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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2016
Amazing...... This was our first cruise so we had no idea what to expect. When we arrived at the ship we smoothly were able to board. We then went to explore the ship. My husband is celiac so we wanted to find out what drink package ... Read More
Amazing...... This was our first cruise so we had no idea what to expect. When we arrived at the ship we smoothly were able to board. We then went to explore the ship. My husband is celiac so we wanted to find out what drink package would be best for him ( if there was even gf alcohol on board!). Everyone was so helpful! We then went to the buffet to talk with the chef go find out what he could/couldn't eat! Traveling with celiac disease is extremely difficult. Not on Celebrity! They treated him like a king! He had no problems with eating! I found the ports visited excellent however I didn't enjoy how pushy the locals were to buy from them. I know that is how they make their money but it doesn't make it enjoyable. However..... We ❤️ Grand Caymen!!!! We would go again tomorrow if money allowed!!! Service, food, entertainment was all top notch!!! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2014
If it wasn't for seniors (60 and above ) half the fine restaurants in the USA would go out of business in a week. Also 1/2 the cruise ships would be scrapped within a year. Seniors have the money and the time to travel at any time of ... Read More
If it wasn't for seniors (60 and above ) half the fine restaurants in the USA would go out of business in a week. Also 1/2 the cruise ships would be scrapped within a year. Seniors have the money and the time to travel at any time of the year. We have been on 4 Celebrity cruises and have no complaints, food was good to excellent , cabin and room attendants were superb. Embarking ( 20 minutes at most) and disembarking (15 minutes or less) were well organized. Cruise was a cocktail cruise. They offered it to 130 people. It include 3 classes on making and tasting cocktails plus a 4 course Tuscan lunch with cocktail pairing. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2012
We've been fortunate to have a great cruise experience on each of our 3 cruises. However, Celebrity seemed to offer a high class of service and provided a much more relaxed experience that either Royal or Disney. Maybe it's just ... Read More
We've been fortunate to have a great cruise experience on each of our 3 cruises. However, Celebrity seemed to offer a high class of service and provided a much more relaxed experience that either Royal or Disney. Maybe it's just because we are getting older and aren't looking for a party on our vacations? But even our 11 year old son thought that this cruise topped them all. The ship was tastfully done and had the feel of a high quality hotel and resort. Although the ship was full, the ship was always clean and there was never a feeling that we had just shared a space with thousands of people. All of the food was great and we highly recommend Murano, the French inspired restaurant, for a date night without the kids. The was food was fantastic and the service was out of this world. We've had some great meals in Seattle (Campagne, the Metropolitan Grill, etc) but even they could learn a thing about service compared to Murano. For kids, our son liked being able to check himself in and out of the kids club and didn't feel as restricted as his did on Royal. I had a chance to talk to one of the kids club staff and she was very patient. Most of the kids were well behaved but there were a few that needed some discipline for their over the top behaviors. Still, the staff handled them kindly and my son managed to stay clear of them. He also made some friends from the UK, which I thought was cool. Some of the things we all really appreciated compared to our other cruises were: 1. The pool scene was civilized- no fighting over chairs. And unlike Royal, you didn't need to check out a towel and be threatened with a fine if you didn't return it. 2. When returning to the ship from a day in port, they had cool drinks and iced towels waiting for quests. The Carnival Cruise crowd actually had people reaching across a fence to get a drink and towel from the Celebrity staff. Since it was so hot, some of the Celebrity workers helped out a Carnival family who had a kid that seemed to really be uncomfortable with the heat. 3. The stateroom had better storage than our last ship, the Freedom of the Seas. The room rivals what we had on the Disney Wonder. 4. We loved stopping in Roatan and Costa Maya. Be careful if you use your credit card on Roatan- our number was used after we left the island. The fraud dept. at Visa caught it but it was suprising to find out that someone has used our card # for thousands of dollars at a resort on the island. Still, Roatan was a great place and we hated to leave it. A little criticism... 1. While the guest entertainers were pretty good, the Stars of Celebrity and Espiranza the Cruise Director were a little corny. It must be hard to stay fresh given the rigorous performance schedule they must have. We enjoyed the shows but felt that the traditional evening shows were better on our other cruises. 2. Drinks for grown ups were expensive. Maggie, our wine steward, helped steer us to a good selection each night but it wasn't cheap. The martini bar and drinks at the Molecular bar were great and we probably should have opted for the premium drink package instead of paying ala carte. We didn't over indulge but when you add up a $5 beer at the pool with wine and an evening cocktail for $11 a pop, it did add up. 3. Our ship is leaving the Caribbean... The Soltice has been re-located and won't be in the Caribbean anymore:( Overall, Celebrity gets an A for overall quality.   Read Less
Sail Date: April 2012
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
After two satisfying cruises with Princess, I was looking to try a different cruise-line. Our experience on Celebrity Solstice was very comparable to Princess. Parking and boarding in Ft Lauderdale is simple and went smoothly. I parked at ... Read More
After two satisfying cruises with Princess, I was looking to try a different cruise-line. Our experience on Celebrity Solstice was very comparable to Princess. Parking and boarding in Ft Lauderdale is simple and went smoothly. I parked at Park n Go and was on the ship within 40 minutes or so. Our 2 pieces of luggage arrived at our room before late dining. With some effort, I was able to get a spot at early dining. It was full when I booked a week before departure. The shows were better than I ever expected...The "Cirque" type show is amazing.The magician/comedian was hilarious. Song and dance was better than average. I went to a show every night and was never bored. The glass blowing demonstrations are also great, and can be sat in on at any time they are going on. I thought the pools were well configured and not too noisy. My wife and I mostly used the solarium indoor pool. It has very comfy lounges, air conditioning, and elevator type music playing. I did lay by the outside pools to get suntan for about an hour 4 or 5 days. I had no problem finding lounges available. I will occasionally move towels from empty lounges so I can use them. For the most part, no problem with "chair savers". This was spring break and Easter week and I still always found a place to lie down. The ship itself is clean and new feeling. Easy to get around. I will cruise on any solstice class ship any time. My interior room was large enough and the bathroom and shower were very well laid out. The closet is a little awkward. We ate all dinners in the main dining room. Some entrees were less than inspiring, others were nearly perfect. Desserts were outstanding as I expect. The breakfast and lunch buffet had good variety and the food was fresh. I will cruise with either Celebrity or Princess again without hesitation. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2012
Excuse this rather lengthy review, but I am going to try to include some of the 'other' details that people seem to want to know about! Introduction - My husband and I are in our mid 50s and from the UK. This was our fourth ... Read More
