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66 Celebrity Solstice Cruise Reviews for Family Cruises to Caribbean - Eastern

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
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
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
After typically planning cruises about a year in advance and traveling with a large group, we decided to book a last minute getaway cruise and thought to try Celebrity for the first time aboard the Solstice. We set sail from Fort ... Read More
After typically planning cruises about a year in advance and traveling with a large group, we decided to book a last minute getaway cruise and thought to try Celebrity for the first time aboard the Solstice. We set sail from Fort Lauderdale on January 15, 2012 to fairly rough seas, but Solstice handled the conditions well. Embarkation was a breeze! Solstice was docked at Pier 25 in Port Everglades and the check-in process was efficient and simple. We only waited in line for about 3 minutes and were on board in no time. The Solstice is a beautiful ship. She is spacious, crisply designed and modern. Her deck plans, though, especially on some of the lower decks where common activities are held, are questionable. It took us about 2 days before we realized that Celebrity Central was actually a theatre, not just a name given to the center atrium area of the ship. After cruising with Royal Caribbean, whose promenades are the signature public space of the vessel, and Princess, who continues to refine their ships' atria, the Solstice's atrium seemed like little more than a widening of the corridor, especially considering the cruise staff's choice to host many nighttime events in this space. While on the topic of the cruise staff, entertainment options on board were far from satisfactory. Evening shows in the Solstice Theater were sufficient for cruisers who enjoy Broadway style productions, however there was a lack of anything more than this. We are used to walking around the ship, especially on Princess, in the evening and finding events happening well into the late hours of the night. Such events as karaoke, interactive game shows, smaller shows, and a piano bar performance were the types of events we looked forward to. We found nothing like this. Often times, lounges and theaters were empty for most of the night until about midnight, when a movie would be shown... not impressive by any means. The resident party band Top Notch was excellent. The lead singer had a very beautiful and dynamic voice, but each performance was only booked for approximately half hour blocks, hardly enough to settle in and enjoy them. As for music, even the background music that was playing throughout the ship was lacking. Often times, I felt like we were listening to church music, or even worse, funeral hymns. When the music was slightly (and I do mean slightly) more upbeat, it was in some foreign language, making it hard to enjoy. Our cruise director changed half way through the voyage, and things improved a little bit. Poolside entertainment was lacking until later in the week. A solo guitarist and the aforementioned Top Notch Band performed, but like mentioned, only for short gigs. We heard a about a total of 40 minutes of the steel drum band's performance all week, something we have come to expect and enjoy while relaxing by the pool. We were later told that they came to the pool for a half hour performance at about 4:30 PM, about the time we went back to our room to get ready for our 6:00 dinner seating. On a more positive note, food was excellent - probably the best we've had at sea. The Grand Epernay dining room was impressive. Food was perfect and the staff was even better. Our waiter Rod and assistant waitress Tereza was always extremely friendly and a pleasure to speak with, both inside and outside of the dining room. Furthermore, the selection at the Oceanview Cafe, the ship's buffet, was very good. Options were plentiful, and we were especially impressed by the sushi selection they offered each day from 5:30 to 9:30. While we did not try any specialty restaurants, we did participate in a few culinary demonstrations by their chefs. Needless to say, we did not go hungry all week. Overall, we were impressed by the ship's design, cabin size, and dining options. The attentiveness and courtesy of the crew members was also particularly refreshing. The crew was rather young and as a result, the Ship's Officers' engagement was really enjoyable. The captain was seen playing pool volleyball and singing and playing guitar on stage. His Senior Officers participated in game shows and other various activities and really gave these events a personal feel. In conclusion, it seems like Celebrity caters to an older clientele. About 90 percent of the passengers seemed to be 60+ years old. To me, it seems that the cruise line has all the right tools (great ships, great staff, great food) to make it a whole package, but the entertainment schedule and execution was a disappointment. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
My son and I have cruised 20+ times in the past and Celebrity has always been our favourite. WE are Elite members and have sailed on Solstice two years ago. At that time we had enjoyed our cruise very much and we were looking forward to ... Read More
My son and I have cruised 20+ times in the past and Celebrity has always been our favourite. WE are Elite members and have sailed on Solstice two years ago. At that time we had enjoyed our cruise very much and we were looking forward to have the same experience. Unfortunately this time the cruise did not turn out to be up to Celebrity standard. It seemed like I was on a totally different ship. Starting from below average food quality (both in the main dining room and upstairs buffet) and continuing with very poor entertainment. I can't believe that Solstice cruise director Stewart has worked for Celebrity for over 10 years and nobody fired him yet!!!! Overall, entertainment crew appeared to be not motivated, and often they looked like they didn't want to "be there". I saw the same shows two years ago and what a difference! As Elite members we took the backstage tour once again. I invited one of the ladies from our dining room table to join as as she was an artist. I bragged to her prior to the tour how exciting it was going to be and how much she is going to learn about show productions. And you have no idea how embarrassed I was after we took the tour! For first half hour we listened to cruise director Stewart how fabulous he was (and he wasn't even supposed to be there!) and after they just walked us through the back (it took literary 1 min) and sent us on our way... This brings me to the subject of consistency... Consistency with previous quality of food and service on Solstice as well as consistency of food and service on the current cruise. Every drink, every cup of coffee I ordered tasted different from each other. I really can't understand why. There was also a problem with consistency of information received from the crew. I had an issue with shore excursion stuff in relation with my extended stay excursion in Ft Lauderdale after disembarkation. When I went to shore excursion desk to inquire what exactly is involved in the excursion one lady told me that we get dropped off "somewhere in the city and it was my responsibility to take a taxi if I wanted to go to the beach". She became very argumentative to the point of being rude when I asked her to double check this info as the description of the excursion in the paper was totally different from what she was telling me. She also stated that the manager was unavailable to answer my questions. I then spoke to another shore excursion officer who told me that we in fact get dropped off at the beach (totally opposite from what the first officers told me). She was even be able to get the manager on the phone to confirm this information. And last but for sure not list.... My BIGGEST issue with this cruise. If I only read the reviews of past passengers that sailed on Solstice earlier the same month.... I would have known that the ship had to be thoroughly cleaned several times (in fact, there was a huge delay with embarkation early December) due to noro (or Norwalk) virus. NOBODY from the crew bothered to tell us that this problem existed. I actually remember that once when I sailed with another cruise line they sent out a letter prior to the sailing day notifying passengers about the virus. NOT THIS TIME. If you read this and you are about to sail on Solstice please, please, take the precautions!!!!! they for sure would not care! I always wash my hands, so does my son. We have not been sick in years. ON Christmas night, the night before disembarkation, my son fell very ill (I will spare you from the details, but I can tell you it was awful). I followed in the early morning hours as I obviously was in close contact taking care of him. In the morning both of us could not even move. And as you all know on the morning of disembarkation all they wanna do is to get rid of the passengers as soon as possible so they can start with the new ones. It is very hard to explain in words how you would feel if you had this virus, but all I can say that you just wanna die. Of course, you would not be able to think straight and the fever does not help at all. I knew we had to get out of the cabin, my son wasn't even moving though. All I could think was to go to the guest relations desk for help, and also it was the closest place to our cabin (I had difficulty walking at that time). When I told the officer from the Guest Relations desk that my son and I are very ill SHE SAID "so what??" I could not believe this response. I further told her that I thought they wanna know as other passengers may get sick as well. She did not seem to care. She did say that she will get a nurse to call my cabin. At no time did she ask if we needed any assistance to disembark or anything else for that matter. Unfortunately by the time I returned to the cabin the nurse already called and spoke to my son. Not sure what she was able to get out of him as he was half unconscious.. As the room attendants were already knocking on our door asking when we were leaving (to give them credit they had no idea how we were feeling and they were just doing their job) I had to get my son up, grab our bags and crawl out of the room. For me it appears that nobody on board really cared. Needless to say that the rest of the day was pure hell... Upon arriving home we received emails from several other passengers that we met on this cruise who fell ill as well. I immediately contacted Celebrity to notify them that they might have a problem. The operator didn't seem to care and quickly tried to judge the steps that I made and blame me for not going straight to the nurse. It is probably very difficult to understand the state of mind I was in without experiencing it. I did state to the operator that the reason for my call was not to get anything out of this but to alert the cruiseline of the potential problem on board Solstice. I hope those of you who are planning a cruise on Solstice will find this information helpful. We may be considering another trip with Celebrity but for sure not on Solstice and most likely not on "S" class ships Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
This was our fifth consecutive Holiday cruise. We enjoy traveling as a family during the holidays, and booked two balcony cabins on deck 8, one for my wife and I, and one for our 19 and 21 year old sons enjoying a break from college. We ... Read More
This was our fifth consecutive Holiday cruise. We enjoy traveling as a family during the holidays, and booked two balcony cabins on deck 8, one for my wife and I, and one for our 19 and 21 year old sons enjoying a break from college. We have had many very positive experiences with Celebrity, both as a couple and a family and previously found Celebrity a step above similarly priced lines. We've enjoyed not being inundated with announcements all day, found the quality of the food quite good, and the service generally excellent. And while we loved our vacation because it gave us time to spend together, Celebrity disappointed in several areas. And while we'll probably cruise with Celebrity again, I hope they address some of the truly disappointing aspects of our trip. Our embarkation process was extremely easy, from taxi to ship in less than 15 minutes. This is consistent with our past Celebrity experience and so much more civilized than other embarkation processes we've experienced. We did stop for a quick lunch at the Oceanview cafe, and found the quality, selection, and layout to be generally very well done. The service of the waiters, however, was very weak, with plates stacked on empty tables for too long. Additionally, all the ice machines were down at one point, and some of the drink machines never worked for the entire cruise. We found the coffee much improved. After lunch we walked around the ship, and were in our staterooms when called by 1:45 or so. Our luggage arrived shortly thereafter and we found the space available well-designed. We enjoyed our room and found it well designed. The beds were comfortable and the deck furniture was nice. This was the first time we did not sail in Concierge class and while we missed the better towels, we agreed that our staterooms were fine and would not consider Concierge class unless it was a nominal upcharge of $50 or less. While the design of the room was outstanding, the service was the worst we ever experienced on a ship. For example, on several occasions, we were left with no soap or shampoo and had to request it. One day we had no toilet paper, but had 3 extra boxes of tissues! What we really didn't like was the number of different people in the room and the time it took them to do the service. On every other cruise, the attendants were friendly, hard working, and efficient. On this cruise, the quality was terrible, with them taking two hours to service the room in the morning and evening. They would do the towels, then return and do the ice bucket, then return and leave information packets... We never received our disembarkation information, nor our daily calendar consistently. While we appreciate the fact that the cabin stewards have a difficult job, Celebrity needs to provide the training so they can manage their jobs effectively and at least meet guest expectations. And the worst offense? leaving dirty cleaning microfiber cloths in our son's room. Given previous noro issues on this ship...this is the kind of thing that can certainly spread viruses and should be a basic expectation of hygiene. The entertainment was both outstanding at times and horrible at times. The English juggler was terrific, one of the best acts we've ever seen on a ship. And the production shows were professionally done. But the so called impressionist singer, Sean O'Shea was the worst act we've ever seen. And we don't understand why the sole comedienne only performed a single show and only at midnight? But, all shows were detracted by the horrible cruise director and his inane banter. This was also the worst cruise director we've encountered. He lacked engagement and failed to create a positive vibe on the ship. And Stuart, please stop singing! We did enjoy some of the activities. But we also enjoyed our time together playing a cruise-long card tournament that ended up leaving our sons $10 richer. The highlights of the activities included trivia and the glass show. We met a lovely couple from Palm Beach and thoroughly enjoyed meeting them for various trivia contests. We won 3 of the contests together, but seemed to have as much fun on the one's we lost as the one's we won! The glass show was a nice surprise. We found the commentary, especially by the young lady to be simply fascinating. The layout of the ship was terrific. We never really felt crowded and could always find a quiet spot to lay in the sun, or play cards. Well, perhaps not too quiet. While most of the children on this holiday cruise were very well behaved and pleasant, there were far too many who ran amok, with no supervision, and no manners. Parents, you know who you are, and you should be ashamed of yourselves. There were also a number of people who didn't seem to have "please" or "thank you" in their vocabularies. These folks work hard for us, and a smile or word of appreciation is always in order. We also believe Celebrity needs to either enforce "rules" or not have them. For example, many people smoked on balconies and in non-smoking areas. Children screamed in the Atrium pool all day, yet it was supposedly an adult-only area. And dress codes? Either have them and enforce them, or don't have them. We enjoyed open seating in the main dining room and found the service to be outstanding! The food was generally excellent, with only a few misses, but always nicely presented. We had three different waiter/assistant teams and all were excellent. However, the team of Rajesh and Roxana with whom we dined on the last 4 nights were simply outstanding, and reminded us that the old Celebrity service that brought us back to Celebrity still exists. Thanks to you both for such outstanding service. Note that we made reservations for dinner in advance of the cruise, and the reservations were honored immediately every time. We didn't sample the specialty restaurants. The ports were fine and we had a nice time in all of them. Due to heavy winds (35mph+) and high seas, we were about 3 hours late to San Juan, arriving just at sunset. An announcement was made, and an apology made, both by the captain in his announcement, and with a card in our staterooms. We found that a sincere gesture. We also found the captain to be very engaging and charismatic, with a great sense of humor...just what Stuart the cruise director needs! We spent a nice day at the beach and shopping in St. Thomas, a bit of the same in St. Maarten, and took a brief walk in St. Kitts, not our favorite island from previous visits. Disembarkation was easy as well. Overall, we had a great family vacation and enjoyed being together in such beautiful weather in a wonderful location. Celebrity enhanced that experience in many ways, and detracted in others, as mentioned above. So, will we return to Celebrity? Before this trip, I would have answered affirmatively. Now, I'm not that sure. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Our family of six, mom, dad, and adult kids ages, 24,23,21, and 20 planned to spend our Christmas on the SOLSTICE Ship. Our previous cruises were on RCCL Independence of the Seas and Oasis during this same time period. We booked the ... Read More
