues that the crew was learning, they were always able to take care of our needs and did so in a friendly manner. SHORE EXCURSIONS: We did not take any ship sponsored excursions as we have been to San Juan and St. Maarten several times and struck out on our own. One of our cruise critic members, Marion, took the time to organize a trip to the Barcardi Factory and we did have a good time doing that. The tour is free and you get two free drinks afterwards. It only costs 25 cents to take the ferry across and then $3 each way to the factory in a cab or van. We also walked Old San Juan and went to Mojitos Restaurant and the mojitos were great. A special treat was when we came across the Christmas tree lighting that night in the square in Old San Juan. Very random and wonderful to catch a different cultural version of this old tradition. In St. Maarten/St. Martin, we rented a car and drove to Maho Beach located at the end of the runway at Princess Juliana Airport. This is so much fun as the planes come in about 100 feet above the beach and will get your adrenaline flowing. Do be careful if you decide to stand there when a big jet takes off as it will blow sand and even blow you down. Watch your eyes! The Sunset Beach Bar is open contrary to reports you may have read and they do have burgers and such. Great place to sit and watch if you don't want to be on the beach when the planes come in or leave. We also drove to a secluded beach (Cupecoy area) for some sunbathing sans clothes and then headed over to Orient Bay to show my partner as he has never been there. We had drinks at the Buddha Bar but did not venture down the nude beach there as it is a very crowded beach compared to Cupecoy. As it was getting late and the car rental agency closed at 7 p.m., we headed back to Phillipsburg to get on the ship even though we did not leave port till 11 p.m. If you rent a car, be cautious. We did rent from a local company to save $30 and our RAV4 did not have seat belts or a top. Luckily, there was no rain or bad driving conditions. Do be prepared for slow traffic. It is a small Island with few roads. We had never been to St. Kitts and with our new friends, we all got together to take a taxi to Cockleshell Beach located at the far end of the Island. The drive was beautiful with sweeping vistas and curving, mountainous roads. We saw goats and cows everywhere on the way and even at the beach. While secluded, it was still very busy because the shore excursions offer a catamaran ride and this is one of the stops. Also, the sand here is not as pretty as in St. Martin and there are more vendors trying to get you to buy trinkets and jet skis rides. Also, beware the lady's offering Aloe massages. They are friendly and persistent. One of the guys in our group got the massage and enjoyed it but the lady used real aloe straight out of the plant and he was quite sticky the rest of the day...Also, the cab ride can be expensive unless you have at least six in the cab. The cab driver was very friendly and talked about the island and even stopped to let us take pictures. I am sure there is more to do in St. Kitts so do your research. VALUE FOR MONEY: For the price we paid for a concierge cabin, the value was fantastic. As always, drinks are a little pricey but always well made and strong if you get my meaning.... OVERALL CRUISE: In one word, Wonderful. The Solstice is the prettiest ship I have ever been on. The artwork is superb, the lounges and bars and restaurants are architectually stunning, the cabins well designed and the service and food a step up from the major lines. Also, I have forgot to mention the Lawn Club and pool areas. The cabanas at the pool are nice and the solarium is very relaxing and certainly a unique experience from other ships. There was really so much to absorb it is hard to put it all in here. I am ready to sail again and will take another cruise on Celebrity if not many more. The average age was a little older than what I experienced on Royal Caribbean and if I had kids, I might choose a Freedom class ship on RC over this ship for activities for the kids but they do have there own area and a basketball court (not usable in high winds since it is up front)and I saw counselors taking care of them throughout the day so it would free you up for some special time up on the Solstice Deck. Once again, this is a new ship from the ground up. If you are going on one of the early cruises, it will not be perfect but that is the trade off of being one of the first and I am proud of what Celebrity has accomplished with Solstice. Also, they hosted a Cruise Critic meet and greet and if you are in the Captains Club, they have an event for all with free alcohol and then a separate event for Select and Elite with free drinks as well. This is a stunning ship and I hope you get to experience her or one of her siblings later on. EMBARKATION: As a final note, this was done very well. No announcements to rattle your nerves on the last day. Just report to your assigned area at the time listed and you then you just walk off the ship. Being a large ship the line for customs was about 20 minutes but not unexpected. The taxi area was a bit of mess and unorganized. I realize that Celebrity does not control this but was hectic so be patient if you are catching a cab to the airport. Really, the hardest thing about embarkation was leaving our new friends and crew and of course, Solstice herself. But, the memories will be a treasure always. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2008
Hi everyone, My friends and some of the family were able to sail on the Solstice on the November 30, 2008 sailing. My Mom was originally scheduled to go on the inaugural with myself and some of my siblings, but then had a serious accident ... Read More
Hi everyone, My friends and some of the family were able to sail on the Solstice on the November 30, 2008 sailing. My Mom was originally scheduled to go on the inaugural with myself and some of my siblings, but then had a serious accident that prevented her from sailing. I personally want to thank Host Joe for being one of the kindest individuals, for taking time out of his holiday inaugural sailing to make a dvd of the ship for my mother, and purchasing a shirt and some miscellaneous items for her when I requested help on this board. Celebrity management should give him a penthouse suite for being such a wonderful enthusiastic cruiser who promotes Celebrity and takes the time to post on these boards with helpful information. Some of the family was able to book last minute cabins on this sailing, and decided to go. They returned late last night, and I have scanned the shopping guides for the ports, Aquaspa information, casino information, the ship dailies, the shore excursion insert, the ship's smoking policy, wine ad information and in room bar charges, Captain's Club elite invitation to ship events, and general miscellaneous information. I've set up a google page with the attachments at https://sites.google.com/site/celebritysolsticesite/ Please note that it will take a long time to load some of the attachments as they are quite large, so please be patient. This review is a composite of my family and friends who were on the sailing. Overall, it was an extremely positive experience, and they all hope to sail Solstice again, especially after the kinks are worked out. I've added pictures to the webpage showing the ship decorated for the holidays. Review Saturday November 29, 2008- Everyone flew Saturday afternoon to Fort Lauderdale, and took a 10 minute(at max) 12.90 cab ride(for 2) before tip to the Embassy Suites. They all obtained the rooms on a discount hotel site for 85.00 for the one night. Sunday November 30, 2008 After eating the full breakfast the next morning(included with the room), the group all caught cabs at 11:30 a.m. to go to the pier which for two people was 14.00 with the luggage per cab. All of them were required to flash their passports at the security control prior to the cab entering the pier area. They didn't take a close look, but I guess it is just an extra needed security measure. The cab ride was again less than 10 minutes from the hotel to the drop off to the terminal entrance. Everyone goes inside, and it takes about 15 minutes to go through getting the room cards and boarding the ship. Everyone gets the arrival boarding pictures made, and for the first time on Celebrity that anyone of the group remembers, they scan your seapass, so you will be able to review your photos from your cabin TV screen and purchase them from the interactive television. We are told repeatedly that the rooms will not be ready until 1 or 1:30 p.m., but after boarding the ship, all of us were allowed to drop the bags in the room, and proceed to Deck 14 where the Oceanview Cafe is located for lunch. They now have several stations like RCL does where you serve yourself from the hot entrees, hamburgers, salad bars, pizza and pasta bar, cheese and bread station dessert area, ice cream area, and drink stations. Water, coffee, tea, lemonade, orange juice, guava-passion fruit juice are free. Sodas, bar drinks are extra costs. At night there is also sushi, and late night pizza. There always seemed to be a long line at lunch for the ice cream station. In future tweaking, they should put a second station in, especially when the ship is at full capacity, or if there are more children on board in the summers. They also only have three waffle machines, and there was always a line for waffles in the mornings. They could easily add another three waffle irons so that cruisers like Texed would not have to wait so long! Some of the group stayed in Aquaclass cabins, others in concierge class, and regular balcony cabins. The main differences were in the small amenities offered. CC class rooms had the thicker bathrobes, thicker towels, afternoon canapes, binoculars to use and the bottle of champagne. Aqua class cabins had in addition the Frette thicker bathrobes, Jadro multispray shower panel, lemongrass bath gels, soaps and aromatherapy products, a diffuser, and only two people in the room, and dining in Blu. There was a separate desk for AQ class to book spa appointments. AQ class and the suites could use the Persian Gardens , steam room and relaxation room included in the price. The majority of the group said that these facilities were vastly underused, and to allow other passengers who want to use them perhaps, it would be a good idea for time reservations to be made for a 45 minute or 1 hour slot, so that other passengers could enjoy them as well. No one in the group had any difficulties in getting reservations for treatments. Most waited for the spa special of the day, and then booked one of those, as they were usually about 60 or 70 dollars less expensive than the regular treatments offered. Steiner has the contract on the services. None of the guys or girls reported any hard sales tactics for the products following a treatment. The pool area and solarium indoor pool were very nice with lots of loungers with thick cushions, and double day beds. The water in the solarium was brisk, but the hot tubs worked nicely. The group was very impressed to see (and about time for it to be on all ships) a handicap access chair that can be lowered into one of the hot tubs. The Aquaspa cafe is located at the end of the solarium, and would have juices, coffee, teas, cereals, yogurt, oatmeal, and pastries for breakfast if you wanted a fast and light breakfast. On deck 15 at the front of the ship(below the spinning sonar) are really nice double chaise loungers to relax on. So after gorging at the oceanview cafe, and making spa appointments, everyone wandered around the ship checking out all of the public spaces. The ship's drill was done in the restaurants, where everyone sat at the tables, watch a short film on safety on tv screens, and then back to the cabins. No outside standing on the decks, and this was much faster and easier. They had a nice sailaway party from Fort Lauderdale and then on to dinner. Since the group was dining in both Grand Epernay and Blu, they tried to move everyone to Grand Epernay, but the maitre'd could not accommodate the group. So for the first night everyone ate at their respective places. The comments from the people in Blu was that service was good, it is a nice intimate space with lots of tables for two, the bread basket was good, but the food was underseasoned and somewhat bland. The service in Grand Epernay was inconsistent, some tables were great, others had a long wait between courses, and the food was fine, although the portions(for meat and fish) seemed smaller than the last cruise two months ago on another Celebrity ship. The chairs were extremely comfortable in both restaurants. After dinner, several bought the internet packages, and with the 20% more minutes for elite members and the additional discount by booking it on the first day, the price dropped from 65 cents a minute to 40 cents a minute for the package. Whether on your own laptop or in the internet room on deck 6, service is relatively slow compared to land based internet. Cellphone signals worked the majority of the time except when not close to a shoreline. Everyone finished the night in the casino on deck 4 and then Quasar, the nightclub also on deck 4. To my brothers' credit, they did ask everyone who wanted to dance to dance,(and this was every night on this ship) as they had more energy than their wives or girlfriends. Monday December 1, 2008 the first sea day After rolling in late the night before, several got up to play Team trivia at 9:15 a.m. Everyone had a blast, and met lots of wonderful people especially Lin and Rich. The top team of four every morning won either a metal Celebrity luggage tag, a blue Celebrity minipillow, a seapass cardholder,or a pen. Some of the smarter of the group racked up 5 or 6 of these things by the end of the cruise. My family's personal preference to get as many people on the ship to join in group activities would be give everybody 1 ticket for participation, an additional ticket to the winner of that event, and on the last day of the cruise, let people redeem the tickets for different prizes. That way, the poor activity staff doesn't have to lug around all of the little prizes to each event. One day 3 teams of 4 tied in one of the trivia contests, and she didn't have 12 prizes with her. She had to go back, get everyone's names and then deliver the luggage tag to those passenger's rooms. our group can't say enough positive things about the activity staff. Not only were they fun and engaging, several wrote personal notes to the people who participated in the events thanking them and hoping to see them again as future cruisers. Some of the best activities were the latin dance classes held in the entertainment court right outside Quasar and in Quasar. There was one lady who my younger brother called the "music goddess" as she would have perfect scores in the Guess that Tune trivia naming the artist and title of the song from a few seconds of the song being played. My family members and the eighties seemed to be a black hole- as they were complete failures on that one. They also played bocce and did golf putting. The lawn is a novel concept, but the group opinion is that it will not be repeated on future ships, as the maintenance is tricky. Everyone went to at least one hot glass show put on by the Corning Museum, and Lewis, the main gaffer was extremely talented. This was a great addition to things to do on the ship. After some more pool time, the group decided to try every restaurant on board. The second night which was a formal night was at Silk Harvest which is an upcharge restaurant. We liked the food, as everyone likes spice and some heat in their dishes. Then off to the theatre to see the Solstice show. The theatre is a hugh improvement over other Celebrity theatres in both the sound system and sight lines. The show was sort of Cirque du Soleil like with entertainers flying through the air, and acrobatic stunts on the stage. We heard the men's acapella group Ocean's Four perform, and they were fantastic everywhere they performed, usually before and after the shows. At lunch the steel pan artist, Robert Symons performed, and it made for a nice