Excuse this rather lengthy review, but I am going to try to include some of the 'other' details that people seem to want to know about! Introduction - My husband and I are in our mid 50s and from the UK. This was our fourth cruise -- third with Celebrity and second on the beautiful Solstice. Travel Arrangements - We drove down to Heathrow after work on 29th March and stayed in the Heathrow Airport Crowne Plaza Hotel and used their park and ride facility. This is a lovely hotel, where we were able to leave our car for the duration of our holiday. We got the shuttle bus from the hotel to the airport at a cost of £8 pp return. It's convenient, but the buses only run every 30 minutes and can be busy! We flew to Miami International Airport with British Airways, and although we had no real complaints about the flight, we much prefer Virgin Airways, who we feel look after you much better than BA, but that is just a personal opinion. We were met by Larry's Limos, which we had pre-booked on line, and were pleased with the service we received. They took us to our hotel in Hollywood Beach for a 2 night pre-cruise stay. Crowne Plaza Hollywood Beach Resort - We were booked into the Crowne Plaza Hollywood Beach Resort and I must admit we were disappointed with our room on level 8, which was very noisy due to the close proximity of the lift. Also, our intercostal waterway view was only just visible, but the view of the car park was great! As we were booked into the same hotel for 2 nights post-cruise, we spoke to one of the duty managers who arranged for us to have an amazing room for our next stay. More about this later! Our room was spacious and had a separate shower and toilet, but the washbasin was in the main bedroom. We had a microwave and fridge in the room, but no plates or cutlery. There were mugs and glasses available and a coffee maker with coffee, sugar and powdered milk provided. There is a 7eleven store next door to the hotel, and a large Walmart just a 10 minute walk from the hotel. The water taxi stops at the hotel and a full day adult ticket was $20 pp and we used this extensively on the Saturday. If you want to access the beach, you have to cross a very busy road, but we preferred to use the lovely pool, which also had an outdoor Jacuzzi! The Hollywood Broadwalk was a 10 -- 15 minute walk away. Embarkation - On Sunday 1st April, we took a taxi to Port Everglades. The taxi fare was $30 and took about 25 minutes. We arrived at the port at 11.45am and within 15 minutes we were on board the ship and being welcomed by smiling staff and a glass of 'bubbly'. The cabins weren't ready until about 2pm, so we waited in one of our favourite places on the ship -- Cafe Al Bacio. This is a wonderful coffee shop which, as well as serving a variety of teas, coffees and sodas at a cost, they also serve different types of free 'finger' food; small croissants at breakfast, open sandwiches and little rolls at lunchtime, cakes mid afternoon and cookies all day! Wonderful! AQ Cabin 1625 - Once we were allowed in our cabins, we headed to our Aqua class cabin on deck 11 to find a bottle of bubbly waiting for us. The cabins do, in our opinion, have more than enough storage space and the bathroom is a very good size, with lots of storage space and a super shower. We chose our cabin location under other cabins, not the pool, and it was always quiet. The balcony did have an overhang but as we were on the port side, we had glorious sunshine each morning during the first 5 days, and in the evening for the last couple of days. We each had the use of lovely bathrobes and slip-on slippers during our cruise and throughout the 7 days we received a total of 3 free bags! Also, beach towels were provided for each port day. In AQ we were entitled to a flask of iced tea and 2 small bottles of water daily. Canapes are also delivered each day, if you fill in the daily request form. As my husband is allergic to all fish, we spoke to our wonderful cabin steward and instead of the daily canapes, we had a cheese platter delivered each day. After unpacking, we attended the compulsory safety drill before buying sailaway cocktails, served in souvenir plastic glasses! Dining. We ate breakfast in the Oceanview Cafe most mornings, but also had room service a couple of times. Both were very good but the Oceanview Cafe did get very busy at times. Throughout the cruise, we dined in Blu -- a firm favourite of ours, but I must admit we were slightly disappointed with Blu this cruise. I would probably give it 9 out of 10 this time instead of the normal 10 out of 10! We love the atmosphere in Blu and enjoy having a table for 2 each night, and we personally don't mind sitting at a different table each evening and meeting different guests each time. However, this cruise, we felt that Blu was very overcrowded and the waiters were always extremely busy and the service was much slower than on previous cruises. This was our first cruise since some of the old CC cabins have become AQ cabins and wondered if this was why the restaurant was more crowded than we had experienced in the past. I must mention the wonderful Brunch which was served in the Grand Epernay Dining Room on the last sea day. This was amazing! Entertainment. Generally the entertainment each evening was very good and we thought the cast of the shows were excellent and very talented. Our only slight criticism was the timings of the shows, especially on the two formal nights -- they were 7.45pm or 10.45pm! Talking about formal nights, I won't get involved with the controversial issue of dress code, but I will say that about 90% of dinners in Blu were very smartly dressed for both formal nights -- I would guess approximately 60% of men were in suits and 30% wore tuxedos. Activities. There were lots of different activities going on throughout the ship and I would be very surprised if there was not something to suit every taste -- these included trivia quizzes, food and drink presentations, scrapbooking, bingo and different lectures. Our cruise director this cruise was a female -- Esperanza -- and although we could tell she was quite nervous, we found her a breath of fresh air, as she was quite humble and not as 'pushy' as previous CDs we have met, but this of course is a personal opinion. Drinks package - Now to drinks packages!!! On our last cruise on the Eclipse, we took the premium alcohol package and loved the fact that we could have anything we wanted, without having to sign for it, but as we are not great martini drinkers, we felt we didn't get full value for money. So this time, we went for the classic alcohol package and we definitely 'broke even'. The sommeliers in Blu were outstanding, and our wine glasses were never empty! We were frequent uses of Cafe Al Bacio and all the coffees, including Irish Coffee, were available on this package. We could enjoy any of the frozen drinks both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, plus all the sodas and fresh orange juice or mimosa each morning. The only thing we couldn't get was the premium water, but we had sufficient water in our cabin each day, and they served iced water with dinner each evening. Grand Cayman -- We took the Celebrity tour 'Turtle, Stingray, Land and Sea Adventure'. As this was a Celebrity organized tour, we met in the theatre and had no problems getting on a tender to take us ashore, although we used one of the ships lifeboats as our tender and it was rather 'rough' compared to the local tender boat we returned on! The tour was interesting and well organised and we had great photo opportunities when swimming with the stingrays. After the morning tour, there was a very long queue to get back on the tender boat, but staff from the ship came down the waiting line with cold drinks and iced towels. The Royal Caribbean passengers queuing adjacent to us were exceptionally jealous of this wonderful service as they queued in the heat without anything! (Cold drinks and iced towels were available every time we returned to the ship!) Cozumel -- Again we took a Celebrity tour -- 'Dolphin Push, Pull and Swim and Manatee Interaction'. Sadly the initial organisation of this tour was appalling. We were told to meet on the pier but there were so many different groups trying to find their correct tour and we didn't see a single Celebrity representative - it was very chaotic! However, after we found our meeting point and set off, the tour itself was excellent and we absolutely loved swimming with the dolphins. The photographs they took were pricey, but excellent quality. A really super tour. Roatan -- We did the 'Roatan Island Tour and Highlights' through Celebrity. Again we had to meet our tour on the pier, but there were a few Celebrity reps visible this time, so it wasn't as bad as the previous day! The tour was enjoyable, but we didn't really feel we got a true 'feel' for Roatan as the tour definitely focused on the better parts of the Island. Costa Maya -- This was the only tour we booked privately. We did the Chacchoben Mayan Ruins Tour through Native Choice. We had a short walk to the Native Choice office and were greeted by lots of friendly and efficient staff. The whole tour was, in our opinion, extremely well organised and very informative. The small mini buses were comfortable and air-conditioned and water (not well chilled) was freely available. A most enjoyable tour and on our return we were given the choice of being dropped off back at our starting