Embarkment and Disembarkment:
I was completely speechless. I requested 9am disembarkment. I left the cabin at 9:10am and I was in the cab with all my luggages (two full size suitcases) at 9:20am!!! That was incredible! Comparing to my last cruise this year with the Grand Princess at the west coast, disembarkment was a total nightmare in vancouver. Over 3000 passengers were frantically searching for their missing luggages which were all mixed up at the dock. I took me over 2 hours at that trip compared to 10 mins at the Solstice. I can't help thanking everyone at the port. There were way more Solstice staff (2200 passengers) at the port than the Grand Princess (over 3000 passengers).
I've selected the 1A balcony at cabin 8253. It was at the hump with forward view. I love the oversized balcony. It's 8' wide by 10' deep on the shorter side, and 13' deep on the longer side. It's way bigger than any other balcony cabins I've had. Again comparing to the Grand Priness, I had a mini-suite but the balcony is not as big as the Solstice.
The cabin was very good sized and efficient layout. The sofa served as a wonderful bench for my 72 yr old mom to lay her suitcase. I guess most senior like to pack and unpack their luggages everyday like my mom. So we just leave it on the sofa and she can sit on the rest of the sofa and pack her stuff everyday.
The washroom was very modern and clean. Love the arched shower + doors. Lots of shelves and drawers for storage. The tray on the vanity was very useful to lay all my bottles & makeups. Nice touch.
The only small complaint about this cabin is the adjorning staff locker adjacent to the washroom. The locker door opens on the other side (close to 8255) but everyday we can hear the opening and closing of that door. The noise was so loud that we sometimes thought someone has opened our cabin door. Also we had multiple problems with our door key/lock. We complained to the guest relations multiple times, they fixed it but when we return to the cabin, the key doesn't work. After a while, we stop fixing it. Just ask the room steward to opening it for us. They're around all the time like phantoms!
Everyone in the dining room was wonderful,from the waiter Sachin to the host at the entrance assigning tables. I had select dining and I've never had a ship that would place me at the same table with the same server every night, right by the railing as well. At the Royal & Princess, I'd be glad to get any table for two without long wait. The service from waiter Sachin was impeccable.
The only thing I'm not too crazy about is that most tables for two are literally 2 inches apart. So even though you don't want to share a table, it's hard not to overhear every single conversation. I found that pretty odd but I guess they have to add more tables for two under tremendous request from passengers like us.
The food was excellent. Risotto was the best I'd had. One night we had lobster in the main dining room. Mine was excellent but my mom's lobster was soaky. That was the only flaw.
Murano was very good too but I found the service was so so compared to the dining room. It was a busy last night and it was quite full. We hardly had any service or interaction with any waiter was all. The first one who introduced himself to us was lost after the order. Then it was different server every time the plates were brought in. I did notice some tables had server explaining every dish when they were brought in. But we had none.
Service & Staff:
The whole team was wonderful. Cruise director Lisa is really outstanding on her job. Among all other cruises, I had very blur recollection of the cruise director. Same as Captain Dimitrios, he's hilarious and personal. How often you have your captain & fellow officers play pool volleyball in heavy rain to entertain you?! I think they enjoy it as much as we do. Even my 72 yr old mom watched the whole game while soaked in the rain! The Executive Chef Panos is such a funny and lovable guy. I enjoyed his show as much as his food.