My wife and I sailed with her parents over the April spring break. We had been on the Eclipse before and wanted to introduce them to the Solstice class of ships. My in-laws preferred to explore the ship and engage in activities while my wife and I did the vegetation mode lounging in the sun. It is a credit to Celebrity that we all had a great time. Below I try to give you some helpful hints but at the expense of some pet peeves.
We took the red eye from the west coast and were able to get on the ship quickly without much delay. If flying into Miami, consider reserving a limo for 4 people as same price and more convenient. As we were in Aqua class the priority status helps but everyone else seemed to move along without issues. We were able to enjoy the excellent buffet in the Oceanview Cafe prior to sailing.
We were in Aqua class 1531 with an adjoining balcony for my in-laws. The steward, Salvino?, was great and set up the adjoining balcony with my in-laws. He was always smiling and pleasant taking care of any request we had. This is a great area of the ship close to the forward elevators and fitness area. It was very quiet and convenient. Yes, it is a little limited for storage but a 7 day trip to the Caribbean shouldn't require too many clothes anyhow. You can even go nude on the French beach in St. Martin (no, we didn't). Most of the eating areas are a walk away towards the back of the ship but if you are eating that much then you need the walk anyhow! Pet peeve: We experienced a few times where able bodied people took the elevators just one floor! On a cruise ship, elevators are a premium and used only when necessary. The exercise likely won't kill you!
We really enjoy being in Aqua class with the slightly more personal service, particularly the restaurant Blu. Initially, the service in Blu was slightly more impersonal than our previous experience on Eclipse but everyone warmed up after the first few nights. We ate at Tuscan Grille one night and really enjoyed the food and ambience with the wake view as we left port. The food is generally very good to great anywhere on the ship with the exception of the leftovers at the midnight offerings which should be expected for people whose taste buds have been dulled by drinking all day. Speaking of drinks, we had one at the Molecular Bar which was nice as a novelty. We had previously eaten at Qsine in the past which should be experienced in large groups. Pet peeve: The servers in all of the venues (especially the buffet) work incredibly hard for limited pay. As passengers on a great cruise experience, we should express appreciation for their efforts. Many of them come from different countries and I am sure they miss home. If we just took a little interest and asked them about their homelands, I am sure it brightens their day, and ours as well! It doesn't hurt to tip either.
The pools are small but the deck area is fairly generous and we were always able to find someplace to sit. Don't expect to do laps or swim more than three strokes in a straight line. Somedays it resembled more of a Japanese community bath. Kudos to Celebrity as I saw pool butlers for the first time clearing off deck chairs that were unused. The Mast Grill by the pool had simple but great burgers. The kids pool was very limited but they otherwise seemed happy with the facilities on board. Pet peeve: There are some passengers that reserve multiple chairs for themselves and others. Unless the First Armored Division is coming aboard, there will be plenty of spots available. Look on different levels and be considerate of others, please!
We don't go to shows much but they seemed to be adequate. Had a great time in the late night comedy club and even saw the captain and crew there laughing with others. Just hope someone was still driving the boat!
The ports of San Juan (why bother unless you need to pick up something at CVS), St. Martin (beautiful beach and shopping), St. Thomas (go to St. John), have been discussed many other times. We enjoyed them but the primary reason for the trip is a beautiful ship. The staff is friendly and accommodating (quick shout out to my baseball friend Angel at front desk from DR), the ship is beautiful, and the food is excellent and plentiful (yes, we gained 7 pounds in one week). Celebrity is our favorite cruise line and we will be sailing again on the Eclipse to the Baltics in June. Happy sailing.