This was our fourth cruise on Solstice class ships, starting with The Solstice in Dec. 2008. We left this cruise feeling less pampered that we had come to expect from Celebrity. We even wondered if the new management had something to do with the happiness of the employees, as it seemed there was less smiling and less effort to make the cruisers feel special. For instance, we don't NEED to be addressed by our last name, but it does impart more of a feeling of respect. Our room steward asked our first names as soon as we met him.
The ship was absolutely beautiful and our room was kept sparkling at all times. We never saw the assistant room steward after the first day. We had asked for cheese and crackers for our afternoon snack, which is what we were brought for the first half of the cruise. But then they had run out of crackers so we received cheese with grapes and walnuts for the last few days.
Embark was not good. We arrived around 11 and were checked in promptly, only to be asked to wait to board. This is the first time we have had this experience. After waiting more than one hour we noticed people bunching up at the escalator to go up to the boarding level. People even bypassed the boarding photo stand, anxious to get onto the ship. We did not see champagne being handed out, and went directly to our cabin as it was already after 1 PM. We met our room steward at that time.We enjoyed our dinner at Qsine the first night, as we had taken advantage of the e-mail offering of a discount for dining in a specialty restaurant the first night. However, we had to go to customer service to receive this discount as a credit the next day; it did not automatically happen as promised. The second night we were escorted to our table in the main dining room for the late seating. We were led to a table for two, although we had requested a table for 6. We remained seated at this table and made friends with our neighboring table for two, who had also asked for a larger table. Our server was not friendly the first night but did loosen up as the cruise continued, but our assistant server Nina was fantastic and a joy to be around.
We had pre-purchased the premium drink packages. We made sure to get our money's worth, but there were some issues. We especially were interested in the craft beers, and were able to get Dogfish 90 IPA for the first half of the cruise at the Sunset Bar. After they ran out in their storage area, one of the servers went to Michael's club, but since he did not have a key the beer remained locked up, even though this was a sea day. The ship did not seem to have as extensive a drink menu at the bars as on previous cruises. Sometimes the servers seemed to be very light on the alcohol, especially on frozen drinks. We did enjoy the Martini and Molecular bars, the service there was always good and entertaining. Michael's club was often closed for private events.Entertainment was mostly quite good. We did not go to every show, but enjoyed the magician Adam Trent, as well as Reflection, the Show. Those performers are such athletes and amazing to watch. The performer Edge was so bad and even annoying that many people walked out of the show that evening. The varying bands located in The Atrium each evening were excellent and many people enjoyed dancing to them. Jefferson Ang was great, as well as the party band D'Revelations.
We enjoy dressing to the 9's for Formal Night. On this cruise we saw fewer tuxedos and gowns, and more suits and cocktail dresses. We also noticed more jeans for dinner in the main dining room than on previous cruises. to our disappointment, we would most likely NOT bring gowns nor tuxedo on a future cruise.
Disembarkation went smoothly enough although it did not seem like our waiting area was the one promised for Concierge Class with included beverages. Also, we did not automatically receive a printed accounting of our charges; we had to go to customer service to ask for one.
We had scheduled this cruise at the earliest opportunity, over a year in advance. Although we did enjoy our cruise, we did not feel the value was up to par with our previous cruises.