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17 Celebrity Solstice Gay & Lesbian Cruise Reviews

We took a 4-day cruise out of Sydney to Melbourne on 10/11, than stayed on ship for 12-day cruise 10/15 to east coast of Australia and Great Barrier Reef. We are longtime Celebrity cruisers, and were somewhat disappointed with our ... Read More
We took a 4-day cruise out of Sydney to Melbourne on 10/11, than stayed on ship for 12-day cruise 10/15 to east coast of Australia and Great Barrier Reef. We are longtime Celebrity cruisers, and were somewhat disappointed with our transatlantic cruise last Spring on the Celebrity Reflection. But these two cruises fully restored our faith in Celebrity. Excellent and very visible/entertaining captain and crew, impeccable service in main dining room and lunch buffet, as well as in lounges. Food quality and variety were excellent. Entertainment with ship house band and others was varied and outstanding. Most theatre performers were excellent, and there were some very good matinees. Cruise director was energetic and fun, entertaining at a variety of venues during the day and evening.Cabin stewards and size/cleanliness/comfort of our balcony cabin for both cruises were terrific. Ship is in very good condition and well-maintained, even though it’s the oldest of the Solstice-class ships. It’s a mid-size ship (under 3,000), and they managed the tendering at several stops very efficiently. Many of the ship tours for the Barrier Reef are very expensive, and we limited ourselves to a couple, simple city tours (e.g., Melbourne) that were very good and fairly priced. The cities and coastal stops in Australia are beautiful with lots to do—from the exotic to just simple city tours and dining/shopping. Our only real complaint, which is symptomatic of most cruise ships, is the price and quality of drinks/wines, even in drink packages. We had a “classic” as opposed to the “premium” package—didn’t expect the best, but also didn’t expect Celebrity to be serving wines that retail for under $5 in the US (ugh!). And if you don’t specify what liquor you want in your cocktail, they pour the house brand rot-gut. When you’re paying $60 a day, per person, this should not be. Our biggest disappointment, though: having to leave the ship. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
Celebrity Cruises South Pacific Sydney to Sydney To put our trip report into context, this was our third cruise and the first one on Celebrity. Our previous cruises had both been with Royal Caribbean which we understand owns Celebrity ... Read More
Celebrity Cruises South Pacific Sydney to Sydney To put our trip report into context, this was our third cruise and the first one on Celebrity. Our previous cruises had both been with Royal Caribbean which we understand owns Celebrity as well. The RCC ships were all a bit too gimmicky for us and we hardly ever used all the facilities and rather got annoyed by all the screaming little kids and multi-generational families you encounter everywhere. So this time, we thought we go a bit classier and give Celebrity a go. We are a gay couple in our mid 30ies and traveled together with one of our best friends who stayed by himself in a separate stateroom of the ship. We had a really good deal so we all stayed in Concierge class which turned out to be totally not worth the money had we paid in full instead of getting a discount, but more on that later. For our friend, it was his first ever cruise so we were very keen to ensure he has a great trip. As always, we did extensive research on forums like this beforehand but many little quirks had to be found out directly on the ship, as we soon realized. But let’s start from the beginning: We had learnt on previous cruises that the “recommended boarding time” is a simple measure of crowd control which can be completely ignored, as was the case on this ship. Actually, had we followed the cruise lines advice, we would have missed the lovely welcome lunch for Concierge class guests which turned out to be one of the few real benefits of this cabin class. This lunch is not very widely published and only runs from 12 to 1:30pm on embarkation day. Luckily, we arrived just shortly before 12 and the boarding process in Sydney was very fast and efficient. About half an hour after arriving all up we had cleared check in and emigration and got onto the ship. There we headed straight to the main dining room for our welcome lunch which turned out to be lovely. Great to avoid the usual zoo up at the buffet on your first day and the lunch consisted of about 5 different choices for main, plenty for everyone to find something for their taste. We had ordered and paid for both the Premium Alcohol package as well as a Dining Package for the specialty restaurants online before the cruise which helped us to brush off the constant and often borderline aggressive attempts to upsell us at every possible occasion. This is one of those many things that just don’t fit well with the so-called “Modern luxury” image that celebrity portraits in their advertising. The other big thing that is totally removed from all the happy mid 40ies couples in their ad material is the average age on this ship, which is decades older that what Celebrity shows in their advertising collateral. I actually didn’t mind it quite so much as I find most of those oldies to be very friendly and polite but my slightly younger partner and our friend found the old age rather depressing. One bad side effect of this which turned out to be the biggest issue with this entire cruise was the music played on the ship. Wherever you go, nothing but music for our parents’ generation or even older. And regardless of this rather old average age, we still had dozens of the usual screaming babies on board, I seem to attract them like a magnet wherever I go. After the lunch, we went to see the one guy who has access to the table bookings in the main dining room and had to queue up for about half an hour because the guests from hell were in front of us trying to sort out their dinner bookings for a party of 20. Once we finally got to see the guy, we were lucky that we did, as the Celebrity online systems had failed us as ever so often: We had linked our two bookings ages ago online but no trace of this was to be found once on board. We had specialty dining booked for this first night anyway which gave staff a chance to move people around and were promised to sit together (as requested all along) from night 2. Unlike some other requests, this one actually worked and we got assigned a lovely table in the middle of the MDR from the second night onwards. When we got to our stateroom shortly past 1pm, there was no trace of our room attendant which turned out to be the regular thing with her and we were disappointed to find none of the promised Concierge class amenities in the room. No trace of “Plush bathrobes” or a welcome sparkling on arrival. Once our attendant, Marion, finally showed up, we had a whole list of things to ask her. Besides the amenities, my partner uses a CPAP machine at night for his sleep apnea and we had requested an extension cord and some water beforehand but nothing was there so we asked her for these as well as all the other little things that were missing. We wanted to do the right thing and specifically took some US Dollar notes with us for tipping which is a highly unusual thing to do here in Australia so a 10$ note indeed did wonders with her. Unfortunately, we were about to learn that we had the slackest room attendant ever on this cruise which was very disappointing. She was always the last one in our hallway to start servicing the rooms compared with the otgher super efficient attendant on our floor who we saw constantly working and if you didn’t tell her every single thing, she wouldn’t do it (and even then she sometimes ignored it!). Our friend at the other end of the ship had a much better experience so I am certain it was just her specifically. Most of the time, if she would show up at all, you’d find her at the end of the hallway having endless chitty chats with other crew members and overall we had the feeling that she didn’t like working. Somehow, the cruise line managed to knock off the name tag from my partners luggage and stuffed it into an incorrect bag, missing the fact that that other bag actually had someone else’s name on it too. The missing bag was found by the late evening but it was still an inconvenience that could have easily been avoided. Let’s talk a bit about Concierge class as some of you might wonder if it is worthwhile. If you were to pay extra for it, let me assure you it is not (unless you are after the additional Captain’s club points, that is). We got our bathrobes and the free welcome sparkling later on the first day but both were nothing to write home about. The “Plush bath towels” were a total lie as they were thin and ripped and crappy on most days- if they were any worse in the normal cabins, you’d dry yourself in paper! Speaking of it, Celebrity uses the cheapest possible toilet paper which you usually only find on the lower shelves of US supermarkets, so prepare yourself to wipe your bum with sandpaper. Top tip: We found the facial tissue in the bathroom to be the much better option so do your behind a favor and use these instead! Aside this, neither the pillow menu nor the apparently upgraded bedding was anything special. As always with these “Twin bed converts to a King” configurations, we could always feel the gap between the two single matrasses- a bit like the princess and the pea. In general, we found the room to be exactly the same size and, unfortunately, also the same décor as the RCC ships we’ve been on before. The upgraded massage showerhead offered in Concierge class was also one big joke as it’s still one of those old-fashioned showerheads that are attached on the wall of the shower. I couldn’t really care less whether it’s a Grohe showerhead or whatever brand it might be, as long as I can’t remove the damn thing to properly clean my body. You really have to wonder why Celebrity can’t install a proper showerhead if every decent 4 or 5 star hotel can do it and Emirates even has one on their airplanes which is better than that! As for the “Evening canapés”, this was a typical case of on Celebrity, the only consistency being nothing being consistent: On the first night, we asked our hopeless room attendant how we order these. She, truly herself, told us incorrectly that there is no need to order and they “simply show up every night”. Only to two hours later leave an order form for the canapés on our bed (imagine an eye rolling emoji here). And then, over the 9 nights of the cruise, we experienced every single possible combination: Filled in the form, got the canapés. Filled in the form and didn’t get them. Were in the room at the scheduled time of delivery (the form tells you that you only get them when you are present at that time) and still didn’t get them. Were not in the room and got them anyway. Then one night, we didn’t get any form but canapés showed up anyway. Another night, again no form so we left a Post-it note instead asking for our canapés but guess what, nothing arrived. Writing all this, I realize that it was quite futile anyway as these canapés were always TRULY awful. And I am not exaggerating here, not only were they “nothing special” but they were always soggy and had clearly stood there for hours which (especially with the always included seafood) was nothing too appealing. Our friend never touched them at all and we tried a few but really, get some crackers with cream cheese and olives at ALDI and you’ll have (way!) better quality canapés than what Celebrity offers. Besides those canapés, the food turned out to be one of the highlights on this ship and in our eyes, the biggest difference to Royal Caribbean main line. The specialty dining in Murano was out of this world and we decided to come back a second time towards the end of the cruise (they pretty much flambé everything at your table from the lobster to the desert which is pretty amazing) and Tuscan Grill was also very nice. We were told that the Sushi place is excellent also but Silk Harvest, the Asian specialty restaurant sounds to be really awful as we are really spoilt for good Asian cuisine here in Australia (we haven’t been ourselves but our friend ate there and didn’t rate it at all). The biggest surprise, however, was the MDR. We opted for fixed seating this time as the flexible seating in our experience always ended up with being shoved to some side table and waiting in line forever and indeed we did not regret: The flexible dining always had endless lines on deck 4 while the fixed seating on deck 3 was lovely. We can only recommend to anyone to choose the fixed seating and we will definitely continue to do so from now on. Staff was always very friendly and attentive throughout even though a little bit scripted as always on these ships. This became particularly clear when our waiter raddled of the his “Tips of the day” which he had clearly learnt by heart from some prepared script and probably never eaten himself. Our favorite each night was the freshly baked super-crispy “French” style baguette which we remembered had been exactly the same on Royal Caribbean. One important point worth nothing: A lot of things on this ship are making it very obvious that it’s an American ship. We actually LOVE the US so for us it wasn’t a big deal but the food, for example, is VERY American- from whipped butter to the salad dressings and calling the main an “entrée”, it’s all clearly US-influenced. Again, we actually liked this but many Aussies would probably not agree (they even had “proper” American deep fried cheese sticks which is a rarity outside the US, yumm!). The same was true for many of the wines but unfortunately not for the beer selection on this ship- we had looked at many menus posted online but in reality, they turned out to be useless on an Aussie cruise as most of the beers had been swapped with delicious Bogan-delights like VB or XXXX, yikes. While all the menu cards still told you there nice beers like Blue Moon or Sam Adams available, unfortunately this was a lie- I tried every single bar and the only thing I could find was some rather odd leftover Sam Adams ale which I didn’t like. Luckily, you could get Heineken and Beck’s at most bars so I was happy with these. But again, no complaints at all with any of the staff at the restaurants and bars with the sole exception of two Bartenders, both Indonesian to no big surprise, who clearly displayed a whiff of Homophobia towards us- one of them at the Passport bar which was shockingly bad anyway and another one at the Casino bar which we didn’t really enjoy very much either. Not sure where they were during the Diversity training sessions that Celebrity apparently does but luckily, they were the absolute exception. Other than that, we were treated with respect everywhere in the ship and the staff was a delight throughout. We particularly loved the bartenders at the Martini Bar and the Worldclass Bar on deck 5, Alin at Martini and Janathan & Dimitri up at the World Class bar were our favorites as was our sommelier in the main dining room, Fatma. Finally, a few general observations: We found both the captain and the cruise director highly annoying when they came on the intercom which they did far too often and always when we wanted to have a sleep in- the Greek captain didn’t speak English too well and had a super annoying way of speaking and “sing-sanging” his sentences which was usually followed by the equally annoying Canadian accent of the cruise director who was strangely upbeat even on grim days with constant rain. I must leave him that though- he did a great job moderating the “Newly wed not so newly wed” game show one night which was absolutely hilarious. Similar to those announcements, there were of course the usual sales messages on the phone EVERY SINGLE DAY trying to peddle some shore excursions or worse, overpriced handbags and jewelry in the rip-off shops on the ship. And to top it off, they had nothing better to do on land days than announcing every single damn tender boat throughout the entire ship- because the weather was pretty bad on most days we opted to sleep in instead rather than heading to a deserted rainy Island and were furiously annoyed by these announcements and didn’t understand why they couldn’t have been limited to the lower floors of the ship were guests would wait for their tender boat to be announced. Regardless of the older crowd, we still had some families with small children on this cruise and while some of them were very well behaved, others were not so creating a total nuisance for everyone else on board. The highlight was that Bogan couple (“Bogan” in Australian is similar to “Rednecks” in the US or “Chavs” in the UK so uneducated, noisy, small-minded people from the country or outer suburbia) who took their little one into the Adult only Solarium to change its dipers (!). Before I could complain, some others had done so already and it took only about 5 minutes until they were told to leave the area. The smell was still lingering for a while but I did appreciate the staff to react so quickly to the complaints. What else, hygiene is a big thing on this ship, they are obviously dead scared of these Nuro viruses and hence there are cleaners everywhere. I wondered what would happen if Airlines had to worry about the same thing- would they suddenly bother to clean their planes properly? No issues on this ship at least. All the entertainment on the ship was made for an older generation and even on the Silent Disco night you had the choice between Motown (what the heck…), 80ies and “Top 40”. The two latter styles were were US-focused, no trace of some modern dance music, house, techno, trance, anything like that- nope. As a result, the Nightclub, Qasar, was always dead empty unless there was Karaoke on which was certainly not our thing. On the pool deck, they often played American country rock which was just deadly and some of the live musicians playing… I won’t go into more details but the music on ship was just absolute horror for us but I am sure the older folks would have liked it. Despite some of the criticism, we still had a good time, met some lovely people and great staff, enjoyed the food and all the alcohol that we definitely indulged in too much and all in all had a great time. So good actually that regardless of all the complaints, we went into the “Book your next cruise” office on the ship to put the deposit down for a cruise through the Greek Islands next year on Celebrity’s new Edge ship. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
