We are a couple in our 40's. We have cruised with Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruise lines. Our first cruise with Royal was on the Majesty of the Seas in 1995. We love cruising. We have taken our last two cruises on Celebrity Solstice. We have taken our last several cruises with family. For this cruise, we cruised with my brother, sister-in-law and seven year old niece.
Hotel Info (if any)- We drove down from South Carolina and stopped in West Palm Beach on the Saturday before the cruise. We stayed at the Hampton Inn on Worthington Road and had dinner at Il Bellagio in City Place. We had a wonderful experience at the restaurant and hotel. We felt like we were in paradise and the best part of the vacation was yet to come.
Ship Info- We had a Deluxe Verandah stateroom on Deck 7. We were close to the midship elevators, but not so close that it was noisy. Our balcony was close to the hump, so it felt like we had a little extra space out there.
Activities- We thoroughly enjoyed all of the activities onboard. We felt like there were plenty of activities for every age range, energy level and ability. There are so many activities on the Solstice that you could never possibly do everything they offered. If you found yourself with nothing to do, it could only be because that was your choice. Hey, it's a vacation and if you want to lounge around and do nothing- that's your right. But if you are bored, it is not because the ship fails to offer options to keep you busy. From the large library and numerous quiet areas to the ever active pool deck- there is something for everyone on this ship. Though my niece did not care to participate in the children's program on this cruise- the children who were participating seemed to enjoy it. I do not think it was a problem with the children's program that caused my niece's wish to remain with us. I think she was enjoying being the sole focus of attention after spending the past year and a half sharing the spotlight with little sister. That was fine. She was still the star of the show in everything she did.
Service- Just as on our 2010 cruise- our cabin attendant was wonderful. Miguel also serviced our family members' cabin. He was most efficient and accomodating to us all. He felt like a member of the family by the end of the week. One night after being in my brother's room numerous times, I accidentally tried to put my key in their door. Of course, it did not work. I turned around to find Miguel there with a smile on his face. He said "The key would probably work much better on your cabin door." I thanked him and proceeded to my cabin.
We utilized Celebrity Select dining, but chose to make advanced arrangements for seating times to make it a little simpler. The service in the main dining room was a little less considerate than our first experience. Twice, the wait staff thrust a menu in front of my face when I was in the middle of a sentence in conversation with others at the table. We had some trouble getting drink refills a couple of nights. It was not a deal breaker by any means, but just not up the level of impeccable service we received elsewhere on the ship. It made me feel like maybe the thoughts about Select Dining wait staff may be accurate- in that they seem not to try as hard since they already know their gratuities are paid.
Our waiter on the last two nights was fantastic. He secured a grilled cheese sandwich and fries for my niece. We had requested this on three other occasions, as the children's menu listed Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup as an option. We were told that the cheese was grilled on top of the soup- that it was not a sandwich. We were told that no exceptions could be made. Odd, to say the least. He also got her some chocolate milk.
Port & Shore Excursions
My husband and I took the Bacardi tour in San Juan. It was a fun and informative excursion. We did not do any organized tours at any other port. My brother and sister in law tried to sign up for the bio-luminescent kayaking tour which showed to be open when they first embarked. When they went to sign up, they were told it had been sold out for months and they only did the tour about 3 or 4 times a year. Maybe next trip.
Travel To Port of Embarkation- We drove in from South Carolina
Stateroom- Deluxe Verandah. Wonderful
Dining- Celebrity Select. Also dined in Tuscan Grille once on the night we returned to the ship in San Juan. Dined in Murano twice- once it was just me and my husband. Another night with brother and sister in law. Wonderful both times. First night's food slightly better. I had the Dover Sole Veronique. Husband had Venison. We both saw the lobster being prepared at the next table. It smelled divine so we both ordered it on the second visit. It was quite good, but slightly underwhelming. It was less impressive than expected. Not bad by any means, but the taste did not measure up to the divine aroma during preparation.
Children's Clubs-niece did not participate. No input.
Entertainment- wonderful. We truly enjoyed the Vivian Clement Trio (quartet) in the Ensemble Lounge. Our wonderful bartenders Rowena and Violeta made the experience even more fun. The party band was fun, but not as good as the last one. Hearing this party band tried to sing country music was a hoot. I laughed aloud every time they tried to sing it. Otherwise, they were decent. It was definitely entertaining.
Cruise director Esperanza was far superior to the last one who was so abysmal I cannot even recall his name.
Disembarkation- organized chaos. The first time we cruised on Solstice, the ship was able to utilize the embarkation building currently used by both the Allure and Oasis. The disembarkation process was much more organized then. However, based on the space available I think it was done as well as could be expected. The customs agents were friendly and efficient. While this was not a problem for our party, I did notice that they needed a more efficient process for passengers who needed wheelchairs or assistive devices. Rented devices were immediately reclaimed as soon as passengers got in the luggage retrieval/dismembarkation building. It left some with a difficult task of trying to manage the luggage and the limited mobility of their companions. There must be a more efficient way to handle this.