This being the first time I was on a cruise, I have little to which I can compare the Celebrity Solstice; however, I can say that my cruise was one of the best vacation experiences I have ever had! My wife and I were celebrating our 10-year anniversary and wanted to try something new. To be honest, she had to talk me into a cruise, because we are active and in our mid 30's and I feared it would mostly be families and the elderly, with little emphasis on activities for our demographic. While the population of the ship probably trends a bit older than ourselves, there were plenty of folks in their 20's and 30's and the options for activities kept us entertained and engaged the entire cruise. Also, the formal nights, which I was going to skip (I already have to dress up for work everyday, why do it on my vacation, right?) were a lot of fun and really added to the experience. In short, I would do it again, and wish I was on the Solstice right now!!
The staff on this ship are top-notch. We absolutely loved the experience they provided with the exception of one individual, whom I discuss later. We particularly enjoyed our Porter, Ronnie, the Casino Hostess, Nikola, and the Executive Chef, Gerard (although all of the cooking staff were really just great!). The crew is international, but all seem to be working from the same sheet of music.
The food was stellar. While I believe you could have an excellent experience only dining in the MBR and buffet, we tried out Tuscan Grill and Silk Harvest as well. In both instances, we dined at tables overlooking the ocean at sun down and the food was amazing. The Steak Tar-tar was to die for at the Tuscan Grill, and the Solstice Roll at Silk Harvest was so good, we must have eaten three or four. In addition, the lamb and beef in the MBR were insanely good and cooked to perfection (read this as "Not overcooked" as many restaurants tend to do). I could go on for days about the food, even the buffet in the Oceanview was pretty darn good and equivalent to some of the better Vegas buffets. The buffet in the MBR, which only occurs on certain days, was the next step up, and probably the second best I have ever had. It is not highly advertised, but if you like fresh fish, Filet Mignon, and chocolate fountains, do yourself a favor and do not miss it!!
We did mostly our own excursion, which we researched ahead of time; however, we did go on the Old San Juan walking tour, which was worth every penny and gave us a good feeling of the culture and history. If you get Diego as your guide, I assure you, you are in great hands!!
** The (only slightly) Bad**
For a ship that almost never felt crowded, the pool deck was an exception. In addition, many people would place towels on the chairs and then leave. This meant that by 9:00, there were no more chairs available, and yet, many were empty. This is, I suppose, more of a testament to the rudeness of passengers than to a shortcoming on the Celebrity's part, but I would welcome a system by which they removed towels after a certain time had elapsed. The individual running the MBR made a mistake with our dining and was extremely rude when we asked him to remedy the issue. He was the only staff member that did not deliver on excellent service. We decided not to let it bother us, even after being forced to deal with him on three contentious occasions (and I have to say that my wife and I are easy going people); however, we did mention him in our customer comment cards.
We loved our trip on Solstice, would highly recommend it, and would do it again in a heartbeat!!
Get the Mofongo. I got mine with marinated beef and it was excellent, as well as being a true local flavor.
If given more time, I would have spent more time exploring El Morrow, which we only got to see from the outside.