This was our third cruise with Celebrity and our second on Solstice. This was also the first season in Alaska for a "Solstice Class" ship for the cruise line.
Even though there was a fair amount of families on this cruise,many more than our Mediterranean cruise last year, Celebrity is geared more for adults than children. No pool slides, rock climbing walls, zip lines,etc. If I was considering a cruise with children, my sense is that another cruise line may be a better pick.
The Solstice was extremely clean, had a very friendly crew that work very hard to ensure you have the best experience possible. Brent Nixon as others have commented, did a great job in presenting Alaskan wildlife. He is not to be missed if you are going this season.
Mario our room steward was also wonderful and serviced our requests promptly and always with a smile.
We elected the specialty restaurant package and added an additional night at the Murano. Don't miss an opportunity to eat at the Murano at least once.In fact, it is suggested that you make reservations BEFORE the cruise,since they sell out that restaurant quickly, especially days at sea. But,we would not do the package again. Main reason was that the Tuscan Grille, where we had dinner twice, fell far short as far as food quality. The soup and salad courses were very good. But after that, pasta and meat course was terrible. Too bad, the Tuscan Grille is situated on the rear of the ship with floor to ceiling windows and has the best location of all three specialty restaurants. Our waiter on the first evening in Tuscan Grille was not very experienced, or just was having a bad night. He had a number of tables and had to do it all. No busboys to be seen. Had to ask for water refills and he served us the 3rd and 4th course at the same time. He also told us that the steaks would be cooked perfectly even though they would look like they were well done. Well,they were well done and the filet that my wife ordered was tasteless and meat quality was well below expectations. This is supposed to be an Italian Steak House. Pass on this one.
The food and service in the main dining room is much better in all ways.
The Silk Harvest had excellent service and the food was good, but not great. We ate there twice also and did not have regrets, but it is not a must-do.
We did three excursions. One through celebrity, one through the internet with a private company and one we booked when we got off the ship. In Ketchikan we did the sea plane to Misty Fjords with celebrity. The pilot "Mike" with Promech Air didn't speak during entire trip except when we landed at Misty Fjords. He pointed to the shore line and said there was a bear there earlier in the day. That was it. The rest of the flight was a limited pre-recorded narration and the rest music. As we were returning back to the place of origination, the recording started all over introducing us to the flight. This went on for about five minutes before "Mike" turned it off. We landed, no thank you, no have a nice day, nothing. Bizzare!!
After cruising the Endicott Arm (Plan B)earlier in the day (Tracy Arm had too much floating ice)we booked a tour once we got off the ship with Dolphin Tours and went whale watching. The BEST day of the cruise and the best excursion. We spent serveral hours watching humpbacks bubble feeding. The crew were outstanding. Look for Dolphin Tours when you disembark and book it. I hope your experience is as magical as ours was.
We did the White Pass train in Skagway. It was interesting and time well spent.
Now for Alaska in general. Weather can be iffy and you have to be prepared for that. Rain, cloudy days, fog, some sun (maybe), 50's to 70 degrees, and anything in between.
Wild Life!! The is not the discovery channel. Besides the humpbacks, we saw dolphins and 2 bald eagles with binoculars. No bears, no caribou, no orcas, no moose. Set your expectations or you may be disappointed.
I hope this is helpful to all that are considering The Solstice and Alaska for their vacation.