This was our fourth cruise on a Celebrity Solstice class ship (two on Solstice, one on Equinox), 39th cruise overall. We feel that the Solstice class consists of the best designed mass market ships at sea. The overall design of this ship, cabins and public areas is consistent with the other Solstice class ships. Among the changes:
- The deck 12 pool area is missing the children's "water geyser" area in front of the bandstand. While this provides more deck space for chairs, we always enjoyed watching kids play in this area as well as walking through it ourselves to cool off a bit. From my perspective, this is a negative change.
- The Hideaway replaces the Team Earth area on deck 7-8. We only walked through this once to check it out. During the early part of the cruise it appeared to be a quiet place for reading. Later in the cruise, it occasionally appeared to be a gathering place for teens. Since we never saw much value in Team Earth, the Hideaway if probably a good change provided there is a balance between adult and teen usage.
- The Lawn Club Grill replaces the Corning Glass Show on deck 15. I loved catching the Glass Show at least once each cruise. However, we had a great time at dinner one night at the Lawn Club Grill. We made our own flatbread (a lot of fun, result was more pizza than flatbread) but left the entree cooking to the pros. While this is an extra fee specialty restaurant, its worth doing at least once (but probably not more than once per cruise).
- There were premier openings (I think) of a Michael Kors store and a Bulgari store on deck 5. The Michael Kors prices (purses and watches) were on par with on-shore pricing but saved on taxes (and a 10% off sale on watches). The Bulgari store was high priced jewelry (over $1000 as a starting point). These two stores cause me to wonder if Celebrity will be targeting higher financial demographics passengers leading (eventually) to higher fares.
- The closets in the cabins no longer have a shelf with drawers (and the safe, I think). That space is now open, with an overall loss of storage space in the cabin. This is a negative.
Highs: The Solarium (especially with so many cool, windy, cloudy days), Blu (although I ordered more non-Blu items than normal), food in general (not a bad meal all week and we feel that the Oceanview Cafe food island design is the best at sea), the elevators (among the best at sea), Lisa the CD (as singer), the Juggler/Comedian (although we missed the "Cirque" type show which we've enjoyed in the past), the Runaways party band (outstanding on the pool deck and in the Grand Foyer) and the passengers (given the bad weather and almost 700 kids on board, the passengers were friendly and the kids were busy somewhere else).
Lows: The weather (seemed like only five hours of sun through the first six days), skimpy storage space in cabin, and disembarkation in Fort Lauderdale (we were group 11 and it took us one hour from setting foot on land until we cleared customs).
Last note: this was a Presidential Cruise. The CEO / President of Celebrity was on board and available at a few Captain's Club events. Not as big a deal as I had expected but we did get some nice gift pens and towels on the last night of the cruise.
Overall, a good cruise on a very nice ship (but not comfortable to us as the Solstice or Equinox).