point or being taken into town where you would have needed a taxi to return to the ship. We got off at the Native Choice office and enjoyed wandering around the purpose built port at Costa Maya. Disembarkation -- As we were having 2 days post cruise at Hollywood Beach, we chose to leave the ship at 10am. We had to vacate our cabin by 8am and breakfast was served until 8am. However, Cafe Al Bacio was open and we got good value with our drinks package whilst waiting to disembark. This was the positive. The negative was the massive, somewhat disorganised queues to get through Customs! We found our cases without any problem but then queued for well over an hour to get out of the port building. Once outside, we had no difficulty finding a taxi for our return to the Crowne Plaza at Hollywood Beach. We had told them that we would be arriving early and were pleasantly surprised to be able to go straight to our wonderful room on floor 6. We had a massive room, with 2 balconies, a wonderful view of the intercostal waterway and all the facilities previously mentioned. We had a fabulous 2 days this time! Heading Home - Larry's Limos picked us up for our return trip to the airport, and even though the road outside our hotel was temporarily closed due to a VVIP arrival in town, the company were in continual contact with us, and eventually delivered us to the airport in time for the flight. We would certainly use this company again. Our BA Flight to Heathrow was uneventful and after a lengthy wait for the shuttle bus back to collect our car, we headed home! Conclusion -- We had a really enjoyable and relaxing cruise, with a broad mix of ages on board. We found all the staff exceptionally helpful and polite and the ship was always being cleaned! We did see a few signs of 'wear and tear' around the ship, especially around the outdoor pool, but generally we thought the ship was in wonderful condition and she is definitely our favourite ship to date. The only real disappointments were the overcrowding in Blu and our first ever Cruise Critic 'meet and greet'. Although this was enjoyable and free tea, coffee and pastries were provided, we only got to chat to one lovely lady as the event was not well attended and therefore ended really quickly. Otherwise a super trip! Sorry this review is so long, but hope it may help someone! Happy cruising! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2012
Returning from the Caribbean just a week ago now, I find I'm longing for an excuse to book our next cruise aboard the Solstice! Our third cruise in 18 months, we finally made the jump from Royal Caribbean to Celebrity, and found it ... Read More
Returning from the Caribbean just a week ago now, I find I'm longing for an excuse to book our next cruise aboard the Solstice! Our third cruise in 18 months, we finally made the jump from Royal Caribbean to Celebrity, and found it met all of our expectations. A little background: We're two friends from college, both in our early 30's, and while we're always mistaken for a couple, we've found that we're just great travel partners! We've both taken 6+ cruises, spanning the range from Carnival to Regent, with our 'standard' having been Royal Caribbean to this point. Both active individuals, we tend to look for a balance between beach time and activities, and always appreciate meeting new people while traveling, and have been lucky enough to make some great friends along the way. After fare changes pre-cruise, we upgraded from a Veranda stateroom to AquaClass. Excited about the added amenities, we most looked forward to dining in Blu, and use of the spa facilities. That, along with preferred embarkation and disembarkation, we thought we were already living the life of 'Modern Luxury'! Embarkation We flew into Fort Lauderdale the morning of embarkation, and arrived at the port without issue around 11:00am. After a very quick check-in process, we were escorted to the AquaClass waiting area and only a minute or two later, invited to board the ship. Something to note regarding the Port Everglades cruise terminal -- it's big! Six ships were setting sail that day. In addition, port staff, and not the ship staff that so often takes forever with other cruise lines handle the check in process. This made a tremendous difference in efficiency and quickly getting through the cue. On Board Greeted with a glass of champagne, we were on our way to tour the ship. Rooms wouldn't be available for another couple hours, but that didn't stop us from getting acquainted with the ship -- and it's a beautiful ship -- and heading to the pool. The short version of what happened next is this: Cabin's were ready around 1:30 and after proceeding to our room found the floor was being dried after a 'flood' from the air conditioning unit the previous day. Our cabin attendant was right there waiting for us, and kept us well informed of what was being done, and assured us everything would work out well. After returning from the muster drill, it was clear the issue was larger and we would need to be moved. A quick chat with our room attendant, and a trip to the Guest Relations desk, we were invited to move to a Sky Suite on deck 12. We now found ourselves in a unique position to experience the benefits of both AquaClass and a Sky Suite. The Guest Relations staff made sure to apply our AquaClass status to our new room (suite guests normally need to pay to dine in blue or use the spa facilities), and brought us up to speed with the suite amenities -- a complimentary dinner in one of the specialty restaurants, and butler service. Whatever would we do with a butler!? Room First, the AquaClass cabins: Great rooms in general, and in comparison to other lines, quite luxurious. The welcome champagne, afternoon iced tea, and cabin layouts are all pluses. Uncertain that they're worth the additional $ (on average about $100 per person), but certainly jump on them if fares change or deals are being offered. The Sky Suite: extremely large, and well appointed. Never have we spent so much time on our balcony while at sea -- clearly having twice the amount of space makes a difference! Add in the fact that we weren't tripping over each other and it was clear this was a tremendous upgrade from our normal balcony room. Only downside is the excessive noise coming from above. Being on deck 12, we were directly below the Oceanview Cafe. Unfortunately, nothing can be done about the noise -- just be aware of your room location when booking. Dining & Food Dining in Blu was a welcome change from the main dining room. Something to note -- when you book AquaClass, you don't receive a main dining room table assignment, rather you're expected to be dining in Blu each night. The food is wonderful, and while it's billed as a 'healthier' alternative to the main dining room, it's not that different. Food in both locations is great, and if you want to order off the menu -- that is, the standing menu for the night is not to your liking -- feel free to request something else. The biggest difference we appreciated was that Blu is a much more intimate dining location, and while busy each night, it doesn't have the same 'organized chaos' of the main dining room. In fact, all dining locations on the ship were great -- the food was a definite step up from Royal Caribbean. The buffet never seemed too crowded, and always an option for a sandwich, salad, slice of pizza, or sushi. Bars & Drink Packages We thought long and hard about the drink packages, and at the end of the day decided on the Premium Alcohol package for each of us. A few notes about the differences in packages: The Classic package is good for cocktails up to $8. If you order a drink that costs more than that, you need to pay the full price of the drink. In contrast, the Premium package is good for drinks up to $12, and if you order a drink that costs more than that, you only need to pay the difference in price. Give a lot of thought to what you'll be dinking. Add in bottled water, specialty coffee drinks (latte's and cappuccino's), Pellegrino and wine at dinner, and without doubt we made the package work for us. It was also nice not having to sign for each individual drink! The Pool Bar is SLOW -- a complaint we heard from many people. Plan on sitting and waiting for a drink for a good while. Instead, I recommend heading up to deck 14 just above the pool bar to the mast bar -- much friendlier and faster service! Great crowd too, and where we met some good friends. The Ensemble lounge is fantastic -- great for a pre-dinner or post-dinner drink and to listen to live music. The Martini bar is also a great crowd, and fun to try new drinks at. Ports This is the first time we didn't book at all through the ship. We've booked excursions directly in the past, but almost always found something that jumped out at us through the ship. This time, we were much more