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376 Celebrity Solstice Caribbean - Eastern Cruise Reviews

My wife and I have gone on cruises with all the mid level cruiselines. What we have figured out is that Celebrity is for us. We do not have children, we're professionals, active, enjoy fine dining and the decorum required. It's ... Read More
My wife and I have gone on cruises with all the mid level cruiselines. What we have figured out is that Celebrity is for us. We do not have children, we're professionals, active, enjoy fine dining and the decorum required. It's kind of like our country club, proper dress, attitude, yet still relaxed. The clientele on Celebrity is not like Carnival, but not as stuffy as Crystal. It's a upper middle income and beyond crowd. For someone who doesn't own a suit and likes wearing a t-shirt and getting drunk at the pool, Celebrity is not for you. The cruise was the first time we got a suite. It was about twice the price of a Concierge Class cabin. Our cabin was on the top cabin level, at the rear corner. This was roomy, comfortable bed, full bathtub & a XL balcony with chaise lounges and a table with chairs. Butler service comes with all suite cabins. Check before you cruise to take advantage of all the amenities. If you take advantage of the butler service, the cabin is worth every nickel. The Solstice is an awesome cruise ship. I have been on all the other mega ships, and this one is by far the best. The layout is great, everything is easy to get to. The specialty restaurants are all very good, Bistro on 5 is the $5 bargain. The main dining room had very good food with excellent service. The buffet was a typical buffet, too much food that was above average. The workout facilities are better than other ships we have been on, not crowded due to older folks on the ship. The pool areas are like all pool areas on cruise ships, overcrowded and busy. Being from AZ, we get plenty of sun and pooltime.The flipside of that is that there is a lawn area that is awesome. This area is underutilized. Never to busy with the Sunset Bar at the rear. My wife and I spent time here everyday. What did I really enjoy the most about this cruise you may ask? The atmosphere! It was relaxing, active, sophisticated & simply enjoyable. From the breakfast brought to our room with cuppucinos with Irish Whiskey, to the relaxing lunch at Bistro on 5. Before dinner drinks at The Martini Bar, then dinner at the Tuscan Grill, after that drinks at the Molecular Bar. You have to understand, that sophisticated cruising doesn't come cheap. If you don't want to spend money, you still can have a great time, just spoil the with a good attitude with a friendly hello - don't treat them as the help. If you know how to properly tip - grease the squeakly wheel once you arrive. $50 for the butler, $40 for the room attendant, $40 to the bar you will frequent and a few $20's to the other bar, $50 & $20 to the Maitre'D &assistant, $50 & $20 to the waiter and busses. So about $300 in tips the first day insured us of never waiting in line, best seating in the house, generous pours. The crew knew my wife and I by our fist names and bent over backwards for us. I figured this extra tip was worth it's weight in gold. Embarkation - easy as long as you are there early or late. Public Areas - classy and room to move around. Cabin - Great bed, comfy linens, like new. Fitness - rarely crowded with good classes. Spa - pricey, but everything $$ at a spa. Rates - all extras cost $, nothing was too out of line, cheaper than Vegas. Dining - Great specialty restaurants, great main dining, above average buffet. Entertainment - I enjoyed it, I am easily pleased. Service - absolutely excellent! Shore Excursions - pricey, but worth it for the peace of mind. Value - Best bargain for this range of cruiselines. Overall - Best cruiselines for those looking for a sophisticated crowd and few children. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
It's a long review, so stick with me! A little about Me: I was 6 years old when I saw my first cruise ship. I was in Aruba, and I remember watching a Celebrity ship sail into port and being completely blown away. So it was no ... Read More
It's a long review, so stick with me! A little about Me: I was 6 years old when I saw my first cruise ship. I was in Aruba, and I remember watching a Celebrity ship sail into port and being completely blown away. So it was no surprise to my parents 6 years later (12 years old) when I told them to book a Norwegian Jewel cruise for spring break. Sound a little ridiculous? Yes. I like to call myself strong willed, or motivated. My parents call me expensive and demanding. It was February of 2008, my parents just got back from Aspen and I was jealous. I told them they owed me one, dragging them into a travel agency down the road. Dad gave in, and I found myself having the time of my life! Something is so special about your first cruise, I was hooked for life. A man on a mission...Cruising on the cheap!: Now 16 years of age, it was time for another cruise. All fingers pointed at Celebrity, for excellent food, service, ships, ports, etc. It was pretty easy making the choice! By collecting Marriott Hotel points, i found we would be able to get $1000 off the cruise price. By collecting Delta Sky Miles, we flew the family of four for free! And the precruise hotel? Taken care by Hilton points. Precruise: We flew in one day before the cruise, and stayed at The Hilton DoubleTree (Free on points) about 15 minutes away from both the airport and cruise port. It's an all-suite hotel, but fairly average. Really nice location next to a mall, grocery store, and the beach. I would recommend the hotel, because it was extremely easy getting to the port on embarkation day. Embarkation: Very easy, took a shuttle over to the port with a few other people right from the hotel. We dropped off the luggage, and walked right over to concierge check-in. Very light lines around 1:00. Very quickly took pictures and was Onboard in 20 minutes or so. We knew the buffet would be too busy, So we walked right over to the Bistro on 5. $5 cover charge and good food, but slow service. Maybe it was just because I was so desperate to run around the ship and explore! The Solstice: Overall, excellent layout and interior design. Reminded me of a Westin Resort in the ways of art, furniture, color schemes, etc. All of the public areas are pretty nice, including the many bars and lounges. All very clean and new looking. The pool area is nice, just needs more deck space for chairs. The lawn club looks cool, and is at times, but the smoking area in the back ran us away everytime.The only problem, no elevators aft. Yes, I'm 16 and I'm complaining about walking... But it's a haul walking to your stateroom all the way aft. Stateroom: Honestly, I don't know what I was thinking when I booked a concierge veranda stateroom. Family of four in 196 square feet?! It was a challenge! Despite the fact of having two teens, madre and padre, we all had enough room for clothes, including formal wear. If your considering this room for 2, you will have absolutely no problem. I found the pullout bed to be ok. When the bed is out, it blocks entrance to the balcony. Nothing like a wake up call with your dad stepping on you... Service: Over my 16 years of existence, I've grown to know what good service is. When I booked the cruise for my family, I was expecting a level similar to that in a Ritz-Carlton or Four Seaons. I'm not sure how I got that expectation, but I was disappointed. Don't get me wrong, everyone Onboard is extremely nice and will do everything they can to make your stay enjoyable... But it simply comes down to how many virgin pina coladas, Fiji waters, and chilled towels I'm given. Why I expected this from Celebrity? No clue. I did my research! The people who really stood out to us were Joe, our server in the MDR and our stateroom attendant who knew what hors d'oeuvres I liked. The only guy who wasn't on par was the sommelier in the MDR. He was snobby, and I swear he didn't know the difference between a Pinot Noir and a Merlot. For heavens sake, I know the books of the bible and types of wine like the back of my hand! No. I'm not Catholic. Food: As previously stated, Bistro on 5 was good. Slow service. Unfourtantely, we didn't try any of the specialty resturants besides Bistro. We invited my Aunt, Uncle and four cousins to cruise with us. Does 10 people from Kentucky in the center of the specialty resturant sound like a good idea? I don't care how much class you can have, at family dinners in Kentucky, it gets crazy. We were, however, placed dead center in the MDR. People stared at us. Food in the MDR was just ok! I've eaten at some fabulous land based 5-star places, so it's hard to compare. Some nights were better than others, of course. Steaks should of been of higher quality. The buffet was disappointing! The food options were the same everyday. Of course, some foods were exceptional while others were just ok. Entertamient: Lots of options for everyone. Very impressed with the productions at night, as well with the pool Olympics. The Shops onboard were awesome! Spent too much time and money in those, really. One problem... I was disappointed in the teen club. So many immature, annoying kids from south Florida! Parents, I know it's fiesta time for your kids, but continue to force them in taking their various medications, I felt like it was a stressful place to be in. Fellow passengers: Old. Young. Foriegn. Domestic. It's a huge mix. However, all had the same reaction to the 10 of us walking around with no shoes on. Dirty, dirty looks. Ports: San Juan... was a pleasant surprise. Sailing in past the fort was incredible! We (the 10 of us) walked to the fort looked around and took pictures. Pretty interesting. My 12 year old cousin took special interest in the fake handbags, as the rest of us raided a large Ralph Lauren outlet. The good deals didn't keep us long, however, because the weather was dreary and we all got moody. St. Thomas... Beautiful! We wanted to spend the day at the Ritz, but got lost in a rental car and ended up at a Marriott with a nice beach. The rental cars are right next to port, and are extremely reasonable. St. Maarten... Our favorite stop. We got a cab to the Westin, and spent the day ordering food and drink poolside and had a private cabana on the beach. Very nice! We will return to the resort. Conclusion: if you are considering Celebrity, I would encourage you to book. Just dont go with some false expectations as I did, and you will be impressed! As for me, I will continue to serve my family as the travel agent. For now, we will continue to stick to The Ritz and Four Seaons, and cruise every 2 or 3 years. When we do cruise next, we've heard awesome things about Crystal Cruises and will probably give them a shot. Thanks for Reading! Enjoy your cruise. -The 16 year old traveler Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
This was my boyfriend's first cruise, and my first one in over 15 years. My brother used to work for the big red boat, so I got to go on a lot of cruises back then. He was really excited to go on a cruise, consulted with a travel ... Read More
This was my boyfriend's first cruise, and my first one in over 15 years. My brother used to work for the big red boat, so I got to go on a lot of cruises back then. He was really excited to go on a cruise, consulted with a travel agent and booked us a sky suite on the Celebrity Solstice. I was a little disappointed as I was hoping for the Oasis of the seas or the Allure. His travel agent said if we weren't going to do the zip line, surf pool activities and see a lot of kids- that the Celebrity wa sless expensive with better food and a more upscale crowd. To me, that meant old people!! I have to say that this was the best cruise experience I ever had. From the moment we boarded until the moment we disembarked I have not a single complaint. Every single crew member was so nice and friendly, always smiling and happy. The bartenders in the molecular bar seemed truly happy to be doing what they are doing. And those drink concoctions are amazing. Do they take a little longer to make than ordering a beer at the pool bar? Absolutely, but well worth the wait. Fresh ingredients served with a smile. The Black Mambo was our favorite, but I think we tried just about every one on the menu. (YES, we opted for the Premium bar package). Every night before dinner we would stop in and have a pred dinner cocktail. I think a lot of the passengers did not find this bar until the end of the trip or not at all. I read about it on Cruise critic. We arrived to Port Everglades around 10:30 or 11 am and there was barely any waiting at all. They boarded the suites first so we were some of the first on board and we went directly to the top/lawn deck for a cocktail. It is so beautiful up on this deck with the grass. Although we never played golf, or Bocce ball or saw the glass blowing show. They serve a nice Sauvignon blanc on the ship. After this we made it our mission to explore all around the ship and there is a LOT to see. We went to Murano's the first night for dinner, but the rest of the time we ate dinner in the dining room. The food is delicious and we had so much fun with our tablemates that we kept on coming back. The crowd is a little older, but all young at heart and definitely not the bingo playing, blue hair crowd I was afraid of. I would say 50's and 60's, but also younger. Nice mix of people on board. Never any wait for anything. Our waiter in the dining room was fantastic and the Sommelier as well. I had read a review from someone with the drink package that they would not bring you another glass of wine until you finished the one you had. NOT TRUE! She was so attentive and glass ws refilled before I asked every time. Our suite was amazing as well as our cabin steward. We had a big private balcony, spacious room, beautiful bathroom, and a big porthole window. The bed was so comfortable. Our cabin steward kept our place so clean and every day left us fruit , little hors d'oeuvres, etc... I can't remember what our suite number was but it was on the aft deck , sky suite and it was incredible. Sorry to be jumping around so much, but there is so much to say about so many different things. The adult pool solarium is so relaxing as is the aqua spa cafe. Th main pool is fun too. it has a completely different atmosphere but it's fun too. It is true that it's tough to find a chair there at times, but it was not a big deal. So may other places to go. We never ate lunch in the dining room, only at the Oceanview terrace buffet. There is a LOT of choices- this is where we had breakfast every day too. Omelettes made to order, 4 kinds of eggs benedict, bagels with salmon and cream cheese, fresh fruit, french toast, etc... That was just to name a few. We did not really see any of the shows as we can't sit still for that long. I did spend $40 on the slot machines and I won $600 in about ten minutes so that was pretty fun. In San Juan it was raining and crappy so we got on a $20 bus tour which was awful. I wish we would have just wandered around ourselves! St. Thomas we opted to go get on the Red Hook Ferry to St. John which was a fantastic day. When we got there we took a taxi to Trunk beach which is beautiful and relaxing. Then we took a taxi back to where the ferry was and had a delicious lunch and some bushwackers- delicious, strong frozen drinks. St. Maarten we took a cab to the sunset bar/beach where we rented chairs and watched the planes fly right over us to land. Back to the ship. There is a disco or 2 and they have karaoke and entertainment is going on all over the place. There is always something to do. I feel like I should go back to do the stuff i missed like the wine & cheese party under the stars.On blankets. The ship is beautiful , food delicious and staff always smiling. I would go back in a heart beat. Writing this review is really making me miss the trip! Th martini bar is great too! Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
Embarkation was virtually painless and we were aboard the ship with champagne in hand in about 30 minutes. Beauty, of course, is in the eye of the beholder, and we found the Solstice to be elegant, sleek, and beautiful. The ship was ... Read More
Embarkation was virtually painless and we were aboard the ship with champagne in hand in about 30 minutes. Beauty, of course, is in the eye of the beholder, and we found the Solstice to be elegant, sleek, and beautiful. The ship was grand and impressive while still easy to navigate. We loved Stateroom 7277 with veranda! We found ample storage space (which is saying a lot as I'm a certified, card carrying over-packer!). We enjoyed the wonderful views from our balcony especially as we approached our ports of call. Cabin service was perfect, and practically invisible, compliments of Selwyn. We enjoyed dinner every night in the main dining room and were served by Francisco and staff. We were cruising with another couple, no real food snobs here, and we ALL enjoyed menu options and chefs recommendations. Francisco was part waiter and part entertainer extraordinaire. We also enjoyed making new friends with nearby table mates from Canada on one side & NYC on the other. Such fun! We enjoyed room service one morning in our cabin, but many other feeding frenzies occurred at the buffet in the Ocean View. Granted, the ship was full and the buffet was to capacity at times. But it was all good. (We just ate 3 hours ago...Could anyone be THAT hungry? Chill, a little mimosa will take the edge off. :-) We purchased the premium beverage package (an all inclusive drink package, of sorts) and it is perfect if you don't want to worry about prices, number of drinks, etc. Just order what you want, when you want, with no bar tab. Sweet! The shows & entertainment were enjoyable, but if it didn't tear you up, there were plenty of other options. Our only disappointment was the space (or lack thereof) near the pool or other decks for sun bathing. The space was tight, limited, and chaises were often reserved by a book or bag with no owner. But with a rum punch or two, we were able to get past it!!! All in all, we were very pleased and will cruise with Celebrity again. (If you are one of those people with extremely high standards and expectations, with nose tilted to the sun, admit to being a snob, the best cruise for you might be elsewhere, say ....The Titanic.) Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
This was our 19th cruise and our 5th with Celebrity Cruises. We liked sailing on the Millennium, Constellation, Galaxy and Century. We thought we knew what Celebrity was like, so we looked forward to trying a new class of ship. Boy were ... Read More
This was our 19th cruise and our 5th with Celebrity Cruises. We liked sailing on the Millennium, Constellation, Galaxy and Century. We thought we knew what Celebrity was like, so we looked forward to trying a new class of ship. Boy were we surprised! We've been to the Eastern Caribbean many times before so we were taking this cruise for rest and relaxation. We were also looking forward to seeing the Solstice class of ship. Overall the staff on the Solstice were great and the food was good. What we really never expected from Celebrity was an over crowded ship with line ups and frequent waits for service. The Solstice had the same feeling as RCCL's Serenade of the Sea, it was nothing like the M class of ships we'd sailed on before. If this was our first Celebrity cruise, it would probably have been our last and we'd never return. By 1pm on the first sea day it was impossible to get a sun cot anywhere near the pool, this was the case for most of the sea days. The only place you could find to sit together was all the way forward on deck 16 unless you wanted to sit in a chair at the bar. Even the adult pool in the solarium was full!!! The sun cots are packed together like sardines and so are the passengers. We LOVED the decor of the ship and the art work is excellent so of the best we've seen. The lawn club was a great idea and it is a very pleasant place to sit, if you can get a chair. The Hot Glass Show was interesting to watch, but not something I would see over and over again. We loved the Martini Bar, but the music from the bands playing in the centre atrium made if very difficult to talk. It was like being in a nightclub where you had to yell to hear the person beside you, not an elegant bar that Celebrity was going for. The casino was nice and there was enough room on most nights. The forward lobby was always congested and I don't know why they had to put pingpong tables in it, there was not enough room to walk through. We liked the look of the Grand Epernay Dining room, however it always had a weird smell like lamb on the lower level. The Oceanview Cafe was usually a mad house for meals, so we eat most of our meals in the dining room when it was open. When the dining room wasn't open on port days we made sure to have lunch before 12:30 because the Oceanview Cafe gets very crowded. The cabins on the Solstice are very efficient but not luxurious or even spacious. They have feeling of being useful but not somewhere you really want to spend time. There is precious little amount of closet space for two and I'd hate to try a 14 night cruise. In terms of space per passenger the Solstice ranks among the lowest I've found. I wish I'd done my research before booking. Every time our neighbours closed their cabin door our walls shook. The cabins are very tightly packed onto the ship. Here's what I mean. Length (ft) Passengers Ship 936 2104 Eurodam 929 2106 Nieu Amsterdam 965 2038 Constellation 1041 2850 Solstice & Eclipse I'm sure I will sail with Celebrity again, but NEVER on a Solstice class of ship. This ship was just far to crowded to be consider a premium or luxury cruise. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
These comments will be lengthy, but because (fortunately) most Celebrity passengers will not have the medical emergency experience we did, I thought some detail about it might be helpful to others. If you don't like medical details ... Read More
These comments will be lengthy, but because (fortunately) most Celebrity passengers will not have the medical emergency experience we did, I thought some detail about it might be helpful to others. If you don't like medical details or are a major worrier, you might want to skip this one! My husband and I were passengers on the April 8, 2012 sailing of the Solstice from FLL to the Eastern Caribbean. This was our first experience with Celebrity, one we had been greatly looking forward to. Unfortunately for us, what was to have been a happy and relaxing 30th anniversary celebration turned into a disaster due to a medical emergency and what we believe was Celebrity's poor decision to mandate that we leave the ship at the first port of call, San Juan. We have both enthusiastic praise and very serious issues with the way Celebrity handled our situation. First, some medical background on me. I am a retired college professor in my 60's who in February underwent open heart surgery for a mitral valve repair. This unexpected surgery forced us to cancel our first scheduled anniversary cruise with Celebrity, which was to have been on the Summit to the Southern Caribbean January 28. The heart surgery went well and by the time we booked the Solstice sailing for April 8 I had my doctors' unreserved endorsement that I was fully fit to travel and that the rest and relaxation of the cruise were "just what the doctor ordered" for the lingering post-op fatigue all open-heart surgery patients experience. We chose an itinerary that was less port-intensive than our original one on the Summit because my primary focus was to rest and regain my stamina and spend quiet quality time with my husband, not sightsee. However, please do not get the idea that I am frail or fearful. I have been quite active since my surgery, and we are an adventurous and well-traveled professional couple, former leaders of a number of overseas study tours for a fairly sophisticated clientele, not too-often-stereotyped "geriatric basket cases" (no offense intended). In addition to being cardiac post-op, I have had Crohn's disease and other autoimmune disorders for decades. The Crohn's was in remission and causing no problems when we boarded the Solstice April 8, and had been for some time, though the medication I take to control it (azathioprene/Imuran, prednisone) leaves me immunosuppressed. The first full day of the Solstice cruise, April 9, an at-sea day, I awoke feeling fine and we were greatly enjoying our first Celebrity experience. Other than my personal feeling that the food did not live up to its PR (more on that in a separate post), we were thoroughly delighted with every aspect of our accommodations and shipboard facilities and service. However, about noon I began to develop increasingly sharp abdominal pains and severe vomiting which over the next four hours reached 10 out of 10 on the pain scale. 24 hours into the cruise I was taken by wheelchair, in tears, to the ship's medical facility where I immediately began to receive excellent and concerned care from all present. I would particularly like to single out for praise Dr. Sara del Ormo and nurse Sheila Javelosa, who not only were consummate professionals but who showed me a great deal of warmth and human concern in what was a very distressing situation for my husband and me. The level of care I received from them was fully on a par with the best doctors and nurses who have treated me in the hospital here at home in Seattle. I also received good and concerned care from nurses Laurel Bill and Joel Adison. Well done. I am sorry that I was too upset at the time of admission to get the name of the Ecuadorean (?) doctor who I gather was the ship's chief medical officer. I had only a few brief interactions with him in which he seemed rushed and somewhat preoccupied, though certainly highly professional and polite, and I frankly would have to give a more mixed review to them. The shipboard medical facility itself was clean, well-run and as well-equipped as one could reasonably expect given its size and venue. On my arrival in the ship's hospital it was immediately determined that this was not Norovirus but something more serious. After morphine brought my pain under control and I was able to relate my medical history more coherently to the medical staff, an X-ray and stethoscope exam of my lower GI tract confirmed that my Crohn's had caused a very sudden but complete intestinal blockage. I was given blood and urine tests, put on IV's, antibiotics and prednisone (the usual treatment I receive during a Crohn's flareup -- very thorough and well-done) and a gastro-nasal tube was inserted to begin draining the contents of my upper GI tract in order to relieve the pressure and hopefully reopen the obstruction. I had never required such a tube, but the nurses inserted it skillfully. I appreciated their frankness that it was an unpleasant procedure, but one which was necessary to help me. They were as gentle and reassuring as they could be in such an uncomfortable process. After the doctor whose name I didn't get reviewed all the diagnostic results and consulted with Celebrity HQ at Miami, I was told that we would need to leave the ship the following day in San Juan, PR where I would be transferred to the best local hospital for further medical care. It was repeatedly emphasized to me how lucky I was that this misfortune had happened to me near San Juan, or else they would have had to medevac me off the ship by helicopter in the middle of the night, which they indicated is quite dangerous. Needless to say, even so this was a heartbreaking ending to our second attempt at a Celebrity anniversary cruise, but it was a decision I understood in light of the pain and X-ray results I was having at the time. I have no doubt that this decision, initially, was made with my best interests at heart. I spent the night in the ship's hospital wide awake under very harsh overhead fluorescent lights because the sick bay has no softer, indirect alternative to that or complete darkness -- a pretty minor complaint, but one I suggest Celebrity review for the comfort and rest of future patients. A bedside lamp or dimmable overhead lights would have been very welcome! At one point Solstice's very kind hotel director, whose name I didn't write down, paid me a visit and attempted to create some indirect light for me by propping the bathroom door open with a plastic back board (?), but it didn't stay. I appreciated her visit and her concern. All in all, all Celebrity's shipboard staff lived up to the line's reputation for excellent, courteous service. By the morning of April 10, 12 hours after my admission to the ship's hospital, I was completely pain free and had required no morphine for some time. The third set of X-rays showed that the intestinal constriction was now only partial, and stethoscope exams showed that, to the doctors' surprise, my lower GI tract was now fully active again. In short, the situation was rapidly resolving itself thanks to the good care I had received. I felt well enough that the only thing I urgently needed was sleep, and I began to question the staff about the necessity of removing us from the ship later that day. I explained that after decades of Crohn's, the partial constriction the X-rays were showing is a CHRONIC CONDITION that I have lived with for a long time. Every X-ray and CT scan I have had for the past many, many years shows it. I provided the ship's staff with contact information for my gastroenterologist in Seattle to confirm what I was telling them, but I do not believe they or anyone at Miami HQ made any attempt to contact him. The doctor whose name I did not get visited me briefly again that morning, April 10, and told me that, in light of my current improvement, I would be transferred to a hospital in San Juan for a CT scan, and that if it showed I was continuing to do OK we could re-board the ship before its 11 pm departure. This sounded very reasonable to me, a compromise between Celebrity's understandable need for caution and my need to minimize my fatigue, distress, and susceptibility to infection in an unknown foreign medical facility. However, a couple hours later, even though I continued to feel fine other than my exhaustion and my lower GI tract had obviously resumed busily working away again, the same doctor returned and told me that my husband and I would be off the ship permanently no matter what the tests at the San Juan hospital showed. He was very firm about this, offering no explanation other than that it was for my own good. To be truthful, at this point I began to feel that the decision was made more because Celebrity didn't want to be bothered with me further rather than because it was medically necessary. I felt, and still feel strongly, that the decision to boot us off the cruise no matter what was contrary to my medical best interests, especially under my particular circumstances. Dr. ? did attempt to make me feel better about the situation by assuring me that arrangements had been made for my care at Ashford Presbyterian Hospital, San Juan's best, by a Dr. Goss, who spoke English, and that she had been fully informed about my condition. I would be in excellent hands, etc. etc. Nevertheless, my concern was rapidly increasing that this medical expulsion from the ship was not only unwarranted, but was dangerous for me. I'm a very cooperative person so I tried not to raise a ruckus about the decision, but I was quite unhappy and apprehensive about it and expressed this fact politely but repeatedly. I was also feeling mounting concern about my husband, who has well-controlled bipolar disorder but who was feeling increasingly agitated about the unfolding events. I conveyed to the medical staff my concern about this, and about how he would fare if I were stuck in a hospital in San Juan for a while and he was on his own in a strange city where he does not speak the language and had no knowledge of the place, nada. (I make all the travel arrangements and was the only one who had researched San Juan, a city we had never been to before.) The Solstice staff were sympathetic, but at no time did anyone relent on, or apparently even reconsider, the decision to remove us from the ship no matter what. I was never given a rationale for it, only a reiteration that it was an unchangeable decision. The ship's concierge, Jennifer, did kindly assist my husband in making a hotel reservation at the Marriott Courtyard Miramar in San Juan and booking a flight for us SJU-MIA for Friday, April 13 by which time I would presumably be fit to travel. She was very nice and Jim appreciated her help. However, she made a couple errors that added significantly to our misfortunes. First, for reasons unknown to me she incorrectly informed American Airlines that I would require oxygen during transport when I have never required it in my life other than during surgery and it was in no way connected to an intestinal obstruction, and due to this misinformation AA refused to let us board our flight when the time came. Secondly, the hotel reservation Jennifer made was mistakenly made under the surname "Eod" rather than my husband's actual surname McLeod. When I was finally released from the hospital and made my way to the hotel, they had no record of my husband's registration and spent almost an hour contacting every Marriott property in San Juan trying to find him for me before eventually discovering the garbled name under which he had been mistakenly booked. These are just human errors which I don't really wish to complain about as Jennifer was sincerely trying to help us, but they inadvertently made an already-traumatic situation even worse for Jim and me. Because of my concern about getting my husband settled in San Juan with as little confusion and distress as possible, and because I felt fine by now other than my extreme need for sleep, I asked that we at least be allowed to leave the ship by taxi to the hotel to check Jim in and drop our luggage, then on directly to the hospital for the CT scan. I was told no, ambulance was mandatory. When the ship docked in San Juan at 3:45 pm the personable port agent, Jennifer Robles, conferred with us very pleasantly but briefly, merely repeating the reassurances that all had been arranged and I would receive the best of care from Dr. Goss. An ambulance crew who spoke no English then came aboard to take me off and informed us that we needed to pay $150 cash on the spot. No one had advised us of this, and Jim and I did not have that much cash between us, having used our Seapasses for everything. It was another frantic hassle for Jim to find a working ATM onboard (the first one wasn't working and no one was helping him, being too busy preparing for the other passengers' debarkation for the port of call) to obtain the money for the ambulance. At Ashford Presbyterian Hospital's emergency room shortly after 4 pm, no one knew a thing about me and they were not expecting or prepared for my arrival in any way, shape or form. Dr. Goss, if in fact she had been advised about me, had gone home for the day and evidently no one called her. I speak passable schoolgirl/ traveler's Spanish, but it is totally inadequate to convey complex medical information. The two young nurses, male and female, who eventually began dealing with me as best they could in the ER cubicle were very nice but spoke no English, were quite obviously perplexed, and were apparently receiving very minimal direction from anyone. To make a long story short, 5 hours later I finally saw one doctor (don't know his name) for less than five minutes and his primary concern was obtaining my name, address and insurance information and list of medications. I told him that I felt fine other than extreme exhaustion, that I was cardiac post-op and in desperate need of rest as well as immunosuppressed, and that I had a long history of the narrowed ileum the X-rays had shown and just wished to be released to go to the hotel and sleep. He would not look at any of the medical info or X-rays on the CD the ship's staff had sent with me. I tried to fill him in on how my doctors at home treat my Crohn's flareups but he cut me off. He was brusque and unsympathetic and very rushed. I frankly think I understood my own medical condition far more than he ever did. In my opinion this was very poor medical care, not what the ship's medical officer had assured me I would receive. I felt trapped and so exhausted that by now I could not stop crying. For 10 hours from my admission I never saw this doctor or any other doctor again, but he apparently ordered an IV and a reinsertion of the gastro-nasal tube which had come out during the long walk to the hospital's X-rays. The young nurses did not insert it in the manner the ship's nurses had, failing to make the turn at the back of my nose to aim the tube down my throat. Instead they kept pushing straight back until I was in great pain and fear and bleeding profusely, crying out in Spanish "Please stop! You are hurting me very badly! I cannot stand this!" They then tried the same technique in the other nostril with the same results. Clots poured out of both nostrils for the next 10 minutes. Everyone was very upset, including the nice, well-intentioned but inept nurses. By now I was borderline hysterical. My husband was extremely unnerved by now from witnessing all this and worrying about me -- the most destabilizing possible situation for a bipolar person -- and I insisted that he leave and go to the hotel for fear he would have an acute psychiatric episode and our disaster would be exponentially increased. He very reluctantly agreed, realizing what thin ice we were both on by now. I was now totally on my own, beyond exhaustion, worried sick about my husband, and receiving no help, only inadvertent injury. Eventually an older nurse came and inserted a new gastro-nasal tube properly. However, rather than draining the contents of my upper GI tract into a bag as the ship had done very efficiently, the staff with no explanation hooked me up to an electric pump which merely sent the contents of the tube back and forth, back and forth endlessly from my stomach to the pump receptacle. In 10 hours less than 75 cc of fluid was drained from me, whereas on the ship it had been coming off at the rate of 100-200 cc or more per hour. Moreover, the ship's medical folks had told me that since my stomach was constantly replenishing the fluid that was being drained, I knew that what the San Juan ER was now insisting on "draining," even though it was going nowhere, was normal digestive fluid, not a reason to keep me indefinitely. Other than that very brief, very unsatisfying discussion with the doctor, the only English-speaking person I saw occasionally for many, many hours was Anthony, the hospital's personable patient assistance coordinator. An hour after our arrival he did kindly help us make a phone call to my family to inform them we had been removed from the cruise when my Verizon cell phone would not work in the hospital and they had no internet connection available, but other than that I saw him very briefly only every hour or two and he either would not or could not convey my rising concern to the medical staff. He merely reassured me repeatedly in a well-practiced, soothing speech that all this was for my own good. I know his intentions were good, but other than the phone call he did not really assist us, but rather made me feel like I was talking with a very polite brick wall. After he went home somewhere around 11 pm or so, no one came to see me, though passing nurses observed me crying exhaustedly and looked sympathetic but uncertain what to do. 7 hours after my admission, I asked how much longer I had to wait for the CT scan. I was told that it would not happen at all that night and perhaps not for several days. I was also told I could not be admitted to a regular room where I could rest while waiting for the CT scan, but had to stay in the brightly lit, chaotic ER where the bed had no blanket or pillow (the nurses laughed, though not unkindly, when I asked if such were available -- apparently the hospital does not provide them to anyone). My cubicle was directly across from the bathroom, and throughout my stay I watched a steady parade of men and women patients and family members use it and not once was it cleaned. It sounded like many who used it were not even washing their hands. I myself could not use it till 2 AM, 10 hours after my admission, because my IV was not on a movable pole and my GI pump was stationery, and I couldn't get anyone to come help me get to the bathroom. Misery. In fact, for 95% or more of the first 10 hours in the hospital, I was left entirely to myself with no information and almost no active care. When I finally was helped to the bathroom many hours later, it desperately needed cleaning. Please remember that I am immunocompromised. I hope you can understand why by now my only thought was to get out of this miserable facility as quickly as possible for my own safety. After midnight I composed a long note to Anthony explaining why I could not remain in the ER any longer, why it was medically dangerous for me. I told him I desperately needed sleep and would return to the hospital the next day if a CT scan could be done at that time. I did not know that Anthony had gone home by now without handing me over to anyone else, and for a long time there was no response to my note. But thankfully about 2 AM a very kind and efficient new doctor, Dr. Hernandez Chuan (?), only the second I had seen, appeared and spoke English and began to take matters in hand. This was a TREMENDOUS relief and I am very grateful to the good doctor. He could see how distraught I was, especially at the idea that I might be held a virtual prisoner here for days. He arranged to have my IV and the nasal tube and pump removed and I was at last able to use the dirty bathroom. About 5 am I finally received the CT scan, which showed what I had been saying all along and confirmed that I was OK, and at 7 am I was released, 15 hours after my arrival. I was so profoundly grateful to be on my way to the hotel that I didn't even notice or question the fact that the only paperwork I received at discharge was four prescriptions and a totally unfilled out checklist of symptoms and instructions, in Spanish, that the doctor and I both signed. When I reached the Courtyard Miramar which, BTW, treated us wonderfully with lots of extra TLC) and was finally reunited with my husband after the very upsetting inability to locate him due to the error in surname booking, I slept for two days. By Friday the 13th we were eager for our flight back to the mainland. We arrived at the airport 2'½ hours before our flight only to be denied boarding by AA because of the Solstice concierge's unnecessary request for oxygen. The airline said they could not fly us that day or ever without official certification from a doctor that I did not in fact require oxygen and was medically fit to travel. All that I possessed was the unfilled out discharge form from the hospital, which was totally inadequate. AA initially said that they could do nothing for us until we had gone back to the hospital or seen a private doctor and obtained a proper medical release, which might take another 1-3 days. Our flight left without us. Finally the airline relented and, after much confusion taking several hours, succeeded in reaching Dr. Hernandez Chuan by phone and obtaining his verbal release. By the time we finally reached Miami on a later flight, all our arrangements for travel onward were kaput and we were both at the breaking point. This particular Friday the 13th earned its reputation. This latter set of dismaying reversals could have been totally avoided if the well-intentioned but misinformed request for oxygen had not been made by the Solstice and/or if someone on the ship had informed us ahead of time that a much more complete hospital discharge form would be necessary in order to leave the country. If (God forbid) anyone reading this should experience a medical emergency requiring debarkation in a foreign country, please keep in mind this very crucial fact! This account is far too long already, and there are many unpleasant details I have omitted. Let me just summarize by saying that, although I sincerely appreciate the good medical care I got on the Solstice and have no complaints about the initial decision to remove us from the ship, I believe very strongly that the decision to persist with the emergency disembarkation despite the fact that my symptoms had resolved themselves was a very poor one which actually put me in further medical jeopardy as well as emotional and financial distress. I don't know who was ultimately responsible for it, but it was a very bad call which I do not feel was in any way justified by diagnostic results from the morning of April 10 onward. As to the quality of care in the emergency room at Ashford Presbyterian, I would have to give it a D, though others' experiences there obviously differ. I was told that the hospital is the facility of choice for all Caribbean cruise ships, and they have won many commendations. I apparently just fell through the cracks and had no one, from Celebrity or the port authority or anywhere else, advocating for me or following up on what was happening to me. It was a profoundly traumatic experience, and this is not just an emotional overreaction. It is a medical fact, given my immunosuppressed and post-op condition and need above all for rest, not further unnecessary medical intervention. The care Celebrity assured me I would receive was simply not forthcoming, and I believe that the decision to forbid our re-embarkation under any circumstances was not only unreasonable but negligent, although I do not doubt it was initially well-intentioned. If Celebrity is truly concerned about passenger welfare, I strongly suggest they re-evaluate their policy regarding emergency disembarkations mandated by them. Even if I had continued to be unwell, which I was not, I would have been far better off remaining on the ship in my cabin or even the shipboard medical facility than being held a virtual prisoner in a chaotic, unsanitary, uncomfortable and unresponsive ER in San Juan. At this point I do not know how our trip insurance will handle our claim. 11 days after my discharge, Ashford Presbyterian Hospital has yet to submit to me or to my health and trip insurers, whose information I gave the hospital, ANY record whatsoever of my admission, treatment and discharge. Other than the one unfilled-out discharge form in Spanish, it's as if the whole experience never happened. Understandably, neither of my insurers can even begin to address our claims, which amount to many thousand dollars, without hospital records. I have spent the last two days trying to contact the proper people at Ashford, by phone and e-mail, and have so far gotten nothing but voice mails which hang up before my message is completed. The e-mail addresses at their website keep getting bounced back to me as undeliverable -- no such address. We had prepaid non-alcoholic drink packages for our cruise. I used mine zero, unless you count IV fluid, and even if I had, was off the ship 5 days before schedule. Jim did use his for 2 days out of 7. We were given no pro-rated refund on disembarkation, only the shipboard medical bill of $2059.60 which we had to pay before leaving the ship. To add insult to injury, we were told that although we had paid fully for the cruise and did everything within our power to persuade Celebrity to let us continue it, and Celebrity will incur no financial losses because of its curtailment by them, we will not even receive Captain's Club credit "because we did not complete the cruise." I find this absolutely astonishing. Would we try another Celebrity cruise? Boy, at this point I just don't know. Before my illness and even immediately after it began there was much to like about this experience, short as it was, and my husband bought Open Passage certif's in case we do make a third attempt at celebrating our anniversary this way. But I'm bothered not only by X's ultimate handling of my medical situation but by the fact that they have not in any way contacted me since our return home to ascertain my well-being, comment on their decision, refund any portion of our prepaid shipboard charges, or anything else. They have, however, totally bombarded me with advertising material about future cruises with them and dumb mass e-mails saying they hope we found our cruise delightful. So far the lengthy e-mail I sent to Celebrity HQ two days ago has received only an automatic e-mail acknowledgement of receipt, though the fact that it is a weekend undoubtedly accounts for some or all of that. So the jury's still out... That's my story. Hope it helps someone and doesn't scare the bejeezus out of anyone. There is a lot of reassuring stuff to commend Celebrity on, though obviously a lot that disturbs us a great deal. ========= P.S. I'll post my opinionated comments on the Solstice's food separately! Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
My wife and I and our 26 and 24 year children just got back from the last Eastern Caribbean cruise prior to it heading to Europe for the summer. We gave this cruise to our children for their Christmas present. It was my 16th cruise and ... Read More
My wife and I and our 26 and 24 year children just got back from the last Eastern Caribbean cruise prior to it heading to Europe for the summer. We gave this cruise to our children for their Christmas present. It was my 16th cruise and second on the Solstice. We could not have been more disappointed. I took this same cruise last March 2011 and it was very nice if you compare it to NCL and other cruise lines I have been on in the past. After 16 cruises I feel like I'm a pretty good judge of of fine cruising verses your lower class lines. We were in Aqua Class and should have had all the amenities that it offers. Rooms were not keep that clean and we had to use the same towels sometimes 3 days in a row. Now I will get to the really bad issues. The food, service and attitudes. We decided to eat one night in the main dining room. What a mistake. Food was tasteless and service was even worse. We didn't even have a sommelier come to the table until nearly the end of the meal even after asking twice. The other nights we ate in the Specialty restaurants. Service was just as bad and food was terrible, especially Tuscan Grille. Silk Harvest was the best of all. The cruise director was a Canadian female that was awful. All she did was come on the loud speaker ever so often to make an announcement. No sense of humor or talent. Entertainment was mediocre at best. I had tried Celebrity as I thought it was a few steps above the basic Carnival, NCL and RC. Boy was I wrong. We figured that a Celebrity Cruise would be great for our adult children. Wrong again. It was full of little children,from 10 years old to younger. They were running all over the ship and even in the all adult areas unsupervised. We thought we were on the Disney Cruise. Very disruptive to say the least. Please do your homework prior to booking with Celebrity. Note the time of year you cruise. This ship was low on supplies as we were told because it was headed to Europe, they didn't like certain liquors and food so they didn't have it in stock. Be aware as other reviews I have read have mentioned the same thing. Celebrity has gone down over the last several years. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
Were back from our RC Jewel of the Seas Cruise out of Tampa, and our Celebrity Solstice Cruise out for Ft Lauderdale. With less than a week between each. We were on the Jewel with other past TA friends, and it was perfect, great ... Read More
Were back from our RC Jewel of the Seas Cruise out of Tampa, and our Celebrity Solstice Cruise out for Ft Lauderdale. With less than a week between each. We were on the Jewel with other past TA friends, and it was perfect, great food in all the restaurants, and a happy and a in tune crew. BUT the Solstice was another story, newer, bigger and with beautiful lines. It was both Great! and only fare at the same time. The entertainment was Excellent. The ship was a disappointment, art deco, south beach, euro styling. More thought was put into the visual and less into the practical comfort of seats, couches, lounges, and central areas. The food was below the caliber of RC as was two of the three speciality restaurants. And just FYI, RC and Celebrity no longer have escargot on the menus. Now the thing you need to know about Solstice its three, is soon to be four sister ships have a constant roll to it of 4-6 degrees, with stabilizers out in 3-5 foot seas in 20 mph winds. Even at the dock you can feel, and see it rocking 2-3 degrees. Not good. Not entirely unpleasant, but very noticeable and none of the officers would address it with me. And here is a tip to save you money if you book aboard Solstice, we had a balcony on 10 slightly forward of the forward elevators. The spray was so bad in just 3-5 foot seas the balcony was unusable. Do not waste your money on a balcony, the ship does have plenty of ocean viewing. The big plus was up on deck 15, lots of grass area and the corning glass show to watch. For my money RC was a better value. Jc Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
We sailed again on the Celebrity Solstice and found it to be just as wonderful as the first time we went in the Med. Embarkation was fast, easy and trouble free. We were on board by 11:30 am and having lunch in the Buffet from around ... Read More
We sailed again on the Celebrity Solstice and found it to be just as wonderful as the first time we went in the Med. Embarkation was fast, easy and trouble free. We were on board by 11:30 am and having lunch in the Buffet from around the world. Many selections for many regions/nationalities. Something for everyone. AND very good!!!! Rooms were available as promised. Concierge class, deck 10. Champagne and fruit in the room and very clean and ready for us to spend the next 7 days. We walked the ship to remind us where everything was. We chose late seating(as we always do) and were not disappointed. Our waiter Felix was terrific and had a great personality as well. Our somallier, Wendy went out of her way to make sure we had our favorite wine with dinner each night. Very friendly, outgoing and happy to be of service.Even when we saw her out of the dining room, she provided great service. The ship was ALWAYS clean or being cleaned. Hand santiizer at every restaurant door. Friendly staff. We ate at the Tuscan Grille again and was it was absolutley terrific. TRY the filet mignon if you get a chance on any Celebrity that has the Grille. You will not be disappointed.Cuts with a butter knife. Never eating in a french restaurant, we tried the Murano. OMG!!!! The food was outstanding, cooked at your table and tasted a bit like heaven. Try the lobster, or the fancy filet mignon wrapped in pastry dough. YUMMMMMM!!! On this ship, there is not the constant voice over telling you about the "activities". You are left to read all about it in the daily newsletter and we can honestly say, that is the way it should be. We were there to relax and relax we did. There were kids on board but we never saw them and if we did they were well-behaved. Thanks to all the Moms and Dads who kept their kids under control. Got to tour the galley and if you have never been behind the scense, try it. What a great learning experience about the inner workings of a cruise ship. The cirque de soliel show was good even though we had a "rocky" night with high winds. The rest of the bands/signers were good and you just had to sing along. You need to see at least one of the Corning glass blowing shows. Out of this world!! If you like cappuccino, then go to the Cafe el Bacio. Our favorite server was Lisa Marie. She was on the ship the last time we were on it and she is just so smiley all the time. Ship stores are okay. Nothing to write home about. Trying to sell whatever they can. Debarkation: Not that good but not totally Celebrity's fault. Government at work - or should I say....late for work. Customs was not open and caused everything to bottleneck. We chose early express but actually ended getting off with some of the other groups. Celebrity needed to control that situation a bit more. But all in all, we were out of the port by 8:40 and on the road home. If you want a more mature sailing, this is your ship!!!not really geared for kids. But we can recommend going with the parent company, Royal Caribbean as they have many kid activities. Final note: We love the Solstice class and will continue to make this our cruise line of choice. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
Background & General Impressions - First time sailing on Celebrity. My family consists of myself, DH (both early 40s) and DD who is 6. This was my 6th cruise, DH's 7th cruise and DD's 4th. Prior to celebrity, we had been on ... Read More
Background & General Impressions - First time sailing on Celebrity. My family consists of myself, DH (both early 40s) and DD who is 6. This was my 6th cruise, DH's 7th cruise and DD's 4th. Prior to celebrity, we had been on four other lines -- princess, carnival, NCL and RCI. We booked this cruise last minute (about a week out) but so happy we did. Loved Celebrity and it has definitely moved up our list. Overall, it was a great trip -- beautiful ship, good food, good kids club and nice ports. Would definitely recommend Celebrity! Pre-cruise & Embarkation - Flew into FLL night before. Because we booked last minute and it was Spring Break time, we didn't have a lot of options for hotels so ended up at the Sleep Inn. It was ok for a short stay, but I wouldn't choose this one for more than an overnight. Hotel shuttle and shuttle to port were both convenient and free. Also convenient was the 24-hour Walgreens and publix grocery store next door. Seemed clean enough, but was definitely showing the wear and tear that comes with these places. Took the 1 p.m. shuttle over because I didn't want to wait around too long with a little one. Really glad we did that as they started boarding late (because of Norovirus precautions after last cruise) and there was a bit of a line. Probably the longest I've ever had to wait to board a cruise, but it was comfortable and folks were behaving themselves so it was all good. Staff involved in the boarding process were extremely nice. Walked on board and was greeted with a glass of bubbly -- yeah!!! Daughter received bracelet for kids club before we even boarded -- very organized. Boarded and attended muster drill -- very organized and nicely produced video that played informing us of what to do. Were out at the pool shortly thereafter and on our way! Cabin - We had cabin 9159 for the week. Overall a great cabin. Location was awesome. Close to stairs / elevator but around the corner so we didn't hear the activity at all. The cabin was extremely quiet. I've had ones in the past that were really loud -- lots of creaking, rattling, etc. but not the case with this one. Also felt very little movement in the cabin. Liked the more subtle, contemporary decor of the cabin. At first, I thought there wasn't enough storage space, but once we unpacked, there was room left over. I think the biggest design flaw in the room was the location of the TV. The TV was a nice size, etc. but it was mounted across from the sofa and did not tilt so if you wanted to watch something while lying in bed, it was difficult. Wouldn't have been a big deal, but since my daughter was using the sofa as her bed, we couldn't really sit on the sofa to watch. Also, the TV had music channels, room service, your photos, account info and even on demand movies. The balcony was a nice size and included 2 chairs that reclined. Bathroom was laid very nicely and the bed was comfy. Public Spaces - I liked the understated, contemporary elegance of this ship. Loved the solarium and usually spent our time (when DD was in the kids club) there. Gym had everything we needed, main dining room was very nice and the variety of bars was nice as well. Liked the pool deck and the family pool, which was only 3', was great for the kids. Yes, it was hard at times ( but not impossible) to find a chair by the pool. I love when people complain about this because it has been a problem on EVERY beach vacation I have taken whether a cruise, an all-inclusive, etc. Kids Club - One reason that we hadn't gone on Celebrity before was that the perception is that it isn't "kid friendly" line. When we decided to book a cruise last minute, Celebrity had one of the best deals so I did some research and from reviews learned that although not as extensive as other lines, they did have a decent kids club. Well, as usual my DD didn't want to leave. We would go to pick her up and she would just pout up a storm -- she even participated in the talent show at the end. They had the regular activities -- face painting, crafts, themed hours, scavenger hunts, games like bingo and visits to the main show and the hot glass show. The staff members were great with the kids. Another thing that I liked was that there weren't TOO many kids on the ship. I love my kid, but I don't necessarily want 1,500 other kids on my vacation. That's another reason we chose Celebrity during spring break time -- we knew that we wouldn't have 1,000+ kids on the ship. Sure enough there were about 200. The kids were all really well behaved and my DD quickly made some buddies and we would spend some time at the pool with them. Entertainment & Other Activities - We had late dinner so we didn't get to hit all the shows. The main "Solstice" show was just ok. I guess when you live in Vegas and frequent New York, this version of Cirque Du Soleil just doesn't cut it. We did enjoy the smaller acts such as the guitarist Owen, the strings trio and the jazz ensemble - they were all very good. We really enjoyed the hot glass show / museum. What a unique thing to have on a cruise. Food - Overall the food was good. As is usual with cruises, there was some very good food and some that wasn't quite as good. We did plan to go a speciality restaurants, but never made it. I think because 1) food was good enough in main dining room and 2) we were just full all the time so the thought of buying more food just seemed silly. Ports -- really enjoyed all the ports. First time at all of them for us. Puerto Rico - I found a walking tour online before leaving home and just printed that out. Took a walk down the Paseo La Princesa, along the wall, through the San Juan gate, up to the cathedral, past the "totem pole" and ended up at El Morro fort. Then made our way over to the Cristobal fort. Every Tuesday night at 6 p.m. there is a cultural performance. It was really fun to see some local dance / song. It was free with price of admission to the fort. My DD even went up at the end and danced with them. Walked around a bit more and ended up at Toro Salao. Food (tapas) was good enough, but the sangria was sooo good. St. Thomas - I had done my research and knew that there would be 6 -- 7 ships in at one time -- yikes! So I wanted to avoid the main beaches like Coki as I knew they would be packed. Basically when looking for a beach I am looking for one that is good for my 6-year-old so calm and not too much partying, and simple amenities like chairs, umbrellas and of course a bucket of beer. After doing research, Sapphire beach seemed to meet our needs. Docked at Crown Bay and went to the taxi stand and was shuffled into one of the open air taxis with a bunch of other folks. This is a shared ride service that stopped at a couple of other locations. Traffic wasn't as bad as I expected, but the ride did take about a half hour. Dropped off at the beach. Not a huge beach, but fit the bill for us. There were folks there, but it wasn't too crowded. There is a shack with rentals, drinks, etc. We got a couple of chairs and a bucket of beer and we were good to go. Our original driver did come back for us, but we were a little late so we missed him, but it worked out for the best because we got another guy who was much nicer and pointed out things on the ride back. He even stopped at a lookout point over Charlotte Amalie and let us all get out for pictures. Once again, the traffic wasn't as bad as expected so we made it back to the ship with more than enough time. Both times it seemed like there was more traffic going the other way. All in all, a very good day at the beach. St. Martin - Decided to go to Le Galion beach as I knew that there were quite a few ships in port that day so Orient would be packed. After getting in port, we went to the taxi stand. We were first put in a taxi van with other folks, but none of them were going to Le Galion- they were all going to Orient. But right before we left, they pulled us out as another large group showed up and wanted to go to Galion. So we got out an joined another van -- all of which were going to Le Gallion. This was good because it brought the per person charge down to $6 and my daughter met some other kids who would be going to the same beach. The ride was fine -- no real traffic to speak of. We arrived pretty early so the beach was fairly empty, which was fine with us. There were several sets of chairs and umbrellas out so we grabbed a couple. The chairs were $5 each and the umbrella was $5. Eventually an attendant came by and we started a tab. There isn't much to speak of at this beach. There is a restaurant / bar that offers the chairs, umbrellas and has some water toys to rent -- e.g. kayaks. There was a decent breeze that day but still the water was really calm. It really was great for small kids. It wasn't really crowded at all and there were a few other kids there so my daughter had someone to play with. Regarding the restaurant, we only got fries and a bucket of beer. Disembarkation - We usually do self disembark, but it was really early and we just didn't want to rush so much on our last morning, so we requested luggage tags. The tags we got were a little late and we were concerned that we might miss our flight, so we simply went to guest relations and asked for an early time and they happily provided us with different tags. We ate some breakfast in the buffet (said one last good bye from our great wait staff) and then went down at the specific time. No real problems getting off. Line to go through authorities didn't take too long and grabbed a taxi and made it to the airport with more than enough time to meet our flight. Service - Service was great, with a few little exceptions. Our room stewards were fantastic as were our waiters. They really did provide top-notch service. Two places were employees seemed a little less than enthusiastic were the buffet and some of the bars. Not that I can blame the ones in the buffet -- seems like a thankless job! Loved the little extras on the ship like cool towels being passed out on deck, a cool drink waiting for you after excursions or a complimentary drink on the formal night at the show. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
