This was our 25th cruise for my wife and I and the 6th with Celebrity. Overall we had a very good cruise and enjoyed the ship very much. She is a very spacious and beautiful ship.
We live in Central Florida and drove to Fort Lauderdale the day before. We met friends who flew in from NY and stayed overnight at the Cambria Suites in Dania Beach. Received a great rate of $71 per room. This is a fairly new all suite hotel. The rooms were clean and modern (2 flat panel TV's). Compared to other all suite hotels I thought the rooms were a bit on the small side. The furniture did not look like it would hold up to normal use for too long. For the price for one night it was a good deal. They do offer a stay, park and cruise package but it costs more. Opted to park my car at the port ($105 for the week) as it cost less than the higher price on 2 rooms.
We drove to the pier around 11AM. The ship was at pier 18. Drove up to the terminal, dropped off the luggage with the porters, continued about 50 yards to the parking lot (outside parking), parked the car (plenty of spaces) and was in the terminal in 10 minutes. Security and check-in was a breeze. We were on the ship by noon and were greeted with glasses of Champagne.
Cabins are not available until after 1PM so we spent a little time touring the ship. Lunch was available in several locations, not just the Oceanview Cafe. We opted for lunch at the Mast Grill.
Shortly after 1PM we headed for our cabin. Our Cabin (C3) 1071 was very comfortable and the bathroom was the largest we have ever had. Storage was adequate. There could have been a little more room for hanging clothes. The bedding, towels, robes and amenities were outstanding. Our Cabin Steward "Anil" was terrific. We did have a problem with cigarette smoke on the balcony. Several times while sitting on the balcony we smelled smoke. So did our friends who were in 1067. I complained to Anil and he told us he thought it was coming from down below where people are allowed to smoke. Could this be coming from the promenade deck?
The expanded breakfast, room service, menu in the concierge cabins was very nice. We had breakfast on our balcony 3 times. We ordered with the door hanger and every time it was delivered promptly. The food was hot and well prepared. One time we did not get everything we ordered but we did not have time to pursue the missing item. One afternoon we ordered room service on the TV. We never received a confirmation of the order. After 50 minutes of waiting we left the cabin for an activity. When we returned the food was in our room. Seems like it took a real long time for this service.
On this cruise we had "Dining Select". The food was very good and the choices outstanding. The service was a little less than I was expecting. We were served promptly and efficiently. But, there was very little interaction by the wait staff. I would sum up the service as being "Robotic". I have experienced "My Time" dinning on 2 RCCI cruises, liked it very much and feel it was better managed. All the staff, from the Greeter, Maitre D', Waiters and Assistant Waiters were very personable. This was not the case on the Solstice. The one exception was the Sommelier Conrad. He was Great! He visited our table several times every evening with lively banter. There was a problem with the entertainment early in the cruise. We were told an 800 pound screen had fallen in the main Celebrity Theatre and they were unable to have shows until it was checked out. There was no show in the Theater the first 2 evenings. People were flown in from Chicago and met the ship in Grand Cayman. They got this fixed and that evening the curtains would not open and they had to improvise again. The entertainment the first two evenings was in the Atrium Foyer which was inconvenient and not a good place for viewing. Very few people could see the entertainers. The Sky Lounge would have been a better alternative as it would have accommodated a lot more people. The variety of the onboard music was outstanding. Sipra and Metropark were super. The Solstice production show during rough seas was amazing. The Corning Hot Glass Shows were a highlight of the cruise. The 3 men did a tremendous job making and explaining the creation of glass pieces.
The Cruise Director, John Grantham was very personable. I really appreciated him attending the Cruise Critic Meet and Mingle Party. It was a good opportunity for everyone there to ask questions and discuss some of the things that were happening on the ship.
The Captains Club Party was the best I have ever attended. The Carving, Sushi, Crape and Fruit Stations were Exceptional! The Select and Elite party was a disappointment after the wonderful Captains Club Party. It was the usual drink service and very little involvement from the Captain or the Cruise staff. The High Tea for the Elite Members was very nicely presented with great service. But, there was NO interaction with anyone from the Captain or cruise staff. You were seated, served food and tea and that was it! Thirty minutes later it was over and everyone left without anyone saying anything.
