We live about an hour away from Cape Liberty, so we took independent car service. The luggage handlers at Bayonne threw our bags, very roughly into the already overflowing bins... more to come on this. As AquaClass passengers, we were directed to a fancy, separate embarkation lounge, with leather sofas, TVs, snacks, fresh flowers, and absolutely no line. I believe this lounge was for AQ and Suites, only.
We've been in the Solstice before, in a balcony room, so we pretty much knew what to expect in terms of the layout of the room. We loved the design and comfortable space. The special AQ amenities were nice -â€" the Frette robes, extra toiletries, bottled water (a few standard size bottles of water every day -â€" we asked for more and was gladly provided), slippers, bags (none of which we brought home since they all broke from use at the ports), canapÃ©s (which we exchanged for cheese and crackers), fruit bowl (which we exchanged for a fruit plate which had cut up fruit, versus whole fruit), fresh flowers, aromatherapy incense, ridiculously large towels, and a few that I'm sure I'm missing. Although they were all very nice, and made the overall experience more luxurious, there wasn't a single thing that was a 'must have'.
Our stateroom attendant was really fantastic. He took great care of us, without ever being too pushy. We saw him several times a day in our stateroom hallway, and he always greeted us with a huge smile. He was always very accommodating to our special requests as well.
Wow. Wow. Wow. We loved eating in Blu -â€" it was truly fantastic. The food was amazing (we finally understood the term 'clean cuisine' and thought that it fit perfectly). The service was absolutely perfect. The experience was unforgettable. Some of our favorite dishes, although definitely not limited to, were lobster, meat loaf, fettuccini alfredo, halibut, tortilla soup, filet mignon, duck salad, risotto, Empanadas...I know I'm missing many dishes, but these are the ones we had towards the end that I loved -â€" sorry, I wish I had a more extensive list! For breakfast we really enjoyed the pastries, tableside musseli, French toast, pancakes, and the mango smoothie.
DÃ©cor on the Solstice was one of the best I've ever seen -â€" Silhouette is marginally better, which is a huge compliment. Everything was modern, yet classic. Simple, but always something interesting to look at. Whimsical, yet very sophisticated. I'm not artistic, but I definitely admired all of the art. I also really loved all of the chairs -â€" so unique throughout! Loved the Treehouse replacing the Earth room on the Solstice. I miss the Hot Glass Show on the Solstice (a bit partial since I was lucky enough to win a bowl previously), although I love the design of the Lawn Club on the Silhouette.
Some of the best staff I've ever experienced in a casino! They were really helpful. They had this great slot promotion during the first 3 days, which we absolutely took advantage of. I can't remember the exact increments, but for example, buy $200 of slot credits up front, get maybe $10 or $20 in credits for free. $500 in slot credits got you an entry to the slot tournament, and I think about $70 in credits for free. Just as a warning, although there is a limit of 3 per person, the free entry to a slot tournament can only be received once. We found out about this later and the casino staff graciously compensated us for the slot tournaments with other things, i.e. t shirts, as we were spending a lot of time, and therefore money, in the casinos. All in all, the slot promotion was great! Their table game minimums were very reasonable, which I very much appreciated. Side note, although this doesn't really have to do with the Casino...but I won BINGO! That was a first and probably a last! :D
We only went to the MDR twice. The dÃ©cor of the MDR is beautiful and the food was quite tasty. I know that the service was probably a one-time thing, and the staff work incredibly hard. However, this lunch was possibly the slowest lunch I've ever experienced, waiting upwards of half an hour between courses. We got so fed up by dessert that we cancelled our orders and left. The staff did not even question why we left before dessert.
We did not go to lunch in the MDR after that experience, but we did go to the MDR again for the brunch buffet. The food was a great mix of breakfast and lunch dishes (sometimes I find Brunch leans too heavily towards breakfast foods, but this was not the case), and was very delicious. Loved the fried chicken, which I ate over waffles. Also loved the stir-fry. It was, however, incredibly busy, and the staff seemed to have a difficult time keeping up, as people were stealing tables, and crowding into the MDR. This was towards the end of the cruise -â€" and people were acting as if they had been starved for the past 10 or so days! I think this has to do with the organization of allowing people into the buffet, or opening up the upstairs portion a bit earlier (or maybe some did not know this was open?). All in all, we had a good time, but I think it was because we went a bit earlier, before some of the madness.
We enjoyed the buffet for breakfast and lunch, and some after dinner snacks. The food was quite good, with dishes ranging from B+ to A+. I loved the taco and curries station, as well as the asian stir fry. However, one thing I really missed from the Solstice sailing last year, was the asian food available for breakfast!
One thing that you should know is that it's pretty easy to find 20% deals on any of the specialty restaurants. Just wait until you see something or ask around. We were offered 20% off at various restaurants on several evenings. They also had a few openings for lunch at the Lawn Club Grill, and maybe some others, for a slightly reduced cost, but nothing significant. Also, on the first evening, every restaurant was offering a 2 for 1 deal! We also had this offered to us on 1 or 2 more occasions at specific restaurants.
With the 2 for 1 deal on the first evening, we decided to try out Q-sine. I have to say that the food was not that much better than Bllu (if not at the same level), but it was definitely a very fun and unique experience. My husband was feeling a bit sick, so we didn't eat as much as we could have. But some of our favorites was the lava crab, the hamburgers, and the cupcakes (although a bit dry, they were REALLY fun!).
My husband and I are not big drinkers, but just wanted to point out that they very often had happy hour specials, for example from 8/9pm... until 11pm Surprisingly, it seemed like we were the only ones taking advantage of these. Some people would order just one drink during happy hour, and I wanted to shout 'you can get one more for free!!!!!!'.....maybe it's just my personality :)
Although we did not go to all of the shows, we loved the ones we saw. Absolutely loved all of the circus type acts/all of the formal night shows. We were amazed by all of the performances and true talent! We truly felt like these were some of the best cruise shows we've seen! The Comedian was hilarious. There was this great show with a guy playing this instrument I've never seen before -â€" some cross between a xylophone and an electric keyboard -â€" so unique and such a great performance! Also the music playing throughout the ship, including the lawn performances, were wonderful.
This was a bit of a delayed and hectic process, but not much more than I expected it to be. We had a 9AM slot, and had called car service to pick us up at 10AM, for any delays, and getting through immigration/customs lines. We were a bit worried when our 9AM disembarkation, was delayed, and were finally called at around 9:40-9:45. We were towards the front of the huge mass leaving -â€" very lucky for us, as they were slowly shuttling people over to the terminal from the cruise ship. We only had to wait for one more bus, but was shocked by the crowd of people I saw outside of our bus, when we were 'full' and ready to leave. Everyone was out in the cold, and would have had to wait for at least 5-7 busses to get everyone who was waiting outside on a bus! I really think there should have been 2 busses boarding at the same time. One bus could have easily parked a little further up, with another bus parked behind it. Filling 2 busses at once, would have unfortunately been just as chaotic, but at least twice as efficient!
Remember I mentioned the luggage handlers at Cape Liberty were really really rough with our luggage? We received our luggage -â€" a very expensive Samsonite suitcase, worth several hundred dollars - with the wheel broken off. Guest Relations replaced our luggage with temporary new luggage, although incredibly cheap, just so that we could bring our things home. We filled out a damage claim form, and they promised Corporate would reimburse us for our Samsonite -â€" we've only been back a few days, but hopefully this will get resolved as quickly and effectively as Guest Relations handled things on board!)