My wife and I, decided to break up the Midwest winter by selecting any relatively interesting cruise. We selected the Celebrity Solstice due to Celebrity's high reputation and to experience the beauty of this ship. We had been to most of the ports several times. Our flight to Ft Lauderdale was an adventure due to the mid-Atlantic snowstorm. Instead of changing in Charlotte, we were routed to Philadelphia. By this time we reached Philly, it was also snowing there. Our transfer time was elongated due to limited runways and de-icing but we finally reached Ft Lauderdale around midnight. We always go the day before. Hotel was Marriott Courtyard near the airport. Very crowded due to the many departing cruises and the NFL Pro Bowl game. Hotel staff did an excellent job getting us to Port Everglades on time. Our travel consultant, did not provide luggage tags but said not to worry. Dockside porters will prvide the tags. They did provide the tags and I tipped well to assure our receipt of them. My wife's bag didn't reach our room until 7:30pm. It did not have a tag attached even though I saw them place it on the bag. Fortunately we had the late dinner seating.
Embarkation was very smooth and organized. Probably the smoothest we ever experienced. Initial boarding(1 pm) everyone was given a glass of champagne and advised to have lunch in the Ocean View dining room since rooms were not ready. Food selection was very impressive as was the design of the cafeteria. Everything moved smoothly and freely except the drink station which is a major bottle neck. Our rooms were ready within 30 minutes. Rooms were typical size but much larger bathroom. We always get a balcony which was adequate. Our attendant from Guatemala was excellent. He provided true quality service customary of Celebrity.
Our first dinner in the Epernay Dining Room was marginal as were most meals. We were generally disapponted with the food particularly any beef item. We were also accustomed to top notch service in the dining room particularly from Celebrity. Our head waiter introduced himself but was mostly distant throughout the cruise. He seemed more interested in another table, or generally distant. The assistant waiter never did introduce himself but was more visible. We seemed to have to ask for everything, bread, coffee, wine, etc. This theme was evident in the Epernay throughout the cruise whether breakfast or dinner. Service in general was lowere on this cruise. Seems to be concentrating in the specialty restaurants. We only ate at the Bistro, an excellent crepe restaurant where service was excellent.
The ship was beautiful and very easy to navigate. Staff provided a useful map upon entry. Design was very high-tech with a European ambiance. We thoroughly enjoyed all areas particularly the Martini Bar on Deck Five and the unique Lawn Club on the 15th Deck. Disembarkation was also the most organized we ever experienced. Total time to disembark was 20 minutes.