We first cruised Solstice in April, 2009, which was exactly one year prior to this sailing. We were blown away, so decided to go with this ship again. It was a great cruise, but the ship has lost some of the attention to detail we experienced when she was brand new. We are a mid-30s couple.
Embarkation and debarkation could not have been any easier. Solstice used the new Oasis terminal (Pier 18) at Port Everglades. This place is built to handle a lot of people, so using it with only half the Oasis numbers was a breeze.
*I'll get the bad out of the way first. It's actually all pretty minor stuff. None of it was at the level of ruining a vacation.
Balconies - I love the Solstice balconies. Unfortunately, they never cleaned the glass. On every single cruise I have been on, they cleaned the balconies at least once with the mechanical apparatus that goes down the side of the ship spraying fresh water on the glass. They didn't do it on my sailing and the salt build-up on the glass and railing was very heavy. It even started out that way, so I don't think they did it on the previous cruise either. In our last port, I had to use a wet pool towel to clean it as much as I could.
Entertainment - Just prior to my sailing, the large movie screen in the main show theater came crashing down. Because of this, they moved the shows on the first 2 nights to the Grand Foyer. I can't blame them for the rigging failure in the theater and I grateful no one was hurt, but I do question why they would move the show to a foyer that is only 3 stories tall and has very limited space from where you could see them. In all, only about 100 people were able to actually see the entertainers, and most were standing. I would think Sky Lounge would have been a much better alternative. However, when the theater was finally fixed, the 2 production shows were a notch better than the norm. Unfortunately, there was no farewell show due to show rescheduling.
Activities - I was bored at times. There was a lack of activities on the ship. The daily events schedule (Celebrity Today, I think?) was double, sometimes triple spaced because there was nothing on it. There is no doubt that my other favorite cruise line, Royal Caribbean, excels (by far) in this area.
TV - The remote battery was held in by a piece of tape that kept falling off, and our internet keypad was broken. They had no extras.
Elite Wine Tasting Benefit - I thought I would try this. I knew there wouldn't be any special wines. What made this bad was our fellow Select and Elite members. There were 3 or 4 tables at the end of the room that were so loud and obnoxious, we could not hear the host talking. It was very rude.
*Ok, that's out of the way. On to the good.
Service - Absolute top notch. Everyone was great. On my comment card, I gave special kudos to our waiter and assistant waiter (Shaikh and Ebru), martini bar waiter (Jeff), our room attendant (Josephino), and Sunset Bar bartender (AA). Yea, I do see the irony in a bartender named AA. ;) I could have gone on and on because everyone was very friendly and accommodating.
Silk Harvest - I heard some gripes about this place, and I also heard Celebrity is doing away with it on new Solstice ships. I whole-heartedly disagree. We thought it was wonderful and wou8ld definitely book it again.
Fellow guests - Other than what I already mentioned in the wine tasting event, this was an extremely well behaved and polite crowd. Your typical rude behavior, like poor elevator etiquette, was very far and few between. This sailing only had 11 kids on board. On formal nights, I could probably count on one hand how many people did not dress to suggestion. I love the formal atmosphere.
Food - I thought the food was fantastic. I think it is great that guest favorites like shrimp cocktail, escargot, and caprese are on the menu every night. I also like how there was a featured appetizer every night that was from different specialty restaurants in the Celebrity fleet.
Pier Service - The canopy, cold towels, drinks, and lounge chairs make you proud to be on this ship. We docked next to Carnival Imagination in Cozumel. The looks on their faces when they had to board their ship was priceless.
Announcements - Almost none. Fantastic.
Smoking - I am a non-smoker, so the smoking policy alone will draw me to Celebrity. It was so nice to sit on my balcony every evening while the wife was getting ready for dinner and not have to suck in other people's smoke. Nuff said there.
Solarium - Of course, one family who claimed to "no speaky" (I discovered otherwise later) had to challenge the 16+ rule by bringing their crying, diaper cladded baby in to the pool. The pool butlers were quick to respond and send them packing. Additional signs were hung on all the glass doors leading to the Solarium.
*Final Thoughts: I probably thought the Solstice lost some luster simply due to age. She's not brand new anymore and she's starting to show the signs of a ship that has a few miles. That being said, I would book this ship, or this ship class again in a heartbeat.
The Western Caribbean is my least favorite route. I only booked this itinerary because I have never been to Roatan. I do not regret it. Roatan is gorgeous. We didn't even get off the ship at Grand Cayman.