This review is for the Celebrity Solstice for the 1-3-2010 and 1-10-2010 sailings. By W John Johnston.
Since I am Disabled, I had checked into reserving a Wheelchair stateroom, but decided against it since I only have to use a cane. Even though the wheelchair stateroom would have given us more room, the AquaClass space was larger than a normal stateroom on other ships. Including the veranda. When I made the reservation, I looked at the available staterooms and selections that were available for both cruises and selected one that was available for both cruises so we would not even have to pack and move between the Back to Back cruises. Before the cruise I contacted Celebrity about getting a shower seat put in the cabin for me. This was acknowledged, but none was there when we arrived. Our Room Steward (Serio) greeted us by name when we went to our room upon boarding, and when I asked about the shower seat, he immediately went and brought two so I could pick the one I liked best. He also greeted us by name during both cruises every time he saw us.
In AquaClass, there is a bottle of Champagne in your room when you sail, two half liter bottles of water, an urn of Tea and a bowl of fruit every day. ( The oranges, apples, and grapes were fine, but the bananas were black in large areas, and the pears were rock hard but the ones we got the first week ripened by the second week) There is a mini bar refrigerator in the room that we used to keep things cold in.
Being AquaClass, we had free run of the Persian Garden which consisted of a few heated tile/cement beds, a sauna, and a steam room . That's it. Everything else is available to everyone. The literature makes it appear that the Solarium and the relaxation room are only for AquaClass. Not so, they are available for every one.
In AquaClass during the first cruise, We ate our evening meals in Blu at an assigned table for two that was 6 inches from another table for two, in a grouping of 5 tables. No one ever sat at the other 3 tables. Blue was never more than half full for the entire cruise. After a couple of meals, We would go look at the Grand Epernay menu and since all meals are prepared in the same Galley, we could order from that menu when we tired of the Blu menu. The second cruise we opted out of Blu so we could have an assigned table in the main dining room. The second cruise is when Celebrity went to "select" dining which means that you do not have to have assigned seating and you will be seated at an available table in the main dining room. You can also be seated in Blu if you are AquaClass. The Tuscan Grill, Silk Harvest, Murano, Blu, and The Bistro on Five are all Specialty restaurants and there is an added per person charge.
In the Ocean View Cafe and Bar (the Buffet Area), there are no trays to carry food with, but I did not have a problem with that. All I had to do was walk into the area and someone would walk up to carry whatever I wanted, go to all the food areas, and then to our table. Waiters were always roaming with water and coffee and would go for a refill of whatever else you might be drinking.
The AquaSpa Cafe was at the indoor Solarium and had healthy food items for lunch. Yogurt, Salads, etc.
The Mast Bar and Grill was a great place to get a lunch. It is located on the upper Pool deck and has Hot Dogs, Bratwurst, Hamburgers, Cheeseburgers, Nachos, Chili, Hot Wings, French fries, and Onion Rings just to name the most obvious. They also have sodas, beer, and the bar has all the other beverages. The one thing missing was a place to sit down. They had five 24 inch round tables with 3 chairs at each table. If you did not have a lounge chair around the pool, you had to stand and eat or carry your lunch to find a place to eat it.
The lifeboat drill was different in the respect that we did not need lifejackets on, or have to go outside (It was cold outside). Everyone went to 'A' muster station. On other ships, the crew checked off your name on a muster sheet when you arrived at your muster station. This time, nothing. On the second cruise we went to the theater Muster station by accident and stayed so I did not have to stand during the drill, and no one was the wiser.
The AquaClass stateroom was roomy and you could recline the veranda deck chair and relax with room to spare. When we ordered Room Service Breakfast it was served on the dot at he time it was requested, and everything was piping hot.
The bed is listed as a Queen size when the two are mated, but We have a queen size bed at home, and the stateroom bed was much larger. If it is not a King Size, it is not far off. It was extremely comfortable and we had three different types and sizes of pillows to use.
The amenities in our bathroom were outstanding. Cotton Balls, Q-tips, Soap, Shampoo, Conditioner, Hair Moose (?), Hand Lotion, etc. The tissues were thin but adequate if you used three at the same time when you blew your nose. The retractable clothesline in the shower on the other cruise ships has been eliminated. Wet bathing suits must be placed on a veranda deck chair to dry. One problem with the bathroom was the sink. The spout extended halfway into the bowl and was in the way whenever you tried to use the sink. It was pretty, but not functional at all.