Caribbean vibe. Back to the casino, and then again at Quasar to close the evening. Very late night room service for a few, and it was slow in coming but the order was correct. Service kinks, that I am sure that they will try and correct. Tuesday December 2, 2008 San Juan Since the ship wasn't arriving in San Juan until 2:00 p.m. ,everyone went to Cafe al Bacio for coffee and pastries. The pastries are free, but the speciality coffees were 3-4 dollars. Needs a lot of work. They have the proper machinery, but the expresso( very weak) was served in the wrong size cup, and they had never heard of a doppio. Before this ship gets to Europe, they need to train the employees in all of the drinks. We tried Cafe al Bacio on two other occasions, and it still wasn't up to par. Members of the group played trivia, music trivia and Battle of the Sexes. By the end of the week, they put up yellow hazard tape dividing the room in half as some people got overly aggressive in wanting to win. It was fun for others to watch. We then ate in Bistro on Five (a 5.00 surcharge per person) for lunch and had good crepes and sandwiches. Although we did not have a problem with service issues there, numerous people we met did, when only 4 or 5 tables in the area were occupied. One couple reported waiting 45 minutes for their entree to arrive after ordering. They weren't serving filet mignon in there, so just unacceptable for service. They need to make this area surcharge free ,shorten the hours to just about 1/2 of the time and train the staff better. Off the ship, and since everyone in this group had been to San Juan many times, just walked around El Morro, El Convento, hung out at the bar that invented pina coladas which is Barrachina (7.50 each, and yes they will give you to go cups) and strolled around. Since we had a late departure, we ate in one of our favorite cafes in San Juan, with great salsa music playing in the background. We caught the late show with Louis Johnson at 11:00 p.m(very entertaining but they need to put on the flyer for mature audiences as some of the material some would raise an eyebrow at), and then the late night glass show where they gave away some of the pieces made and back to Quasar to close it out. Wednesday December 3, 2008 The ship docked at 9:00 a.m. in Saint Maarten, but the group didn't get off the ship until 11:30 a.m. Trivia and golf putting was first up, by an early lunch in the oceanview cafe. Expensive watches are by far the best bargain of the island. Several members of the group bought the shopping guide for $25 because someone wanted to purchase something specifically from one of the stores and it would have discount coupons in it. The shopping guides, Kyle and Leanne(who are very personable and newly engaged) are more than willing to write up a Vip card for you if you tell them specifically what you are shopping for. A couple of the guys knew they wanted a particular brand and model number of some high end watches. They went to two or three stores for price comparisons, then waited until 15 minutes before closing to make the deal. Normally you save 15% off the manufacturer's price, plus no sales tax or duty tax, and they saved between 30-40% on the watches because the sales manager wanted to fill their quota that day. They still had to pay U.S. customs tax as the exemption amount is only 800 a person(1600 a couple), but still saved a significant amount. The jewelry is nice, but hard to know if you are getting a great price, as it is somewhat subjective. The water taxi in Philipsburg goes to the downtown shopping district which is the second stop. An all day pass is 6.00 a person. It took about 10 minutes to get from the pier to the shopping district. The group also headed to Orient Beach for a few hours and just enjoyed hanging out. we got back on at about 6:00 p.m. as we went to Murano's for dinner that night which is a $30 per person upcharge, and worth every penny. The food was great, service was wonderful, and the ambiance is of a very small club. The wine list is extensive, with most bottles falling in the 70 dollar range. If you are in one of the suites, you get two speciality restaurant dinners included. Also if you earned 2500 points in the casino on your seapass card, you can also get the charges waived. After about three hours there, we went to the casino before the late show called Pulse. The group consensus was that it was better than the Solstice show. Louis Johnson had an 11:45 p.m. show which was even funnier and a little bluer than the first one. Off to the pool deck on 14 to dance to Top Secret, and back down to close Quasar. You would have thought someone would not have gained weight on the cruise because of all of the dancing, but no-just didn't happen. Thursday December 4, 2008 St. Kitts The ship arrived early at 8:00 a.m. and left at 5:00 p.m. Late start after trivia, and golf,got off about 11:00 a.m. The island was hit very hard by hurricanes in October, and it eroded a large part of the coast. The duty free shops are just as you get off the ship. There are plenty of taxi drivers and tour guides. Some people thought they were somewhat aggressive, but they are all just looking for work after having none for a period of time after the storms. For $60 for four people in a van(and we had more), we went to the fort, Caribelle Batik and Romney Gardens, and general sightseeing for several hours. The island is quite lush and beautiful, and it was fun to see a goatherder with his flock, and a large jersey cow, just taking a sunbath on the main road. It did take some encouragement for the cow to get up and move to the side of the road. They had several people in native costumes like Junkanoo dancing for tips. Many people took pictures of them in their heavy costumes and didn't leave a tip. Knowing the hardships on the island we left a 20 in the jar, although none of us had cameras on us at that point. The sunset was great, and then off to dinner at Tuscan Grille, the Italian steakhouse another upcharge dining venue. Loved the ambiance, the wine list(with many more reasonably priced bottles), loved the view off the back of the ship, and more importantly, everyone loved the food. It felt like Little Italy in New York only a little fancier. Service was great, so we booked a second night in here for Saturday. Of course we went to the Captain's Club cocktail party, and saw the show of David Myer who does synthesized xylophone and drums. extremely talented and fun to watch. after a short trip in the casino, it was on again to the Martini bar to try our more varieties. It was the most convivial bar on the ship(although sad to say but I'm sure Celebrity is happy about it, we tried all bars out for test taste comparisons). In the entertainment court the entertainment staff and some of the dancers dressed up in 60's garb, and some of the male passengers dressed up as the Beatles, and Quasar rocked all night long. It was like a group dance for everyone. There was one lady who said she was eighty that twisted better than some of the twenty year olds. It was great to see so many passengers staying up. Friday December 5, 2008 Second Sea Day This was a chillout day, spa day and wine tasting day. The consensus of the group is that they liked the Thai poultice massage the best, followed by the bamboo(which is a deep tissue) and the aroma stone massage. As for manicures and pedicures, they were not impressed by the fire and ice treatment, and said it was more relaxing to just add the hot wax treatment to either the manicure or pedicure. They use creative nail polish on board. The facials like the best was the procollagen facial combined with a scalp massage. Several went to the art auction held in the Sky Lounge on 14. Instead of the former Park West Gallery offerings, there is a new company called the Millenia Fine Art Gallery onboard offering upscale contemporary paintings, photographs, and glass sculptures from very well known artists. The consensus was, it was wonderful to look at, but well above the average price point for a nice cruise souvenir. This was also the day to check out all of the onboard shops. Celebrity has a new vendor for the shops, and it is definitely more upscale in the clothing, watches and jewelry. A one carat Solstice diamond was $25,000. There were nice polo shirts for men and women at $45.00 They had Steuben, Kosta Boda, and Glass Eye Works crystal from $50 or so up to $30,000. They had a fabulous trunk show by Robert Manse of jewelry that was Balinese silver with semiprecious gemstones, as well as spectacular diamond jewelry. There was not much in the way of inaugural items, which was puzzling. There were some caps and shirts that said inaugural season, but no ship's model, no inaugural season book, playing cards or other items that could be branded as inaugural. There was a paperweight that was $45 in the glass shop, but again the consensus was that they missed the opportunity to sell more items like pens, bookmarks, books etc. Several people purchased Reidel stemless tumblers that came 2 to a box that said Solstice on the bottom of the glass with sun rays for $75. Some people went to the Medispa Seminar with the physician who does restalyne, and botox on the ship. The price was 650 a tube(or syringe ) for the restalyne. One of my brothers talked with Dr. Mona(sorry can't remember her last name) who said she was extremely busy all week long with appointments. We also listened to Jefferson Ang, a very good guitarist and singer whose voice reminded me of a young James Taylor. It was formal evening tonight so some went back to the Grand Epernay, and some went to Blu. Service was good in Blu, food still found to be underseasoned, and slow to show the wine list. Service again was inconsistent in Grand Epernay, but everyone really liked their meals. Everyone met up at the third production show which was Ghostlight, a medley of Broadway tunes. The lead singer, had an amazing voice, and the ballet dancers were lovely to look at. The orchestra for the show was again outstanding. drink service was good for all of the performances. We then made the mistake of going to the karaoke show in the Sky lounge. A few of the people had outstanding voices, and some were so bad who were being serious about it, that our captain had to turn his head away so people couldn't see him trying to suppress a laugh or two. The funniest thing that happened all cruise long was an older gentleman with a good voice got up to sing, and a tall attractive middle aged blond got on the stage and danced very suggestively up to him. The number ends, and as he walks off the stage, he says an audible I'm sorry to his wife. He had never met or talked to the dancer before, and everyone assumed perhaps it was his wife. Once everyone heard it wasn't his wife, I'm sure he got a few extra votes for best of the night! So, the group leaves and tries some video texas hold'em and back to another midnight show with Louis Johnson, followed of course by more dancing at Quasar. Saturday December 6, 2008 Third and final day at sea So much to do the last day at sea! The group enters all trivia contests, and redeems itself by not placing last overall in music, and wins tribond, and final ship trivia. Another lunch day at Bistro on Five, followed by gelato which was worth every penny of the 4 dollars(several scoops) Service was okay at the Bistro but still not up to what it can be. We then hang at the pool, clean up and go to Elegant Tea. They need to fix this as well. High tea is brewed loose teas with strainers, not tea bags. The savories were good as well as the scones and tarts. They need to get double cream to serve with the jam, and loose teas. The main dining room is lovely and it made for a festive afternoon, but this can be done without much additional cost , much much better. We had an early dinner at Tuscan Grille, and it was still our favorite. We dined as the sun was setting, and it just infused the room with light that played off the glass sculptures in the room. We put the luggage out in the halls prior to going to the show. The last variety show had the cruise director singing, and doing a little schtick, David Myer playing the xylophone and drums, and the best bit by far was the band leader playing two trumpets at the same time. The 10 piece orchestra also played after the show doing big band tunes which everyone danced to out in the main foyer. a final farewell to Quasar and off to bed at 2 or so for everyone. Sunday December 7, 2008 The ship docks at 7:00 a.m. Everyone goes to breakfast at Oceanview Cafe, and we go to the departure lounge around 9:00 a.m. Ten minutes later we get off the ship, go through immigration, pay the customs tax for those who bought big ticket items, and were in the taxis 15 minutes later. Probably the easiest time ever with departure. Hopefully all of our family(instead of the half that went) and friends can meet up and go together as a group soon. Final thoughts Dining service needs to be improved in the main dining room and in Bistro on Five. They need to figure out Italian coffees and how to make them properly before they get to Europe this summer in Cafe al Bacio. They need to institute policies so that everyone who wants to pay to use the Persian Gardens and steam rooms can do so, which will generate additional revenue for the ship. The ship's photographers are for the most part learning on the job other than the supervisors. The casino staff and bar staff in the casino definitely need to circulate more among the players, and they definitely need a live texas hold'em table instead of the computer tables. The positives far outweigh the minor points. The staff was unfailing polite, and couldn't do enough for our group. The activities staff were a riot, and by the second day knew the members of the group that participated by name. The hot glass shows were great, and the upgraded entertainment and bands was a hugh plus for us. I think adding more and more activity options will defintely attract a younger demographic to Celebrity while still retaining the laid back casual elegance that we want from a vacation. If anyone has any questions, please feel free to post, and thanks for reading this lengthy review. kk Read Less
Sail Date: November 2008
The ships decor is beautiful. There are a lot of secluded & semi-secluded areas so you don't get a crowded feeling. There was no lack of bars & lounges & all were really nice. The furnishings were different & ... Read More
The ships decor is beautiful. There are a lot of secluded & semi-secluded areas so you don't get a crowded feeling. There was no lack of bars & lounges & all were really nice. The furnishings were different & outstanding. The main dining room was beautiful but had too many 2 top tables. Our waiter was not familiar with the menu. The menu was lacking variety & was not an easy read. NO LOBSTER NIGHT !! What they served was a rock lobster tail, 1 shrimp, 1 scallop over risotto which was overcooked, tough & dried out. There was no choice of salad dressings. No Baked Alaska parade. The food, for the most part, was good but not up to Celebrity standards. Having dinner at 6pm did not give us enough time to get to things scheduled at 7:45pm such as the Captain's Club Cocktail Party, Senior Officers Party, etc. The cabins were nice with a lot of storage, including the bathrooms. Showers were nice. Beds were very comfortable. Balconies were large enough for our needs. There was no clothes line in the shower to hang those little things up. I was told that there are exhaust fans in the bathroom but we couldn't find one. The cabin stewards were great. Room service was excellent and on time. The Solarium was wonderful with the exception of the temperature of the pool water. It was freezing. The cabana type lounges and the hammocks were really different and great. The cushions on the lounges made them comfortable. The dancing waters and waterfall wall were magnificent and really relaxing. I wish there had been more pool parties. This was a Caribbean cruise so there should have been more Caribbean music by the pool. There was no party atmosphere, with the exception of "Sizzle". The casino staff was professional & friendly. There was not enough wait staff in the casino so getting a drink was really slow. The Captain's Club coupons given us were very limited with none for any of the table games. The entertainment was outstanding. The shows were great, especially "The Solstice". The dancers were terrific. The "Oceans Four" a cappella group were wonderful. This is our 8th cruise on Celebrity and we enjoyed it. It is a brand new ship and therefore has some things to work out but as a whole it was great. I'm sure improvement will be made. Those "little things" are what makes Celebrity a cut above the rest. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2008
