We sailed on the Solstice from Barcelona on May 23, 2012. I am in my late 30s and my boyfriend is in his late 40s. We have cruised before, but never with Celebrity. Our most recent cruises were on RCCL Allure of the Seas and the Norweigian Epic.
We spent 1 night pre-cruise in Barcelona and arrived at the port around 11:00 am. Upon entering the terminal building we were handed a letter informing us that there was a noro virus outbreak on the previous sailing. The letter stated that the ship would have some special cleaning done and that boarding should not be delayed. The check in process was quick and easy and we were able to board the Solstice right after receiving our seapass cards. For those interested, there are 2 shops after security where you can purchase water, soda, and a limited selection of liquor/wine. Upon stepping on board the Solstice we were offered a mimosa or glass of champagne which was a nice touch.
We were in a category 2A balcony on deck 7, cabin 7276. The cabin was close to the elevators which was nice, but we found it a bit noisy. Not enough to really bother us, but noticeable nonetheless. The noise did not come from the elevators, but in the the bathroom it sounded as though there was an ice machine, trash chute, or something that would make noise periodically. Also, when there was live music during the evening in the atrium area some of the noise filtered up thru the hallway.
We had lunch at Bistro on Five after we got on board the first day and it was a good choice. It was quiet, the food was good and well worth the $5 cover charge. We ended up eating here a couple of other times for dinner as well.
We went to the Tuscan Grill the first night. Reservations were made prior to sailing when I received an email stating 30% off the cover charge would be offered the first night. Warning: Celebrity charges your card in full and then they are supposed to credit you back the 30% difference as an onboard credit. I had to go to the Guest Services desk 3 times before I finally got my credit. We enjoyed Tuscan Grill and returned 2 other times. We were not planning on it, but once we were headed to the dining room and those that had Select Time dining were offered 50% off if they went to Tuscan Grill that night instead. We were told that the dining room was quite busy and it was offered as an incentive to try and move guests to a less crowded venue. Another nice touch from Celebrity. The Tuscan Grill offers a special lunch on the sail in to Venice -- it is a limited menu, but the view is absolutely spectacular and it was wonderful to enjoy a bottle of wine at lunch and take in all of the scenery. Be sure to request a table right next to the window.
We tried Silk Harvest the second night. We had received a voicemail stating that we could get 20% off so we decided to try it. We thought it was OK. A few of the sushi rolls were good, but the other items did not impress us.
We had the Select Time dining which I made reservation times for online prior to sailing. We always ate around 7 or 7:30 and never had to wait for a table which was nice. The food was OK -- I would say a step above NCL or RCCL main dining room food but nothing spectacular. I will say that most of the beef was very tender and seemed to always be cooked to the requested doneness.
We did have lunch once in the buffet after getting back on board from one of the ports, and we were impressed with the selection and quality of food at lunchtime. We enjoyed the burgers at the Mast Grill -- hot off of the grill vs. in a warming pan.
We did a few room service breakfasts which worked out nicely when we were in port. It was always served in a timely fashion. We found the best thing to order were items like yogurt, bagel, coffee, etc.
We found the Aqua Spa cafe a nice alternative for breakfast and lunch. We enjoyed eating healthier fare in a quiet setting.
To be honest, not much of the nightly entertainment appealed to us. This was OK because with it being such a port intensive cruise we were tired anyways. I think this was true of many of our fellow passengers as well, by 11 pm things were pretty quiet around the ship. Not many people in the casino any of the nights.
We did not do any shore excursions thru Celebrity. We arranged private tours with fellow passengers on the roll call which worked out great.
The crew onboard were wonderful. We felt the service was a notch above other ships we have been on.
Don't miss the tasting session at the Molecular Bar if you enjoy trying new cocktails.
2 for 1 drinks at the Passport bar offered at various times.
We did not find a problem getting chairs on deck during the 3 sea days. We usually went out around 8:30 am and there were plenty available.