Celebrity Solstice, the first of the Solstice-class ships, offers one of the most elegant mainstream cruising experiences at sea. Its style blossoms from the root of its name, "sol," meaning "sun," and the sun plays an important role on the ship, from powering the 216 solar panels that contribute to the ship's electrical grid, to nurturing what is perhaps the most unusual feature of this, or any other, ship: a full half-acre of lush living grass. Called the Lawn Club, this area features the Hot Glass Show, where passengers can delight in seeing the creation of complex works of glass art from raw materials to the finished objects. There are also six private cabanas, available for rent for those who want shade and a little privacy but don't wish to be near the pool area. The Lawn Club is a delightful spot to relax, play a game of boules or catch a movie on the ship's new outdoor movie screen.
Cool sophistication is the unmistakable vibe onboard, from the chic shopping boulevard lined with attractive boutiques to the Martini Bar, famous for its entertaining bar staff and elegant cocktails. Passenger flow is excellent, creating a leisurely feel throughout and a refreshing absence of long lines. On our completely sold out sailing the ship felt half-empty, except for an occasional lack of seating at the elegant Cafe al Bacio.
Solstice is an extremely easy ship to navigate, even for first-time cruisers. Everything is clustered: all the entertainment is forward, the food is aft and -- insiders are quick to point out -- the money (casino, reception, shops) is in the middle. Between the main atrium and the Solstice Theater on Deck 4 is an attractive mini-atrium, dubbed "Entertainment Court." It is the nexus for nighttime entertainment. Midship, in between the dining and entertainment venues, are the casino, reception and boutiques and shops, covering every genre and price point. Even the specialty restaurants are all clustered on a single deck (Deck 5).
Whether they are enjoying a meal or walking around the ship, passengers should brace themselves for the widespread upselling of drink packages and specialty dining, particularly during the first 48 hours of the cruise. While a polite 'no thank you' is usually (but, unfortunately, not always) sufficient to curtail the sales pitch, this can be rather off-putting for those seeking a relaxing cruise vacation.
Celebrity espouses the virtues of "modern luxury," and there are touches of that throughout Solstice -- from the chaise lounges with their oversized cushions on the pool deck to the glass-enclosed Solarium and individually rolled cloth hand towels in public bathrooms. Entertainment is a hit, from engaging "edutainment" lectures on a diverse range of topics to big production shows and more low-key options, such as a guitar and vocal duo. Service is also a highlight, with cheerful, professional staff who frequently go above and beyond to not only meet, but exceed, passengers' expectations. With the addition of an outdoor movie screen and private alcoves, a Japanese sushi restaurant and "A Taste of Film," the line's new film and food experience, this elegant ship is more attractive than ever before.