Absolutely loved this ship. We had balcony room 6216 (starboard side) enjoying amazing views of the Opera House on boarding in Sydney. We would chose this room again. Close to lifts and the Internet room but not noisy at all thanks to a smartly positioned wall and glass door. The bed was huge and extremely comfortable. The bathroom lay-out was superb. Heaps of storage space , a spacious shower and no shower curtain!
All staff seemed happy and welcoming, always asking if you needed anything. Hats off to whoever ensures this facet of the cruise is well taken care of. A credit to them.
All our meals were good and mostly better than good. Loved Bistro on 5, particularly the French crepe made with Grand Marnier sauce.
As soon as we embarked we went to Guest Relations and had our SeaPass punched with a hole to put on our lanyards and booked the 3 Specialty Restaurant Dinner package (which we hadn't been able to access online pre-cruise). Were encouraged to make reservations then and there as time slots were filling fast. We were glad we did.
Silk Harvest was nice but our least favourite of the three but if you are after something more Asian inspired then it's the way to go. We loved Tuscan Grille with our window seat looking directly into the wake of the ship. If you love a good steak this is the place for you. The sides of linguine with lobster medallions and the mushroom ravioli were superb. You need a good appetite here! Unfortunately I had an attack of claustrophobia in Murano (the restaurant is the less airy of the three, with curtained off windows and close walls) ruining that experience (grrr...so unhappy with myself about that!). However we did experience the
lobster being cooked table side and both our mains (which we later ate in our cabin) were beautiful.
The main dining room was always bustling but the staff worked the area well, meals came out quickly and mostly we only had good things to say about the quality. When you think about the number of meals being served it is quite impressive. We had chose anytime or select dining and rarely had to wait to be seated regardless of when we ate.
Always had breakfast (and some lunches) at Oceanview Cafe (buffet). At times it was tricky to find seating but we always did. The food became a little monotonous over time but having said that, there were a lot of options. The Indian at lunch was very tasty and we came to love the soft serve ice-cream. Had burgers twice from the Mast Grill and they good (the fries were very good). The line up can mean quite a wait though.
Enjoyed both the Martini Bar and the Molecular (cocktails only) bar. Only bought coffee a couple of times as we found that the complimentary coffee served wasn't as bad as other ships, and actually quite acceptable.
Loved the choice of outdoor and poolside lounges, day beds and the two hammocks were a wonderfully indulgent touch (if you were quick). Popular places filled quickly and we did wonder at times whether some of the events should have been staged elsewhere so more people could enjoy them. I did not the centre stage area had enough space or seating for people to enjoy the productions on show there. Get there early!
The smaller theatre space was not big enough for events like Bingo. The line-up just to buy tickets was ridiculously long and we didn't even try.
The shows were ok. The actual Solstice Performers were very talented and I would have enjoyed seeing more of them.
Our ports of call were Lifou, Noumea, Isle of Pines, Suva, and Lautoka. I won't say much here as others have described them well elsewhere. Isle of Pines was our stand-out favourite with its natural beauty. We took the local $20 round trip to the Natural Aquarium and loved it. Lifou was beautiful as well and the climb to the church on the peak was well worth it for the amazing views. Our only ship bought excursion was at Lautoka - the Oolala cruise. The staff on board made it worthwhile (it was expensive) with their humour and singing. The food was very good but the snorkelling only average after the delights of the other islands, previously mentioned.
All in all a great cruise and we would pick the Solstice any time.