I have sailed many different lines including Norwegian, Disney, Carnival, and most often RCCL. This was our (2 adults, 2 children) first time on Celebrity. Solstice is a beautiful ship and definitely a step up in many regards. However, I found it lacking in entertainment and attitude of the servers and many of the patrons.
This Celebrity ship obviously caters to an older age group. No rock walls, no water slides (although not needed in Alaska), no Sky Course or flow riders. You get croquet and a hot glass show. We found ourselves on sea days just sitting in our rooms or in the library reading because we didn't want to attend art shows or ballroom dancing classes.
We upgraded to a Concierge Class stateroom. It was in an EXCELLENT location (1122) very close to an elevator and the library. Easy up/down to the Ocean view Cafe.
I will break this review down into the Great, Good and Bad categories.
Balcony- This was the biggest balcony we've ever had on a ship. Two lounge chairs you could actually lounge on and 1 nice sized table. Great for the morning in Tracy Arm.
Decor- Really liked the elegance of the ship
Adult Solarium- Very pretty, relaxing, and always able to find a seat. I liked that it had a drink bar available.
Anytime Dining- We never made a reservation and never waited for a table.
Flat screen TV Menu- Loved being able to see our photos onscreen without having to go to the photo center. Also, the ability to read the US news headlines every day.
Ship Design- Laid out very well and easy to find your way around.
Self Debark-Very easy, smooth process. We were at our airport gate by 8:40.
Brent Nixon- He MADE this cruise for me! He is a naturalist and does presentations in the theater about Alaska, Bears, Whales, etc. He has such an excitement about the things he has seen over his lifetime. When we went out for our whale excursion I was able to see/point out things he had said to the kids. I know they were soooo impressed with my knowledge (sarcasm).
Spa- I had a massage and I LOVED that she didn't try to sell me anything afterward. It wasn't even mentioned. So different than what I've seen on other cruise lines.
Comedians- We liked the Sin City Comedy show, but could have done without the burlesque portion. There was really no point to her routine as they didn't tell any jokes about her.
Entertainment- Hit and Miss. The cirque type show was very good, but I saw no point to the guy running around juggling during the middle of it. I wasn't interested in the piano guy so didn't watch that. The others were “ok”.
Dining Room Food- Overall a good experience. I only had 1 or 2 dishes that I didn't like and I never left hungry. The service here was very slow though. Often people who came in after us were served before us.
Stateroom Attendant- He was fine. Not great. We didn't get our bathrobes until we asked for them on the third day of our cruise. He said they were being “washed”. I could find no real value in being concierge and would never book it if I had to pay for it.
Glass Show-This was a good show. I think I was a little jaded because I saw a great show in Dearborn last summer.
Ocean view Cafe- The layout of this place is the WORST. The many different stations made it hard to find what you wanted and people wouldn't form a line, they would just cut in and out. I hated it. The servers acted like you were putting them out. I don't mean the crew patrolling the tables, I mean the ones cooking. The pizza guy, the stir-fry cook, and the made-to-order omelet stations all acted like they were annoyed to be there. Lines were long.
No self serve ice cream- I know this is probably a minor annoyance to some people, but I have grown accustomed to it on other cruises and didn't like having to stand in a line of 20 people to get ice cream, thus I only ate it once, which was probably better for my waistline anyway.
Patrons- The cruise director said that of the 2800 people on board that 2000 were Americans. Well, to me, those 2000 were completely overshadowed by 2 nationalities (which I won't name) who were the rudest people I have ever encountered. I'm sure there must have been some very nice people amongst them, but they would push onto a very crowded elevator and basically bulldoze their way through to get their entire group on. They would arrive at the theater shows anywhere from 15-30 minutes late and walk up to the very front to get a seat. We were once the first in line before the dinner seating started and just as they opened the door this large group rushed forward to get in front of us. It was just amazing. Forget trying to say anything to them because they didn't understand, or at least pretended not to. By FAR, they were the worst part of the cruise, and there was just instance after instance -over and over.
Juneau Tendering-Really, really bad!! We were in line 20 minutes early to get tendering tickets. At 3:00 they were tendering #6. We were #12. I had to go to guest services and it took a lot of complaining before she got us on a sooner tender. I just knew we were going to miss the excursion we paid $2000 for.
Overall, I enjoyed this cruise, but I doesn't rank in my top 5 or anything. I probably won't sail Celebrity again until I am about 20 years older.
I wanted to mention a few excursions that I enjoyed.
In Ketchikan we watched the lumberjack show. We didn't book through the ship, just walked up and purchased our tickets. Its a little cheesy, but it is good for kids and made us laugh.
We also booked a helicopter tour/dog mushing on our own in Juneau. This was the highlight of our trip. Solstice also has an excursion to do this, but we paid $100 less and had our own van, whereas they came on a bus after us.
Last, we did the whale watching tour through the ship in Victoria. It was AMAZING. We saw tons of whales and had a great time. However, they told us 3 days before that they had taken a tour and didn't see any, so we feel very lucky.