We are first time cruisers. We sailed on the Dawn Princes in March 2012 as a "sampler" to see if my wife would be hanging over the balcony being sea sick. Quite the contrary, we got hooked. So in March 2012 we booked the Celebrity Solstice cruise to Hawaii.
Embarkation was approx 2 hours in Sydney 08/01/2013. Our cabin was 9272 deck 9 mid ship, with balcony. The room was beautiful and a good size and had lounge area. Bathroom and shower significantly larger then the Dawn. All facilities ultra modern and good size. Rooms and public areas were all clean and well maintained.
Ship in general opulent. Waitering staff awesome. Credit to MD Marian, Boyan and Peter. Other staff such as Rok, Anna, Abbas, Jorge, Jasmina, Rose, Jose ( room attendant) and all other staff in the Oceanview Cafe ( buffet) and the Grand Epany dining room where all exemplary. Staff could not do enough to try and please every guest.
During our 18 days not once did we feel over crowded, despite there being 2850 guests and 1200 plus staff
Cruise director John Grantham was sensational. He organized the events and activities to ensure maximum satisfaction and fun. Shows were top notch and of Broadway caliber. Off course there were some that lacked that "heart string" tug, but these may have appealed to other audience members
Food was fantastic. There was something for every taste and even the "finicky" eaters. Both Oceanview Cafe and Grand Epany Dining service and food quality was outstanding.
Definitely arrange shore excursions once you are at port, as ship excursions are expensive. However be cautious that you return to the ship well in advance to the ship leaving port.
Customs processing in Lahaina ( Maui) was a bit of a debarkle. US Customs officers did not arrive till late and this created lengthy delays and frustrated guests and long queues. This was not a Celebrity problem.
ONLY one downfall, "noro virus". It had apparently been transferred on board in Sydney and as some guests did not use good hand cleansing practices this lead to an outbreak. The staff on the ship however were very professional and put in long tiring hours in every attempt to contain the spread of the virus, which they successfully achieved by the time we disembarked in Honolulu. However this did not prevent my wife from finally succumbing to the virus on terra firma. She was in agony for 36 hours. Those of you who had had it will know how awful it is.
My advise to all guests cruising, don't spoil the trip for yourself and others and be mindful of, and perform the recommended hand cleaning instructions. Also if you have any symptoms, let the cruise staff know immediately as they will ensure that you do board and that you recover quickly. All staff are awesome.
Despite the "Noro virus" we were so impressed with the quality of the Celebrity Solstice that we have already booked 28 days ( 2 trips back to back) on the same ship for 2014. That says a lot for the Celebrity Solstice crew and ship. I hope that the management of this ship do not down grade any quality or services. And please clone and keep the great John Grantham on this ship particularly for the long repositioning cruises.