Monday was a sea day. We did the International Wine Tasting and enjoyed it very much. We ordered several of the wines we tasted at dinner during the cruise.
Tuesday's port call was Grand Cayman. The ship tendered here. We received priority tender passes and were able to board a tender without wait. Spent the day on a taxi tour and walking around Georgetown.
Wednesday's port call was Cozumel. Planned to visit Chankanaab Marine Park. Weather in the morning was threatening so we opted out at the last minute. It did rain on and off all morning. We spent the day walking around the shops downtown.
Thursday's port call was Costa Maya. Did the Chacchoben Mayan Ruins Extreme tour with NaturesChoice Tours. I learned of this tour through the Cruise Critic web site. This was an outstanding tour and I would highly recommend the company. I booked the tour on line with a $15 per person deposit. Received a voucher for transportation from the pier to their office. We easily found the shuttle at the pier exit. There were many people who booked this and other tours that were shuttled to NaturesChoice Office which was across town. Once there everyone was given colored wrist bands to identify their tour and we were loaded up in 10 passenger vans. It was about an hour ride to Chacchoben. Our guide was very knowledgeable and he led us on a walking tour of the ruins. After about 2+ hours at the ruins we were taken to the Laguna Maya Resort. This was a very small private resort located on a Lagoon. We were given lunch with Margaritas and then spent the next few hours kayaking and swimming in the Lagoon. They had cabanas with lounge chairs if you just wanted to sit back and relax. Total cost was $75.
Friday's port call was Roatan, Honduras. We did the ships "Roatan's Venice and Islands Culture Tour". We were taken by van to Yubu where we sat under a thatched roof pavilion where 6 dancers performed for about 10 minutes. Then a 2 minute demonstration of making banak bread. Then a Island History lesson that never happened. At each stop was a tip box. Too many tip boxes not enough content. Then 15 minutes for the gift shop. We were then driven to Jonesville for the motorized boat ride through the mangroves. The boat was actually a dory that sat 4 people. It seemed very unsafe, particularly boarding, we were given a seat cushion for a life preserver, there was no cover from the sun, crossed an open bay with ship wakes that were rough for this narrow small dory and there was no explanation of anything we were seeing. We stopped at a open market, where local people were selling crafts and shells on the return to the ship. It was nice seeing the Island but I could not recommend this tour to anyone.
Saturday was another sea day. We spent time at the Hot Glass show. Our friends did win a piece of the glass that was made at a previous show. Did the Riedel Wine Glass Tasting. It was very interesting. It was amazing how the different wines changed in smell and taste based on the size and shape of the glass.
Disembarkation was very easy. We were in no rush. When I filled out the disembarkation form I requested 9:30AM. Our luggage tags were for the group at 9:30AM. We punched out with our seapass cards one last time and proceeded off the ship. Had to wait in a short line before we were allowed access to the luggage. Porters were readily available. Obtained a porter who picked up all our bags and then waited at the Customs and Immigration line about 15 minutes. The porter took our bags all the way to the parking lot. We were on our way shortly after 10 AM.
Overall this was a very enjoyable cruise on a very beautiful ship. I would definitely consider cruising again on this ship.
I did have some problems with my bill and "On Board Account". When I booked this cruise on January 31, 2010, Celebrity was offering a promotion of $200 onboard credit. This never appeared on the "On Board Account". I inquired at "Guest Services" and was told they had no record of it. Guest Services contacted the main office and notified me a day later that the main office had no record of the credit. It is a bit unsettling that a promotion is offered which enticed us to book this cruise and then find it not provided. Upon return I contacted my TA. He had the confirmation documentation of the OBC and went to battle with Celebrity. After a week I received the credit to my credit card. This, to me, is a good reason to use a TA when booking a cruise. When there is a problem you have someone who can go to battle for you and has the contacts and experience to get to the right people.