The Shower was fantastic. There were 5 torso spray heads and one overhead spray. You could select overhead only, torso only or both torso and overhead. The center of the control was for temperature so it was just right when you turned on the water.
There is a lot of storage space (modular closet, large safe, drawers, cabinets). We had three Pullman suitcases and there was room for everything. There is ample space under the bed for suitcase storage also. We sent a bag of clothes to the laundry and everything came back clean and neatly folded. Slacks were pressed and the dress shirts were lightly starched and ironed. The cost was about $23 and change.
The room TV did not work correctly when I tried to display our position during the second week (a minor thing) and then quit altogether. I called customer service and the re-booted my unit and then it worked fine. It was great for keeping tabs on our account an spending.
In the Spa I had a Deep Tissue and Muscle Massage and a Swedish Massage while Mar opted for the Swedish Massage and a Facial during the cruises. All were fantastic. The In-Port prices are less than At Sea prices and since the number of people wanting a massage is less, Natasha spent over an hour and a half with me on each of my sessions.
The internet room had about 40 terminals, and if you were Elite, you get 90 free minutes each of air time. Otherwise for about $30, you can, purchase time. There is someone there at certain times to assist you if you need help.
The hot tubs seemed cold, and everyone I talked to said the same thing. I went down to customer relations and complained that the water was too cold. The next day I received a message that they follow some health code that specifies the water be no hotter than 99 degrees. Today I did some investigating and it appears that 102 is the optimum, and 104 is the maximum temperature not 99.
The stage shows were great. It is amazing what they can accomplish at sea. In the theater, you should try to get there a little early or you might find yourself in the back third of the theater with a 24 inch column in front of you. There are 6 of them obscuring ones vision.
As far as music on the ship, We were greatly disappointed. The times and type of music was disappointing compared to the other Celebrity ships we have cruised on. Ballroom dancing was almost non existent. There is no Rendezvous Lounge to meet . Have a cocktail and dance with friends before or after dinner. There was a DJ that played danceable music, but never at the same time each day. Sometimes at 5:45 sometimes at 7:30 to 8:30 pm sometimes at 10:00 pm. One never knew when.
In trying to use the public restrooms, they all had handicapped door opener buttons. I found two on the entire ship that worked. The other doors had to be pulled open to go in. I reported three on the first cruise and they were still inoperable at the end of the second cruise.
There was No Carnival Night with the party band. The one night the party band was to play at poolside, they did not show up. There was NO Grand Midnight Buffet. There was No Watermelon Parade. There was NO Chocolate Buffet. There were NO after dinner mints upon leaving the dining rooms. There is NO enforcement of dress code. Wear anything you want, anytime you want, anywhere you want At the Captain's Party, the invitations said Smart Casual. (Slacks, Shirt with collar) It specifically said NO JEANS OR SHORTS. At the door were senior officers greeting everyone, but they still allowed at least one guy I saw that had a tee shirt and shorts to enter. On Formal night in Blu, I was the only guy in a tux, with one other guy in a white dinner jacket and a handful of dark suits. The remainder of the men were in sport shirts, some with jeans, and one guy in flip flops. The dress code could have been enforced by telling them that their attire was suitable for dining in the Ocean View Cafe on formal night.
On the Summit I finished the books I took along for the cruise/tour and went to the library to see what there was to read. There was about a dozen or more books by Stuart Woods. I figured if someone stocked that many books by one author, I could give him a try. He is one of my favorite authors now. On the Solstice, the library needs attention. It is a confusing mess starting on the 10th deck with some of the bookshelves going to the 11th deck and no way to get up to them.
Fortunes Casino had all the games of chance that are normally found on large cruise ships. Why they increase their minimum bet from $5.00 to $10.00 in the evening is beyond me. I know why Las Vegas and Atlantic City do it, but not why a cruise ship does it. I like to start each session at the tables with a $5.00 bet. Before the session is over, my bets are usually $25.00. I normally like to play on formal nights and usually have a Vodka Martini, Shaken, not Stirred while I am playing. It's a Bond thing I guess. I won about $400 for this cruise. Anytime I Come out ahead I am happy, and I am always happy.
All in all, they were good cruises. NOT GREAT but good.
I took pictures of the Menus in Blu and Grand Epernay if anyone would like to see them.
If there is anything that anyone would like more information about, let me know.
W John Johnston