Background Information We are a couple in our 40's. We have cruised with Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruise lines. Our first cruise with Royal was on the Majesty of the Seas in 1995. We love cruising. We have taken our last ... Read More
Background Information We are a couple in our 40's. We have cruised with Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruise lines. Our first cruise with Royal was on the Majesty of the Seas in 1995. We love cruising. We have taken our last two cruises on Celebrity Solstice. We have taken our last several cruises with family. For this cruise, we cruised with my brother, sister-in-law and seven year old niece. Hotel Info (if any)- We drove down from South Carolina and stopped in West Palm Beach on the Saturday before the cruise. We stayed at the Hampton Inn on Worthington Road and had dinner at Il Bellagio in City Place. We had a wonderful experience at the restaurant and hotel. We felt like we were in paradise and the best part of the vacation was yet to come. Ship Info- We had a Deluxe Verandah stateroom on Deck 7. We were close to the midship elevators, but not so close that it was noisy. Our balcony was close to the hump, so it felt like we had a little extra space out there. Activities- We thoroughly enjoyed all of the activities onboard. We felt like there were plenty of activities for every age range, energy level and ability. There are so many activities on the Solstice that you could never possibly do everything they offered. If you found yourself with nothing to do, it could only be because that was your choice. Hey, it's a vacation and if you want to lounge around and do nothing- that's your right. But if you are bored, it is not because the ship fails to offer options to keep you busy. From the large library and numerous quiet areas to the ever active pool deck- there is something for everyone on this ship. Though my niece did not care to participate in the children's program on this cruise- the children who were participating seemed to enjoy it. I do not think it was a problem with the children's program that caused my niece's wish to remain with us. I think she was enjoying being the sole focus of attention after spending the past year and a half sharing the spotlight with little sister. That was fine. She was still the star of the show in everything she did. Service- Just as on our 2010 cruise- our cabin attendant was wonderful. Miguel also serviced our family members' cabin. He was most efficient and accomodating to us all. He felt like a member of the family by the end of the week. One night after being in my brother's room numerous times, I accidentally tried to put my key in their door. Of course, it did not work. I turned around to find Miguel there with a smile on his face. He said "The key would probably work much better on your cabin door." I thanked him and proceeded to my cabin. We utilized Celebrity Select dining, but chose to make advanced arrangements for seating times to make it a little simpler. The service in the main dining room was a little less considerate than our first experience. Twice, the wait staff thrust a menu in front of my face when I was in the middle of a sentence in conversation with others at the table. We had some trouble getting drink refills a couple of nights. It was not a deal breaker by any means, but just not up the level of impeccable service we received elsewhere on the ship. It made me feel like maybe the thoughts about Select Dining wait staff may be accurate- in that they seem not to try as hard since they already know their gratuities are paid. Our waiter on the last two nights was fantastic. He secured a grilled cheese sandwich and fries for my niece. We had requested this on three other occasions, as the children's menu listed Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup as an option. We were told that the cheese was grilled on top of the soup- that it was not a sandwich. We were told that no exceptions could be made. Odd, to say the least. He also got her some chocolate milk. Port & Shore Excursions My husband and I took the Bacardi tour in San Juan. It was a fun and informative excursion. We did not do any organized tours at any other port. My brother and sister in law tried to sign up for the bio-luminescent kayaking tour which showed to be open when they first embarked. When they went to sign up, they were told it had been sold out for months and they only did the tour about 3 or 4 times a year. Maybe next trip. Summary Travel To Port of Embarkation- We drove in from South Carolina Stateroom- Deluxe Verandah. Wonderful Dining- Celebrity Select. Also dined in Tuscan Grille once on the night we returned to the ship in San Juan. Dined in Murano twice- once it was just me and my husband. Another night with brother and sister in law. Wonderful both times. First night's food slightly better. I had the Dover Sole Veronique. Husband had Venison. We both saw the lobster being prepared at the next table. It smelled divine so we both ordered it on the second visit. It was quite good, but slightly underwhelming. It was less impressive than expected. Not bad by any means, but the taste did not measure up to the divine aroma during preparation. Children's Clubs-niece did not participate. No input. Entertainment- wonderful. We truly enjoyed the Vivian Clement Trio (quartet) in the Ensemble Lounge. Our wonderful bartenders Rowena and Violeta made the experience even more fun. The party band was fun, but not as good as the last one. Hearing this party band tried to sing country music was a hoot. I laughed aloud every time they tried to sing it. Otherwise, they were decent. It was definitely entertaining. Cruise director Esperanza was far superior to the last one who was so abysmal I cannot even recall his name. Disembarkation- organized chaos. The first time we cruised on Solstice, the ship was able to utilize the embarkation building currently used by both the Allure and Oasis. The disembarkation process was much more organized then. However, based on the space available I think it was done as well as could be expected. The customs agents were friendly and efficient. While this was not a problem for our party, I did notice that they needed a more efficient process for passengers who needed wheelchairs or assistive devices. Rented devices were immediately reclaimed as soon as passengers got in the luggage retrieval/dismembarkation building. It left some with a difficult task of trying to manage the luggage and the limited mobility of their companions. There must be a more efficient way to handle this. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
My wife Debbie and I have been loyal Royal Caribbean cruisers for years. We are Diamond members and enjoy the many perks that status brings with it. Normally we sail with a group of friends, anywhere from group size 10-40 and age range ... Read More
My wife Debbie and I have been loyal Royal Caribbean cruisers for years. We are Diamond members and enjoy the many perks that status brings with it. Normally we sail with a group of friends, anywhere from group size 10-40 and age range 25-80. This is the first time in 20 years we actually decided to go on our own. Really needed the R and R. Our Diamond status automatically gave us Elite status on Celebrity and along with that came many privileges. We enjoyed all of them. Thank you Celebrity for the wonderful treatment. We have always wanted to try Celebrity so we booked a 7 day Eastern Caribbean on the Solstice. What a ship, what a cruise! The ship is beautiful as we expected. Understated elegance throughout, don't let that trow you if you are like me and worried about pretentious passengers. As nice as the ship was, so to were the passengers and crew. Embarkation was smooth. We were in the Oceanview Cafe for lunch while waiting for our rooms to be prepared. Lunch was delicious in the Oceanview, as were breakfasts. The cafe has a delightful outdoor seating area where you can enjoy the morning breeze and some tasty bacon. All the dining venues on the ship are first class. Food is of fine quality and assortment and is served by a very friendly and professional staff. We ate most dinners in the main dining room but did enjoy the Tuscan grill. The food was tremendous as was the attention paid to detail by the waiters and the sommelier. The wine selection is broad and wines are of good quality. They have a brunch at 10am on one of the days at sea. Reminded us of the old midnight buffets. Nice because we were still sober to enjoy the taste of the food rather than the midnight buffets where we usually were to blasted to enjoy the delicacies. I am a cigar smoker and was concerned about there not being a cigar bar on the ship. Much to my delight there is an area of the Lawn Club, which is a large area on the 15th deck of the ship that there is actually a grass lawn growing, where you can enjoy cigars in the open air while enjoying cocktails or micro brews. Spent every evening after 1 am up there, sometimes alone and sometimes with other folks. Again, everyone we met on this ship was friendly. Although Celebrity is an upscale line, we found it to have a bit more casual atmosphere than even Royal Caribbean. Casual nights were just that. You could enjoy dinner in the dining rooms with a pair of nice shorts or pants and short sleeve shirts. Even the formal nights were not so formal, much to my delight. Long pants and an open shirt were worn by many of the guys. Some wore jackets and ties, few wore tuxes. The ladies liked to dress up but there were plenty of pants and casual dresses. Debbie and I figured that the 40-70 year old folks who were on vacation did not want to go through the whole dress up thing and rather enjoy the sun and activities. Nothing wrong with getting well dressed for dinner, we respect that as others should respect us for not wearing a jacket or tie. No one seemed to mind, nice thing is that everyone seemed to be having a great time and minding to themselves. Our room steward, Selwyn, was the best we have had for the 30 cruises we have been on. Very attentive yet not omnipotent. Our room was always clean and the ice was always filled. We had a balcony room, for the first time in a long while, and enjoyed it for the little time we used it. We are very gregarious and like to spend time with others on board in the public areas. Speaking of the public areas, this ships has the best bars and lounges of any ship we have been on. Plenty of selection, from quiet to party. The Molecular Bar was our favorite. The bartender makes the most outrageous drinks from a far out menu. This bar is a must! Our dinners servers were very good. Viviana and Lee did an excellent job even though they had not been together all that long. The pool bars were fine but the service is slow.Sometimes, even when the bar area was not that crowded, you had to wait 10 minutes to get served. Celebrity needs to address this. We had a flashy, blinky night where we wore flashing rings, earrings and bracelets and had lighted ice cues in our drinks. Brought all the stuff on board and gave it to folks that we liked and that liked to party. They were a big hit as many people asked us about them and wanted to do the same. The islands of St. Martin and St. Thomas are always fun. We go to the beaches. This time we went to Sapphire on St. Thomas and Simpson's bay on St. Martin. Both beaches are terrific, just be aware if you go to Simpson Bay it can be difficult getting a ride back to the ship. Plan on leaving with plenty of time to spare. The Solstice is a great ship and we recommend it highly as we do Celebrity Cruise Lines. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
This was our first cruise so we had nothing to compare it to. We knew we wanted a luxury holiday to celebrate my husbands 50th birthday and it certainly ticked all the boxes. We flew into Miami from Heathrow and were met by Celebrity ... Read More
This was our first cruise so we had nothing to compare it to. We knew we wanted a luxury holiday to celebrate my husbands 50th birthday and it certainly ticked all the boxes. We flew into Miami from Heathrow and were met by Celebrity and taken to the Hilton Marina Hotel at Fort Lauderdale.The receptionist greeted us warmly and congratulated my husband on his impending birthday and upgraded us to a tower room on the 11th floor. The view was amazing. The next morning after breakfast we walked outside and saw our first glimpse of the Solstice -wow. We were so excited. We were taken to the port around 11.15am and embarkation went very smoothly. Once on board we went to the oceanview cafe for lunch. Yes it was crowded and a little too hot for my liking but it was only like this on this occasion. My advice would be to pay $5 and dine in Bistro on 5 for a quieter lunch. We explored the ship and were completely in awe -it is truly beautiful. Around 2pm we were called to our cabins. We had a concierge cabin on deck 12.The layout is very clever giving the feeling of space and the balcony is slightly larger as it is on an angle.We were very pleased with this cabin and would choose it again. It was very quiet and we slept like babies every night. Our cabin steward Laura was quietly attentive; leaving us towel swans and frogs which were a thoughtful touch. We particularly enjoyed breakfast on the balcony taking advantage of the freshly squeezed orange juice and smoothies. We met our cruise critic group shortly before the sail away and arranged to meet up with them later as we were waving our Union Jack at the web cam. Our kids and family at home watched us live on the web cam.We later met the group and chatted over drinks.It was so nice to put faces to the names. Before we sailed we decided to purchase the premium alcohol package .So glad we did - it allowed us to indulge in speciality coffees and tea's in Cafe Al Bacio as well as a few cheeky pastries and tarts.This was one of my favourite areas on the ship. We tried cocktails at the Molecular Bar and Martini's at Crush before dinner every night and felt spoilt.Watching the bar staff mix the drinks is fun and entertaining. Each night we dined in The Grand Epernay main dining room with a couple from the U.K and a lady from Florida -we became friends over the week. The food is very very good. I've read previous reviews regarding the declining quality and obviously don't have anything to compare with but our experience was amazing. My husband loved the french onion soup and the steaks. I had my 1st lobster which was good but the Chateaubriand was to die for.It melted in the mouth!!! On days at sea we also dined here at lunchtime as we liked the slightly more formal dining experience. We dressed up for the 2 formal nights and loved to see the array of smart suits,tuxedo's and cocktail dresses. Our waiter was very attentive and we were sorry to say goodbye to him at the end of the week -we will miss you Jaeston. Megan, our sommelier chose some excellent wines and when she was made aware were were on the drinks package was happy to open a bottle and keep refilling our glasses. She introduced us to dessert wine too which enhanced the experience for us. We did not dine in the speciality restaurants as we were fully satisfied with the MDR. We did have a look at them and in the true style of the ship they looked elegant and classy.Blu is in the same area and looked nice too but as we were not in Aqua class it was not available to us. On days at sea the pool area is crowded but we found could always find a sun bed higher up. The sun was so hot we couldn't sit out for long. A nice touch was the iced face towels served by the pool butlers.We tried the cheese burgers served from the mast grill one day and they were nice but why have a burger if you can be served lunch? Something for all tastes is the theme of this ship.The lawn? Is it a gimmick? We loved it and it once again enhanced our experience. We docked at Puerto Rico -San Juan, St Thomas -Charlotte Amalie and St Martin - Philipsburg. We did not book any excursions as we had decided we wanted a lazy week. The ship was our experience! We did look around the port areas and found San Juan very easy to walk round. The view from the fort area is nice. The entertainment we saw on the ship was excellent -The Solstice Show is London theatre quality.We enjoyed the various singers,bands etc that were playing in different areas of the ship. There is something for everyone. The cruise director -Esperanza was very good.She has a very warm personality and is very charming. To sum up our experience - a 5 star holiday in luxurious surroundings. Will we go again - YES , would I recommend Celebrity? YES Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
This is my 2nd Celebrity cruise the first being a Transatlantic on the Constellation 2 years ago. There was an obvious difference and lowering of standards. Without going into detail here (I will answer questions if asked)here are a list ... Read More
This is my 2nd Celebrity cruise the first being a Transatlantic on the Constellation 2 years ago. There was an obvious difference and lowering of standards. Without going into detail here (I will answer questions if asked)here are a list of problems we had. I normally don't sweat the small stuff but there were too many small, and big things to ignore. The good: - the ship was gorgeous, the rooms beautiful, and most service was wonderful. - the food in dining room and Oceanview buffet was excellent. - entertainment was very ggod, especially the magician. The BAD: - because of an outbreak of norovirus on previous cruise we were not allowed to leave terminal until 1-2 pm while they disinfected. Very congested. - got to cabin which was ready but didn't see the steward until the next evening. She came in to introduce herself and show us how to use the lights, where the life preservers were, how to use the TV, etc etc. - The 2nd day after we had figured everything out by ourselves. - had the Classic package for alcohol and the Cabernet and Merlot wines were the worst ever and we couldn't get any other brand. Guest Relations told us basically "tough." -food in dining room was great when we got what we wanted. I got turkey parmaigano one evening but there was no turkey, Wife got Trout Almondine one night and only got a bare piece of fish. Another night didn't get soup I ordered and another got someone else's dinner. The taste and quality of what we ordered was very good however. - Disembarkation was a zoo. - No space on any deck to sit during day unless you got there very early. I have read rewiews like this before and always took them with a grain of salt, you should also. Comparing this cruise to a Celebrity Transatlantic cruise 2 years ago was difficult because the transatlantic one was perfect in every way. Celebrity has obviously changed something in that time for the worse. I won't be back. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
This was our first time on a large cruise ship and I was very impressed with Celebrity and the Solstice in particular. Embarkation was smooth and we were on the ship by 1pm having lunch. We had our cabin by 1:30pm. The cabin was very ... Read More
This was our first time on a large cruise ship and I was very impressed with Celebrity and the Solstice in particular. Embarkation was smooth and we were on the ship by 1pm having lunch. We had our cabin by 1:30pm. The cabin was very spacious with great storage. The balcony was very nice. The bed was an oversized queen and was very comfortable. The bathroom and shower were much larger than expected. The interactive TV was excellent. I was very impressed with how nice the cabin was. The first day was quite rough and we had to use the patches for motion sickness but we were fine after that. The rest of the cruise had very calm seas. The ship is absolutely beautiful and the staff were friendly, helpful and always cleaning. There were hand sanitizers everywhere and they were ensuring everyone entering the dining area cleaned their hands first. This seemed to control any outbreak of Norovirus. The public rooms and dining rooms were beautiful. We had dinner the first night in Morano's and it was excellent. Definitely worth the money if you want a special dinner. The first night of sailing had 20 percent discount in all the restaurants. We had pre-booked the restaurant but it was not necessary and I would not recommend doing that since it is discounted when you walk in. We ate the rest of our dinners in the main dining room and they were excellent. We were on the Select Dining but if you don't book your times when you first get on the ship you will not be able to get the prime times. It is not as flexible as it sounds. We ate most of our breakfasts and lunches in the cafe and the food was good and it never seemed crowded due to the multiple serving stations. We were always impressed with the food and the varied selection. The entertainment on board was excellent. We went to every show each night and they were very well done. Much better than I expected. We saw the comedian and he was very funny. The theatre was beautiful and it was not a problem getting a seat. We purchased the premium non-alcohol drink plan and I would not recommend that as we ended up losing money. You need to drink at least 5 specialty drinks each day to break even and that is tough to do especially when are in port. On disembarkation we were off the ship in the parking lot by 9:30am and I had no complaints with the process considering how many people they are dealing with and they have to clear customs. I was very impressed with the ship and it's staff. They seemed to go out of their way to do small special things like having water and cold towels at the dock when you returned to the ship at port. I heard someone from an RC ship comment they were going Celebrity next time when they get treatment like that. I think that sums it up. The Solstice was a wonderful ship with great service and the cruise was excellent. Highly recommended. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
We sailed on the Celebrity Solstice Eastern Caribbean itinerary March 11-18. We had a fabulous time and would recommend this cruise to others. Here is a summary of our impressions and experiences. PreCruise We flew from Fargo to ... Read More
