We boarded the ship in lovely Barcelona on 27th August. Check in was speedy enough process but delayed because our xpress passes had been unavailable, despite us having fully completed our online checking in with full details, including credit card information for sea pass accounts onboard. This is my second Celebrity cruise within a few months & same thing happened previously as well. Makes me wonder what is the point of going through it all online - only to have to repeat most of the process again at check in?! Also, what is the problem with Celebrity sending out the luggage tags requested pre cruise? Again for the second time in a few months, no luggage tags were ever received. You can get them at the port of course but it makes a bit of a nonsense out of the whole thing when they promise to send them-& then don't bother to!
The ship itself is lovely and is extremely well maintained. Spotlessly clean throughout & a credit to the teams of hard working staff onboard.
We were in a balcony cabin on deck 8 which was perfect for us as only other staterooms above & below us, so less noisy.
We were on an early sitting -6.15pm- which worked out very well for us & meant the show time of 8.45pm were great. Well, apart from the times when they changed the timing of the shows that is! If it ain't broke....leave it alone Celebrity!!
On the subject of the entertainment onboard. A mixed bag....the A Capella group...the Ringmasters were superb...on stage the first night and around the ship at various times & locations throughout the cruise. Amazingly talented group of 4 young Swedish guys. Also worthy of special mention is a superb vocalist called Philip Brown, he was first class & my husband & I agreed we have never heard a better rendition of Old Man River or Mr Bojangles. As good as the original singers! Superb! The Solstice singers & dancers were excellent also & we especially enjoyed the show where they performed their version of Riverdance & Broadway musicals. We did not really enjoy the Cirque de Soleil type show on the last night as much, very talented people but started to drag after 20 minutes or so. Too much of the acrobatic type stuff and not enough music or singing. Several people around us left half way through the show, which is never a nice thing to witness.
The food in the Grand Epernay restaurant is excellent & service consistently good. Worthy of special mention here are Francisco & Sergio (not our main waiters but they both served us at lunch (open seating) & we agreed that we would have loved to have had either of them as our waiter in the evening at fixed seating dinner. Ours was good...not excellent. Another point here which I feel I should mention is that it is more than a bit unsettling, not to say ungracious on the part of the waiter concerned is that upon giving him an envelope with a gratuity in excess of $100, he felt it more important to urge us to mention him by name on our comment card, rather than to say thank you for the envelope. Am I right in thinking that tips are not mandatory or compulsory bur rather an acknowledgement/appreciation of services rendered? Same as with stateroom attendants, we left an envelope on our bed on last evening before we went for dinner at 6.15pm containing well in excess of the recommended tip amounts & yet no acknowledgement whatsoever. Envelope and extra gift had been taken but, unlike on our previous cruises when the room attendant came to say thank you, this time the was nothing whatsoever. Leaves a bit of a bad taste & is poor form in my opinion. Just some basic good manners & common courtesy would have been appreciated.
Our fellow passengers were a mix of all nationalities in varying degrees, a lot of Spanish onboard, to such a large extent that Alejandro, the cruise director, had to make his announcements in the theatre in both English & Spanish every night. Also a significant number of North Americans as well as Brits & Scandinavians. A good mix of age groups as well, although fewer children than on previous cruises, probably due to school holidays now over.
All in all a great cruise on a beautiful ship and with a superb itinerary. One thing I would say is that the shore excursions are vastly overpriced & a bit misleading for Celebrity to say there is nothing to see in Livorno (because they are selling tours to Florence!?!) when it is actually a lovely place and well worth seeing. We spent a wonderful day there & enjoyed a great boat trip where we learned a lot about the Medici family's influence in Livorno etc. Highly recommend Livorno as Florence tour is very tiring.
The only thing I need add is that if you are reading this review before doing a cruise on lovely Solstice is...have a wonderful time and Bon voyage!