This was a 50th anniversary cruise my sister arranged for many in our family, there were about 14 who went. This was the first time for us on a ship this size. We have sailed Celebrity (Millennium class) several times as well as others (RCL, Cunard, Viking, Princess) so was waiting to see how a ship crew could handle 2800 passengers.
Embarkation in Seattle was crowded but efficient, no worse or better than others. The ship is very large and the buffet area on the top deck was the largest I've ever seen, yet at peak times (Noon), it was swarming with people and you could not always find seating for a group. We had breakfast in the dining room a couple of times and was surprised to see there was a queue at the door to wait for a table, instead of just walking in and being shown a table or finding one on your own. The wait one time was 10 minutes---unacceptable---and will make me think twice before choosing a ship this size again.
The food in the dining room was very good. I'm always surprised to see reviews slamming the food on some cruise ships we've been on....I mean, are they expecting Michelin 3 Star venues????? The food was good enough that we weren't tempted to do an "upcharge" restaurant (3 available), except that we had a free coupon to do one so we tried the French one, Murano---a strange name for a French restaurant named after the famous glass blowing island next to Venice. The restaurant had great and intimate atmosphere, however, the "turf" of my "surf and turf" was over cooked (med-well, instead of rare). I don't usually complain in restaurants so as to not upset my other eating companions, but I should have.
The food in the buffet area was plentiful and very good. The tuna, shrimp and egg salad entries in the sandwich area were DEVINE---everyone went back for more. Particularly nice was sushi at 6pm which we enjoyed as an appetizer before dinner.
Our Aquaclass room (2150) on Deck 12 facing the rear of the ship was large, clean and well appointed, with one caveat: it is directly below the outdoor eating area of the buffet and if you are a late sleeper (or trying to), you will be disturbed by loud scraping of tables and chairs across the wooden deck above you. I can't believe the designers didn't foresee this for these upscale cabins. It continued throughout the day but fortunately ended by bed time. Be warned.
Staff was excellent and we tipped our cabin steward (who greeted us by name always), butler and two waiters extra for their service. We did have pre-paid gratuities, however we felt the service deserved more.
The only other slight negative was the entertainment. It was lame at times. On a ship this size, one would expect Broadway productions or near-so as we have become accustomed to on smaller ships. The "singing and dancing" was abbreviated and not exceptional. One exception was the comedian(s), they kept us laughing for the entire time during their two shows, however by the second nite, the word had spread and it was STANDING ROOM ONLY (I stood for the entire hour and a half show) which is UNACCEPTABLE. The comedy shows were held in a smaller venue and could not accommodate the crowds. The juggler act was also excellent, as reported by those who saw it.
Would I go on Solstice again....hmmmm, I'd have to think about it. My travel agent is already planning another cruise for November for our group on the Millennium and I think that's more my speed and am looking forward to itl