The whole boat was clean and very good looking. I couldn't walk 15 feet without a crew member smiling and politely greeting me. I loved the activities and shows. There is enough food onboard to feed an army, and the best part is that ... Read More
The whole boat was clean and very good looking. I couldn't walk 15 feet without a crew member smiling and politely greeting me. I loved the activities and shows. There is enough food onboard to feed an army, and the best part is that most of it is free of charge. There is so much onboard entertainment, you name it, from movies to comedy shows, they have it. I didn't participate in any, but there were numerous activities for the homosexual individuals. I loved the diversity on the ship, there were so many crew members from so many different countries. In the Ocean View buffet, there were so many different types of food from so many different countries. The cruise had an X-Club for the teens. Although it sounds lame, it was actually an amazing experience for my daughter. She went for the first few days and made friends. After making friends, they hung out everywhere on the ship. They could choose what activities they wanted to go to. The Ocean View cafe had amazing food choices, and the sky lounge had amazing views and an aesthetic appearance. The entire ship was so big and luxurious. I felt like royalty. The crew were all respectful and friendly. They lived to serve you. I would love to live on this cruise until I die. Everyone was so friendly. This was an amazing experience. I loved it!!! Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
Having cruised only once before with Royal Caribbean, we tried Celebrity Solstice because the timing suited and the ship got great reviews - deservedly! We booked through Vacationstogo.com - they were excellent! We booked an inside ... Read More
Having cruised only once before with Royal Caribbean, we tried Celebrity Solstice because the timing suited and the ship got great reviews - deservedly! We booked through Vacationstogo.com - they were excellent! We booked an inside stateroom because we only sleep in the stateroom and this was true of this cruise too. There was too much to do elsewhere. The shows at night were excellent with a wide variety of sensational acts. Some nights we would have 2 courses to get to the 7pm show then have desert in the Cafe. Other nights we would have the complete meal in the Dinging Room then go to the 9pm show. The food in the main dining room Grand Epernay was well above standard and then we spent one evening at Murano. Murano would equal any 5 star restaurant. Particularly if you are lucky enough to get Ibraham as your waiter. We selected fixed time dining on a table of 6 people so met 2 other couples and got on so well, we looked forward to dinner each evening (I hope they did too). This is not a ship to get bored in. There is everything from the well-stocked library across two levels to a range of bands and singers during the evening and night at various locations across the ship to guided behind-the-scenes tours of various aspects the ship to dancing and shows. There is also the specialty Corning Museum of Glass exhibitions of glass blowing daily which is absolutely fascinating to see. We did not book the ship's shore excursions preferring smaller more intimate tours we booked ourselves so can't comment on these. As members of Cruise Critic, we attended a morning tea hosted by the ship and attended by some of the senior crew where we had the chance to meet some really interesting Cruise Critic members and formed friendships from day 1. I would highly recommend the Celebrity Solstice. There were 2 staff members who were particularly good - Deborah from Guest Services and Ibraham from Murano. Celebrity should be extremely proud to have these staff. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
We had a great time on the Solstice. We received superb service at the bars and restaurants, particularly from Agus and the rest of the staff at the Martini Bar. Our room attendants, Badrus and Syam, were always there for anything we ... Read More
We had a great time on the Solstice. We received superb service at the bars and restaurants, particularly from Agus and the rest of the staff at the Martini Bar. Our room attendants, Badrus and Syam, were always there for anything we needed and always gave us a very polite "Good morning," every time we saw them. Our only real complaint (and it's not so much a complaint more as something we would do differently) is that in our first port, where we didn't have an excursion planned, was in Ketchikan and then the next port our excursion was canceled and it was a very rainy, cold day. We wanted an afternoon cocktail and the only bars that were open were the bar inside of the buffet (floor 14) and the Pool Bar (floor 12). Both of these bars were rather inconvenient, in our opinion. We could either go to the cafeteria (so to speak) or the outdoor bar (way too cold, rainy and windy). We would have rather seen the Pool Bar close and one of the indoor bars open. This was only the second cruise we had been on, and in comparison, Norwegian had lot more to offer in the form of entertainment. We loved the singers and bands that performed, but there was a lack of daytime entertainment and we would have preferred to have other options in means of "Broadway" type shows or Cirque de Soleil type of entertainment. As we mentioned earlier, we were not dissatisfied with anything on this cruise line at all! These were just some things we noticed in comparison. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
I am a relatively amateur cruiser who has cruised half a dozen times on several different mass market cruiselines over the last decade or so. Following is a brief summary of highlights and lowlights of my most recent cruise from Auckland ... Read More
I am a relatively amateur cruiser who has cruised half a dozen times on several different mass market cruiselines over the last decade or so. Following is a brief summary of highlights and lowlights of my most recent cruise from Auckland to Sydney with stops in Bay of Islands, Tauranga, Akaroa, Dunedin, Dusky, Doubtful and Milford Sound, Hobart, Melbourne and Sydney. We spent five days in Auckland and the North Island prior to the start of the cruise and visited Hobbiton and Rotorua prior to sailing. I really enjoyed the additional time we had to explore prior to the start of the cruise and would strongly recommend this to others considering this itinerary. Auckland is a relatively small city and is easy to walk around to explore. Having the time to explore Hobbiton and Rotorua independently was well worth the additional expense (especially since the entry fee to Hobbiton is only $75 NZD and Rotorua was also much cheaper to explore on your own than through the cruiseline's tours). Embarkation in Auckland was quick and easy and after boarding and having lunch in the Oceanview Cafe we were able to be in our cabin by 1 pm or so. The Solstice is very large but easy to navigate though there was a wait for the midship elevators often. For the most part the food in the Oceanview Cafe and the MDR was acceptable and we found it to be equivalent to hotel convention food. Unfortunately, the "Top Chef" menu night in the MDR was by far the worst food served during the entire cruise. If I were Top Chef I would not want to be associated with the quality of the food that was served that evening. We did not want to pay additional money for food on a cruise which is supposedly all inclusive so did not eat at any of the deck 5 premium restaurants. On other cruises we have taken we didn't find the additional expense worth it. The disembarkation in Sydney was extremely poorly organized. If your luggage tags had an odd number you got off on deck 5 but if you had even luggage tag numbers you got off on deck 2. However, they didn't announce this or even have a sign posted explaining this at the disembarkation gangways. Thus, many people ended off disembarking and then getting back on the ship since they got off on the wrong deck. This was the only extremely poor organization we experienced but it left a bad impression for people at the end of the cruise. Anyway, I will never be a person who primarily cruises for my vacations and Celebrity is basically equivalent to other cruiselines I've been on (Holland America, Princess). We enjoy cruising since you can travel to several places without having to worry about packing and flights between the ports. It's a sedate and non-stressful way to travel but it is far too easy to overeat and you are limited to traveling to places accessible by the sea. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
Our first Celebrity cruise was absolutely incredible. We made lots of new friends on the cruise both guest and crew and had an incredible fourth trip to Alaska. We're also already booked on another cruise that we took care of onboard. ... Read More
Our first Celebrity cruise was absolutely incredible. We made lots of new friends on the cruise both guest and crew and had an incredible fourth trip to Alaska. We're also already booked on another cruise that we took care of onboard. Hawaii to Vancouver on Millennium 4/15/16 with our new friends Aaron and Edmond. Dining for us was primarily in blu although we did have a dinner in Tuscan and a lunch in Murano. Service was great and the food in nearly every instance was phenomenal. For drinks we tended to stay in the Martini and Molecular bars. Sergei and Adrian in the molecular bar became really good friends over the course of the cruise and they have our contact info to show them around Seattle at some point in the coming weeks. Also won a bit in the casino one night and got a new watch. The excursions we took were great. Weather in Skagway was incredible. Juneau and Ketchikan not so much. Icy Strait was alright but the carving house in Hoonah was definitely the highlight there. The room was great as was the housekeeping staff. Menino always took care of anything we needed without us even needing to ask. Guest Relations took care of a couple gift order questions quickly and efficiently. The spa staff was great as both I and Nick got manicures one night. Only saw a show one night. Solstice the show was fantastic. The broadway reviews etc didn't interest us but Solstice was great. Awesome Cirque Du Soleil feel to it. Bummer about Tracy Arm but that can happen this early in the season and Endicott Arm was a nice last second addition. Not sure what happened with the advertised inside passage cruising but usually going from Seattle we were more used to the open ocean through that stretch Anything I would gripe about? Service was a little slow a couple times in Blu. Nothing too bad but noticeable compared to some other nights that ran like clockwork. The buffet being nearly shut down entirely by 2pm seemed too early. 3pm seems a better time to allow more people a chance. The only big thing I have though was on Juneau afternoon we were in the hot tub and the one we were in was warm but didn't have working jets. We stayed in there around 20 minutes until another had everyone leave and we moved to it for 20-30 minutes. Kinda cool whole being rained on. As no food or other issues lining up had mutual issues for anyone else and it was gone as fast as it started I can only assume what happened within an hour of getting back to the room was a result of over chlorination - Likely due to the fact it was not bubbling and steaming out of the first one due to the broken jets. Everyone else was fine but I got very sick and rather projectile for about 20 minutes back in the room. No other symptoms. Totally done after that. Felt fine again. Everyone else unaffected and anything I ate at least one other person had. I know what to do if it were noro and it most certainly was not. I have shown signs of reactions to strong levels of bleach once before and think this was along the same lines. Next time maybe they ought to just shut off and empty the broken one. I don't blame Celebrity for this as I should have been a little more "in the moment" about it myself as well. Other than that though I would have to say this was a near perfect cruise and Nick (DH) and I can't wait to get onboard another Celebrity ship. We are now HOOKED with the experience they provide! Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
My partner and I, both in our early 40's, cruised on the Celebrity Solstice from April 1-8, 2012 (and as a gift to them we brought our mother's with us). This was our second cruise with Celebrity, having cruised in January of ... Read More
My partner and I, both in our early 40's, cruised on the Celebrity Solstice from April 1-8, 2012 (and as a gift to them we brought our mother's with us). This was our second cruise with Celebrity, having cruised in January of this year on the Celebrity Eclipse. We were won over when we cruised on the Eclipse and were equally impressed with the Solstice. Celebrity gets it right - from the beauty of the ship, the quality of food, the attention to detail, and their commitment to exceptional customer service. We loved our Aqua Class room and it was kept spotless for our entire stay. Dining in Blu each day was a treat - the food was outstanding. I am a vegan and each night was provided with a special vegan meal. A huge shout out to our waiter, Joseph, and assistant waiter, Dusica, who went above and beyond every day to make sure our dining experience was memorable. Being spring break week for some and the week leading in to the Easter weekend the ship was at capacity however we never found it too crowded. Yes, on sea days the pool deck was busy, however we were always able to find loungers to sit in (and no, we didn't have to be up at the crack of dawn to get them). Our favourite port was Roatan, Honduras where we visited Little French Key - a secluded island that was paradise. HIGHLY recommend going there if you want a beautiful beach, crystal clear water, amazing snorkeling, and no crowds. http://littlefrenchkey.com/frechys44.htm We would highly recommend Celebrity as both times we have cruised with them our experience has been nothing but positive. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
February 5, 2012 sailing out of Port Everglades (Ft. Lauderdale). I always like sailing out of this port because of the proximity to the airport. Transfers are easy and inexpensive. We stayed in Aqua Class stateroom, #1606 on the ... Read More
February 5, 2012 sailing out of Port Everglades (Ft. Lauderdale). I always like sailing out of this port because of the proximity to the airport. Transfers are easy and inexpensive. We stayed in Aqua Class stateroom, #1606 on the bump out section of the ship. This cabin has a huge balcony and was not windy even though it is slightly forward facing. We previously sailed on the Eclipse and the ships are essentially identical with the exception of art and the Silk Harvest restaurant in place of Quisine. We chose Aqua class again because we were so impressed with Blu and we were not disappointed this sailing. Both breakfast and dinner were consistently excellent. The first night we had Ahi Tuna for dinner that was as good as any that I have had in the past. We were again impressed with the ship. Very clean and well maintained. Service was consistently very good. Many have written that the bartender service was sub-par. I never noticed any poor service at all and I did have the drink package, which I thought was well worth the money. We dined at Tuscan Grill one night and I thought it was better than the same restaurant on Eclipse. The service and food were excellent. We did not try Quisine or Murano on this trip although we have dined at Murano before and thought it was quite good. They have now raised the price to $40 pp which I thought was expensive. We have been on most of the major cruise lines and find Celebrity fits our requirements best. They have, in my opinion, the best food of the major lines. The cabins are well designed, bathrooms are very spacious (for a cruise ship) and especially well laid out. They have good bar service especially as compared to Princess which measures each and every shot)-: There are lots of dining choice, most for fee, but that is the norm now. They also have beautiful pool and solarium areas with comfortable padded lounge chairs. In short, we liked the ship so much we booked for next year on Reflection. We did, however, not like the itinerary with the exception of Roatan. Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
The following is a review of the Celebrity Solstice, which I took on its Western Caribbean voyage from January 22-29 from Ft Lauderdale. I don't post much on CC but I'd been reading it religiously for so many months and remember ... Read More