in the mood to sit on a beach and enjoy the sun. And that we've decided doesn't warrant booking through the ship. Grand Cayman - We got it wrong here. The problem with 7 Mile Beach is that it's 7 miles! Where's the right spot!? We headed for Royal Palms beach club, and were quickly disappointed when the $2 admission fee was met with $10 per beach chair, and super crowded. Also keep in mind that tendering in Grand Cayman takes time... plan on an hour to reach your destination, and an hour to get back on the ship. There's no particular reason for this -- it just takes time to get off the ship, to the dock, in a cab, and to the beach. Plan accordingly! Cozumel - On the recommendation of a friend that had visited a few weeks earlier, we headed for Paradise Beach. What a great day! We shared a cab with a family of four ($4 per person) and headed to the beach resort. Admission is $2, and use of the water activities (snorkel gear, kayak's, and water trampolines) will cost you $12, but is completely optional. Unlike the day before, our $2 admission gives use of all the facilities including chairs and umbrellas! The complex is huge, with a full bar and restaurant, and failry reasonable prices. Roatan - On a whim, we headed for Little French Cay. Great location, but how we got there was the issue... Uncertain of the port layout, we missed the taxis and wandered through the gauntlet of tour operators. We arrived at our destination about an hour and twenty minutes later, only to come across some soon to be friends that took the taxi option and had been on the beach for an hour already. Regardless, it turned out to be a great day, and while it got busy in the early afternoon, we had a relatively peaceful morning. Costa Maya - Following the advise of our newly found friends in Roatan, we headed for Pez Quadro Beach Club. Great location and an extremely relaxed beach atmosphere. Being Good Friday, there were a lot of local's visiting the beach, but it never seemed chaotic despite being busy. Getting to the beach was $2 per person by taxi (located outside the cruise port), and once there we opted for an all-inclusive package. Not the best deal of the trip, but still nice to have an easy and relaxing day. At the end of the day, this turned out to be a great trip -- probably our best yet. Not necessarily because of the ports, but more because of the ship and level of service. The attentiveness of the crew and staff was a noticeable difference to our previous cruises, and despite getting off to a rough start with our cabin, any issues were resolved effectively and quickly. If you're looking at sailing the Solstice -- I highly recommend it! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2012
My family of 6 cruises frequently to Caribbean and more recently European ports. After achieving Diamond status last year, we decided to try Celebrity again after 14 years of focusing on our (at the time) small children. We loved Royal ... Read More
My family of 6 cruises frequently to Caribbean and more recently European ports. After achieving Diamond status last year, we decided to try Celebrity again after 14 years of focusing on our (at the time) small children. We loved Royal Caribbean but were tiring of the same menu year after year; and we had enough bruises from the Flowrider for awhile :) Embarkation in Fort Lauderdale was easy, though we were not directed to the Elite line like we should have been and I jumped on it myself. This saved us a lot of time. Being Diamond members on Royal, Celebrity gives us the Elite status which is nice. After a delicious lunch in the Oceanview cafe we waited for a short while until the cabin announcement was made. We waited for the attendant to open up our balconies so we three could walk up and down (but beware, you can't lock your balcony door so your companions can come in and take your chocolate!). The connecting door is actually a foyer. The good thing is that all 4 of our cards open a common front door into a foyer, then 3 feet in are the two separate doors that are now unlocked and can be propped open. Anyone who books connecting cabins with children on Celebrity will know that even if you plan on keeping one cabin for the adults/parents and one for the children, an adult must be on the booking with a child in each cabin. This caused severe issues, I believe, for my husband's on board account, which was never properly linked to our Credit Card. After responding to multiple letters left on my stateroom door, and attempts to correct this by bringing my Credit Card to Guest Services, and phoning the number to the Purser's office; this failure on Celebrity's part to complete this transaction was very intrusive on our vacation time. The food was a welcome delicious change from the menu we had become accustomed to on the Royal Caribbean ships. Many of us appreciated the nightly steaks, filet mignon, chateaubriand, lobster, souffle, baked alaska, crepes, and other fine offerings not found on other lines lately. One night in the Tuscan Grill was an amazing treat of pasta and steaks enjoyed by all. The first sea day we booked the Champagne High Tea, a white glove service in the Murano dining room featuring dainty sandwiches and pastries, scones, and we were entertained by a trio of string players. The service was excellent and we were truly pampered. My children (ages 12&14) tell me they miss the pool deck of the Allure and the Freedom class ships. I agree, the pool deck is smaller, the pool is reminiscent of the tiny Disney boat pools, and the hot tubs are small as well. The Allure with its large cantilevered hot tubs cannot be beat. My son also couldn't find a sports bar on this ship, I did not either, as March Madness was winding to a close this sailing. They both enjoyed the teen club, Club X, and the other 115 children in their age group (Junior Teens, 12-15). The other issue is that when you have a soda package, you sometimes have to wait 5 or 10 minutes to get the actual soda, as the bars seem understaffed and busy making fancy umbrella drinks, of course. Couldn't there be an easier way to get a can of Coke from the fridge rather than wait for a bartender to make 2 daiquiris, 3 pina coladas, and chat up another customer? Seems to me a way to conserve soda. Our Dining room staff, Nebo and Sally was amazing, our sommelier Aneesh was awesome. He always had a great selection by the glass or bottle for us, and was not put out by requests from the bar either. We miss the sommelier on Royal, they have given that role to the assistant waiter and it is not the same. Aneesh would get us anything from anywhere, not just the wine cellar. The Elite club members have a nice cocktail hour 5-7 pm with passed hot canapes. Also appreciated by my mom was the espresso drinks available from 8-10 am at Michaels, and the priority tender tickets at Grand Cayman. We probably didn't need them anyway, but were good to have since we had a private boat tour booked for the day. Also 45 minutes of free internet per cabin. As others have noted, the sun loungers are in short supply on sea days. The adult only solarium was air conditioned and usually had some chaises opening up during the day. Maybe its the kids hogging the sun loungers on the pool deck then? I had 2 very nice massages in the Spa, and my husband and I used the gym 3 times to keep up our running for an upcoming half marathon. Even at 7 am, the gym is very hot along the windows with the treadmills. These are the first treadmills I have used with no personal fans built into the console. There are no staff that early to prop open doors or place a floor fan, either, so you are just very sweaty at 7 am. They had the usual selection of spinning and yoga classes, and a boot camp for additional fees. One night we stayed up for the comedy show and the night club, which was very nice. The Molecular Martini bar served creative beverages at 12 dollars a pop, allegedly nutritious, too! If you want a snack at 2 am you must use room service. No food in the buffets. Good things, food, wait staff service, elite features, connecting balconies, free in room movies, relaxing spa services Not so good, wait at the bar for soda, on board account screw up with accompanying harassment by the finance staff ruining my relaxed state of mind on the last day. And we did book another Celebrity cruise for next year whilst on board, taking advantage of a great On board booking credit deal of $400 per cabin on a 12 night Greece/Turkey cruise. Port updates; Grand Cayman, booked Captain Nick rib boat tour of Stingray City, starfish beach, lunch at Rum Point, snorkel on reef near Rum Point, and real estate tour of fancy seaside homes. Awesome and so nice to have our own boat tour! Cozumel, beach day at Naachi Cocum, super fun crowd there from the Carnival boat that entertained us, and kids drove jet skis and had a blast. Food was great as were drinks and swim up pool bar. Hot tub says adults only , but was visited by happy kids/teens too. Very crunchy beach with many shells that can pinch your feet, and some rumors of sand fleas but I didn't notice any. Costa Maya, we booked Mini Boat Blast through Shore Excursions, was a bus ride away at a private beach club, very friendly, the swim snorkeling was too vigorous for my parents, but they could have just snorkeled off the boats, the swim didn't really add much to the fish sightings. The boats are fun to drive and the water is beautiful. All you could drink from the beach bar, limited to Dos Equis beer, margaritas etc. This area is very secluded and quiet. Honduras, we booked a Viktor Bodden private tour and driver, he took us to the Bodden monkey zoo where we played with monkeys and other animals, then the West Bay beaches, which are a crowded hopping beach party all day long. The food here was good, fresh catch grilled, calamari, nachos, chicken wings, and local beer. Again, nice to have the private van for us so we could leave when ready. There was free internet, but we didn't bring our ipad. The beach has the warmest water of the trip and the softest sand, no sharp stones or shells to step on. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2012
