Embarkation at Sydney was relatively stress-free. We dropped off our bags, then hopped on a ferry and spent several hours at Sydney's Taronga Zoo. By the time we returned it took approx. 30 minutes to get on board the beautiful Solstice. We spent the next few hours investigating this amazing ship and were very impressed. The decor is very classy, not at all glitzy/neon bright like some cruise ships.
Our cabin was very well equipped with plenty of storage for clothing. Bed was comfortable and the bathroom was roomy with a curved glass shower screen. Also, more than enough drawers, shelving etc. for all your personal items. The balcony was big enough to sit comfortably and enjoy the scenery as we sailed by. A big thumbs-up for the cabin/bathroom.
The main dining room, various cafes, buffet and eateries were all serving very tasty meals/snacks. I was very impressed with the overall quality and variety offered. We visited Tuscan Grill twice (first evening and also lunch whilst sailing through the Fjords. Both times were excellent - quality of food (best steak everrrr) service and the position of the restaurant which had extensive wrap-around windows thus allowing a panoramic view from the rear of the ship. Regardless of where we had our meals the staff were always very helpful, courteous and efficient. Very much in keeping with the overall status of the Solstice. Perfect in every way.
Our cabin steward, Filipe and his assistant, made our holiday very memorable. They were always very friendly and our cabin was kept in ship shape order at all times. Many thanks to both of them. Also, during the 12 day cruise we did not find any staff member who was grumpy.... all staff were happy and always greeted you in passing.
The entertainment on board in the main Theatre was generally o.k. There was a wonderful Korean violinist (Jane) who performed one evening and she was sensational. They had a cooking presentation which was also very entertaining and informative. My husband attended the Inside Access Tour which covered all "behind the scenes" areas of the ship (galley, bridge, engine room, crew quarters, backstage theatre etc) and this was followed by a lunch in Tuscan Grill restaurant with wine. The tour lasted about 4 hours and was definitely worth the $150 charge. He thoroughly enjoyed it.
As the weather was a little cool, particularly throughout our cruise around New Zealand, we did spend a lot of time in the Solarium which was always comfortably warm. This area is completely covered and has a heated pool and several spas. The music was always very pleasant and soothing. A beautiful spot to have a snooze. Also, there appeared to be no problems with deck chair hoggers - the pool attendants had placed cards on all the lounge chairs advising chairs could not be "saved" for any longer than 30 minutes. Therefore, we never experienced any problems finding a place to relax and read.
On our last day we were scheduled to disembark at 8am. We therefore went to the Theatre to await our allocated number to be called. As soon as we walked in the staff member asked what was our number and we were informed that it had already been called (this was at approx. 7.20am). So, off we went and we were on the dock with our luggage in hand by 7.30am. Disembarkation took a total of 10 minutes. That has to be a record. However, we met another couple from the ship later that afternoon at the airport and their story was quite different. They went to the theatre about 20 minutes after us and by then the queues were much longer and it took them approx. 1 hour to finally leave the ship.
To sum up...... we had a wonderful and memorable cruise holiday and found everything about Solstice to be of a very high standard. In fact, we could not find fault with any aspect of the ship or its crew. But I suppose if you were a nit-picker and generally complain about silly/petty matters, you will always find fault where ever you are. One passenger was complaining because she didn't have anyone to play cards with and was bemoaning the fact that there were no knitting and/or other crafty activities. She stated that her cruise holiday was the worst she had ever had and was a complete waste of time and money. Well, you get all types on a ship and I believe you make your own fun.