The following is a review of the Celebrity Solstice, which I took on its Western Caribbean voyage from January 22-29 from Ft Lauderdale. I don't post much on CC but I'd been reading it religiously for so many months and remember how much I looked forward to these detailed reviews, so I wanted to take the opportunity to give back. In particular I think a few parts of my experience will be different than most so thought I'd take a chance to post about it! Prior to the cruise: We had originally booked into Concierge Class, stateroom 2109, on a hump with an oversized balcony. However, a few weeks before sailing, I noticed a significant price drop on a Royal Suite. For some reason paying a lot extra for a Sky Suite or a Celebrity Suite didn't seem worth it to us, as we figured the main thing we'd want to use the butler for is to have dinner in our stateroom and you only get a dining table in a RS or a PH. I decided to splurge for the RS and see if I could make this more of a trip-of-a-lifetime type experience. Boy was it ever! I've seen reviews in the past broken down into category and some by day; I was going to do day by day but I don't remember exactly what we did each day so I'm going with a mix of both. About us My BF and I are 28 and 33, so not necessarily your typical demographic for Celebrity. I had taken only 2 cruises prior, once with RCCL in S. Carib. and once with Celebrity in Alaska. This was my BF's first cruise ever. We live in Chicago. Embarkation We chose to stay 2 days prior to embarkation at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66, which we got cheap online for about a $100/day. It's an OK hotel in a really great location. The rooms are dated and worn but the grounds and lobby are gorgeous, and since we knew we had the RS to look forward to we didn't mind the room being a bit off and didn't spend that much time there anyway. We hopped in a cab at 11am and were to the ship about 10 minutes later. The switching of staterooms had caused some confusion with the boarding passes but it was quickly cleared up at the suite checkin. They were letting people on the ship already (by this point it was about 11:20) so it was time for security. We had brought 2 bottles of wine per person, knowing the policy is 2 per stateroom but reading on here that you can sometimes get away with 2 per person, especially if you go through security separately. Well, being unfamiliar with the process we were quickly flustered and went through together (since we had only one printout of the cruise docs) and they caught us. We played dumb and said we didn't know it was 2 per person, but we'd already determined which bottles we were going to send away for post-cruise pickup in case they were confiscated and they were. We then proceeded up the escalators to board, but right as we were about to scan in the security guard from downstairs came running after us and said that they had decided to let us keep all four bottles! She said they're "changing the rules all the time" and she can't keep track, but we wondered if maybe someone decided that maybe withholding 2 bottles of wine was a petty thing to do for those staying in a Royal Suite? Honestly we didn't care either way, and you'll have to remember that we were almost feeling out of place being treated so well since we've never done anything like this before, so we certainly weren't pulling any DYKWIA-business on this trip. In our Embarkation package, they had placed a card inviting us to hang out in Michael's Club until our Stateroom was to be ready. It said this was a benefit for suite guests (RS and PH only). In fact a couple of elites tried to get in there and the Captain's Club hostess stated it was a private function - turned out we were the only suite guests who showed up that entire time! But it was really nice for us to be able to drop our bags where they would be watched by the CC hostess, and they had some extra champagne in there for us as well as some small sandwiches and cookies. After dropping our bags we decided to explore the ship. I had never done Solstice class so this was all new for me too. We went straight to Oceanview Cafe with the intent of going to Bistro on Five if it was too busy; it was extremely packed already but we found a small table on the back deck so we plopped down there and grabbed a plate. This would be our last trip to the buffet the entire trip, other than to go to the bar and to grab some ice cream once. After exploring the ship for awhile we headed back to Michael's club around 1:00 to see if we could get into our stateroom (they had told us 1:30pm). Our butler, Rikki, actually came down to Michael's club to get us! Stateroom I know this is going to sound like a really strange sentiment, but the RS was actually smaller than we thought it would be. I had looked at lots of pictures and youtube video tours and for some reason it just always looked bigger in those pictures. I'm sure you're feeling bad for me at this point, and really it turned out to be PLENTY of space for us, but this was just our observation. Anyway, aside from that, the room is absolutely gorgeous. Other than doors being somewhat awkward to open and close, it's well appointed and exactly our style. We also really liked having two bathrooms! The balcony is also very big but we asked for a footstool so that both of us could put our feet up; Rikki brought us one of the white tables from the pool to use as a footstool (it looks like an hourglass shape and was perfectly fine). We didn't exactly know how we were going to utilize Rikki, but to increase the chances of getting attention when we wanted it we handed over an envelope with a tip. I'm not going to disclose exactly how much but let's just say throughout the cruise we treated Rikki extremely well and he did the same for us. We had chosen select dining but quickly determined making 8:30pm reservations every night was going to be too late, as we were getting hungry every day that early, so we decided to have dinner in our stateroom on the first night. Rikki brought us the menu, we wrote out our orders, and he delivered it course by course just like we had read about on these boards. It was great! We had one of our bottles of wine with dinner. Also, a tip for those wanting to play music in any rooms that are equipped with a Bose Speaker system (RS and PH?). There is a standard headphone-type connector that the speakers plug into, on the left side of the TV. We were able to disconnect this cord and plug it into our iPod so we could play our own music. There is a lot of music in the VOD system, but the songs seem strange and not always fitting with the category and also not so modern. After Dinner: One of the reasons for wanting to eat earlier was that each night there was a Friends of Dorothy event held in the Martini Bar at 8pm. As we are FOD, we wanted to stop by and see if we could meet some new friends. On my past cruise I had stopped at an FOD event and couldn't find anybody, so I didn't have high hopes. As it turns out there was a great group of people there, and by the end of the cruise I think the group had grown to about 12. They were even somewhat around our age, and some of them had relatives and friends in the crew, a few of which were able to join us on some of the nights when they had off. We had some drinks with them for awhile and then met up with them later at Quasar for a rockin' dance party. We had heard that the ship goes to sleep pretty early but this party was going strong well past midnight! Unfortunately this was the only night it did so, and Quasar was pretty empty the rest of the nights. Day 2: At Sea Beverage Package: We had not gotten an alcoholic drink package, but did get the premium non-alcoholic one (with the 10% discount). Our logic was that we would have at least 3 bottles of wine (including our welcome sparkling wine), the Captain's Club event every night from 5-7, and we didn't want to feel like we had to force ourselves to drink when we didn't want to to get our value out of it. We like Red Bull a lot and figured we'd only need a coffee from bacio each day, a couple red bulls, and a bottle of water or two to reach the $16, and we could always upgrade if we were drinking more. Well as it turns out, we drank almost $110 on just the first day between the two of us, which was well more than the difference in price between the alcoholic and non-alcoholic one. The late night Quasar partying probably put us over, and I was still hemming and hawing over it (what if I get sick and don't want to drink? Will we really keep up this level of drinking?), but I decided to take the plunge. I went to guest relations to upgrade and was very disappointed to find out that they were NOT honoring the 10% discount we had seen before the trip. I tried arguing with them to no avail, and this means I didn't even get credit for the 10% off I got on the non-alcoholic package. I said I wasn't able to upgrade online within the 4 day window so why even say that they offer it on our sailing when it would have been impossible, etc etc. Regardless I still decided to go ahead with it and we definitely got our value out of it. The Pool We got to the pool pretty early (around 8:30) knowing it would be a busy day at sea, and boy were the pool hogs out in full force. I never saw ANY items being removed from the chairs, and all sorts of interesting things were used to hog the chairs for hours without use. I wanted to say something at several points but just couldn't bring myself to raise a stink. This has been debated ad nauseum here but I really wish Celebrity would do more about it. I have to imagine the staff simply doesn't do it unless someone complains because they know every pool hog is going to get angry when they come back. What's worse, there's really not any signs up that are very noticeable about not doing this. They should have signs EVERYWHERE for this, and I think they should hand out special cards that fall out of the Celebrity Today to remind people that their stuff will be removed. I saw one note printed there on I think day 5 but you wouldn't notice it if you weren't looking hard. Wine Tasting As part of the elite benefits extended to our stateroom we were invited to a free wine tasting seminar in the Tuscan Grill. After a couple hours at the pool (didn't want to stay too long even with a prime spot as we didn't want to come away with a terrible burn on the first day!) we decided to head there (after changing to smart casual, something others decided to ignore, and it wasn't enforced despite warnings in the elite welcome letter that they would). It was fine, nothing special but the sommelier was informative and we got a couple glasses each. Bistro on Five After the tasting and to avoid the buffet crowds we headed to Bistro on Five. We were surprised at how empty this place remains the entire cruise, as it's delicious food and the $5 is almost nothing in comparison to everything else. Unfortunately we didn't make it back here. After lunch we went to the Solarium. I don't have much to add here but it was nice and relaxing. We had planned to try out Blu that night, but we had a message from the Captain's Club hostess asking if we wanted to dine that night with the Hotel Director at the Captain's Table. We certainly didn't want to turn that down, so we scrapped plans for Blu. Fitness Center I actually managed to work out here 4 times during the cruise. It was often busy but we went at times it wasn't TOO busy. I can only imagine how much weight I'd have gained if I hadn't gone, because what I did gain was bad enough!! The BF took a spin class and I decided to lift weights. They have signs up telling everyone to limit usage of cardio equipment to 20 minutes if there are others waiting. The problem is even if people AREN'T waiting, the equipment times out after 20 minutes so if you want to keep working out (and I never did this if there wasn't at least one other piece of equipment free, meaning no wait) you have to punch everything in again. I get why they do it, it's just annoying. If only they had similar timers on the chairs at the pool - if no weight is detected for 30 minutes and it catapults the stuff off the chair perhaps? One can dream. Captain's Table After dressing up for formal night, we were told to meet in Cellar Master's at 8:15. We met the other guests (I think all 4 couples were in Royal Suites) and the CC hostess, and then the Hotel Director (Jan Willem Kuipers) met us as well. They said we could order any drink we wanted and it was on Mr. Kuipers. We were about halfway through our drinks when they came to escort us to our table (I found it strange that we showed up late for the seating, but I think it was to ensure the rest of the guests were seated already) and they had several people to carry our drinks to the table. They had preprinted name cards set out. Mr. Kuipers was very engaging and took his time to engage each of the couples at the table. He also ordered bottles of red and a white wine and this was free flowing throughout the All of the guests were very nice and helped us feel a bit LESS out of place. I don't want to name names for their privacy sake but one of them is a partner for a major accounting firm and another when googling him you may find the word "mogul" attached to him. As I said before this was a "splurge" vacation for us whereas I got the sense these folks travel this way often, but it's nice every once in awhile to see how the other half lives. I should note that if you book the Royal Suite you might not necessarily be invited to Captain's Table, but I could be wrong. It was a bit hard to understand the explanation given by Rikki, but he said something about sometimes people who are invited to the Captain's Table decide to take it as an opportunity to get some face time for complaints direct to the top, when this is really not the time or the place for that, and so they try to invite people who they get a sense for will appreciate this generous invitation for what it is. I don't know how they do that and don't quote me on that at all, I just wanted to include it as a disclaimer as I had not read anything about this before. They took our picture at the captain's table, and gave us two printed copies delivered to our stateroom the next day. I don't remember exactly what we did after this but it was a very full day and we had to be up early for our first excursion so we weren't out late. Day 3: Grand Cayman Excursions: Grand Cayman was a tender port and I'm glad it was the only one as it was very bumpy that day and took a long time and I liked the other ports for the ability to come and go as we pleased with no waits. We had booked two shore excursions for Grand Cayman. The first was the Dolphin Kiss Encounter. After about a 15 minute bus ride we were led through a little bird sanctuary thing and then had to sign waivers and told not to put on any sunscreen (to protect the Dolphins). The Dolphin Kiss encounter involved lots of swimming by while we petted her, then having her splashing us, then kissing her, and finally each person dancing with her. I had actually read before going that you really shouldn't swim with dolphins in the caribbean because they withhold food from the animals so that they'll do their tricks and that it simply isn't very humane. Each of us must have touched the dolphin like 20 times, and even though they warn you to take off jewelry and to keep your fingernails away I imagined all dozens of people all day every day doing this to the poor animals and also it looked like their backs had been scratched. And to top it all off one of the dolphins kept nudging the food container. I really don't want to judge them unfairly because I don't see what goes on behind the scenes but it had the appearances of not being very pleasant for the animals and so I won't be doing something like that again. We were then given way too much time to ponder whether to buy their overpriced pictures (we didn't) and then driven back to the port. This would turn out to probably be my least favorite excursion. We had time to grab a brief lunch (there were really not many options for dining near the tender port, and since we couldn't get back on the ship easily we just had a sandwich at the bar). Then it was time for our first ever helicopter ride! Now, mostly I would say I was glad to book excursions through the ship, but in the case of Grand Cayman I think doing the helicopter ride, which is advertising right near the port, on your own, would be just fine and you'd save like $40-50 per person. It's all the same company. Regardless, the helicopter ride was amazing! It's a six person helicopter plus the pilot, and we did things I didn't think you could even do in a helicopter. We flew over stingray city and even circled our ship a few times and got some great pictures. We said after we felt like Superman, with all the dives and spins and hovering. It was very cool and the island is beautiful. I'm became a private pilot last year but in Cessnas, and I almost regret getting that type of license! (though helicopters I assume are far more expensive). We headed immediately back to the ship after the ride and I think hung out at the pool or solarium or lawn club, can't remember. Molecular Bar Though I think by this time we'd already tried the molecular bar, I really must agree with other reviewers when I say this was by far our favorite bar on the ship and really a MUST if you get the premium liquor package. At $12 a pop you really get your value out of the premium liquor package quickly. Between the two of us we easily had every drink on the menu, and we must have gotten the