We sailed on the Celebrity Solstice Eastern Caribbean itinerary March 11-18. We had a fabulous time and would recommend this cruise to others. Here is a summary of our impressions and experiences. PreCruise We flew from Fargo to Minneapolis and Minneapolis to Ft. Lauderdale. Flights were expensive! We also paid a little more to only have one stopover rather than two; flight schedules also required that we stay two nights before our cruise and one night after in Ft. Lauderdale. We stayed for two nights at the Westin Beach Resort in Ft. Lauderdale, which I got for a steal by blind bidding on lastminutetravel. The location was excellent, as it was right across from the beach with a sky-walkway over the road. We also found this stretch of beach a little quieter than farther down the A1A, which was very valuable because we were there during Spring Break. The rooms at the Westin were nice, and I was very happy with this place for about a $100/night; I might not have thought it was such a great value at the rack rates of over $250/night. I would stay there again. Our cab driver from the airport to the hotel was so crazy that we decided to use the bus for the rest of our stay. It was easy to figure out and really inexpensive; it was clear that many residents and tourists use public transportation in the areas we visited. We had an amazing dinner at The Capital Grille to celebrate my birthday--the steaks were to die for and they made me a stellar gluten free dessert. We enjoyed spending some time in Ft. Lauderdale and I'd definitely considerate for a long weekend get-away in the future, but not during Spring Break!! Embarkation We got to the pier around 1 and there was a pretty long line to check in, but that didn't bother us. The whole process seemed to be slowed down by people not understanding what documents they needed to check in for the cruise--that frustrated me a little. Once we got to the checkin window, it went superfast and we were on the Solstice!! Common Areas The common areas on this ship are beautiful. There is interesting art everywhere you look, and many comfortable seating options to relax, meet up with others, or just read and people-watch. I am very particular about things being clean, and I would give this ship a 9/10 on cleanliness. The pool/lounge decks were often crowded and people definitely played the chair game. On the day we braved the crowds to soak up some sun, I think we literally found the last two lounge chairs available by the time we reached the very top corner. The only frustrating part of the cruise to me was that I sometimes felt crowded by all the people. Stateroom Our stateroom was 8240. I don't remember the category, but it was a balcony room--not concierge class or anything. We really liked it. It was larger than the hotel room we had coming back from our cruise, actually, and the storage is very innovative. By the time we unpacked, there was room for twice as much stuff as what we'd brought. The bed was really comfortable and the linens were pretty nice. The carpet, though, was dirty and that grossed me out. It looks like it's time to steam clean carpets in the staterooms, at least ours. The only other complaint I have about the staterooms are that the walls are very thin. On one side, we could always hear our neighbor's tv, which wasn't a big deal. But on the other side, we had loud, inconsiderate neighbors and we heard them talking loudly almost 24 hours a day at some points. It was very frustrating and put a damper on our relaxation time, not to mention sleep! Our stateroom attendant and his assistant were fabulous. They cleaned efficiently, left fun towel animals, and were very friendly whenever we saw them. Meals The food was very, very good at dinner with a lot of choices. Lunch was just ok, and so was breakfast. We ate in the dining room for all of our lunches and dinners. We ate room service breakfast most mornings with a couple of breakfasts in the dining room. We had some snacks at the buffet, but avoided it for the most part because I have Celiac Disease and am extremely sensitive to cross-contamination; the smallest amount of gluten will make me really sick. We love to eat new things on vacation and have really high standards for food. We rated the food a 7.5/10 overall on the ship. For comparison's sake, we thought it was better than the food we had at Sandals Whitehouse, and about the same as what we had the Jewel last year. It was not as good as what we had at The Capital Grille, but to be fair, you pay for one meal there what you are paying for a whole night in cruise fare. Anyway, I ate a lot of red meat on this trip, because I don't eat fish or seafood, and the chicken wasn't very good. But they did a great job with steaks. My husband ate a little bit of everything, and was very happy! The ingredients were fresh and the presentation was beautiful. Both lunch and dinner come with multiple courses, and the room service choices for breakfast are very good. I was absolutely panicked about the food on this trip before we left because it was my first big trip gluten free and I was very nervous I would end up sick for all of it. I have to say that Celebrity did a great job handling my food safely, and I would do it again. I did get sick from one specialty restaurant, and I think it was from a particular ingredient with processed meat. The staff seemed to know that I could not have bread or many sauces, but weren't trained in all the other areas gluten can be (which I know is very complicated). Therefore, I couldn't always get answers to my questions and sometimes had to just go without something or make a safer choice. But at dinner in the main dining room, I felt like they were very, very careful with my food. I had to preorder breakfast, lunch, and dinner a day ahead, which helped keep things safe, but caused some confusion in the beginning of the trip. That got better as the cruise went on. I always had ice cream, sorbet, or crème brule as a dessert option, so I didn't go hungry, but I wished there was a chocolate option without gluten, like a flourless chocolate cake, given that they usually have a couple of hundred gluten free diners per sailing. I also thought they could have done better with sauces made from rice flour. Their answer to gluten free sauces was to pour butter over my whole plate, and that was not good. That being said, being able to go on a trip like this and only get sick once speaks highly of Celebrity's efforts to accommodate gluten free diners. Entertainment There was lots of it, but we were out for rest and relaxation, so we didn't partake in much. We found the guest performers and smaller venue entertainment to be better than the 'Stars of Celebrity' shows hosted in the main theatre when we did go to things. There was live music all the time in various parts of the ship, as well as daily activities galore. What I liked about this cruise is that there was plenty to do if you wanted, but it didn't impede much on those who wanted quiet time. My husband and I both noted that Stewart Turnbull, the cruise director, could be better. This is only our second cruise, but we could feel a drain in the energy every time he came on stage or made an announcement; he really does not connect well with guests. Some people have commented they are worried there isn't anything to do on the ship; don't be--there's plenty of entertainment! It's true that many of the passengers were older than us (we are both 30), but they were actually more active in partaking in dancing and things than we were, so I wouldn't worry about that either. Ports Our ship stopped in Puerto Rico, St. Martin, and St. Thomas. We didn't book any excursions through the ship. In San Juan, we grabbed a walking map and toured on our own, which was fun and easy. The walking can be strenuous if it's hot; the hills are somewhat steep and the cobblestones make for some uneven footing. If someone in your party is worried about this, then a segway tour or van tour might be better. We also took a carriage ride around for $50 to get acquainted with the sites and layout of things. That was pretty fun. In St. Martin, we grabbed a cab over to the French side of the island and spent the day at Orient Beach. Part of this beach is nude, but there is a long stretch where people are not nude, but some are topless. Best of both worlds; you can do what suits you. There were a lot of fun beach 'shacks' with drinks and food all along the beach, but it is pricey. If you don't want to deal with a cab or have a problem with the nudity, there is a great beach on the Dutch side very close to where the ships dock. Our favorite day was in St. Thomas. We went on a sailing day with Kathleen Nelson of High Pockets. There was one other couple on the trip as well and it was so fun. We got to sail, snorkel, have some beach time, ate an amazing lunch on her boat, and learned all kinds of things about the area. I would highly recommend Kathleen and High Pockets! Disembarkation and Final Thoughts We requested a late disembarkation as we weren't in a hurry, and we were called off the boat around 9:30. It took us about half an hour between exiting the boat and getting to the taxi line. We were at our hotel by 10:30 or 11am. Some patience is required in waiting for the customs line and being jammed in with everyone else trying to leave, but it was fine. We weren't sure how we would like a cruise because we have gotten used to taking all-inclusive beach vacations at this time of year. I did miss the flexibility of our all inclusive vacations, but having a fixed dinner seating on the cruise was really important for my dietary needs. Otherwise, we could have chosen flexible dining. I also missed getting more outdoor time in the sun, which we do in Jamaica. The pool deck on our ship was often crowded and it was VERY windy going from Ft. Lauderdale to Puerto Rico. I also missed having more time to spend on the beach, so those are things that would tempt me back to an AI vacation. However, the service and food on the cruise was top notch! Also, the price couldn't be beat. We priced out Sandals Whitehouse for this trip, and it would have cost us twice as much to go there, which makes the cruise a valuable option. We didn't buy a drinks package, and we ended up spending about $150 on drinks for the week, which wasn't a lot to us, but we don't order a lot of drinks. If we'd been at an AI, we would have drank more, I'm sure. At the end of the day, I like cruising and AI vacations for different reasons, but if the pricing for our favorite AI destinations stays so high, then I'd probably do another cruise. If so, I would definitely choose the Celebrity Solstice class of ships--this line and ship was a perfect fit for us! Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
Just returned from a Celebrity Cruise on Solstice and I am now even more confident why we cruise rather than stop in a hotel for a vacation. The cruise could not be faulted. Food/Cabin/ Entertainment was excellent. Yes we did have the ... Read More
Just returned from a Celebrity Cruise on Solstice and I am now even more confident why we cruise rather than stop in a hotel for a vacation. The cruise could not be faulted. Food/Cabin/ Entertainment was excellent. Yes we did have the occasional meal which was not to our liking but so what. As far as the cabin was concerned we upgraded from a Celebrity Suite to a Royal Suite by courtesy of our TA who did the negotiations for this upgrade two weeks before we travelled at no cost to us. Superb stateroom. Now for the not so good points. Celebrity's shore services can only be described as practically non existent. As usual their shore services appear to have been franchised to American Transportation and the responsibility of ensuring you board the correct coach at your Hotel is in the hands of the bus driver and the Hotel porter gto round uip the passengers. The Hotel Porter has no idea how many passengers he is looking for and the coach driver will just drive away if a passenger doesn't turn up. The quicker he gets to the Port the quicker he can go home! Needless to say RCI and celebrity have this policy but Holland America and possibly Princess Carnival group still have a representative at the hotel. Sop I would suggest RCI/Celbrity, if they are going to franchise out shore operations should at least ensure it is done correctly. I also understand that RCI and Celebrity are franchising out all their shore based activity's including arranging air travel etc. At a local Road Show a Celebrity representative confirmed that a passengers would always get a better price by booking their air travel direct with the airline rather than through RCI/Celebrity. With three of us traveling my quick check reveals that booking air (British Airways), hotel, transfers and even a day room for the end of the cruise would save us about £600 to £700. Now why do I say a Cruise is always the better option than stopping at a hotel. We have been holidaying in the Sates for some twenty years and in the past have always said the service in American Hotels is far superior to UK hotels. Well it's no longer the case. Take the good old American breakfast, cheap and good quality. Things have changed and certainly with both the Hilton Marina and Hilton Double Tree, the service and food in the restaurants leave a lot to be desired. The Marina Restaurant has been franchised for a number of years to a Chinese Restaurant group. The plates for the buffet breakfast are freezing so what happens to the food which may not be particularly hot to start with. Answer is it goes cold. I have stopped at the Marina four times in the last three years and it's always been the same. When I said three years ago 'why don't you have a plate heater' there answer was 'yes that's something we must look into'. Three years later they are still looking in to it. What does Hilton's staff say. 'There is a nice restaurant up the road on the left sir, that serves a good breakfast' and then they add as an after thought 'and you can have breakfast in the hotel Restaurant if you wish'. So much for their recommendation BUT why should a group such as Hilton franchise out their restaurants without making sure that their standards are maintained. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
A little about us: DH and I are in our early 40's and have 3 young children. We are both in exec level positions at tech companies, and have travelled extensively. We both love good food, and enjoy most any cuisine - whether it's ... Read More
A little about us: DH and I are in our early 40's and have 3 young children. We are both in exec level positions at tech companies, and have travelled extensively. We both love good food, and enjoy most any cuisine - whether it's fine dining or a well made burger & fries. Our previous cruising experience: Before we were married, DH had done a transatlantic on a recently-made-infamous cruise line and I was a cruise virgin. A couple of years ago we took the kids (and 3 sets of grandparents) on a Disney cruise. It was fabulous, and I was hooked. Why Celebrity: To celebrate our anniversary this year, we decided to do an "adults only" cruise. It was my job to research cruiselines and itineraries. We were looking for upscale experience, good food, nice suites, and outstanding service. I had a colleague who had returned from a honeymoon cruise on the Solstice a year earlier and raved about it, so it was down to Celebrity or HAL. We chose Celebrity based on reviews and dates available for the itinerary we were looking for. We booked Sky Suite #1665, Deck 11 Aft. Embarkation & First Impressions: We arrived at the terminal at 10:15 and the first person who made a great impression on us was a very friendly baggage handler who took our luggage and directed us to the terminal. My only experience being DCL, (who has a great terminal), I was a little taken aback by the Celebrity terminal building. It looks like a small airplane hangar. We found our way inside and into the suite line - not that anyone was in any of the lines at this point. We got our Sea Passes & were directed upstairs to wait in the suite area. There was a slight delay to boarding due to an inspection by the FDA (according to the chef on the Galley Tour we took later in the cruise). But soon they called the suites to board... yipee! We were greeted by a large dollop of hand sanitizer, and then immediately handed a slippery glass of Proseco. It was too early for lunch, so we decided to explore the ship... Pretty soon we were getting hungry and decided it was time to procure some chow. After checking out the Aqua Spa Cafe in the Solarium, we headed for the Ocean View Cafe to see what it was like... I wish I would have taken a photo! It was a sea of people, and more crazy than either of us wanted to deal with at the start of our "relaxing" vacation. We headed to Bistro on 5 instead. The wait was a little long, but the food was pretty good, and we didn't have to deal with crowds or chaos. While we were eating we got the announcement that staterooms were ready - yay! So as soon as we were done, we headed up to deck 11 to see ours. Sky Suite #1665 was even more fabulous in person than in the photos we had seen online. We loved all the room! It was so nice not to be cramped up and have a spacious sitting area away from the bed. The storage was far more than we could possibly use. 8 large drawers, & 2 wardrobes. The bathroom was nicely laid out and also had so much storage, I did not even need my hanging toiletry kit (no where to hang it anyway). We heard a chime in our cabin and waited to hear the announcement that followed, then another chime... still no announcement. Then the door opened. Apparently we had a doorbell! Our butler, Caetano, introduced himself and explained his services and asked if there was anything he could do for us. He also brought in our luggage, which was waiting out in the hall. After we unpacked, we easily stored our suitcases under the bed. We headed to Blu, our muster station for the safety drill, and then up to the Sunset Bar for sail away and to meet our CC Roll Call group. Goodbye Ft. Lauderdale! We returned to our room to find that Caetano had brought us our requested shrimp cocktail. This is the good life. We changed for dinner & then headed to the theater to see the "sampler" show that would feature some of the entertainers onboard for the week. We were very impressed by the vocal talent onboard the ship. Especially an acapella group called the Neptunes, they were just outstanding! The MDR menu didn't look great to us that night, so we made reservations for Silk Harvest after the show. We had a sushi sampler, BBQ Korean ribs, shrimp & scallop Shu Mai, and the Duck in coconut curry sauce. The ribs and duck were outstanding. The sashimi was very good, the sushi tasted a little stale. After that we called it a night. It was early still, but we NEVER get a chance to go to bed whenever we want. The funny thing was, our butler asked me the next morning if I was feeling better. He assumed I was ill since we turned in so early. Day 2 - At Sea & Anniversary Dinner at Tuscan Grille: Woke up at 7:45 & got our tennies on to walk some laps. Went up to the "lap track" that is above the pool deck. It was so windy we had to lean forward a bit when walking on one side of the ship. It was a little commical. It's not a big track, you would have to circle it many times to get a decent workout in. We did a few laps & then decided to get breakfast. DH wanted to try the Oceanview Cafe again, I was a little scared. Surprisingly it was not a madhouse. DH wanted to try the eggs benedict of many flavors. I got standard breakfast fare. We were able to get a table near a window. Food was decent, coffee was terrible. After breakfast we went to Cafe Al Bacio for real coffee. The Caramel Macchiato became my favorite. We had a CC Party at 10:15 in Cellar Masters - which is a lovely space. We met a few more characters from our Roll Call there and had some juice & pastries (second breakfast). Then it was time for the Galley Tour. I was thinking this would be a small-medium size group of people, casually walking through the ship's galley with a chef, getting some informal chat about how things work. NOOOOOO. We went to the MDR, were handed another dollop of sanitizer and slippery glass of Proseco, and walked inside to see that it was FULL of people. We had to sit at the very back of the dining room. There was a power point preso showing, and a group of chefs on the stage. The head of Food & Beverage introduced each one and they did a Q&A while each group went off with one chef to tour a specific galley. Each group had about 20 people in it, and we were group number 42! No kidding. It was interesting though. My favorite part was when they explained how they make their own water via reverse osmosis on the ship out of sea water... and a woman in the audience asked if she should drink it due to her shellfish allergy. Love it! The galley was immaculate - it looks like no food is prepared in there. They said the surprise FDA inspection was passed with flying colors. We were celebrating our anniversary that night and dining at the Tuscan Grille. We had been anticipating this greatly, especially due to the many positive reviews here on CC. Tuscan was hit and miss for us. We had some dishes that were good, and others that were not. Our servers were great, and we had a lovely table to watch the sunset over the wake. Here's the nitty-gritty on our night at Tuscan: DH had the calamari as an appetizer, which he enjoyed, and I had the crabcake - which I found mushy and heavy on filler. We both had the Caprese salad next, which we did not enjoy. The tomatoes were very fresh, but there was no basil on the plate, only some arugula - I can't fathom a Caprese salad with no fresh basil - and the balsamic drizzle lacked "zing", so the dish seemed flavorless. For entrees, DH had the ribeye which he said was "ok", and I had the filet. My filet was the size of a softball, which meant there was no way it was going to be cooked to a consistent med-rare, and it wasn't. It was tough in places, and undercooked in the middle - hard to eat. The horseradish mashed potatoes that came with my filet were excellent. The mac and cheese that came with DH's ribeye was bland. He also ordered a side of the lobster alfredo to try, it was good. At the end of the meal we were serenaded by the RM and his staff with "Happy Anniversary to You" in Italian, which was lovely. They presented us with a beautifully decorated chocolate cake. We also ordered the pistachio creme brule. DH liked the creme brule - I liked the flavor, but thought the consistency was odd, it was very creamy, like soft