I am a "special needs" passenger so if you, or travel companion, have allergies or sensitivities - this review may help you. Of course the ports were wonderful but I'm not reviewing them below - only the ship.
Pros: Because of my disability, our wait to board the ship was quick and relatively easy. (We make a point of waiting for the large bulk of passengers to go through and show at the dock an hour or so before last call. The crowds are thinner then and boarding easier. The same is true for the disembarkation. We either leave with the first off or hold back until the end of disembarkation to leave.) We informed the cruise line of my needs before boarding and they were accommodating.
The ship was beautiful. Heavy use of plastics throughout but nice warm décor. Quiet areas were provided and even a trio string quartet and jazz music not just rock and roll. The spa had a quiet area which was accessible to passengers even if you weren’t waiting for a treatment. (You may notice I often mention noise levels – I am very sensitive to noise.)
The dining room was large and noisy – like most dining rooms, but a pleasant atmosphere. We were fortunate to be seating next to a window. A special order chef is responsible for preparing food for folks with allergies or special dietary needs. Celebrity is very good about being careful not to cross-contaminate and will work with you to make sure your food contains only ingredients you specify. The Assistant Maitre’d was very friendly and helpful. And the waiter of the next section over was great. He was entertaining, friendly, very helpful and attentive to the guests in his section. Never had we praised someone else’s waiter so highly. Another nice touch was offering local cuisine. Both kangaroo and crocodile were on the menu at different times. The kangaroo was particularly flavorful.
The cabin was well laid out and accommodating, the bed comfortable. (Full review under Cabin Review) The crew were friendly and accommodating. The ships officers were available for questions or just to meet, greet and socialize. It was great having them so accessible. There were several activities scheduled with the officers which was refreshing to see. The Chef offered cooking classes which we really enjoyed.
Celebrity is very good about not blasting announcements directly into the cabins. So if you are resting you can continue to do so.
This ship not only has a lawn but a glass blowing workshop on the top deck. It was windy and cold at times but the crew handed out wool blankets to everyone - really helpful. One nice touch is the way passengers are greeted with towels, water and fruit punch before re-boarding at ports. I like Celebrity because of those small services that make everything better.
Neutral: There didn’t seem as many activities as I would expect on a ship with 2,000 passengers but we still managed to keep as busy as we wanted. There were several movies available at no charge on our stateroom television. The ship information channel was not always available though.
I learned that we could ask for our cabin to be cleaned with mild detergents verses the standard disinfectants. That could prove helpful on future cruises. (The Housekeeping manager told us this when we mentioned smelling paint solvents in our room – but that was due to the ventilation system sucking in fumes from outside – and it didn’t last but a couple of hours on two different days.)
The food quality in the main dining room was inconsistent. Some dishes were fabulous, others – not so much. But you could always order something else or visit the buffet.
Like most cabins, there was only one outlet in the main room and one in the bathroom. If you have electronics to charge, bring a power strip.
I overheard passengers complain that the pools and Jacuzzi’s weren’t warm enough. I rarely use them but it was obvious that the pools and tubs were frequently empty.
I can understand why other reviews mention the glass elevators. If I had a fear of heights, this would have been a problem - or at least an inconvenience.
The not so Good: We were met with resistance, even rude behavior when we requested to meet with the Executive Chef so that we could personally discuss my serious food allergies. We learned that this was important because we had terrible, life-threatening problems on Royal Caribbean that could have been prevented by speaking directly with the Chef. The Chef was friendly and we worked out a meal plan. Unfortunately, that didn't work out so well. I think they were too careful - not even using salt and pepper to season my steamed vegetables (blah) and stripped down, nearly taste-free entrees. After 5 days of bland, tasteless foods the Assistant Matre’d finally gave the chef who was preparing my meals the boot and brought in another chef. I was happy with the new meals just sorry that it took five days of terrible meals to finally resolve the issue. Some of the dishes were home runs and for that I am most grateful.
By the way, the rude behavior of some of the staff was correctly almost immediately when senior staff were informed. We were impressed by how quickly a snear turned into a smile.
For example, our waiter hardly spoke a word, never smiled and rarely checked in on us. After we praised the waiter nearby for his service (see Pros above) to the Assistant Maitre’d, our waiter clearly made efforts to smile and interact more with all his guests.
The overall ship's design had flaws, for instance: The guest service desk is right next to a band that plays very loud music in the evening so conversing with an agent can involve leaning in and yelling to be heard. Guest Services, the library and other public spaces are flooded with loud music in the evenings because the ship is designed with a central open core. And finally, our cabin (and the suite next door) were subjected to shaking and loud noise from the thrusters. (See Cabin Review)
So bottom line: it took some effort but we finally ironed out the kinks and most important, the crew never stopped trying. So thanks Solstice crew, for making it possible for me to travel.