CABIN - Sky Suite Our Celebrity Sky Suite(cabin #2129)was in an excellent location on the Pool & Aqua Spa deck, and one quick flight of steps up to the buffet. Butler (Ram Ivor)& housekeeping staff were professional and faultless. ... Read More
CABIN - Sky Suite Our Celebrity Sky Suite(cabin #2129)was in an excellent location on the Pool & Aqua Spa deck, and one quick flight of steps up to the buffet. Butler (Ram Ivor)& housekeeping staff were professional and faultless. A few squeaky loose panels in the ceiling interrupted our sleep the first night during rough weather, but this problem was remedied by the maintenance staff. Bed was very comfortable, air conditioning worked well maintaining a nice constant temperature. We chose the Sky Suite because of the enlarged veranda, which was a pleasant size for two people to sit comfortably and enjoy a leisurely breakfast or tea. Sky Suite passengers get priority embarkation & disembarkation which worked well and speeds you through without crowds. We were disembarked by 9:00 am on Sunday, and could easily have caught an 11:00 am flight at FLL. However, I understand this is not always the case, even with priority clearance. FOOD We agree with another member's recent review that the food was not even passable. The first night;s dinner we booked in the Murano (specialty restaurant) and the food was quite good, but it was all downhill from there. Grand Epernay (main dining) offerings were boring to downright unpalatable. We have had better food on lesser cruise lines. Our Epernay waiter was professional, but the sommelier was pushy, insisting every tine that we try a wine other than the one we had already selected. I will not even consider Celebrity again if the food quality does not significantly improve. We booked Celebrity based on their reputation for higher quality cuisine, and we were very disappointed. Even trying to pay more for your food to get better quality didn't work - $5.00 (+gratuity) for a weak cup of espresso at Al Bacio was a waste of money - not sure what it was, but it wasn't espresso. Silk Harvest (specialty restaurant) is beautifully decorated, but the quality of the food doesn't match the upscale design. Oceanview buffet was average cafeteria quality, with a few luxuries thrown in - sushi, fancy pastries. SPA We took several spa treatments - couples Swedish massage & hot stones massage (highly recommend), as well as acupuncture. The Elemis spa seems well managed, but they do a bit of selling of products, which after a very relaxing massage, you may be more amenable to purchase, but still no real hard sell. ACTIVITIES The ship itself is lovely, the staff helpful, friendly, polite. We liked the mix of fellow passengers - mostly middle age couples, but an interesting, diverse group. Michael's Club has an excellent piano bar and performer Jeremy Oren will play your requests (from Billy Joel to Prince). He's the best! After a few days at sea, this locale can really start to rock. The Ensemble lounge also had a great jazz trio. The shows weren't bad at all for a cruise ship - Cirque de Soleil type show was the best, Ghost Light a little weak, but still entertaining. The casino didn't seem very busy, but perhaps this is due to the conservative nature of many of the passengers. I also didn't like the location of the casino - its placement jammed across from the shops seemed an afterthought. Or maybe it was the lighting - anyway I didn't get a lucky feeling there, and after the first night didn't play anymore. SUMMARY Celebrity needs to work on its food quality. Overall, the Solstice is a beautifully designed ship and eco-friendly (so the brochure says) and full of pleasant fellow passengers. But given the higher rates Celebrity charges, I'm not sure the value is there if you can't get a satisfying meal. While we were in one of the ports, an RCL ship docked beside us with a Johnny Rocket's restaurant visible on one of decks - boy, were our mouths watering for fries & a shake after subsisting on Solstice food for a few days! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2008
From the moment you board until the morning of departure this ship is filled with new discoveries. The modernistic clean lines are the first thing that jump out as you tour this beautiful ship. The furnishings in all the main lounges and ... Read More
From the moment you board until the morning of departure this ship is filled with new discoveries. The modernistic clean lines are the first thing that jump out as you tour this beautiful ship. The furnishings in all the main lounges and public areas have a modern but welcoming look. The ship is very spacious but still contains many small intricate places to feel you can get "far from the maddening crowds". The Library, Card Room, and cozy curtained areas of the Martini Bar are just a few of these quiet corners. The staff on celebrity stand ready and willing to be cheerful, friendly and helpful at all times. The Oceanview Cafe is expertly designed to keep lines almost non-existent and to enable one to get their meals in a most efficient manner. The Pasta Bar, Oriental Stir fry Area, as well as specialty and carving areas are well situated throughout the Restaurant. The Pasta Bar and Ice Cream are all available from noon to 9:30 pm everyday as well as pizza which is available until 3:00 am. The Specialty Gelateria on Deck Five is open from 11:00 am until 9:00 pm. There is a nominal charge of $3 per serving but it is well worth it. The Mast grill has all the standard poolside fare of burger, fries and the likes as well as a small salad bar. The Grand Epernay Restaurant is a creation of shimmering glass and the wine tower is an awesome focal point. The Grand Stairwell made of Glass is also fabulous. The one flaw in the design is the anterior seating rooms that are removed from the central view but do afford a measure of lower noise level so dinner conversation is much more pleasant without the din of the 2 story open area. Menu items had a good variety, portion sizes were correctly sized and even the desserts were small enough to enjoy without feeling stuffed. That said if you are looking for large portions of steak or lobster you should plan on going to the specialty restaurants at least one or two nights. My only experience with the specialty restaurant was dinner in the Bistro on Five and I found it to be somewhat disappointing. The dinner crepes were very similar good but not great. The nutella dessert crepe was the best offering of the evening. We went on a port evening and there was only about 8 patrons in the entire restaurant.I feel they acted to quickly in adding a $5 surcharge to this restaurant as the offerings were not worth it in my estimation. I feel they will need to review this one and make some changes as time goes on. The people I talked with who used Muranos and the Silk Harvest were very pleased with the food and the service. I did note that on late port nights Muranos did not seem to be very busy at least through the 7:00 dinner hour. It is disappointing that Blu is only available to the Aqua Class as it is one of the most beautiful settings on board this ship. The Cafe del Bacio was always busy with lots of patrons most of it operating hours. The Production Shows are not to be missed. Solstice is a production on a grand scale which includes the Cirque D Soleil performers. Pulse is a music variety show of fantastic performances. The Ghost Light is a tribute to Broadway and includes some beautiful dream ballet performances from some of the old favorite Broadway hits. The singers and dancers chosen for these shows are by far some of the most outstanding performers you will ever see on any cruise ship. The music venues on this ship were varied and all were enjoyable, Guitarist Jefferson Ang is very good and can be seen in several different areas of the ship. The Oceans Four Acapella Quartet was a different type of entertainment than you usually encounter onboard a ship. Jeremy Oren was a great pianist however he was hampered by the original setup in Michael's Club. They did some makeshift furniture rearrangement but soon discovered that a complete overhaul of the setup will be necessary to accommodate all the folks that want to use the piano bar. They need to decide if it will be a small intimate place for quite music or a rowdy piano bar setup which it should be for this type of cruise. Celebrity seemed to be working on the redesign plans after the second night. The Sky Lounge was great for music and dancing, My only complaint was that it was not the best place for the Late Night Dessert Extravaganza called "Starring You". The lines were crushed in among the seating areas with people cutting in and you stood in a line without even knowing what was on the table at the end. Maybe they will rethink this location as time goes on when they get feed back from the passengers. The cabins are comfortable and well designed with roomy bathrooms and a great shower stall that should work for even the tallest passengers. The cabin stewards were friendly, courteous, efficient and most helpful. Our room was always made up and our ice bucket full and our special requests taken care of promptly. They told us they strive for excellence and in our case they succeeded. The pool area was fantastic with poolside sun beds and canopies over the second deck for shady areas. One of the quirkier seating areas were the 2 person hammock tents in the corners of the Pool Deck. There was always plenty of seating and never seemed over crowded even on seadays. The solarium was virtually empty most of the time and one never had to fight for a lounge chair. There are some great covered papasan type chairs to curl-up in with a good book in the Solarium. The dancing waters add to the serenity of the area. Last but not least we come to that special place on every ship the "Martini Bar". Celebrity goes all out on this one with the ice bar as well as a separate bar with a crushed icewell in the center for icing various vodkas for tasting. The area also has seating with curtains that can be drawn to enclose your party for privacy a different feature than any I have seen previously. The Grand Foyer and Ensemble Lounge offer comfortable seating and great music venues every evening for your listening and dancing pleasure. The Hot Glass Show on the Lawn Club Area is a must see. They make actual pieces of art several times a day with the furnaces right out on the deck area in a comfy setting. The Lawn Area is a pleasant seating area with rattan furnishings. There are fun activities held here during the course of the day such as putting contests and bocciball competitions. All in all there is something for everyone all day everyday on board the beautiful Celebrity Solstice. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2008
Solstice Cruise Review - Trip - 11/30/2008 through 12/7/2008 By Thomas Treimel This cruise started when Celebrity Solstice opened four extra weeks of bookings before the original planned inaugural. My travel agent called me and said ... Read More
Solstice Cruise Review - Trip - 11/30/2008 through 12/7/2008 By Thomas Treimel This cruise started when Celebrity Solstice opened four extra weeks of bookings before the original planned inaugural. My travel agent called me and said Celebrity allocated her about twelve cabins for this selective week. I quickly suggested some of my friends to book it and they did. We hammered out the details for all of our group. I booked my daughter Jenna and I on the trip. I started looking into air travel at this time. One of the Continental airlines hubs is my home airport - Newark. They fly directly to Ft. Lauderdale the embarkation port for this trip. The airfares were a bit higher than I have paid in the past but we were still in a gas high price time but by cruise time the gas prices had tumbled from over $3 per gallon at the booking time to only $1.50 or so when we flew out of Newark. A nice thing to do is fly into the home port area a day before to get adjusted and see the town. This also reduces the stress levels as you are there and ready to go so you will see no delays in getting to the ship on time. I had originally booked an 8AM flight out of Newark to land at about 11AM in Ft. Lauderdale. Then a few weeks later re-checked the flight on the Continental sight to see where the seating capacity was. Hmmmmmmmm.... Flight was not there. I then went back to my reservation number and checked to see that the flight had been removed and we were now scheduled on the 6:35AM flight out of Newark on the same day. So I then went back in and re-set my seats and called my friends, Karen and Tim, who were traveling on the cruise and sir with us. They also had to reset the air portion of the trip. The same thing happened with our return flight home. Originally set for a noon departure out of Newark but the flight was cancelled in advance and we were shifted to the 10:40AM flight home. Same thing again - switch the seats. Since I am on vacation as soon as the work day ends before we actually go. I am very detail oriented to relax and enjoy the trip. I had packed a 4 oz. bottle of rum in one of the small NTSB approved carry containers. When we went through the check point and down to the plane I purchased a 20oz. bottle of Pepsi for the plane. Also we had a very quick breakfast there McDonald's - hey it was all that was there. The plane was on time to board. We taxied away but were de-iced and did not take off till 6:50AM. I had my first drink of Rum and Coke at 6:53AM. Vacation started. My friend Hank in North Carolina will be happy to read this line. Finished the drink about the time we crossed over North Carolina. We encountered no problems getting there as we landed right on time. Right off the plane in Ft. Lauderdale and off to find the luggage pick up. We picked up our luggage and put on our Celebrity bag tags. Then found a taxi to the pier. We stepped out of the taxi and stowed the ship luggage at the port by 10AM. While they had not started the check in process yet. Karen, Tim, Jenna and I checked our bags and went through the port security process. Then settled in for the time to check in. When the check in process started we got onto the line for the Elite and checked in to board the ship. The actual check-in process took about 10 minutes for the express pass and check the passport information against the cruise tickets along with the credit card registration for on-board ship payments. Off we went up the escalator to the ship and this adventure begins. They had the ships photographers there to get your entry pictures. Upstairs you had your security picture taken to match it to your sea pass. This is used to log you on and off the ship and to record what you look like. The ships security knows who is on and off the ship at all times. This helps in ports as they want to make sure all are there. Then up the slanted gangway to the entry deck on level 5. As short left and a right and you are in the entry area where they are offering you a welcome and a glass of Champagne or orange juice. Always my favorite way to be greeted. When we entered we were informed the rooms were not quite ready. We walked to the room and dropped off our carry on luggage in the room and found out room steward Jose from India. He greeted us warmly and after explaining the room quickly let us store the luggage and we went exploring the ship. Cabin: #6257, cat. 2C, Continental Deck. This is one of the regular sized cabins on the new class of ship. Slightly larger than the traditional 170 sq. ft. There is an additional balcony on this cabin level. Very nice fit for two deck chairs and a table. I have always found the Celebrity