Avocado Mezcal about 4-5 times each. We also got the recipe so we could try making it at home, and kept pushing the drink on other people. It was like a margarita but much smoother, tastier, less sweet, and absolutely delicious! We met a woman at the bar who we looked forward to seeing every day at around 5-5:30, and I don't understand why the bar is not more popular. Major Kudos to Celebrity for keeping this bar around - the drinks take longer but they're worth it, and this bar could be a deciding factor on whether I would choose Celebrity again over another cruise line. Goksel, the bartender, was one of only two staff members that we gave extra tips to (the other being Rikki) and also wrote special comment cards out for. Murano Since we were celebrating a special occasion this day, we used our complimentary specialty reservation to eat at Murano this night. To be honest we didn't really care for it. While the food was tasty, the service seemed unnecessarily slow, and by that I mean the delivery of the food. It seemed like they were pacing it out for the sake of pacing it out, because I can't imagine the food was taking that long to make. The dinner must have taken 2-2 1/2 hours, and we have eaten in restaurants with 9-course meals in shorter time. There may have been other stuff we'd have liked to try but we didn't want to spend that much time at dinner even if it was a special occasion. I know that some on here have speculated that the declining quality in the MDR is a ploy to get people to eat more in the specialty restaurants. I really don't understand this thought as the specialty restaurants are actually quite small and I can't imagine they would sacrifice quality in the MDR to fill a few more seats in the specialties. Yes, the food was not ALL good (we only ate in MDR at the captain's table, but had it delivered to our stateroom 3X so effectively we had this food 4 times) but generally we really liked it and appreciate the difficulty in keeping things at a high quality for thousands of people every day of the year. I will say one thing that I found disappointing was the supposed elimination of any sort of grand buffet. We asked Rikki about it and as best we were able to discern, they have now replaced this with a "showcase" where they put out some samples of dishes from the specialty restaurants I think on deck 3 or 4 on one of the days. This seemed kinda lame and I hope we didn't just misunderstand Rikki due to a language barrier. Entertainment I haven't mentioned any specific shows, but I think this was the night we went to the Broadway-style show. I thought the entertainment in general was just average (with the Cirque-style show being the best), but we didn't feel like we needed to make a point to go see the show every night. We only saw opening night, cirque, and broadway. I do want to say that the entertainment crew works extremely hard (a couple of them were part of the FOD group that we hung out with most nights) and one must also remember that many of the crew do multiple duties on the ship - one of our new friends, a dancer in the shows, was working disembarkation on the last day! It's not the staff but rather the lack of investment Celebrity has decided to make, and honestly I don't care too much because the best shows on the ship are in the bars anyway :) Day 4: Cozumel It was pretty cool to see the sister ship to the Solstice, Equinox, in port the same day. We got plenty of pictures of the two ships side by side and it was amusing to us that we could look out and see essentially a mirror image of our stateroom right across. Excursion: Mexican Cooking Class This was the excursion we were most looking forward to, and judging by the responses from our fellow cruisers afterwards we were in resounding agreement that this is one of the best excursions offered anywhere!! It was absolutely fantastic. I guess I didn't pay too close attention when we booked it, and I didn't realize until the day before that it's held at an all-inclusive resort type place called Playa Mia. I highly recommend Playa Mia even if you AREN'T doing the class. I think it's something like $50 and includes a buffet, unlimited drinks, full use of the beach, chairs, and umbrellas, as well as a ton of different water toys like paddle boats, kayaks, etc. All included. Our excursion with the class included access to all of this except the buffet, but the food we made ourselves was better and sufficient. The excursion was a bit more than the $50 but totally worth it. We made three dishes; some caramelized plantains for dessert which we made first so it could be chilled for later, a piece of grouper with some grilled vegetables, and a shrimp sopa. It was all REALLY good, and very easy to make. The head chef (don't remember his name unfortunately) was really funny and charming and made the class. Everyone had so much fun. After the class we had about an hour to enjoy some swimming and the beach before heading back to the ship. We didn't do much else here. Something I hadn't noticed in the reviews I'd read was a really nice touch by Celebrity which is a cold towel offered every time you re-board the ship, along with water and fruit punch. They also have cold towels in the gym. I also was impressed that the Solstice had real towels in most of the bathrooms, as opposed to paper ones. There are definitely touches like these that show they are still a bit more upscale than some of the other lines. Daily canapés and shrimp cocktail, and other butler services I figure now is as good a time as any to mention that we had canapés, daily tea service with cookies/desserts, and shrimp cocktail delivered by Rikki every day to our room. Everyone had ripped the canapés for being terrible and I really didn't understand this. Maybe we're easily impressed but I thought they were for the most part delicious and I don't understand why everyone knocked them. It was something nice to look forward to every day, and Rikki brought the shrimp cocktail every day at 5pm. (I should note that the shrimp cocktail was 4-5 shrimps each; my impression was a full plate of shrimp but I guess it would have been greedy as 4 each was enough anyway). Along with the desserts was also afternoon tea which we definitely took advantage of, as I had lost my voice in Ft Lauderdale and was trying tea with honey to get it back (it didn't help). I think it was day 3 or 4 that Rikki, without asking, had our shoes shined for us. He also was sort of a concierge of sorts as he would each day inform us about various goings on on the ship. He also of course delivered breakfast every day (well, 5 of them) and was always concerned that we drank our cappuccino quickly every day before it got cold. He took care of the complimentary laundry and dry cleaning we had, and he also brought us chocolate covered strawberries a couple times. He was great and he got 2 more envelopes from us during the trip and was extremely appreciative. Dinner with guests in our room We had a really good time in the cooking class with two girls who were part of a 200+ singles group on the ship. Apparently the singles group wasn't really what they expected (it skewed much older) and we asked if they wanted to join us in our room for dinner that night. We figured we had this big table and were planning on doing that anyway, so why not share it with someone else. Rikki really stepped up the service for this dinner and impressed our guests. It was a great time. Day 5: Roatan It was a pretty windy day and we weren't able to have breakfast on our balcony. Strangely, we saw two ships sailing AWAY from the port as we approached, and we started to wonder if we'd even be able to dock as the seas were quite rough and it seems these ships might have decided to cancel. We noticed that the ship had stopped and we didn't see anything off our side (we were starboard) or on the bridge cam and they hadn't made any announcements yet. We started wondering if we too were going to be canceling. In case that is what happened we grabbed our stuff to run up to the pool figuring it would quickly become crowded, only to find out that we had ALREADY docked, it's just that the whole side of the ship faces the dock so we couldn't see it! The captain then came on to tell us that indeed two other ships had canceled due to the winds, but because RCCL owns the dock in Roatan and the others had to tender, we were the only ship that could make it. These ports and the locals really depend on the cruise ships so we felt really bad for all involved that the situation was as such. Our excursion guide told us that there had already been 6 cancellations that week! Also, he had worked on a cruise ship for 7 years, and said he felt really bad for what he knew the crew of those ships would be going through right now. Rikki confirmed this: he said that 99% of the passengers on the ship will get angry when they cancel a port, and 90% of them will be lined up at guest relations. People get extremely upset and take it out on the staff when this happens, and Celebrity ends up giving 20% OBC or future cruise credit when this happens automatically. It really disheartens us to know that people act this way for something that is clearly out of their control, and I guess we can expect this more often as a result of the Costa Concordia tragedy. Excursion: West Bay Kayak and Snorkel I had really low expectations for Roatan as people said it was a boring port. It turns out it was our favorite one! The island is beautiful and hilly and luscious and many others agreed with us that it was the best port of the journey. After a short bus ride to the West Bay, where I guess the geography was such that the winds were almost nonexistent, we did orientation and some snorkeling. I'd only snorkeled once or twice before and never in such a beautiful place. It made me want to become scuba certified. I had read reviews of this excursion that indicated it was way too strenuous, and I have to agree that the guide swam a bit fast. Even I struggled to keep up a couple times, and we lost about half our crew who had to be brought later with a few brought back by the safety kayak. After a delicious lunch we then did some kayaking, which turned out to be quite lame as it was about a 15 minute trip over to another beach area, a 45 minute stop at the beach, and then a 15 minute kayak back. I'd have appreciated this more if I knew this is what we were going to do as I had left my wallet back in a locker and thus didn't have any money for beer or sunscreen to lay out. Regardless it was nice to have a more active excursion and we overall enjoyed it. Dinner: Blu We finally had a chance to make it to Blu. We knew it was subject to availability for suite guests but it was only about half full so there was no issue. We didn't particularly care for it and I don't think I'd book Aqua Class just to get access to this. Day 6: Costa Maya This was a stark contrast to the beauty of Roatan. The area around the port is actually quite nice in terms of shopping and restaurants and a great pool, but the natural scenery isn't that great. Costa Maya was devastated by a hurricane a few years ago which might explain some of this. Excursion: Mini Jeep Adventure After wandering the port a bit, we met up with our guide for the 15 minute bus ride in this open-air vehicle that was extremely bumpy, we were given a brief orientation to a 2-person vehicle called an Club Cart XRT 550 4 Wheel ATV. There would be a stop halfway through for us to switch off and I was the first to drive. I actually had a lot of fun on this one, but the ride through a "jungle" was more like a ride through a bumpy trail among 7-foot tall trees. Again, not sure if this was hurricane devastation or not, but there wasn't much to see. The ride was so bumpy however and the driver behind us a bit too aggressive that my BF didn't feel comfortable driving back so I just drove the whole way. The BF ranked this as his least favorite excursion; I'd say second to last (ahead of the dolphins) but that's mainly because the other excursions were so great, as I still rather enjoyed the ride. After that we were dropped off at the beach for about 45 minutes of relaxation (the beach here is actually quite nice), some free chips and salsa, and then back in the bumpy truck to get to the ship. We wanted to spend more time in the port since the weather was so amazing so we ate at an extremely overpriced restaurant next to the pool (I'm talking $16 for a quesadilla). Regardless it was a nice view of the ship and pool and afterwards we took the long walk back to get on the boat. Dinner: Silk Harvest I don't have much to say about this restaurant other than the service was much faster than Murano, we agree with those who say you should go in a group, we enjoyed the experience overall better than Murano, and for $25 it's definitely worth it. I think I can get better asian food back home but I still enjoyed something different. Evening party After yet another trip to the Molecular Bar, we met up with some of the FOD group at Martini Bar. As tonight was the night before our last at sea day we figured we'd party a little harder, but everyone else I guess was tired on the ship and Quasar's was quickly emptied. One of the crew hanging with us said she was bored and the BF suggested that we take the party back to our room, cause, well, we had the space for it. Everyone had the beverage package so we all grabbed some mixers and drinks, and one of the crew had some alcohol, so we had an impromptu party in our room. We were careful not to make too much noise, it was more like hanging out with drinks and some music, but it was really fun and I think the party went till 3 or 4 am. We were glad to get to know the others a bit more and glad to be able to share our space again. Day 7: At Sea Despite being up till 4am we were determined to make it to the pool in time to secure some spots and indeed we were there by 8:30, and we were. Once again half the spots were taken by books and once again we didn't say anything as we were able to get spots ourselves. We sunned by the pool for about 4 hours and got a couple burgers at Mast Grill for lunch. After that we decided we needed a nap so did so for about an hour and a half before changing to get ready for a Molecular Bar Tasting. Molecular Bar tasting At 4pm they had an event where they were going to teach you how to make the drinks. Goksel had convinced us to sign up for this earlier in the week - they don't advertise it in Celebrity Today because the drinks are so handcrafted that they need to keep it small. There were about 8-10 of us who showed up. We didn't realize there was a fee for it ($24 each) which when you consider that we could get all the same exact drinks for free with the package is a bit pricey, but we didn't mind too much as the class was really interesting, learning just how much work goes into infusing all the drinks and such. I'd say I'd recommend it if you don't mind paying for what you can already get for free. You learn how to make I think 5 or 6 of the drinks, and we also asked for the recipe for the Avocado Mezcal. Also, there is an off-menu drink that they used to have on there called South of the Rio - it's a spicy drink made with jalapeo infused Cachaa, and I think it is delicious and different. They'll still make it for you if you ask, and I'm guessing this would be available on any of the Solstice Class ships. Dinner in the room We decided to enjoy a private dinner in our room one last night, although we found the food this time to be probably the most disappointing. Still acceptable though and nice to finish off our remaining bottle of wine and enjoy a private end to the cruise. Rikki asked if we had had a "red bull party" the night before due to all the empty cans :) We gave Rikki one last envelope and he said he was hopeful he'd see us before we left on Sunday. Day 8: Disembarkation We had chosen to do express disembarkation, not because we had to make our flight or anything (it wasn't until 12:30) but because we had read the horror stories about long waits for the customs agents and didn't want to deal with that. Unfortunately we didn't see Rikki before we left :( I can't believe how disorganized express departure is, and it's sad because they could tweak just a couple things to make it much easier. They have you line up in the MDR, but they only use one door for entering which means all the people entering have to weave their way past all the people lined up to leave. After awhile the line wraps around the back of the MDR, and they eventually opened up the other door for better flow, but they should really do that in the beginning. Yes it means more walking with luggage but they should have people entering in one door and lining up to leave from the other. They tell you to arrive at 7:20 but we arrived more like 7:05 and were glad we did as we were among the first 50 in line. After that, the ship was cleared at about 7:40. We were off the ship by 7:50, through customs by about 8:00, in a cab and to the airport by about 8:20, and through security by 8:35 or so. We were from stateroom to airplane gate in an hour and a half, which is really quite amazing. All in all I can see where it could end up being a bottleneck eventually but I found none of the issues Miscellaneous - I mentioned we were not in the typical celebrity demographic and that is certainly true. The age skews very old but there were actually a surprising number of young couples (not too many families though; we saw very few kids). I think it is a complete fluke that we found a group of 12 similar age people to hang out with, and the crew confirmed this was highly unusual and partly a result of them bringing 6 or so that were already friends. I would say though if you are a young couple you should not at all be afraid to try Celebrity as long as you are looking for a more private vacation and not looking to party hard at Quasar every night. - The leather-trimmed tote bag was very nice and Rikki arranged for us to get 2 of them - Our welcome letter in the stateroom addressed us as "Mr and Ms" which I teased the BF about endlessly. - We were extended elite benefits, but did not once make it to one of the evening cocktail hours. I think we might have had we not had the drink package, but it was nice to have more flexibility and not worry about making it there to get a lot of drinks. - We inquired about a bridge tour via Rikki, who referred us to guest relations, who offered us the $75/pp tour. We declined, as I've done one before and found it boring - We actually found the ship's internet to be plenty fast, and we used it exclusively via wireless on our iPhones or iPads. 90 minutes each isn't a lot, but it was actually plenty for us since we could usually find free wi-fi in a port (everywhere except Costa Maya) and it allowed us to be a bit more unplugged for the vacation - When we got our bill midway, we discovered that we had been given a $200 OBC. This was completely unexpected and most welcome - I guess maybe I got this for booking online through some promotion I didn't know about, but it was cool. - The VOD on the TV didn't seem to work at all for finding the ship's location or for viewing our bill. It did work for music and also worked for ordering room service, which we only did once at 2am to provide some snacks for our party. Note: If you order pizza's through Room Service, don't expect a whole pizza. They're personal sized. - The only place we tried to get smoothies was at the Aqua Spa Cafe, and they don't even have the ability to make them there despite having it right on the menu. The crew member had to walk all the way back to some other room to make the smoothie and it took almost 15 minutes so I would recommend against doing this. They really need a smoothie machine at this location. - I witnessed numerous occasions of people mistreating crew, including overhearing someone (I won't say where or who) mistreating Rikki. Having spent a week hanging and asking questions of the crew and hearing about the Roatan-type events, this really disappoints me because the crew clearly works very hard. One person said it's like groundhog day for those on the ship. Every week it's the same thing with different people, and they many of them work 12 hour days 7 days a week. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
