Embarkation - We arrived at the terminal at about 12:30. It was crowded but the traffic was well handled. By 1:00 PM the number of passengers waiting significantly diminished. This along with the experiences on my last two cruises confirms the advice "get there after 1:00". The cabins were not ready so we had lunch and lounged on the sundeck. We got into the cabins about 2:30.
Cabin - It was about average size for this class, but what was impressive was how well laid out the storage was. There were numerous drawers and shelves in both the bathroom and the living area.
Ship - Beautiful decor. Very effective use of lighting and colors throughout the ship. In the atrium, every other deck had a lounge for games or conversation. The ship is very accessible for passengers with disabilities.
Buffet - This was the best laid out buffet of any ship I have been on. A great variety of choices and the best salad bar I've see.
Dining - If you are on the flex dining and like to eat early (before 6:30) don't bother with the cumbersome reservation system. If you prefer late dining, you may be better off with a reservation as the dining room begins to get crowded about 6:30. The soups, salads and appetizers were excellent. The main courses ranged from average to excellent. Portions were of the right size to allow a sampling of the courses. we did not dine in the Murano restaurant but our friends who did really enjoyed it. We had dinner one night at the Bistro which was a nice light alternative to the MDR or Buffet.
Ports - We did our own walking tour with the help of a map in San Juan. The city is very historic and colorful. There is a pharmacy next to the pier where you can pick up many small items you may have forgot.
St. Maarten was very crowded as there were seven ships in port. Unfortunately, Solstice passengers had to tender. This is always a hassle and there were not enough tenders to handle the crowd efficiently. Took a sail and snorkel/beach trip which was excellent.
St. Thomas - Just walked around the central area here. I think St Maarten has surpassed St Thomas as THE shopping port if that is your thing. Enjoyed excellent conch fritters and beer at a tiny cafe in one of the alleys.
Entertainment and Lectures - Don't miss the talk on the ships construction by the staff captain. Many interesting photos and facts about the ship.
You may not think glass blowing is interesting but I was fascinated by these presentations. Theater entertainment was also very good. Don't miss the show that includes the Captain in the rock band.
Passengers - This was definitely an older crowd with the overwhelming majority in the 50s-to 90's range. Lots of fun folks. Very few children. Age didn't deter anyone from having fun.
Decks - Sun decks were crowded from about 9:30 to 3:30. Get there early if you want a good spot. There is a covered, adults only quiet area pool area for those who want a more peaceful option. Also if the outdoor pool is packed go a couple decks up forward for a less crowded and hectic atmosphere.
Overall - This is a fabulous ship. There are too many "nice touches" to describe here that add significantly to the enjoyment. You will find on board extras such as drinks, speciality dining, and spa activities a bit more expensive then on other lines. However, we were so impressed we booked another cruise while on board. Next time it will be a two week trip. One week was too short!