cabins to be a perfect fit. They are slightly larger than some of the other industry standard cabins at this level. We had enough room for storage in the room as they have raised the bed level about four inches and even the large sized suit cases can fit nicely right under the bed. They moved the live vests from the storage area above the closet to a nice wire basket under the bed. Easy to slide out to get at the live vests for the boat drill. They do have a third sleeper bed - trundle bed that comes out from under the couch. But they also have a bed that swings down out of the ceiling and is hidden from vies during the day. So fitting two - would be very roomy and three is not a problem. Even though there is less closet space as you may read on the boards. There is plenty of space in the drawers and storage areas in the room. The large double closet has a hanging bar all the way across and about thirty wooden hangers for using to hang the formal wear along with the day to day things as needed. The area under where the Flat screen TV is located has 5 nice and large drawers. To the side of this area is a storage area where you wifi keyboard is hidden. This can also double as a large storage area and did for us on this trip. Under that is the mini bar and your cabin steward will open it for your use if you request it. I think there is also a small pull out drawer in the front of the sit down make up area. There is also an additional light switch and two plug outlets here for your use. Just above the bed are two large cabinets that are used for pillow storage and whatever you would like to put up there. We stored my carry on there the whole trip. The TV has a nice swing arm behind it that you can pivot off the wall for watching in bed. They can go interactive, do movies on demand (which are all free), and music of different types. Here is my problem with the music and how it is set up. They have no menu selection to bring in a large type and shuffle it from song to song mixing up the order. Something I would have liked to do. Additionally there are some nook areas with bars across to hold in things that you want to store there. It held our bottles of wine and soda we had brought on in Ft. Lauderdale. Our steward kept the small ice holder filled and brought a clear plastic wine cooler / ice cooler when we requested it. To re-state on bringing alcohol on board with you as you board the ship - Celebrity will allow two bottles of wine and maybe a few champagne. They are not strict in this policy but if you are a good passenger and do not try to bring on an excessive amount they are understanding on this issue. Your cabin steward will bring you ice as requested. Now there has been much discussion on the bathrooms on the ship and how they have changed. Yes they are a bit smaller. The counter space is not what your are used to. The shower stall area is now covered by a plastic enclosure. Very nice in my opinion. The shower head has a few adjustable settings but is locked in place and will pivot to direct the water. There are two handles to turn here - one for water pressure and one for temperature. Both work perfectly to all out satisfaction. They have a step up bar inside for the ladies to shave their legs on if needed. But the drying line I loved to use is now gone. Replaced by two cloths hooks. They have small bottles of shampoo, conditioner and moisturizer along with the standard soap and never ending supply of clean fresh white towels. We headed out to explore the ship now. From walking into the lobby area on deck 5 I was already in WOW mode. I have been on the Horizon, Zenith, the Century class all ships and the Millie class two ships. Generally speaking from my cruises on older ships in the late 70's and early 80's. Then jumping back into cruising on Celebrity in the early 90's. So I have a view from a lot of angles. With this class of ship Celebrity has stepped up beyond the normal ship out there. I have felt that Celebrity set the standard and then other followed it. This ship build and launch proves that they are still way ahead and setting the pace for cruising elegance and ship board comforts into the next ten years. I walk about the ship almost all the time now using the elevators much at all this trip. I think about 6 times in all - a bit above my average of two. Walking down the passage way and out to the stairwell area on deck 6 overlooking into the atrium and the tree there. What a nice touch. We walked forward on the port side into the Online@Celebrity area. Nice area with many computers set up. During the week I went and used the computers and the response time was very fast compared to the last time I tried a few years back. Nice soft earth / wood tones here. Very quiet area. Then back down to deck 4 to the main restaurant. Dining Room: The Grand Epernay Dining Room was just like the Millie series ships in size. This was wonderfully laid out. Same soft lines but the stair case was different. The stairs were frosted glass as were the stairwell separators. It split into two sections at the middle one each flowing to the side. We did notice one of the steps was already cracked but they will replace that soon. At night the stairs were back lit with a light green coloring. As usual there is a lot of space between tables to move. The wait stations were enlarged to hold two groups of wait staff at a time. They also had frosted glass a bit higher up that other wait stations to cut the view into them. We were at table 226 right next to the wait staff entrance and exit. There was not much noise at all sitting here. We were also within viewing distance of the well thought out wine cellar in the dining area. There were about 1800 bottles stored there as we were told. You could catch a look at the Sommelier's working in their area and picking up bottles and moving about with various glasses for each wine's use. Bob was our wine expert as always when I travel with him. We were at second seating dinner which is what I like on the ship. To relax a lot and take my time getting to dinner. My daughter Jenna and our friends Bob and Eileen were seated at our table. A lot of nice people to share a weeks worth if dinners with. We also invited Kim from the ships special events staff to dinner the last night. I had brought a coconut back on the ship, as a bet you can't get this on the ship, and tried to get it carved into a Maple leaf for our Canadian guest. But the nut was too green and it did not work out. But they drew a maple leaf on it and it worked out just the same. I would say I was not disappointed with any of the food offerings presented at dinner that week. We did go to the brunch offered one day here. It was very good. Some different offerings than upstairs as it is brunch a lot of cross over. It would have been very special to have an omelet station but I do not think they are set up for that. For the dinners everything was fantastic from the presentation to the sauces and taste. The wine parings were excellent for each night's meal. We also went into the restaurant at lunch and breakfast two times to see what other offerings we were missing out on. As with dinner everything was great. Service right there with breads or rolls and a good selection on the menu's each time. We sat next to the windows three of the times we went into breakfast or lunch the other at the rail overlooking the main floor of the restaurant. Nice view each night from up there. Although there were a lot of people missing from our section of the dining room the first night they did appear throughout the cruise. They must have been in some of the specialty restaurants enjoying their tasty offerings. I will say one thing for the complete Celebrity staff on the ship. They are wonderfully pleasant and gracious. They are always trying to please you with a special request or menu selection. I like Ice tea at dinner and it was there right after we sat down every night. I will repeat myself here and say that I have found being an Elite member does have a big plus side to it. The part of being able to invite ships officers to dinner and making new friends on the ship. This is the time to relax and enjoy your dining experience. Try something different as if it done not meet your taste buds in the right way you can re-order. And as always you are on vacation have fun with this. After this we headed forward out of the restaurant on deck 3 past Guest Relations and the bottom of the central lobby which is the Grand Foyer. I had to stop into guest relations a few times. The first to pick up a band aid as I had cut my finger. The even helped my put on the antiseptic and then the band aid the first time. All with a wonderful smile. They also supplied me with a few extra band aid's in case I needed to change them. The other times I stopped by were to drop off a nice Ipod I had found on deck 15 at the basketball court. This was a nice slim line one that the owner forgot to pick up when they left the area. I turned it over to the Concierge who took my cabin number and thanked me. The other times I was just stopping by to pick up a bill for my ship charges that I had incurred to date. Each time met with a smile and friendly hello. And as I tried to make a joke about me being a complaining passenger and where I should go for that. They politely pointed me across the foyer to the Shore excursions desk and we had a good laugh at that. The last time I was there some passenger was screaming at our Hotel Manager about something. It was nice to see him calm the passenger down and get him to quietly talk through his concerns. Another reason why I like Celebrity. They will not brush you off and will try to address all passenger concerns as they can. Simon Weir handled it in an excellent fashion. It's a good thing I was on his good side. As with every interaction all the staff are being judged by everyone on the ship including me at all times. And as usual they come through with very high marks for their manners and how the conduct themselves while on company business. This area also had the Passport bar which was colored in a soft honey gold and the shore excursions desk area. I never had the chance to stop at the passport bar area or shore excursions but notice they were always people working or using the services during the normal hours for these places. Moving up to deck 4 from the Grand Foyer area from the nice flowing stairwell. There were two decorated Christmas trees here at the base of the stairwell that magically appeared on December 1st. As you walked up the staircase to the port side is the most exciting place for a lot of people on the ship. The Martini Bar and Crush. The Martini bar was a frozen bar during the dinner hours which was two sided and had an extensive menu of Martini's and regular drinks. My friend Bob is the expert in this department and would stop by each night to see what new delights were coming out of the skillful staff's mixers. Part of the entertainment is the bartending staff. Tossing the cubes all about followed by the mixing and pouring out of three drinks at a time. They were the pros in this department and had great fun in doing so. This area was always busy before, during and after the dinner hours. It is a great place to meet up before dinner to review the days events with all the new cruise friends. Or use it as a jumping off spot for the evening. The areas surrounding the Martini bar and Crush were large seating areas with see through curtains to make small privacy areas for your group. Across from this area was Cellar Masters the wine bar on the ship. This was partitioned away with solid dark wooden walls and gates that remained open and inviting. They also had an extensive wine list available here. There was something novel about this area as hey had a pour your own glass area. This was all electronic so you could purchase a glass of wine at anytime of the day or night. Just put the sea pass into the slot - make your selection and use your wine glass of choice - it poured it out for you. The bottles were shown off behind a glass partition to show the vintage and keep the wine at it's best serving temperature. We walked into this area a few times and saw a few people relaxing reading or quietly conversing. During the afternoon a string quartet would play music here with the sound cascading upwards throughout the whole open area. The open area stretched from the grand Foyer to level 15 at the lawn club. So if you were in the stairwell connected to this or an elevator area you would hear the music. Moving forward from the Martini bar are the Shops on the Boulevard and the Casino. The pictures shown by many people can't do the actual sight of this justice. The boulevard area curves nicely around the casino. So you can walk around it if you like. The items in the shop area were very nice. Although they did not have in stock a ship Christmas ornament. In the most forward end of the shop area is the liquor sales area for taking home. They carried all the market named brands at great prices. Sometimes it is easier to just buy on the ship and leave it to them to deliver. Better than on shore purchase and store it. The Casino has a wide variety of slot machine and the standard game tables. All of the slots now operate on a coin less system. Put your dollars in and play away. When finished just cash out and a slip of paper is printed. Either cash it in to use it next time. They have added a Texas hold'em playing table and I stopped by to look at it but the rules escaped me and I moved on. They also had two Texas Hold'em tables for heads up play. I think the minimum to sit down and play was $50. Then it was straight up against all table opponents. The rake was 10% of each hand from what I was told. They did have a lot of tournaments for Hold'em and black jack during the cruise but I never got to them. There was always a lot of people in the hold'em table area and in the casino in general on the trip. If you are captains club you also get some $5 match play coupons to play with to double your even money bets at the tables. So you could pick up an extra $5 on your bets. But alas they only gave you a limited number. A nice incentive to try a game of chance. There was also a wide screen TV in here for sports viewing. As you moved even more forward you would run into The Entertainment Court. This was a large open area with tables and chairs. There was a large marble clock face in the floor here. They held the shop sales here for watches and jewelry. To the port side is the Quasar disco which did not get going till later at night. And going it did. JR and BK had a lot of friends in here dancing well into the wee hours. To the starboard side of the ship is a new type of addition to Celebrity - Celebrity Central. This is a small about 100 seat intimate theatre that was used for movies and the comedians on the boat. Well laid out and nice comfortable seats. The one night I was here the area was full up for the late night comedy show. As you move forward past the elevator banks there is the Solstice Theatre. Here the pictures do tell just about the whole story. But it is still a beauty to behold in person. There are a lot of new innovations for this floating theatre. They had the ability to soar over the audience areas while performing some parts of the show. I was in one night for the Broadway review and the show was well attended and singing, dancing, props and costumes matched everything perfectly. In talking to some of the actors and singers this theatre allowed them to stretch their medium to a higher level and I will agree. If you exited the theatre on level 5 and walked to the aft end of the ship this is what you would you would run into. The port side held the Photography gallery. Many pictures were taken and printed for you to see here. I am sorry to say that the Galleria Boutiques on the starboard side did not catch my attention enough to go in and look about. I will say the areas were well dressed out for the window displays. This was where the perfumes and high end jewelry shops were. I do remember looking at some of the art work in the Gallery here amid ship and like it a lot. Across from the Art Gallery is the Galleria Tasting area. Sorry again as I went right by this area without looking