I read the reviews about Solstice religiously before we left. Also, my parents who are Elite members on Celebrity sailed the Solstice in December and were extremely disappointed. So my husband and I boarded the ship with great anticipation-would we be disappointed as well?
The answer is NO! We absolutely loved the ship. Yes, it has a more modern flair to it than other Celebrity ships but we didn't mind. We loved the layout of the ship, it was so easy to get around. We could tell that Celebrity is definitely attempting to attract a younger passenger demographic and it looks like it is working. Also, even though the ship was full (we overheard when we checked in), we rarely if ever founded crowded places. The Martini bar was very busy and we do wish they'd open the martini bar earlier in the day as it is a fun stop when walking around the ship.
The Martini Bar and Quasar lounge were new and different and very enjoyable. We loved the lawn and spent a lot of time there after we'd return to the ship from port. It was a very relaxing place to be. We were concerned about a little Italian bird that seemed to have found its way to the grass. It kept looking for worms but it wasn't that kind of lawn! We think the bird found its way off the ship in Greece and found real food.
We also watched the glass blowing show which was very interesting. They truly have professionals blowing and crafting the glass. One of the guys used to work for Waterford in Ireland! Great talent abound at this show and it's not to be missed!
Our cabin was bigger than Millennium class ships by about 3 ft and boy, the 3 ft made the room seem so much bigger! Our cabin was 7161 and our balcony was at an angle and maybe a tad larger than others because of the angle. Our bed was closer to the balcony instead of closer to the door which I didn't think I'd like but both my husband and I loved it. It was wonderful to be able to just turn our heads and see the ocean. There was plenty of storage space for a 10 day cruise and I mean it when I say that. No matter how hard we try, we always seem to pack too much but we found a place for everything. Don't forget about the storage above the bed! Our only complaint about our cabin was the safe. Only a 2 year old would find it at the right height. It was very low to the ground and we had to get on our hands and knees and really stick our heads in the safe to find what we needed. I did forward this feedback to Celebrity that they should really raise the safe height to accommodate that of an average size adult on future Solstice class ships.
The shows were very modern in the Solstice Theater and we enjoyed all of them. Forgive me as I already forgot her name, but the female impersonator was excellent in her impersonations and the comedian (first name Troy) was absolutely hilarious and clean.
Our main complaint and we echo the sentiment of many others is the food. In the Grand Epernay, the food was just pathetic and so unlike the other Celebrity ships we've sailed. Dining on other Celebrity ships was an event that we always looked forward to every evening and it was not to be missed. We opted out of eating in the MDR several nights and had no regrets. We checked the menu and there wasn't anything on it what we wanted so missing dinner in the MDR was not a problem. New menu options: meatloaf and spaghetti. PLEASE! We are cruising to try new and different food that is a luxury to eat; NOT something we can easily make at home. Our waiter did tell us that due to the larger size of Solstice, it just wouldn't be possible to have the same process in the galley. I understand his point but the waiters are still delivering some sort of food and the quality in the MDR on the Solstice really, really needs to improve. Being CC members, we toured the galley and it is definitely the biggest galley we've toured. I think if Solstice makes it a priority, they can improve the quality of their food options with just a little effort.
Speaking of food, the buffet food was delicious. We ate there for breakfast, lunch, and dinner at various times during our cruise. We always felt there were enough options that we didn't even repeat our choices. Maybe our expectations were less for the buffet but we were always satisfied with the food we chose. It was tasty and the right temperature. We also fell in love with their sushi which they begin to serve at 6 p.m. every night. If you love sushi, don't miss it!
We also ate at the burger/nacho/taco bar near by the pool deck and their food was also good.
We tried all 3 of the specialty restaurants and here are our thoughts:
Silk Harvest-every bite was delicious. We misunderstood our sushi order though. We chose 2 different kinds of sushi and our waiter asked if we wanted 4, 6, or 8. We chose 8 because we thought that meant we'd get 4 of each kind but we received 8 of each kind. We also ordered 3 large entrees but a smaller portion. Our waiter kept saying he could bring us more but the portions were so big, we couldn't possibly finish any of them. The food there was decadent and the "Asian fusion" Solstice is attempting works well. My only complaint are the ants painted on the floor as you walk towards all of the specialty restaurants. It always gave me the willies as I despise bugs and it wasn't appetizing to walk through EVER. Please get rid of those ants Solstice.
Tuscan Grille-exceptional steaks. I had the filet mignon, my husband had a ribeye. Every bite was mouth watering and we savored every moment of our meal there. From salad to dessert, each morsel was perfectly prepared. If we sail a Solstice ship again, we will make sure we have reservations here!
Murano-things didn't start off great here. I called CC to make reservations here before we boarded. They said due to system issues, look for confirmation in our cabin once we board. We received that confirmation for an 8 p.m. dinner time. The night before our dinner in Murano, we received a confirmation card for 7:30 p.m. We really wanted to see the comedian Troy whom I mentioned earlier and thought we could catch most of his act beginning at 7:15. So I called to see why our reservation changed and there wasn't an explanation and the 8 p.m. time was full. So we went at 7:30 and asked our waiter to rush the service because we wanted to catch Troy at 9 p.m. then. Our waiter did his best to serve us quickly and I imagine we would have enjoyed our experience more if we gave the experience the time it deserved. However, since they messed up our reservation, we didn't have much choice. Every menu item in Murano is very rich. We both enjoyed a salad and then a Cappucino Mushroom soup which really was to die for. They say have a soup or salad because of how rich every course is but the choices looked so good, we had both. We ordered filet mignon and it was prepared table side. However, the gravy/sauce they used gave the filet a beef stew flavor and texture. Don't mess with filet mignon Murano, it's the best piece of beef one can have all on its own. I personally preferred the filet mignon in Tuscan Grille much more. I think our waiter overhead me making the same comment to my husband and he offered me another entree but time was of the essence and I couldn't possibly have eaten another entree.
The service and attentiveness of the staff in all of the specialty restaurants was outstanding. Our waiter in MDR was extraordinary as well. He didn't prepare food, just delivered it.
Shore excursions: they have a new process to have you meet in a common area, usually the Solstice theater. You are given a number for your bus that you are to wear and you wait for the staff to call the number and then proceed off the ship to meet your bus. We really liked this process as it seems less congested then getting off the ship and they trying to find your shore excursion guide.
Lastly, I want to add a note about embarkation and disembarkation. Embarkation was chaotic. We were on one of several buses that came directly from the airport to Solstice. We were told we had to sit down and not stand anywhere (who wants to sit after being on a plane for 9 + hours?) and wait for our number to be called. Meanwhile, the staff that checks you in would hold up all sorts of numbers that meant they were available not that they could help the number you were given and told to wait for. It also didn't matter if you were CC or AQ, you had to sit and wait for your number. It was a really irritating experience. Let folks just stand in line, at least we know we're on our way. Disembarkation went perfectly. We were again told where to meet on the ship and what time. We were then ushered off the ship and luggage was easy to find.