Overall: I want to start by saying that we had a great trip. Celebrity has great service and the Solstice is a beautiful ship. There were a few problems, but I try to not let the problems ruin the vacation. It may sound like many problems when you read my review, but those were the only problems we experienced. A little background on me: this is my 8th cruise, 3rd with Celebrity. Other cruise line I've been on include NCL, RCL, and Princess.
DÃ©cor: The Solstice is a fairly new ship, kept in good condition. I really like the dÃ©cor, overall the colors are classic and elegant. NCL ships seem too bright and loud in comparison. The ship is well laid out, with 8 elevators in the center and 4 near the forward. Since there are only two locations for elevators, it can be a lot of walking depending on your room location. My family like to get some exercise after all the eating so did not mind the walking. There are many lounges to sit and relax and I never really felt very crowded no matter where I was.
Room: My parents and I were booked in the Sky Suite at the Aft of the ship. The room is very large with a window and a large balcony. Since it is a corner balcony, we got both a view of the back and the side of the ship which was very nice. There were some soot visible on the deck of the balcony, but I think they wipe the chairs everyday because I never found the chairs to be dirty. My sister and her family stayed in the adjacent room which is a sunset verandah. First day on the ship, one of the staff told my sister that they are not in a suite and will not get the same amenity as us. We realize that and were ok with it, but we thought it was rather tactless for the staff to say that out loud. Since I am in the suite, we have a butler, which I found to be quite useless. The only things our butler did for us was to bring afternoon snacks and in-room breakfast if we ordered. We ordered in-room breakfast twice and both times certain things were forgotten. The first time, it was just a cup and some utensils. The second time, many items were left off, the butler told us it was because we ordered through the in-Room computer system via the TV. Anyways, we got annoyed and just went to the buffet for the rest of the week. I am not sure what else the butler is suppose to do, but for us he didn't seem to be useful or worth the extra tip. Our room attendants were very good and very friendly. Compared with NCL, I think NCL does better with the suite services and the concierge service. However, I do like Celebrity's room better.
Food: We ate most of the breakfast and lunch in the Ocean View Buffet and most dinners in the Main Dining Room (Grand Epernay). Here are my comments:
Breakfast Buffet: Due to a noro-virus breakout, we could not serve ourselves and had to be served by the staff. This turned out to be a disaster. Once someone else is serving, it just doesn't feel like a buffet anymore. The wait staff appeared to be tired and overworked so they were not very happy or attentive when serving. Often someone would say, "I just want a little of ..." and they would put a lot on the plate or vice versa. Long lines built up at the drink stations because there are only 2 to 3 staff per station. Breakfast food was good, but it was the same everyday, so it got boring by the end of the week. My mom really like omelets, but she thought the omelets made on the Solstice were not as good as other ships. The breads were really good, best I've had on ships. There were French toast, pancake, and waffles everyday which we enjoyed, with these really good cooked bananas.
Lunch Buffet: Again, being served was a nuisance. I really enjoyed the Indian food on board, it tasted authentic to me. Lunch also lacked variety, there were nachos/tacos and the same grilled meats everyday. The salads were really good, but waiting on line to get someone to make it for you was annoying. The hamburger on board was excellent, best I've ever had on a cruise. We also had lunch one day at Bistro on the Five which was great. All the crepes we had were good and the service was excellent. Definitely worth visiting.
Dinner: As mentioned before, we ate most of our meals in the MDR. We thought the food in the MDR was excellent. Again, one of the best we've had on cruises. Most food came in good temperature and was delicious. We had fixed time dining so we had the same waiters every night, which worked out really well. They got to know us and always prepared things the way we like. The waiters were really friendly and our sommelier was the most attentive I've ever experienced. He brought our unfinished bottle of wine from the night before without us asking. One night, I brought our complimentary bottle of sparkling wine down to the dining room and he immediately opened and poured it. He was really attentive and always kept our glass filled.
We did have dinner one night at the Murano. I know many rave about the Murano, but for us it was rather disappointing. I had the lobster bisque to start which was delicious. Then I had an arugula salad with quail. The greens were not dressed so it was a little bland. The worse part was that I found a small hair in my salad! I told the waiter about it, he apologized in a joking manner saying how the chef was upset that he is losing his hair and offered no further consolation. (We were hoping for complimentary wine or something.) No one from the kitchen came out to apologize and neither did the Matre D come by to say anything. Being that the Murano is advertised as a top notch French restaurant, I was disappointed that they treated this matter in such an unprofessional manner. For entrÃ©e, I had the Petit Filet which I thought was a little tough, did not taste like filet mignon. My companions had the lobster which was prepared at tableside and the waiter forgot to add the butter in their lobster, but it still tasted very good. For dessert, we all had the soufflÃ©, which were good, but could have been better. I thought it was a little undercooked. Overall, the experience at the Murano was pleasant, but I find the food to be similar to the MDR and the service to be even worse, so I felt that it's not worth the cover charge.
Entertainment: I went to several shows, some were better than others. There's one that was similar to Cirque de Soleil which was pretty good. They had a jazz musician one night which I enjoyed. In addition to the main theatre, there were many musicians in the different lounges. I found most of the groups to be good and entertaining. I think I enjoy the smaller venues more than the large theatre performances. I also saw the glass show on board a couple times. They were really interesting. Something you just don't get to see often so it's definitely worth it to go to at least one show.
Itinerary: This was my first time with this itinerary and I found it to be great. Grand Cayman had beautiful beaches, great snorkeling at Cozumel, and we got to see some Mayan Ruins at Costa Maya. My only complaint was that there really wasn't much you can do right at the pier besides shopping, no attractions are within walking distance, not even the beach. However, I know that is often the case, so it's not a big deal.
One more comment: My sister had two young kids, and she did send the older one to the Day Camp on the ship. The staff for the kids program was great. My niece had a wonderful time there. The Solstice also has one of the best toddler play room we've ever seen. It was quite surprising to us since we didn't think Celebrity catered to kids, but after our experience, I would recommend Celebrity to families.