Myself and DM sailed on the Solstice on Feb 21st, and we both have nothing but god things to say! We have sailed Carnival and RCI a number of times, and this was our first Celebrity cruise. Right from the beginning it was obvious that X is a step above the aforementioned mass market lines. I am 24 and DM is 52, and I was a bit concerned about the demographics of the ship. I though maybe I would be bored and there wouldn’t be anyone my age. More about that later.
Embarkation – We have sailed a few times out of Port Everglades and this was the easiest embarkation we’ve ever had. The Solstice sails out of the new Oasis terminal so it is well equipped to handle twice as many people. From the time we got to the terminal (around 12:30) to the time we were on the ship was not more than 20 minutes, if that. Our rooms were ready at 1, and after dropping off our carry on bags, we went for lunch and did some exploring to orient ourselves with the important amenities. Our luggage arrived between 4 and 5, during the emergency drill.
Cabin – We were in cabin 1604 on the Penthouse deck. As it was “hump” room, we did have a larger balcony, however it is a forward facing balcony so it did get quite windy. The bed was near the window, we didn’t really have a preference, but I will agree that the sofa could have been a bit shorter (we didn’t use it at all) to give more access to the closet. As well, the above-bed cabinets were great, but had we been 3 people in a room, there wouldn’t have been nearly enough space. The Aqua Class shower was pretty good, and the glass doors were really nice. Plenty of storage space in the washroom, even for two women.
Food – We ate in Blu 3 nights, MDR 2 nights, Silk Harvest, and Tuscan Grille. I thought Aqua Class was worth it just for Blu, the food was definitely better, the best meals we had the whole week were there. Silk Harvest was OK, the sushi was great, but they neglected to tell us that it was “family style” so 4 of us ended up with enough food for 16 people. Tuscan Grille was very good and the view is incredible. MDR was pretty good, definitely better than Carnival and Royal Caribbean. Service was impeccable, if we ever made an alteration to a dish it was always perfect, and everyone was very nice. The Oceanview Café (Lido buffet) was quite good, breakfast had TONS of options, and the pasta station was fantastic. I also has lunch one day at the Bistro on 5 and my Mediterranean crepe was delicious and well worth the $5. I did not try the Mast Grill but it looked very good.
Entertainment – Best we’ve had on a cruise so far. The Solstice Show was amazing, the acrobatics and performers were great. Adam Trent, the magician, was also great, very entertaining and his family was travelling on our cruise so we met him in the nightclub one night and he’s a great guy. I was a bit bored with the showtunes production, but every other show was great. There were theme nights and parties (70s night, 60s night, Poolside Latin Dance Party, etc) which were all fun. We really enjoyed Will Foraker, the pianist, and Metro Park, the a cappella group. We saw the comedian who was very amusing, and joined in on trivia and some other activities. I can definitely say I was never bored.
Other guests – This was an older crowd, as was expected based on the cruise line and time of year. There were a lot of wheelchairs and walkers. A small handful of children. As a 24 year old, I was definitely concerned that I would be in bed at 10 pm, bored. Turns out I was terribly mistaken. There was a small group of us in our early 20s, (about 15 of us) which was just fine with me. We closed up the club every night and had a great time. Also, because we were such a small group, we were able to get to know each other better and I’m sure we’ll stay in touch. For the most part, everyone was very nice. There are always exceptions (such as the lady who was not impressed when we inquired why her and her husband required 3 pool chairs for two people), but said exceptions were few and far between.
Ports of Call – Meh. San Juan has a lot of history and I REALLY wanted to do the Segway tour, but it was sold out before we even got on the ship. We ended up doing the old and new city tour and it was just alright. We could have walked around on our own and been equally as satisfied. St Kitts is really stunning, but a number of shore excursions were cancelled due to wind and sea conditions. We walked around the port and admired the scenery, then got back on the ship. St. Maarten we took the water taxi to town ($6 return) and shopped. Nothing incredibly exciting.
Miscellaneous – I bought the beer package ($241 for 7 days) and essentially drank for free for the last 3 days. It was well worth it, I never had to sign for drinks and didn’t have to be concerned about racking up crazy bar tabs. We brought wine on board but didn’t end up drinking all of it. I brought a 1.75 L bottle of wine and my mom brought two 750 mL , and it was more than we needed. I know that a few of the other people I spoke to also brought liquor on board and didn’t have a problem with it. I had heard some comments that Celebrity created the Aqua Class as a way to sell the undesirable rooms on board and I can’t say I disagree with this. The AQ rooms are located directly beneath the pool and it was definitely not quiet, especially the night of the Latin pool party. DM and I really didn’t use the Persian Garden or relaxation room, as they were often crowded and not terribly relaxing. We also asked our (wonderful) stateroom attendant to stop bringing the canapés, as they were not very appetizing. We went to the buffet when they started serving sushi and brought it back to our room instead.
Well I suppose that is all for now, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask.