On Celebrity Solstice, the first of a new class of five vessels to be launched through 2012, Celebrity has created a dynamic new cruise ship. In many cases, a cruise line's "new class" often means just a larger, or slightly tweaked, version of a previous design. At 122,000 tons, Solstice has the size credentials, being the largest Celebrity ship ever launched, but there's much more to this vessel, and to the sisters that have since followed, such as Equinox and Eclipse.
Solstice has one of the best interior architecture designs we've ever seen, and passenger flow is excellent. While the ship's passenger-to-space ratio is standard for the industry, we never felt crowded and never experienced a single long line. On our completely full sailing the ship felt half-empty. Solstice is also an extremely easy ship to navigate, even for first-time cruisers. Everything is clustered: all the entertainment is forward; the food is aft; and -- insiders are quick to point out -- the money (casino, reception, shops) is in the middle. Even the specialty restaurants are all clustered on a single deck (Deck 5).
Solstice's style blossoms from the root of its name, "sol," meaning "sun." Even the casino chips bear images of the sun, a different stylistic representation on each denomination. And the sun plays an important role for the ship, from powering the 216 solar panels that contribute -- although to a minor extent -- to the ship's electrical grid, to nurturing what is perhaps the most unique feature of this, or any other, ship: a full half-acre of lush living grass. Called the Lawn Club, this area features bocce courts, a putting course and the Hot Glass Show, where passengers can delight in seeing the creation of complex works of glass art from basic raw materials to the finished objects.
Other "green" innovations include improvements in hull design and coatings, which boost fuel efficiency, and the use of eco-friendly refrigerants and lighting.
Celebrity Solstice Fellow Passengers
The typical Celebrity passenger is mid-50s, traveling as a couple, sophisticated and appreciative of the better things in life. The majority are from the United States when sailing in Alaska, and Australian when in the South Pacific, but the ratio of couples to families with kids may shift during school holiday periods.
Celebrity Solstice Dress Code
During the day, dress is resort casual, but Celebrity passengers tend to dress up for dinner -- typically button-down or dressy Tommy Bahama-type sport shirts and slacks for men and dresses or smart-casual pants for women. Formal night on Celebrity has been replaced by "evening chic" in the main dining room. This means that men can ditch the full suit and tie in favor of a sport coat and collared shirt, with designer jeans. Women can wear cocktail dresses, sundresses or designer jeans or nice pants. In the buffet, almost any form of dress is allowed except swimwear, flip-flops, spa robes and bare feet.
Celebrity Solstice Gratuity
Tips aren't included in the cruise fare, but suggested gratuities are automatically added to your onboard account at a rate of $13.50 per person/per day, if you're in a standard cabin; $14 per person/per day, if you're in a Concierge Class or AquaClass; and $17 per person/per day, for passengers in suites. If you would like to adjust the gratuities, you can make do so through the Guest Relations desk. An 18 percent charge is added automatically to all beverage and minibar purchases as well as spa and salon purchases. You can't remove these gratuities but can add to them.
Next: Celebrity Solstice Cabins