Our family of six, mom, dad, and adult kids ages, 24,23,21, and 20 planned to spend our Christmas on the SOLSTICE Ship. Our previous cruises were on RCCL Independence of the Seas and Oasis during this same time period. We booked the Solstice with the recommendation of great food, if not the best in the cruise line industry. Embarkation went smooth and our rooms were available by 2pm on deck 8 in the forward of the ship. The first two days of sailing were very rough at sea with one daughter becoming seasick the first night until the following morning when she applied the patch on her ear to cure motion sickness. Unusually strong winds persisted throughout the first four days of this cruise. The ship is magnificently decorated as well for the holidays with live bands playing throughout the ship day and night. Limited lounge chairs were available close to the small pool during the day, but if you wanted the sun only you could find chairs further away from the pool, but the upper decks weren't a choice due to the high winds blowing. The ocean cafe which is your morning, lunch, and dinner buffet had many nice choices and finding a table was never a problem. A nice option is this ship has outdoor seating from the cafe and you can sit outside while eating. The dining room at night was lovely..our waiters were prompt and friendly and food was great..we were not fond of the meals all coming with some kind of sauce on it, and each time most of us requested the sauce be on the side. Desserts were plentiful. Our concern about this ship when we booked was the night time activities available to our adult children, given that this ship does tend to cater to an older than middle age crowd, which was present as well. It seemed most activities winded down around midnight or so leaving you to sit in the lounges without music and just talk without much else going on., our kids like the nightlife and felt somewhat restricted at this level. The shows were geared towards an older crowd with songs from Elvis and Neil diamond impersonations which our kids found entertaining at first, then not so much after....same with some broadway music. The juggler from England was hilarious and entertaining to all levels, but when it came to audience interaction, there was none, not like what RCCL offered. Kareokee was only offered three nights in the lounge, my kids would have preferred every night and daytime pool activities were fair...more geared towards the staff keeping it under control. As adults of these children, we loved everything, but next year we will probably go back to RCCL for more of an active cruise life style for our family. Loved the ports of call.. St. Thomas, st. Maarten, St. &Kitts and San Juan, which we could have skipped in our opinion. Just a note, my son did become sick the last day, but not sure from what. the ship was sailing smoothly..we reported this to the medical team and they gave us medicine to help him feel better and it did. My husband and I would try another Celebrity Ship, but not our kids. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
During a family cruise on the Celebrity Solstice in November of 2011, I was physically assaulted by one of the crew members. When entering the main cafe I politely refused hand sanitizer and proceeded to enter as I had the entire trip. ... Read More
During a family cruise on the Celebrity Solstice in November of 2011, I was physically assaulted by one of the crew members. When entering the main cafe I politely refused hand sanitizer and proceeded to enter as I had the entire trip. The crew member lept out in front of me, pushing me into a wall. This upset me to the point that I was unable to be with my family during the arrival to Venice. This was to be the highlight of our trip and was ruined by the crew member's highly unprofessional behavior. I have no desire to cruise on the Solstice again after such an experience. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
We arrived at the cruise port at noon. Embarkation was smooth. We were told that the main gangway had broken down and we would be entering the ship through the deck# 2 access. We brought 2 bottles of wine and a 12-pack of bottled water ... Read More
We arrived at the cruise port at noon. Embarkation was smooth. We were told that the main gangway had broken down and we would be entering the ship through the deck# 2 access. We brought 2 bottles of wine and a 12-pack of bottled water through security without a problem. We were onboard within 45 minutes. We went to the Oceanview Cafe [buffet] for lunch and to kill time. Our room was ready at 1:45pm. We really appreciated that smoking was limited to only a few areas and prohibited on the verandas.Cabin: The room was large enough for 2 adults and 1 small child, well organized, large LCD TV [check out the free on-demand movies], Pullman bed, just enough storage space, and a standard size balcony; the bathroom was a pleasant surprise with the sliding glass doors on the shower. The room is not soundproof. We could hear our neighbors' [either side] TV and muffled conversations. Luckily, we did not spend much time in the room. Cabin Steward: This was the first cruise that we were not impressed by our steward - Luella. We are probably spoiled from our previous cruises but there were no towel animals on the bed at night. She kept the room clean but used drinking glasses were not removed consistently, used towels were removed but not replaced consistently, bath soap was not replenished before needed, and [worst of all] a used band-aid [THAT DID NOT COME FROM US] was stuck on the upper right corner of the headboard. We found it on Friday night. It was still there when we disembarked on Sunday.Food: Oceanview Cafe: The high quality of food and variety of choices make this the best cruise buffet I have experienced. During breakfast, it was a nice touch for a server to wheel a coffee cart around to the tables. The servers always did a good job of clearing tables quickly. We met a very nice assistant waiter. (note: I wrote down his name but lost my note.) He was very friendly and to our delight created an origami jumping frog for us at our table. Mast Grill: The usual choices of burgers, hot dogs, bratwurst, fries, onion rings, etc. but a slightly higher quality than what you will find on other ships. Main Dining room: The food was always good to very good but nothing special. I and several of the other passengers suspect that the cruiseline keeps the MDR quality at this level to encourage/force passengers to use the specialty restaurants. Our waitress - Ebru was always pleasant but her thick accent was, at times, hard to decipher. The only great meal was the Friday brunch buffet. [On formal nights, the dress code was not enforced.] Murano:[French] We ate at Murano one night. The food was excellent. We had the lobster and the chocolate soufflE. The service was good. It is an interior location, so no ocean view. When the restaurant was nearly full, the noise level was significant. Tuscan Grille:[Italian] We timed our reservation for when the ship was leaving St. Maarten. We were given a window table and thoroughly enjoyed watching the sunset and the island slowly fade away. The food was excellent. We had the filet mignon. The service was good. Silk Harvest: [Asian] The menu was limited and the food was over-spiced. The service was good but not exceptional. If you want PF Changs-lite, this is your restaurant. Tip: All of the specialty restaurants allow and encourage you to try more than one main entrEe. They do not charge any additional fee. Go to Murano for the lobster and the soufflE. Go to Tuscan for the ocean view and an excellent meal. Check the MDR dinner menu each afternoon. If you are not impressed, have dinner in the Oceanview. The specialty restaurants do keep some tables available for last minute walk-ins. Do not miss the MDR Friday brunch buffet - filet mignon, omelettes, ice sculptures, etc.On-board Shopping: No real bargains except the liquor. The regular pricing for liquor was below what Carnival was charging a few months ago. They will also match the pricing from stores on the islands. You only have to show them the stores' advert or their business card with the liquor and price filled in. Phil ["the new guy"] and James in the liquor store were very professional and easy to work with. They were very helpful in showing me different ways to spend money. The art and glass auctions had some nice pieces but people were consistently overbidding. Side note- On Thursday, a woman won the $20,000.00 Solstice necklace with a spin on a special slot machine.Children's Program- "Fun Factory": Our 6 year old loved the program. They always had something fun to do in a safe and secure environment. There were 240 children on this cruise. The program director and all the counselors were great. Rather than being nickel&dimed for all the extras [e.g., special tours, lunch and dinner parties, after hours care], we opted for the $100.00 - Kid's VIP package. It includes all the extras and a small knapsack, a pillow, & a water bottle. Solarium - Adults only & tranquil. If you want to go somewhere quiet but still have a pool, this is the place.Excursions: San Juan - The best way to see Old S.J. is to take the free shuttle that circles the old town. You can pick it up between piers 3 & 4. St. Thomas - For a quiet beach with facilities, take a taxi [$6.00pp for 3 people] to Morningstar Beach. It is Marriott Frenchman Cove's beach. There is no charge to use the beach. Check out the liquor prices at the K-mart. It is half way between the ship and downtown, on the right. St. Maarten - Do not waste your day with the Grand Circle island tour [3 hours]. Orient beach is pretty but crowded. The open market in Marigot [French side] is worth a look. We looked at some beautiful handmade garnet jewelry. I was told by a number of the crew that the liquor prices in Philipsburg were better than the ships' or any of the other islands. Bug Infestation? - A couple we met on the ship told us about their ordeal. On Monday, the wife woke up and found that she had 31 bites on her legs and back. She immediately reported the problem to guest services. They told her to see the ship's doctor. After a lengthy discussion, guest services agreed to pay for the doctor's services. When she arrived at the ship's infirmary, she found two other passengers with the same type of bites. Housekeeping checked the bed for bed bugs but did not find any, and sprayed insecticide in the cabin. The next morning she only found 6 additional bites and by the following morning, no additional bites were evident. Disembarkation was smooth except for the Captain deciding that the starboard-midship elevators should be turned off. Consequently, anyone that could not make it down the stairs with their luggage in-tow was forced to wait at the few remaining elevators. We waited about 30 minutes before an open car arrived. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
Overall I think the Celebrity Solstice was a first class ship and was a really great value. I arrived at the ship at 12:00 and was on the ship by 12:30. We were greeted by Champagne. We were overwhelmed at the beauty of the ship, but were ... Read More
Overall I think the Celebrity Solstice was a first class ship and was a really great value. I arrived at the ship at 12:00 and was on the ship by 12:30. We were greeted by Champagne. We were overwhelmed at the beauty of the ship, but were soon hungry and went to the buffet. We went straight to the Ocean View Buffet on deck 14. I really enjoyed this buffet and went there several times during the cruise. I was not quite as impressed with the Grand Epernay which was the main dining room where most people on the ship ate in the evenings. The food here was good, but not great. The food is not cooked to order. I had some nice entrees here, but had a few entrees that were under cooked or over cooked. We went to 3 speciality restaurants Silk Harvest, Murano and Tuscan Grill who cook each entree to order. These reaturants were greatky superior to the Grand Epernay. We purchased a package that cost $79 per person to dine at each of these restaurants once. My family enjoyed the Silk Harvest which had some very well prepared Asian dished. We had fresh sushi, some great Thai and numerous other well prepared dished. The Murano restaurant is a French restaurant that had the best service of any restaurant I have ever been to. I have never had my dished taken off my table by two individuals in unison after every dish. The restaurant was elegant and simply quite the experience. The food here is very unique and has items such as Dover Sole which was de-boned at table side. If you want to impress your wife with a romantic evening then bring here here. This does not have a menu for the palate of most children. I brought ny daughters here and they did not really enjoy a lot of the food. I think I lost them at the caviar that was 1/2 inch thick on their first entree. haha The Tuscan Grill was an Italian Restaurant that had 5 course including dessert. It was a ridiculous amount of food, but overall was very enjoyable. The service and food was what one could expect from a fine Italian restaurant. We also enjoyed the Aqua Spa Cafe which is only for adults only in the pool area and offered lots of organic items as well small fruit plates, salads and desserts. Highlights/ suggestions: 1)The grass on deck 15 was a nice treat for lawn bowling and this is where they had the glass blower's from Corning which is very interesting. 2)Get a chair by approximately 8:30-9:00 or you will not get a nice seat by the pool. 3)They have a sale on Friday at 10:00 am that is not heavily marketed. I got 8 shirts for $40 as they wanted to get rid of Celebrity Carribean shirts before leaving for the Mediterrean. 4)Take your own luggage off the ship. We did this and were off the ship fast while others waited to get called to get their luggage that they had left out at night. 5) Be to the shows about 20-30 minutes early to get good lower seats. 6) Check your daily insert as they have BOGO free drinks during certian times of the day. If you bought the alcohol package then this would not apply to you. 7) If you book the Aqua Class you will have access to the Blu Restaurant which is a speciality restaurant. Most people on the ship will not have access to this restaurant unless you are in a specific class of rooms. 8) We enjoyed doing the tour of one of the ship's kitchen. It was amazingly clean which made me feel very good. 9) They have ice cream at the Ocean View cafe all day. It is good and homemade. 10) For $3 you can have gelato which is located near Cafe Al Bacchio. It is quite tasty and also home made. 11) Their is a deck 16 for laying out which you may not find unless you do a little exploring. 12) There is a spectacular buffet at the Grand Epernay on Friday at sea. It is not highly advertised. DO NOT MISS IT!! 13) My room 8253 had a balcony which was in the bump out. It has a huge balcony that is much bigger then the average balcony. Also I had a perfect view on the port side for every place we visited. I also loved where the room was located in the middle of the ship which is the best for a smoother ride. It was also close to the elevators, but not too close where you heard any noise from the atrium. The bed was also next to the balcony. If you can book this room then do it. 14) Even though the cruise only had 75 teenagers my girls absolutely loved Club X on the 15th floor. I barely saw my daughters for one week. They met a lot of great kids their age. 15) If you like taco's and guacamole they had much better then I would have expected on the cruise in the Ocean View Cafe. I also enjoyed the Indian dishes. I also had this one Honey Scone one afternoon that was to die for. 16) The casino looked very nice even though I do not gamble. 17) This cruise has a lot of bars and some incredible bartenders. You will seen what I mean when you see them in action. 18) The cruise has beautiful public restrooms. People who have been on this cruise will know what I mean. 19) If you want organic yogurt in the morning go to the Aqua Spa Cafe. The Ocean View Cafe has generic regular yogurt. 20) Make sure you explore your tv as they have tons of free movies you can view. I must have watched about 6-7 during the cruise. I hope this helps you plan your visit. Bon voyage!! Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
Our family of 4 had been interested in cruising for some time and thought it could be a new standard vacation for us, but this was our first trip chosen because of a group that featured fantastic speakers. Since we have no prior cruise ... Read More
Our family of 4 had been interested in cruising for some time and thought it could be a new standard vacation for us, but this was our first trip chosen because of a group that featured fantastic speakers. Since we have no prior cruise experience with which to compare the Solstice, we can only compare it to our international family travel and resort experiences. The disappointment began a week before the trip when the ports changed causing us to rebook our excursion (on the painfully slow Celebrity web site). We just chalked that up to the uncertainties of cruising. The second disappointment was when we reached the port and had to stand in the sun (without sun screen) for two hours due to the prior norovirus outbreak that other reviewers had mentioned. This disappointment was overcome quickly as my boys and I were excited to see our first cruise ship up close and watch it pull out of the harbor. The cabin itself was very nice and well designed even compared to a small hotel room. My next disappointment I blame on myself for booking the four of us into a single cabin (as we often share a single hotel room or suite while traveling). The pull out beds were fine but uncomfortable and there really wasn't enough space for luggage. Clearly we would have been better served booking two cabins and might have even saved money if the second were an interior one close to the veranda stateroom we were in. This was a rookie mistake but I do wish our travel agent, Celebrity or guest relations would have suggested an alternative when they saw 4 guests booked to a cabin. The group lectures we attended made the whole trip worthwhile, however, the room provided was forward on deck 14 and the motion was considerably worse than in other parts of the ship. The audiovisual capabilities were fairly primitive and parties in the Sky Lounge could often be heard through the door. I wouldn't recommend this ship for any kind of business meetings. Our boys attended most of the lectures but we sent them up to deck 15 several times to take advantage of the X-Club program. They found nobody in the teen area and no diversions other than old board games and mismatched sets of playing cards. We know Celebrity caters to an older demographic but we were disappointed in the children's offerings. They swam in the pool a couple of times but it had no interesting features and was smaller than our pool at home. A highlight of our trip was the excursions. Perhaps we over paid by going through the ship, but we really enjoyed our time at Orient Beach and our first time snorkeling at St. Thomas. We thought the onboard entertainment was quite good, particularly the solo pianist. Then it was time to get back on the ship for two days at sea and the norovirus hit... As other reviewers have mentioned the ship came into port with several sick passengers. The crew did go to heroic lengths to clean every surface and enforce hand sanitizing throughout the ship. Despite these precautions a significant portion of our group became extremely ill for 2-3 days during the trip. Coded announcements were made about people getting sick in public areas. It was particularly disconcerting to hear 3 of these announcements in an hour. Its difficult to enjoy even the decent meals on the ship if you think you might be seeing them again. Two days out from disembarkation my wife (the most diligent handwasher in the family) became deathly ill. The next day my oldest son fell victim to the virus as well. It is frustrating being that sick and knowing you have no ability to cut your trip short. We managed to drag ourselves off the boat Sunday morning, through a disorganized disembarkation, and my wife and son were still miserable on our flight back. So perhaps we just had bad luck or we are a bad fit for cruising, but we will probably stick to land-based vacations rather than take our chances on another floating petri dish. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
My GF and I are in our mid-30s and cruised on the Solstice 12/5 to 12/12 with my parents, who were celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary. This was our first Celebrity cruise and the first at all for either of us in more than a decade. ... Read More
My GF and I are in our mid-30s and cruised on the Solstice 12/5 to 12/12 with my parents, who were celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary. This was our first Celebrity cruise and the first at all for either of us in more than a decade. We had been on many cruises as kids. My parents are self-described cruise addicts, having sailed 41 times since the 80s on a wide range of ships. Overall: The Solstice is an impressive and attractive new ship. Service was generally attentive and the food was good though not spectacular. One caveat for younger and middle-aged passengers is that the typical clientele of Solstice (and perhaps other Celebrity ships) is quite old. This translated to mostly empty bars and few late-night activities, a virtual traffic jam of motorized scooters and events largely geared towards this demographic. Even the cruise director joked about what the scheduled "80s dance night" meant. We went and there weren't more than a dozen passengers dancing to the tunes of Duran Duran and the Pointer Sisters. My GF and I are also used to more adventurous and authentic travel experiences. The food gluttony, sterile environment and crass selling of products and services were abundant, but of course that's cruising in America (or just life in America) and nothing unique to Celebrity. All said, we had an enjoyable time and never lacked for things to do. The Solstice is likely as fine a mega-ship as there is cruising the Caribbean. It's certainly a far cry from the tackiness of Carnival and some of the other new ship offerings. Fort Lauderdale and embarkation: We got a good rate at the W on Fort Lauderdale Beach and really liked this stylish hotel. The views and location are unbeatable. For dinner we took my parents to Cafe Sharaku, an intimate 18-seat French-Japanese fusion restaurant a short cab ride away. Despite its very plain atmosphere and strip mall locale the food was fantastic. And it was very reasonably priced for fine cuisine. I particularly liked the miso Chilean sea bass and the chocolate souffle. This place could use some additional business. Despite Zagat's #1 food rating in Fort Lauderdale it was still a mostly empty restaurant on a Saturday night. Embarkation was a breeze. We arrived at the ship around 12:30 p.m. and were on board by 1:00. The welcome champagne was a nice touch. We explored the ship quite a bit and had a snack at the Spa Cafe and another bite to eat at the Oceanview Cafe. Public areas: The Solstice is really quite an appealing ship, both aesthetically and in its layout. Three lower decks house restaurants, bars, gift shops, the casino and theaters. Three or so upper decks have the pools, outside decks, spa, fitness center, cafe, a few bars and the uniquely Celebrity lawn. Most of the staterooms are on the decks in between. Everything is connected through a grand atrium that rises from top to bottom. The shipboard art is quite varied and interesting, ranging from a floating tree in a red cone to an entryway filled with bug sounds to unique works in each stairwell. The public bathrooms (not usually something to boast about) were rather stylish for a ship. The main dining room is perhaps the least visually attractive of the restaurant venues particularly in comparison to the specialty restaurants and other public spaces on the lower decks. Each specialty restaurants is uniquely designed and quite tasteful in appearance. We liked the Ensemble bar before dinner and wish we had frequented the wine bar (Cellar Masters), a particularly nice space. We also enjoyed the martini bar. If there's a complaint about the lower decks it's the abundance of shops on two floors (which were always quiet) that gives the feel of a posh indoor shopping mall. Also the secondary theater (Celebrity Central) is too small, filling to capacity well before the midnight comedy show and bingo. The disco (Quasar) had a fun vibe but was almost always empty except for a bartender and DJ. Again, this was not the club scene crowd. The upper decks are also generally well-designed. Despite its 2,800 passenger capacity the Solstice did not feel crowded most of the time. If there was one place that did it was the Oceanview Cafe, particularly on sea days. The food stations are a bit confusing and the cafe always seemed to attract the crowd that can't go more than 18 minutes between meals. Although lounge chairs were readily available in the pool area and decks above, they were set so close together I felt like a sardine. We enjoyed the outdoor patio of the Oceanview Cafe for breakfast and the Sunset Bar above for drinks. The Sky Lounge has a cool vibe (and view) if not a cavernous feel. By the end of the cruise I had grown to really like the lawn deck, both for its fashionable appearance and the solitude it provided. About the only waste of space is Team Earth, an unused area off the atrium dedicated to promoting Celebrity's supposed conservation efforts. This seemed mostly intended as a marketing ploy to rehabilitate the image of Celebrity's parent Royal Caribbean, which a decade ago pled guilty to multiple felony counts for dumping hazardous waste from its ships. Ultimately actions speak louder than words. My GF and I are both fitness buffs and wanted to work off all the food, so we used the fitness center almost every day. Perhaps telling of cruise ship passengers, this was also a place to find some peace and quiet amidst a great 180 degree view. I never had a problem getting on a machine and sometimes had the ego-boosting experience of being the only person running (or even exceeding 3 mph) on a long line of treadmills. I felt a bit like Usain Bolt out there. The equipment is top of the line although I didn't care for the automated 25 minute limits on the cardio equipment, which interrupted the regular flow of a workout. Also, the gym was kept way too warm - an occasional problem in other parts of the ship too such as the Celebrity Central theater when it was crowded. The outdoor "jogging track" is sort of a joke. Perhaps it's fine for walking but its sharp angles and regular usage as a pathway make running or jogging difficult. Of course, most cruises aren't particularly geared towards the active set and this one was no exception. (Exhibit A was a Segway tour in San Juan listed in the shore excursion brochure as "strenuous.") Stateroom: We had a sky suite (7307) in the aft of the ship. The balcony faces back and there is a giant porthole on the side. We really liked the room although it did have two oddly-positioned poles set in the middle (both of which could be a hazard in the darkness of night). The parents had the suite one deck below us with one pole situated in a different, less obtrusive spot. The bathroom was the nicest I've seen on a cruise ship. One advantage of a suite is having a full bathtub. The wrap-around balcony was quite spacious. For less mobile passengers, one design flaw on the Solstice is the lack of an aft stairwell. This meant walking halfway down the ship from the room to go anywhere. Food: One's dining experience on the Solstice probably depends more than anything on having realistic expectations. The food is certainly not comparable to a 4 or 5-star restaurant or particularly innovative for anyone into fine cuisine. But it's also quite superior to the kinds of mass-produced meals you typically get at a hotel. And the service is really unparalleled. For starters, there is no lack of food. Besides the main dining room, the Solstice has five restaurants that have a surcharge: Murano (French), Tuscan Grille (Italian steakhouse), Silk Harvest (Asian), Blu (limited to certain cabin classes) and Bistro on 5 (crepes and sandwiches). We tried each of them and generally found their service and atmosphere to exceed their quality, although this is not to say the food wasn't generally good with the above caveat. I liked Silk Harvest the best in terms of variety and taste. As a general rule in the specialty restaurants, I preferred the appetizers and salads to the entrees or desserts. Steak and lobster, for example, did not compare with a good steakhouse or seafood restaurant. And many dishes were over-sauced and lacked subtle flavors. With the exception of sushi at Silk Harvest, I didn't think the fish at any of the restaurants was of particular high quality (likely the result of the limits on freshness that a cruise mandates). We enjoyed the crepes and the feel of Bistro on 5 and thought it was under-utilized by passengers. With the specialty restaurants, you are paying for variety, extra service and a more intimate and unique atmosphere rather than the food. In this respect I thought it was worth the additional charge. But if you stick with the main dining room you are not really losing out on quality. Again, Silk Harvest is the one exception if you want to try something different from the standard cruise fare. The higher deck options were generally good. We ate breakfast most days at the Oceanview Cafe although finding breakfast can be challenging if you want to sleep in. The main dining room breakfast (that ends at 9:30) was disappointing, as it was basically the same food you could get upstairs but with a wait to be served. The buffet brunch on the first day is worth seeing (think ice sculptures and the presentation of the old midnight buffets) but again the food options are the same if not less than what you get at Oceanview. The highlights of Oceanview were the pasta bar, carved meat and some of the salads. The Indian food (made by an Indian chef who took great pride in it) was tasty and a pleasant surprise. The Mast Grill serves decent burgers and dogs, and is a good option when soaking in the sun on deck. The bread served throughout the ship was made in-house and uniformly excellent. As for drinks, the ship offered a nice selection of wine, beer (good choice of imports) and cocktails at acceptable prices. The drink packages hardly seem worthwhile at $40 or $50/day unless you drink like a fish, which we did not. Service With a few exceptions, the service across the ship was very good. Our cabin steward was attentive and friendly (we still pine for his distinctive "hello" and "have a nice day" every time we walked down the hall). Our butler at the start was new and not around much. A problem with a pressed shirt that came back stained was quickly rectified by guest services. Staff really went out of their way to be friendly. As mentioned, the specialty restaurants had particularly outstanding service. It's troubling, however, to know that the great service on the Solstice and other cruise ships comes at a significant cost to the employees themselves. Most of the staff come from developing countries. One waiter told us (with a smile of course) that he works 14 hour days and hasn't had a day off in 3 months. Nor does Celebrity provide him with health care or other benefits. If he or a family member gets sick, he has no safety net. The poor labor standards of cruise companies keep costs low of course, but it's hard to shake the nagging feeling that cruise lines don't treat their staff well because passengers don't demand it. Collectively we should demand better practices or take our travel dollars elsewhere. The other service issue - also not generally a problem ascribed to the staff themselves but rather to the cruise companies - is the constant sales of everything from spa treatments to jewelry to the extortionist-priced internet access, etc. I don't want to be asked repeatedly while on vacation to pony up to support a company's bottom line. For example, my GF received a 10-minute dissertation about beauty products at the end of a massage. I got a cold answer from the shore excursions desk when asking a general question about what to do on my own in port. I found myself reminded more than once of a statement made by an early Carnival executive: "A cruise passenger is like a wet towel. First you squeeze him this way, and then you squeeze him that way." Activities/entertainment Cruise ship activities are what they are, and the few we did were fair. As always, the galley tour was sort of interesting. The glass show was surprisingly entertaining, at least for a half hour or so. Bingo was a logistical mess, and after standing in line for half an hour we finally skipped it when it didn't look like we would get in to the smaller theater where it was held. We went to one show (called Solstice). It's a bit of a rip-off of Cirque de Soleil but for a cruise ship seemed well done. The shipboard comedian for the week was Kevin Flynn, by far the funniest I've seen on a cruise. His midnight shows were definitely one of the highlights of our trip. Ports There's not a whole lot to say about the short time in port. To the extent that one can experience any foreign culture on a cruise we tried to do so by getting away from the crowds. We chose to do things on our own rather than the group shore excursions. In San Juan, we walked around the fort and the old town. We enjoyed dinner at an excellent Latin-Asian fusion restaurant called Dragonfly, just two blocks from the ship. It's well worth it. In St. Thomas, we took a taxi to Red Hook and then the ferry to St. John. We spent a few hours away from the crowds on the beach at Cinnamon Bay. In St. Martin, we took a taxi to the French side and found a beach chair on Orient Beach among mostly European tourists. Smoking We were glad that Celebrity has one of the most restrictive smoking policies at sea. That being said, it should go further by not permitting smoking in any indoor area (in line with most of America). The Sky Lounge was made less appealing by virtue of the fact that at times it was quite smoky. Disembarkation Because none of us had flights before 1:30 p.m. we took it easy on the last morning and had a leisurely breakfast on deck at the Oceanview Cafe. So we were able to avoid the sad experience of waiting for our numbers to be called in a crowded indoor lounge. When we were ready we walked right off the ship. Unlike embarkation, the lines were quite long to go through customs (about 30 minutes). It appeared that there weren't the number of customs agents needed for a ship of this size. Conclusion A cruise isn't perhaps our first choice of vacations but with the expectations we had the Solstice really fared quite well. The ship, food and service were generally very positive, and we had a good time. For whatever reason Celebrity attracts an older demographic - the average age on our sailing was 60s and above. This is not a positive or negative but something that younger passengers should consider when choosing this line. In retrospect, if we ever did another mass-market cruise we'd probably still choose to go with a more tasteful, muted ship like the Solstice than the rowdier, gaudier boats of Carnival or Royal Caribbean. One final point - we'd feel more comfortable cruising in the future if the cruise lines were better corporate citizens - paying their share of taxes (they mostly don't), serving as stewards of the environment and protecting their workers. Devils on the Deep Blue Sea by Kristoffer Garin provides some insight into how the cruise companies operate in avoidance of U.S. laws and don't always act in the best interests of their passengers or crew. It's well worth reading before taking a cruise on the Solstice or any other ship. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
