Celebrity Solstice Entertainment
Celebrity's enrichment program, offered day and night, it is called Celebrity Life. Activities are divided into four categories: Culinary, enrichment, wellness and trivia & games.
During the day Celebrity offers a number of choices for enrichment and entertainment. Those who can't bear the thought of disembarking without winning just one more luggage tag can compete in multiple games of trivia and game shows.
Passengers who would like to disembark with a bit more brain power than they came aboard with can attend lectures in Celebrity's Beyond the Podium talk series, where topics have included a self-improvement specialist, an expert on Atlantis, and a real-life crime scene investigator discussing forensic science.
Culinary-oriented options include wine tastings and a Riedel glass tasting (a fascinating and experiential look at how the shape and feel of a wine glass impacts its taste), galley tours and cooking and cocktail-making demos in the atrium. Arguably, the most unique enrichment experience is the "Hot Glass Show," where passengers can sit surrounded by the grass of the Lawn Club and watch a master from the Corning Museum of Glass practicing his or her art, with a second artist providing commentary. This goes light years beyond the demonstrations we're all used to seeing at the Murano glass factories.
Then there are the standbys we all expect: bingo, dance lessons and the like.
One disappointment -- and this comes from someone who doesn't spend a lot of time in casinos -- is that the casino on Solstice is entirely too small for a 2,850-passenger ship and could use more gaming tables. At most, four blackjack tables would be open at any given time, and only one of those had a five-dollar minimum.
A decent variety of musical performances -- on deck, in lounges or in the main showroom -- cover a variety of musical styles. These included a solo steel pan player, a classical string quartet, solo pianists, a jazz combo and big band stylings from the main show band.
Solstice Theatre, the ship's main show lounge is an extremely well designed room with excellent sightlines and semicircular rows of comfortable theater seats, all with good views of the stage. There are no tables, but drink holders have been added to the armrests. Normally three production shows take place on a seven-night cruise; one of the shows is a Cirque du Soleil-inspired circus show, while the other two are standard revues with the star aerialists used like featured dancers. Other main show lounge performances included a singer, and welcome aboard and farewell shows.
Shore excursions were handled efficiently and smoothly. We didn't find anything new or unique on our sailing, but we were, after all, on an Eastern Caribbean itinerary. Our offerings may not reflect the choices available on Solstice's European cruises.
Celebrity Solstice Public Rooms
The slogan for the ship is "food is at the aft end; entertainment is up front; and the money is in the middle." To that end, the restaurants are clustered aft of the atrium, and the Solstice Theatre (main show lounge) is fully forward. Between the main atrium and the Solstice Theatre is a mini-atrium, anchored at Deck 4's "Entertainment Court," the nexus for nighttime entertainment. Amidships, in between the dining and entertainment venues, are the casino, reception and a mind-boggling 19 boutiques and shops, covering every genre and price point. Show me the money!
In another cluster, various landings for the main atrium's elevators have been expanded to accommodate the card room, library, a museum-like interactive environmental awareness experience called "Team Earth," and the Internet cafe. The 24-hour library is spectacular, extending vertically for two decks, with towering bookshelves extending the full height of the room, and has a middling selection of books to borrow (we noticed that many passengers had brought along their own electronic readers, like Kindle and Nook).
The Internet cafe is a typical onboard facility with plenty of dedicated laptops (augmenting the stem-to-stern Wi-Fi) and enrichment classes in various popular applications from Word to Photoshop.
Celebrity Solstice Spa & Fitness
Spa services are conducted by Elemis, Ltd. (a division of Steiner), and include a dizzying array of spa treatments including a variety of massage offerings from sports to New Age and everything in between. A standard 50-minute massage is $110, excluding bells, whistles and hot stones. Elemis also offers teeth whitening and acupuncture.
The Persian Garden, a Millennium-Class idea expanded to Solstice and its siblings, is central physically and conceptually to Celebrity's AquaSpa concept. The area includes a coed sauna and steam room, tropical rain shower and heated ocean-view relaxation chairs. The facility is available for free to AquaClass passengers and for $99 to all other passengers (based on a one-week cruise.)
AquaSpa pools include a lap pool and two whirlpools in the Solarium and are the most elegant indoor pools at sea (the dancing water fountain is a lovely, restoring touch).
Though the AquaSpa pools are closed to children, the main pool area does include a family pool (shallow for youngsters), separated narrowly from the "Sports Pool" on one side and the "Wet Zone" on the other. The Wet Zone is a flat area with vertical fountain jets that fire at random; it's great fun for kids to play in, or for anyone wishing for a quick cool down. Together these three form Solstice's main pool area, accompanied by four hot tubs.
A fully-stocked and staffed gym sports all the newest fitness machines, as well as a serpentine jogging track (eight laps to the mile). The nicest recreational area is the Lawn Club, and though Celebrity is careful to avoid excess wear and tear on the living grass, the ship's own backyard does feature a bocce court and a three-hole putting course. At the forward end of the ship, on Deck 15, is a basketball court.