into it. But... Moving further aft on the port side is the Bistro on Five. This had an upscale breakfast and lunch service for a $5 entry fee. Jenna went here one night and said the desert crapes were of the first order. Now across from this area on the starboard side is the Cafe Al Bacio & Gelateria. This was the specialty coffee and espresso area. They had some nice bakery presentations here for your consumption with your drink selections. Just past here walking still to the Aft is the large bank of elevators. As you enter the stairwell lobby area take a right and just before the exit to the outside to the left is the Celebrity Destinations area. This is where you would find the Captains club desk and the Future cruise sales area. You could use this area to sign up for the Elite tours and to make a reservation to talk to Natalie who is currently future Cruise sales hostess. I talked to Natalie a few times and used the future cruise deposit booking for no trip for the $100 deposit for the $100 on board credit. Not a bad idea at this point and knowing I will cruise again. The girls in this area were nice to talk to and I left them a plate of my home made cookies. So if you leave this area and make a right then down to the passageway past the stairs and make a right you would enter the ant hallway. Just look down on the floor and you will see that the tile looks like ants in a trail to the wall paintings. Very beautiful flowers painted here on the wall and ceiling. This leads down to the specialty restaurants. You would first enter the Ensemble lounge. To the immediate right is the Michael's club. We played a lot of the trivia games here. Battle of the sexes, which the men won and I got to be team Captain. Then the daily trivia challenge with our team of four which we won for the week. They also had some name that tune and other games here. As nice as any other Michael's club on any other ship. I do not think this area got a lot of traffic at night and there were a few blemishes in the area already. But nothing that could not be fixed right away. The Ensemble lounge is a large stop off bar area before going to the specialty restaurants. Murano is the best of the specialty restaurants here. Much like the one's on the Millie class ships. Just past the end of the lounge area to the left is Silk harvest. This is the Far East restaurant. Across from this is Blu. This is the Aqua class eatery with healthy choices on the menu. You could only get into this area if you are booked into an Aqua class suite or there was an opening. The aft end of the ship had the Tuscan Grille. Our friends and Jenna dined here one night and thought the presentations were excellent. The Tuscan Grille occupies the back of the ship. So you get to watch the wake and the back area of the ship as it is moving. The colors were deep burgundy and dark wood. I did not go into any of these areas as I wanted to save something for another cruise on the Solstice class ships. And I know I will be back. But in talking to anyone who did go into any of the specialty restaurants the food was exquisite and presentations spectacular. Well worth the cover charge for any of the venues. So as the tour continues and we walk about we skip past Continental deck 6, Sunrise deck 7 and Vista deck 8 which are all decks with cabins in them. Did I mention that I walk just about everywhere I go on the ship. Lots of steps help burn off the calories from the extra stops on deck 14. But someone told me there were no calories at sea. I'll have to test that out one time. More on that later in the review. On the Panorama deck 9 across from the central elevators is the card room. Every time day or night, well not late night, there were people playing on the tables. It seemed like there were enough bridge players to get a good game going from the number of the people and how well occupied this area was at all times. As we move onward and upward to deck 10 the Sky deck. And near the rear elevator bank area is the Library. This is a nice two level area with books to borrow. There are built in shelves. Be sure to return the book before you leave. Nice comfy chairs to sit in. You could get the daily crossword and Suduko games here. They finally listened to me on this. The second tier of the Library is on the Penthouse deck number 11. This deck holds the Aqua class suites and all the larger suites. On the forward section of the ship on this deck is the Relaxation lounge for suite holders. I don't remember even stopping here at all. But there are supporting pictures on the internet that show this area. Up one level now to the Resort deck 12. Dam. I'm tired now and I walked those steps every day at least ten times, from our room on deck 6 to deck 12 or 14 or 15. The Resort deck holds the pools, Spa and fitness areas. I can easily say this is the most impressive area on the ship as I walked upward. The pools are set up a little differently than before. They sit down a little giving you a place to cool your feet in ankle deep water to get an idea of the water temperature before you go in. Starting from the aft end of this area to forward. The Wet Zone is first. This area doubled as a dance area at night for the ship deck parties. The girls from the cruise staff danced up here on Caribbean night in flame red dresses. The wet zone is turned on in the afternoon and it sprays water up into the air at various heights and intervals. Nice to splash around in on a hot afternoon. Just behind the wet zone was the stage area for the band to play on when leaving port and for the deck parties. Great music to listen to when you want to get your cruise spirit going on sail away day. The next area forward is the Family pool. This is a shallow pool for our younger cruisers and those just wanting to get wet to their waste. The depth varies from about three feet to four feet. A fun time for me was watching a young mom blow up a small kiddies pool while dad watched. I then helped dad, borrowing two plastic buckets from the bar area, fill the small pool up with about 6 inches of water. The two young ladies with mom and dad, who looked like they were 3 and 4 years old, loved it. You would have thought this was the greatest water park in the world encased in a four foot blow up pool. They had a great time of it. Simple ingredients. Pool; add water and imagination and anything is possible. These girls were great fun to see about the ship which I did just about every day. The next area in the pools was the Sports pool. This was separated by a walk across bridge but the pools were completely separated. The sports pool was about 4 foot deep to six foot deep. Same type of skirt area with shallow water. You could sit just above or in the water on the skirt and you're your book without full immersion. Staying cool by the pool. There were four hot tubs near the pools here and the water temperature was just a nice very warm. Not hot enough to turn you pink quickly but the level that warmed you up and made you relax a lot. We used this area the first day as I brought my swim suite in my carry on and switched so we could do this. It did rain a bit while we were in port in Ft. Lauderdale and while we were in the hot tub. Could have been a problem. But I was wet already and I had on my hat so no problem. The pool bar is just in front of here. They had a great daily special I saw the first day. A large mug of beer, they sold large size mugs that looked over a pint in size of Amstel for about $4.50 or so with the tip. Celebrity has all the nice things to keep you cooled down on this deck. As just to the starboard side of the pool area as you move forward was the Sundries shop. The t shirt, flip flop and sun tan lotion area. Great location. One thing I will say before we walk through the sliding glass doors was there were plenty of chairs about the pool area and the nice couches for two they built into the decor of the ship. This was a new innovation for me to see. And the last thing you see before the sliding glass doors to the outside area of the ship here is a hanging netted hammock bed with pillows that you could fit a few into. Two was the perfect number for me here. You could get very comfortable here anytime and nap the afternoon worries away. Who needs to worry about those extra calories. That's coming up soon. Stay tuned. When you move through the sliding glass doors you are going forward into the Solarium area. This is a pool covered area with the wooden loungers and very thick and very soft mattresses next to the pool. The mattresses were covered in Celebrity blue and every morning had a fresh pool towel rolled up on them. This was the same for all lounges on the pool deck area. Every morning a fresh rolled towel. The area covering the pool had photo electric cells to capture the sun and provide some electricity for the ship. Not a lot from what I have read but some to start with. There were also the capture the sun areas off the bow suites at about deck level seven. In this Solarium pool area is a nice pool for swimming laps or staying cool. The forward area of the pool has a trellis of red flowers and green vines. They are artificial. It is nice to look up while swimming and see the flowers. Behind this is the fountain area where they flow water out at intervals with color being sent from below in red, blue, green spot lights. Nice to see at night. There are two hot tubs in this area also so if it rains out in the uncovered pool area then just move inside. Another new innovation for relaxation in the area are very large wicker basket chairs. They will fit two or more and have moveable pillows and a wicket backing with materiel covering it to offer some privacy. So you can get in there and stretch out with moving the pillows about. The basket / chair / lounger spins around so you can look out to sea and kick back. On the port side of the ship in the early AM is the Aqua Spa Cafe. This area offered healthy breakfast choices in the mornings when I walked by the area. As you pass forward from the Solarium area you will enter the Spa area. This area has the Aquaspa, Persian Gardens, Acupuncture, Massage, Hair Salon, Retail outlet and Fitness center. There were always people about this area in the early morning when I made my way here from the early workout on the ship. This is the pampering zone for all. There were different scents in the air each morning for relaxation therapy. I can only speak for the fitness center as this is all I used while on this trip. My daily time in here consisted of using the Nautilus equipment, stretching, doing some sit ups and walking about. The area is well laid out with a separate area for small aerobics and spinning classes. There are about 20 or so Nautilus machines in the forward section and fourteen walker / running machines in front of the starboard windows to look out to sea with. In the past I think they used to have the running machine looking forward and the weight machines behind them. I like the running machines in front as when I work out on the weight machines I am only on each for a few minutes and do not care about a view. I did try out one of the elliptical machines and they had a lot of pre-programmed work outs available to use to help you keep your fitness level. Every morning about 7:30AM the running and elliptical machines were all being used. There was a whole wall to pick a gym towel from and these were always well supplied. There is a small area in front of the fitness area outside. The Spa Veranda if you just want to walk outside for a breath of the fresh sea air. The one thing I did notice was there was a lot of spa staff about and someone always manning their welcome desk. This concludes this decks description. I searched all about the ship for deck 13. Forward, aft, port, starboard, above the pool deck and below lido deck but could not find it. I'll have to bring this to Celebrity's attention that a deck was missing. Well not to skip a beat and moving upward to deck 14 the Lido deck. If you walk from the Aqua spa area to the stairs in the forward section and go up.... There you are. Right outside the Sky observation lounge. If you come up the stairs you would enter this most expansive lounge area on the starboard side of the ship. It has a long entry path till you actually get there. Again screening is done by light white blinds you can see through. This is where they held the Cruise Critic and other major parties. They have an expansive bar area to sit at and to the Port side the raised stage area for the live band to perform at. The furniture here is some large loungers up near the windows along with nice comfortable chairs. There were also three semi circular alcove large enough to walk into and store about ten of your friends in. Nice small privacy areas to accommodate small and large groups. This area with over 200 people in on the cruise critic and again on the Elite member gatherings did not look crowded in the least. Plenty of room to move around and find a place to sit. They held Karaoke up here at night and if you were unlucky enough to be there I am sorry for my poor vocal ability attempting to sing "California Girls" by the Beach Boys. I did hear some other excellent singers who were passengers singing in the lounge area. There are always good singers and dancers among the people on the trip with you. There were dance request numbers played by the DJ every night here. This is just so large and expansive area and the glass windows seemed at least twenty feet high. They had a very good band playing here for the Elite party and the dance floor is huge. Here the wait and bar service was excellent. I gave away bottles of Champagne to our two cruise super stars, in my opinion. One who arranged the rum factory tour for about thirty people of the group. The second set up the meet and greet on line bulletin board for all the connections people to send in their pictures and other information to share in advance. Well walking back outside and going to the aft end of the ship you are at the top of the pool well looking down into the pool area. Again there are those comfy lounge chairs with the Celebrity Blue coverings on each one. And the jogging track. I will say one thing on the jogging track. It is nice but the person who laid it out never ran much. The corners near the aft end of the track are too sharp. I had to move the lounge chairs each AM to round off the sharp corners. This was so I would not to tear my knees up while trying to get my running workout in. The surface was new and gripped my shoes even when a bit wet. So no slip sliding off the ship for me. At the aft end of the track area were two large stair cases, one on each side of the ship, that led down into the pool area. At the forward section of the pool well on deck 14 are the Mast bar and the Mast Grill. So if you need a drink why go far when there is this bar. And when you need a quick bit this area will suffice. They had hot dogs, hamburgers and fries here about lunch time and in the afternoon. The large area above the pool had lounge chairs for the sun worshipers. If you needed to be ten feet closer to the sun to get that perfect tan this was you place to be. It is a little quieter here than on the pool deck level and not a lot of traffic about the area. Walking aft again around the large glass expanse that housed the elevators you go through two sliding glass doors. Then making a bee line to the back of the boat you arrive in the Oceanview Cafe area. If you entered through the port side you would see a regular bar for drinks area. On the starboard side was the scoop ice cream bar area. This is the food court area. And it is where the Solstice shines long into the day. There are no more trays in this area. Just plates and bowls of various sizes. The silverware is sitting on the tables now and there are people who will help you with your plates to a table. I would get a plate then a drink and it was nice not having to worry about the silverware at all till I sat down. As you enter on each end they had cooking stations for the morning breakfast. The ice cream bar area doubled as the waffle station in the AM for the light crispy waffles that Celebrity is known for. Nothing has changed here. The one grill area next to the waffle station