Just back from the 12/19 sailing of Celebrity Solstice. Our group was my husband and myself (40s), our two daughters (14 and 11), and my in-laws (70s). We have only cruised once before with the kids, and that was on Royal Caribbean ... Read More
Just back from the 12/19 sailing of Celebrity Solstice. Our group was my husband and myself (40s), our two daughters (14 and 11), and my in-laws (70s). We have only cruised once before with the kids, and that was on Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas about 3 years ago. My in-laws picked this cruise as it seemed like a good deal for a nice ship and itinerary. We had read that there are often not a lot of kids on the Celebrity cruises, but there were about 500 on this cruise as it was over the holiday break. So, I think the mix of ages on board was more diverse than the apparently usual older set. We arrived at the cruise terminal around 11:30am and embarkation was relatively easy. The ship is indeed gorgeous like a posh hotel. We enjoyed the Oceanview Cafe for lunch and were able to get in our rooms around 1. Compared to other cruises, the veranda rooms seemed pretty spacious and the bathrooms were especially well designed. There isn't a lot of drawer space in the room, but plan to hang a lot of things and utilize the storage area over the bed. Our kids had their own room next door which was nice. Our room attendant did a nice job, although nothing out of the ordinary. As for food, we ate in the main dining room every night except one night we ate at the buffet. Our waiter and assistant were very good and attentive, although no better than the ones we had on Grandeur 3 years ago. The food was more "upscale" than what was offered on the Grandeur, and we enjoyed all our meals. The presentation was beautiful, although the quantities were sometimes a bit small. I wished they had some more "mainstream" choices for our girls, especially for the appetizers, but overall everything was delicious. The Oceanview Cafe had many choices at all meals and was a step up from the Grandeur for sure. We also had room service breakfast one day, which was delivered on time and enjoyed on the veranda. We enjoyed the pool area several of the days. With a lot of families on the cruise, it was a bit crowded. We didn't have any problem with getting drinks from the pool bar waiters. Some other things we did during sea days were the galley tour (interesting), group trivia, and hot glass show. We enjoy going to the evening shows on cruises, and these were okay. My recollection was that the production shows on Grandeur were better. The first night show was kind of an overview of some of the entertaiment that would be one the ship . . the band, acapella quartet, etc. The trumpet player was fracking some notes and it just left a bad impression as to the quality of the entertainment. On the other hand, the acapella group Metro Park is outstanding and we enjoyed them whenever we heard them throughout the cruise. The second night Cirque show was good and they seemed to be well enjoyed. The 3rd night "vocal impressionist" was interesting . . . I guess like a Las Vegas act. He had kind of an over-the-top David Hasselhoff personality. My kids really enjoyed the magician, although the adults in group weren't that impressed. The 5th night "Pulse" production show was probably the one I liked the best. Yes, some of the dancing could have been better, but overall I found it entertaining. The Christmas show was short and okay, more of the same acts from before. Same with the last night . . . the vocal impressionist, magician, etc. Whoever designs these shows needs to work a little on the "wow" factor . . . think Disney. As for kids programs, my younger daughter at 11.5 and in middle school felt too "old" for the 9-11 year old program. The 14 year old was a little intimidated by all the older teens in the teens program. So, despite there being a lot of kids on board, neither of them really clicked with the other kids. I think what they really missed the most from Royal Caribbean were some of the "fun" touches . . . towel animals in the room, more people dancing on the deck at sail off, pool games, etc. Actually, the Celebrity staff seemed to be trying to encourage some of this, but the guests weren't that receptive. I also wish there were more places for them to hang out together, rather than just the separate rooms due to their ages. Regarding ports, we did our own thing in each one and enjoyed ourselves. Trunk Bay Beach at St. Johns (took ferry from St. Thomas) was gorgeous and worth seeing, although there was a "red flag" that didn't allow you to go in the water. Our group decided that one of the most impressive things about this ship were the public restrooms. Always spotless! The whole ship seemed clean and the staff were all friendly. Oh, I should note that the seas were a little rough especially on day 6 and we did feel it! The ship was even creaking! So, don't assume there will be no motion on these big ships. Overall, an enjoyable family cruise. I think the kids probably would have preferred a different ship, but the price was right and Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
My family just got off the Solstice (Eastern Caribbean - San Juan/St. Thomas and St. Maarten). This was our fourth Celebrity cruise, but our first on the Solstice class and we all agreed that this was the nicest ship we have sailed. We ... Read More
My family just got off the Solstice (Eastern Caribbean - San Juan/St. Thomas and St. Maarten). This was our fourth Celebrity cruise, but our first on the Solstice class and we all agreed that this was the nicest ship we have sailed. We have cruised on Celebrity, Princess (7 times) and Holland America (4 times) and we thought the Solstice was elegant, entertaining and just plain fun. As a bit of background, My wife and I are in our mid 40's. We have a soon to be 6 year old. My mother joined us, along with my sister/brother in-law and their two sons (7 and 11). My 11 year old nephew is significantly disabled (brain tumor survivor). My mother and father have done 5 round the world cruises with Holland, along with many other cruises all over the globe. My sister has also cruised many times. In short, we are a cruise lovin' family. All of us thought this ship was simply wonderful. PRE-CRUISE HOTEL We flew into Ft. Lauderdale on the 16th and had $80 rooms (through Priceline) at the Westin Ft. Lauderdale Beach Resort. Great hotel at a great price. It was right on the beach. The pool was heated perfectly and the kids had a great time. EMBARKATION My wife, son and I took a cab over to the Solstice at about 11:00 a.m. on Sunday and flew through embarkation. We were early and there were no lines. We had a Concierge Class cabin (1042) and we hung out for about 15 minutes waiting for boarding to begin. My son played in the play ground area they have at the Oasis/Allure pier and loved it. It will be a shame when the Solstice has to give up this pier in December when the Allure comes out as it makes for easy embarkation. On a side note, my mother, sister and her family, did not get to the ship until about noon, and their embarkation was quite slow (long lines, poorly trained individual at check-in), but they made it safely on board. CABIN We had a Concierge 3 class cabin (1042 - Sky Deck). Loved the location (right before the indent towards the front of the ship). The cabin was fine in size for the three of us. Enjoyed the decor, the flat screen tv with swivel wall mount, on-demand, satellite and pay per view tv choices, along with the access to photos, account balance, menus (including room service). Loved the shower stall in the bathroom. Shower has sliding doors that are much better than a shower curtain. Best cruise ship shower ever. I have noticed others complain about the toilet paper roll holder and it is as poorly designed as they state. Based on its position and design, the toilet paper slides off all the time. Very funny actually. In our cabin the bed was next to the closet, which is smaller than others we have had on other ships/cruise lines. It is also a little awkward because of how close it is to the bed, but we had more than enough room in our cabin for clothes for all three of us (there is storage above the bed that came in very handy, drawers by vanity and storage in the bathroom). If you are doing B2B cruises it could be a bit of a challenge for storage, but I would recommend bringing less and sending out some laundry. The balcony is pretty standard, but we did book for next year on the Eclipse and booked Cabin 1075, which has a huge balcony. SHIP The ship is in lovely condition. It is well manicured and spotless. The Epernay Dining room is very modern, but still classy and elegant. The Solstice Theater is big, but well designed. There are a couple of spots where poles could obscure the view, but generally not a bad seat in the house. The OceanView cafe has nice selections. I will say that it was crazy busy on embarkation day and also the last day at sea (we had some bad weather). We had to hunt for seats on more than one occassion during breakfast, but overall the food was quite good. We were amazed that for a ship its size that it was very easy to get around. It feels like the vast majority of the activities are based in the middle of the ship, so there are no long walks down hallways to get from one place to another. Our son loved the kid's club (Fun Factory). The counselors were great. He made friends with many kids on board. Great activities. There were 88 kids (under 18) on board. I know this is much less than during summer vacation time period. We felt like the kids were always kept busy and had great activities. The proof is in the pudding. When asked what his favorite part of the cruise was he answers "Kid's Club". The pool was really nice. They have a 3' - 4' pool for families that was wonderful for all the kids to play in. It was deep enough that they could actually swim, but nice for parents not to have to hover as it was not too deep. The second 1/2 of the outdoor pool was 5 1/2' - 6 1/2'. Our son was welcome in that pool too, which is something that I think may change in summers. I think if there are 500 kids on board during the summer that it would be cruel and unusual punishment to limit them to the family pool as this would not be big enough to accomodate even 50 kids at a time. During fall break, however, the family pool was perfect. There is nice piped in music at the pool, along with cool steel drums, acapella perfomers, bands, during the day. The music at the pool and all over the ship for that matter, was wonderful. The casino (a favorite spot) is very nice; however, the minimum bet is $10 on most tables, which is unusual for a cruise ship. I spoke with a few of the casino staff and they confirmed that the higher minimum keeps people away. In addition, I will state that the only crew members who we found to be a little cold were in the casino. The poker manager was wonderful, but generally the dealers at the table games were not engaging at all. I promise this had nothing to do with my winning/losing. They have two electronic poker tables, which I don't mind at all, but the rake is outrageous (10% of each pot up to $50 max). This is the highest rake I have ever seen on an electronic table on board ship. With that said, the poker manager always gave out a free drink every night and could not have been nicer. We like to play Let it Ride with the Three Card Poker bonus, but they didn't have this combo on the ship. Not a big deal, but it was the first time this table was not on a cruise ship we have sailed on in a few years. DINING As I said above we found the buffet to be quite good (considering it is a buffet). There were many choices, most of which were quite tasty. The Grand Epernay Dining room really had a nice menu with wonderful choices every night. We were amazed that they offered Lobster Bisque and Escargot on the every day menu. The meatball/pasta dish on the last night really is worth having. The only thing I was disappointed in was the lobster on the second formal night. It was a very small tail and is served with a scallop and shrimp risotto. The scallop was quite good, but the shrimp were a bit pathetic and the risotto was not good at all. Other than this once dish, the rest of my meals in the dining room really were exceptional and I give it very high marks. The Asian Specialty Restaurant was a nice surprise. We went there the night we were in San Juan and it was great. It is family style, and in short, they bring out the entire menu to your table. There must be 8 appetizers (Asian Ribs are amazing ) followed by a round of sushi which was quite good (we love sushi so I wont tell you it was the best ever, but still enjoyed it), and then you have about 8 more entrees brought to you family style (orange chicken was delicious). I have never thought asian restaurants have good deserts and this one was no different, but after all the food we ate I had no room for dessert anyway. Murano was the highlight of our trip from a food perspective. I started with the foie gras which was amazing. It had a great seer with sea salt over the top and literally melted in your mouth. It has a nice counterpoint with a phyllo dough stuffed with duck confit next to it that was equally delicious. I ordered the filet with peppercorn sauce for my entree and it was fantastic. In hindsight I would have had the surf and turf duo with lobster and filet, but held off as lobster night was the following night. For dessert my wife and I shared the bite sized dessert sampler (6 small cups). Some were great, some were interesting, but as a group it made for a good finish to the meal. The service in Murano was exceptional, as it was throughout the ship. Room Service We only ordered room service one night and it was great. There were a lot of choices on the tv room service menu. I have found that other cruise lines are providing a very limited selection for delivery to your room, but this was not the case on the Solstice. Our food was delivered on time and very hot, which I found impressive. PORTS We have been to all of the ports (San Juan/St. Thomas and St. Maarten) many times. we didn't get off the ship in San Juan as our son was simply loving the pool that day and we had a dinner reservation at the asian restaurant at 6:30 (in port from 2:00p.m. to 10:00 p.m.). Since we have walked the old town many times we simply elected to let him enjoy his time in the pool. The pool area was great on our port days as it was very quiet and we made a point of getting back to the ship early to let him/us enjoy some time relaxing/swimming (you figure out who did the relaxing and who did the swimming). We did some shopping in St. Thomas and went to the beach in St. Maarten. We have previously done the America's Cup Regatta in St. Maarten and loved it, but chose a fun day on the beach this time. STAFF Other than the mention