As stated in other reviews, the Solstice is a beautiful ship. It is laid out well and the cabins were very nice, especially the bathrooms. Nice big showers and plenty of storage. We had a hump cabin on deck nine. Very convenient to the elevators and no noise problems whatsoever. Embarkation was fast and smooth. No line at all. Parking was very close with plenty of space available.
So, you might ask, what was so disappointing? The exceptional service that I kept reading about here on Cruise Critic. Having cruised other "lesser" lines in the past, we felt the service was no better than RCL or NCL. In fact, the stateroom attendant was much worse. Only came in 2 times a day as far as we could tell. Once in the morning to make the bed and then again once in the evening while you were at dinner. In past experience on other lines, the stateroom attendant was always there. Straightening up, remaking the bed, and replacing the ice and such. In fact, on RCL, the comedian in one of the shows made a joke about it saying that he got up one night to go to the bathroom and when he came back his bed had been made. Maybe only twice a day is policy. I suppose that isn't really a big deal, but it is NOT exceptional service. The real problem was when I did need to make a request for something, I had to ask more than once. This happened on 3 different requests for simple things not out of the ordinary. I finally just stopped asking. It was also hard to locate the attendant when you did need something. The phone in the room had directions on calling them, but they never answered. One day we threw out some magazines we had finished with. When we got back to the room after dinner the magazines were gone out of the waste basket but the other garbage was still in the can and bunch of scraps were all over the floor where it had been pulled out when they took the magazines.
The biggest issue happened on the 2nd night. We returned from dinner and found our used wine and water glasses drying on the bathroom sink. The only conclusion we could come to was that this was where they cleaned them each evening. This was disgusting. You would think they would get clean, sanitized glasses each day. There were other issues as well. To be truthful, I am sure we just got a bad, lazy attendant. If they all were like this I'm sure the ship line would be gone by now. As to the rest of the crew we encountered, they were nice and efficient. Just as you would expect on a cruise. However, I did not see anything exceptional. Like I said earlier, about the same level of service as other cruise lines.
We ate all our dinners in the main dining room and had the early seating. We both felt the food was a bit of a step up from other lines. Lunch and dinner were eaten in the buffet. We also felt the food here was better than the buffets of other ships we have been on. A problem we did encounter at the buffet was it seemed that when it got terribly busy you had trouble finding plates and silverware. The dishwasher couldn't keep up I guess. Also, towards the end of the cruise, they ran out of some things that I personally had been enjoying. Maybe there was a run on Pastrami and Swiss cheese as they were both gone by Thursday. A few other things seemed to disappear also. I am not sure if this was by design or what. It also would have been nice if the ice cream station had stayed open past 9:30. If you wanted an ice cream after the evening show you were out of luck as it didn't get out until 10;00. It had been a little tradition of ours on past cruises and we missed it. One other thing, the coffee was horrible. They need to set it up like RCL and get Seattle's Best. From my understanding, they use a Vietnamese blend that is really bad or maybe just not to American taste.
Speaking of the evening shows, they were not very good. Average to below average singers and dancers. The Cirque type show wasn't too bad but the magician they had one evening was just a young kid that needs a lot of work. His close up magic was good, but his big illusions were not original or unique and not executed well at all. They did have an "Iron Chef" type cooking show on the last day that was very good. It pitted the pastry Chef against the Buffet Chef.
As stated in other reviews, the grass area would be better served being just a deck with more chairs. It really doesn't add anything to the experience. By 9am, most chairs on the other decks were taken that had any sun exposure. They need more of them and they also need to enforce their no deck chair reserving policy. The Glass Show was also interesting.
We did have a great time in spite of our room attendant. The stops were good and the sea days were relaxing. Disembarkation also was well organized and fast. Again, no lines. We went right to our luggage and was able to walk to our car. Was on the road 20 minutes from when we were called to leave. About the same as other ships we have been on.
To summarize, a typical Eastern Caribbean Cruise on a mass market cruise line. While the food was slightly better than the others, everything else was the about the same. The only EXCEPTIONAL service we received was after the cruise. I got a call from Celebrity thanking me and asking how things went. I passed on our experience. In our opinion, it was just not worth the extra cost.