We are a couple in our 70's who love to travel. I am retired navy and my wife is a retired homemaker. I have been on 5 previous cruises, 1 sailing cruise on the schooner Mary Day out of Camden, Maine, 2 on Norwegian (Wind & Pearl) and 1 each on Royal Caribbean (Jewel of the Seas) and Grand Princess. Celebrity Solstice was by far the most beautiful ship I had sailed on.
We traveled on Southwest Airlines from Dallas Love Field to Fort Lauderdale the day prior to the sailing date. We stayed in the Crown Royal hotel near the cruise terminal. On the day of the cruise we traveled from the Lauderdale International airport to the cruise pier via taxi and upon arrival at the pier were met by a porter to take care of the luggage and he complemented us on having our luggage tags on our bags which saved he and us time. Once in the terminal building we were whisk through check in about 15 minutes and were onboard in record time. Easiest check in ever for a cruise ship. We were issued our room cards and included was a map of the ship which helped in locating all the necessary places for initial boarding.
Our stateroom was a balcony on deck 6 port side. Some of the staterooms on that deck had a limited view due to the tenders and lifeboats being outboard. Ours however was situated between two tender davits and the view was unobstructed. The bed was comfortable and there was ample storage room for all clothes and luggage. Life vests were stored under the bed but there was still room for our suitcases. The bathroom was spacious compared to others that we had experienced. The shower was especially nice and large by cruise ship standards. We read that the staterooms and bathrooms were all designed by 5 women who were experienced travelers and knew what was expected of passengers.
Ships schematics were available at each elevator station and other places throughout the ship. There was no excuse for getting lost. As is usual with any ship the orientation of fore and aft took some getting used to but once mastered was easy to navigate. All public spaces were beautifully decorated and ample seating was always available throughout the ship.
We chose early dining which was a 6:30 and initially we had a table for two but then a couple next to us decided to see if it was possible to join a group table. We were informed the next day that our table number had been changed and we joined a table of 6 couples which make the dining experience much more enjoyable. Service was impeccable and we were granted whatever we ask of the waiter.
We participated in several onboard activities including Bocce on the lawn on deck 15. That was also the level on which the Corning Glass works of NY were being demonstrated by three very talented glass blowers. The process of watching a blob of molten glass become a beautiful Venetian vase, or a bowl, or even a fish was fascinating to watch. Each of the ships in the Solstice class has this exhibition onboard. OF course there were the usual onboard activities of trivia, bingo, a card room, library and casino.
Staff and services were exceptional. We made use of the Guest Relations on the last day as sea due to a foul up on my part with the airline that we were to take to return to Dallas. The staff person on the deck allowed us to use the ship-to-shore phone and remedy our situation to the satisfaction of all concerned. Our room steward was exceptional in that he outdid himself to make us feel right at home.
Entertainment was available throughout the ship during the day and of course in the evening. The staging of the shows was exceptional in that the aerial acts were outstanding and breathtaking in some respects. There were not as many off ship entertainers aboard the Solstice as had been on other ships. However the onboard stars were very good. Staging was exceptional and colorful.
Of course many shore excursions were offered. We partook of two. One in Costa Maya where I took the one to the Mayan ruins of Chacchoben which entailed an hour bus ride to the ruins through swamps, jungle, and flatland to arrive at the destination. Our guide for this particular excursion was very knowledgeable giving us a detailed history of the Mayan people and the area. Then in Roatan we took the Jolly Roger Catamaran excursion for those snorkelers who were both beginner and advanced. Lunch was served onboard the cat and of course we got rained on which was no big deal. Included in this excursion was a trip to Gambalimba Park where we learned about pirates and crossed a swinging bridge and arrived at the Macaw exhibit and was told to watch our glasses and the button on top of ball caps as the Macaws liked to take those. Sure enough some buttons were lost. Next was on to the monkey exhibit where the monkeys had the run of the place. The little spider monkeys were the hit of the day. They were all over the place and people enjoyed holding and petting them.
Of course all good things must come to an end and we sailed for Fort Lauderdale and upon arrival the disembarkation ordeal was a snap. I have never experiences such a smooth disembarkation with so many passengers.
Overall the Celebrity Solstice was a very enjoyable experience and one that will be repeated I sure.