above about the casino staff, the staff on board was really wonderful. Everyone was pleasant, caring and attentive. Our cabin attendant (Antonio) was rarely seen, but the room was made up beautifully every day. Our waiters (Brad and Dave) attended to our every need. It was a little harder getting a drink by the pool than on some other ships, but trust me when I say we never went thirsty. The captain, as many others have noted, should be a stand up comedian. He truly missed his calling. He looks like John Turturro, and has a great dry sense of humor. His daily noon announcements were not to be missed. Heck he challenged the passengers to a game of pool volleyball with his staff and showed up to play in a downpore, after announcing that anyone who was interested in tasting defeat should show up. ENTERTAINMENT In summary, there is great music on board the ship. We enjoyed the Solstice show (Cirque De Soleil style). The "broadway review" was a bit cheesy/amateurish for our taste, but to each his own. I heard the comic juggler was awful (a lot of drops), but can't tell you we saw the show. Throughout the ship there are performers everywhere and they were really good. The acappella group was funny and entertaining, the steel drums by the pool were awesome. Our son loved the Adagio String quartet (he danced to them in the foyer by himself). The strings have a concert on the grass (picnic blankets and tea lights laid out by the staff) that is beautiful. The Hot Glass Show is as cool as others have described. It was informative, fun and entertaining. AREAS TO IMPROVE There is really no where around the pool to put your used plates/glasses. I would like to see reduced minimum bets in casino as we are there for fun and this would make the casino more accessible to everyone. Lobster night was a bit of a disappointment. CONCLUSION As you can tell we loved the ship. We loved it so much we signed up for the Eclipse next Thanksgiving. I promise I am not a shill for Celebrity, but I can tell you that the Solstice class is our favorite ship amongst all that we have sailed. I couldn't recommend it more. I know some feel that Celebrity is not for families, but having been on board with a 6 year old and having talked to many of the families of other young kids, all the kids all agreed this was their favorite ship. They enjoyed the counselors, the activities, the pool, and yes, even the fancy restaurants. My nephew has been on multiple RCL ships, including the Navigator and Independence and he told his parents he liked this ship better. I think sometimes having 500+ kids in a kids program can be a little too much for them. Hope this was helpful. If you have any other questions let me know. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
Often when anyone does someone a lot, the hype and excitement goes away. I found myself doing that with cruising. New ships came out and while they had new features, it was hard for me to get that excitement back that I felt when I first ... Read More
Often when anyone does someone a lot, the hype and excitement goes away. I found myself doing that with cruising. New ships came out and while they had new features, it was hard for me to get that excitement back that I felt when I first started cruising. Then came the Celebrity Solstice, and the return of the excitement. Big time! First biggie--the crew. The captain is the funniest I have ever heard. He should be a comedian. The executive chef, same thing. I saw him on the LIDO deck tasting food several times. The cruise director, Lisa Richard,is the best in the business for several reasons. One, you see her all over the ship...all the time..interacting with guest. And when she sings...WOW! She spent four years in Mama Mia...so you get the picture. I won't go detail by detail, except for the things that blew me away. The enclosed Solarium pool, for me, is the highlight of the ship because (1) its adults only (2) a really comfortable place to relax and read or sleep (3) the design blew me away. Add the Spa cafe with healthier foods to the mix and its a real home run. The feel of this ship, especially when you are in the shops area, is more like an upscale hotel than a ship, with winding halls, high ceilings, and art-deco "stuff." The Ocean View Cafe was outstanding. It is very large and handles crowds well. Even though the ship holds about 3,000 other than the embarkation day, there was never an issue about finding a place to sit and eat. A welcome change from previous cruises on other large ships. There is no way I could do justice to the style of the ship, from the library contained on two decks and seeming to hang into space, to the shapes that they have used to keep away from the cookie cutter look. (yea, this is weird) The elevators with the glass walls, are now box shaped, they look like "flying art" as they go up and down. The plates in the dining room, different shapes, even the ice buckets in the room, art-deco look. The food was outstanding, but I learned a long time ago not to remark on the food as every one's taste is different. I will say I think this ship had the best food of the three Celebrity ships I have sailed. Book the ship...!! Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
This was our 29th cruise, 4th on Celebrity. Embarkation was a breeze but rooms were not available until 1pm. Also the buffet is not open until noon and many people were waiting at tables until it opened making the area very crowded. We had ... Read More
This was our 29th cruise, 4th on Celebrity. Embarkation was a breeze but rooms were not available until 1pm. Also the buffet is not open until noon and many people were waiting at tables until it opened making the area very crowded. We had early dinner seating and were surprised to find the dining room jammed with tables making it difficult to have any privacy (we were a party of 4) much less be able to get into the seats. The decor of the dining room is very bland. Food is typical cruise fare, nothing extraordinary. Service left a lot to be desired, very slow. We had a balcony cabin with the bed near the balcony. Nice size balcony with teak table and 2 chairs. The bathroom is the most spacious I have encountered and the shower larger than most. There is plenty of storage although the closest door is pretty clumsy. We brought adhesive hooks which I recommend. The bathroom towels were pitiful, frayed and thin. We complained and were given Aqua class plush towels. The public areas are nicely furnished with interesting seating. The Promenade is a disappointment as there are few seats and it is mostly obstructed by the lifeboats. The running track in where the pool seating is and runners zoom by all day. very annoying, this should be restricted to before 9am--afterwards they can run on the treadmills. The pools are too small, they were wall to wall people on some occasions. The are very few drink stations in the buffet and little access to free drinks at the pool. In general the staff was friendly, the Meet and Mingle included the Cruise Director Paul Baya. The shows were not special except for the Solstice Show which was impressive. Many of the bars inside do not open until 5pm. The shops sell the usual goods from China at 500 percent mark up. I found the activities pretty lame and I wonder about the safety of having those glass kilns onboard. Disembarkation was very easy, we were in Group 1 and disembarked at 7:30, we were at the airport by 8. All in all, not that impressed by Celebrity. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
This was our 34th and 35th cruise, as we did two seven day back to back journeys. These were Eastern and Western Caribbean respectively. Embarkation was extremely easy and quick, especially as the Solstice is such a large vessel; we would ... Read More
This was our 34th and 35th cruise, as we did two seven day back to back journeys. These were Eastern and Western Caribbean respectively. Embarkation was extremely easy and quick, especially as the Solstice is such a large vessel; we would not have been surprised to encounter a few delays. There were none, and we were onboard in less than twenty minutes after entering the embarkation area. We were offered the now obligatory welcome of champagne or fruit punch. With two carryons, having checked two large bags, we proceeded to our cabin to see if we could drop them off before having lunch. Our cabin, an eighth floor veranda, was in the process of being made up and so, the door being open, we were able to rid ourselves of our shoulder bags and find lunch in the ships buffet, the OceanView Cafe on Deck 14. Let's right now comment on our number one find on why the Solstice is truly truly a cut above all other ships we have been on and shows extraordinary attention to detail and creature comfort. All elevators are exceptionally well marked and signed, with large, easy to find, and colorful controls. A flashing arrow denotes if you are going up or down (not that you shouldn't know, but someone always seems not to), large emblems visible before the door opens giving you the floor location, and even show where the next stops are that have been called for. Other reviews denoted occasional lack of satisfaction with elevator bank placement but we did not find this a problem, although felt more than once that the programming seemed to not fit the timing of passengers waiting. We found the OceanView cafe to be perhaps the best laid out with the best food, in general, of any ship we have sailed on. The layout of various islands for different needs is well thought out and eliminates long lines where passengers may be stuck behind other passengers where they have no need to be for the food they want, but have no reasonable recourse. How well thought out is it? At lunch there is one entire section devoted to Asian themed offerings, as well as Barbeque. Especially helpful for the male side of the family, having a dairy allergy, which is seldom if ever a problem with Asian cooking, though this took several days to get straightened out in the main Dining Room, the Grand Epernay. At breakfast, more well thought out touches were more than obvious. An entire station is devoted to, and marked: "English Breakfast". This comprises what is just that, English "Banger" sausages, British style fish dishes, baked beans, etc. Now here is real class and forethought, especially judicious on a large ship: at the omelette station, there is not one, perhaps two, chefs with a pan or two each to attend to, coming to the counter to take your individual request, but multiple chefs with multiple pans at work. A staff member takes your order for ingredients from a posted display, writes it down on a post it note, and it is put in front of a chef who can work directly and quickly from that. When ready, the chef simply calls your name from the note, and places your order with you. Well done, Solstice. As stated early on, and worth repeating, the quality of food is at least as good, and in most cases, better than any other ship we have sailed on. After lunch we returned to find our cabin ready for us, and a quick look around found it (veranda) to be not huge, but more than adequate for a couple. Storage seemed a bit quirky at first, with two pull down cupboard type areas over the comfortable bed, which at first seemed rather odd, but then were realized to be a well thought out touch. Thought not the easiest thing to get to, they were perfect for storing items that needed no hanging or concern re wrinkling, such as socks, underwear, etc. Our very comfortable bed is thoughtfully planned with space beneath to slide large bags in without a problem, and was very convenient for our carryons. A sliding closet beside the bed contained a reasonable amount of space for hanging clothes, as well as perhaps the most convenient and largest safe we have seen. When there was a set up problem, a courteous and knowledgeable staff member quickly appeared and helped, as well as later when a minor difficulty with the TV remote surfaced. TV? Flat screen, with a retinue of available options for ship service etc., and a goodly number of channels thanks to a generally reliable Satellite connection. BW thought the design of the drapes leading to the balcony to be well thought out and attractive. We were also impressed with the excellent soundproofing. Shower? Best and best thought out in 30+ voyages. Clear hard-surfaced sliding doors, no bothersome drippy or clinging curtains. Need we tell other frequent voyagers of the oft complexity of shipboard showers? Not here..again, a touch worthy of mention. No need to consult notes from our Engineering degree (we don't have one, but there have been occasions we have either had to call the Purser's office or the room steward) or deal with a bothersome portable "wand" type shower head. The Solstice's shower head is affixed and is easily moved to swivel exactly where wanted and needed. Score another point for Solstice. Wife especially liked the clear glass doors on upper storage shelves. Now, THIS is where the Solstice planners really shine...how many times have you said, and we have written, "WHY can't ship architects give you a decent reading light in your bed? Why can they not seem to grasp this need, this concept?" Solstice has, and it's perfect. How nice, how nice indeed! There was also, in our cabin class, a sofa that accommodates three, and serves as convenient storage when moving about on port days. Attending the requisite safety drill, we were more than happy to find that as with our last experience, the lifeboat drill/safety talk does not require you to carry and don a lifejacket. Only to attend the talk, learn your safety routes and find where the assigned lifeboats are. After this, we hied ourselves to the gym on Deck 12, connected as usual to the Spa system. As expected, we found a plethora of various exercise machines; on days when we used said machines, despite the fact the ship, we were told, was completely booked (2850 passengers, 3000 with 3rd berth cabins in use) there was never a wait for machines. The gym (would you expect less?) is well positioned toward the bow with plenty of glass for sea viewing and therefore, well lit and bright. A comfortable and well thought out area and experience. Wait..not quite. We have never understood why anyone who has overview over such matters thinks, that anyone would want to hear "music" (I dignify the term) that consists of screaming, shrieking and pounding? Perhaps, and only perhaps, in the gym when a class is being given when a certain cadence or rhythm may be appropriate. To our dismay, this same "music" was piped into the Cafe, into other ship areas as well, and was more than disappointing. When BW (for the uninitiated, Beautiful Wife, was in the movie theater one day, the couples on either side, she told me, were also complaining about it. As we continued our exploration of the ship before dinner, I was surprised (and I freely admit, personally disappointed) to find that, although the Celebrity Solstice class is built, to my understanding, on the same "platform" as the parent RCCL "Adventure" class, on which we have sailed (actually, the "Freedom of the Seas") there was no central Promenade, which was something we enormously enjoyed and was something we had no idea would not be carried forward into the Solstice. Instead, this enjoyable spot, with its numerous shops, cafes and people watching venues, is now simply shops and a central walkway adjacent to the Casino. Drat. A big big Drat. Dinner time! The Grand Epernay, the main dining venue, is another absolute triumph for the Solstice planners. Continuing the outstanding architectural styling as throughout the ship per se, it features numerous modernistic columns, artistic colored lighting, and the like. It is also the site of an exceptional brunch buffet served the second or third night out, which replaces, or augments, depending on your dining pleasure and choice. breakfast in the Oceanview Cafe. Brunch runs from late morning to early afternoon and includes food appropriate to both meals. First hitch? In all honesty, we first felt this was the ship's error, but after discussion with staff, it may have been at the travel agent level, our request for a table for six was not to be found. This was rectified and personally followed up on the second night. We then found ourselves with another couple and two empty chairs for the rest of the voyage. We never found out why, but were more than happy with our tablemates, a delightful couple, Mike and Maya from Las Vegas, a mature couple who had been married for a grand total of nine days. He: "I finally found her," She: "I'm glad he did." (Or, words to that effect) Summary of the Epernay cuisine? Good to very good. A few times, exceptional. Personal views, as opposed to tablemates, a bit clouded, as, having a dairy allergy, food sometimes is difficult to compare what it could be if the chefs did not have to work around it. Oddly, BW ordered a pasta dish one night, pronouncing it so outstanding that she ordered it again at a later time, and found it more than disappointing. How can this happen? Only the kitchen knows; we surely do not. Epernay staff? Outstanding; several people commented in general, as well as for the rest of the ship, the best service they had ever had. Ex: the first night we asked for sliced lemon; every night after that it automatically appeared. Well done. Very much so. Dress code? On a typical seven day voyage there are two Formal