We started this cruise by staying at the Hilton Marina across from the cruiseship port the night before. We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale at 11:30 and were in the Hilton pool at 12 pm relaxing and enjoying our vacation. The hotel was great and newly renovated. The pool was terrific and the pool bar/restaurant was great! The food, drinks and service were wonderful. The pina coladas were the best I've ever had! We took a taxi to dinner up the beach and spent $22, after dinner we took the water taxi for $8 and found we could have purchased water taxi "all day" tickets for $7 ea. Live and learn! The balcony off the room overlooked the port (which we found was less desireable than the marina view)and were able to watch the Oasis leave that night and see them arrive the next morning.
The embarkation was a breeze at 1130 am! On the ship in 15 mins, champagne in hand and overwhelmed by the beauty of the ship. We proceeded to he pool and changed into our suits and had the pool to ourselves for atleast 30 mins. Our room was ready at 1 pm.
Our cabin was on the "hump" with an angled cabin on the port side facing the front of the ship on deck 8 (8226, if my memory serves me right). The balcony was HUGE and the room was beautiful. We felt the storage was perfect and very creative, better than any ship we had been on with RC, Norweign, or Carnival. We found out at the end of the cruise that, yet again, we packed too many clothes. People are so right when they say "pack less clothes and bring more money". The bathroom was really nice and was on the larger size for cruiseship standards. The glass doors were a nice touch and the foot bar was great for shaving. The layout of the entire cabin was perfect. Our bed was closest to the bathroom and made it feel like the balcony was an extension of the sitting area. The sliding glass door was also nice.
The food was better than we truely expected. We know the ship industry is trying to survive but you could not tell based on our experience. The Oceanview Cafe was really nice and had endless choices. I have never seen eggs benedict made so many different ways and they were all GOOD! We loved sitting aft on the deck in the mornings and watching the world pass-by while eating breackfast. The Main Dining Room was beautiful and we had a great table with wonderful couples. Our waiters were terrific and very attentive. The mainstay menu was great because we love escargot! The cream brulee was wonderful. All the meals were very good, with some being outstanding! The only other restaurant we tried was Bistro on Five. We didn't think it was really anything special and would probably pass next time. We were so pleased with the Main Dining Room that we passed on going to the other specialty restaurants. The brunch is a better idea than midnight buffets, for sure. The brunch was nice and worth going to and not a big waste of food, ultimately. All the beverages were really good and we purchased the "classic package" that was reinitiated on our cruise. We could try any drink and it was included. Water, soda, beer, wine, liquor and frozen drinks! It was totally worth it! The Pina Coladas were so good my husband even drank them daily! Last year we went on a RC cruise and all the drinks seemed to have too much mixer in them and not enough good stuff...Not the case here! Really good drinks!
As far as the ports of call, we enjoyed St. Martin the best. We rented a car and went all over. We tried several beaches and even found a few intimate beaches on our own! We plan to take a trip there somtime in the future. St. Thomas was nice. We took a simple excursion to Sapphire Beach and it was pleasant but nothing special. We did enjoy ourselves and thought it was worth the price and experience. The views on the openair bus going back to the ship were fantastic. San Juan was nice to walk around and feed the pigeons, we elected not to take any excursion.
The entertainment was better then RC to us. I really did not care for the magician and would skip that night to enjoy the rest of the ship. The Solstice show and the Cirque-type show were the best and shouldn't be missed. The A Capella group "Metro Park" was fantastic and we seemed to follow them every night! The pool band was enjoyable too.
In the end, we were thoroughly relaxed and very jealous of the people staying on for a back to back cruise. We loved the Solstice and now rate Celebrity our favorite cruise line by far!