Having sailed on the Solstice for a 7 day getaway cruise back in January 2011, I thought it would be interesting to re-visit the same ship later in the year on a different route and compare the voyage. I could sum it up by saying 7 nights ... Read More
Having sailed on the Solstice for a 7 day getaway cruise back in January 2011, I thought it would be interesting to re-visit the same ship later in the year on a different route and compare the voyage. I could sum it up by saying 7 nights in the Caribbean was superb, 12 nights in Europe was spectacular. We started out at an excellent hotel in Barcelona I read about on cruise critic. The Hotel Jazz was centrally located; medium in the price scheme, and attention to detail was excellent. Smallish in size (8 floors), but with a sharp rooftop pool, super helpful staff, and because of its central location, easily could navigate Barcelona. Embarkation was one of the easiest I've been through. I had forgotten my luggage tags, guys outside the terminal gladly took care of that in an instant and a smile. Lines moved quickly outside, with less than 10 minutes before was inside the terminal, and less than 45 minutes before I was checked in and boarding the ship. The logistics of moving 2800 passengers and their luggage in a relatively short period always amazes me. One thing I really admire is Celebrity doesn't shortchange its staff for embarkation. Probably 8-10 people outside the terminal ready to take your bags. Another 30-40 inside the terminal available to check you in scan your credit card details/passport and get you your sea pass to board the Solstice. Having been a fan of the Millennium class, and especially the Constellation, still surprised how much I enjoy the Solstice class. It's about a third bigger passenger wise, but still has a way of feeling intimate. You still get the feeling of being a guest rather than a passenger, just by the extra courtesies the staff always provides. Two suggestions I strongly recommend is trying some of the specialty restaurants onboard. My two favorite are Murano and Tuscan Grill. Both excel but for different reasons. Tuscan Grill resonates with the sounds and smells of Italy. We had a group of about 10 dining together and the staff was more than accommodating to let us savor each other dishes as well as allowing us to get a few extra dishes so all could try. In Murano, we reserved the wine room, for the 7 of us, and so it was our own private dining room inside the Murano restaurant itself. Service was terrific although I think our waiter must have been new, as he tried his best to describe the way things were cooked kind of generically rather than knowing the specifics on how they were prepared. Luckily the Maitre D kind of helped in this regard, and kept it up to the quality of a Michelin type service. The main dining room was excellent, can't think of a bad meal I had there. The buffet was good any time of day breakfast, lunch or just a snack (they make the greatest ice cream in the world on Celebrity). I never eat ice cream at home but ate it every day of the cruise. One thing I absolutely adore is the warmth you get from the staff after you travel a few cruises with Celebrity. Last time I had been on Solstice, we had the same Hotel Director onboard as this voyage, and saw her the first day and she greeted me warmly remembering all my details. The second day of the cruise I found a 12 pack of bottled Pepsi in my cabin compliments of the Hotel Director, as she had remembered that I had mentioned last cruise that I didn't drink alcohol, and preferred Pepsi and the ship only carried Coke. When I saw her the next day I thanked her for the gesture (and the Pepsi), and she said she just felt bad she couldn't of had it onboard the first day instead of the second, but they had trouble finding it in Barcelona. Now how's that for attention to detail? Over the past few years I think they have done a very good job with the excursions in regard to quality/value. I think I did 6 excursions off the ship and only found one (Florence/Pisa) to be choppy and kind of lacking structure or a theme. Florence was essentially wasted time where you really didn't have time to do more than walk by things rather than visit them, while the Pisa portion was quite a nice afternoon. Rooms on the Solstice are a nice step up from most lines. A good amount of storage, bathrooms like an upscale hotel. I picked a cabin immediately next to the bridge. It was cool to be able to see the bridge from my balcony, but noise can be a problem at that location during the day as you hear quite a bit of door slamming. At night though it was peaceful, so no complaints. Downside to being next to the bridge is you are not near an elevator, but you take the good with the minor things like that. Two small complaints I had that seemed to be a common theme with other passengers in the room were the television and the telephone. The telephone is backlit so even when its not in use it has a tendency to be rather bright (like a bright night light), that can't be turned off. My remedy was to lay my sea pass card across the face of the illuminated panel to dim it down to negligible. The other small complaint was the remotes for the televisions aren't very food. Last cruise had the same problem and found it rather common complaint at our dinner table, that no ones seemed to work really well. Maybe batteries need to be changed out more? Its funny I had a suite last voyage on Solstice and that remote was also taped up and not working real well. Funny thing is those two minor annoyances were the only complaints I could think of, so gives you an idea on how great the ship and staff really are. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
Just finished a wonderful 13 day Transatlantic crossing on Celebrity Solstice (departed Fort Lauderdale May 1, 2011 arrived Barcelona, Spain on May 14, 2011).I was in cabin 7276, starboard side unobstructed, non-Concierge class balcony ... Read More
Just finished a wonderful 13 day Transatlantic crossing on Celebrity Solstice (departed Fort Lauderdale May 1, 2011 arrived Barcelona, Spain on May 14, 2011).I was in cabin 7276, starboard side unobstructed, non-Concierge class balcony classified as category 2A. This was a great cabin. Being midships right over the stabilizers meant I experienced much less ship motion than my friends in cabins at the bow of the ship, high up (deck 12) in Aqua Class, or in Sky Suites at the very stern of the ship. The crossing itself was not rocky at all. In fact on several days the ocean looked like a lake with an almost glassy smooth surface. But we did have some days with typical deep ocean swells and I slept very well unlike people in some cabins on higher decks or at either end of the ship. Sometimes you can feel the stabilizers push the ship against the swell, and it is a rather re-assuring feeling.Cabin 7276 sleeps 5 people: two twin beds (which I had made up into one big bed), then one bed that can drop from the ceiling, then the couch, then the trundle bed under the couch. It can be joined with cabin 7274 for a family configuration of adjoining rooms with a common door to the hallway.This cabin is right at the middle of the giant X seen on the side of the ship. Some people call this the "bump" section of the ship. The Bump really consists of 2 cabins with angled larger balconies, then 10 cabins all in a row, then another 2 cabins with angled larger balconies. The lifeboats end/begin after the cabins with angled balconies. Cabin 7276 is almost right in the middle of the row of 10 cabins and has a flat fronted balcony with a clear view over the promenade on Deck 5 below, and looks directly out to sea. Cabins on the Solstice alternate in configuration of the bed being either closer to the balcony or the restroom. The beds in Cabin 7276 are closer to the bathroom with the desk area right next to the balcony door.Although close to the elevators which ride through a giant chimney that channels sound up the atrium to all decks, there is a wall between the elevator lobby and the hallway to this cabin and thus 7276 is a really quiet cabin. Because the Team Earth "living room" is right on this floor it is a great place for friends and family to meet/gather on port days before leaving the ship together. The proximity to the aft stairs means that it is very easy to get to the Oceanview Cafe on Deck 14 (there is no deck 13 on this ship). There is ample storage - but not alot of hanging space in this cabin. The bathroom is large with lots of shelves and drawers for storage. The shower is very nice and big enough for two people at once. You can also use the cupboards above the bed as well as the storage space above the mini fridge to store items.I have traveled Concierge class before but I did not miss those amenities in this cabin at all. As far as I could tell, the square footage between the cabins in Aqua class, Concierge class and A1 were exactly the same. Aqua class rooms, however, had two shower heads (one from above, one from below) that was sorta cool. I got to eat in Blu a couple of times. The reviews on it were mixed. People who tended to want a more insular experience liked Blu. Others who liked to mix more did not like it as much. The food was not noticably better.Overall, the Solstice was fantastic. You'll love it. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Background: My partner and I booked this cruise as part of the Pied Piper gay travel group. We had been on one cruise previously, a four day trip on the Carnival Imagination, which we enjoyed. Pre-Cruise stay: We ... Read More
Background: My partner and I booked this cruise as part of the Pied Piper gay travel group. We had been on one cruise previously, a four day trip on the Carnival Imagination, which we enjoyed. Pre-Cruise stay: We arrived on Saturday and stayed at the Embassy Suites 17th Street. We had an East-facing room on the 9th floor, perfect for seeing the ships set sail that evening, and watch our ships come in the next morning! The hotel was great, the room was spacious, it was close to a grocery store, liquor store, and restaurants. The only negatives I had about the hotel were that the booze at the managers reception was AWFUL (but hey it was free), and at least in our suite, the bathroom door opened into the bedroom part of the suite, not the middle wet-bar area, which is where the door usually is in other Embassy Suites I've been in. We took the hotel shuttle out to bars that night and felt overcharged, which was confirmed when we had a cab take us back from the bars, and it was MUCH cheaper. Thus, we opted to take a cab to the port (I think it was 13 dollars with tip for the 2 of us). Breakfast was decent and what you would expect from the Embassy Suites. Embarkation Day: I was so excited I got up in the middle of the night to watch the ships come in! The Allure, Carnival Freedom, MSC Poesia, Nieuw Amsterdam, and a Princess ship were in town, among others. To get into the port you have to show your photo ID to security at the port entrance, so keep it handy. I think we arrived shortly before noon, handed our bags off to the porters, went right through security, got our Sea Pass cards, and immediately boarded with no waiting. It was great being greeted with a glass of champagne! The ship: The ship is incredible! Very elegant and classy, with a modern design. I looked for signs of wear and tear on the ship, and found two. In our stateroom one of the drawers didn't close flush with the rest of them (it was a fraction of an inch off), and one day in the Solarium I was looking up at the glass ceiling and saw a small patch where the white paint was peeling off the metal girders. But that was pretty much it! Ship was in great shape. Being after Thanksgiving, they gradually brought out the Christmas decorations during the week, and by the end of the week the ship was in full holiday mode. A menorah was also lit each night for Chanukah. Stateroom: We were in Aqua Class room 1544 on Deck 11. We were right next to the forward elevators , and never once had any issue with noise from the elevators, or anyone else for that matter. You could hear the door next to us open, that was about it. I know a lot of AQ cabins either have the fitness center or the pool above them and have noise issues, but directly over our cabin was the Elemis Spa retail store that got very little foot traffic and was closed at night, so we never heard anything. I finally figured out what was above us by leaning out from my balcony, looking up and seeing a ladder attached to the sloped glass above me. Next time I went to the Solarium, I saw that ladder against the glass in the retail shop. The shower in the AQ room was amazing, and the toiletries were nice. The jets along the shower panel wall were AWESOME, that alone may cause us to book AQ in the future! The balcony had more than enough space (and more than we had on Carnival), and we ate breakfast out there several days of the cruise. Also, there was no extended overhang on our balcony, and the often-referenced window washing equipment was several staterooms down and did not affect our view. The closets on carnival were definitely bigger than on the Solstice, but that being said, we had more than enough storage space. The storage above the bed helped! I know that you can't guess which side of what pier in which port the ship will use, but we lucked out because the Solstice docked starboard side in every port we went to, so we got to watch the process from our balcony. It was fun seeing a couple of late pier runners in St. Thomas, but San Juan and St. Maarten everyone got back on time. Once or twice, I could faintly smell a cigar while I was on my balcony, and also whoever was in the room directly below me was smoking pot on their balcony a couple of times. I never smelled cigarette smoke out there. I can live with one instance of a cigar and a couple of whiffs of pot, so I didn't complain to the staff. Our Stateroom Attendant, Clifton Rodrigues from India, kept our cabin spotless. I hardly ever saw him, though, which wasn't a bad thing, I just felt like I didn't get to thank him enough. One day I happened to like the chocolate on my pillow (different flavor every day) and wrote a note asking if I could have one extra. I came back to my room and found an entire bowl of them for me! I also called him asking for a Band-Aid (wasn't an emergency, I had a blister), and I swear he sprinted to get it to me (BTW the band-aids were gray, never seen gray bandaids before!). Blu: While the showers in the room might get us to book AQ again, eating in Blu definitely will. I must say that I am a meat and potatoes person and don't like trying new things, so at first I was a little apprehensive of the menu, but it really was amazing. In fact, I never once tried any of the standby "Classics" options, because everything I had was good. Our waiter Christopher was awesome, and his assistant Bosko was fabulous as well. By the third day, our table was already pre-set with the correct wine glasses for the types we drank (my partner loves Shiraz, I had