Pre-cruise: We stayed at the Fairfield Inn Miami Airport South. The hotel was nicer than I was expecting it to be. It is very modern and we got a good price on it. I found the bed comfortable because some hotels have scratchy sheets, but not this one. There was always lemon and water out as well as coffee or tea. Our room was located on the 2nd floor of the hotel at the end of the hallway. We are lucky that we got the 2nd floor as they wanted to put us up on the 3rd floor or 4th since it was crowded. We went to eat fast food next door and no one was really there. I had a vegetable pita, which I inhaled from traveling all day. I checked out the next door Marriott too, which was very impressive. It looked like a 5 star hotel. We met someone who was going on Norwegian Epic and traveling alone. Later, we went across the street to meet him at the seafood place across the street. It cost $17 for a bowl of soup and a cup of soup, which was the cheapest on the menu. Beware though that they include gratuity and many people did not know this. They are very pushy with tipping extra too and never seem to come back with the change. I tried the hot tub outside and it was very nice. Not a lot of people used it. Sometimes the jets did not work. It was hard to sleep for part of the night because there was loud music across the street and planes would fly over head landing every 30 minutes. I finally slept for probably about 4 hours, who sleeps before a cruise anyway? I had breakfast at 7 am. There was waffles, toast, English muffins, yogurt, fruit cups, juice, and more. It was all included in the price, which was very nice. We arranged a ride to the cruise ship at the front desk. The lady at the front desk recommended that we go to the cruise ship at 9:30 AM. We were going to go at 10 am, but she said that was too late and it would be too crowded then. We took her word. The driver was 20 minutes early and he was there right when we walked down at 9:15 AM. This driver ended up being much cheaper than the shuttle that they seemed to be pushing that didn't leave until 11 AM. I am glad someone at the front desk told us the truth and not to take the shuttle. The day before they were really pushing the shuttle on us. She says some hotels leave at 9:30 AM to the cruise ship and that was much better. The driver charged us $10 a person and the shuttle was $12 a person I believe. It was great and there was no one to wait for like a shuttle.
Embarkation: Very Smooth. We waited an hour or so before they let us through the security line. They called us according to room, class, and status. We were elite members. The only problem is that the lady who was checking us in couldn't scan our passports. The scanner was not working and she had to do it manually. That was kind of disappointing as it took longer than other people. After that, we waited another 30 minutes before we were allowed to board. At about 11 am, we were allowed to board the ship. It went very smooth and we just walked on board.
Stateroom: We were on the hump, very large balcony. I'm not sure I would get it again as we didn't use our balcony much. It was nice to listen to the ocean though. The room is very small for three people though and it is kind of like a closet, but I don't mind. The ceilings were definitely shorter than at the hotel.
Food: I'm vegetarian. There were many options for me and I was never hungry. In fact, later in the week I started to eat at the healthy breakfast since I was getting tired of eating so much food. The dinner was awesome too and the waiter brought me an alternative vegetarian menu if I didn't like the main dish.
Ship: Beautiful. This is our 3rd Solstice class in a row and I knew what to expect. The ship is the same as other Solstice class ships. It has different art work and there is an internet cafe with all apple computers, which was amazing.
Entertainment: It was okay. After a while, it seemed to be the same thing night after night. The same actors just dress in another costume. The comedian Louis Johnson was excellent. I really enjoyed his late night show. I wish I would have done karaoke. I know I would have gotten to the finals and opened the show. :( I walked around and looked at the karaoke finale. I love karaoke, I sing it all the time.
Crew: Captain Skyliantos was excellent. I sailed with him on Celebrity Solstice in March 2009. I got a picture with him in the hall when he walked past our room. He was nice enough to stop and take a few minutes to take a picture even when our camera wasn't working properly. The cruise director Mike was hilarious. We sat front row in the show and he joked as we left. I couldn't stop laughing as I walking out of the show room. This is definitely the best cruise director we had on the a Celebrity cruise. The water boy was the same guy as 4 years ago! He is from turkey and said that he worked for Celebrity for 10 years. He remembered us and a few other waiters in the dining room came up and asked if we remember them. The Captain's Club host Chandru was very good too. We are elite members.
Service: Excellent. My water was never empty in the dining room. The service definitely stands out from any other cruise line. Whatever you want, they will bring you right away.
Debarkation: We took express departure and walked off the ship. I didn't even have to wait, it was immediate. This is the best debarkation I had. I could have made the 8 AM flight to Detroit it went so smooth.
Negatives: The first night we told a senior officer about the cigar smoker and it didn't stop the next day. The third day he smoked, they caught him red handed. He claimed that he didn't know about the smoking policy (yeah right). Maybe he should have went Holland America? Cigar smoker next door smoked the whole week even though we notified the purser's desk a number of times. It never stopped. Why market yourself as smoke free on the balcony when you let people do what they want? I kind of wish I went on Allure of the Seas because that is the prime reason I take celebrity for their smoking policy. It didn't ruin my cruise, but I hated being fumed out of my room on embarkation day for a number of hours. It is much worse than a cigarette. A cigarette and cigar in an ash tray sat on the balcony for three whole days without being picked up. I guess the room stuart wants his tips. The part that annoyed me is that the purser lady pretended that we were making up that he was smoking when he clearly was. She called up to the cigar smoker's room and asked are you smoking? He said "no".... she was like yeah he said he wasn't smoking. I rolled my eyes and of coarse he would say no to cover up himself. It is a very distinct smell, and we never encountered anything like it on my other two cruises on Celebrity Solstice and Celebrity Equinox (which was 11 nights). It is very hard for me to pick a balcony again since they really don't crack down on smokers. Each time they said that they sent up the lead housekeeper, nothing really happened. I have a feeling that they really did nothing. What else could I do? Take a picture of the cigar smoker and show it to them? I don't want to fight with him just want to enjoy fresh clean air and Celebrity's smoking policy. It didn't completely break my cruise, but I guess I just got unlucky and choose the wrong room location.
What happened? They seemed to have cheapened down on the food noticeably. The fish and chips in the buffet contained no fish what so ever. It was only deep fried batter. The escargot was no where to be seen and instead it was mushrooms and crab. I thought it was escargot at first. Instead of beef tenderloin, it was chicken. Every time I inspected the food closer, I notice how they keep secretly cheapening it down hoping that no one will notice. I'm getting smarter on cruises and I can almost read it like a book now. We are elite members and they cut back the drinking hours to only 4 days to save money obviously. I think they should keep the perks coming. It is why most of us come back. Of coarse there were a few dishes I didn't really care for in the dining room but there was plenty where I didn't want to see food again for a long time.
Casino: I won $105 at the casino using my match play. I was so happy! I never win at the casino. The first time I won $35 and the second time $75 even though it should have been more if I made better calls. I was playing Blackjack. I got 20's and 21's all over. It was crazy.
I will cruise Celebrity again in the future, but I'd like to try something different. What keeps me coming back is the excellent perks of being an elite member. I will probably try Royal Caribbean and/or Norwegian next. I'm 23 years old and enjoy the atmosphere of Celebrity, but I'd like more night life activities.