One of the most talked about new feature on Solstice is the 1/2-acre lawn for sports and relaxation. "The Lawn Club," on the top-most deck, aft, will feature live growing grass (not artificial turf) and a full-time groundskeeper. It will be the central element of the ship's outdoor experience.
The area is three times larger than Rockefeller Center's ice skating rink (and more than two times the size of Centre Court at Wimbledon's All England Lawn Tennis Club). Among its features are:
Cruising's first bocce at sea. There will be two courts for bocce ball, a game of skill imported from Italy. It's similar to lawn bowling and very popular in places like Napa Valley.
A putting green, with areas of slight unevenness for more challenging play.
The Patio on the Lawn, next to the glassblowing studio where the Hot Glass Show will be held, will serve snacks and coffee al fresco.
Passengers can also use The Lawn Club for simply soaking up sun or reading a book. There will be no charge to utilize the putting green or any other area of The Lawn Club, though there will of course be a limited number of putters available for borrowing.
On hand for the big reveal were Dan Hanrahan, President and CEO of Celebrity Cruises, and Richard Fain, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd. (Celebrity's parent company). Both spoke from a podium lined with grass -- Fain removed his shoes and socks to stand on it barefoot.
It's not as easy to build a lawn onboard a cruise ship as you might think. First of all, the grass and the water and irrigation systems used to sustain it weigh a ton -- 150 metric tons in total to be precise. To support the extra weight, the ship was widened slightly during the architectural phase.
Also, the rigors of cruise travel (saltwater, sun, wind and foot traffic) necessitated the search for a particularly hearty type of grass. To that end, Celebrity brought in "grass experts" -- landscape architects, irrigation specialists, and turf and soil scientists from the University of Florida -- to help select the specific variety that could best withstand day-to-day cruising.
Other uses for the lawn are yet to be determined; the dramatic night lighting seen in the rendering above, for example, could be the backdrop for outdoor concerts. We'll keep you posted as more details are revealed.
The cruise line has teamed up with the world-renowned Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York, to introduce cruisers to its traveling exhibit, the "Hot Glass Show." Since 2001, the show has traveled to museums, art fairs and public festivals around the world, but this will be its first foray at sea.
What exactly is the Hot Glass Show? On Celebrity Solstice, three resident "gaffers" -- glassblowing artists -- will conduct live glassmaking demonstrations, lectures and workshops in a custom-designed outdoor studio, located on the ship's upper deck. The gaffers will create items such as vases and bowls as a narrator explains each step in the process and answers guests' questions.
Though there are no concrete plans at this point for hands-on passenger participation, a spokeswoman for Celebrity tells us that Celebrity and The Corning Museum of Glass are exploring ways to allow some guests to experience the art of glassblowing for themselves. Celebrity is also in the process of developing products that will be available for purchase that will complement the type of artistry the Hot Glass Show will bring to the ship.
The Corning Museum of Glass' Hot Glass Show has been seen at such venues as the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics and America's 400th Anniversary Celebration at Jamestown.