Sauvignon Blanc). It was little touches like that that really blew me away. The only hiccup in our week in Blu was during the first formal night. Having only cruised on Carnival, I know on "cruise elegant" night there, you can get away with almost anything. For formal night, we didn't have the room to pack our dinner jackets, so we just wore dress shirts, dress shoes, shirts and ties to dinner. Upon seeing this, the Maitre D quickly brought out jackets from the back and had us put them on as he walked us to our table, and then said it would be ok if we took them off and had them on the back of our chairs during dinner. I guess it was my fault for not knowing jackets were a requirement, and I appreciate they had jackets (though too small, I'm a big guy) for us to wear, but at the same time it felt kind of like a walk of shame having to put on the second hand jacket for the 10 second walk to our table. Also about Blu, I had been having breakfast on my balcony (awesome) and in the buffet (also good) until one of the other diners in Blu strongly suggested I eat there for breakfast. The breakfast service is AMAZING, there are fewer diners, so the wait staff waits on you hand and foot, before you have even been seated, they are whisking over fresh squeezed juice, coffee, tea, croissants, etc., and it just sets the stage for the rest of the meal. Breakfast became my favorite meal in Blu! Other restaurants: I heard from friends the MDR was good, I didn't eat there myself. We ate in Tuscan Grille which was great. I am Italian and I'll tell you they got it right! We had a table by aft window and got to watch the waves the whole meal. Unforgettable experience. We ate in Tuscan Grille the second formal night because you don't need a jacket even during formal night in the pay restaurants, and didn't want to have to do the walk of shame again. We were going to eat there anyway, the dress code just cemented which day it was going to be. I didn't eat in Murano, but went in there to take photos, and it looked really elegant. Next time we'll try it! Oceanview cafe was good for lunch. I was first worried about not having trays, but I found I didn't need them. It gave it less of a cafeteria feel, and I also think not having a tray helped you not take too much food, and cut down on waste. Even on sea days at peak times we could find a table, and we never had a problem with dirty dishes. Usually I would get up to get something else and I'd come back to find they had cleared my dirty dish while I was gone. Drink Packages: I had the soda package, and had no problems with any of the staff filling my orders. Many people had the premium or classic packages and from what I could tell when I was with them, they were treated like everyone else at the bars. We dined one night with a group who had the premium package, and sommelier loved it because it let her pair each course with a different wine and let the group try a bunch of different things, so I know it didn't bother her, she seemed excited by it. Even with all the alcohol we drank, getting our bill at the end of the cruise showed we made the right choice, we wouldn't have saved any money with the all alcohol package, but for those who know they'll drink that much, I wouldn't worry about being treated any differently than those of us who paid for their booze. Pools, Chair Hogs, etc: While there were some chair hogs (not as many as I would have thought), even though I didn't try to find a chair until it was prime time on sea days, I always managed to find two together. Maybe not next to the pool, but they were always available. And I thought space in the solarium would be at a premium, but always found a lounger in there as well. One minor annoyance I had, and I cant think of anyplace else to put it except under pools, is that when you're walking out from the Aqua Spa Cafe in the Solarium to the outside pool, you hit the smoking side (port side) of the pool area, so you're essentially walking from the healthy meal into a cloud of smoke. Yet one deck up, where the mast grill and mast bar are, the smoking area is on the other side (starboard). So if you're using the stairs to get from deck 14 to 12 on either side, you're either going to hit smoke going up or going down. Maybe they should move the deck 12 smoking to starboard to, so all the smoke stays on that side of the ship? Ports: San Juan was our least favorite port. We just walked around, and were sad to see a lot of vacant storefronts. We toured the forts, and had some food and drinks, then got back on the ship. St. Thomas was our favorite port, but that was because our friend lives there and gave us a local's tour of the island. We went to a beach that in my opinion was even nicer than Magens Bay, and there were maybe three other people there, all local. I can't even remember the name of the beach, not even sure it had a name, but it was incredible. Also, we had lunch in a hidden away restaurant right on the water. She works in her family business (goldsmiths who operate their own jewelry store), so even when we went shopping, all the merchants knew her so we were probably treated a little differently. St. Maarten was good too. We did a bus tour then went to Orient Beach. I wish I could have gone to the beach at the end of the airport runway, though! Shows: I only attended the broadway show and thought it was good for what it was. It's not broadway, it's a cruise ship. I had fun, but I wasn't leaping up with standing ovation either! The captains toast before the show was fun. We actually switched captains midway through the voyage, and both were good with their announcements etc. Disembarkation: I agree with others that disembarkation was a mess. I attribute it to far too many people choosing self-assist express disembark, which caused the express disembark people to take more than 45 minutes to snake their way through the dining room and off the ship. I was in the fifth group after self-assist to be called, and we weren't called until almost 9 when our original debark time was 8. It's also not helpful that once off the ship, while it's easy to find your bags, you then have to wait in line as 2,500 passengers try to get processed by four or five customs agents. It was also frustrating that those who hire porters get to cut the line, but I guess you get what you pay for. I also cannot imagine how many customs agents are needed with all of the ships that come in on Sunday, including the Allure, Carnival Miracle, Nieuw Amsterdam, a Costa ship was there, a princess ship, and MSC boat, and I'm sure there were others I lost track of! Once off the ship, taxis were plentiful, and we were at the airport in no time. I only wish the FLL airport would expand to fit the number of people using it! Final thoughts: We loved the Solstice and hope to be back on another S class ship soon. For me it was the little things that made a big difference. For example, whenever I'd look out my balcony and I'd see someone on the bridge, they would wave to me and I'd wave back. Every staff member I would pass in the hall would say hello to me with a smile on their face. The restaurant staff, like I said, knew what we wanted even before we did. I liked it when you were given a cold towel and drink upon returning from a day in port. I guess I liked a lot of things! They really pamper you, and you do feel like a celebrity for the week you're their guest. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
Before I start a cruise review I always like to get a feel for who is writing the review. With this in mind my review is coming from a 27 year old male who went alone but shared a cabin on the Celebrity Solstice's FIRST charter ... Read More
Before I start a cruise review I always like to get a feel for who is writing the review. With this in mind my review is coming from a 27 year old male who went alone but shared a cabin on the Celebrity Solstice's FIRST charter cruise. The review that follows is an in-depth look at the Solstice and the entertainment of the cruise. My pre-cruise stay was at the Days Inn Oakland Park. While this hotel was a steal online there was a reason for it that was not readily advertised. It was by active train tracks and while the room itself was clean and the staff friendly, the constant noise all night kept waking me up and it wasn't a good night's sleep. If you can sleep through a freight train then this is the right hotel for you. Embarkation was not quite as smooth as it could have been. I think this was attributable to a mix up between Celebrity and the charter company. Arriving at the recommended time by Atlantis only caused more waiting although some of it had to do with people who didn't have their paperwork properly completed. By the time I cleared the check-in line boarding of the vessel had begun and the throngs of people in the waiting area when I arrived were now gone. This overwhelmed the staff onboard that didn't have enough champagne ready and I missed a glass of bubbly. No biggie though but it was a nice touch that others received. I'm not sure if this is standard practice for all Celebrity or just our charter but it is similar to NCL's Freestyle 2.0 initiative. Once onboard I headed to the stateroom to dump off the carry-on bag and get something to eat. By this time it was going towards 2:30PM and I was starving. I headed up to the Oceanview Cafe on the Lido Deck for some lunch. The setup of the buffet is very functional because it is the action station concept as opposed to the straight line buffet so you could pick and choose what you wanted. The only problem was the salad station was always backward. The lettuce would be in the center and the toppings on the left and then on the right was the salad dressing so the line formed to the right of the lettuce and the people who fixed their salads had to cut across the line to get the dressing. Food selection was ok - not great but it's a buffet so I don't expect excellence here. However, the food nearly everywhere onboard was disappointing in the quality that went into preparation. Presentation was excellent but the cooking of it seemed very hit or miss - mostly miss in the Oceanview Cafe. One other point about this venue outside of its bright dEcor is the bar along the windows that is at horizon level. Whoever designed this space didn't actually visualize what views you'd get when looking out the window. You'd either have to bend down or in my case being tall crane your neck to see the horizon. After finishing a late lunch at the Oceanview it was off to explore the ship with friends who I had intended to surprise later that day on the cruise who saw me first! We headed forward on the Lido Deck past the pool area where the wet zone fountains were working. Impressive show but another waste of deck space on this cruise during the day and during the night for our particular sailing. Further forward was the Solarium which housed the in-door pool and exquisite dEcor. It was a nice place to escape the hot sun with a stark contrast that a jacket or towel needed to be worn because the air conditioning was far too cold in this area unless you were in direct sunlight and that was very hard to come by. Going even further forward was the Sky Lounge at the very front of the ship. This venue served as the indoor nightclub venue and was very nicely decorated. It had plenty of loungers and places to hang out but the dance floor was not big enough to accommodate a large crowd without being packed in like a sardine. Something with the ship's power system caused a problem the first night out and the power went dead to the light system and sound system that was brought onboard. It was resolved later that night and the party went on. The fitness center below the Sky Lounge was always a popular place. Lines for gym equipment were quite frequent and for cardio equipment that it made visiting the gym too much of a hassle so I just opted for the stairs whenever possible. The gym was pretty large and probably wouldn't have been that intensely busy if it were a standard cruise. There were plenty of classes offered including cycling and ab attacks but I could never get myself up in time for any of the classes I wanted to attend. Working our way down to the Entertainment Deck from the forward elevator bank we discovered the balcony section of the Solstice Theater. The first thing we realized was that there were seats that were obstructed by poles and that we'd have to get there early to get good seating which was on the floor of the theater (Deck 3). If you like to shop there are two floors of boutiques onboard starting with the Galleria Boutiques on the Entertainment Deck (5) on the starboard side and on the Shops on the Boulevard on Promenade Deck (4) portside. The boutiques themselves were quite pricey for merchandise ranging from Solstice gear to anything else. It was cheaper to buy off the ship in ports. The funniest thing I found in the shops was on Deck 4 in the Solstice signature collection area. While looking at the magnets I discovered that one which had the ship's name on it actually had a picture of a Grand-class PRINCESS cruise ship on it. I don't know if anyone noticed it but a friend I made onboard didn't. Make sure you're actually getting a souvenir of the ship you are on when you're purchasing magnets. Back on the Entertainment Deck (5) going aft was the Art Gallery area. It was very functional and brightly lit and showcasing all different works of art that would later be for sale at the art auction that was held in the Sky Lounge during the day. This area actually had it's own bar which had some neat decorations including one vase that seemed to get a lot of people's attention. I'll let future cruisers figure out which one I'm talking about. Heading further aft was the Cafe al Bacio. This cafe had every type of drink you could want that was coffee related but only had a limited selection of teas and none of them were in latte form. Since I'm allergic to coffee this venue was not very functional for me but the string band playing there was great to listen to with a glass of hot tea from the buffet upstairs. Bistro on Five is also in this area. This restaurant was too far out of the way for after the parties ended on the pool deck and the Oceanview Cafe was closed. I never got to dine there but the dEcor was nice and contemporary to fit in with the rest of the ship. Going aft was Michael's Club which reminded me of an elegant ocean liner hangout. Sadly I didn't get to enjoy this venue during the cruise outside of taking the picture and exploring the initial day. Next door was the specialty restaurant Murano. This restaurant seemed very small and very intimate. The dEcor was faux wood accentuated by inviting chairs. The menu seemed to offer a huge selection but I didn't dine here on this cruise because it turned out to be a popular venue each night and booked up quickly. In the aft end of the deck were Tuscan Grille and the exclusive Blu restaurant. Both of these restaurants I ate in. Tuscan Grille's dEcor was very dimly lit with candlelight at the tables and serving a mixture of Italian, seafood and steak cuisine. It was a less intimate but still romantic dining venue than Murano and it also had a view of the ship's wake. Blu is the restaurant with the most interesting dEcor onboard including the impressive roses on the walls. The dEcor here is far lighter with the presence of blue and white being the major colors used. The menu in Blu was entirely organic and hosted many different creations and for a nominal service charge of $5 per person non-Aqua class guests on our cruise could dine there (keep in mind this was a charter). Down to deck 4, the Promenade Deck, where the balcony of the two story Grand Epernay was. This restaurant didn't look as bad as the pictures made it seem. The purple helped off set the otherwise white and steel sterile environment that reminded me of a hospital. The chandelier and the wine cellar also added some elegance to a room that really lacked eye pleasing dEcor. This was the least favorite space on the ship for me. Cellar Masters and the Martini Bar were mid-ship. Both were haunts on this cruise and great social meeting spots either for the singles gatherings (wine bar) or just to meet random new people (Martini Bar). The Martini Bar's chilled bar was very neat and the frost on the bar was fun to play with while waiting for friends to show up. The bartenders at this bar were extraordinary and the bar waiter from Croatia worked this area frequently. Going forward was Fortune's Casino. I don't gamble so this place had little to do for me but it was a haunt of two people I knew on the cruise, my roommate and a friend. Since it was non-smoking my friend spent less time there than usual but I appreciated the smoke-free atmosphere. The staff in there was nice to me considering I never once gambled the entire cruise but would lurk there in a rare dull moment to watch a friend or the roommate lose money. My friend hit a $6,000 slot but my roommate said the payouts were lousy so it definitely was hit or miss. The entertainment court is further forward and consists of Celebrity Central which is like a mini-theater venue and Quasar - Solstice's regular nightclub venue. For some events it was obnoxiously small and for others it was perfect depending on the entertainment booked in there. No matter who was in there the air conditioning never seemed to work as it was always hot in there. Quasar was a small Jetson-type nightclub. It was used for after hours a few times during the cruise and I don't believe the charter company put equipment in this area but the bass could be heard all the way up to deck 7 where our room was in the wee early hours of the