pudding. I was expecting it to be more firm. It did have pop rocks on the top, which was odd, but fun. Day 3 Puerto Rico & Segway Tour: The next day we woke up to breakfast set up on our balcony by Caetano - this is how I would like to start every day of my life. We had some time to speak with Caetano this morning and get to know a little about him, his job and his family. It was very interesting and I am glad we had this opportunity. For lunch this day we ate in the MDR. It was "just ok" for us. The gellato after made up for it! For a "pulling into port" drink we chose an iced tea from Cafe al Bacio, delicious! It was so nice to stand on our balcony and see Puerto Rico come into view. We had to be in the theater at 2:15 for our excursion. They gave each person a sticker with a number on it, and then called the group numbers in order to exit the ship. It seemed like a good system. We chose the Fortification Segway Tour through Celebrity. Great choice! There was only a small group who did this tour, and I have no idea why. It was a hot day, and we passed so many people huffing and puffing up all the hills on the crowded walking tours, while we had practically a private tour (only one other couple) and such ease in getting around that we were able to see so much more this way. When we returned to the ship we saw the illusionist/magician Adam Trent. We normally aren't big on that type of entertainment, but he was really outstanding. After the show we had dinner at Murano. We were taking advantage of the 20% off special, and the fact that we did not love the MDR menu again that night. It is a lovely space. We had a nice table in a corner where we could see all the action in the room. All our starters were delicious, lobster bisque, scallop wellington, goat cheese souffle. Then we moved on to entrees. DH had the lobster prepared tableside. I had the Dover Sole, fileted tableside. Our poor server... my fish did NOT want to be fileted. He was wrestling with it like it was some sort of MMA match, but in tuxedos and scales. Finally the Maitre de came over and did it for him, also with much muscle needed. By the time I got the fish on my plate it was mangled and did not taste good. They offered me something else, but I did not want to make my DH wait any longer, and I was pretty full at that point anyway. We did do the cheese course, which was outstanding. We had martinis that night, and saw the late night comedian, Troy Thurdgil, who had us both laughing out loud throughout the show. Day 4 - St. Maarten: Due to an emergency on a HAL ship, we were able to dock in St. Maarten vs. tender, which we were thankful for (not for the emergency though - hope that turned out ok). We were looking forward to our first relaxing day at a beautiful Caribbean beach... well, we did get the beautiful Caribbean beach part. We chose the St. Martin Beach Rendezvous excursion, which includes transportation, reserved chairs, and lunch at Orient Beach. I would not recommend it. We got off the ship to get in line for the excursion and realized that we had picked a popular one - there were quite a few folks qued up. Soon we got on a nice, air-conditioned bus and headed for the French side of the island, and Orient Beach. We had a tour guide with us who narrated the entire 30 minute(?) trip. It would have been ok, had she not yelled into the PA the entire time. My eardrums were about to burst by the end. When we got to Orient, we saw the beautiful white sand / aqua blue water that we had been hoping for, and then we walked out onto the beach. It was pretty much wall to wall people. Our "reserved" chairs were at the back of the beach, 3 or 4 deep in from the water. We couldn't see the ocean without looking around a sea of flesh. I should mention that there is topless bathing allowed at this beach. Now, we are not prudes and were well aware of this going in, but perhaps had not braced ourselves for the possibility of seeing some of our fellow Celebrity passengers, (many in their "not so elastic years"), in all their glory right there in front of us. Ah well. We went for a walk on the beach and were able to take in the beauty without some of the distraction. The lunch offered was a choice of ribs, chicken, or fish. We had the chicken, and fellow passengers around us all agreed that none of the dishes were very good. At least we had nice surroundings while we ate. Then it was a little more beach time and back on the bus to the ship. Dinner at Blu: When we returned to the ship we checked out the MDR menu and yet again were not excited about it. This was becoming a recurring (and expensive) theme. We decided to dine at Blu. Those in suites may dine there for a $5 per person charge when there is room available. Caetano suggested that any time before 7 or after 8 would be a good time to get in, so we opted to go after 8. We played a little Bocce Ball to pass the time. What a great decision this turned out to be! We got in with no problem, the dining room was barely ½ full at 8:15pm. It was an excellent meal, and we were wondering why we hadn't tried this venue earlier. I would tell you what we had, but I don't remember the specifics -- there is just a note in the journal that says it was excellent. That was the one day I decided not to take my Dramamine -- and we pulled out of port during dinner & started to rock a bit towards the end of the meal. I had to return to our cabin and take the meds that night, no journaling for me. Take the pills every day! Day 5 -- St. Thomas & Our St. John Excursion: The next morning I woke up at around 5:45 am to the ship creaking & rocking a bit, we were pulling into port in St. Thomas. Even though DH growled a little, I pulled the curtains open and went out on the deck to watch. We were being tailed by the Silhouette! We had another wonderful balcony breakfast, and then headed back to the theater for our excursion to disembark. We were really hoping for a better beach experience today since it was our last chance this cruise! Before the cruise we met a great couple on our CC roll call who had trekked over to St. John on their own on a previous cruise, and offered to share a cab with us this time. We all booked the Destination St. John Guided Shopping and Leisure Time excursion, solely for the use of the private ferry that would take us from the cruise dock directly to St. John. Once there, we would ditch the excursion and take a cab right to the beach. We had a short walk to the ferry and chose seats up top for a great view (this would be a wise move, we found out later). Our ferry ride was quite the event. It was a long 45 minutes. The first 5 were calm... then we were in open sea and "the tiny ship was tossed"! Sitting up top in the front was a good thing, because we could keep an eye on the horizon and get a nice breeze in our face (and the occasional spray from the bow). I felt so bad for one of our CC mates down below who was pretty green for the trip, and some actually did get sick. For me it was more like Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Our captain narrated the whole way over and peppered us with fun trivia about St. Thomas and St. John, showing us various points of interest along the way. When we arrived in St. John, they asked who would like to go directly to a beach, apparently they are used to folks just wanting to use the ferry service for this, and about 20 of us raised our hands. They directed us to some open air taxis (they seat 8-10 passengers). We hopped in one with our CC mates and a group of others and away we went. As we drove through the lush landscape I kept thinking "this is what a tropical island looks like." And then we rounded a corner and saw our first St. John beach... Caneel Bay. All we could say was "WOW!" We dropped some of the group off there and then headed for the next beach. As we rounded the corner and saw that one, Trunk Bay, "Double WOW!" (You can see the photos in my review on the Celebrity board under my CC name CactusGirly) We did notice that there were quite a few people on that beach, and that is where we dropped the rest of the group off at. DH and I were thinking "I sure hope our beach is as nice as this!" We would not be disappointed. Cinnamon Beach: Our CC friends had recommended Cinnamon Beach, and just a few more minutes up the road our taxi pulled into a small lot surrounded by trees and announced we were there. We paid $7 ea for the ride and walked down the tree-lined pathway towards the beach. There was a small restaurant on the way and restroom/shower facilities. When we got to the beach, it was like someone had plucked paradise out of a postcard and plopped it down right in front of us. There was a small shack renting chairs and selling snacks & drinks, we went inside to get some chairs and this was the view... Once we had our chairs we walked a short way down the un-crowded beach to find a shady spot to park ourselves. There were trees hanging over the sand where we could hang our beach bags, and then we settled in for a few hours of reading and enjoying the perfect day. About 30 minutes before we had to be back at the ferry we packed up and returned our chairs, rinsed off our feet and said goodbye (sadly) to Cinnamon Bay beach, and our little slice of heaven. The ferry ride back to St. Thomas was less eventful, the seas were more rolling than choppy, but it was much warmer. They did serve complimentary rum punch on the way back. After showers & changing, we went up to the Sunset Bar & got ourselves an adult beverage, then headed back to our suite to order room service for lunch. It was nice to relax and watch a movie while we ate. We had burgers & shrimp cocktail. Both quite good. Hot Glass Show: That evening we decided to attend the Hot Glass show. I am so glad we went to the evening show. (Go early to get good seats, totally worth it to sit up front) It was perfect weather, and at one point during the show they turned off the stage lights so you could see the glow of the air bubbles in the glass -- very cool. Those are 3 wildly talented ladies, and their commentary during the show really made it fascinating. We both enjoyed it immensely. This night we ate dinner in the MDR for the first time on the cruise! We showed up at about 8 pm and had a short wait for a table (we had Select Dining) which surprised us. It was actually quite crowded / busy in there at that time. We thought the food was ok, nothing stood out as excellent. We were seated at a two-top and they are situated so close together that you may as well be dining with another couple. Thankfully we enjoyed the company of the couples we were seated next to on both occasions we ate in the MDR for dinner. Day 6 -- At Sea: This was a day of utter and complete relaxation. We started with a special brunch buffet in the MDR. Although it was a bit crowded (we got there at 10:15, I heard it got worse later), it was totally worthwhile. The ice carvings alone were worth going for -- beautiful! The food quality and variety was impressive. After brunch we read in chairs near the Sunset Bar for a while, then decided to do room service lunch again and enjoy some "suite time". Molecular Bar: That night was formal night. Before we got all fancy, we stopped by the Molecular Bar to have a cocktail. We were surprised that at 5 pm people were already out in force in their tuxes and finery. Folks take formal night seriously on X! (I like that, BTW) For our first drinks, I had a Scorpion's Kiss (not my favorite -- too sweet), and DH started off with an Agave and Avocado Margarita (quite good, very smooth). After that we tried a drink that is not on the menu, the South of the Rio... YUMMY! It has muddled jalapeno peppers & cucumber in it, along with tequila, a cucumber foam on top, rimmed with a hibiscus salt... oh my, I wish I could make this at home. When we were sufficiently cleaned up and beautified for formal night, we headed to the MDR. It was around 8:15 pm. YIKES! There was a bit of a crowd waiting to get in. We didn't think to make reservations. There was a very long line for both the Reservations and No Reservations groups. The Reservations line seemed to be moving just a tad faster, but not by much. After about 20 minutes we made it to the front of the line and gave our name and were told to wait in Cellar Masters for our table. We only had to wait there about 10 more minutes before they came and got us. Once again we had a 2-top that was really a 4-top, sitting next to a lovely couple from South Carolina. Thank goodness for great tablemates! Tonight's meal was outstanding! I had the cold lemon and asparagus soup, which was really different and good. For entrees DH had the shortrib lasagna, and I had the cornish game hen - both were superb. After our meal we had another chance to enjoy hearing The Neptunes perform, and then we enjoyed the Dessert Extravaganza! Yum. Day 7 -- At Sea (Our Last Day ): One last breakfast on our balcony, sigh. Although it was a bit hot, heading back to Ft. Lauderdale those Aft balconies do get full sun in the mornings. After breakfast we attended the "How The Ship Moves" lecture... wow, I don't quite know how to summarize it kindly. The speaker, one of the ship's Officers, could use some public speaking lessons and guidance on how not to offend women in a presentation (what makes a ship go? engines! those big things that go vroom ladies). Mercifully, it was only 30 minutes long and we were able to sneak out of there as soon as the Q&A started. The Martini Bar "Incident": I am going to chalk the poor presentation up to the fact that the Officer was distracted by the "incident" that occurred in the Martini Bar right before the lecture started. I don't know what happened, but some kind of sewer leak or backup made it's way into a corner of the Martini Bar seating area... it was not good. There was a whole team in hazmat suits trying to clean the situation up, and a group of Officers standing there with their cell phones looking frazzled. They had the area roped off so no passengers could come near it, but you could smell it all the way over by the casino & shops. Ick. They had a crew on it all day cleaning like maniacs, and apparently had it cleaned up to an acceptable point by that night because the bar was back open. There were plenty of people drinking in there, although we had no idea why because it still smelled awful. The Gallery & Shopping on Board: After we left the lecture, we headed to the Gallery to purchase some of the photos that had been taken during the cruise. They had a special -- 4 8x10s, one in a commemorative frame, for $79.95. I was surprised at the quality of the photos, many of them seemed washed out -- like too much flash was used. I was glad we had taken so many with our own camera. We walked through the shops to do some last minute shopping after that. On the first day they had a 50% off sale where I purchased a nice hoodie that was normally $62. I was glad I had, as they were all gone the next day. On this day there were no more 50% off items in the clothing area that we wanted, but we each did buy a t-shirt. They didn't have many sizes left of some of the popular ones. I got the last one in my size, so if you see a t-shirt you like, go ahead & get it the day you see it! DH had spotted a leather Fossil bag that he really liked, and we had looked at it several times throughout the cruise. He even looked it up on Amazon to see if the price was reasonable in the shop (it was less expensive onboard than online). I bought it for him as a surprise that day when he went back to the cabin. Packing & Valet Luggage Service: We eventually went back to the cabin and ordered room service for lunch while we packed . We also handed out some additional tips to those who took care of us. Earlier in the cruise we had stopped by Guest Relations and got the forms for the Valet Luggage Service. We STRONGLY RECOMMEND THIS!!!! It is $20 per person, and will be the best $20 you spend on the cruise. You have to turn in the forms by noon on Friday (I think). We just had to fill it out & give a copy of our flight itinerary to Guest Relations. Then, when you come back to your cabin on the last night your boarding passes are waiting for you on your bed! You put your luggage out as normal by 10pm, and the next day you disembark whenever you please, (they will give you a letter with a time, but you can stay up until last call), and sashay right through the line out to customs. While everyone else is struggling with their luggage, yours is already on it's way to the airport my friend, and you will not see it until you land once you get to your final destination. We were the envy of everyone in line around us, who were all asking "why didn't we do that?!" That night we went to see the variety show, mainly to catch the last performance of The Neptunes, (we were like their groupies), and were wowed by the fun surprise at the end of the show (I won't ruin it for those about to sail). We loved it! We had our final dinner at Silk Harvest... the duck was calling to us. (Seriously, try the duck.) After dinner we finished packing & set our bags out. We ordered apple pie & cheesecake from room service as our final hurrah (before we are back to our healthy eating at home). Both were excellent! This was only the 3rd dessert we had on the cruise, and I am glad we didn't know how good these room service desserts were until the last night! Back to Reality / Disembarkment: Received our wakeup call at 6:30 am, got ready and pulled together our last few items in our carry-on bags. We had a nice breakfast in Blu, and then went to Cafe al Bacio for coffees and to relax in the comfy chairs there. We stayed parked there until they kicked us off the ship (about 10:15 was last call to disembark). Then we got in line for customs. As I mentioned, we were the envy of the line with no luggage to fight with. I don't know why more people don't do this. It took us about 30 minutes to get through the line, and then we had to get in another line for a taxi to the airport. Goodbye Solstice, until we meet again. As we looked up and saw our balcony for the last time, the rain started to fall... I think it was the angels weeping for us. Here were my concerns before we cruised, and how each turned out -- 1. Weather -- would it be too cool for this "thin blooded" Arizona girl this time of year? a. Mother Nature was smiling down on us this trip, because the weather was fantastic. It was chilly (to me anyway) when we landed in Ft. Lauderdale and during sail away, but after that we had sunny skies and perfect temps the whole time. I was glad I brought a couple of light sweaters for around the ship though -- they like to keep it cool in some of the common areas. The water at the beaches was a little brisk, but not so cold that you couldn't get in and enjoy it. 2. Dining -- how would the food quality be? Would we get a chance to enjoy all the specialty restaurants? a. We only had dinner in the MDR twice, and once was on formal night. We had lunch there once, and a special brunch buffet once. I found the food in the MDR during the normal dinner & lunch to be equivalent to a typical chain restaurant in quality/taste. We were disappointed in the menu selections most nights, and chose to dine at the specialty restaurants more than we thought we would. Murano was our favorite, then Blu, then Silk Harvest. 3. Cabin Location -- would soot or motion be a problem being in the Aft? a. No to both. The only time I noticed soot was one evening when we were pulling out of a port and a few tiny specks fell on my dress. Other than that, I never even saw any on our balcony. As for motion, we felt some rocking but it wasn't anything that seemed more prevalent in our cabin than anywhere else on the ship. 4. Sea Sickness -- on the DCL cruise I felt ill a couple times, even while taking meds. Would I have a problem on this cruise? a. I started taking the non-drowsy Dramamine the morning before we got on the ship. I also brought ginger candies with me (which I never ate). I only felt queasy once, and it was the day I didn't take a pill, ½ way through the cruise. I started taking the pills again and was fine after that. DH was fine the whole cruise, but unfortunately now that we are on dry land has some Mal de Debarquement symptoms... he should have kept up the Dramamine after he got off, apparently. We will keep it in mind for next time. 5. How Crowded Will The Ship Feel - and do pool chair hogs really exist? a. The 4 places where the ship felt crowded were the Oceanview Cafe on the first day, the gangway when we had to disembark at a port, the brunch buffet, and yes, sadly, anywhere near the pool. The one disappointment for me was that in the 7 days we did not use the pools once. Yes, the chair hogs do exist, (and they are out starting at about 8:30 am), but there are also just masses of people around the pool all day. Anytime we went out there, you could not find 2 chairs together near the pool. Other than those instances though, the ship never felt like it was at even ½ capacity to me. 6. The Drink Package -- would we make those darn drink packages pay off? a. We agonized over whether or not to get the Premium Alcohol packages, and we did purchase them in the end. We are SO glad we did. We came out just about even -- and the ease of having it far outweighed the few dollars we might have saved by not having it. We used it frequently at Cafe al Bacio, The Martini Bar, The Sunset Bar and Molecular Bar. The variety of drinks we tried without even a second thought made the cruise so much fun! 7. Packing -- will I pack enough / too much / forget something? a. I could have packed WAY less swimwear, like I said we never used the ship pools, and I did not need my hanging toiletry kit. I wish I would have packed nail clippers and deep conditioner for my hair -- that Caribbean sun/wind is hard on a gal's tresses. 8. Will We Be Bored? a. No. We were never bored for even one nanosecond. If we weren't enjoying some activity on the ship or in port, we were enjoying each other, relaxing in our beautiful suite or in one of the comfy spots around the ship. I don't know how anyone could be bored. We both love to read, brought our Kindles along and used them frequently. 9. The Dreaded Noro... Would We Get It? a. No. Thank You Lord (and diligent Celebrity staff and fellow passengers!) We did not have any Noro issues on our sailing that we were aware of. The hand sanitizer is everywhere, and I brought my own too. The ship is spotless (Martini Bar "Incident" aside). There wasn't a time when we were walking around the ship when we didn't see someone cleaning something. Most people we saw entering the restaurants used the hand sanitizer. We were in line at the airport talking to a couple who had just come off the Ruby Princess. They had a Noro outbreak on day two on their ship, and those with the illness were quarantined to their cabins with Sea Pass cards taken away. We were imagining being confined to an inside cabin for 5 days with no ability to see sunlight. Yikes! 2. Our Fellow Passengers -- Would We Find Them Delightful, or ... Otherwise? a. 99 percent Delightful! We met some very nice folks on this trip, especially some of our dinner companions and shore excursion buddies. There were many interesting characters onboard and everyone we talked to seemed genuinely pleasant and happy to be there. Only a couple small exceptions... doesn't there always have to be a few? The night we went to see the late night comedian, there were a couple of guys who were drunk as skunks and really needed to be cut off / escorted out of the venue. I felt bad for the man and his wife who were sitting near them and politely tolerating their craziness. The other exception was our neighbors friends. On a few sail away occasions, they would have get-togethers out on their balcony with these folks, and unfortunately it made it a get-together with the entire aft balcony section due to the volume of this couple's voices -- especially the woman. She was so loud and obnoxious that we found ourselves either coming back in our cabin and shutting the door or just looking around at other folks out on their balconies, who were also in misery because of this woman, and laughing. I tried tossing a grape or two at the balcony divider in a sad, passive-aggressive attempt to quiet her down, to no avail. The night we pulled out of St. Maarten was the worst, and after she declared that she was going to get ready for dinner and left -- I swear there was applause all around the aft balconies. Customer Service: I think Celebrity's real differentiator is the service and hospitality of their staff. Throughout the cruise, most every crew member we encountered was genuinely warm and freindly, and helpful whenever we needed it. We particularly enjoyed the hospitality of the restaurant servers, Cafe al Bacio baristas, and our room attendants & butler. The only exception to the Celebrity norm that we found was the bartenders at both the Martini and Molecular bars, who didn't seem to be the friendliest or most service-oriented guys. Outside that though, we were consistently impressed. Summary: The Solstice is such a beautiful ship. I wasn't prepared for how stunning it would be. I was expecting a more "cold" or stark Scandinavian style decor for some reason, but it was anything but cold. It is a ship that is warm, inviting, and has something interesting to look at around every corner. The service on board was, overall, outstanding. You cannot help but relax while being taken care of to such a great extent while onboard, and leave your stresses behind. We have so many wonderful memories from this trip, from an evening spent discovering a new cocktail (or three)... to a magical island getaway. It was truly a vacation to remember. Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
