My wife Debbie and I have been loyal Royal Caribbean cruisers for years. We are Diamond members and enjoy the many perks that status brings with it. Normally we sail with a group of friends, anywhere from group size 10-40 and age range 25-80. This is the first time in 20 years we actually decided to go on our own. Really needed the R and R. Our Diamond status automatically gave us Elite status on Celebrity and along with that came many privileges. We enjoyed all of them. Thank you Celebrity for the wonderful treatment.
We have always wanted to try Celebrity so we booked a 7 day Eastern Caribbean on the Solstice. What a ship, what a cruise! The ship is beautiful as we expected. Understated elegance throughout, don't let that trow you if you are like me and worried about pretentious passengers. As nice as the ship was, so to were the passengers and crew.
Embarkation was smooth. We were in the Oceanview Cafe for lunch while waiting for our rooms to be prepared. Lunch was delicious in the Oceanview, as were breakfasts. The cafe has a delightful outdoor seating area where you can enjoy the morning breeze and some tasty bacon. All the dining venues on the ship are first class. Food is of fine quality and assortment and is served by a very friendly and professional staff. We ate most dinners in the main dining room but did enjoy the Tuscan grill. The food was tremendous as was the attention paid to detail by the waiters and the sommelier. The wine selection is broad and wines are of good quality. They have a brunch at 10am on one of the days at sea. Reminded us of the old midnight buffets. Nice because we were still sober to enjoy the taste of the food rather than the midnight buffets where we usually were to blasted to enjoy the delicacies.
I am a cigar smoker and was concerned about there not being a cigar bar on the ship. Much to my delight there is an area of the Lawn Club, which is a large area on the 15th deck of the ship that there is actually a grass lawn growing, where you can enjoy cigars in the open air while enjoying cocktails or micro brews. Spent every evening after 1 am up there, sometimes alone and sometimes with other folks. Again, everyone we met on this ship was friendly.
Although Celebrity is an upscale line, we found it to have a bit more casual atmosphere than even Royal Caribbean. Casual nights were just that. You could enjoy dinner in the dining rooms with a pair of nice shorts or pants and short sleeve shirts. Even the formal nights were not so formal, much to my delight. Long pants and an open shirt were worn by many of the guys. Some wore jackets and ties, few wore tuxes. The ladies liked to dress up but there were plenty of pants and casual dresses. Debbie and I figured that the 40-70 year old folks who were on vacation did not want to go through the whole dress up thing and rather enjoy the sun and activities. Nothing wrong with getting well dressed for dinner, we respect that as others should respect us for not wearing a jacket or tie. No one seemed to mind, nice thing is that everyone seemed to be having a great time and minding to themselves.
Our room steward, Selwyn, was the best we have had for the 30 cruises we have been on. Very attentive yet not omnipotent. Our room was always clean and the ice was always filled. We had a balcony room, for the first time in a long while, and enjoyed it for the little time we used it. We are very gregarious and like to spend time with others on board in the public areas. Speaking of the public areas, this ships has the best bars and lounges of any ship we have been on. Plenty of selection, from quiet to party. The Molecular Bar was our favorite. The bartender makes the most outrageous drinks from a far out menu. This bar is a must! Our dinners servers were very good. Viviana and Lee did an excellent job even though they had not been together all that long. The pool bars were fine but the service is slow.Sometimes, even when the bar area was not that crowded, you had to wait 10 minutes to get served. Celebrity needs to address this.
We had a flashy, blinky night where we wore flashing rings, earrings and bracelets and had lighted ice cues in our drinks. Brought all the stuff on board and gave it to folks that we liked and that liked to party. They were a big hit as many people asked us about them and wanted to do the same.
The islands of St. Martin and St. Thomas are always fun. We go to the beaches. This time we went to Sapphire on St. Thomas and Simpson's bay on St. Martin. Both beaches are terrific, just be aware if you go to Simpson Bay it can be difficult getting a ride back to the ship. Plan on leaving with plenty of time to spare.
The Solstice is a great ship and we recommend it highly as we do Celebrity Cruise Lines.