nights. Other nights, no jeans or shorts, etc. This was usually reasonably adhered to, though as usual there are a select few who think rules are for others. One enterprising fellow, at an adjacent table, apparently thought that formal night translated to, "Dark T-shirt with my Jeans..." Now, here is an oddity. Having booked back to back seven day voyages, we were informed by staff that it would be necessary, on our initial return to Ft.Lauderdale,, due to U.S. regulations, to present ourselves, our passports and customs forms, to immigration and then re-board our ship...hm. All back to back passengers were asked to meet in a named central location where we would be presented with a form showing us to be "In Transit" passengers, and escorted to the appropriate area of U.S.Customs to be cleared and escorted back onto the ship that we had just come from...We are still trying to determine the logical value of this, as we had been cleared by the ship's security, staff, and manifest on departure. We were the same people who were then deemed safe, but now we had to prove it again...hm. On segment number two, Western Caribbean, our six person table request went off without a hitch, having been confirmed on board the night before. This time the table for six had...six. During this time, we dined one night at an alternative restaurant, the Asian "Silk Harvest". One word: Exceptional. Outstanding and creative menu and service and attention to detail far beyond the norm or any prior experience. Ports: Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Costa Maya, Roatan. Second Segment: Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, St.Maarten. We debarked only at Costa Maya, where we did the Mexican Pyramid tour, which entailed a one hour bus ride each way and an approximate two hour stop, replete with history and grateful mosquitoes. The bus was comfortable with an excellent guide. We had done all other ports before and weather was exceptionally hot and in Puerto Rico, where we might have gotten off, raining. One example of exceptional service, above and beyond, involved OceanView Cafe Maitre d': Vlaho Butriko from Croatia. The Grand Epernay Maitre 'd, whose name I have unfortunately misplaced but also deserves mention, as do our excellent table staff. It was our custom each night to receive the next night's menu from the Grand Epernay so that my allergen free meal might be pre-ordered. As we had dined in the "Silk Harvest" one night I had not had the opportunity to do this. On inquiring of Mr. Butriko how I might rectify this, he took it upon himself to find the menu from another location, wait while I marked it, and then take it to the appropriate area. This took him quite a bit of time and bother and I am sure in many instances would or could have been met with simply a word of sympathy, or much less help. This is, and was far beyond what was expected,and is appreciated and worthy of mention. Quick word re entertainment: Production shows (Three per segment) very good, but one, deemed by the C.D. the most exceptional, we did not personally care for as found the music not up to the performers. Ship orchestra? Probably the best ever, very professional. Solo performers: Very good, except for one (you know who you are) who performed an act that did not seem up to the standard that we would have expected. The roving Acapella quartet deemed excellent and personable. Final "Class Act" remark; when you dial into another cabin from a hall phone, it shows the cabin number dialed and the listed name of the cabin occupant on a lit display above the receiver. Now, as always, what might be improved, as we see it? And to staff's credit, part way through the voyage, a comment card (other than final evaluation) which is a "How are we doing?" query is left in your room. This is to be filled out and left at Customer Relations. One principal suggestion? Recognize who your clients are! Most of the voyagers are from the U.S. with a smattering, perhaps 10%, of Canadian citizens, some German, Latin, Australian, and others. As this voyage was during school vacation, at least for some, there were a few younger couples on board with children or young people of varying ages. In our opinion, such a group deserves better, far far better, than the previously noted absolutely dreadful piped in music that is nothing (opinion) that people want to listen to, concentrate on a workout by, or certainly eat with. After I had commented on this it seemed to get a bit better at the last, though not always or necessarily so. The Library, in my wife's words, "...needs a lot of help." I agree. I found little that interested me or was by authors that I had the remotest recall of. Current books that I thought would be available were nowhere to be found. This, in marked contrast to other ships. Poorly laid out, never an attendant visible. I am sure the honor system is appreciated, but on other ships someone has been available to find if a book of interest is in stock. Oddly, we did not find a single travel guide nor rack of periodicals, just a few magazines on a side table which seemed to strangely appear and disappear at will. One mother was overheard to say she found only one childrens' book in the entire stock. On Sailaways, deck 12, music was turned up to a level far in excess of what was remotely comfortable. When I walked through, I literally had to cover my ears. There is NO reason for this. On the final night, on a trip to Customer Relations, a ship's group also had their amps turned up so loud in this area, that I had to lean directly forward into the face of the young lady I was speaking to to be heard and to hear her. Again, NO reason for this. NONE. Grand Epernay chairs would be more comfortable with rollers. Very heavy to move to sit in. In the OceanView Cafe, food labels are often misspelled or even non existent. Desserts are often not marked as to what is sugar free. On multiple occasions, late night desserts were barely marked at all and staff not nearby. Finally, embarkation, another touch of class by staff: Offloaded luggage was not haphazardly dumped in lettered areas, but was neatly placed in rows. More crowded and slower to get off, but again, this is something the line may not have full or even reasonable control over, as often Customs may be understaffed. Note: Do not miss the glassblowing show, it is a real winner and very interesting. Would we do the Solstice or sister ship again? In the proverbial heartbeat, but we definitely miss the Promenade area of the RCCL Adventure Class. --- Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
Went on this cruise with 5 other family members, varying in age between 16-71 y/o. Stayed in Sky Suite on 12th level, and small penthouse suite on 11th level, 3 people per room. Having been on 4 other cruise lines, thought this would allow ... Read More
Went on this cruise with 5 other family members, varying in age between 16-71 y/o. Stayed in Sky Suite on 12th level, and small penthouse suite on 11th level, 3 people per room. Having been on 4 other cruise lines, thought this would allow for an objective review. I have never experienced such extraordinary service. Our room butler, Tugue and waiters, Gede and Mark not only catered to our every need, but were cheerful, fun, and genuinely interested in our cruising experience. They became family to us. The food was very good, but the specialty restaurants were exceptional. Murano and Tuscan Grille were well worth the $35 surcharge pp. (One of the evening's meals were comped as we booked a Suite) The ship is beautiful and very clean except for the occasional sooty railing outside the veranda. The atrium with it's glass elevators is a spectacular way to appreciate the size and scope of the ship as you can almost see 360 degrees around you. I only made it to one evening show, the best one from what I understand. Circus aerial and acrobatics the likes of Cirque De Sole (but on a moving ship) was incredible. The poolside band, Cipra and the A Capella vocalists were top-notch. As per other reviews, the Corning Glass Show was a unique and educational show and these guys are not only artists, but entertainers as well. Beyond the Podium educational lectures were fantastic and worth the time away from the small, crowded outdoor pool (atrium pool much less crowded but obviously not as sunny and unable to enjoy the band). Took a spa package for $99 (Massage, facial, and exfoliation). Service and Aqua Spa were great but they auto-added gratuity and pushed products(though not hard) after the service. Cons? Not many but to assist future cruisers beware:Excursion employees could have been more informative. They seemed a little bothered with questions and details. Horseback excursion in San Juan got back an hour late with no apologies or explanation-missed dinner and show with family. The Bistro On 5 was a nice, uncrowded venue with excellent crepes and panini sandwiches but was the only place we experienced what I would call bad service. The waiter had a flippant attitude and although not crowded at all, we waited over 30 min for sandwich and crepes, while my mother's main course, salad was served so we ate separately. Found the drinks pretty light on the liquor. Pool waiter apparently didn't know or understand what a rum floater was. Bahama Mamas on Princess Cruises far superior to Celebrity's. Bring your own wine (2 bottles/room allowed). Hallway on 11th level near penthouse suites very moldy smelling. Wasn't my imagination-first 2 days sailing there were ceiling panels down and obvious insulation torn out as they worked to correct the odor. Not what you want to see after paying $$ for penthouse suite! Embarkation was delayed as power had gone off in a portion of the port terminal and the previous passengers were stuck on ship, then when they disembarked, the Solstice was having a Coast Guard inspection. This is apparently not typical however and only delayed us about 45 min.-hour. Disembarkation was quick and easy if you take express (bring your own bags). Was off the ship and through customs in 20 min. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
I'm going to try to be as concise as I can while still giving you an overall impression of our cruise experience. I think the easiest way to do this is by listing pros and cons of specific aspects of the cruise. So, here goes: ... Read More
I'm going to try to be as concise as I can while still giving you an overall impression of our cruise experience. I think the easiest way to do this is by listing pros and cons of specific aspects of the cruise. So, here goes: Embarkation/Debarkation: Pros -- Arrived at terminal at 12:03, boarded the ship at 12:15, room was ready at 1:15. Unbelievably smooth. Debarkation was scheduled for 9:10, actually debarked at 8:45, we were in our car by 9:15. Even more unbelievably smooth. Cons -- Absolutely none. Room:Family Ocean View Veranda (8108) Pros -- HUGE (3rd largest on ship) 2 bedrooms, sitting area (sofa, 2 chairs), desk, small dining table. 105 sf balcony. Great under bed storage. Adequate closet and drawer storage. Beds are very comfortable. Well laid out bathroom, especially loved clear glass door on shower. Amenities in bathroom were as expected. "Night light" in bathroom doesn't go out. Awesome views through windows in sitting area, main bedroom and off balcony. Cons -- Needed extra towels. Lounge chairs on balcony would have been nice. No TV in bedroom. Lots of under utilized space. Had room for a larger dining table and additional drawer/cabinet storage. Noisy during docking/undocking. Need a larger ice bucket. Public Areas: Pros -- Beautifully elegant. Guest flow was excellent. Martini bar was THE hot spot. Grand Epernay dining room was striking. The speciality restaurants were all grouped together but still separate, it was a nice touch. Lots of seating in the clubs and lounge areas. The Solstice Theater was well laid out with nary a bad seat and with excellent acoustics. The Lawn Club is a must see. We saw the area where the mowers were kept. I never would have believed I'd see lawn equipment in the middle of the ocean! The pool area was a little crowded but with plenty of standard and unique seating arrangements. Separate open air pools for adults and children. The Solarium pool was gorgeous; serene and soothing. Oceanview Cafe has a unique multi station layout which greatly reduced lines. The Sky Observation lounge has the best views ever. Casino is okay. The shops are split; designer shops on 5, logo shops on 4. Cons -- Not enough trash cans. Elevators fore and aft made for a lot of walking. In the future Celebrity should consider 3 sets of stairs/ elevators. Food/Drink: Pros -- Grand Epernay dining room food was varied and, on a scale of 1-10 rated an 8. We were in the back corner of the room and felt a little left out of the overall experience. We dined in the Tuscan Grill one night and weren't impressed with the quality. However, the service was superb and the chocolate fondue dessert was the best I've ever had. The crepes in Bistro On 5 were exceptional. Don't miss it. If you like martinis make sure you hit the Martini Bar. Buy a 6 martini flite (it's worth it). Great presentation. Oceanview Cafe buffets were just what you'd expect. Some unique touches but only rates a 5 or 6. Cons -- Bars do not open early enough. Charge for sodas in the dining room. Ice Cream available on only one side of Oceanview Cafe caused long lines. No trays in Oceanview. Service: Pros -- Everyone without exception greeted you with a smile and a hello. Bar and lounge service was courteous, prompt and efficient. Our room steward, Nazreth, was super. We asked for extra ice and some plastic glasses for a cruise critic cabin crawl. We returned to our room to find 15 wine glasses and a huge bucket of ice. My wife brought a stuffed animal which had very sentimental meaning. On the 4th night we couldn't find it. We spoke to Jorge, the manager of housekeeping. In less than 1 hour he and Nazreth went to the laundry and searched through the unwashed bed linens and found it. Enjoyed "no life jacket" indoor fire drill. Cons -- Our Head Waiter was difficult to understand. We had to ask, every meal, for sodas/iced tea. When ordering room service it seemed we were inconveniencing the person who took our request. When using the internet (on board package) there was no way to check your minutes. No food or drink allowed in the teen lounge area, although there was equipment to dispense sodas, popcorn, etc. Entertainment: Pros -- We only attended the "Cirque" style show which was excellent. We did hear feedback from other guests that the other shows were just as good, if not better, than anything they had seen before.We did a behind the scenes tour of the theater which was super. The acts in the lounges were very good. The Cruise Director, Paul Baya, was everywhere, did everything and even belted out some great tunes. The unique layout of the ship allowed for varied musical venues with no overlapping sounds. DO NOT MISS THE GLASS SHOW. The most entertaining and interesting show I have ever seen. Cons -- No availability of show replays on the TV in your room. Youth Program: Our 16 year old Granddaughter enjoyed all of the different activities that were available. Her only complaint was the no food or beverage policy. Shore Excursions: We did the Lord Sheffield Pirate Cruise in St. Maarten. Great food, great crew, great company, great excursion. St. Thomas and San Juan had lots to offer, but for us, been there, done that, have the t-shirt. Overall Impressions: We have cruised RCCL, Princess, Carnival and Celebrity. This cruise was the most elegant in terms of presentation, ship decor and atmosphere that we have taken. For me personally it was a little to "stodgy" but it was still a very good cruise. I would recommend this for a seasoned cruiser who wants to relax more than party. As a side note, the cruise critic "gang" on this ship made the cruise unforgettable. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
Sailed to the Eastern Caribean on the Celebrity Solstice in order to attend my daughters wedding. My daughter gave us short notice of their plan so the only cabins available were on the lowest passenger deck. ( Deck 3 ). Overnighted at the ... Read More
Sailed to the Eastern Caribean on the Celebrity Solstice in order to attend my daughters wedding. My daughter gave us short notice of their plan so the only cabins available were on the lowest passenger deck. ( Deck 3 ). Overnighted at the Best Western on Oakland. Older hotel but well maintained, very clean, good price and with full breakfast and free shuttle. Overnighted on return trip at the Hilton Marina. Nice hotel, close to port and airport.Good staff, nice pool, convenient. Hotel needs new carpet. Embarkation was the fastest and easiest yet. The Solstice is a beautiful ship. The food and bar service was excellent. The entertainment was fair.Seems that the quality of entertainment has dropped over the years. We dined at the Tuscan and the Harvest Grill. Both were great and the staff were excellent.Seems that the crew on this ship were a very contented bunch and were always quick to make us smile and laugh. Our day in St. Thomas was taken up with our daughters wedding. Couldn't have been any better.Our daughter and her fiancee were totally happy to go barefoot on Megans Bays white sand while saying their vows to one another. We spent our days in San Juan and St. Marteen wandering the downtown streets. Been there a couple of times before and did tours. Think I enjoyed the downtowns better. Overall, the cruise was great, however I had one big complaint. Because we were stuck with having to stay on the lowest cabin deck, we also had to put up with the excessive noise from the deck below which was an operations deck. A ship this size has a lot of eguipment that makes noise, there is no way around that. Unfortunately, there is not enough sound insulation above this deck and maybe staterooms should not be located above these noisy areas. I called customer service about the noise and they seemed to pretend that they didn,t know anything about it. They told me to call the next time there was noise and they would send somebody to check it. There was lots more noise, I called customer service, said they would send somebody. I never heard back from them. I resigned to the fact that I will never stay on a lower deck again and I suggest readers give serious thought about this also. The price for this deck doesn't justify having to put up with a rackett at all hours. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
