Travel We flew into San Juan from NYC on the day of departure. First time we did this and probably the last. Our flight was delayed and while we made it to the ship in plenty of time to make our embarkation time, the anxiety it generated made this something to avoid in the future. Embarkation FABULOUS. From the time we arrived at the port to the time we were handed our glasses of champagne less than 20 minutes had elapsed.
The Ship's Common Areas In a word GORGEOUS. We were fortunate enough to be able to sail on the Celebrity Solstice during its inaugural year. While we were incredibly impressed with the grandeur of the Solstice, we do believe that the old world feel of the Summit is something that should not be abandoned. From the Grand Foyer to the Rendezvous Lounge to Revelations and Michael's Club we were completely awed by the elegance that was conveyed. The posts we've read that reflect on the signs of wear and tear on this "older" ship seem to us to demonstrate that perhaps some need to only travel inaugural cruises.
Our Cabin We tried concierge class on the Solstice and have since determined that this is how we like to travel. We enjoy the little perks. The space and layout of the cabin is quite comfortable. There is plenty of storage space (and we do not pack lite!). We will say that upon our arrival we did notice that the glass sliding doors to the veranda were noticaeably smudged, so much so that it distracted from the amazing views outside. A quick note to our Stateroom Attendant Nick resulted in it promptly being cleaned (and kept clean for the remainder of the cruise). This was a consistent pattern on this cruise. Our Stateroom Attendant was extraordinarily responsive to our requests. We had difficulty ordering wine for our cabin from the interactive tv upon our arrival. We mentioned this to Nick and he promptly arranged for our selection to be delivered from one of the lounges. We also indicated that we weren't fond of the canapes typically delivered to Concierge class daily but that we loved cheese. From that moment forward we received cheese and crackers in liu of the traditional canapes. Fantastic. He replaced glasses and towels upon request, etc. However, please note that we needed to make the request known for the need to be addressed. We noted to each other that he didn't appear to be able to "predict" what we might need. Things like a corkscrew for the wine ordered, or cleaning the glasses used. Details were at times overlooked, like the rose from formal night that was left well past its prime and never being introduced to his assistant during the entire cruise. We realize that these things were only noted because Celebrity has spoiled us with service to the point that we think that the Celebrity Crew is psychic.
The ONLY thing that we can honestly say had the potential of diminishing our positive experience on this cruise was that our cabin abutted one in which the occupants elected to ignore the no smoking policy and smoked daily on their veranda. This made sitting on our veranda unpleasant. We eventually did report the infraction to Guest Relations (not our usual choice of course of action) and received a prompt and courteous response from the assistant chief housekeeper. Unfortunately, our neighbors chose to continue to be oppositional and continued to smoke. We have no interest in getting into a discourse with the cruisers who smoke. We will simply say that we specifically elect to cruise with Celebrity because of their smoking restrictions because we do not enjoy the smell of smoke. We know that smoking is allowed in certain areas and therefore avoid those locations but we EXPECT that we will not have to worry about smoke while relaxing over breakfast or a glass of wine on our veranda. If you smoke and want to enjoy doing so on a private veranda, might we suggest that you seek a cruise line that permits that practice?
The FOOD This appears to be the most discordant topic among reviews. We are solidly weighing in on the PLUS side. We ate dinner 7 out of 8 nights in the MDR 8:30 seating. We were seated at a table for 8 though only 2 other couples joined us for the entire week. We were quite fortunate as both couples were delightful and we thoroughly enjoyed getting to know them. Ronald from Peru was our waiter and he was phenomenal. He was very interested in "getting it right". Wanting to make sure that we enjoyed our dining experience and providing recommendations was his main priority. We realized by the end of the week that we had to simply listen to what he shared and we would have a 5 star dining experience... guaranteed. Note the name we chose for ourselves...NEFoodies. WE LOVE FOOD. We love preparing it and definitely consuming it. We found that there was not one evening that we were disappointed. On our wedding anniversary we elected to go to the Normandy. It was definitely worth the added cost. It rivaled places like 21 and the Sign of the Dove in NYC for both food and service. The other dining venues were more than acceptable to us. Buffet food is buffet food. We could always find something tasty to eat.
The Pools We didn't spend much time at the outdoor pools but we did enjoy the Thalosotherapy pool. Two things to note, the pool was warmer than we expected...basically as warm as the hot tubs...would have preferred it a tad cooler. The unpadded chairs are really quite uncomfortable. They should probably be replaced with more padded loungers.
The Entertainment In the Celebrity Theater: Talented cast and guest entertainers (Dorothy Parks was AMAZING). We were floored by the sets and costumes. Only complaint was how LOUD every show was. The sound engineer could tone the whole thing down a bit. Live Music throughout the ship was great. We particularly loved Tim Ruse in Michael's Club. The guest lecturer from the National Air and Space Museum was an unexpected treat for the licensed pilot and electronics design engineer in our duo.
The Ports Not going to spend much time on this. Just suffice it to say that we love St. Thomas, St. Maarten and Bermuda. We've seen Tortola...we don't need to see it again.
Disembarkation This was slower and a tad less organized than we expected from Celebrity but when we saw Celebrity staff appearing agitated and anxious about the delays experienced by passengers, we realized that this was more a function of the Cape Liberty port than of Celebrity. A shuttle was required to take us all of 100 feet to the port terminal. In the time it took to load the shuttles we could have walked it back and forth several times.
In Conclusion We LOVED our cruise. Celebrity continues to cultivate a sense of elegance and luxury. We have already booked our next cruise...on the Summit!!!