This was my 14th cruise and my 9th on the Celebrity/Fantasy cruise line. My husband and daughter and I were in desperate need of a "decompression" week. We were greatly looking forward to this cruise for about 8 months. Have you ever been looking forward to something so much that you just knew that it could never live up to your expectations? Well this one did.... it was everything and more.
Where to start... We flew in on the day of departure to Miami and the bus ride was about 35 minutes to the pier. It was kind of annoying because the bus driver would "hint" about receiving a tip about every 1o minutes or so...
Once at the pier, the embarkation was as good as people had described... quick and easy. We immediately went up to the buffet which was packed. This was a New England/ New York school vacation week and the ship was full (except unfortunately for the people from Europe who couldn't fly in.) The food was very good every time we ate there for lunch. We shared a table with a couple from Florida who we preceded to see quite regularly throughout the cruise.
When the call was made we preceded to the cabin... it was on the 10th deck starboard side just at the start of the hump facing forward (cabin 1108). We were adjacent to the library, right near the elevators. It was a fantastic location and we could not believe how well the doors between the elevators and the cabins kept the noise from the foyer totally away. We had an extra large balcony and even though we faced forward there was not a wind problem at all. In our opinion, the port side is actually the better side to be located on when you do the Eastern Caribbean. The views while in port on the Starboard side were industrial. Although, when leaving port we (starboard side) had the better view of the islands.
My daughter slept on a mattress on top of the sofa. She said that it was okay... not great but not bad. Our bed was harder than we like, but you find that wherever you go. We found the pillows were way too thin so our cabin attendant replaced them with isotonic pillows which did the trick for us.
We then preceded to the kid's club. My daughter was originally put in the 9-11 year old group... but even though there were 7 kid's on board her age of 11.. none went to the Kid's club on the occasions that she went up there. She liked the activities that were planned for that age group, but didn't want to be with kid's in elementary school. She then met two other 6th graders in the pool who were 12 years old. We went up to the manager of the Club and asked if my daughter could join the older group. The manager was very nice and told us that they were concerned because 17 year olds may use the X Club and they were worried about an 11 year old in there with them. My daughter is the type of kid that will leave a situation if it is uncomfortable. We did take the manager's advice and have my daughter stay away from the "dating game" and "college night" activity. My daughter said that most of the kid's in the X-Club were between 12-14 years old with her and one other 11 year old. She said that there were about 15 kid's up there at night. She and her friends spent most of their time on sea days in the X club or at the pool. When you ask her what her favorite part of the ship was she says,"the X-Club."
The ship is beautiful, clean, and well maintained. The art work is wonderful and the overall ambiance is top notch. The pool area was slamming on the sea days. Never had a problem finding a deck chair, but we are early risers and we also enjoy the pool area most when first seating is getting ready for dinner. On the first sea day we were able to get one of the "Cabanas" and really enjoyed that. The lawn club was great. Loved the grass and the atmosphere up there and on the Solstice Deck. Being that we are not sun worshipers we really appreciated all the shaded areas on the ship.
Food... Really enjoyed the MDR. Our waiter and assistant were the best,yet. Could not ask for better service anywhere. From the waiters to the Maitre d. The food was very good, but a little salty (we never add salt when we cook, so that is just our opinion.) The Chateaubriand was the best I every ate anywhere. I myself am not a courageous person when it comes to dining, I know what I like... so the side of the menu which is available every night worked out great for me while my husband and daughter enjoyed trying new and different things every night.
We went to the Tuscan Grille on the night we were in Puerto Rico. We were not impressed with the meal at all. I would say that this was the one disappointment on the cruise. My daughters veal parmigiana was really rather tasteless and my husbands and my Filet Mignons was tough and over cooked. The appetizers were presented well, but again not exceptional. The deserts were really good. My daughter still talks about the dark chocolate fondue. The wait staff were excellent but it was definitely no worth the extra $90 we paid. In fact, a couple days later my husband had the filet mignon in the MDR and he said it was 100X better.
Bistro @ 5.... I guess we are spoiled because crepe's are not that unusual for us. The food was very good, but thought it wasn't worth the extra charge.
Alternative Dining... went there one night so that my daughter could make it to something at the X Club. Was so unimpressed that even she opted to miss the activity and eat in MDR
We had room service on two mornings. We had the extended room service menu. We really enjoyed eating on the veranda, but the food was cold by the time you got it and the smoothy was warm... very unappetizing. We would recommend only having a continental breakfast sent to your cabin. Besides, the buffet was great. I think I had Eggs Benedict at least 4 mornings... and my DH and DD loved the waffles. Except for the first day, never had a problem finding seating.
Entertainment... We enjoyed the production shows. "Solstice the Show" was very good and the rest were typical cruise entertainment. Magician was kind of annoying and didn't see the the singer on board. We had late seating so it was difficult for us to get to the 7:00 show... we liked the pool area too much. We really enjoyed the Hot Glass Show. The three glass blowers have great chemistry and were very informative and also had a great sense of humor. We popped into the show on numerous occasions.
Service... Everyone was so nice and pleasant. My DD and I had fun counting how many service personnel wished us a good morning or a good evening. In my college days it would have made for a great drinking game. Our room attendants could not have been better and were always smiling. This was the first cruise I have been on where the Cruise Director stopped and talked to us. The Captain actually strolled the decks. Everyone on board were wonderful.
Disembarkation... We had a later flight, so our call off the ship was at 8:50. It worked out great. We had a leisurely breakfast and were called to leave about 10 minutes early. Our luggage was right where it was supposed to be and customs was a breeze.
In Summary... it was obviously a wonderful vacation. Don't think I can ever go back to an inside room on the bottom most deck. The Solstice has ruined me forever. I envy all those about to go on a Solstice class ship and those who are thinking about it.