made eggs to order and here is where you can get the omelet made to order. They had about 15 different things you could add in. We came up here almost every morning at least to look about. There are five central stations that I remember. One in the middle was set for the breads and muffins. I like the, what I call a Celebrity pop over, brioche. I had them every day on the cruise. Mostly with nothing or split in the middle with honey. The roll was already tasting like fresh butter. I can still taste it now. And see it. Nothing better. Two of the stations were set for fruit, cereal, milks, yogurt and other lit fare. Another has bacon, sausage (two types) and fresh scrambled eggs. In addition the one station had a toaster person. So some days it was get an English Muffin in addition to the other things. They also had a station for English breakfast selections. Everything look nice and fresh every AM. They had four drink stations for juices, tea and coffee. Then find a seat in the expansive seating area and look out to sea as the waves break far away from the ship. I made it a plan and carried it out to get coffee for my travel companions after I finished my morning workout. Carry it down to the cabin for them to enjoy as they woke up. I was told the coffee was very good as I do not drink it. One funny thing that happened in the early AM when I was picking up the coffee was an older gentleman took one of the over sized trays that the crew uses to transport clean coffee cups. He placed his coffee cup on it along with a small plate and walked away. As I watched along with the semi stunned crew. We just smiled and moved along. Lunch selections up here were just as good and tasty. The five stations were always brimming with great choices and many - many selections. There was a salad bar area and as someone put it the dressing were at the start not the end of the line. There was always a fresh fish selection prepared and ready to go. The one grill area doubled as the pasta and pizza bar area. This area never seemed to shut down at all after lunch. Every time I walked by there were at least three different types of pizza selections. What was nice about the pasta bar also was there were multiple pasta types to go along with the multiple sauces you could choose from. There were also add in fixings for your specialty pasta. Great range and great selections. In the late afternoon about 4PM was tea time and you could get some light sandwiches here. Then starting about 5PM the Sushi bar opened off I went there just about every night. They would usually have three or four selections along with the added extras that are in the area. They would open for just about full service at 6PM for alternative dining and when I walked through there was always traffic from that time on till about 10PM every night. The last place on the Lido deck was at the far aft end of the ship. Outside through the sliding glass doors to the Ocean View Bar area. This area was partially covered by the deck above and you could also get a table at the rail over looking the wake of the boat to sit and make memories while enjoying you breakfast or lunch. The interior area here had soft chairs. You could sink into and veg. out after enjoying some thing or event on the ship. In the later evening there was a singer here under the overhang. I think I only caught him one night singing a Jason Martz song. Very good. There is also a small bar tucked into this area under the stairs. Then we will walk upwards to the next level. When does this ship ever end???? Going up to Deck 15 at the aft end. You would walk right into the Lawn Club deck. Right here is the Sunset bar. Across the full back of the ship with very nice wicker chairs to plush yourself down into the watch the sun set from. The chairs extended around each side of the ship so there were more unique seating places for you and anyone with you. There are two separate lawn areas here. On the starboard side of the ship was the Golf putting area. They held the Ryder cup putting challenge here every morning at 9:30AM. I had to run up the stairs from Michaels club where the AM trivia was held. Andrea hosted this event on sea days. The grass is very nice but a bit irregular and not a putting green like quality. More like a fairway level grass. There was also a lot of traffic across the area and it was very soft. There were always at least twenty people in the putting events each day. The Port side of the ship was a true grass Bocce ball court set up. But this area was closed most of the week for repairs or to rest the lawn. Some people did use the area and a young couple had their toddler out her to crawl about so it was used a bit. Moving forward from these areas is the Patio on the Lawn. This was a huge expanse of lawn right on the top of the ship decks. They gave bocce lessons here most of the cruise and did a few tourneys. Mike from the cruise staff hosted some of these events. A lot of people showed up and the rules were modified to let everyone play. I think we had about fifty people one afternoon out there. The best time to be there was late afternoon before dinner with friends to use the lawn area and play your own bocce game with everyone. We did this a few times and Linda led the way with her group up here. A lot of people getting together having fun, drinks and some lawn bowling in the middle of the ocean. Some people who did not know would toss the heavy bocce balls high in the air and dent the lawn. Not good. They may have some trouble here in later cruises as the dents mount up. But I will give Celebrity an A plus for this venue. Well used and very much appreciated. There is a nice walk around area so as not to cut across the grass and thread it down. Connected to this area is the Hot Glass Show area. Every time we were up here playing there seemed to be something in the oven and being sculpted. There were three professionals doing the shaping, molding, creating and talking about it. The only problem being that there is a limited viewing area and the excess spilled on to the lawn area next to this and killed a lot of the grass. I would have to say that the seating was not adequate to the Hot Glass area. If they solve that and the walk around problem to stop the lawn trampling then they have a winner in both directions. Like I saw that the Hot glass shows were over flow attended every day in the afternoon. I don't remember if they did a morning show but those would have been well attended also. One feature here I did like a lot was the cameras they provided inside the ovens while working the glass. It does give a unique perspective and the people working the glass were always using them to monitor the creation in the works. The show seemed to be very long, about two hours each time. There was a small shop to show off some of the glass creations on the port side but nothing was for sale. They did offer to give away some of the pieces in a raffle each day as they were not allowed to sell them at sea. The starboard side of the ship had a small Lawn Club shop for souvenirs and Lawn Club wear. Jumping across the chasm to the forward side of the lawn club deck. Here was the younger cruisers hide out. This area was mostly dedicated to the teen and below age cruisers. We walked up here on the quiet day in St. Kitts. Around to the basketball court which while netted is not protected from the wind. I bet playing here would be a challenge to sink a shot from more the ten feet while the shop was in motion. Inside from the elevator area on the starboard side was the Fun Factory. An it was large - open and well constructed. I think there were two young ladies working here on the day we walked through and looked. They had a lot of new learning innovations, such as an interactive globe get information from. Also large screen TV's and covered blocks and painting areas and each cruiser would have their own storage nook. Walking back out to the port side was the video arcade. The games were nice and new but the prices a little steep as I thought. Forward of here was the Xclub for the teen cruisers to use whenever they would have liked. No one was about the area this day. This was a school in week cruise and I did not expect to see many teen's on the boat and did not. Well walking outside and going forward you would see a stairwell up. This would have led you to the Solstice Deck. A large area for sun bathing and from the looks of it two hot tubs there. We did not venture up here as we had an event to attend. Well that sort of sums up the walk about the ship and what a ship. I will say this is not your Grandmother's cruise ship. Celebrity has packed in a lot of extras like the hot glass, lawn club, a lot of specialty restaurants and bars and again so much more. We did get off the ship in Puerto Rico and my friends went to the Run Factory tour while Jenna and I walked up the hill to the fort and along the roadway along the ocean wall to fort del Morro. They had a small stand on the expansively large lawn area here. We stopped and bought two kites. One I gave to the ladies working the young cruisers and the other I flew off the ship in St. Kitts - a first for the ship. After I was done with it I presented it to Nick and Simon Weir to take out back and go to it. We got off the next day in St. Maarten and went to Dove Bay. I had thought this beach was still under repair. It was all there ready to go and the waves were nice to get in and swim about. The water was deep, warm and refreshing. You could rent chairs and umbrellas for $5 each. I did find one of if not the best value on the island. 75 cent Caribe beer. This was just like Carona and with a slice of lime in it cut the heat just right. These were their 1PM to 4PM happy hour prices. I was very happy I found this deal. We sat under the large palm and shaded area and watched the waves crash here for about an hour. I think the taxi ride was $6 each way per person. The roads are a bit winding here but offered a look into where the people on the island lived. We did get off in St. Kitts to go on a hunting expedition for Vanilla as I use a lot of it in backing cookies. We walked down the road to a local supermarket and found it. Labeled $9.95 per bottle. But that was the local currency prices. It ended up we got four bottles for twenty US dollars and got ten dollars back in local currency which we gave to the table wait staff. I don't think I had been to St. Kitts every 5 years or so. There were some kiddies on the ship but you never seemed to see them. We did run into them as a group in the Ocean View restaurant one afternoon. They were all dressed up as pirates and looked like they could take over the ship. It was their ice cream time and they were enjoying it. We ran into our two young cruisers from the small pool again here and they were just adorable. Parents should have pictures taken here as they may have missed out. One of the things I did try this time was to get something for every crew member on the ship. And I succeeded with another ship first. At the awards ceremony I presented the cruise staff with a 5 lb bag on M&M's for all the crew to share. Enough for them to all have one. ? I also brought about 20 bags of Skittles and 10 packs of Starburst. These I gave away to just about anyone on the ship. From Simon Weir to our bus boy. And speaking of Simon - I saw him about the ship every day. Checking into things and picking up discarded towels on the pool deck late one afternoon. This is a tireless job and Celebrity has chosen the right person to debut their new entry. Always in work mode and fun mode when it cam to the passengers and their comforts. A few other things before I close. The plastic wear / glasses they used looked like real glass. It was not till the third day I realized the blue glasses the bar staff were using were indeed - plastic. I then borrowed them every day to carry about my Rum and Coke - well in this case Pepsi. Walking about the ship all the time and into the bathrooms in just about every area one thing. They were always clean and tidy. The places where they had their small rolled towels to dry your hands is something very nice. The food and service was as always at the high Celebrity standards and I do not think I was ever disappointed with an offering. From my embarkation day seafood salad to the last days sit down breakfast of French toast. Excellent from start to Finish. Great service to go along with it in whatever venue we were in. I will say the first night I did freeze my hand to the Martini bar. And was lucky enough to get free before the end of the night. The redness from the hot water they had to pour on my hand to set me free has just about faded. Disembarkation: The Solstice docked very early in Ft. Lauderdale. We were catching an early flight home and did the express checkout. This is where you hold your luggage and carry it all off on your own. We walked off the ship about 8am. The ship security staff check you off the ship as you leave with your sea pass. Then it's down the escalator or elevator with the luggage and over to customs. I don't think we bought more than $60 on the islands or the ship that we brought home. Out to the Taxi's and at the airport by about 8:30AM. Checked in the luggage and were ready to go before 9AM. I was wondering if we could have caught the earlier flight home that boarded about 9:20AM. Our flight was at 10:40AM. We were called right on time and away we went. My last bit of good luck was on the way home when the stewardess needed change for $100 and offered a free drink for the person who supplied it. Well one free rum and coke, Hank will be proud again, later I was doing real fine. The vacation ended just as it had started having a good time. Ship Impressions: This ship is new and beautiful. They have packed a lot into this new entry and people seemed to not be able to take everything in. Well that means a repeat trip or two is in order. The public areas never seemed to be crowded even the pool well area on sea days. I would like to see when they hit summer what the crowd looks like - but I think not much different. Trip: This was just a seven day cruise but you would need at least ten to really get to everything the ship had to offer. Maybe the new entry Equinox will handle the longer trips. There were four sea days and three island days. This is the mix I like. We had been to all the stops before but found something new to do at each place. I hope I cover just about everything on the trip. I would like to thank everyone who was on the trip with me. Jenna, Eileen and Bob, Karen and Tim, Deb and Bill, Kathy and all the other cruise critic and friends I made along the way. I did blind deposit two more trips for ship board credit. So there is a lot of thinking going on for the next trip to sea. At this point I have cruised 30 weeks at sea and 24 cruises in all. Most of them with Celebrity. They seem to fit my likes with food and service. Keep planning - Keep Cruising. Maybe I will see you out there. Longboysfan Thomas Treimel Read Less
Sail Date: November 2008
Hotel Info: We stayed at a Residence Inn (newly remodeled) next to Aventura Mall. We used Marriott point and I really like that price! Lots of stores nearby and we enjoyed looking at the Christmas decorations and watching the kids with ... Read More
