My Cruise on the Solstice was on the March 6th to 13th sailing. It was a very good cruise. My mother is 74 sister is 48 and I'm 42 went.
We drove down from Atlanta GA. 12 hour drive which later, we kind of wished we flew. My sister got a deal thru Priceline for the Hyatt Regency right across the bridge from the Port Everglades for 75$. We woke up and we saw all the ships in the morning.
The check in process went very smoothly, Celebrity was great, because my mother has a hurt ankle and they helped her in with a wheelchair and we boarded the ship by 1:30 probably a half hour total to get on the ship.
The Champagne and mimosas was nice touch on entry, we really didn't have a chance to enjoy it because we had carryon luggage. We went straight to our room on 1027 and the room was very nice. The balcony view was great. We had a concierge cabin and it was on the front portion of the ship. We were able to make it work, they had room for luggage space, but during the voyage it was sometimes cramped for 3 people. For 2 it would have been perfect. I'm a 6 ft. 2 235 pound guy and when changing for dinner it was small. Why I would want to get a mini-suite if that type of party went again.
As far as our steward Anil, he was great on the trip, very attentive for the whole trip.
My mother and sister enjoyed the view and had some drinks. I went to the pool bar to get my drink package. I would recommend the drink packages wholeheartedly to anybody. If you don't drink a lot there's not much of a point, but it covers everything, Coffees, Beer. Mix drinks and all. It's a great deal and glad other cruise lines are going to start to offer it.
The weather leaving FLL was rainy and stormy, wet more than anything. The boat was a little rocky that night which caused me and my mother to get a little seasick. The next morning I asked a bartender, was the boat a little rocky? He looked at me like I was an idiot, you're on a boat. I felt foolish. I have been on the Grand Princess and the Carnival Glory and it was less. Till I talked to a woman and sales clerk in the Solstice store who told if yes it was a little bumpy but that was probably going to be the worst of it.
As far as the ship, the ship was very pretty and the 3 pools were nice. I liked the touch of the grass but I thought they could have done a better job of it, because they had a big middle area they could have used for Bocce ball or putting and put lawn chairs on the sides. The reason being, the Solstice you had to wake up in the morning and go stake out a chair on deck or by the pool, if you did not, you would be hunting for one the rest of the day, which I did not like. I have been on other ships the Grand Princess and you NEVER had to look for a deck chair. On the solstice it was very much so grab it and hold on tight. Which by design I thought they could have done a better job with as far as ship design. Now on the lower decks around the pools they had chairs you could lie in and read but not get any sun.
As far as my other dislikes about it, the other things, which I thought they could have done a better job. After 1200 AM there's nothing to do, except Gamble or drink. I thought they could have had at least a midnight movie, some other alternative for people that don't want to drink and or gamble. Also that the pool closed at 9:30, which I have been on other cruise lines and they kept it open till a lot later. Also the jogging track was INSANE, I have been on other ships and the joggers were out of the way, on the Solstice, joggers are dodging people that are sunbathing and it seemed like an afterthought, it was bad for both the joggers and the sunbathers. They need to redesign the Solstice class add in another level and straighten the sunbathing and jogging areas out. I had read there was supposed to be first run movies; they had the Karate Kid and Facebook movie and the Prince of Persia. These are not first run movies. I was disappointed by this, at least change your literature to reflect on this.
The shows they had on the Solstice that were good, particularly Karen Grainger was fantastic and the closing show, the Cruise director sang and she was unbelievable.
As far as the restaurants, we ate mainly in the Ocean View cafe and the Epernay MDR. I read where another review where the person wrote, I was not expecting Ruth Chris quality but I was expecting better then Bob Evans or Ruby Tuesday quality. I knew he was talking about the Ocean View cafe, There were things there that were too die for, like, their Omelets and Waffles and Eggs Benedict, but other things like the bacon and scrambled eggs were something to be desired. But overall it was good.
The Grand Epernay was always good, only 3 things we had there were not. My mother had the escargot and it was not good. I had the Shrimp cocktail and you could still tell the shrimp were frozen and the sand veins were in them. EEK
:( Also on the last formal night we had the Lobster and it was overly well done. But there were other things like the Cod cakes; mashed potato soup and Veal Cordon Bleu were to die for. It was better to order from the right side of the menu then gets the stuff you could get any night. Especially the Chef specialties. I talked to many people on the ship and heard differing things of the other restaurants why we never went. My mother tried the Bistro on 5 and said it was great.
As far as stops, Puerto Rico was great we took a tour thru old and new San Juan, the only thing I didn't like about it; it's kind of like coming home. It's Americanized. When we docked there was a CVS pharmacy right where we docked.
St. Thomas was very beautiful and all the Jewelry Shopping you could stand.
My favorite was St. Martin, it was the most that reminded you of the Caribbean, we stayed mainly on the Dutch side, the stores a lot of jewelry ones, but they had pretty much anything you wanted to do. My mother and I had some health problems which made where all we could really do was shop and walk around. I would have loved to have gone diving, but I couldn't get up for it.
As far as Disembarkation it went very smoothly they had us meet in the theatre, then we were told to go, we had one bad moment, because my mother has a cane and the deck officer did not want to have a crew member help her in a wheel chair, but they ended up doing it. Going thru customs was about 30 minutes and I thought it went really quick.
All in all I thought it was a great cruise and Celebrity did their best to take care of it. I had read about the Norovirus outbreaks on the ship, but they were constantly cleaning everywhere we were. Also they had crew members giving out hand sanitizer everywhere. They were doing their best to keep it under control, as far as us, we only had a couple of times and it was mainly from seasickness. My real complaints were with the design of the ship which might me take a different carrier and no nighttime activities besides drinking and gambling. As far as going on the Solstice or Celebrity again. I would if they had a cruise, I wanted to go on would be the reason if I took them again.