We spent a couple days before our cruise playing golf and staying at Doral Resort and Spa. This facility has just been purchased by Donald Trump and will be refurbished, but it was great for two golfers who had this on their bucket list. ... Read More
We spent a couple days before our cruise playing golf and staying at Doral Resort and Spa. This facility has just been purchased by Donald Trump and will be refurbished, but it was great for two golfers who had this on their bucket list. We rented a car from Hertz, which leads me to my first tip. If you are renting, Hertz has a car return right at the port in the Crowne Plaza hotel parking ramp. They then provide a free shuttle right to your ship. This is much easier than dealing with returning a rental to the airport and then taking a cab to the pier. Embarkation: This went very smoothly, with only a slight delay due to extra cleaning. You can still hand carry two bottles of wine per stateroom, which provides you with wine to have on your balcony before going to dinner in a very peaceful, quiet environment. Ship: The ship is beautiful. It is large, but easy to navigate once you figure out which direction it is headed! I did miss the two story windows in the dining room of the Millenium class, but Solstice has a lot of clean lines and pleasing neutral colors to provide a modern look. Shows: We attended all of the shows. I can't believe people would criticize these shows. These people are singing and dancing their hearts out. The entertainment is diverse and just seems to be getting better. Solstice has a very multifunctional stage which they utilize very well for special affects. Ports: We golfed at three of the ports--Grand Cayman, Cozumel, and Roatan. It was fun to golf with iguanas and crocodiles! Don't shoot for score, just enjoy the scenery and challenge of the island courses. My favorite--Roatan. This is a developing resort, and a fairly contrived course, but just fun and challenging with one island green. SOOOO worth it: Vallet luggage service is very worth the $20 per person charge. You basically check in on the cruise ship like the airport, and the night before they deliver luggage tags, boarding passes, and vallet tags to your stateroom. You put your luggage out, and pick it up at your home destination. Slick! Also worth it is dining at the specialty restaurants. We ate at Murano, Bristro on five, and Tuscan Grille. If you are watching costs and have to pick, Tuscan Grille was my favorite. The reason is the beautiful views out the back of the ship, which I had missed. Bistro on Five was very relationship-building. The food was fantastic, and the waiters enjoy chatting with you in a relaxed environment. Celebrity continues to win our business for many reasons; their attentive staff is fantastic, and the food is always good for about a three-pound gain in a week! Disembarkation: This took about 20 minutes. Can't beat that! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2012
Ventured into the Western Caribbean last week aboard Solstice. Beautiful ship. Only minor hangup (and it was very minor) was lack of deck chairs for days at sea. But will over 2000 passengers it was not to be unexpected. Ports ... Read More
Ventured into the Western Caribbean last week aboard Solstice. Beautiful ship. Only minor hangup (and it was very minor) was lack of deck chairs for days at sea. But will over 2000 passengers it was not to be unexpected. Ports (Georgetown, Grand Cayman;Cozumel;Roatan;Costa Maya) were all great. Lots to do in each. One thing....if you have never been, the ship docks in Cozumel but everything that happens off ship other than local shopping takes place across the water on the mainland in and around Playa Del Carmen. Highly recommend the Ruins at Tulum excusion at the Cozumel stop. Although not a culinery officianado, we will pass on poor quality food. that was never the case on Solstice! wherever you ate, be it the buffet or the Epernay dining room, the food was very good. Excellent variety and prepared very well. Best food at sea we have had to date! So good in fact we found no reason to put down extra dollars to use the speciality restaurants. Staff was the most pleasant, cordial, and responsive we have found at sea to date. Accommodations were adequate although a bit tight. Excursions were handled extremely well and an excellent number to choose from. Onboard entertainment was good as well. Note: This is not a cruise for the under 21 group. Saw maybe 20 or 30 teens/tweens/kids the entire cruise. I would venture a guess that passenger average age was mid forties or older. Two formal nights brought forth more long gowns and tuxedos that I have seen outside of a night at the Metropolitan Opera!! And if you are doing a Western Carib be prepared for the heat on shore! Embark and debark in Lauderdale a breeze! was onboard within 35 minutes of landing, and outboard in less than an hour of debark! best ever. One final note...if you want to take advantage of the excursions, expect to lay out 100 or so per person per excursion on average! All in all, in my humble opinion, would rate the cruise 9.0 of 10. Definitely five stars. Enjoy!!! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2012
PERSONAL-- I am mid-50s and traveled alone on this cruise. I have cruised quite a bit, and appreciate Celebrity's style. EMBARCATION-- The lines moved, the staff was courteous, and I was on board in matter of minutes. Since I ... Read More
PERSONAL-- I am mid-50s and traveled alone on this cruise. I have cruised quite a bit, and appreciate Celebrity's style. EMBARCATION-- The lines moved, the staff was courteous, and I was on board in matter of minutes. Since I arrived around 1:30 PM, I was able to drop my carry-on in my cabin and head up for a buffet lunch. Flawless! SHIP OVERALL-- I had sailed on the Solstice before, and have also sailed on the Eclipse. This is a beautiful class of ships, with gracious public spaces, thoughtful artwork, and nice cabins. She is maintained perfectly, and I noticed that spaces were constantly being cleaned. CABIN-- I had an oceanview cabin on Deck Three. The bedding is very nice, and the storage quite adequate. I appreciated the variety of music available through the TV. While I never watched a film, there are plenty of them available for free. My cabin steward was attentive. I never heard a sound from either adjacent cabin. I had room service breakfast every morning, and it came promptly as ordered. DINING-- I singed up for "anytime" dining, and requested to be put at a six-top or eight-top. I generally got to the dining room close to 7 PM. The two couples with whom I dined the first night invited me to join them again two other nights. Service was excellent, and the food was delicious every night. I'm not always keen on cruise ship lobster, but it was very tasty on this cruise. I didn't use any specialty restaurants. The Oceanview Cafe offers quite a variety of foods for the buffet options. Don't miss the brunch in the main dining room on the last sea day-- spectacular! ENTERTAINMENT-- I love the evening shows, and they were terrific on this cruise. The troupe offers three big shows during a 7-day cruise. One is like a Cirque du Soleil show, another has a Broadway theme and the last is "Pulse", focused on various dance styles. Considering we had some active oceans this week, the dancers did an amazing job staying on their feet! The comedian/juggler was hilarious and talented. Lindsey Hamilton, of London's West End, offered a lovely performance one night. Even our captain got in the act, playing the guitar and singing a couple of times. There were a variety of music soloists or groups playing throughout the ship, day and night. FITNESS/SPA-- I used the gym every day, and was satisfied with the equipment. I didn't sign up for any fitness class, nor did I have a spa treatment. I used the Persian Garden once; it was OK. PORTS-- I booked this itinerary for the scuba diving. I've been quite happy with Celebrity's dive excursions, as they are reasonably priced and the sites are incredible. I had done a day of diving in FLL before the cruise, and went diving in Grand Cayman, Cozumel and Roatan. If I didn't dive, I think that the ports would be less appealing. As others have noted, the town on Roatan where the ship docks is not at all attractive for wandering. In Costa Maya, I took a cab to the beach, got a lounge chair, rented a jet ski for a half hour ($30), chatted with other passengers, got a 45 minute beach massage ($20) and hopped back to the ship by cab. A very relaxing day. SUMMARY-- I wish I were still on the Solstice! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2012
