My family and I went on the Celebrity Solstice on 7/12/13 from Seattle. So, I was a little apprehensive about Celebrity b/c it's sort of designed for an older crowd and the 40's to 50's crowd was the norm and who the ship seemed designed for overall. Not too many 30-something's. Seemed like teens did not have a lot of activities. Kids Club was great if the kids went but again, not like Disney/Norwegian/Carnival. But, we made it work. Let's start with Seattle.
Seattle is a wonderful city and we wish we had more time there - I'd reccommend going a few days early or staying after. Marriot Renaissance Hotel was so nice and walkable to major attractions. The waterfront was great to walk around and The Crab Pot had great food!
Port and Embarkation/A first look at the buffet:
Port was easy to get to and easy to navigate. Embarkation was simple - got there around 1230 and due to "suite status" our party of 9 (including those not in suites) were checked in in less than 20 minutes. We went up to the buffet right away - it was very busy and hard to find a table because that's where everyone headed -- so first impression of buffet was a little "uh-oh" but honestly, other than typical busy times (right before docking at port or right smack in typical eating hours - 1230 for lunch, 6 pm for dinner) it was never a big deal to get a table. The buffet itself had so many options including - fresh pasta station, omelette station, grill (burgers, chicken, fish), noodle stir fry station - all made to order. Pizza was pretty much always there as was fresh fruit. Plenty of breakfast carbs as well as specialty eggs each day. Lunch was different each day but a salad and make your own sandwich station along with above MTO stations were always there. Plenty of desserts. Dinner was similiar to lunch with a "theme" each night. The only other difficulty at the buffet was finding a waiter for sodas as they have different positions. A little annoyance but not a big deal (if you have a soda card they will typically bring you 2 at a time which helped.) Overall, great food and very clean.
We had a sky suite on the aft side. It was great. Plenty of space and a nice balcony with chairs that lounged and a foot rest. Full bathroom with tub was a bonus. Room was immaculate, plenty of storage and a real comfortable couch. Worth the cost of suite. Although I liked aft and have enjoyed it in the past, for Alaska with so much scenery (and b/c it's a LONG walk to the aft!) I might have chosen a side view cabin closer to midship. My parents had an S1 sky suite 7307 which was a great corner room with a balcony going after and to the side, a great amount of space and window in addition to huge sliding doors. Siblings had oceanview cabins which we had done "x guarantee" for free upgrades. Rooms were more spacious than we expected and balconies were great ..for 2. As a side note, one family was 2 adults and their 18 month old - with pack and play and all the baby gear not much extra space was available...a thought for families who may spend large amount of time in cabins. I don't see 4 people being comfortable in that cabin...unless it's only to sleep. Overall, quality of furnishings and set up was great.
Spoke about buffet already. Main dining room is so pretty, chairs are plush and comfortable. Food was delicious. Some portions (like fish) were small but you can always get more. They have an "all the time" menu which is available each night with salmon, chicken, steak and a pasta. Then there are 6 or so entrees each night. Some were "fancy" with sauces or things you don't eat every day. A lot of people like that - we are boring and like basic food so it was a little different for us but all worked out. We didn't try bfast or lunch in main dining room so I can't comment. DO NOT MISS the brunch buffet in the main dining room! A total highlight!!!!!!
Specialty - only went to Italian restaurant - Tuscan Grille - worth every penny of $35pp charge. Murano the french restaurant was $45 pp and not our tastes so we didn't go. Silk harvest, asian - looked good, small menu. Again decided not worth the $25pp charge. The Bistro on Five was $5. Paninis were delicious but service was not great at all. The manager actually apologized for how poor service was. We did not try Blu. Outside by the pool, there is the AquaSpa cafe full of fresh, more healthy foods for lunch and dinner. Only fees for shakes and yogurt smoothies. Food was included.
There were certainly plenty! We only tried the martini bar (not big drinkers) but overall, prices were reasonable for drinks throughout the ship ($5 for beers, $6 for wine +gratuity). We tried a martini flight which was $16 for 6 little martinis which a few of us shared and was great!
On the ship:
Totally gorgeous, clean and so big you barely had enough time to see everything. I wish I had more time to spend on the "lawn" as it was great. Liked the outdoor track (only 1/8 of a mile though), pool was great, both indoor and out with cushioned chairs, hammocks and double beds with "tents" over them. No extra charges for any of that. Shops were upscale but they did have a celebrity shop with basics and snacks. Lots of sales in the shops. Casino was a good size. Slots with all different denominations, tables and also video poker tables. We were worried it wouldn't be open much but as long as you were 3 miles out of land, it was open. I really can't say anything bad about the ship. 95% of the staff were helpful, again it was very clean and to me, this was a luxury line for sure.
Fitness center was nice but busy. Some classes had a charge of $12 and if you wanted them, you need to sign up the first day as they only take 15 people. Class studio was very small. Non-fee classes also got busy right away so go early. If you really want a work out, plan it on off times or you will be waiting for equipment. As a funny side note, the weights are in kilograms not pounds so don't worry, you haven't lost all your muscle mass! If you love Zumba, it was twice a day every day which was great. Remember this is a cruise so there's some teaching and a little slower pace so for those who go regularly it is a change.
Indoor and outdoor were very nice. Indoor is heated. Outdoor is not but they put hot steam in so it was totally okay to swim in. There were about 6 hot tubs also although there were a lot of kids in them. Indoor pool also had family swim hour twice a day which would definitely be nice if the weather is too cold for outside. Again, nice lounge chairs, big cushions and plenty of space (maybe b/c we were in Alaska not the caribbean). Two bars at the pool and a grill.
Weather and Dress Code:
Well, we were VERY lucky the whole time. We had maybe a few hours of rain and that was late in the day. Our temps went up to 80 degrees. No rain at any ports. On the ship, anything seemed to go for clothing - there were people in shorts and tanks to winter coats and hats...all at the same time! Casual dress on board mostly - leggings, capris, shorts. Make sure you have layers and a jacket or sweatshirt as it was windy on board especially if you went up to the lawn club. Also, when you cruise through the fjord in the early morning, gloves and layers were a good thing. It was chilly! Shoe wise -- I spent most of the week in sandals and wasn't really cold - I brought sneakers and also Merrel shoes that had a hiking bottom but were like water shoes and came in handy. I did not bring boots or feel I needed them..sneakers were fine unless you are doing major hiking or something. Dining room did require pants for the men each night although jeans are totally fine. Most men wore button down shirts or polo shirts to dinner. No jackets needed except formal night. Formal night was nice and there were basic sundresses that were not formal, all the way up to gowns and tuxes. I reccommend the second formal dinner (if you choose to go to one instead of both) as they have lobster and beef wellington! The temperature on the ship inside is probably 65-70 at any given time and there was definitely air conditioning so a light sweater or cardigan is a good idea. More on the weather in port reviews.
We only went to the Broadway and the Cirque de Solei show. Both were very good. Again, seats were so comfortable, drinks were served if you wanted them. Get there early as they fill up. If you have a suite, you get priority seating or reserved seating but you need to be there when they tell you or they release the seats.
I'm not sure what else to tell you about. We loved our cruise, had great weather and fully enjoyed ourselves. Feel free to message with questions.