I am a paraplegic and my wife and I are regular cruisers with Celebrity, but this was our first cruise in a Solstice class ship. We recently sailed on the Celebrity Equinox on their Ultimate Caribbean itinerary, in Aqua class.
We have found Celebrity to be very accessible for wheelchairs, with a few problems here and there, but there have been major improvements with the Solstice class. One of these is the gently tapered ends of the ramps to the dock in the ports. It used to be that the ramps always seemed to have a sharp drop off at the ends, the ends were tapered, but very steeply, so that one was always concerned about slipping off the wheelchair seat, I usually wear a wheelchair belt to forestall this possibility.
Another major improvement is the ease now of going from the interior unto the promenade and pool decks. The double automatic doors open quickly and the ramps over the doorsills are very gentle and now cause no problems, which is nice for a change. And these double doors are all over the ship now, rather than in just a few selected areas. In fact when we were traveling from one end of the ship to the other, we found it was fastest and easiest to go through the doors and use the outside promenade on deck 5.
We also appreciated that Celebrity is using more hard surfaces on their floors in the public areas. In fact another relatively carpetless way to go from one end of the ship to the other is to use deck 4.
As to the cabins, Celebrity’s accessible cabins are always well designed, but we especially appreciated the addition of a gentle permanent ramp to the balcony.
One other area that often gives wheelchair users problems is the wheelchair space seating in ship auditoriums, especially when the movable seats are taken (innocently) by able bodied passengers. Celebrity has (I believe) incorporated a subtle approach to this problem, that saves offending passengers who do not realize they are using space that is needed by wheelchair users. Signs are probably not the best solution, as the theaters are darkened and any signs would be hard to read.
What we noticed Celebrity does is leave a large area at the back with no seats. Able bodied do not think to use this area, so a wheelchair user can position themselves and their able bodied companion can bring one of the second row of movable seats (which are hardly ever used, because of the poor sight lines) over to beside the wheelchair. By the way, these empty areas (off a bit to the side) actually have the best sight lines, with no poles in the way.
These are just some of the improvements we have enjoyed on the new Solstice class ships. We recommend these ships highly for any cruisers, whether in wheelchairs or not.
The Solstice class ships are beautiful in a way very distinctive from any other ships we have encountered, contemporary, but in a very classic way. Many of the public areas are high ceilinged and spacious, and the Celebrity dedication to fascinating art is everywhere.
Celebrity is known for its food and we thoroughly enjoyed their offerings. For this cruise we were in the Blu restaurant set aside for Aqua Class passengers, and it was of the highest calibre. What surprised us was how much we looked forward to the table service breakfasts there, especially with the very large glass wall facing the open sea.
We also enjoyed the always freshly cooked salmon and the tuna steaks available at the AquaSpa Cafe (this cafe is available to all passengers), especially the tuna steaks, you don’t see these often anywhere.
The spacious Aqua class accessible cabin gave us a lot of room to maneuver and we enjoyed the extra amenities that came with the Aqua cabin.
All in all, a memorable cruise and a wonderful way to celebrate our 45th anniversary.