Just returned from a great cruise on Solstice - our 50th cruise, 30+ on Celebrity but first time on a Solstice-class ship. Embarkation and disembarkation were organized and quick, and other than a quick shower as we left port in St. Thomas and another as we were leaving St. Martin, we lucked out weatherwise with sunshine, blue skies and calm seas all the way.
In a nutshell, Solstice is sleek, modern and beautiful in design, and is as elegantly and tastefully appointed as those who favor Celebrity have come to expect from X ships. Service was excellent; staff and crew were especially pleasant and eager to please. We thought X did a great job upgrading the cabins in keeping with the overall more modern design of the ship and our category 2C partially obstructed cabin was comfortable with a view from the balcony that was obstructed only when looking straight down. The bed, located closer to the balcony rather than the bathroom, was the most comfortable we've yet to have on any X ship. Relying on numerous posts here on CC, we expected to find limited storage space but were pleasantly surprised to find more than ample storage in our cabin. The flat screen TV beat out the old Sonys and the addition of free movies on demand was certainly an improvement over watching the same decades-old episodes of Ozzie and Harriet, Lucy and Red Skelton that have been playing since Noah boarded Celebrity's first ark! We had an ice bucket that was filled twice daily but missed having the pitcher of water we've become used to on Celebrity and were told by our cabin attendant pitchers were no longer available. I assume those absent pitchers are now residening in Davey Jones' locker along with the buffet trays! I'm guessing pitchers are no longer in cabins as a subtle attempt to get pax to purchase bottled water for their cabins (do I hear profit center?) but I'd like to see those pitchers return. Thought they did a nice job with the bathrooms which are substantially larger than those on C- and M-class ships and have an abundance of storage space.
Despite sailing full (or so we were told), the ship never felt crowded - with the exception of the Oceanview Cafe on embarkation day, not at all unexpected with everyone converging on the buffet at pretty much the same time. Otherwise, we never felt crowded in any of the public spaces, including at the pool on sea days. We weren't aware of any chairhog issues and were surprised that we never had difficulty finding lounges which were plentiful in both sun and shade. Unlike on many of our previous Celebrity cruises, the pool area remained sparsely occupied until late morning.
We opted for Select Dining which worked well for us and in general we were pleased with the food in the main dining room. As tastes and preferences differ from one person to another, we found some offerings excellent and others not quite so good. Though we still think X is ahead of its competition in the food department, we're also still of the opinion that quality, variety and presentation have slipped since the departure of Michel Roux. Whether the changes we've noted over the last few years are completely attributable to his departure, a dollar and cents issue or a combination of both is unclear. Nonetheless, the food is good and certainly plentiful. The Oceanview Cafe offered Celebrity's usual wide variety of breakfast and lunch choices but except for a very few slight variations at one or two stations, the choices remained pretty much constant throughout the cruise. We found easy accessability to different food stations a vast improvement over the long buffet lines on C- and M-class ships and while initially we missed the trays, after a day or so their absence was no longer an issue. Our dinner in the Tuscan Grill was excellent and we enjoyed lunch in the Bistro on 5 - great crepes and paninis of all kinds!
For those who are interested, most people dressed appropriately on both formal and casual evenings, although it's clear that what qualifies as formal and casual today leaves more room for negotiation than it did in years past. Tuxedos were rare but most men were in jacket in tie and some in jacket sans tie. There were, of course, those who marched to their own beat, wearing jeans and even shorts on formal evenings but they were certainly in the minority.
Entertainment was the usual Celebrity fare - two production shows, a magician, a vocal impressionist, a singer. I believe this cruise was the first for the current Celebrity singers/dancers; hopefully time and practice will make that a bit less obvious. Notwithstanding, IMHO entertainment has never been a strong suite for X and we didn't see any signs that things have changed much on Solstice in comparison to the rest of the ships in the fleet. While certainly not a deal breaker, I think X would do well to make some improvements in that area. We weren't particularly impressed with the lecturers on this cruise - one, a gentleman who spoke about pirates; the other, a former White House appointment secretary. Neither speaker struck us as particularly good, let alone riveting.
All in all this was a wonderful cruise that lived up to all the hype and didn't disappoint one bit. We look forward to sailing on Solstice or one of the other S-class ships again but return to our favorite ship, Constellation, in December.