Sailed with the hubby and 3 kids on the 5/30 Eastern Caribbean sailing. Hubby and I are in our mid-40s and kids are ages 16, 12, and 8. I have been cruising since the age of 15 as my parents were huge Royal Caribbean fans. More recently we ... Read More
Sailed with the hubby and 3 kids on the 5/30 Eastern Caribbean sailing. Hubby and I are in our mid-40s and kids are ages 16, 12, and 8. I have been cruising since the age of 15 as my parents were huge Royal Caribbean fans. More recently we have sailed on Royal C as well as Carnival. We booked an Oceanview Connecting State Room even though we could have gotten a Verandah State Room at about the same price. I was too nervous to book the balcony room with our 8 year old and didn't want to constantly be worried about his safety on the balcony. Having said that the ocean view room was actually quite nice with a larger than average window--not like the small, round ocean view windows that I remember on ships of the past. I particularly liked the connecting stateroom concept on this ship and it was one of the reasons we booked with Celebrity in the first place. The doors on the cabins are actually recessed and as a result allow for another double door to be closed allowing two state rooms to connect--so essentially what would normally be the "front porch" of the stateroom becomes the "connecting" hallway of the two rooms. This worked incredibly well for our family and did not require us to shell out the big bucks for a family suite, yet allowed us to be together when we wanted, but also allowed space for the kids and for mom and dad! I was actually quite surprised that the ship did not have more connecting rooms available, but maybe it is not as big of a seller as it was for us. Overall, I found most of aspects of the ship to be great. The food was actually better than I expected given some of the reviews I had read. Portions did seem smaller, but that was ok since the last thing I need after a week of ice cream and nightly desserts and martinis was larger portions! The lobster night on Friday (2nd formal night) was good, but very tiny and I mean tiny. Our waiter did not offer seconds, though it sounds like some of the other waiters made the offer to other guests. I am certain if we would have asked it would have been fine, but I would have preferred if the offer would have been made. Our waiter was nice, though rather quiet. I do think that the number of tables prevents the waiters and other staff from talking with the guests like I remember in the past. I very much enjoy hearing about life on the ship and about their homelands, but really did not find that there was much time for that or perhaps our waiter was not as interested in sharing that with the guests. The Wine Steward was actually a delight--Rolando from the Phillipines--every night he came to our table with a new riddle or puzzle for the kids to try solve. He was very fun and just a delight. Other positives include the lay-out of the ship--most rooms were lovely and as mentioned previously they never seemed to be crowd despite the fact that the ship was booked to capacity. I loved the eastern caribbean itinerary and we really did have a nice relaxing week. Now for the less positive aspects of the trip.... 1) Though check-in was smoother than I ever remember in the past, we happened to get someone that did not seem to know what she was doing and while the other attendants were checking in 3-4 groups, she was still trying to handle our check in process. I think the fact that my son and husband have the same name totally threw her off and as a result she wound up printing 2 sea-pass cards for my son and using my husband's passport number on his card--she tried to insist that it would be fine and that when we tried to board they could figure out which was the "incorrect" card, however I insisted that the problem be solved right there, perhaps with the help of a supervisor as I was not going to come back down if the card did not work. She finally agreed and the problem was solved and we were on our way. 2) The next issue was our stateroom, when we arrived the bed in my hubby and my room was not together and instead was two twin beds, despite the fact that we had requested otherwise. The room steward quickly rectified the situation, but then when we reminded him of the fact that we wanted the room to be connecting--more problems ensued. For some reason the new connecting door would not allow for both sets of keys for the two staterooms to open the door. The room steward explained that he would call engineering, but then stated "if they don't come just dial "0". I thought this was not the best customer service, and really felt that they should have gone to more trouble to fix the problem. Someone finally came to fix the door, however we continued to have problems for the first 4 days of the trip. The keys would work for most of the day and then lo and behold we would go back to the room and find that none of the rooms keys would work--and no it was not our cell phone deactivating the keys as the room steward's key would also stop working. This would then require a trip to the guest relations desk and they would then insist that they had reprogrammed the keys and that they would now work--after several days of being told the same story, I finally told the young woman at the desk--"don't mean to be be rude, but these keys will not work, just follow me and I will show you, instead I need for you to call the engineer". Needless to say the engineer knew us on a first name basis after daily trips to our stateroom door--he finally figured out that the battery in the door needed to be replaced and that seemed to solve the problem. Would have appreciated a "sorry for your inconvenience" or better yet an on board credit however never got any of that. 3) Given that this is probably considered a more upscale/adult type of cruise, my kids found the Children's Club to be less than exciting. In the past they have enjoyed the programs offered by Carnival and Royal C--best I could tell was that the programming at Celebrity is just not all that great. The younger ages seemed to enjoy the activities--"Superhero" Day, Clown Day, make a birthday party hat, etc, but my 8 year old found the activities to be less than exciting. He decided he was done with it, after making an "arts and crafts folder" (to hold his artwork from the trip) the first night of the kid's camp. From there on out he spent time at the pool and with us and that worked out just fine. 4) As mentioned previously by others, I didn't find the entertainment to be all that great. The shows seemed like high school productions and were just not that professional looking. Other activities--like the a Capella group, the ITones were great, however, best I could tell they would perform for about 15 minutes. Literally on two different occasions we went to listen to them and may be got their 5 minutes late only to arrive as they were performing their last song--I guess they would perform all of 2 songs?!? It was very strange and a real shame since they were one of the few acts worth listening/watching. 5) It took 2 nights before we learned that there was a children's menu in the main dining room. On night 1 we had asked the assistant waitress (she was brand new to the ship) and she said they did not have a children's menu. Later when the maitre d came by, I told him how disappointed I was that no children's menu was available and he was the one that informed me that of course there was a children's menu--so glad I asked! Not sure how our main waiter didn't figure out that the 8 year old would probably want a kid's menu given that he could see that all he was eating was bread and butter during dinner. 6) Overall service was hit or miss and I did not feel that staff was all that respectful of the guests. On one occasion at the outdoor mast grill, I actually had one of the staff (not an officer, mind you) get in front of me for lunch (butted in front of several guests in line). Another staff--a female bartender was also extremely rude, chatting up some other guests while 4 or 5 of us waited to be served. She then proceeded to serve someone who had just walked up to the bar while the rest of us waited. When I pointed out that there were several others waiting before the guy who just walked up--she copped an attitude and told me to "relax"! 7) Finally I got the feeling that many of the wait staff and room stewards probably expected that they would receive extra tips from guests--not sure if others got that same feeling. I liked the fact that the gratuities were added to the tab and that we didn't have to go through the hassle of making envelopes with cash, however, I also didn't feel compelled to give more that the recommended amount. My hubby and I kind of got the feeling that perhaps staff did not try as hard any more to please the customer since the gratuities are now automatically charged? So in conclusion, the trip was fun and relaxing with a few hiccups along the way. If my husband and I were traveling alone without the kids we would probably do Celebrity again, however I think if were to cruise with the family again, we would probably consider Royal Caribbean for a livelier time and more enjoyable activities.. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
Wow what a ship! We have cruised X several times on Century class ships and have always loved the service, food, and ambience but Solstice took us to a new level! We are in our mid 50's and traveled with our DD and her best friend ... Read More
Wow what a ship! We have cruised X several times on Century class ships and have always loved the service, food, and ambience but Solstice took us to a new level! We are in our mid 50's and traveled with our DD and her best friend (both 20) and also past X cruisers. We have all cruised RCCL and Carnival and still think X provides the best bang for the buck. I want to thank everyone that has posted before me about their knowledge of this ship. It really helped make our choices easier and I boarded with the knowledge that we would have a great time. Pre-cruise hotel was the Hampton Inn Airport/Cruise Hotel located midway between the hotel and cruise terminal. Free shuttle from airport to hotel and from hotel to pier. Full breakfast included. Very clean and near a shopping center for last minute needed items. Embarkation/Debarkation: We boarded at 11:45 and was onboard from cab to champagne in less than 20 minutes for the two rooms. It took a couple of minutes to find the second set of keys as we had booked a CC room and an inside room. The final day we booked the Everglades tour with airport drop-off as we had 5 pm flights. We met at 8:15 and were led off the ship by X to pick-up luggage, go through customs (was backed up but then all of a sudden we zipped through) and on the bus by 8:40. Enjoyed the tour, but still had to wait until 2 hours before takeoff time for Delta to check luggage for DD. FLL is very strict about this. We flew Southwest and could do baggage 4 hours before. FYI Rooms: CC 9296 very large balcony on the back hump facing aft. Although near the bank of elevators it was very quiet. We had plenty of storage space for the 7 days. Room steward and assistant were great and always kept us in ice. BTW, for those that say they were not offered the pillow menu or other items, there is a brochure that list all of the amenities just for the asking. Bed by balcony and a large couch. Loved the larger bathroom and having a shower door in place of curtain. Inside room 9328 is very roomy and a great layout. Just down the hall from the CC room. Food and Entertainment I lost almost 30 pounds before the cruise and am sad to say I gained at least 7 of it back on this cruise even though I walked 3 miles each day on teh track. The food was very good to great in the MDR and we tried to eat there whenever it was open. We tried the buffet a few times and each time it was very good with good selections. My only disappointment was Tuscan Grille. We celebrated my DW's birthday and DD's graduation there. They said there meals were excellent but my was awful! My salad and soup had little to no flavor. They got the filet but I got the rib-eye as the waiter said it was great....not so...tough and chewy. DW said not to make a scene. Saving grace was the Chocolate Fondue, wonderful! Service and presentations were great but my meal was not. Aqua Spa cafe a great find! We enjoyed most of the entertainment but did not care for the comedy/magician or vocalist act. The acapella group was great but leaving after this cruise along with the cruise director for their end of contract/vacation. We also loved the enrichment series beyond the podium speakers. Nice info on the Caribbean (food, animals, pirates, culture, history) The "savor" portions of series were fun and informative. I actually got to be one of the judges for the cooking contest pitting 2 cruisers paired with 2 of the ship's chefs. UMMMM! We purchased the premium non-alcoholic package for each of the girls and it was worth it and a great deal. We could not justify the liquor package though and came out ahead by just ordering by the drink. Ports We were the only ship in each port. Yea! San Juan, nice and hot. Walked to the fort and loved the views. A little shopping and back to the ship. St Thomas, we did the ship's parasail excursion and loved it. I talked with the operator before we left and the price would have been the about the same. St. Martin, we did an independent tour with Benard's and had Junior as our driver. Fun, Fun! Loved the sea days and just relaxed, took in the Hot Glass Show ( a must see!), trivia, dance classes, wine and food paring, wine tasting, martini bar, sensing a pattern here. Sorry to ramble on but here are some observations that we experienced: We never had to wait in line for anything, sure there were crowds but flow was very good. Bridge was played everyday in the card room. Never had a problem finding something on the menu. The listed chef's recommendations were always the best choice for me. If you don't see it, ask for it! They want to please. Always saw loungers available by the pool, even on sea days. Never waited long for the elevator except for the final day (duh!) Waited 15-20 minutes after the all ashore call and just walked off the ship. Loved having cold water and cold towels when coming back from port Lawn area looked great and was always in use. Never had a problem getting a treadmill or bike in spa Martini Bar and Molecular Bar a must visit for the show and the drinks. Cafe Bianco great place for coffee and pastry and people watching. Great cruise and cannot wait until our next cruise on Solstice class! Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
Celebrity Solstice was all it sounded like and more! The whole family loved it. Embarkation was a breeze. Rooms ready by 1 pm. Hubby and I took our 2 daughters 22 and 19, we decided to share 1 cabin as that is our usual travel plan. We had ... Read More
Celebrity Solstice was all it sounded like and more! The whole family loved it. Embarkation was a breeze. Rooms ready by 1 pm. Hubby and I took our 2 daughters 22 and 19, we decided to share 1 cabin as that is our usual travel plan. We had plenty of space in the cabin for storage(even for 4 of us), under bed storage fit 5 suitcases!, bathroom was fine size and loved having the veranda to relax on while we were taking turns with the bathroom. Worked out well. There were very few young people on the ship - the girls didn't meet anyone to hang out with until Thurs. Neverthtless they truly enjoyed the ship and the cruise. We enjoyed the evening shows - the comedians were our favorites- the music shows were pretty standard. Solstice show was very good. The food was fabulous. We dined in the MDR each night and were not once disappointed. We loved the presentation and the food itself was consistently delicious. Our wait team - Ernesto and asst Derek were on the money, very attentive, professional, and fun as well. Oceanview Cafe was also impressive for a buffet. As I read in previous posts, there were never lines with the set-up in stations and the food was varied, fresh, and yummy. Aquaspa Cafe was perfect in the morning for lite breakfasts. We didn't seem to have time to visit the other restaurants so have nothing to say on them. Finding deck lounges wasn't a problem - even on at-sea days! Being a sold out cruise I was expecting to have crowd problems - rarely even ran into people in the cabin hallways. Lolstice was the only ship in each port - no lines or crowds!! The seapass card was awesome - alotugh I would hope in the near future they could come up with a small card swiper that would save reams of paper! Overall, we all loved the ship, the service was second to none, and hub and I are going to sail again soon with Celebrity. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
