HOTEL: As we live in Florida, we drove to arrive on Sat. instead of Sun. We stayed overnight at the Holiday Inn in Hollywood, which offered free parking, breakfast coupons and transportation to the Port. The plan suited our needs. The room was large and clean, with microwave, compact refrigerator and coffee maker.
EMBARKATION: A porter from Celebrity met us at the drop off point and made sure we had all the required documents. He then escorted us to the check-in station. We never saw our luggage again until it was at our cabin door. Once on the ship, we were given our customery drink and went about the ship to get our bearings and marvel at the ship and its various venues. We opted for Bistro on Five for lunch to avoid the noise and confusion of buffet lines. What a pleasure to dine there! We quickly learned the choices were very good, but very large. On our next visit (breakfast), we split orders. The staff and Mildred, the hostess/waitress, were very accommodating.
SHIP INFORMATION: We toured most of the venues. The Oceanview buffet was arranged nicely and generally had no long lines as on previous cruises. There was a nice mixture of ethnic foods. We spent some time at the Martini Bar. The bartenders were excellent showmen. The frosted bar was unique, to keep drinks cold. Alex, at the bar, found and wrapped 4 of the special martini glasses for us - nice souvenirs. We were pleased with the layout of the ship.
STATEROOM: Our stateroom was close to the aft elevators. It was nicely appointed with a large screen TV that had many options including an expanded music menu. The bath was very nice with a curved glass enclosed shower. Drawer and closet space could have been expanded, but we made do. Our attendents, Maria Elena and Mark, were very accommodating and kept us supplied with fresh fruit and cold water.
DINING: The Mast Grill continues to have excellent burgers. The Oceanview buffet is improved with the new layout. The various ethnic dishes were very good. The Sea Day buffet was excellent, with prime ribe being served at one station. It was well organized. We had dinner one evening in the Murano, one of the specialty restaurants and had excellent food and service, thanks to Jordan and Henriett Gal. (only names we remembered) We remembered Henriett from the Olympic special restaurant on the Millie in 2008. We had an eight top in the MDR with all cruisers being Select or Elite status. We graded the MDR as fair to good. Almost every night some dinners were sent back. The most obvious was the second formal (Lobster) night. The lobster was soft and mushy and all were sent back. The last night's menu was ugh! It was hard to choose - nothing appealed to us. The chicken was dry, halibut not tasty and steaks not done well. Credit should be given to our waiter Marvin and his assistant, who tried very hard to please everyone. Conrad, our wine steward, was excellent. We enjoyed his singing and casual remarks and jokes.
SERVICE: Service was excellent throughout the ship. We were always greeted with a smile and hello. Muzaine, the coffee steward in the Oceanview was outstanding and very jovial to everyone as he filled coffee cups.
PORTS/EXCURSIONS: We wanted to see changes in Grand Cayman after 20 years. Glad we were there many times in the 70's and 80's. Took a 2 hr. tour of the island. Most of the time was spent in Hell and at the rum cake shop. Lots of standing around and not seeing the island. Mexico is Mexico - took no tours. Two hr. tour of Roatan was interesting and informative. We used Bodden tours which was tailored to our desires.
DISEMBARKATION: What a breeze! Reported to our assigned area at 7:55 a.m. Off the ship within minutes, cleared customes, got a cab to the hotel, picked up the car and were home in Sebring (153 miles) by noon.
SUMMARY: Of our 3 cruises, the MDR menu, food and service on the Solstice was no comparison to the Connie in Oct., 2009, and not as good as on the Millie in 2008. Would never do summer again in the Caribbean: too hot and too many kids running around. Dress code was not enforced in the MDR, even on formal nights. Shorts, jeans (not designer), sleeveless T's, sloppy clothing were very evident. Iaho, the Asst. Maitre'D, explained to us that it was a problem - the guests claimed they were never informed of the ship's dress code and others expressed that they did not care about the code, they were going to their table dressed as they please. We did not let it bother us. It probably would have if I sat across from a hairy armpit! Our table had many laughs and a good time.
Yes, we will sail again: March 26, 2011, on the Connie!