We travelled to Miami with Virgin booked via Celebrity and managed to get seats on the Upper Deck by amending/confirming our booking online 24 hours prior to departure. The flight passed without incident and we passed through Customs ... Read More
We travelled to Miami with Virgin booked via Celebrity and managed to get seats on the Upper Deck by amending/confirming our booking online 24 hours prior to departure. The flight passed without incident and we passed through Customs within 15 minutes of arrival as by chance they opened a few more Customs booths as we walked into the hall, however we then waited over 45 minutes for our bags, we were the last to get on the bus heading towards Fort Lauderdale...not good. We stayed at the Hilton Marina. The room was fine, although perhaps not as clean as one would expect, a room service tray from the previous customer remained outside our door for the whole time we were there. The view of the bridge was fine but we could not see the Cruise Ships so clearly from the 4th floor. The luxury boats around the Hotel were fantastic and excited the senses as we anticipated our week on the Solstice. During the evening we took a walk along 17th Street and had a $9.99 Saturday Special at the Quarterdeck Seafood Bar, the atmosphere was excellent, as an added benefit they were showing British football on a few of the screens... Next morning following an enjoyable breakfast at the Hotel, we took a walk along the bridge and took several photos of the Solstice and other ships in dock pending our embarkation. The wind was a little lively but the view was excellent. At the time advised we went downstairs in readiness for collection and transit to the ship.....let the mayhem begin ! There were many, many people awaiting the appropriate time to be called forward for their respective bus/Cruise ship....it was nuts. Thankfully we had sorted our account from our room but we did not realise we had to get a ticket for our bus/ship, our tip is to sort your hotel account in the room get your bus ticket and go downstairs as early as possible for the 1st bus to the ship. Once we got to the dock, we experienced no further delay as for the first time we had booked Aqua and fortunately there was no line for embarkation. The Ship....the ship is exceptional !!! It maybe the oldest in the Solstice class but it was in very good condition, brilliant white and so clean. We took the lift to the buffet, which was full due to the high winds outside. We decided to eat at Bistro on 5, the food and service was very good and eventually we headed off to our room on level 11 and then down to sort out our internet requirements, their organisation was not so good and they should share the process once or twice to many rather than try to communicate individually and get 20 questions all at once. Muster Drill for Us was in the theatre, everybody was courteous and listened intently, a few chuckles at the various languages, but Celebrity made the point succinctly, things can and do happen...but our safety was paramount. Once muster drill was finished, off we headed to the Sailaway Bar on deck 14, the sun was fighting to come out albeit the wind was still lively, we positioned ourselves with our Welsh Flag in readiness to pass the Port Everglades webcam for our Family to see our departure out into the open seas....fortunately, we were picked up by the webcam and phones calls, texts from home ensued....we were there "live on the webcam" waving to invisible Family and tightly holding onto our blustery flag) but hey we were on our way...a fantastic sailaway experience ! First night in Blu was relaxing and following a few drinks and a little walk we were off to bed, unfortunately the wind was up and the sea lively, our stateroom, 1540 at the front of the Ship on the 11th level was "dancing around" to say the least...we struggled through the night with motion sickness and simply couldn`t face the sea (or breakfast) in the morning, so we headed off to mid ship, level 3 to get our balance and stop our heads from spinning...3 hours later ! We created our own schedule for each evening...a drink on level 3 or coffee at Al Bacio, off to the theatre for the entertainment and then onto Blu for our evening meal. The entertainment was excellent. We did not really bother on the Equinox but made the effort each evening this time and were glad we did. The US Comedian was good, the Juggler was excellent, the Neptunes an A Capello quartet were very good and the Solstice Team of singers and dancers were lively and very enthusiastic. The UK singer, Lindsay Hamilton was OK with a powerful voice although parts of her show were a little cheesy for Us.....sorry, no British loyalty here. The Captain also played his part.... Aqua Class and Blu were interesting. It is all about personal taste. Overall the food, quality and service in Blu was very, very good, however from our previous experience on the Equinox we found the MDR, coupled with the option of the Speciality restaurants, as good and in truth the variety broke up the monotony of Blu....our humble opinion. The Cruise was arranged as a means of relaxation with the intention of using the Ship more than the port intensive trip around of the Med last August. Our excursions were limited but our port visits were as follows : Grand Cayman - Quick walk around the town and a $5 pp shared Mini Bus onto Seven Mile Beach with fellow cruisers from Solstice, we sat together and had a relaxing few hours in the sun and sea with a beautiful view across to the 4 ships in Port that day, back to the ship and a few drinks on Solstice deck. Cozumel - the highlight of this day was arriving at Port docking next to Equinox, a memorable experience. The Port was kind of disappointing, quite small and the usual tourist items and jewellery shops, no character at all....we walked a mile or so down to a local bar for a drink and chill out watching the snorkelers, marvelling at the 2 imposing ships in Port. Roatan - Our experience of Roatan was most not what the majority of people would recognise and, in hindsight, we should have organised an excursion, many people said how beautiful the island was. However Coxen Hole was THE most intimidating tourist spot we have experienced in years of travelling. Period. Out of the Port to the right and onto the street with a yards, a number of men stood across the path/walkway, no effort to move and to pass them we had to walk out onto the busy road...we continued walking to shouts of "taxi, taxi, you wanna taxi" and onto "happy hour, come for happy hour drinks" drinks at 9.30 in the morning !? On we walked, when, as ridiculous as this sounds we were approached from behind by a boy who we "thought" was trying to get into our rucksack, we were spooked....he walked alongside us for a distance...he was not the issue, our concern was the others and the feeling in the town in general...a quick photo of the ship and we quickly turned around back to the Port area, down came the rain and back we go to the Ship, sad but true, but it was not a pleasant experience. We spent the rest of the day back on the ship and experienced Persian Gardens, the Spa area and enjoyed the freedom of the pool and the Lawn Club. This was our experience and we share it for others to be aware of the town. Costa Maya -- We pre-booked Maya Chan on feedback from CC and Tripadvisor. The bus trip was interesting, avoiding where possible, the pot holes in the track/roads, with a beautiful view of the Ship in port and the coastline and wildlife of Mexico. On arrival at Maya Chan we were given a welcome drink and located at the beachfront. The seagrass makes it a little messy, they work hard to clean it but they are fighting nature, it is what it is, natural beauty. In reality, for every 101 white sandy beaches you can visit around the world, there are only a handful of Maya Chan`s. We can only describe it as a quaint, rustic, beach front, chill out zone, with friendly Staff providing ample food & drink and fun, if you want it....Zach took us for a bike ride down the track and onto the beach where a local was using traditional techniques netfishing for sardines in the wine coloured water (where the fresh water from the cenote meets the sea water), a very natural, humbling experience...the point is, You will not get this at the 101 white sandy beaches around the world.... Back to the Ship and a sea day homeward bound for Fort Lauderdale. Arrival at FL and off the ship was pretty straightforward, queuing for Customs clearance was a struggle as was the 45 minute wait on the bus for the last passengers and transfer to the Sheraton Miami Airport and use of the day room organised by Celebrity. An enjoyable, albeit a little pricey few hours sat at the pool/bar area but still cheaper and better than sat at the airport !! Finally the Virgin flight back to Heathrow, amongst our fellow passengers.........only Richard Branson himself! He walked among us and at the end of the flight, thanked us (over the pa system) all for flying Virgin, a nice touch and what a finish to a wonderful week. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2012
We were part of a group of 3 couples (family & friends) that decided to take this cruise together. We all were on Deck 10 and all had rooms with a veranda. Boarding & Departure - The boarding process was very smooth. I think ... Read More
We were part of a group of 3 couples (family & friends) that decided to take this cruise together. We all were on Deck 10 and all had rooms with a veranda. Boarding & Departure - The boarding process was very smooth. I think we arrived at the port around 11:00 am and after dropping off our luggage, proceeded into the terminal area for processing. The line moved along quickly, and we received our cruise card and had our picture taken. Waited in the holding area for about 15 min., then proceeded up the gangway into the ship. Once aboard, we proceeded to the Oceanview Cafe on Deck 14 to grab a bite to eat. Nice selection of food to choose from and then we headed out on deck for the departure. Stateroom - I think the rooms were available around 5:00 pm, so we headed to the room to unpack. The room was setup very nicely, with ample storage and lighting. The veranda contained a table and 2 chairs each with a footrest. During the entire week, I only had 2 complaints with the room and both were in the bathroom. The water spout in the sink extends out half the diameter of the sink which makes it difficult to splash water on your face using both hands. The other item is that the cold water is not cold. Basically room temperature, so it's not too enjoyable when brushing your teeth. The bed setup was great, and very comfortable. Dining - We opted for the scheduled dining in the Grand Epernay dining room. Our group chose the 8:30pm dining time, and it seemed to work out just fine. On the port days, the ship usually departed at 5pm or 6pm, so we didn't want to have to get back on the ship early in order to make the early dinner. The meals were fabulous. There were enough menu items to select from, so it was enjoyable for everyone in our group. Can't say enough good things about our waiter Eladio and his assistant Corina. They were so much fun to interact with that we always looked forward to seeing them each evening. We had 2 formal nights (Monday and Friday), so it was fun dressing up for those evenings. Entertainment - Since we opted for the late dinner, if we wanted to see a show, we had to catch the 7:00pm showing. I think we only saw a couple of shows, and they were very good. We opted more for getting together as a group before dinner at one of the many bars for drinks and conversation. Our favorite bar was the Martini Bar on Deck 4. Gede was our main server that we enjoyed. I think there were 3 Gede's at the bar, so I'm referring to the tall one with the big smile. One evening, we did catch the comedy show at 11:00pm and were really glad we did. We did not stop laughing for the entire show. Ship tour - The 3 guys in our group signed up for the "Inside Tour" of the ship. There is a $150 charge for the tour and it lasts around 3 hours and includes lunch with wine. They generally limit this to around 15 people, so if you are thinking about it, you need to sign-up early. It was well worth the money. They allow you to take pictures, but no video. We toured the Bridge, Engine Control room, Theatre backstage and dressing room, Heli-pad (the most forward point of the ship), Crew lounge area, Crew library, Kitchen prep area, Food storage areas, etc. It was a great tour. Read Less
Sail Date: February 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
Embarkation We flew down the morning of the cruise. We decided to take a taxi to the cruise ship which we never do. What an experience. The driver had one phone in his ear and he was texting on a phone in his right hand! We did not ... Read More
Embarkation We flew down the morning of the cruise. We decided to take a taxi to the cruise ship which we never do. What an experience. The driver had one phone in his ear and he was texting on a phone in his right hand! We did not know what to do as he did not talk to us over the entire short trip. We got there safely but that is no way to start a vacation! We were on the ship after a short wait in the Aqua Class line and had our welcome champagne and mimosa in no time. Stateroom Room was clean and the bed was near the veranda. We like that set up as we can see the water from our bed. Everything was in working order but I got occasional error messages on the room safe. But it worked just fine. There was plenty of storage for our clothes. The water pressure in the bathroom was strong and it had a body massaging function. Quality bath products were included. We received a bowl of fruit and bottle of champagne upon arrival. We had daily canapes which were a big improvement from previous cruises. The daily iced tea was very good as well. Our stewards were very efficient and professional. Fellow Passengers There was a large group of Canadians, both English-speaking and French. Also, there were a good number of cruisers from Germany. A wide range in ages were represented but most were in their 60's. Of note, there may have been a record for the number of passengers who weighed over 275 pounds. Food The food in the Oceanview Cafe-which is served cafeteria style with stations- was consistently outstanding. Breakfast and lunch were well attended but never crowded. There was a wide variety of well-prepared foods to suit anyone's taste. The Aqua Spa Cafe had healthy alternatives and we ate lunch there daily. Being in Aqua Class, we ate breakfast and dinner in Blu. Smaller portions but very good quality food. Service was excellent by the wait staff. They earn their money! Especially having to put up with one of the rude managers there. I felt bad for some of the staff. We ate at two of the Specialty Restaurants. Tuscan Grill was outstanding in all respects. The filet mignon was the best I had on the ship. The French onion soup was the best I have ever had. The servers, Iresh and his assistant, were top notch. The dark chocolate fondue with fruit and brownies was outstanding. One of the best Tuscan Grills in the fleet! Murano was somewhat disappointing. Very small portions and the food did not compare favorably with Muranos from past cruises. Service was outstanding. Norovirus The Captain announced that there had been a problem on the cruise the week before. He did ask all of us to take precautions. I did not hear of anyone getting sick on our cruise. Entertainment The party band, Top Notch, was really top notch! They really made a difference in the cruise and are accomplished singers and musicians. One of the best. There was a very good classical music trio that played in different venues along with a Steel Drum band, solo guitarist, Big Band, and A Cappella quartett. A magician (Adam Trent) and a comedian were also on our cruise. The major shows in the theater were well attended and the young group were very entertaining. The cruise director, Stewart Turnbull, did an efficient and commendable job. The Corning Hot Glass Show was outstanding. The three young ladies did a great job engaging the audience and explaining how they made their products. I cannot say enough about them. The Captain, Gerry Larsson-Fedde, is active and involved with passengers. A surprise awaits you! He is surrounded by an enthusiastic staff. A real friendly and professional group on this ship! Excursions We took an excursion via Celebrity. Over-priced and over-crowded. We were told by the tour operator that Celebrity had told them the day before to expect 40 passengers on the Jolly Roger Catamaran in Roatan. 67 tickets were sold and there was a shortage of food and beverages. Not acceptable. We still had a fun time as I knew the crew from a previous cruise. I had arranged private tours in advance at other ports. Leaving the Ship Disaster. There is no other word to describe it. We knew there had been problems in the past so we waited on the ship until they threw us off. Still, we were in line along the dock winding through a stuffy warehouse. Luckily, it was a cool day. We waited in a chaotic line for over an hour to clear customs. Celebrity could have monitored the lines and allowed passengers to remain in the theater in comfort. No, they wanted everyone off the ship. I have never experienced anything like this on previous cruises. Celebrity was blaming the Customs Agents but they are also responsible. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2012