We selected this cruise at the last minute and didn't realize we had done the same exact cruise on the same exact ship as before. We really only wanted to get away and had fond memories of our first time so we had no remorse to have ... Read More
We selected this cruise at the last minute and didn't realize we had done the same exact cruise on the same exact ship as before. We really only wanted to get away and had fond memories of our first time so we had no remorse to have booked it again. This time around we booked in Celebrity's Aqua-class. We really didn't spend a lot of time researching what Aqua-class was so we were in for many pleasant surprises. First of all when we arrived at the port we followed the long cattle line for only a short while until one of the crew members reviewed our boarding pass. He said "Your with me, please come this way" as he escorted us out of the line over to a specially marked line that bypassed probably several hundred other passengers. We were on-board within 15 minutes after arriving at the port. When checking in the person told us that we should check out the special reception for us at the spa first. We were greeted with mimosas and champagne as we came aboard and met with a sincere crew that seemed happy to have us on board. There was nothing fake about them. We made a bee line for the spa reception only to realize, after asking for the reception, that it was actually only the traditional spa tour so we were a bit confused about the reception. The Solstice still seems brand new. The rooms and the rest of the ship gives you the impression that it hasn't been used yet. The maintenance crew was always tending to little details so that no finishes seemed damaged, scuffed or otherwise worn. We noticed one member paying special attention to the molding where the carpet meets the wall; I wasn't sure what exactly he was doing but he was carefully adjusting the molding with a small tack hammer and seemed very meticulous with what he was doing. We stayed on the 11th floor which is adjacent to the spa. See my comments on the room itself. Favorites on the ship: The Molecular Bar: we enjoyed this particular feature of the ship in which they make these wonderful cocktails from generally all natural ingredients including Roses, cloves and a large variety of other things including nitrogen. They display all the ingredient on the bar so when you walk by or are sitting at the bar you get all the wonderful smells of spices etc. The first time we were on this ship the Bartender was a woman by the name of Ana. We were so hoping that she would be there; she was so into her craft and loved explaining to us what and why she was doing what she did. I am so happy to report that we were greeted by a new bartender by the name of Goksel who goes by the name of "G." He was cheerful, friendly and just as much into what he did as Ana. We went there every night. The drinks are $12 each but they really are outstanding. There are several times during the cruise when after 10PM you can buy one get a second one for half off. We even took a class on how to make the cocktails. This bar is located right in the art gallery. Most do not discover this bar until later in the cruise. By the fourth night it gets busy so if you visit it early on in the cruise "G" can give you more special attention. "G's" backup Molecular chef is "Stan" who was also very nice and an excellent bartender. The Captain: Captain Gerry is clearly well loved and respected by the Solstice crew. He presents well and exudes confidence. He is also a very talented guitar player and singer. He also appeared in two shows singing and playing guitar. Aqua-class: Daily Deliveries to the room including: bottled water, fresh fruit, canapes and fruit infused water. The brochure on this class promises a pillow menu and a room aroma menu; we never saw either but there were plenty of pillows and there was a lemongrass scented diffuser. Champagne was delivered one evening along with a cheese-plate. Unlimited access to the aroma therapy steam room, sauna and Persian terrace. A pair of binoculars, beach bags, bathrobes and slippers were in the room for us. Exclusive access to the Blu Dining room. Blu is a specialty restaurant that has its own chef and provides a more intimate and "less rushed" alternative to the main dining room. The food is great. As a matter of fact, the night before we were to board we had dinner at Shula's in Ft Lauderdale. We had a fillet Mignon there and it was so good that we were afraid it would ruin our cruise food experience. To our surprise we were offered a fillet Mignon in Blu and it was definitely better; we could cut it with a spoon and oh so tasty. The best part of Blu is that the portions are "correct" and you don't feel like you are going to explode after eating. You feel more than satisfied but not sick. Stateroom Attendant: "Steve" was our stateroom attendant. He greeted us by name before even seeing us near our room. I believe the magic trick here is that they send the boarding pictures up the the stateroom attendants. As was our previous experience the stateroom attendant seemed to anticipate how we "live" in our stateroom. Our ice bucket was always filled once he realized I love ice water. We've cruised at least 10 times and Celebrity's stateroom attendants are the best. Celebrity's approach on hand sanitizing: Excellent. They greet every person as they enter an eating area with a Purel dispense. There are Purel stands at each entrance but they actually also have personnel there to proactively dispense hand sanitizer. This is a great approach. We heard that other ships, that were also in the area got hit with the Norovirus; those ships also did not actively push the hand sanitizer. I don't know if it was intentional on Celebrity's part but at the Ocean View Cafe the pans/containers they use to serve the food from are small so they are always being changed and freshened up; we thought this may have helped to keep things from being handled too many times. Very few negatives but there are a few: menus for the restaurant were never updated on the iTV system, evening room service at times took hours..even after calling to make sure we hadn't been forgotten and this was not the case the last time we were on this ship (morning room service was always pronto). Food was always hot or cold as it was supposed to be. Excursion booking on the iTV system never seemed to work. We've cruised most of the bigger lines but this last Celebrity cruise will make us loyal to them from now on. Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
Background The views and opinions expressed in this review are mine and may conflict with others thoughts. That is what makes everyone unique. I have found these boards so very helpful in the past, and wanted to share my experience. ... Read More
Background The views and opinions expressed in this review are mine and may conflict with others thoughts. That is what makes everyone unique. I have found these boards so very helpful in the past, and wanted to share my experience. Sorry for the length... My husband and I took our first cruise on Celebrity Solstice from 02/26/2012 through 03/04/2012. We are in our mid and late 30's and for the last six years have vacationed at all-inclusive resorts. When I went to plan our vacation for 2012, the prices at the all-inclusive resort we wanted to return to had significantly increased. The price is now beyond the value (IMO) and so we looked for an alternative. We have a desire to vacation annually in the Caribbean and thought we should try a cruise since we would be exposed to several islands and if we like one we can later return for a land based vacation. After guidance from a travel board I frequent daily, I was advised that the most similar experience to our past vacation spot would be through the Celebrity line and specifically the Solstice. At the time I thought I was guided to a particular ship, but after doing much research after I booked the vacation I realized I was being guided to the Solstice Class ships, not just the Solstice. In any regard, I was interested in the Eastern Caribbean itinerary and so I booked Concierge Class C2, #1044 (Sky Deck -- 10th floor, Starboard) on the Celebrity Solstice. We elected for this specific cabin due to the balcony being larger (on the forward hump). The total price for this category and all additional purchases was still significantly less than we have previously paid and I was interested in some of the "perks" of this class. For personal taste preferences and cabin location reasons, I was not interested in Aqua Class, even though the price would have been about the same. I am a vegetarian and I contacted Celebrity prior to departure. I was told via email that they would be able to accommodate my food request and to contact the Matre D once on ship. We also purchased the premium non-alcoholic beverage package and an excursion for each port of call. All items were paid in full in August. However, I cancelled the beverage package and rebooked recently to save $40. Travel We had a direct flight from Detroit to Ft. Lauderdale on 2/26. When we left it was 26 degrees. We arrived at the airport around 11:00am to beautiful 75+ degrees. We took a taxi to Port Everglades which including tip was $18.00. Having never cruised before or been close to a ship, I was in awe of the size of these vessels up close. We were in port with the Silver Cloud, The Allure of the Seas and everything in between. Embarkation We arrived at the port a little after 11:20am. We pulled our bags from the taxi and placed our luggage tags on our bags. I found the first staff member I could find and told them we had never cruised and did not know where to go/what to do. They very kindly told us to head into the building with our bags and proceed to the Concierge Class line. We were waited on quickly and provided our Sea Pass card (room key) and they took a photo for identification purposes (no idea what that meant). We rounded the next corner and they took another picture of us together. Then we were asked to sit in a row based on our room category. Once in the row, I was concerned because we seemed to be the only people with baggage. I exited the line and asked if we did something wrong and was told yes. Lesson #1: we were to leave our baggage at curbside, not take everything with us. Wish someone would have told us that. However, it was not a big deal. They suggested the cruise before us was late disembarking, so we were slightly delayed. However, I believe we were boarding by 11:40am. When our class was called, we entered the ship -- man is it huge -- and made our way to the Oceanview Cafe on deck 14. This was one of the only times that we used the elevators on the ship. I read Cruise Critic every day and only read about locations in reference to elevators, but not staircases. I assumed staircases were for emergency use only, but this is not the case. There are non-emergency ones right next to each set of elevators. We found a great spot outside that was right next to the railing and the inside portion of the Cafe. Our luggage was out of the way and we would enjoy the fresh air. Although it was extremely windy, we were slightly protected in this location. We ate lunch and were allowed to go to our room at 1:30pm. We stayed in the Cafe until that time because of our luggage, but shared our table with three different groups so we did not feel like we taking up someone's place. Plus, it was so windy most did not want to be outside. I met with the Matre D prior to the muster drill and was told that there was a vegetarian entree on the menu that night. It was acceptable to me. I was told each night I would order for the next night off the vegetarian menu. This worked perfect. Room The room was small at first, but we got used to it quickly. The storage space was excellent. We fully unpacked and everything was out of the way. The bathroom was also well laid out. The shower though small in size was excellently designed and felt larger than my home shower. The balcony was an absolute treat. It is on the forward hump thus having the largest balcony. It was shaded at all times and very spacious. We enjoyed being alone and always having our chairs available. We spent most of our sea days on the balcony. Our stateroom attendant was just great. I have no idea how he memorized our names since I am sure he did this for all passengers in his area. We turned the wrong direction one evening heading back to our room and he was coming out of a room. He looked at me and called me by name and asked if I was lost. We laughed and said we sure were. I can understand remembering my name when I am in my room, but when I am far from my room...that is impressive. There were a few requests that we had left on paper for him and they were immediately granted (unload refrigerator so we could use it for our drinks, cheese and crackers instead of canapes, etc)...one was even a request for something completely out of the ordinary and he was able to pull it off. We tipped him extra for his efforts and friendliness. Food We ate breakfast and lunch in the Oceanview Cafe almost every day. We are creatures of habit and generally eat the same food for our meals each day. This was the case for us related to breakfast, but we enjoyed the great variety at lunch. I generally despise buffets, but this one was fresh and well maintained. I was pleasantly surprised. We had select dining and ate most nights at 5:30pm in the Grand Epernay. We were able to make the 7:00pm night show for all but one night. We found the food to be on par with the all-inclusive resort we have stayed at, which is to say great. My husband ordered fish every night and I ordered a vegetarian entree. I would like to mention we had a wonderful cocktail waitress (not sure what her real title was) named Romina. She was so pleasant to converse with and she would bring us our order without asking. We tipped her extra as a thank you. Beverage Package Because we are used to all-inclusive vacations, we purchased the premium non-alcoholic beverage package. The thought of having a bill at the end was not something that would sit well with us. Plus looking at the prices plus gratuity of the items we thought we would drink, I felt we would be better off purchasing the package then paying at the end. We drank Evian, Smart Water, ginger ale and virgin daiquiris. When it was all said and done we drank way more than the price of the package. The package was convenient since we did not need to sign anything. We would 100% do this again even if we did not drink enough to pay for the cost because of the convenience. Nightly Entertainment/Show Highly subjective topic I know. There were a few guest appearances (comedian, magician/illusionist, multi-instrumentalist) and the house entertainers. I don't want to go into too much detail, to which you are laughing at if you are still reading this. But, some were real good and others were painful to listen to. It was still something to do and offered good rhetoric afterward for my husband and I. Overall, the entertainment was still better than that offered at the all-inclusive we go to. Oceans Ahead Program Series We attended several of the programs presented by the crew including the galley discussion, Captain's presentation, engine discussion. They were interesting and educational. Not sure if this is unique to Celebrity, but I really enjoyed the series. Sea Days So, since this was my first cruise, I asked a bunch of people about seasickness and prevention. When it came down to it, I did not think we would get seasick and did not bring any medications. It was suggested by a ton of people that we would not even feel the boat moving because they are so large, technology, etc. They were all crazy! No we did not get sick -- we found it fun. However, if you can't feel the boat moving, you have had too much to drink or are on too much medication. So here is the thing no one ever mentioned...the gentle rocking back and forth (or not so gentle considering the waves on the first few days) lulled me to sleep like a baby. It was like being on a long car trip where I get comatose and can't wake up. I was so sleepy! So fair warning to those who fall asleep in moving vehicles. Crew We found most everyone pleasant. If I said "Hi" to anyone, they would warmly smile and respond back. The crew overall were not as friendly as we have found on the all-inclusive vacations, but individuals ones shined bright. One item of note was their sense of humor. From the Captain to the Head Chief this is a very humorous group. We really appreciated this since we too find humor in almost everything...that is what kames life fun. Puerto Rico Excursion We booked SJ68 - Fortification Segway Guided Tour (2 hour tour) through the ship. Since this was our first time to the island and having never cruised, we felt booking through the ship was safer even if we paid more. This excursion was great. They started off with a quick demonstration on the fundamentals of the machine and balance and then took us individually to practice. It was very natural for me. However, my husband suggested it was a little difficult because he wanted to use the handle like handle bars. The practice took less than 2 minutes and I felt very comfortable. We were broken into two groups, ours only having 2 couples. Miguel was our guide and did an excellent tour and historical account of the city and Puerto Rico in general. The views at the fort were amazing. The couple we were with had been to the fort before, and said they learned more in the short time we were there then they did by themselves for an entire day. I would highly recommend this tour. St. Maarten Excursion Please note we were scheduled to tender at this location but due to a medical emergency on HAL, we took their spot and were able to dock. Yeah for us not for HAL. Hope all is well with that situation. We had booked SMC2 Power Rafting Adventure - Around the Island, however prior to arriving in Puerto Rico we received notice that the excursion was cancelled due to lack of interest. We still wanted to do an excursion that would give us a view of the island/homes. Most of the excursions were sold out, but we were interested and booked SMB9 4x4 St. Maarten Safari & Beach Escape (6 ½ hour tour). This was not something I would recommend to anyone. We basically drove all the way around the island and sat in traffic. Not sure where the safari was. There were some pretty spots we passed along the way, but not worth the money. Wish I would have been able to do more research on this before deciding. Most everyone on the tour looked like they hated every minute of it and were complaining. We had fun and enjoyed ourselves, but it is not something I would do again or suggest anyone else do. If you have booked this excursion, I would greatly consider cancelling and scheduling something else. You can sit in traffic at home. St. Thomas Excursion We booked ST63 Caribbean Sail to Christmas & Honeymoon Coves (6 ½ hour tour including meal). I was able to research this tour well in advance, but still did not know that there were going to be multiple ships that we could get placed on. I am so happy that we ended up on Bones, the boat and crew that I had done the research on. This was so much fun and I would encourage anyone to do this. However, there were a ton of people getting seasick, so be prepared if you are easily susceptible. As the name suggests we sailed on a pirate ship to Christmas Cove (Buck Island) and Honeymoon Cove (Water Island). At Christmas cove, we snorkeled. More fish than previous experiences in Jamaica but less than Bahamas. The highlight here was the green sea turtles. Then we sailed to Honeymoon beach for lunch and relaxation on the beach. Very private and beautiful location. So private they were filming a reality TV program. Super secret which one it was, but there looked to be seven strangers that were picked to live with one another (wink). It was interesting to see how un-real reality TV is. Anyway, best crew around, very funny and great snorkel guides. Disembarkation We arrived back to Ft. Lauderdale by 6:30am. Lesson #2: You are supposed to get a set of luggage tags and instructions on how to disembark. We did not get these, however they took our bags. I called down to guest relations and was told to be in the Grand Epernay at 10:00am. We ate breakfast at 6:00am and hung out on our balcony until 8:00am. We went to the Grand Epernay and were told our luggage number was 33. They called us around the scheduled time. The process was interesting. Our luggage was set aside not with our number, but we found it quickly without incident. Then instead of having us form one line, we were herded through a section of the building. The herd eventually had to be divided into 4 lines which would have helped in the beginning to clear customs. Quick and painless. Caught a taxi to the airport and paid $18 including tip again. We had a 3:53pm flight but arrived at the airport around 10:20am. Lesson #3: Don't book sucha late flight if you have nothing else to do. You are not allowed to check in at FLL prior to 4 hours (curbside) or 2 hours (inside). Strange. So there are people sitting on the ground everywhere. Not to mention this is a tiny airport once you are able to clear security. Food is all fast food type here, so that was disappointing. Our plane was delayed, but we were able to make up time in the air. We left 85 degrees and landed in 34 degrees and by the time we got home it was 28 and snowing. Summary Overall, we had a wonderful time. The ship is well laid out. We heard others suggest that ships they have traveled on were confusing because elevators only went to certain floors. This ship is not like that. We would cruise again and probably will for our next vacation. I loved the private balcony and chairs. The cruise compared well against our previous vacations in terms of food quality. I would say the ship has far better entertainment. My husband really enjoyed being someplace different every day. This cut down on his boredom of sitting on the beach for 7 straight days. The only downside for me was not being able to see the Caribbean blue ocean every day of my vacation and landing in cold and cloudy Detroit; welcome back to reality. I would like to thank everyone for answering my questions along the way and more importantly having the ability to read your questions and responses so I was well prepared. Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