morning. It didn't keep me awake but it did annoy my roommate. Not sure if this is just unique to our sailing but worthy of note. On Deck 3 was the Grand Foyer with the Guest Relations Desk. The walls behind guest relations light up at night and during the day the drapes are opened to allow natural light in. It's a very well decorated area and only adds to the beauty of the central atrium area which spans three full decks. On the opposite end of the Guest relations was the Passport Bar and this is where Matt Yee setup shop for his show most nights. THE STATEROOM My stateroom was 7173 and my stateroom attendants were Loudres and Felipe. Both were from the Philippines and both gave excellent service and accommodated any small requests that I had. I made it a point to help them out by letting them know when the stateroom was empty so they could come in and clean or would tell them to come down and clean it while relaxing on the balcony. Both were very friendly and I gave them extras like the free duffel bag the charter guests get as well as a tip and a good write up in the Celebrity cruise questionnaire. The stateroom itself was in excellent condition. Everything was still very new and very clean. The beds were very comfortable but the sofa was harder than a rock! Sitting on that thing for more than a half hour hurt!! The bathroom was extra spacious compared to most other ships I've sailed on. The shower was larger and the doors made sure no water seeped out. Plenty of storage space within the bathroom to put two people's toiletries and trust me there was a ton of them! This was definitely designed with us in mind! THE SERVICE As mentioned previously the stateroom stewardess and steward were fantastic. Service all over was phenomenal from the Guest Relations desk where a nice lady helped me work out a solution to the problem of a suddenly canceled excursion and changing larger bills into smaller ones for tips ashore. A call down to guest relations fixed some mini-bar charges on my account that belonged to my roommate without me having to venture down there and doing it in person. Each time every person was more than happy to deal with you. Casino staff was friendly although trying to get me to play frequently. They did learn to appreciate the watching mentality and greeted me warmly each time I came in looking for either my roommate or one of my friends (they knew who both were)! Boutique staff was kind and very helpful, especially when it came down to choosing which type of lip balm to buy since they had two different types (who knew there was a difference but there was)! Bar staff were always incredibly nice when you actually ordered from a bar. Service at the poolside bars was hit or miss during the larger deck parties but that was due to sheer volume of orders they were dealing with and never-ending lines. It was amazing that in four different places you could pay four different prices for the same item such as a Red Bull or water. Since my bar bill was lower than expected I didn't say anything but thought some consistency there might be helpful in the future. Dining room staff was hit or miss. If you told the waiter in Grand Epernay you were speed dining you could get out of there eating a full meal within 45 minutes. If you didn't you were stuck there for up to 1.5 hours and the larger tables you sat at the longer it took. I think the service issue had something to do with the kitchen being overwhelmed during peak times with the open seating dining concept. Other times I think it was just that the waiter had so far to walk between the station and the table that it took forever for a larger table to get served so everyone could eat together. I was stunned to find an old friend who switched cruise lines from Norwegian to Celebrity. Nalan, a young lady from Turkey, was working in Oceanview Cafe in the AM when I saw her and she was also working in Blu Restaurant. Through our connection in Blu we dined there the night the ship was in Curacao and most people were ashore. She provided the same excellent service I remembered from her on the 12-day Egypt/Med cruise on the NCL Jewel in 2007. ENTERTAINMENT This section will be done in a chronological format based on the events that I experienced onboard starting with Day 1 - Fort Lauderdale and ending on Day 7 - Last Sea Day. Day 1 - Ft Lauderdale - Embarkation was delayed so the Muster station drill approached fast at 4:30PM. The video shown during this drill was exceptionally funny as the people seemed more robotic than animated. Once this was over it was up to the pool deck for our Welcome Aboard Cocktail Party. It would have been the bon voyage party but we weren't leaving until 10:30PM. It was still fun and a great way to meet some new people. From there it was down to the singles mingle at Quasar. The nightclub was a bit dark and the music a little loud to really talk with anyone but it helped to get you out there as a single. My roommate and I went back to the room and dressed for dinner but decided to catch the early Kimberley Locke showing and go to dinner afterward. Not knowing who Kimberley Locke was made it intriguing and she definitely had an incredible voice and it was well worth the delayed departure to experience her in concert. At 10:30PM we pulled out of Fort Lauderdale and had a party up on deck. The people in the condo towers were still awake and gave us a wonderful send off as usual and it was interesting to leave so late. After this it was off to the nightclub in Sky which was insanely hot and packed. When the music started getting really good something happened with the power and everything went off, music and lights too. While the problem did get eventually fixed from what I heard I decided to retire for the evening. Day 2 - At Sea - Nice lazy day by the pool in the shade to do some homework and relax making new friends. At 1PM was Project Runway and the always funny Malcolm hosted the event which showcased creativity of a few teams onboard with whatever they could find in 30 seconds on the pool deck and grab as well as three sheets which they could do anything too. While they were designing their costumes the boutiques put on a fashion show of things you could buy onboard. It was an amusing way to pass the time. The BooFont sisters left something to be desired during their performance. I had no idea who they were but this was the first time I saw them and they weren't entertaining or on key so I skipped their shows completely. Later in the early evening was the first t-dance. Camouflage was the attire and as usual this is the first BIG party of the cruise. It is also where I met friends I hope to keep in touch with and sail again for years to come. That night was the comedy showcase. Each entertainer was amusing and had individual shows throughout the cruise which I never got to see. Whoops! Day 3 - Labadee, Haiti - Not too much going on this day because everyone was ashore in the sun. The evening's entertainment consisted of two Friends of Bill W meetings (someone didn't proofread the final copy of Celebrity Today) and ironically a Friends of Dorothy gathering!!! Ha ha!! I caught the Hot Glass Show as well as Celebrity's production of Solstice which was incredible! It was a Cirque-style show with amazing acrobatics and incredible use of the entire theater including ceiling apparatus to come out over the audience. Very well done by the Celebrity dance troupe and technical team. It was another early to bed night as the 80's party was before my time in music. Day 4 - Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic - A nice late morning arrival into Casa de Campo allowed for sleeping in. Watched the ship pull in from the Oceanview Cafe and then forward on the Sun Deck. Went ashore and took the shore excursion that visited Altos de Chavon and the Mississippi River Boat cruise. Ruben, our tour guide, was not very helpful when we were at the Altos de Chavon. He spun us on our own after showing us the meeting spot and we had over an hour to kill. If shopping is not your thing then maybe you want to skip this stop all together or better yet just take a taxi and go on your own as a couple of guys I met from DC did. We arrived back to the ship in time to freshen up for the Classic Disco t-dance and our castoff from DR. The staff lined the pier to wave us off which was very nice of them. It was off to dinner after trying to find my roommate in his outfit without success. Later it was Miss Ritchfield 1981's turn at the spotlight in the theater and she was funny as always. Her recorded grass cutting both during the day and at night (looped on a special channel) were hilarious to watch. She always keeps things fresh. This night was the first big open deck party night at the pool. Brazil was a new party this time around and the attire was Sao Paulo or beach. I chose beach and danced the night away until the music stopped at 4:45AM and moved to the after hours down in Quasar. Day 5 - Willemstead, Curacao - Thankfully we arrived late at 1PM so we had plenty of time to sleep in or at least I did. The roommate was up and at the gym already competing for the elliptical. We cleared customs later than expected but this was probably attributable to the ambitious itinerary we had. Either way it was off to the "Curacao Experience". My other tour had been canceled so this I booked which was similar with a stop at a local artist's house who was very welcoming and definitely loved his work. His work is showcased in China - ask him about it. He's very humbled if you ask about his artwork off the island. (His name escapes me at the moment). Next stop was the Hato Caves. Since this is a commercial cave there were limited spaces where you could take pictures. The tour guide was very informative and once again very friendly. The last stop was the slavery museum. A lady with a heavy Curacao brogue gave us a very long one hour tour of the entire museum. By the time the tour completed and we were returning to the ship most of the shops were closing (at 6PM). No shopping to be had here which was a tragedy because the locals missed out on a lot of money. That night two parties were held in honor of our arrival. One the charter company knew about which was on Punda a little walking distance from the ship and the other was at the fort very close to the ship which was docked at the mega pier. I wanted to support the locals for their fireworks show later on so I went to the party. When it started at 6PM to 7PM it wasn't really spectacular so I made haste back to the ship and met up with the roommate and saw Pulse! This was another Celebrity show and once again it was phenomenal work by the dance troupe. I don't know the African-American woman's name but she had the best voice out of all of the singers and she really shined that night. As we pulled away at 11PM Curacao shot off some fireworks. They were very pretty and it was very nice of Curacao to be so gay friendly. I danced for a short while at the 90's Divas party and then accompanied my roommate to Matt Yee's "The Remake of Divas Live." Through his performance I somehow managed to drink a little too much and paid for it with a slight hangover the next morning. It has something to do with "oui, oui oui, oui oui, mmm". Ha ha! Day 6 - At Sea - Woke up fashionably late and had brunch in the main dining room. Same selection you could find in the Oceanview Cafe most days with the exception of the lunch food at one table. At 1PM it was time for yet more hilarious pool games once again organized and put on by Malcolm. Time for a disco nap!! Tonight's the big night! Woke up later and went to the Tuscan Grille for an 8:30PM reservation in my White Party attire with my roommate and his date and my date. The service was slow enough to put us right up to the late show of Chita Rivera who was our special guest star for this cruise. I went to her show and since I'm young and had no clue that she was, I lasted three songs before leaving to finish getting ready for the party. This was the night to go all out for costumes and dancing! It started at 11PM and didn't move to after hours until around 7AM. It was still going until 9:30AM when it finally ended in Sky Lounge. I managed to out dance the other two guys who said I was old for leaving at 4:45AM during the Brazil party earlier in the week!! Day 7 - At Sea - Well it was 9:30AM when the music stopped. Not sure what to do. Didn't feel like eating more like sleeping but thanks to Red Bull I couldn't get to sleep right away so I took care of some onboard stuff. Back to the room to sleep the day away and get packed to go home! In the late afternoon was the final t-dance of the cruise Splash! What a perfect way to end the cruise with complimentary cocktails for 1 hour and music spun by Manny Lehman. It was the last dance with all the new friends I made because after dinner and Ghost Light's the most phenomenal production show of them all it was back to the room to throw the luggage outside the door and get into bed. DISEMBARKATION It flowed very smoothly as the walk-offs went first and I was the third group off. Luggage was still being taken ashore by porters from the ship when I disembarked at 8:05AM. It was hideously early considering my flight wasn't until 1:45PM. I realize they have to get the rooms ready for the next cruise but this is the earliest I've ever been off a ship in Fort Lauderdale. Purchased the onboard transfer to the airport and it was very convenient right outside the terminal and off to the airport to sit around and wait for the flight. In conclusion, the Celebrity Solstice ship itself was a ship designed to be contemporary while keeping old school charm. She definitely lives up to this and her intricate areas that can be explored by the mid-ship elevator banks such as Team Earth which was on my floor made the exploration of her that much more entertaining. When the ship entertains you by itself without the crew that says a lot. With the exception of the dEcor of the Grand Epernay and the wasted space of the Lawn Club, this ship is definitely worth sailing on again. I do hope to try out Atlantis again next year if scheduling permits. The primary Atlantis entertainers were mixed in my opinion. Kimberley Locke was fantastic but a more all around age appropriate guest star for later in the cruise might have been more helpful to pack the house. The comedians seemed funny but they were always up against an even more incredible deck party with incredible lights by Guy Smith and as always the incredible laser show provided by Kyle Garner. Without all this entertainment I do believe the Solstice would be an excellent ship to sail on. I would recommend the Solstice for anyone either gay or straight on a gay or straight cruise! Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
We're a married couple in our 40's.  This was an Atlantis Events Charter cruise. We love to travel but have only been on 2 other cruises (both Atlantis Events Charters and on RCI). This was our first cruise on Celebrity.   We ... Read More
We're a married couple in our 40's.  This was an Atlantis Events Charter cruise. We love to travel but have only been on 2 other cruises (both Atlantis Events Charters and on RCI). This was our first cruise on Celebrity.   We flew in two days before our Sunday sailing and rented a car through Dollar.  At the counter the woman told us that we could return the car to the center nearest the port and that we could also get a shuttle to the port.    We stayed at the Westin Diplomat in Hollywood.  We originally had reservations for the Westin Beach Resort in Ft. Lauderdale which was just opening however due to unfinished construction they offered to put us up at the Diplomat instead.  They did offer us a one night free stay at the Westin in Ft. Lauderdale when it opened.   The Westin Diplomat was a beautiful hotel and not too far from the port.  We had one of the few rooms in the hotel without a balcony which is located right next to the elevators.  Unfortunately, in the middle of the night you could hear the movement of the elevators.  Since we were only staying another night we didn't complain to the staff about it.  In the future, if we stayed here, we would ask for a different room.  Even though we rented a car, we ate dinner both nights at the hotel.  The first night we ate at a Bar/Grill type of restaurant affiliated with the hotel across the street.  There is a walkway above the road so you didn't have to deal with traffic.  The second night we ate at the Asian restaurant in the hotel and had a wonderful meal.  For a Saturday night it wasn't very busy. My biggest disappointment with the hotel was the gym facilities.  There were some machines and dumbbells but the area was not that big.  With a few people using the space it got very crowded and there's nearly no where to do a basic workout with the dumbbells.   On Sunday morning we checked out of the hotel at 11:45 and went to the port to drop off our luggage.  We just had to show ID at the gate to get to the ship.  After dropping off the luggage we went to a nearby Walgreens to get some water and odds and ends.  The rental return place was incredibly close to the port.  I would definitely rent with Dollar again.  The shuttle stopped at the Princess ship before dropping us off at the Solstice.   When we entered the terminal it looked like many people were sitting down waiting to get on the ship.  Since we were in Concierge Class we got to a line that was practically empty.  After checking in there was someone asking if we wanted to book any of the specialty restaurants for that night.  After we got our passes and took our first picture we went immediately on the ship, or at least we thought we were.  