This was our seventh cruise overall and our second time with Celebrity. We cruised previously with Princess, Royal Caribbean, NCL, Carnival, and Holland America. Our first experience with Celebrity was beyond expectations, so we embarked on the Solstice with even higher expectations.
Because we live in South Florida, getting to Fort Lauderdale was no big deal. We arrived at the Port Everglades around 2:00 p.m. and we were on board the Solstice within 20 minutes
Once on board, we were greeted with a glass of champagne and then went directly to our room. Our room was very clean and well maintained. Our room was a verandah cabin on the Vista deck. While in our room, we met our room steward, Bernardo. While many aspects of this cruise did not live up to our expectations, Bernardo was well above our expectations and continued to impress us throughout our vacation.
The ship itself was very well maintained. However, my wife and I noticed some of the bathrooms were dirty. There was oxidation on the wood, probably due to sea spray. While this is common, it is something we did not observe on our previous ships.
Service - Service was very slow in the MDR. On our first night, they served a desert with crème puffs filled with praline ice cream. My wife asked for just praline ice cream and she was told by our server that he did not know if that was possible and needed to consult the chef. As far as I am concerned, they had praline ice cream, so it did not seem like a drastic request. On previous cruises, we were escorted to our table and my wife's chair was pulled out for her. This did not happen on the Solstice the first several nights. We spoke with the maitre d' and were moved to a smaller table with a new server, Luis. Luis was amazing. He did everything right and made up for some of the shortfalls we experienced and witnessed. One evening, we showed up twenty minutes late for dinner due to a family issue at home. When we entered the MDR, we noticed our table was gone. It was discovered later that the table was used by other passengers. After several minutes of confusion, we were escorted to a different table away from Luis. Other than water, our drinks were not refilled. The majority of the time our drinks sat empty. If was obvious the staff was spread very thin. The same night, we were given petit fours along with our main desserts. When our dessert arrived, I noticed the chocolate covered strawberry had been partially eaten. My wife brought this to the attention of the assistant server. His reaction was to inform her that there were no more chocolate-covered strawberries. He did not take away the dessert or try to replace it. When we brought it to the attention of the lead server (again, not Luis), he said that they often sample foods and make sure the samples they eat are taken away to avoid this type of problem. The next day, we spoke to the restaurant manager and maitre d' who offered to comp a night in one of the specialty restaurants. Although they addressed the issue, the stigma was still there. We received complementary chocolate covered strawberries and a bottle of champagne in our room. While standing in line at the Mast Grill , my wife was passed over four times for service.
Stateroom - The stateroom was beautiful and the bathroom was exquisite. However, the closet space is minimal, perhaps the smallest on any cruise we've experienced. When we unpacked, we noticed there were only ten hangers. For a 7 day cruise, this is not enough and we had to request more. Bernardo brought us extra hangers within minutes. The bed was not as comfortable as on previous cruises but it was nothing to snub our noses at. Although we did not hear many noises from the hall, we could hear the conversations and T.V.'s from the adjoining staterooms.
Murano - Great service and great food. The steak was not really any better than the MDR. Plus, we really preferred to sit with Luis as he was just as attentive as the server in Murano.
Silk Harvest - Awesome experience, great food and amazing service. I have shell fish allergies and the chef went out of way to make springs rolls leaving out the fish sauce. I did not ask anyone to make this accommodation; they just did it for their guest.
MDR - Appetizers and entrEes were awesome and Luis was exceptional. Neither of us cared for most of the desserts, but I was able to have ice cream each evening to satisfy my sweet tooth. Service for breakfast and lunch was very slow and spotty. We overheard one waiter tell a guest that they were very understaffed.
Room Service - I am sure they are very busy, because they took a long time to deliver the food. Often, the order was incorrect. My wife ordered a bottle of champagne and was informed it would be in our stateroom in approximately twenty minutes. After three days, we gave up on ever receiving it. At least we were not charged for it.
Buffet - The food was delicious and there was a large selection. However, it was the same selection each day and after several days, the redundancy became unappetizing.
Pools - The pools were nice and the hot tubs were very relaxing. The pool decks were busy on sea days but we always managed to find a place to settle down. The solarium was beautiful and a nice reprieve from the main pool area.
Entertainment - The entertainment ranged from fantastic to amateurish. The dancers for the production shows were pretty good. The acrobats were outstanding and talented. The comedian, James Stephens III was really funny and the best entertainment on the ship. In addition to being funny, Mr. Stephens was a genuine and good person. He sets aside profits to assist struggling children with education. The juggler was awful and it was almost painful to sit through his show. We would have left early but this was the one show we decided to sit close to the stage. We felt sorry enough for him that we didn't want to embarrass him by leaving. On our previous Celebrity there was always something to do. On this cruise, we found ourselves very bored. There was a lack of activities during the day and very few venues for entertainment. Celebrity could take advice from Princess where there is always something to do. This trip certainly lacked fun activities.
Fellow Passengers - While the vast majority of guests adhered to the rules and regulations, there were some that lacked any class. Our first day, we saw a girl walking around in her bra (not a bathing suit top). We saw guest wearing jean shorts to dinner and, on more than one occasion, guests were admitted to the MDR in swimwear and bikinis. We heard of one passenger being thrown off the ship in Puerto Rico due to a fist fight the night before. I understand Celebrity cannot control everything but certainly dress code is one thing they can enforce. If I wanted to dress as wish, I would go back on NCL, but Celebrity clearly outlines their dress code in their brochure. Ports :
San Juan - We spent the day touring historic San Juan. San Juan was a blast and our only complaint is we did not have more time here.
St. Thomas - I did the SCUBA excursion through the cruise line. The trip was chartered through Underwater Safaris out of St. Thomas. These guys were great and the trip was a blast. The water was calm with great visibility and good company. I would highly recommend this excursion if you are a SCUBA diver.
St Maarten - My wife and I went shopping for gifts then spent the remainder of the day laying on the beach. I rented a jet ski and for an hour and had a blast. It was a very relaxing day.
Announcements - The only announcements were the imperative ones. My wife and I like to sleep late and it was nice not being woken up to redundant announcements.
Unfortunately our Celebrity experience this time was not up to par with our previous cruise experiences. We will likely cruise on Celebrity again; however, it's not on the top of our list for near future cruises. We relaxed, ate plenty of great food, and spent time with friends. Any day at sea is better than a day home.