Celebrity Solstice Cruise Review by Chris Cleary: Celebrity versus Royal Caribbean - What to look for
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Celebrity versus Royal Caribbean - What to look for
Destination: Eastern Caribbean
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
My wife and I are big fans of the cruise vacation, having sailed over 20 times. Most of those cruises have been with Royal Caribbean because of the innovative new ships that they have brought to the cruise industry. Our vacations on Royal have always been highly enjoyable and left us with the desire to come back for more.
Another factor in our being repeat customers is that we made the decision to become Crown and Anchor members when we first started cruising with Royal. I highly recommend to any cruiser that they sail on several different cruise lines and make a decision which one they want to patronize as a regular customer. Once you have made that decision, you must join the cruise lines frequent customer reward plan and make sure you get credit for every cruise. Each cruise will give you at least one credit and in some instances you can earn bonus credits.
As Diamond members of Royal, we are now treated as special customers on each voyage, with all types of More extra perks. This special treatment makes what is already a very special vacation, even that much more special.
With Royal, the company decided that if you have been a loyal customer with one of their brands, Royal Caribbean, then you should be allowed to enjoy those same perks on their other brands, Celebrity.
Knowing that we could enjoy the same great perks on Celebrity, as Elite members, we decided that it was time to make the move to the Celebrity brand. Celebrity Cruise Lines, since being bought by Royal Caribbean, have been designated as their five star brand of cruising. The food, service, entertainment, embellishments are all supposed to be a step above the Royal Caribbean brand.
We decided to sail on the relatively new Solstice ship, which was the inaugural brand for a new class of ships within the Celebrity fleet. It features unique activities like a Lawn Club on the top of the ship, which allows patrons to play games like Croquet and Bocce ball. For what is, a generally older clientele, these kind of activities have great appeal.
The Solstice is a beautiful ship with great attention paid to detail. The lounges and restaurants are gorgeous and make you feel that you are dining at a five star establishment. In the main dining room you get to select from a wide array of foods. For example, if you want escargots every night - no problem. The food was unquestionably superior to Royal Caribbean.
Service on the Solstice was beyond expectations. Waiters, room attendants and everyone else were always trying to make sure that our experience on board the Solstice was enjoyable. For Elite members the parties never stopped and there was always something special planned for members to enjoy. Definitely a step up from Royal Caribbean.
Entertainment was good with an incredible Cirque De Soleil show on the last night. Other nights were entertained with the usual song and dance performers, some of which were outstanding. The theater on the ship was magnificent and very intimate. The Cirque de Soleil show gives Celebrity the nod.
Specialty dining, if that is your thing, was top notch. There are at least three specialty restaurants on board the Solstice and we decided to check out the Asian, Silk Harvest. We were able to order anything from the menu and as much as we wanted for a flat fee. The food was as good as any Asian restaurant that we have dined at.
The on board activities, such as Croquet, Bocce Ball, special lectures were great, although somewhat under utilized. A must see is the glass blowing that is done topside at special times on days at sea. For the type of clientele that are attracted to Celebrity these activities fit the bill to a tee.
When you add up all the other superlatives on the ship - the Cabana pool with the food bar, the beautiful shopping venues, deluxe spa facilities and much much more you can't help but walk away from a Celebrity cruise and say - when can we go again.
We feel that we have graduated to the next level of cruising by moving to Celebrity and Royal Caribbean will continue to have very satisfied and and enthusiastic customers coming back for more of the five star treatment. Less
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Port and Shore Excursions
At the end of the day the tour guide will let you depart in downtown old San Juan to visit some of the shopping and other interesting locals. The ship is in walking distance for your return.
Upon our return we participated in an excursion that we will never forget - the America's Cup race. This excursion allows the participant to actually race in one of the sailboats that were used in the America's Cup. The conditions were rough and windy, but we survived and won the race. An unforgettable time in a beatiful place.
After shopping, we decided to hire a taxi tour guide to take us around the island and discover some of the beautiful beaches and scenery. The driver took us to one of the nicest beaches, Sapphire beach, where we were able to spend two hours swimming. It was gorgeous. The total tab was $25 per person.
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