We sailed on the Nov. 16 cruise out of Barcelona. There were 9 in our group of friends, several of whom had never cruised before.
Impressions of the ship: Sleek and sophisticated, but felt like an ultra-modern hotel rather than a ship. I didn't particularly care for the layout - the atrium felt small and crowded, the shops were spread out on two decks and never appeared to have anyone in them. The Sky Lounge had filmy curtains that hung above most of the booths. This blocked the view out to sea, which to me is the purpose of a room like this. The oceanview cafe was always SO crowded, it was extremely difficult to find a seat at lunchtime. In fact, one day we gave up and took our plates back to our room. I guess it was just too much steel, glass, and modern art for me. Beautiful to be sure, but just didn't have a warm, welcoming feel to me.
Staff: We had the best room attendants we have ever had on any ship, by far! They were Pius and Lakeram, and they were so consistently wonderful I can't say enough good things about them. MDR attendants were also very good - even the maitre d' was very helpful. The activity director must have changed with our sailing, as we had a male (Stewart) and I'd read that there was a female director on prior cruises. He was OK, not great.
Cabin: We had 6292, a balcony towards the aft, and it was terrific. From 6288 on back, the balconies are about 3 feet deeper than normal. The cabin layout was very comfy, loved the sofa and the large flat-screen TV. The bathroom was beautiful, very high-end with tons of storage space for toiletries.
Entertainment: We saw nearly all of the shows and thought they were excellent. The ship's orchestra is really fabulous, the singers and dancers in the production shows were extremely talented. We also enjoyed the solo-performer shows in the theater. Topnotch, the party band, was also great - those two girl singers are incredible!
Food: We ate dinner in the MDR all but 2 nights and liked most of the offerings, although some of the menu items were just downright strange. They seemed to put sauce on nearly everything, even the "lobster" on the 2nd formal night. It was a small crustacean called a "rock lobster" and it came drowned in an orange sauce. Where was the drawn butter?! The beef was generally tender. I liked the burgers and fries in the Mast Grill, wish it would stay open later than 6 PM. Overall, the food was good, just a little too fancy for us. At least we didn't gain weight, so that's a good thing.
Itinerary: Barcelona, Cannes (subsituted last minute for Villefranche as their pier was damaged in a storm), Livorno, Civitavecchia, Naples, Durbovnik, Venice (overnight), Kotor and 3 sea days. LOVED every single port, the sail-ins to Venice and Kotor were nothing short of amazing as was sailing through the Straits of Messina. We had been to Florence, Rome and Venice on previous land-based trips but still enjoyed them immensely. We did private tours for Pisa/Florence and Pompeii/Amalfi Coast, the rest on our own.
Weather: Boy, did we luck out! It was rainy and cool in Barcelona when we arrived, but mostly sunny, low to mid 60's in Cannes, Florence, Rome, Naples and Kotor. We had afternoon rain in Dubrovnik, and sunny but cool (low to mid 50's) in Venice. Our last day at sea, it got to 70 and felt wonderful. Seas were SO calm, 1 -3 feet - unbelievable! It was perfect.
Overall, we had a fantastic time. The Solstice delivered us to all of our destinations safely and comfortably. While it is not my favorite ship, I would happily sail her again.