The purpose of this trip was to decompress and spend time together. It didn't matter where we were going; I just wanted to be pampered and fed. Overall, the Solstice accomplished the mission. The ship was beautiful and clean. This ... Read More
The purpose of this trip was to decompress and spend time together. It didn't matter where we were going; I just wanted to be pampered and fed. Overall, the Solstice accomplished the mission. The ship was beautiful and clean. This was our second trip with Celebrity and our preferred line over Royal Caribbean and Carnival. We spent the night before in town to avoid airport madness the same day as embarkation, always advised. Unfortunately, we followed the instructions in our Celebrity guest booklet that said to arrive for check-in at 1:30. We arrived about 1, and upon check-in we were told to join the AQ reception, oh wait, that just ended...at 1:30. I would have thought that would have been in our booklet. Oh well, now we know. It was nice that we had our check-in own line, almost; it merged with the handicap line. Still, faster than the other line. Luggage took a bit longer to arrive than in the past. The Aqua Class perks aren't really as I hoped. We still love Celebrity, but were a little disappointed with some of the AQ advertised amenities. Here's my experience with each "perk": Blu Restaurant - Only available for AQ. You do not make reservations, but we were always seated promptly; however, we are early eaters (6 ish). The food was great. I have simple tastes, give me a quality pizza (not the kind you find on a buffet) or a real hamburger and fries and I'm perfectly fine. I was not sure how I'd do with this upscale healthy menu - I loved it. Each day I tried things I normally wouldn't. The bread assortment was great and my favorite was the cheese soufflE. I could have had that as an appetizer every night; sadly, it was only available the first night. The entrees were well prepared and tasty, too. It was just the right amount of food; we never left feeling terrible like you can after a meal in the MDR or the buffet. We also ate breakfast here a couple times. The food just seemed fresher, but you need to have the time for the wait. Blu would be my reason for picking AQ again if the price and room location are right compared to concierge class. Aromatherapy selection. It was sandalwood - I hate that smell. When I inquired about the "selection" I was told there were no other choices, so we had them remove the fragrance. No benefit. A pillow menu - um, no. There was no menu in the room and upon first inquiry I was told there wasn't anything else. After two nights of sleeping on terrible, flat pillows, I called the desk. They sent the supervisor. He had to do some digging, but about 30 minutes later he returned with a wonderful memory foam pillow and also a big body pillow. Finally, a good nights sleep. Not sure this is really specific to AQ. I suspect if you asked early enough for a different pillow in any class, and spoke to the right person, you could get one. Daily delivery of bottled water and teas -Their policy, apparently, is two bottles of water per room per day. When we asked if they could do more, they did step up and provide a few more. The daily delivery of tea was also a bit odd. There was no flavor choice, but they left a carafe of fruit flavored tea in the room. It was only refreshed when it was empty. For us, this meant a couple days with the same carafe in our room. When there was a flavor we didn't like, we emptied it in the sink in the morning. No real benefit, I can just as easily bring on my own bottled water and live without tea. Personal Spa Concierge - one person tucked away for AC guests to use, still had a line. Regular booking area just as easily available if you go there early. No real benefit. Plush robes and slippers. Robes were nice. Slippers were handy, not plush. Still a plus. Enhanced personal care products. Okay, sure, they were lovely. Unlimited access to the Persian Garden and Relaxation room - Enjoyed the warm benches in the garden, but it wasn't relaxing with the sound of the doors opening and closing all the time. The relaxation room was less than; some people couldn't help themselves and were chatting, the lemon water was empty, and the room was dirty/sandy? No real benefit. Itinerary is in port reviews. We enjoyed our at sea days tremendously. No real agenda, just relaxation. Education/talks: The shopping talk - It is always the same. They're pushing their stores for their profit. I don't think any port store should be "trusted." I just don't like this part of the process. Sure, buy a t-shirt and maybe a local trinket, but stay away from the expensive stuff unless you really now exactly what it is you're looking for/at and the value. There were a couple of history talks that my husband enjoyed, being a history buff. I found them okay considering I'm not a history buff. The glass blowing is just amazing, although the bench seating is somewhat uncomfortable. We missed the first and last shows, but made it a priority to get to the others. We also went to the meet the artist time, which we never do - they were that good. The evening theater shows. They were an entertaining way to spend the evening. The theater definitely fills up though, so if you have more than two, arrive early. Debarkation: terrible. It isn't all their fault, people get so pushy, don't follow their times, and curtsey goes out the window. We seriously almost saw a fist fight over cutting in line. Sadly, second time with Celebrity, and for the second time, they ruined a suitcase/broke the wheel when taking it off the ship. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
From the moment we boarded the beautiful Celebrity Solstice we knew had made the right decision. After several months of reading reviews on cruise critic we booked with Celebrity and are extremely happy with our choice. Embarkation was ... Read More
From the moment we boarded the beautiful Celebrity Solstice we knew had made the right decision. After several months of reading reviews on cruise critic we booked with Celebrity and are extremely happy with our choice. Embarkation was excellent. We arrived at 11;30 and boarded quickly. We had a nice lunch and then we had a drink on deck while we waited for our room. The room was very well decorated and lots of storage. I was happy that our laptop was able to fit in the safe. The balcony was perfect and we spent every morning with coffee and croissants delivered by the smiling room service staff enjoying the view . From our Cabin Stewarts, waiters, bar servers , and all staff we met onboard - wow , we couldn't be happier! They all greet you with a smile as well as they provided excellent service. We had the Premium Beverage Package and it proved to be a very good deal for us. We enjoyed the latte's at the Cafe and tried lots of different cocktails throughout the cruise. We did spend a lot of time at the Pass Port bar, especially loved Johannes , VJ and Stan. They not only provided excellent service they were so nice to talk with. We choose Select Dining and enjoyed all the dinners in the MDR. We didn't want to be on a schedule so this did work very well for us. I think it may be better if you do make reservations though - if you want the same table, or even waiter. Most nights the maitre de was able to accommodate this . As for loungers, like other posters have mentioned there is 'saving' chairs happening all over the ship. We are early risers anyway, so this really was not an issue. We enjoyed a couple of the shows, be sure not to miss the Glass show as well. The ports we visited were all new to us and we did enjoy our time off the ship! We met some great folks of all ages on the trip. Disembarking was terrible on this trip- not sure if that is Celebrity's fault or not- it did seem like many people just couldn't wait there turn. Anyway that in no way ruined our great time on the Solstice. We will return for sure. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
Thanks for everyone who has posted about Solstice this winter in the Caribbean! Some background...this is our second time on the Solstice -- first was March 2010, our first time on Celebrity. We are early to mid 50s and felt like we ... Read More
Thanks for everyone who has posted about Solstice this winter in the Caribbean! Some background...this is our second time on the Solstice -- first was March 2010, our first time on Celebrity. We are early to mid 50s and felt like we brought the average age significantly as compared to our other cruises on Celebrity. Maybe it is the time of year, as many others have reported the same experience on the boards recently. There was a very large group of French speaking passengers, so they did all the announcements in French as well, which I thought was a nice touch. The Executive Chef and Assistant Hotel Manager said that a couple of weeks out, they examine the age and nationality of the passengers and it informs what they may need to tweak for that sailing. Flew to Fort Lauderdale a day before just to be safe. We stayed at the Springhill Suites in Dania Beach. Not sure if we would stay there again. Long, long lines for check in and check out and the front desk staff were very unhelpful. When we tried to get a cab instead of their shuttle, the transportation representative would not call a cab and gave us a horror story about the long time and huge expense of using a cab. Fortunately, we'd been to the port before and it was the same easy $20 trip for 4 of us in no time. He was quite a bully. Embarkation was a breeze with no wait at all. We skipped the craziness at the Oceanview Cafe and had the free finger sandwiches at Cafe al Bacio. It's a great little place that's quiet and the sandwiches are nice. They do change with the time of day...pastries, then sandwiches, then mini desserts...but they didn't change during the cruise. Rooms were ready about 1:30pm. Our aft veranda was quite nice and with the extra bonus of three feet or so of additional balcony since we were next to a storage closet. We would book this cabin again in a heartbeat on any Solstice class ship. We did have a problem with soot, but our excellent cabin steward Ricardo washed it down every morning. For those of you who are interested in the menu, the Eastern Caribbean route is menus 1-7, so I assume that the Western is 8-14. There are many threads that have the menus posted. We found the food in the MDR to be quite good and they were exceptional at accommodating food allergies, to the point of letting us order "off menu." The Assistant Maitre d', Vaho Donovick, (never saw the Maitre d') was very attentive and so nice. He made sure that we received the next night's menu prior to leaving the dining room, so our food could be prepared in the separate allergen section of the kitchen. We ate in Tuscan Grille one night. I would not spend the money there again. Food and service were quite good, but not worth the cost. Our sommelier, Chris, was exceptional. Great knowledge of wine and his wine cellar. Our assistant waiter Buyoung was great and attentive. Our waiter Huran...he's the weakest one we've had on a cruise. His comprehension of English was very low. He also seemed to be very fearful of his tables. Not sure what the problem was. Cruise Critic Meet & Greet was fairly well attended...we had a very quiet Roll Call. Several of the officers attended. Stewart, the Cruise Director was there for awhile and spoke briefly. We found him to be the least engaging of the Cruise Directors that we've experienced in our four Celebrity Cruises. However, we met Jurgen, Assistant Hotel Manager. He spoke to many of us and was very interested in how we liked the cruise so far and sought out any feedback -- positive or negative. He was VERY visible during the cruise (I saw him nearly every day) and always inquired about our experience and remembered us from the Meet and Great. I've never experienced this on a cruise before. We met Mellissa Snow, the Captains Club Hostess several times. She is new to the ship, but not to Celebrity. We found her to be dismissive and nearly rude when we asked a question and observed the same behavior given to others. I would not want her to represent my company! Captain Gerry (pronounced "Gary") was also quite visible. I know several have posted about a "surprise" about him, so let's just say, don't miss his special performances in the theater first and last night. The shows were good, but the production shows were the same as two years ago. The stage manager told us at the backstage tour, that they run the same shows for three years. The comedian Tony Daro was funny and worth staying up late. The two shows were saw were standing room only. Karen Grainger joined the ship in St Maarten and did a great show of her vocal impressions. We went in not expecting to like it, but she surprised us. We did not see the illusionist. Loved the Hot Glass Show and went several times. The three of them were so much fun to watch and they are amazing artists and storytellers. Since we were Select with this cruise, we did the backstage tour and wine tasting. We also did the Galley tour on the first sea day, which had an enormous turn out. The Executive Chef Steve did a great job of explaining what and how they prepare food, introduced his staff and then took questions and answers until the last group (us) had been taken to the kitchen by one of his staff. We went to the Captain's Club celebration, which strangely has always had the same food on every ship we've been on. The couple with the most points was recognized...with a lovely ice sculpture too...as they had reached 100 points with Celebrity on this cruise. Impressive! We did a little shopping in San Juan, but since we've been there before and we got there at 3pm, we didn't stay long. Because there were eight ships at St Maarten, and we were going to be tendering, we went with a Celebrity excursion. We took the beach break to Orient Beach, knowing that we'd be guaranteed to get there and back on the ship with no problem. It was a disaster. After everyone was off the ship, the tour operators who met us took us up a side street to wait for the bus. It took 25 minutes (and standing in the direct sun) for the driver to find us and load the bus They could not get him on his cell phone and there was a misunderstanding about the meeting place The bus was not the motorcoach we expected...it was a old 45 passenger bus with a leaky roof. When we got to the beach they pointed out where "our" section was and everyone got settled. She then came back and said that we were on the wrong beach and we had to get back on the bus. Ten minutes later, she came back on the bus and said we were at the right beach, but would need to go to a separate section. What a disaster. Lots of apologies. We took the same tour two years ago and it was a completely different experience. Not sure what we'll decide next time we're in St Maarten, but I would really rethink the Celebrity excursion. In St Thomas, we went to see the synagogue -- beautiful historical place just up the hill from town. Went back into town and caught a tour bus. He took us around the highlights of the Island and was great. He left us at Secret Harbor Beach. It is a lovely little beach with calm waters and great snorkeling. The rental shop and restaurant were quite expensive. It was our first time to St Thomas and we had a great day. Know that the taxis/tour busses there are price regulated and the drivers carry a card with the set prices. Disembarkation was SLOW, as others have reported. It took us an hour. Several times we heard that they stopped calling groups to try to thin things out. All-in-all, we loved the cruise and found our second time on Solstice to be wonderful. She is a great ship and we can't wait for the next cruise. If you have any questions, just ask! Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
This was our 4th and best cruise ever. We were on the January 29, 2012 sailing. Travel the day before your cruise so you are not rushed. And if the airline lost your wife's suitcase of cloths, they have time to find it. Yes, they ... Read More
This was our 4th and best cruise ever. We were on the January 29, 2012 sailing. Travel the day before your cruise so you are not rushed. And if the airline lost your wife's suitcase of cloths, they have time to find it. Yes, they did, but they found it and had the suitcase to us at 1:00AM. There were a lot of snow birds, including us on this beautiful ship. Embarkation was smooth. We were the second group to board. Pre-register before arriving the ship to save time. Ask questions if this is your first cruise and need help. It can be very confusing. We went straight to our cabin. 9330. We left our carry-ons in our cabin and met our room Stewart, Rodioric, in the hallway. He said we could leave the carry-ons, he was just finishing up. About an hour later, an announcement was made not to go to your cabin until they said it was OK. A little late. We had a wonderful lunch in the Ocean View Cafe on the 14th Deck. When we arrived back at our cabin, there was a "Celebrity Today" with today's Activities and Entertainment. Unbelievable. There is something for everyone from sunrise until after mid-night. The first nights dinner in the Grand Epernay Restaurant, Deck 4, table 419, the 6:00PM sitting, we were joined by friends from North Platte, NE, Steve and Tammie, and met some very nice people from Canada, Helen and Bill. We had a great time and great food being served by our waiter David and his Asst. Marthen. They provided our nightly entertainment before our 9:00PM entertainment. They were great and provided us some tips of the what to do and not do aboard ship. Our wine Stewart, William, became a good friend. He advised us on a couple of wine tasting party's to attend. Every night he helped in selecting a wine that would go with our selected main course. We would see William working in different parts of the ship through out the day, and we would talk about his life aboard ship. He was very helpful of the do's and don'ts. The menu is extensive. Escargot and Creme Brulee every night. You can select all you want. If you don't like something, try something else. Our waiter David would go over the menu and tell us about each selected item. The entertainment was the best of the three other cruises. We had learned by other reviews that we were in for a surprise. We weren't disappointed. We are now looking for another Celebrity Cruise later on this year. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
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 ... Read More
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! Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
Celebrity Solstice Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 4.5
Dining 4.5 4.1
Entertainment 4.5 3.8
Public Rooms 5.0 4.6
Fitness Recreation 5.0 4.1
Family 4.0 4.1
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.7
Enrichment 5.0 3.8
Service 5.0 4.4
Value For Money 4.5 4.0
Rates 4.0 4.2

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