We sailed on an 11 night Hawaii cruise from Honolulu to Ensenada Mexico. Unfortunately, as luck had it, the cruise prior to ours had a Norovirus outbreak which affected our cruise and was not handled very well by Celebrity. See last section Below.
SHIP. First, the good points. The Solstice is a very nice ship. It is in very good shape considering its age and the Art Deco and Nouveau design of rooms are appealing. Even full, the ship is not crowded.
PASSENGER TYPE The average age of our passage was older than expected, perhaps late 60s or early 70s. It may have been the itinerary or length, but certainly the age was much older than expected. we had lovely table mates and did find some folks to hang out with who, like us, were in their 30s or 40s. There MAY have been 10 children on the whole ship. We cruise with friends who are AWESOME!
ENTERTAINMENT. Entertainment reflected this age group. For us, the 60s music of bands and Muzak at the pool were a More
bit of a bore, and wanted some more current options. We asked for more current music at the pool, but were told the "old people " would complain. the daily activities, likewise, were clearly geared towards retirees. However, we enjoyed the hot glass show and the Solstice "circus"production show should not be missed. X just needs more options if they want a younger crowd. Pool chairs were nice. Solarium pretty, but not nearly as pretty as some of the RCI Solariums.
SKY SUITE. Cabin 6304, a SS1, was a highlight. Great, quiet room, with plenty of space, a tub and nice sized balcony. Roomier and much nicer than junior suite on RCI. More like a Grand Suite on RCI. Room attendants very nice. Be warned, there is a LARGE blue roof of the restaurant below that extends many feet past your balcony, for a not so good view of the ocean. And despite no smoking, Those above us threw cigarette butts on our balcony all the time. Nevertheless, great cabin. You do have a lighted magnifying makeup mirror, large TV, iPod docking, robes, umbrellas, tote bags and binoculars...in case those are of import to you. No DVD player.
DINING. The main dining room is quite lovely with very good food and good selections. We really enjoyed the food and thought it superior to past cruises and I think a step up from RCI or M Class. Service was exceedingly slow, causing us to miss shows, but our table mates kept us entertained! We ate at Silk Harvest and Tuscan Grille, neither of which we paid for because we had a suite. Both we just OK and certainly the specialty restaurants on the M Class FAR outshine these, as to RCI venues like Chops and Giovanni's Table. I would not pay the high cost to eat at these, but as I said, we did not, so they were fine. SH is probably a bit better than TG. They are worth a $15 surcharge, but not the $35 to $45 extra you pay... Especially given the fine food in the MDR.
BARS. As noted below, we really had trouble enjoying these for 9 of the 11 days. I REALLY wanted to try the Molecular Bar, but couldn't until Day 10 due to no menus... See below. When we did try it, the drinks are super unique! Loved the Lucky Cat. Had aMartini Tasting at Martini Bar which was a bore at first.... Served on a little tray.... Until we complained and Orlando rescued us! He dumped out those drinks and poured 18 martinis at once!! Great show and got the passengers excited! We were going to get a drink package, but with issues below, didn't waste our money and felt bad for those who did.
PORTS. Hawaii is nice, albeit commercialized and IMHO, a bit overrated. We did ship excursions... Never smart due to overcrowding....except in Hilo where we had a GREAT private tour. We just prefer the beaches, prices and more private excursion options of Caribbean I guess,
NOROVIRUS/MANAGEMENT. The real let down of this cruise was management. Let me explain. There was a NV outbreak on the prior cruise and I guess X didn't know what to do? We were supposed to board at 11 am in Honolulu Day 1, but cabins not ready until 6 pm. So what do you do all day on a port day with carryons? You wait around.
The cabins had NOTHING in them... No ice bucket, glasses, mirror, hair dryer, menus, robes...no suite amenities... Nothing at all but furniture. Not even the Celebrity Today to explain anything. No card with a table assignment. No one knew where to go or what to do.... No luggage until 10 pm.
No one had explanations. We stayed overnight in Honolulu and had Day 2 there as well until midnight. However, our tour was ruined on the Day 2 Honolulu port day by a 4 pm lifeboat drill in the middle of a port day.... We didn't leave until midnight. Many complained and were so upset.... you had to plan everything around an extremely ill timed drill. i complained and one officer told me "too bad."
Service was very slow due to no salt, sugar, bread on table. Strangely, things were rationed.... Like you were only given one tiny salt packet if you asked. You almost had to beg for more. I kept saying "can I please have just one more Equal."
We didn't get the normal things in the cabin for many many days, and then only after repeated requests. Nothing was self serve, so lines for food or iced tea, water, were very long. Food lines were so long. We waited 30 minutes for a cup of water. Bartenders refused to give us iced water and told us to wait in line. It just got very tiresome waiting for 9 days. There were no menus at any bar, so you had no clue what to order or prices. We asked servers and managers and were told stories from X is changing bar prices, to menus were burned, to no one knew where they were at. Bartenders didn't even have a menu to hold for you to look at.
This all went on for 9 of the 11 days, with no explanation, information in daily Celebrity Today, etc. Management just shrugged when asked when we would get things like a glass in the room. No one knew anything and management didn't seem willing to address or fix issues.
We understand the need to sanitize, and appreciate that may take a day or two, but this was basically the whole cruise. given the impact on lines, service, cabins, X should have (1) kept passengers informed or at least offered explanations, (2) reallocated staff to reduce lines... Such as instead if having MANY waiters asking if we wanted wine at lunch, assign them to walk around with water or tea or coffee, and (3) figure out solutions sooner... Like at least a menu a bartender could hold??
Anyhow, this was one of the most expensive cruises we have done... More than many European cruises.... We just felt the situation and especially management were subpar. I guess it was luck of the draw, but not sure we would give X another try.... I guess we will see how they handle customer comment cards. Less