My husband and I sailed on the Solstice out of Barcelona on August 27. We're in our late 20s--this was our eighth cruise but first time on Celebrity and in the Mediterranean. This was a port-intensive itinerary so at times we were exhausted, but seeing so many amazing places was worth it. Overall, we had a wonderful cruise experience and would definitely sail on Celebrity again.
We flew into Barcelona two days early and stayed at Hotel Jazz. It was a great value--excellent location, very clean and nice rooms, free internet.
We got on the ship at about noon and embarkation was a breeze--there was no waiting at all, unlike most of our other cruises. We were in an Aqua Class Stateroom and loved it. The upgraded bathroom/shower was awesome and we went almost every day to the Persian Garden to enjoy the heated beds and steam room. It was never too crowded. Having bottled water, iced tea and a cheese plate delivered to our stateroom every day was also a nice perk. We received a complimentary bottle of champagne in our room the first day.
The food in Blu (the specialty restaurant for Aqua Class guests) was excellent. We dined there almost every night and also went to breakfast there whenever we had time. Our only small complaint would be the service in Blu. The Maitre d' was wonderful, but the waiters and assistant waiters were good but not great. We dined at the Tuscan Grille one night and it was well worth it--amazing food, excellent service. We had lunch in Bistro on Five, which only has a $5 cover charge and is probably the best value on the ship! The ship's main buffet is the best one we've experienced on a cruise. The food was good and they had tons of options, and there was never once a line or difficulty finding a table.
We went to about half of the big entertainment shows during the cruise and most of them were good, though a couple were just ok. The Cirque show is not to be missed and we also really enjoyed the Ringmasters (an a cappella group) who performed in various venues across the ship.
In the ports we did a mix of Celebrity excursions, private excursions, and on-our-own tours. The private excursions we took with small groups found through Cruise Critic and they worked out great. We used Rome In Limo as well as See Amalfi Coast and we'd highly recommend both.
Disembarking went smoothly until one of our bags went missing. It was a very stressful 90 minutes waiting for it as we had an international flight to catch and no one from Celebrity was around to help. We were just filing a claim and ready to leave it behind when it finally showed up.
One thing I wished we'd known in advance: You can get Euros on board at the current Bank of America rate, with no fees. Back home (in Texas), even as Bank of America customers we had to pay a fee to exchange currency.
Overall, this was a fantastic cruise experience and we'd sail on Celebrity again for sure--although I'm not sure they beat out Princess just yet as our favorite cruise line.