There were several long lines all converging into one to board the ship so we had to stand and wait which didn't seem too long.  We were on the ship in about 20 minutes with a glass of sparkling wine.   We went to our room to drop off the carry ons, put our stuff in the safe and headed up to the Oceanview, then to explore the ship.  I was so excited to be on this ship that I really didn't want to sit and eat.  We sat at one of the tables at the back of the ship.  Unfortunately, the table was a very low, more like a cocktail table (not all of them were low, but it was the only one open on the back) so eating was a bit difficult.  It was the price to pay for eating outside with a crowded Oceanview.   After lunch we headed out to see the ship.  I must admit that I saw places that first day that I never got around to visiting the entire week (like the photo gallery but more on that later).   First of all, we loved the look and feel of the ship.  We checked out the lawn, which again, was probably the only time we went up there.  It was very quiet and looked to be a spot if you wanted peace and quiet. On the other hand, the pool area was quiet busy and everyone was hanging out and getting ready for a fabulous week.   The muster was held at 4:30 and was a bit of a bother.  Our rooms had to go to Muranos which ended up being very crowded.  It was probably hard for some of the people in the room to see the video.  The stairways were very crowded as people descended and did not appear to be all that orderly.   Our sail off was delayed because of the entertainer that Atlantis brought onboard for the first night.  We didn't sail out until the performer and her band were off the ship which occurred about 10:30 PM but that didn't stop us from enjoying the first night even if we were still docked.   Our first stop was at the Martini Bar, which was the busiest place on the ship the whole week.  The bartenders were great however service was slow because they really do put on a show every time they make a drink.  Its fun to watch and the drinks were delicious.  I got the Martini flight which left me slightly buzzed.   Dinner this night and the remaining nights were pretty much the same.  The food was good to excellent but nothing really stood out.  The food we had on RCI was similar however; I thought the desserts on RCI were better.  Dinner, like all Atlantis Charters were all open, there is no assigned seating time and I think that might have thrown off some of the people in the dining room since they couldn't quite grasp the concept of "joining" other groups.  Luckily the tables we sat at were always entertaining and the people we met were great.  In fact a couple we met towards the end of the cruise ended up becoming great friends.   Shows:  We didn't really get to see many of the typical cruise shows that Celebrity puts on.  We did see the last night show which was a revue of Broadway songs.  It was ok, typical cruise fare, although they did use a live orchestra but it had a lot of American Idol type singers (belters who could sing really well but lacked any acting talent)   Our favorite place to hang out during the day was at the Solarium.  I had read on CC that it was cold there but we never had a problem with the temp of the air.  The temp of the water in the hot tubs was another thing.  It was never hot but we still enjoyed it.  The solarium was also the place where the Aqua Spa Cafe was located.  I never ate here as the food never seemed that appetizing.  My husband ate here once because he liked the smaller portions and healthy choices.  The seating area is small here too.   We ate most of our lunches at the Oceanview Cafe.  Most of the food was the same from day to day however; they did change up some of the specialty food like the Asian area.  They had some delicious Spring rolls and shrimp in this area.  Breakfast was also pretty similar everyday.  Lots of choices and the food was very good.   Our stops were Labadee, Dominican Republic and Curacao.  Labadee was nice, I like the open air market (many people don't because of the aggressive sellers) however, if you keep walking on it is not a problem.  The food at lunch was typical labadee fare, however, the ribs were actually quite delicious and I could have eaten them all week.   We took the shuttle bus (that cost $7.00 r/t) when we got off in Dominican Republic.  It took you to an area with some shops and plant life.  We didn't find it all that interesting and heard that many of the shops at the second stop were closed (we didn't get off the bus and headed back to the ship).   Curacao was lovely.  I booked the SCUBA excursion online and was not disappointed.  It was a shore dive which I thought would be lousy but the sea life and plant life were amazing.  It was one of the best dives I have been on, two dives, 60 and 40 ft.  It did rain while we were docked in Curacao so we didn't get to walk around the area and shop.  Curacao did provide fireworks for us as we left that evening. It was splendid.   Our last two days at sea were somewhat relaxing and busy at the same time.  We took in all the parties that Atlantis offered yet still found time to relax and enjoy the pool and casino during the day.  We also had Chita Rivera performing on the ship.  She performed many of the numbers from her Broadway career.   Disembarking the ship was very quick.  We were off the ship by 8:30.  We were renting a car for the day because our flight out was at 3 and the rent a car companies at the airport offered a shuttle at the port however, we didn't wait for the shuttle and just took a cab.  It was only about $20 and we were there in 15 minutes.  There were plenty of cabs available too.  Our airline didn't allow people to check bags for their flights until 3 hours before the flight time so we had to load the luggage in the back of the car until we returned for our flight.  Friends who were also leaving later found that while they wouldn't take the luggage at the counters, if you did the skycaps they were taking the luggage.   All in all we loved the cruise and rebooked for the Atlantis Charter again next year, same time, same ship.  We love meeting the people that are aboard the charters since unlike the mainstream cruises, everyone is on the same vacation.   Of the three cruises we were on, this ship was by far the rockiest.  One night the ship was rocking so that we ended up taking a Dramamine before bed just to make sure we didn't get sick.  It was also one of the windiest ship decks we've been on.  If you were on the decks above the pool deck you were always getting whipped around. 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Sail Date March 2009
I've been on several Celebrity ships. Horizon, Millennium, Century, Galaxy and Constellation. Celebrity is my favorite line so as soon as I heard about the first sailing of the Solstice, I booked it. It turned out to be not the ... Read More
I've been on several Celebrity ships. Horizon, Millennium, Century, Galaxy and Constellation. Celebrity is my favorite line so as soon as I heard about the first sailing of the Solstice, I booked it. It turned out to be not the first but the fifth. That didn't matter to me I was still very excited. The embarkation and disembarkation went very smoothly for such a large ship. The ship was beautiful and I was expecting a lot on my first trip to the main dining room. Remembering all the delicious meals I've had on the other Celebrity ships, I was shocked when I first tasted the food on the Solstice. It was not very good. Some nights were better than others but I never really had a fine meal and I never saw an exciting menu. There was no baked Alaska on the final night. My state room (Concierge class) was ok but just ok. It was a little small. The entertainment was circus type. It was ok but just ok. I would have preferred to see a good broadway type show. The glass blowing was not at all interesting. The grass was just a big space with a lawn. My fondest memory is the Martini Bar. The bartenders were very entertaining, throwing olives and cherries over their head and catching them in a glass held behind them. The bar surface was ice and I looked forward to having a drink there every night before dinner. The ship was glitzy, in the style of Royal Caribbean. It didn't have the laid back elegance of the older Celebrity ships. It felt like a Royal Caribbean ship but without all the extras like a skating rink, rock climbing wall, etc. that are so much fun on Royal Caribbean. It was however the smoothest sailing ship I have ever been on. If you were not on your balcony or on deck when it sailed you wouldn't know it was moving. I was on my balcony when we sailed from St. Kitts so as soon as we were on our way I dashed down to one of the stores to find some kind of medicine to treat the sore throat that I developed. None of the stores were open so I asked two of the sales people who were just standing in front of their locked store to please let me in so I could get something to make me feel better. They said: We can't open until we sail. I explained to them that we had just left the port and they didn't believe me. The ship was so smooth that they thought we were still tied up. I think Celebrity has to go back to their original style of cooking food or else get some ice skating and rockclimbing and just change their name to Royal Caribbean. In San Juan and St. Maartin the Freedom of the Seas docked right next to us. I had a lot of fun looking over at the pool in the rear where they had a constant wave that the more athletic ones were surfing on. My next cruise will be on Liberty of the Seas where I can try out that wave and be surprised that the food is better than I expected. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
I booked this cruise well in advance as part of a GLBT group to be part of the solstice inaugural. When the date changed and the ship was delivered early the group coordinator decided to leave the group as-is. I decided to stay with the ... Read More
I booked this cruise well in advance as part of a GLBT group to be part of the solstice inaugural. When the date changed and the ship was delivered early the group coordinator decided to leave the group as-is. I decided to stay with the group and am glad to have done so! I shared my cabin with a good friend from SanFran - this was the 3rd time we had shared a cabin together. Let me start by saying that out of 20+ cruises I personally found the Solstice to be the most stunning, lovely and comfortable ship I have ever set foot on. At every turn she delighted visually. The finishes and fabrics were of an overall high quality, were well selected to create an appropriate mood and ambiance and never jarred my senses. All the seating in public spaces was comfortable. Public rooms flowed well and were laid out in a fashion that was logical and intuitive. I never found myself feeling lost or turned around in any fashion, which has not always been the case on other ships I have sailed. Overall I like the new cabin layout. Some things could be improved. Short sofas and larger nightstands for example. Regardless of which configuration you get access to the closet is difficult, even for very petite persons. I loved the layout of the bathroom, storage space was amazing in there too. My only concern is that the shower doors really should be textured or frosted. Clear shower doors are fine for some couples traveling together, but in many cases they make it inappropriate for many people to have dual-use of the bathroom unless they want to watch their travel companion cleaning all their private parts. This means it will take 2 people sharing a longer time to get ready for dinner, going ashore, etc. The interactive tv system is brilliant and the selection of free on-demand movies and music were exceptional!!! I was in a "hump" balcony concierge class room (#1243) that was the furthest out on the trailing edge of the hump. the balcony was about 2.5 times the depth of a standard balcony and I LOVED it! No matter the weather we could enjoy our time out there and it was also an excellent spot to host pre-cocktail-hour cocktail-hour ;) This particular balcony are rectangular and have a triangulated edge that faces aft. It was never windy, got enough sun to be enjoyable and offered enough shade to be useable. The concierge class perks were nice little touches that made our cabin a nice haven to relax in. Flowers were replaced when appropriate (about 3 times during the week). The towels were large and fluffy, the evening canapes were a nice touch and varied daily. We did not use the umbrella as our Caribbean itinerary. We did enjoy having the binoculars available as well. I do think the shower heads for CC need to be hand held like in aqua class, but that is a minor quibble. For the small price difference over the standard balconies I felt it to be worth the money spent (about $75pp over a 1A). Dining throughout the ship was of a high standard. Does this mean gourmet - no - but considering they are mass catering for 2800+ passengers I felt that the product delivered was of a consistently high quality. Buffet foods were well presented, fresh and had many made to order options. The food court layout was difficult for many passengers to get used to the first day or two, but once folks realized you can just jump in and out and not wait in line for many items it flowed better. The Main Dining room food was creatively presented and prepared and seasoned nicely. Again, not gourmet but definitely high quality. I had several entrees that I found exceptional - 5 months later I still have memories of the delicious Quail stuffed w/ sweetbreads and a truffle oil reduction I had one night for dinner - SUPERB! I was disappointed that they have discontinued serving sorbets before the entrees on formal nights. That has always been one thing that really set the Celebrity Dining experience apart for me. Desserts have always been a weak spot for me on cruise ships and I found those on the Solstice to be par for the course. Specialty dining on the Solstice comes in many guises and all are wonderful experiences in themselves. We ate at Tuscan Grille, Muranos and the Bistro on five (aka - Bistro for $5). Tuscan Grille was a nice change of pace and the food was well prepared and presented. Murano was exceptional both in service and presentation. Food was of an extremely high quality and the preparations were unique and well thought out. The mushroom soup cappuccino was unique - hot frothy mushroom soup with a scoop of mushroom gelato on the side - yes mushroom gelato! - tasty on its own, but stipped into the soup enhanced the soups flavor and turned it from exceptional into sublime! The maitre'd on our sailing was from Macedonia and he made our dining experience in Murano exceptional - especially his informative, yet humorous cheese presentation. Never have I had such a cheese course as that! Bistro on five offered a nice casual dining alternative and the controversial $5 service fee was well worth it! the crepe selection was imaginative and well thought out, sandwiches, salads and soups were all quite tasty as well! Several times there were waits of 20-30 minutes for tables so obviously the service fee was not a deterrent to many passengers, and I feel that Celebrity has done the right thing by instituting it as had they not it would have been a mob scene! Entertainment is so highly subjective, but for my tastes the Solstice delivered a high quality program of production shows, lunge performers, lecturers, etc. Never once did i have to "search" for a venue to enjoy live music or dancing. The casino has a large # of video slots, which I prefer, and many .001, .002 and .005 machines. I gamble as part of my entertainment. I have no pretenses of winning or making money at it. Just something to divert for a few minutes each evening or on a rainy sea day. For non-smokers the highly restrictive smoking policy is quite literally a breath of fresh air and I applaud Celebrity for this move. I do wonder though how much it is impacting bar revenues - especially in the disco and casino. The main pool is visually beautiful, but even the slightest ocean swell causes it to slosh all over the deck like crazy. entry/exit points are not in the most practical locations and loungers are crammed tightly together. There was never a problem to find a lounger and many options existed for either sun or shade. the solarium pool was lovely, but horribly underused. Had there been a Thalassotherapy pool like on the Millenium-Class, or a retractable roof like on the RCCL Radiance/Vision Class I think it would have been more popular. On cooler weather itineraries I am sure it will be much appreciated. The Thalasstherapy pool was sorely missed by this cruiser! Staff throughout could not have been friendlier or more accommodating. They were always on hand to supply whatever I needed but were never overly pushy. For being a 2800+ passenger ship I was surprised at how many staff members to pains to learn passenger names and greet them by name at every opportunity - this shows good training on Celebrities part and a staff that is happy to be there! Overall, for a relatively new ship there was little in the way of glitches and nothing that caused me reason to complain. Solstice really is a game changer for Celebrity - it takes many of the excellent features for which they have long been know and brings it up a notch. This ship, and her siblings, will particularly shine on longer cruises. 7 days is not really enough to enjoy everything that she has to offer! Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
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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