Hotel Info: We stayed at a Residence Inn (newly remodeled) next to Aventura Mall. We used Marriott point and I really like that price! Lots of stores nearby and we enjoyed looking at the Christmas decorations and watching the kids with Santa Claus at the mall. We flew in the day before and rented a car from Payless for $38 which included taxes and fees. The hotel is 12 miles from the airport. We had dinner at the Rustic Inn on a recommendation of a cruise critic member. It hit the mark: Soft shell crab, stone crab, blue crab with their garlic sauce, king crab, golden crab, Dungeness crab, conch chowder and a blue cheese dressing to die for. The place has been there since 1955. Rustic just like the name, informal, paper on the tables, they give you a wooden mallet to crack the crab. Everyone pounds their table when they sing Happy Birthday. This place is close to the airport. •Embarkation and Disembarkation: Celebrity gets the highest marks on this area. They have this down to a science. We walked on and walked off. It was amazing! •Ship Info: We were greeted with champagne and told to go explore the ship as the cabins were not ready. The ship is gorgeous. So easy to find your way around, they have Lucite models of the ship that help you navigate. The art is beautiful and thoughtfully displayed. I felt like I was in fine hotel and not on a ship. The Martini Bar is the place to be seen. I loved the hand washing stations and sanitizers stations throughout the ship. The public restrooms with the glass sinks were the best I have seen. The solarium with the dancing waters, light show and music and round intimate cabanas was a peaceful retreat. Things that bugged me or I wish that they would change: They let kids into the Solarium and there is a sign that says 16 years or older. I was napping and awakened by screaming kids. Not sure how they can police that. The floor was slippery in the Solarium, so be careful. The pool was way too cold! Please heat it up! We talked to a lady in a wheelchair who had a broken arm. She said of the automatic doors in the solarium closed on her and she fell and broke her arm, so be careful there too. Some of the exercise equipment was broken already! •Stateroom: We were in Aquaclass and I loved our cabin. It is not large but adequate. I was worried when I saw the closet and drawers but everything fit. The closet was a little hard to access; our configuration was the bed was close to the bathroom. I love the ability to dim the light and turn everything off with one switch. I want a Hansgrohe shower like the one they had in my home shower! The bed was so comfy. The interactive flat screen large TV was great too. They need a computer geek to update some of the info, they were missing information and it said XXX. We had infused tea (which came in different flavors and was quite good) and bottled water delivered daily, although I did have to remind my steward to leave water. It was advertised to have fresh cut flowers, daily canapEs and personalized stationery in AQ. No fresh flowers. No personalized stationery so no one got a letter. The canapEs only showed up on two days and consisted of pineapple wrapped in ham and apple slices squirted with blue cheese spread. (I am looking at something I printed off the Celebrity site that says all of these items are included in AQ) You were to have larger plush towels. We did at first but ours disappeared after Monday and from Tuesday on we had small towels. I asked our cabin steward what was up and he said that they didn't order enough towels and were picking more up in Miami. Now I would think that Celebrity would have the number of towels needed down pat? When I compared Concierge Class to AquaClass it looked like AQ only lacked the butler and you had access to the Persian Gardens and Blu. Concierge Class may have been better. The aromatherapy in the room was a reed diffuser and oils in a small vial. I did not see a pillow menu and never received a VIP invitation to any event related to AQ. The Persian Gardens were relaxing. You could relax on your heated tiled lounger and watch the sunset. One of the loungers was not heated and I am not sure if that was on purpose or a defect. I would have liked an option in the showers in the Persian Gardens. You had tropical or spring shower choice (one cool, one warm) but they both dumped on your head from a shower head on the ceiling. Not nice if you want to save your hairdo! There is a steam room and dry sauna with aromatherapy. Be careful selecting your room in AQ, I had read the boards about the noise below the pool. Our room was midship and at 7:00am Monday morning we heard thunk, thunk, thunk followed by a long scrapping noise lasting 30 seconds. On and on it went. It happened the next morning...and so I wrote complaint and asked for earplugs and it never happened again. They did deliver earplugs though! The ice bucket was cool in design but way too small. The fridge was nice but no room to put the ice bucket in there but I was able to squeeze in the water bottles. It is full of beer and pop and snacks to buy. We did have fresh fruit daily. •Room Service: This is one of the biggest problems I had on the ship. We had a welcoming bottle of champagne and saved it for breakfast on our first morning on ship. Sit on the balcony and drink champagne and have breakfast. We love that. We put the order out the night before and asked that it be delivered between 8 and 8:30. We order bagels and cream cheese and smoked salmon some other items. Breakfast arrived at 9:00, the champagne is gone and some of our items are missing. No big deal. We head to the dining room and have a nice breakfast. We sit with someone who works for Celebrity and he tells us the ship is full which I find out later on the boards is not true. I wondered where everyone was! On with the room service story. That night I figured maybe some couldn't read my checks or they needed glasses for the menu you hang on your cabin door so I circled the items and wrote in large numbers (2) how many of each. The next morning it arrives on time but it is missing items. Bagels but no smoked salmon. I get ticked off and write the complaint along with kerplunking of the pool deck chairs. I get an in person visit from the head of housekeeping and she says I must order my room service via my cabin attendant to make sure I get what I order. A few days later I call room service for lunch and they tell me to call my cabin steward, which I do, and he tells me to call room service, (I become a little irate, one tells me to call someone and I get thrown back to the other) but I do it, they take the order. The cabin steward calls me back and asks if I ordered and I said yes. He said they lost my order. I said well I ordered. He arrives with our order later and shows us the order. It was sent to a different cabin. Our order was missing items and was all screwed up. The cabin steward said things were being worked out. The galley was too small and located on the 9th floor. They don't even have a coffee and tea station on the AQ floor. I did not use room service again. This is the only time I have become angry on a cruise. Not a good thing. Warning: the menu for room service is NOT the same as Concierge Class. •Specialty Restaurants: We dined at all Murano the first night out. I had my mind set for lobster and hey it was our anniversary. The lobster dish was a baked mixed seafood dish in broth covered by pastry. It was ok but not something I would rave about forever. The foie gras was excellent and I had a great mushroom soup. The service was good but the food did not live up to my expectations. The wine pairing cost was outrageous. The room does not have windows. We loved Tuscan Grill which is more of a steak house atmosphere. Great view of the ocean. Everything was wonderful and I rate it higher than Murano. The tomato foccacia bread and roasted garlic...yum. We saved Silk Harvest for the last night. This would be a great place if you have a group. The food was excellent but I think they do need a little work on the Phad Thai. It was good but definitely not Thai. We had so much left that they packed up the food in to go cartons, gave us chopsticks. We always travel with Ziploc bags, so we plunked the food in the ice bucket and had a great breakfast of cold stir fried rice, Phad Thai and some type of noodles AND I didn't have to order room service! We did have lunch and breakfast in the main dining room and it was good but one of the stir fried dishes I had tasted like it had barbeque sauce in it. I think someone grabbed the wrong bottle or they were trying some type of new fusion dish. We dined at Blu for breakfast and dinner (4 of the 7 nights) and we liked it. Clean cuisine is what they call it, no butter or cream in the sauces but don't worry it is not spa cuisine. (If you want the heavy sauces or traditional dishes go to the main dining room!) You can get bacon for breakfast and butter is on the table for your bread but you do have some healthy options. The do a tableside preparation of muesli for breakfast and be sure to try the smoothies. I relied on my waiter's recommendations and he never steered me wrong. The wine steward looks like Sandra Bullock (complete with the dimples) and she was very helpful and funny! Order the salmon in the AquaClass Cafe. It is not listed anywhere so you have to ask. •Shore Excursions: Our shore excursions were a blast. High quality. We booked thru Celebrity. •Entertainment: Be sure to listen to Ocean Four, an acappela group. Request the Chicken Song. The Solstice Show was the best. Do not miss it. Skip Ghost Light unless you love Broadway songs. They had a comedian but he was only at midnight. What is up with that? The only night I was up that late the room was full and we couldn't get a seat. They should have had him in the large theater. I found it hard to get a drink at the entertainment venues; I believe Celebrity is missing the boat on this one. They had speakers, someone who took pictures of the Beatles and was a 60's expert, an astronaut and someone who was a cruise liner expert. They were all good but most of their talks were in the afternoon or noon timeframe. I cruised Carnival once and liked some of their entertainment so much I went back to see the shows again. Celebrity needs help in this area. The cruise director was different. Somewhat of an entertainer or he thinks he is. I think he was nervous. Some things just did not fall into place. Do not miss the hot glass show. It is entertaining and they raffle off the pieces they make. Maybe you will get lucky but some people get multiple raffle tickets (hard to police). Thankfully I never saw any of those people win. I did play Bingo the last day and they have computer play machines and you can play 90 plus cards at one time. You don't have to do a thing. For you die hard Bingo fans they still have paper cards. •Two things that grossed me out and I am not a neat freak but... On our first day before we sailed I noticed the inside of the cabin door was covered with hand prints. Not our handprints. I wet down a wash cloth and wiped it down. At the end of the cruise I looked and it was still clean. We had martinis at the martini bar four nights. (Martinis are $10 and the sampler is $18) On two of the four nights I had to ask them to clean the tables before they placed our glasses on the table. The tables are glass and they were pretty smudged and actually one night gross! Not what I expected from Celebrity. •Summary: The ship is beautiful, the most beautiful I have ever seen. The food is good. Hopefully they will work out some of the clichEs with service. Skip AquaClass and go with Concierge or a Suite. •Extra Items: My husband and I celebrated our 20th anniversary on this cruise, actually the first night. I made sure my travel agent knew...I even sent her an email on it and she responded that they knew but Celebrity never recognized it. That may have set the tone for the cruise. The good thing is that this was the cheapest cruise we have taken. I usually spend way too much and this time I did not! Celebrity did not earn my loyalty on this cruise. Trying Royal Caribbean and Holland America in January! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2008
Having cruised on three previous Celebrity ships (Millennium, Century, Constellation,) we have come to love the upscale ambience that Celebrity is deservedly known for. Previously we had cruised on four Holland America ships, starting with ... Read More
Having cruised on three previous Celebrity ships (Millennium, Century, Constellation,) we have come to love the upscale ambience that Celebrity is deservedly known for. Previously we had cruised on four Holland America ships, starting with the elegant Rotterdam. However, each consecutive cruise started to downgrade to more of a "Carnival" feel. That is when we switched to Celebrity. By far, the Solstice is the most beautifully decorated ship I have sailed on. Gone are the gimmicky "modern art" pieces on some other Celebrity ships that make you wonder if the artwork was placed there to enhance the beauty of the ship or to shock. The Solstice is elegant and refined. The dEcor is no longer the star - the passenger becomes the center of attention. Yet there comes a time when the scale of a ship goes beyond a winning formula. The Solstice has 2,850 passengers, which is 40% more than the M-class Constellation or the Millennium (with 2,034 passengers.) Yet the Solstice does not appear to have 40% more space to accommodate the extra bodies. As a result, many public spaces seem crowded. Oceanside Cafe: Although the new configuration of the serving islands cleverly and dramatically increased the stations where a passenger can access the food, it takes more of an effort to find an available table. The pool area is jammed with hardly enough space to walk from the rows of deck chairs to the pool. In addition, the very shallow pool (for children?) is never used by anyone. The main outdoor pool may appear to be normal sized, until you step in and find there is a wide ledge all around under the water so the actual swim-able pool is quite small. Main dining room: We requested a table for four - yet our table was inches away from another table for four at one end, and a table for two at the other end. The result is sitting at a long table for ten. Our waiter and assistant waiter, as hard as they worked, had to serve twenty passengers. Gone is that wonderful service of getting fresh-ground pepper for each plate of food, or having a tray of the desserts brought to each table for your selection. More annoying is the reaching across the table to serve from the other side. This is not the fault of the serving staff. With so many more passengers to serve, they have no time to walk around the long table of ten diners for each course. Also cooking for so many more passengers is a challenge. Most of the meals in the main dining room were excellent. However, the half lobster tail on the second formal night was so dry and tough, I barely managed to eat half of it. If the dining experience is one of the main selling points, pushing passengers to pay extra for each meal for a satisfying meal (in terms of service and food quality) at a specialty restaurant seems to defeat the whole purpose of sailing. It basically creates two classes of passengers - first and steerage. The cabin TV offers a tremendous variety of selections, from ordering room service to reviewing your account, to a wide range of TV and music. The entire system is so complicated, many times we tried to make a selection, and the screen would either be stuck or turned itself off. I would prefer to be treated famously, but equally. If there is only enough space and staff to treat some of the passengers well and most of the rest of us not so well, then it is time to move on. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2008
Cruise - Solstice Inaugural - Thanksgiving 2008 This was our 10th cruise on Celebrity and 12th cruise overall. We are a family of 4, myself in my mid 40s, husband mid-50's (getting his 1st senior discount!) and our 2 teenagers aged ... Read More
