My first time on the Solstice, or any of her class. I have been on the Millennium class several times (5), and on the Century. I've also tried Carnival, Holland America, and Royal Caribbean.
We booked this cruise at the last minute after booking the Solstice for New Zealand and Australia in January 2013. I couldn't wait that long to cruise and the price was right.
We flew from San Diego to Miami the day before the cruise. No issues. We stayed at the Marriott Courtyard near MIA. Nice hotel. We went to dinner at Versailles and enjoyed some great Cuban food. Picked up a couple bottles of wine at a local store for the trip (which all turned out a bit off).
The next morning we grabbed some Cuban pastries as Rosa's bakery--also yummy, and headed for FLL to drop our car and then onto the Port. (FYI we could have dropped the car at the Port, but didn't know. Next time). We arrived a little after 11 and sailed through check in and onto the ship. We had lunch up in the Oceanview cafe and toured around the ship a bit.
We had a balcony cabin on deck 8. Overall the cabin was very nice. The one thing I didn't like was we had one of the cabins with the bed next to the balcony rather than closer to the bathroom/door. I prefer the other configuration. But not a big deal. Our steward was fine. He took good care of our room, but otherwise was not visible. Not really interactive, but when we called for a bucket of ice and a wine opener he took care of us very quickly.
We opted for select dining when we booked because originally it was just going to be my BF and me on the cruise. My Aunt and her SO, and some friends of theirs ended up joining us for the cruise. So we all did Select. I like the flexibility of select, but you definitely don't get as good of service as you would at the set dining. But we did end up finding a great waiter (Beliz from Turkey) and asked for her the rest of the nights. She was wonderful. But she mentioned she was transferring to Silhouette so you can't request her on Solstice. :( I thought the food was very good. I liked the menu changes that were made from my last cruise in December 2010.
We did breakfast and lunch in the Oceanview Cafe. I prefer the old style Millennium class oceanview set up for both breakfast and lunch. This seemed more hectic and unorganized. I definitely missed the made to order eggs benedict. And the waffle bar was way to busy and didn't ever seem to have enough made. At lunch they didn't have as many of the tasty Indian food options that we had on our last two cruises. They always had Indian, but not very good choices, except for embarkation day. The beef curry was delicious. Overall though the food in Oceanview was good.
I went to a couple of the shows. I caught part of the Show (cirque d soleil style), while watching Alabama win the NCAA National Championship. (Roll Tide.) It was great. I also really enjoyed the Broadway show. I thought the two male lead singers were really good. We also enjoyed the musician who played at the Oceanview bar during sailaway. I can't think of his name now, but we enjoyed him. I also really enjoyed the Acapella quartet. Only wish their shows were longer than 15 minutes. :)
Ports. I'd been to all of the ports before except Roatan, and still enjoyed them all.
In Grand Cayman we did a private excursion with Stingray Sailing to the stingrays and for snorkeling. Overall it was a good excursion, but we didn't get as much interaction with the Stingrays as we had on my last trip. I'm not sure why--the water was a little rough. The snorkeling was okay--just not as spectular as other places I've been.
In Cozumel we did a private snorkeling excursion with Eagle Ray Divers. The snorkeling was amazing! And the crew with Eagle Ray was great. The only issue was the boat was really slow, so it took a long time to get out to the first snorkel stop. Not good for my BF who was a bit motion sick. But the snorkeling was wonderful, and the included lunch at Money Bar was great too.
In Roatan we did a private excursion with Rony's Tours to the South Shore Ziplines and Mahogony Bay Beach. Rony set us up with Norbert who took us to South Shore for ziplining and stayed with us the rest of the day. Norbert took good care of us. We really enjoyed the zipline--our first time. It was not scary at all once we got there and started. The beach was also great. Such wonderful snorkeling there right off the beach (start in front of Infinity Bay Resort). We had lunch and enjoyed the beach at Bananarama. One note of caution--the waitress added a $5 service charge for the kitchen and other staff, but said gratuity for her was "optional." I think we were taken on that one, but I didn't argue. We paid the extra $5 plus tipped her.
In Costa Maya we had a outstanding tour through Natice Choice of the Chachobben Ruins. I had done this tour two years before, but wow this was even better because we had Ivan as our guide. Ivan's Dad discovered these ruins and he was actually born in a house on the site. Ivan was a wonderful guide with such a unique connection. He told us a lot about the Maya, and about the ruins of course. Normally Ivan does one of the smaller tours with lunch at a local Mayan's house, but when we were there he took the large group we were in. Just can't say enough about how interesting he was. After the tour we headed to 100% Agave for lunch. Apparently it had been raining most of the day near shore so it was very quiet in town. Worked fine for us. We had a great lunch at 100% Agave and then headed to Tropicante for massages. Because of the rain we were inside rather than on the beach for the massages but it was still good.
The last day at sea was a little chilly and cool. We attended the lecture by the Staff Captain on the making of the Solstice in Celebrity Central. It was a great presentation mostly because the Staff Captain was so funny and had a lot of info to share since he was at the ship yard for the building of both Solstice and Equinox. At the end someone asked a question about safety given the Costa incident in Italy. That was news to us--we hadn't heard about it at that point. The Staff Captain addressed the question but within minutes had to leave the room as he was so upset about it. Anyway it was a great presentation. Other than that we just relaxed and enjoyed the last day.
The next day was disembarkation. We chose to self-disembark, and just kind of took our stuff and headed off around 8 am. It was a slow with only 4 customs agents as described by others, but we were early enough that it wasn't as bad as it sounded from others' stories. I think it only took about 30 minutes to get through customs.
After that we headed to FLL to pick up a rental car for the day. We had a late flight (5:05). We toured a bit around Miami (my BF had grown up there), and Miami Beach before heading to the airport. Flights were good home to San Diego.
Overall we had a good time, but I think I'm more suited for the Millennium Class ships. This just felt a bit too big (and Century was a bit too small). It didn't really seem too crowded, but that must have been part of it.