Pre/Post Hotel- We did this on our own and stayed at the Hotel d'Inglaterra. It was a block or two from the Spanish steps. The rate included breakfast. I highly recommend this hotel.
Embarkation/De- What a breeze! We were on the ship no more than 15 minutes after we arrived at the port. The luggage was outside of our room by the time the rooms were open to guests. We didn't leave the ship until after 9am. I thought since this was the first time in port, there might be small issues but the process was flawless, beginning to end.
Public Rooms- So much has been stated before that I won't repeat all of it. The ship is beautiful.
Cabin- The SS1 is very large. Contrary to earlier posts, there is no soot problem in the aft of the ship. There was plenty of closet space for us, and we packed a lotenough clothes, including formal wear for the cruise and an additonal week in Europe. I love the rain shower in the bathroom. Though the toiletries are a private label (not name brand) they are high quality. Our cabin steward and assistant were excellent. Both were very visible and friendly. Two things I will point out: I miss the water pitchers that were refilled twice a day. I don't know if this was just missed both times I have been on Solstice or if this was eliminated. The second item also was the same on both sailings: I rarely saw the Butler. Honestly, this is barely worth noting. However, I believe this is because of the location of these suites. I believe there are only 2 per floor on several decks.
Fitness/Recreation- Solstice offers a large gym. The spa pricing is comparable to other cruises we have been on. I repeated the Thai Pulstice Massage that I loved previously. If anyone is on in the near future, ask for Lazslo. He was by far the best therapist I have had. I only used the sauna and Persian Gardens a few times and really enjoyed them both.
Dining- This is always subjective. However, if anyone states they couldn't find anything to eat that they liked on this ship, they are just too hard to please. The buffet area had fantastic food and an endless variety. The hamburgers on the pool deck....well, let's just say I ate too many of them. My sister enjoyed Egg Benedict in the many forms they were offered. We ate in the MDR and found the food to be quite good. The first day, the service was quite slow. The second day it was very fast. We were told later that the kitchen was rolling out a brand new menu on this cruise.
Murano- Still great! Yes, there are changes and there is less table-side presentations. The Goat Cheese Soufflee is back. It is not 100% the same in presentation (I prefered this one to the previous) but the taste is still the same one I have loved. Service was top notch.
Tuscan Grille- My new favorite specialty restaurant. My sister is a "calamare freak" and loved these. I had my new favorite appetizerCrab and Cheese with Roasted Corn. I am hungry just thinking about it. The service was very friendly and attentive, the view was amazing, and the food matched.
Entertainment- As other have said, there were many performers throughout the ship. We only saw 3 main shows and liked them all. My favorite was the Cirque du Soleil type show. Oceans Four was also great. There was plenty to do at night, and we managed to stay up late most nights as the bars were busy with other passengers.
Service- This is where X and Solstice stand out. I never imagined my previous cruises could be surpassed but they were. It was a treat to see so many of my favorite staff on board. It was almost like a reunion of sorts. In fact, we ran into our dining room waiter from 1.5 years ago and he came and said hi and asked if we still drank decaf after dinner. I don't know how the Celebrity staff remembers such thingsthis is not the first time something like this has happened. He had just boarded in Istanbul and since a portion of our table asked to be moved to early seating, we asked to be moved to his section. The management of this ship is on the ball. They were present everywhere we went. From the officers to the crew, we were greeted with smiles, by our names, and always asked how our cruise was and if anything could be done for us. The Captain of the ship is full of charm and is very funny! Be sure to go to the Welcome Toast!
Shore Excurions- See below for details.
There were huge crowds for the the ship shore excursions and I thought Solstice did a great job of this. We met in the theater and the process, though long at times was well organized. The company that X uses to handle all of the tours in both Ephesus and Istanbul was great. We decided to make a few changes to the previously purchased tickets, and the staff at the SE Desk as well as the SE Mgr and On Board Revenue Mgr took great time with us to assist us in making our selections.
Overall- A fantastic cruise that will be hard to top. We met some great people on board that we will continue to keep in touch with. Solstice was spotless and the ship looked as new as when I was on the first cruise. The staff really cares and goes out of their way. Solstice has raised the bar.