We were informed by text 2 days before sailing that there was still norovirus on the ship and asked not to arrive for embarkation before 2pm as the staff were deep cleaning the ship. (We know people on the ship that actually caught norovirus at Christmas 2012 so it is sadly an ongoing issue). We arrived for check in at 5pm; it was chaotic and our suitcases arrived at 8pm so many people had to go for dinner in their casual clothes. Celebrity relaxed the rules on this occasion. We never heard anything from the Captain for 3 days and actually enquired if he was aboard as the ship was docked for this period.
Because of the norovirus restrictions were in place so there was no self service even in the buffet restaurant and the poor staff worked relentlessly serving everyone with everything, even cutlery. We previously travelled on this ship in 2008 and the service was exemplary; not the case this time. There were no drink menus so no idea how much anything cost; no books in the library, no ice buckets or condiments until the last 2 days when the restrictions were finally lifted. As we had 5 days at sea it made for very long queues especially to get drinks in the buffet restaurant.
For some reason this seemed to have a knock on effect on other areas and room service was incorrect every time we ordered it. The ordering by tv wasn't working so we completed the cards given to us by the cabin steward. One day we got 4 cooked breakfasts! We tried completing individual cards for each of us but it seemed that no-one could understand the orders. So much food must have been wasted. Even breakfast in the Grand Epernay dining room was chaotic, taking a long time to get served and having to ask 3 or 4 times for juice.
Aside from these issues all the food was good and the menus very varied.
The entertainment as usual left a lot to be desired and bizarrely a lot of the late night entertainment took place in the foyer with the singers and dancers performing on the stairs while the purpose built Sky lounge was devoid of entertainment and therefore empty.
What I love about the Solstice is the Solarium (adults only)and we always found somewhere to sit even if we arrived at midday. We don't go for the napkin folding or trivia but the lectures were really good. The guy who delivered them was witty and made them very interesting.
Nearly all the ports were tendered which seemed to take forever and the organisation once again seemed chaotic. There were many elderly people on the ship so it took ages to get everyone off and on again.
We had a lovely spacious cabin with a large balcony; one of the largest there was and made full use of it.
Internet was very expensive and I think in this modern world this needs to be addressed.
There was no information about the ports of call to be found anywhere and no-one willing to give information if you weren't taking the shore excursions. Even then the information was scant; we booked a snorkeling trip in Kona at $115 each. When we arrived for the excursion we were informed that it wasn't suitable for people with bad backs so had to opt out. This meant we wasted the whole day in Kona and didn't then have the opportunity to arrange anything else as the trip was at 1pm and the last tender was at 4.15pm.
We didn't feel it was worth buying the drinks packages; you would have to be a serious drinker to do so. We didn't find the drinks that expensive; cocktails were $6 so cheaper than wine. You can take 2 bottles of wine aboard to drink in your cabin which we did with no problems. Dinner is at 6pm or 8.30; we had the 8.30 option. Other chose anytime dining but apparently this didn't work too well and you had to prepay tips for this option.
Overall the cruise was lovely but it was compromised by the restrictions.
The ship is well maintained
The best part of the trip was sailing past Mount Kileaus at night. Spectacular!