Cruise - Solstice Inaugural - Thanksgiving 2008 This was our 10th cruise on Celebrity and 12th cruise overall. We are a family of 4, myself in my mid 40s, husband mid-50's (getting his 1st senior discount!) and our 2 teenagers aged 14 and 16. My husband and I are originally from the UK but have lived in the USA for the past 20 years. This past summer we sailed on the Celebrity Galaxy in Europe, and were looking forward to trying a larger ship and sailing on our first ever inaugural on the Solstice over Thanksgiving. We were prepared for possible teething problems, as this was a new ship but thought that the excitement and fanfare of being on the inaugural sailing would make up for any shortcomings. Pre-cruise We flew down the day before on Jet Blue. Our plane had a technical problem and was delayed 2 hours, so instead of arriving at 1pm we arrived at 3pm. Glad we didn't fly in the day of the cruise and have to race to the port, unlike some of the other people on the flight. We spent the night at the Embassy Suites in Fort Lauderdale. No complaints about the hotel, but the Managers Cocktail Party and Breakfast were very crowded. Had a super meal at Cocos, an Asian fusion restaurant close to the hotel. Took the Hotel Shuttle to the port at 11am. Boarding Dropped our bags and were taken to a waiting room. After about 10 minutes we went into the check-in area, did our paperwork and received an inaugural luggage tag as a gift from Port Everglades and a small bag as a gift from the check-in staff. Had the obligatory picture taken and were onboard well before 12 noon. We were greeted with a glass of champagne on the ship and directed to the buffet on deck 14 for lunch. Cabins We had 2 interconnecting SVs, 8344 (bed by the verandah) and 8353 (bed by the bathroom), and the cabin numbers are correct, not a typo! To the left of 8344 is a storage closet for the carts that are used for moving luggage. I was concerned that they may rattle at night, but they never disturbed us. The plus side was that the extra space from the storage area meant we had a larger than normal verandah, and when opened up with the adjacent one it was very spacious with 2 lounge chairs and a table, (but no foot stools), per verandah. We had heard about the single door and vestibule system for connecting cabins but were never asked whether we would like to use it and found it easy to access each other's cabins via the verandah. The bathroom was larger than on other ships and very well laid out. The curved design of the shower worked well and there was plenty of storage. The toiletries were in individual bottles rather than in dispensers typically found on other ships in the fleet. There is a dim light on all the time in the bathroom that comes in handy at night. Extra space in the bathroom means however that closet space in the cabin is significantly reduced. There is a good-sized safe in the closet, which further reduces storage, and with hindsight may have been better located in the console below the TV. There were a half dozen drawers near the TV and locker storage above the bed, so we had ample space for clothes for 2 for a 7 day cruise, but I think it might be a tight squeeze in a triple or quad or on a longer cruise. The cabin seemed to be thoughtfully laid out apart from a couple of minor irritants. The phone had a very bright display that couldn't be dimmed so we had to put a card over it at night. The water carafe found on other ships is missing on the Solstice, although they do have a bottle of Evian for purchase prominently displayed! Food Oceanview Cafe For the record, I am not a fan of buffets because of the lines and the feeding trough mentality of the people eating there. The Oceanview Cafe, to my surprise, was totally different. The long lines, trays and people with food piled high on them are a thing of the past. Food is served at individual stations - carvery, soup and salad bar, Asian and pasta and pizza stations and, and as there are no trays, people put a sensible amount of food on their plates, and then go back for more later if they are still hungry. Far less waste and less gluttony, a win win situation all round! I did feel that there were major gaps in when food was actually available. Lunch finished at 2:30, afternoon tea was 4-5 and sushi didn't open until 6pm. Anyone wanting to pick up a light snack around 5 to go with a cocktail while they listened to the guitarist and watched the sun set, was pretty much out of luck. Grand Epernay Dining Room For us the Grand Epernay was anything but "grand". We had asked for a table for 4 for late seating. Our 4 top was in fact a 10 top that had been pulled apart to form a table for 2 and 2 tables for 4 with about 6 inches between them, so it felt for all intents and purposes like being on a large table, which is not what we wanted. The 2nd disappointment was that there appeared to be what can best be described as 2 separate rooms as you walked into the dining room before you reached the large open area with the staircase, wine tower and view of the beautiful ceiling. Our table was in one of those rooms and our view was of a curtainless window on the one side, the waiters station on the other, and a thin neon stripe which changed color each evening, so nothing "grand" at all about that. Giving Celebrity the benefit of the doubt, we didn't ask to change tables as we assumed that as we were on our 10th Celebrity cruise and the people on the table adjacent to us were Captains Club Elite, that the ship had to be full and all the nicer tables must have been taken by people with even more cruises under their belts than us. Imagine our surprise and disappointment a few days later when we discovered that the ship was in fact only 2/3 full. Celebrity, I think you dropped the ball on this one. When we cruised in Summer I felt the food was less impressive than in the Michel Roux years and was looking forward to sampling the Blau era proper when the new food was unveiled on the Solstice. I have to say it still has a long way to go. I guess 'adequate" rather than "good" would be a fair description. Appetizers and soups were generally good, and then it was downhill from there. A lot of the main courses tasted like they had been hanging around a while and kept warm. My main gripe though was the accuracy of the menu. It had well known dishes such as Navarin of Lamb, but what was served was not what you would expect when ordering that dish, i.e. we were served a grilled lamb chop on a bed of lentils instead of a hearty lamb stew. We gave up after 3 nights in the dining room and opted for pasta in the buffet one night, 2 nights at Silk Harvest and one night at Tuscan Grille. There is now a Brunch served in the dining room in place of the Midnight Buffet. I thought the food was very nicely laid out and there was ample choice of both breakfast dishes and entrees along with fabulous cheese and fresh fruit platters. As it was open seating we got to see how nice the dining room really was if you weren't stuck in the "cheap seats". Silk Harvest We first ate here Thanksgiving Night and came back the next night with our kids, as the food really impressed us. We had shao mai and spring rolls to start, coconut pork curry, pepper beef, fried rice and orange chicken. The food tasted healthy, fresh and delicious compared to dinner in the dining room. Tuscan Grille We ate here on our last night but did not enjoy it as much as we had hoped. We weren't starving so opted for the leek soup, anticipating it would be light. Unfortunately it was a heavy cream based soup that sapped our appetite. I had the filet mignon, which turned out to be an overly large portion and temperature wise had been waiting a while before it was served. I think they should consider offering a petite filet as well as a regular sized one. We passed on dessert, as we were so full. In all fairness, I think we would have enjoyed this restaurant much more had we gone at the beginning of the cruise when we were still hungry! Bistro on Five, Cafe Al Bacchio We never used either venue, but did notice whenever we walked by that they never seemed busy and usually the only people eating in there were ships officers and other crewmembers. It is a shame that the Bistro had a menu change and a cover charge introduced right before our sailing, as it was a venue I had been looking forward to trying. Room service We had room service most mornings for breakfast. It was always delivered right on time and the order was always correct. They were nice enough to even bring me smoked salmon and a toasted bagel, which I wrote onto the menu. We often ordered hot tea in the cabin in the afternoon, as it was such a hike to get up to the buffet and hot milks at night and these came very quickly. Bars Don't wish to sound like a grouch, but I didn't find the bars onboard overly impressive. The crows-nest type lounge at the top of the ship was divided into smaller intimate areas which although nice, proved detrimental when they held large Captains Club events in there, as it was impossible to see the band or whoever was talking unless you were in the centre part of the lounge near the stage. The trend on Solstice seems to be towards smaller more intimate bars instead of the large Rendezvous style lounge that can be found on other ships. I think I prefer the latter. As a wine drinker, I had been looking forward to trying "Tastings", the wine bar. It wasn't quite what I had imagined and had optics containing wine in special temperature controlled cases. Whenever we looked in the place was always empty. Perhaps they just did wine tasting events here? The Passport bar was a good venue for a pre-dinner drink, although the dance floor was very small. Tried the Sunset bar but the hybrid techno/new age music played there drove us away. The bar near the specialty restaurants was quite good, but we didn't care for the adjacent Michaels Bar. It was an odd shape and looked really uncomfortable, a bit too "stiff upper lip" for me! Our favorite bar was the Oceanview Bar with it's comfortable sofas, aft views and it's excellent staff, Jocelyn the bartender and O'Neil the bar waiter. At sunset there was a guitarist that we enjoyed listening to while we sipped a glass of sauvignon blanc and watched the sun set. This was a really underutilized area and unfortunately the bar was closed by 8pm if not earlier. Entertainment Let me preface this section by saying that this was probably the least lively ship we have ever sailed on. I'm not sure whether it was because of the large number of older people onboard or whether the entertainment team hadn't really got in the swing of things yet. I didn't find the cruise director particularly inspiring or very visible around the ship. There were some new and innovative forms of entertainment onboard - glass blowing, lawn games (when the lawn wasn't resting), table laying demonstrations(!), but they weren't my cup of tea and I found I really missed some of the tried and tested activities like 60s, 70s and 80s theme nights with the decade music quizzes before them, the daily quiz in the library and the daily newspapers. There was also a lot less trivia. Karaoke didn't appear until the latter part of the cruise. In the evening, if you didn't follow either path a) the show or path b) the casino, there wasn't a lot to do after dinner if you didn't want to drink. There was a comedian at midnight, but as we were typically at a loss for what to do between 10pm and midnight we had inevitably retired for the night before he came on. People were raving about him and an earlier show, perhaps in the theatre, would have been nice. I have to commend Celebrity in introducing a guest lecturer programme on the Solstice, as it was a feature we really enjoyed. We attended all the lectures by Walter Cunningham, an astronaut on Apollo 7 and Ian Wright, a photographer in the "Swinging 60's". I would have liked to see the 3rd lecturer onboard, Bill Miller, a ship historian, but we never seemed to be in the right place at the right time to catch him. Show-wise we caught the tail end of Ghostlight, which seemed to be the standard "collection of Broadway songs" type show. The quality of singers and dancers though was greatly improved. We also saw the variety show at the end of the cruise, which featured many of the onboard entertainers and showcased (unfortunately) the Xylopunk, who although talented, began to grate after the 3rd song, so we left. On the day we had a 10pm departure from Puerto Rico, the cruise director had been "bigging up" the sailaway party that night called Sizzle, saying it was an unmissable show and was something really special that would be the highlight of the cruise. I had hoped there might be fireworks and a band onshore as we pulled away from the dock, celebrating Solstices first port visited on her inaugural voyage.... Instead it was just a latin themed sailaway party. The party band came on and performed 15 minutes before announcing they were going to take a short break, (huh? Sizzle had only just started!). I'm not sure when Celebrity made the switch from reggae bands, Caribbean music and rum cocktails to latin music and mojitos, but I prefer island music when I'm in the islands. I reckon the show fizzled out rather than sizzled. The quality of the onboard musicians was very good. We enjoyed Jefferson Ang the guitarist, the string quartet and the Modern Jazz Trio. Additionally there was a steel drum player, acapela group and pianist/singer as well as the party band. Solarium We usually spend a lot of time in the solarium on cruises, as we are not sun-worshippers. The solarium on Solstice was visually stunning, but we were unable to use it as the pool was unheated and the room temperature was cold. You would need a blanket to spend any length of time in there. Hopefully this area will become more user friendly in the future. Spa We had 2 excellent couples massages, one a deep tissue and one a hot stones massage. It was a shame we had to endure high-pressure sales pitches at the end of both massages, and unusually, on this cruise, saying "No" didn't put an end it. It would have been a nicer experience if we could have eliminated the hard sell, and no, we didn't buy a product in the end - a bath soak for the price of a weeks worth of groceries for a family of 4 with teenagers is not our thing! Teen facilities Our kids had a great cruise. The teen facilities on board were nice, the counselor was enthusiastic and they had lots of activities (Wii, karaoke, parties) to keep them busy. There were 50 teens onboard and my kids made lots of friends. They said this was the best cruise they have ever been on. Ports of Call We visited San Juan PR, St Maarten and St Kitts. We walked around San Juan and visited Fort Dan Cristobal and El Morro by ourselves. In St Maarten we took a private tour with Joe Liburd and spent time at Le Galion beach, Maho Beach and Marigot. In St Kitts we had a private island tour with Ilva Wallace. Captains Club We didn't participate in any of the events for Select members other than the Select and Elite cocktail party which was very crowded. I feel I must say that the sheet of coupons in the cabin was pretty useless and always involved purchasing something to get any benefit, i.e. buy one glass of wine get one free, rather than getting a coupon for a free glass of wine like on RCCL. I remember the good old days of Captains Club when we got a free spa treatment and free Cova chocolates after just a couple of cruises. The current benefits are a joke. How about offering a free (not $5) visit to Bistro on 5 for Select and Elite, a free glass of wine, one free bag of laundry, 10 minutes free internet so we can print our boarding pass and a decent table location in the dining room instead? Crew The crew is the Solstice's biggest asset and they were superb. Everyone we passed in the hallway greeted us, nothing was too much trouble and staff went out of their way to be friendly and helpful. Our cabin attendant Annaliza was the best, as were our friends O'Neil and Jocelyn in the Oceanview Bar. I think the staff in the main dining room is still working out the kinks and hopefully service there will soon improve as well. Disembarkation We had one of the later disembarkation times, 10am, as we had an afternoon flight home. Our number was called at 9:00 and we lingered until 9:15 before disembarking. Finding our bags was easy and we found a free shuttle to the airport outside the terminal. In conclusion this cruise was nice but a bit boring. The ship is beautiful, the crew is outstanding but there was nothing special about this inaugural voyage. I had hoped there would be a sense of occasion onboard, with excitement and fanfare as we sailed in and out of ports for the first ever time, but there wasn't. No wow factor, no pizzazz, no fireworks, nothing. It was just a big anticlimax. Been there, done that, won't do an inaugural again. Read Less
Celebrity Solstice Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 4.5
Dining 4.5 4.1
Entertainment 4.5 3.8
Public Rooms 5.0 4.6
Fitness Recreation 5.0 4.1
Family 4.0 4.1
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.7
Enrichment 5.0 3.8
Service 5.0 4.4
Value For Money 4.5 4.0
Rates 4.0 4.2

Find a Celebrity Solstice Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click
Compare and book excursions for your next cruise