My wife and I are in our early 60's and have cruised more times than we can count. Our history was mostly built with RCCL but, as we aged, we wanted to settle into a more refined, subdued cruise environment so we started a campaign a couple of years ago to compare Princess and Celebrity (on which we both have VIP repeater class) and see which one we prefer.
We've confirmed, after our second experience on Solstice class that this class of ship is a hands-down favorite. We like Princess a lot but the service, architecture, ambiance, attention to detail, interior decoration and fundamental layout of the ship win out for Celebrity Solstice class.
After thoroughly enjoying our sail on the Equinox in April, we decided to try out the "New York run" to see if we also liked it. It was our first experience sailing as many as 12 days but, since we live in NJ, our travel time was shortened. Going in, we were concerned about the weather during the sea days down and back. As it turned out, the only real cold days were when we were actually in Bayonne. On each of the adjoining sea days the weather was quite pleasant and we even got some sun. Note that I think we were blessed with some pretty nice high pressure systems.
The sail down the east coast was a bit rocky. Even though far away, the Captain mentioned that the seas were affected by a Tropical Depression to the east and we were sailing into the waves/wind which made it feel a bit like a TA. During the first sea day, it was impossible to find a place to sit together in the Solarium but we managed to wave to each other from across the room.
On the way back, we had the opposite. A trailing wind/sea made it very smooth. Bottom line, I wore a sweat suit on deck and enjoyed the outdoor ambiance.
There are plenty of spots to relax on the ship indoors as well so, my one concern of not knowing what to do on the sea days was unfounded.
About 40% of the passengers were from western and eastern Europe - so it made for interesting mingling and getting to know one another.
Here are some impression of the ship's features:
Cabins - easy to get around. Yes, storage is a bit difficult but, after a day or so, you figure out places to stow everything. Service was perfect. We went Concierge class and enjoyed the extra touches.
MDR - we eat here for most meals and 90% of the meals were terrific. There was the occasional unfortunate choice but this could be changed out if we wanted. Service was some of the best I've experienced. Our waitress and her assistant were extremely attentive to us and the other tables around us. The meals went quickly and efficiently.
Buffet - we don't use it much but when we did, we think this is the best layout on the sea. You rarely have to wait in line for anything and once you decide which type of food you want, you can zip in and out.
Lounges - some of the best at sea. All public areas show attention to detail I've not seen on other ships.
Main stage performances - the single acts ranged from Ok to great. The first comedian (can't recall his name) had us laughing from start to finish. The large productions were quite entertaining and professional - about what you would expect on a ship.
Other performers - The Les DeMerle Jass Band, Jonny Mantra (guitar), the string quartet, the rock band and the steel drum player were all top notch. They made cocktail hour very enjoyable.
I've noticed in some reviews that people will berate the ship for choices that were made in the design or marketing of their product. I think if you review the features and understand the makeup of the Solstice class ship you will not be disappointed. We weren't and are planning two more cruises in the next year - one on this same itinerary.
Needless to say we very much like the Silhouette.
I wish the Cape Liberty terminal was better configured for cruise debarkation but am perfectly willing to accept that tradeoff for the convenience of leaving from NJ.
Finally, I often see posts from folks wondering whether the drinks packages are worth the expense. For my first time, I prepaid the Premium drinks package and, although I probably would have spent less without it (or maybe close), I enjoyed having the freedom of not having to worry how much I was spending when I ordered a drink or a glass of wine. It just added to my positive experience and I found I wasn't tempted to drink any more than I would have without. I will purchase it again.