BACKGROUND INFORMATION: This was my 17th cruise and DH 13th cruise. 4th on Celebrity. Have also sailed Princess 1 time, and Carnival 12 times. DH (55) and I (52) were celebrating our 34th wedding anniversary on the cruise.
PRE-CRUISE: We flew into FLL 1 day early arriving on 4/18, with the ship sailing on 4/19, Sunday. We stayed at the Springhill Suites, a Marriott property (actual address is Dania Beach, FL) that has free shuttle service from airport to hotel and free shuttle service in the morning to the port. The hotel is very nice, every room is a suite. Very clean, with room for all those pieces of luggage you have for cruising. They have a free full breakfast from 6:30 am to 10:30 am the morning before you leave for the port. This is very organized and there is something for everyone. They shuttle people in 30-minute time frames. You tell them what time you want to go the evening you check in. This went flawlessly and was at the port at 11:00 a.m.
Embarkation went very quickly. We are Elite Captain Club members, so we were the first group on the ship. Went directly to a waiting agent and within two minutes had our sea passes and were directed on board. Up the gangway, and handed a glass of champagne! Let the party begin!!!
We headed to our balcony cabin to leave off our carry on luggage, as cabins wouldn't be ready until 1 p.m. They let us leave our bags inside. Then headed to spa to make appointments for our treatments for the entire cruise. This took less than 10 minutes. Very organized. Then we went to the see the maitre d' to make reservations for the Tuscan Grill. We then went to the dining area to see where our dining table was located in the dining room. We had a table for 10, which we were very pleased with.
CABIN INFO - We had the standard balcony cabin. Our bed was positioned closest to the closet, with couch by the sliding balcony doors. Plenty of room for two people, however it would be a tight fit if you had 3 or 4 people in this size cabin. Storage was a little less than we are used to on this ship. 15 nights is a long cruise, and storage could have been provided better for these ships that are designed to travel longer itineraries. We made do. They have added storage above the bed with lift doors. However I am only 5"6" and could only access these from the side. DH had to put stuff up and get stuff down. Not enough drawer space to suit me either. Seems there was much more on the other Celebrity ships, but we made do. Nice new design in bathroom area. Glass doors on shower in a dome style closure, for maximum room. Added footrest for shaving legs as well... nice touch. Water pressure was excellent and water temp awesome! New design for the sinks as well... different but I got used to it. Lots of bathroom storage, which was nice. Made use of every shelf and cubby. Toilet paper holder useless.... Just kept paper on counter. Nice desk area. I took the tray from the bathroom and put it at the mirror with all my makeup in it. Was nice to sit and get ready for your day or evening there, as I would open the sliding door and enjoy listening to the ocean. Let me add that the bed was SO comfortable. It was heaven to sleep in!!! King size with plenty of room for both DH and myself. The couch is another story. Not comfortable to sit on at all! Useless in my opinion, however it did become a storage area for backpack, jackets, packages, misc. overload area! Nice touch with the flat screen TV's. Nice to have a refrigerator in the room as well. Came in handy for those late night cocktail cravings!! The light system is a challenge. We still couldn't figure out which one to push to have them work correctly. A little frustrating at times, especially nighttime for potty breaks... usually ended up turning all on, when you didn't want to! But made do... they should leave instructions on how to operate them! LOL! Closet area small and difficult to get to with bed so close. Not very deep as well. My DH tux shoulder width was wider than the depth of closet. Poor design. Safe is low, but could sit on bed to operate it. Cozy overall but the design dept. should have given this area a little more thought, in my opinion. Cabin steward could have been a bit more attentive. Always needed ice, he never replaced my purchased soda in refrigerator, always had to call him for another one. Didn't see him much.
DINING - We had late dining at 8:30 pm. We have always preferred late seating, as it really does allow for a full day of relaxing or any activities you want to do. We had a table for 10 to start with. One huge surprise was that our waiter was a waiter we had on the Infinity back in 2005! We were so excited to see him. He is excellent, and we had the best table ever! We were able to add 2 more people to our table making it a table for 12, as they used armless chairs from the cafe to accommodate us! This was awesome. The maitre d' was awesome to arrange with for us. Table 414 will forever be the best table in the dining room!! We had so much fun and met such nice people. Our waiter brought extra veggies every night. Spinach, green beans, broccoli, and asparagus. He catered to our every need. His personality was what made this such an enjoyable time. Food was excellent. The variety was exceptional. Five stars for sure!!
Breakfast was good also in the Oceanview buffet. Great choices for lunch, with a great salad bar and sandwich station, as well as a stir fry, Mexican station and grill station every day. Also pizza and pasta available every day. The design of the Cafe is very nice, as you don't have long wait lines anywhere, do to the many stations they have. Food choice was excellent. Kept very clean and fresh.
FORMAL NIGHTS: More than usual, on this ship, which I believe was loaded with Celebrity veterans, people dressed appropriately on formal nights. Best dressed ship ever!! Glad to see that Celebrity enforces the formal evenings, as other lines do not.
CAFE AL BACCIO- Charming and a nice location. Had a latte daily and enjoyed the area of sitting and quiet reading.
TUSCAN GRILLE - we ate here on Thursday evening the first week of our sailing. It was just okay. Our reservations were at 6:30 pm, and there were not a lot of people there at this time. The wait staff was good, however they could have given us a little more privacy. They kept socializing with us, and we were looking forward to enjoying each other, not chatting with them. My DH had the filet mignon, which was totally overcooked. I had the lamb, which was okay. We could have sent it back, but then I would be eating with out him, and then watching him eat when his steak returned. So we just made do. One nice touch was we asked them to have our picture taken, and they called and had a photographer come up to take our picture. That was nice as we choose one of the picture she took to bring home. We sat at the back of restaurant, overlooking the ocean and the wake of the ship. Beautiful sunset... too bad we shared it with our waiter and not ourselves! LOL! He just won't take a hint!
PORT & SHORE EXCURSIONS - I had booked all our excursions prior to sailing, online. We loved all of them. This was our first crossing so there was a lot to see and do. We called this cruise our "Information Overload" cruise! Amazed at all the places we visited. We enjoy booking with Celebrity for our tours, as it ensures you making it back on the ship by the necessary time frames.
POOL AREAS - We enjoyed the covered pool area, as it was windy and cold crossing the Atlantic. This area was never really that crowded and we enjoyed swimming laps and just relaxing poolside. It would have been nice to see some drink servers come by occasionally, but never did see any.
PUBLIC AREAS - The Solstice quickly became our favorite ship. We felt the public areas were very well appointed and never felt crowded. We especially liked the Sunset bar and the Oceanview bar at the back of the ship. We found these areas to be very nice for late night meetings.
CASINO: Very nice but nothing really different than other ship casinos. Larger than most with plenty of room to walk around when people are sitting and playing slot machines.
ENTERTAINMENT - only made it to one show, the cirque type show, and while interesting, not really my cup of tea. The celebrity orchestra did do a couple of big band type shows during cocktail hour and they were great, as was the a cappella group and the string group.
DISEMBARKATION - Very smooth. No real crowds while waiting to leave, and easy to find luggage. Sailed through customs to a waiting limo, and off we went to Rome, for 3 additional days.
SUMMARY - This was a great cruise on a very beautiful ship. We had read quite a number of reviews that indicated finding lounge chairs on deck would be an issue as well, and we just never had any issues with that. Can't wait to sail Celebrity and the Solstice again! If you are considering which ship to sail.... Think no longer... the choice should be the Solstice.... She is a beauty!!! Looking forward to her on another destination!