We began our cruise experiences back in early 2001 with Celebrity aboard the Summit on a 11 day Caribbean cruise. That cruise set the standard for us as first time cruisers. We then did several more on different Celebrity ships culminating in a 14 day Baltic cruise on the Constellation. That was, and still is the highlight of our cruising experience. Since the Constellation we tried NCL and certainly enjoyed the laid back atmosphere, so much so, that we locked ourselves into a promotion that kept us away from Celebrity until this cruise on the Solstice. As the title of my review states, " Good to be Back"
Although we are from Phoenix, AZ, we flew into Tampa a few days early to spend sometime with family. We drove down to Fort Lauderdale from Tampa on the day of the cruise, and after returning the rental car we arrived at the port around 10.30am, and we were on the ship by 11.20am, everything went very smoothly.
We met up with friends of ours and went straight to the Bistro on 5 for lunch, that place was terrific, we went back there several times once the cruise was underway. Our cabins were ready by 1.30pm, and during that time we toured the ship and were amazed at its beauty. To be honest, to fully appreciate it you would need at least a 10 day cruise to do it all justice.
Our cabin (7216) was midships on the starboard side, for my wife and I it was ideal, we had plenty of space for storage, and we certainly appreciated the bed being closer to the bathroom than the other way around. Our friends who also had a really lovely cabin in aft section of the ship, their bed was closer to the balcony and felt this layout was more difficult to navigate, especially when attempting to use the bathroom during the night. Another big plus was the nightlight in the bathroom which came on after the main lights were turned off.
Starting with the Ocean-view Cafe, one of the major gripes I have had with other cruises, is the log jam during breakfast, not once did it ever appear crowed, and the food was plentiful and very good. We did eat a few nights in the MDR (Grand Epernay) and again the food was certainly better than we had got used too on NCL, our waiters Diaz and Eddy were also pretty good. The brunch in the MDR however is not to be missed on the last day at sea, we all thoroughly enjoyed it.
We managed to eat at three of the specialty restaurants, the first being the Silk Harvest which was outstanding, followed by the Tuscan Grille and although good, did not come up to the level we first thought it might. The last one was "Murano's" and again this was another outstanding evening meal, certainly as good and if not better than the Silk Harvest.I have already mentioned Bistro on 5, very good!! especially the Crepes.
Celebrity certainly had their problems with the theater, a 500 pound screen fell down during rehearsals, but thankfully no one was hurt. There was also a problem with the curtain which for a period of time refused to open. These issues made the theater out of bounds for a few days, so the entertainment was moved to the Central Atrium. Some will make a big deal about this, but you know, it made for a great atmosphere in that particular area of the ship. and even though it wasn't the ideal place for the main entertainment, much credit to Celebrity for coming up with plan B so quickly. All around the ship there were different types of entertainment, and as I said in the beginning, the cruise was not long enough to visit all the bars etc; and listen to the different music on show.
Disembarkation was the best I have ever come across, given a color and a number, withing 15 minutes of the number being called we were off the ship and bags retrieved.
Overall a wonderful ship, Celebrity its good to be back with you, and our next cruise will definitely be on one of their ships.
The art on the ship left me cold and very puzzled, but that could be me as I am certainly not into art!!
The cruise director was for me very disappointing, almost invisible, and lacking in charisma and personality.
Some complained about the TV channels, too much news and not enough movies etc; not bothered myself. You can find fault with any cruise line if you really want too, overall though Celebrity was as good as I remember, can't wait to do another one.