Celebrity Cruises' innovative new Solstice, the first in an entirely new design series of ships for the cruise line, is nearly complete. In a whirlwind 24-hour visit in late September, just before Celebrity Solstice left its dock at the Meyer Werft shipyard, Cruise Critic got to check it out.
Richard Fain, the chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd. (which owns Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Azamara) was the tour guide for our group of journalists from Asia, Europe and North America (Dan Hanrahan, Celebrity's president, and Harri Kulovaara, its executive vice president for new-builds, led others).
Having the company honcho take you around the ship probably sounds like a boon. But CEOs are, at least in my mind, buttoned down guys and gals in pinstriped suits (both sexes, yes), rather dry, and prone to waxing rhapsodically about share prices and basically saying nothing about anything.
Fain surprised me. The man is passionate about this ship, so much so that before the tour we discussed the process of finding the right hybrid grass seeds for The Lawn Club for 30 minutes (it was his idea in the first place). And forget the stiff suit. He led the tour clad in the same pumpkin orange fleece jersey that crew members wore.
As a Celebrity Solstice tour guide, he shined. In fact, onboard staffers like Simon Weir, Celebrity's one-time cruise director who now oversees hotel operations, were on hand to help Fain out with details -- and barely needed to.
Remember, these photos are snapshots of Celebrity Solstice some three to four weeks before its completion. So it's nearly there -- 97 percent finished -- but a lot of what's left to do is cosmetic. As such, not all areas of the ship were available to us. And some that were, as you'll see, weren't as glamorous in look as they will be later. But stay tuned, and we'll update our "before and after" photo essay with plenty of "after" shots once Solstice launches.
We'll be taking a look at the top decks, interior spaces featuring bars, restaurants and shops and a few cabin photos (staterooms were, by and large, part of the 3 percent "unfinished" portions of the ship).