This was our fourth Alaskan cruise. Our first Alaskan experience was on the Infinity in 2008, followed by two Princess cruises (on the Golden Princess) and now the Solstice. This was our third time on the Solstice.
In the review I am not going to cover the major areas of interest to most cruisers.
We arrived at the Pier at 12:00 and were in on the ship by 12:30. The announcement was made at 12:50 that rooms were ready. A great start
One piece of luggage went missing, but thanks to Gavin at Guest Relations it was found, having been delivered to the wrong stateroom (crisis averted)
First night dinner/Tuscan Lounge
I went into greater detail regarding this experience in an earlier post so will not rehash it in great detail. We were early diners on a very slow night in the restaurant. Great table by the window, yet it took close to 15 minutes for anyone to appear at our table. Service was terrible and food was acceptable---nothing spectacular.
Our first stop at the Martini bar was a disappointment. The frosting system on the bar is broken, with bartenders using a standard joke that it was not working because of "global warming". X needs to get this fixed ASAP. Part of the cache of the martini bar is the frost on the bar. Also,the bartenders seemed more engaged with each other at times than with the guests.
We decided to try the Passport bar (Level 3) and that became our "Bar of Choice" for the remainder of the cruise. Jing and Elena were the bartenders and were both great and much fun to be around. It was also nice because the volume level of the martini bar has risen to a level where at time it is hard to carry on a conversation. The Passport bar was a perfect place to end the day or for a quick drink before dinner, thanks to Jing and Elena.
Dining in blu was excellent, as we have come to expect from past AQ experiences. There was never a wait for a table and the service was efficient, although a few times it seemed as though they were short a few assistant servers. On our last S class cruise in AQ, I recall Blu serving sorbet between courses. On this sailing they only offered it once; on the second formal night. I was sad to see this change.
Breakfast in Blu is a great perk for AQ passengers. I appreciate being able to order off of a menu and avoid the feeding frenzy in the OceanView cafe during breakfast hours.
Our stateroom 1623 was in a great location and very quiet. I highly recommend this location. Our stateroom attendant was good, but not overly visible. You do have to ask for a pillow menu (One of the AQ perks) and room service door hangers are in short supply.
Naturalist on Board
Brent Nixon was the naturalist on board. He was great. His shows were a great success and his narration during our Tracy Arm Fjord voyage was informative and at times very moving. Unfortunately, whenever he told us to enjoy the silence for a few minutes and went offline, X would turn on their techno/rock/etc., music which sort of ruin the aura of solitude. (Brent said this should not have happened and will see that staff knows that playing loud music in the Fjord is prohibited).
I really liked our cruise director, Patti Honacki. She was very visible and always accessible to guests after each show. She ranks right up there as among the best we have experienced.
X has planned Zumba classes outside of the theatre in the open area by the entrance to the shops and casino. A great place, yet the sound is so loud and interfered with two shows going on in the theatre.
Tendering in Juneau:
Some guests seem to think that the front line staff have created the situation caused by tendering and proceeded to be incredibly rude. While the kinks are still being worked out of the process, I hope that passengers will be more cooperative and not get to the point where they are verbally abusing the staff.
Celebrity has dumbed down their cruises by bringing back Park West Auctions and their hyperactive auctioneers and his assistants. They have taken over large spaces of ship "real estate" and have made the sky lounge unusable for simply relaxing on many days throughout the cruise.
Overall, staff was friendly. The ten star friendliness award goes to Jing in the Passport bar and Sasha in Bistro on Five. Bar staff seemed lacking at times, and bars would run out of certain items.
Bistro on Five
Don't miss it. A great way to have an unhurried meal with great service.
Aqua Spa Cafe
X needs to do something about this. There are far too few tables for guests in this area.
Entertainment was very good. I have an aversion to acapella groups, so was not impressed with them (personal preference).
Seemed like a repeat of the same thing every day. Not bad...just not great.
Disembarkation was a breeze. Very well handled.
Will I cruise Solstice again.. Sure.. It's a great ship and the few kinks are nothing to keep me from a return trip