Solstice ~ Full Review (+ Age Discrimination or Just Bad Attitudes?) Hi Everyone, Background: I'm a new to cruises. I'm in my mid-twenties, and before this year, I had never gone on a cruise before but had been greatly ... Read More
Solstice ~ Full Review (+ Age Discrimination or Just Bad Attitudes?) Hi Everyone, Background: I'm a new to cruises. I'm in my mid-twenties, and before this year, I had never gone on a cruise before but had been greatly anticipating some Caribbean sun on the Solstice 04/11. I had been traveling throughout Western Europe and Asia when I was younger so traveling was not something foreign to me. In fact I was excited and curious to see how an all-inclusive cruise experience would be different from my norm. Going to it, I knew that this would be much different from my usual trekking, but I had intended for this trip to be as such. I had wanted a relaxing vacation where I didn't have to worry about itineraries, hotel bookings or spending time haggling with the locals. I knew that I wanted to de-stress and unwind on this trip, and so I thought a cruise would be the perfect thing for such! Food + Service: I did a lot of research before I settled on the Solstice, as many people pointed out that their service and food was above the norm, and to this I would have to agree. Food was much better than I expected (and I'm picky about what I eat), and the servers were excellent. I enjoyed the attentive staff, and the rooms and decor of the ship were just what I expected. - The Oceanview Cafe was excellent, and really allowed me to stick to my healthy regime of vegetables, fruits and some protein. I was glad to see that if I didn't want pizza, burgers or sandwiches, that I was left with lots of other options. Lots of grilled vegetables, curries, roast meat, and classic pastas. The only thing here that I think people should avoid is the Sushi/Sashimi selections. I love that they thought to have these offerings in the early evenings, but the quality of the Sashimi(raw fish) was so abysmal, that even the texture of the fish was odd. I'm not sure if I'm being fair here as I was exposed to a lot of seafood growing up on the West Coast. - AquaSpa Cafe was good, most of their menu were composed of simple fruits and salads. I appreciated the effort in making dishes for those of us who wanted to eat healthier, but I found that if you weren't a fan of bread, it was impossible to find yourself satisfied from the small selection of vegetables offered up. - Main Dining Room was great, the food should appeal to most people, and the variety was great to see. Everything from classic burgers to steak and lamb can be found here nightly. The service was fantastic here, with attentive servers who saw to your needs immediately. My only complaint here was that the seafood on all nights I was eating there (four), was dry and lacked flavour. I think it was less the fault of the kitchen staff, and more the fault of the qualities of the ingredient. The seafood simply wasn't fresh enough, and as such, no amount of seasoning or butter could mask the cardboard flavor. Caribbean Destinations: The destinations on this trip (Labadee, San Juan, St. Martin and BVI) were okay... not too inspiring but definitely a lot of fun. Most of the destinations were made for beach-bunnies with not much else to do for the adventurous who wish to stray from the path save for St. Martin where I spent the whole day literally driving around the whole island (beautiful). In San Juan, Puerto Rico, there seemed to be a lot more to explore but given that you were only docked there for a few hours, there was a real restriction in how much you could see and do, and I found myself pitying that we were there for so short a time. Miscellaneous: - Crowd Control Fantastic with directing crowds, and organizing people + space. I never felt like I was back at Disneyland with crowds so unbearable you want to scream. - Age of People + Attire Onboard Most people were in their mid 40's. Some were older, but there was still a sprinkling of some younger couples in their 20's and 30's. People onboard were dressed resort-casual. Most men wore t-shirts and shorts, and most women wore camisoles, skirts, and coverups. Sweatpants, scruffy-comfort wear were rarely seen, although I get the feeling that most people wouldn't care if you were particularly casual. The Bad: Again, I should put it out there, I am not the normal cruiser and so I understand if this isn't a common occurrence. I had been looking to refill my Lancome moisturizers as my travel sized containers I had bought just before the cruise had ran out, so I was glad that they had other options(brands) aboard besides the simple facewashes and moisturizers I could get at any convenience store. When I started looking around to see all the options available to me, I had the uneasy feeling that I was being talked about. Shrugging it off I decided to ask the sales associate to help me locate the product I was looking for, and she indeed did exactly as I asked her to do, but acted in a manner that I could only categorize as elitist. I think she assumed that I was wasting her time browsing the shelves, and that I did not intend to purchase (and so would not help her department meet their sales quota for the trip). For this I could not fault her. While under pressure, some sales associates will learn to make automatic assertions about people in order to decide how to best prioritize their time between potential buyers. What I did not readily agree with is that she not only did not want to help me since she had assumed I wasn't going to make a purchase, but that she openly showed me her reluctance to do so. At the time, I thought that this might be an isolated incident. Afterall, I'm on vacation and I was much more preoccupied by the good food and beautiful island scenery. It wasn't until the next time I visited the shops again in order to take a look at higher-end watches that I noticed the same behaviour. Except this time, it came from an older female sales associate and a younger man who was with her that worked in this section. I had gone there at night, besides me, there was not a single other shopper in the store. I had just noticed a smart-looking watch that might suit my husband for his work(he's a self-help author and lecturer), when I decided to ask one of them for help in allowing me to have a closer look. The hesitance on their part to attend to me this time spoke much louder. Refusing to meet my eyes(which I thought was particular), neither of them spoke for a moment, as if I had posed a ridiculous question. After a beat, the woman excused herself so she could attend to something at the counter, while giving the younger man a look as if to say, I know you don't want to do it, and neither do I, but one of us has to do it and I outrank you. All the while, I had been standing there, watching this exchange with great surprise. I had known that the cruising industry had taken a downturn these past few years, and that they had been doing much in the way of increasing revenue and attracting new demographics. What I had not expected was that what would be passed down from the top was an attitude of, Big Money! Big Sales! Fill that Quota at All Costs!, thereby turning the sales clerks who worked at the higher-end stores into judgemental folks. I next noticed an older gentleman(50's) walking in and asking for help in looking for cuff links. The transformation in both sales clerks' attitudes were dramatic. They immediately approached the client offering suggestions while leading him over to a display case where they proceeded to open it up without prompt giving him a closer look. At this point, I left the store quietly, having lost my interest in purchasing my husband anything on this cruise. (He'll just have to wait to get his Movado watch another day ) I can't say I haven't seen this kind of behaviour elsewhere. I usually observe this sort of attitude from sales clerks in China... where if you are not in formal attire (ie. suit) or not a foreigner, you are deemed a worthless client. It just surprised me to see it onboard the Celebrity Solstice on this particular trip to the Caribbean where the majority of travelers are Americans, and the majority of sales clerks come from the UK, US or Canada. Would I go on it again? Probably not. I think next time I go on a cruise, I will try Oceania, Azamara or even the Seabourn where the destinations are slightly more interesting to me, and where I hope the sales staff will not be as occupied in trying to get more dollars out of my wallet as they were on this trip. Would I suggest it? Probably, to a couple in their 40's and onwards, who do not enjoy physically exerting excursions and want to relax on beautiful beaches. The food is great, and the servers are fantastic. The added bonus of very few kids, makes it a relaxing and quiet cruise. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
Background Information- We are a couple in our 40's. We do not have children of our own, but we did sail with my parents, brother, sister-in-law and 5 year old niece. We are from South Carolina. We broke our trip into several short ... Read More
Background Information- We are a couple in our 40's. We do not have children of our own, but we did sail with my parents, brother, sister-in-law and 5 year old niece. We are from South Carolina. We broke our trip into several short segments for arrival to the port. We drove to Brunswick, Georgia on the evening of April 16th and met with my parents for the rest of the drive down. On the morning of the 17th, we drove to Jacksonville, Florida and left our car at the airport in the economy parking lot. We booked a flight back from Fort Lauderdale to Jacksonville with Southwest Air for a $59 one way rate. We had hoped to save time not and not be so worn out from driving, but the flight was a much more arduous procedure. Well, you get what you pay for. That's all I will say about it. But enough about that, on to the cruise. It was one of the best we have ever had. Hotel Info- I have no advice on hotels in Ft. Lauderdale or Miami. We stopped in West Palm Beach on the 17th. We stayed in the Hampton Inn off South Australian Avenue. It was supposed to be near an airport or in a flight path, but we never saw or heard any airline traffic. It was a great value and a beautiful hotel. I highly recommend Il Bellagio restaurant in City Center. We had a fabulous family meal there the night before the cruise. Ship Info The ship was absolutely breathtaking. A mix of modern and contemporary mixed with classic elements of dark wood and classic patterns. Our stateroom was on Deck 7. We were just beside the "Team Earth" set up. The focus of Team Earth is on conservation activities and making our Earth a cleaner and better place to live- from what I was able to gather. The library on the ship spans two levels and is really comprehensive. I took a look around but did not make use of the library as I had brought several books to read. I didn't have time to read them all. There was so much to do and see. The specialty restaurants are tucked into a lovely area of the ship on Deck 5. My favorite was Murano- located just off the Ensemble Lounge. Murano is not to be missed. If you can choose only one specialty restaurant, make this the one you choose. The Ensemble Lounge was a dark wood, classic lounge. They had either a string quartet or jazz/easy listening trio playing each night. Most of the entertainment on the ship was second to none. Activities- there is something for everyone. From relaxing by the pool, to learning Italian with Rosetta Stone training, to the Corning Museum glass blowing exhibition and exhibit, to bocce ball and putting- you can do as little or as much as you want. Cruise Director John Grantham was fond of letting everyone know that there were at least 40 hours worth of activities every day if you could do every one. Of course, you can't but if you are bored- it could be that you are just not willing to look for ways to have fun. It is certainly not because the ship lacks activities. Service- Fabulous. Everyone from the dining room attendants to the stateroom attendants was incredibly attentive. Our every need was anticipated and met. It was heads and shoulders above our last couple of cruises on RCCL. Port & Shore Excursions - We only did one excursion- the Old and New San Juan tour. Our tour guides Pedro and Steven were wonderful. They had a fabulous running commentary with us. We had two stops- one near the beach and some of the high end shops in New San Juan. We got to see Ricky Martin's restaurant- Ajili Mojili. We were told it was rather high end on the pricing, but there was a Chili's next door if you wanted to go more affordable. It was sort of funny. The rains came after our stop at the San Cristobal fort. We were let off to shop if we wanted to do so. It was just a terrible rainstorm which caused even the traffic pilons to float down the streets. We did not do any planned excursions in St. Thomas or St. Martin. We did have a fantastic lunch in St. Thomas at Cafe' Amalie. It offers spanish styled cuisine at very reasonable prices. There is a small bar in the through street fronting the restaurant. The bartender was a young man who was most engaging. He was super fun and kept us busy until time for us to be seated. In St. Martin, we just took it easy and laid out by the beach. We did a bit of wandering around but didn't buy anything. I had my photo taken in front of the Blue Bitch Bar. Hey, it was funny at least. We also had ice cream at a cute place called Vanille and Chocolat. The ice cream was pretty good too. Stateroom - We had a Deluxe Veranda stateroom. After having been on the Mariner of the Seas and having been spoiled by a Junior Suite, the room seemed a bit small but it was certainly more than adequate for two people and we didn't use ALL of the available storage. I would certainly take extra hangers if you want ALL of your clothes hung up. There is more than adequate space to keep clothes in the over bed storage. There is also more than ample room for storage under the bed. Dining - The Grand Epernay Dining Room featured delicious food every night. We tried all of the specialty restaurants. We LOVED Murano. We were also quite impressed with Silk Harvest. Tuscan Grille was nice and the setting was beautiful at the aft of the ship. We are not picky eaters, and not expecting a wonderful gourmet meal. We found Tuscan Grille to be comparable to than a Macaroni Grille or Carabba's. As I said before, if you have only one Specialty Dining experience- put your time and money into Murano. We had a party of six and were seated in the front room where the wines are located. It was a nice intimate setting for our family. The food was divine. The service was incredible and the night was unforgettable. Children's Clubs- My brother and sister in law utilized the children's program for my niece. They bought the VIP pass for her, which allowed her to do some extra things like meet the captain. I think it was probably worth it. She had a wonderful time, and elected to stay in the children's program as much as she could. Entertainment -We took time each evening to listen to the trio, headlined by a very talented young singer/piano player named Will Foraker. If you sail on the ship while Will and his trio entertain, please take time to listen for awhile. I have heard that they will possibly be moving Will back to a solo piano player act. If you hear wonderful piano playing with a fabulous singer, keep looking for the source. Likely it is NOT a loud CD, but rather the very talented Mr. Foraker. -Sipra- the party band- is from the Phillipines. The female vocalists are very versatile and they are amazingly entertaining. I thank them again for engaging my niece in the welcome aboard party on the 18th. -Cruise Director John Grantham... He was okay but seemed a bit aloof. -Impressionist Ron Tanner- good impressionist singer. -Solstice "The Show" was incredible with the amount of space they have. What talented entertainers!! -Late Night Comedian Jim David. He was funny. A bit screechy I thought, but funny. Disembarkation- Celebrity and Fort Lauderdale really have their act together. Disembarkation was a breeze. The luggage was well organized. The disembarkation process was well organized. The customs lines flowed quickly. We were out in no more than 20 minutes from the time we were told we could leave the ship until we cleared customs. Taxis and shuttles were everywhere. We took my brother up on his offer to drop us at the airport, so we saved a little money but we could have easily gotten a cab or shuttle. We would definitely sail with Celebrity again. I felt like a Celebrity during the cruise. We met some great people and had lots of fun.   Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
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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