We were traveling with a group of 47 public safety professionals, many of whom we travel with annually. I've been on multiple cruises before, but this was my girlfriend Jodi's first one! She certainly wasn't disappointed ... Read More
We were traveling with a group of 47 public safety professionals, many of whom we travel with annually. I've been on multiple cruises before, but this was my girlfriend Jodi's first one! She certainly wasn't disappointed --but I may have set the bar a little high with Celebrity! We arrived in Fort Lauderdale via JetBlue the day prior to the ship's departure. First time flying with them, and will definitely do it again. The built in entertainment on every seatback make the flight go by quickly! We stayed at the Cambria Suites, which were very nice & reasonably priced. For dinner, we walked over to Islamorada Fish Company in the Bass Pro Shops store for a really great dinner! The hotel had an $8 breakfast buffet ($10 after tax/tip) in the lobby the next morning that was decent. At breakfast I talked with a guy who was going out that day on the Ruby Princess -& he heard that they had some norovirus issues on the previous sailing... more on that later. The Ship: Our first experience on the Solstice was disappointing --a stop at the pool bar for a Bud Light & a Captain/Diet --neither of which they had! It's difficult to believe that they don't have the ability to stock 2 of the most popular (& revenue generating) beverages for their guests until the next day in their bars --but it's true. Our stateroom was a balcony cabin # 6125 (port side just above "Solstice" logo.) It was clean, spacious, comfortable, & very well maintained by Lucas & Ezekiel -our fine cabin stewards. There were plenty of drawers & closet space & the bed was comfortable, & the bathroom size was just right. Unfortunately though, our balcony cabin had an obstructed view when you wanted to look straight down at the water (it was the bumpout of Deck 5 where the "Solstice" lettering is.) That was a tad disappointing & it should be listed as an obstructed view because that's part of what you pay for on a balcony. The Lawn Club on Deck 15 was awesome! There were plenty of setups for Bocci & for putting, and that's also where the Hot Glass Show is held. I'd be careful shopping onboard. Liquor prices changed mid-cruise for some reason & they blamed it on "Headquarters." The best liquor deals were in Roatan, Honduras & not on the ship anyway. The layout of the Solstice is terrific. Very easy to learn your way around & also to navigate the buffet. Dining: The food was exactly what I expected after sailing the Summit last year --outstanding! The buffet's were fabulous, and the only disappointment was dinner. We opted for the Celebrity Select Dining, which is their "flexible" dining option (where you can dine anytime between 6-930p.) However, it was anything but "select." It was very difficult to get a reservation at a time other than after 830p. I don't think that I'd do that again. If I did, I'd book my preferred time days in advance like many seemed to do. Of course, that isn't much different than the traditional "Main" & "Late" seatings --you have to be at dinner at a specific time! One night they moved a group that just came in (from Bleu) & took over a table. They were going to leave the same soiled tablecloth, napkins & dinnerware there for us! Are you kidding? A ship that easily went through 1,000 gallons of Purrell that week trying to prevent Norovirus! We ate in one of the up charge restaurants one evening - the Tuscan Grille ...& it was just exemplarily! Also of note: there were Eggs Benedict at the breakfast buffet each morning & sushi every day at 530p! Entertainment: Kudos to the Celebrity Solstice for hosting a terrific Superbowl Party in the Solstice Theatre on our first night. Lots of fun & food (& drink available for purchase.) I wasn't impressed with the Cruise Director Stewart, who seemed a little stiff & didn't have the onboard presence that I've seen with past cruise directors. I once again noted, and really enjoyed the involvement of the ships officers' with the guests (& not like on Carnival where the officers are cruising the bars at night seeking out the female guests.) There were several events that many of the ships officers were involved in. "The Liars Club" in a lounge one night, "Dancing with the Stripes" their onboard version of Dancing with the Stars! Ships officers (male & female) would team-up with guests for a dance contest that was judged by an American Idol like panel of judges. Captain Gerry (pronounced "Gary") from Norway, who could often be seen walking about the ship & also mingling with guest's, held a very informative talk on navigation in one of the lounges on the first sea day. He also performed twice in the Solstice Theater --both are surprises not to be missed! (You can YouTube search "captain gerry larsson fedde" if you can't wait!) Then there was the Officer's vs. Guests pool volleyball game. I was disappointed there that I had signed up for that very early, but was omitted from the team. That is the kind of detail that they need to be more attentive too. Celebrity has this "Behind the Podium" series & there were a few interesting talks, one from a woman that was the Whitehouse Travel Office Director for President Clinton. (She never mentioned Travelgate though!) The Staff Captain (Taso) also did one on the building of Solstice, but I missed that one. The production shows were just horrible! They only had one comedian on board the entire trip, although he did appear on 4 different nights doing the same exact show (which they do tell you about in advance.) He was so unimpressive I don't even recall his name. Too much one sided political stuff for my liking. The entertainment highlights of the week clearly were: a Circ de Soleil show, Jason Bishop --a phenomenal illusionist from Pennsylvania, and Canadian Karen Grainger --a female impressionist (Cher, Celine Dion, Tina Turner, Alanis Morissette & Whitney Houston among others,) an Acapella Quartet and of course Captain Gerry! Oh yeah, and a casino! Oddly enough I don't remember a solo guitarist on board--but there would have been a great place for one at the Sunset Bar on the stern. Probably a good place to mention the aggressive photographers. In what appears to be a new twist there are a series of photographers that you have to go through when getting off the ship in port! A polite "no thanks" suffices, but it does get old having to say it 3 times. Excursions: Our Travel Agent, Russ Schrader of King Travel here in CT put together some private excursions for our group. Russ & his wife Nancy are very well traveled themselves, and always do a great job. Each excursion was priced very reasonably, and all offered much more than the ship did ...for less $$! In Grand Cayman we did a catamaran/snorkeling sail. After a short walk to the buses that transported us to the catamaran, we motored (no wind) out to Stingray City, which is always a fun place. Then we made another snorkeling stop before going to a the Kaibo Beach Bar on Rum Point for lunch & drinks (not included.) We had a liquor store stop on the bus built in, but they don't open until 10a. In Cozumel we took a taxi to Cozumel Beach Break. A very nice facility that included open bar & excellent food! Jodi did parasailing & we both enjoyed a beach massage! The staff here were excellent! Taxi fare was $15 each way for 4 people. After that we took a taxi to downtown for some shopping. I had forgotten about the free liquor/beer in the jewelry stores! Of course, what visit to Cozumel wouldn't be complete without a visit to Senor Frogs (or Carlos & Charlies!) In Roatan, Honduras we did another catamaran/snorkeling tour on the 51' Stray Cat. It was an excellent tour thanks to Captain Dave & his crew. Plenty of beverages & a nice lunch after some great snorkeling. (However, another windless day so we motored.) In Costa Maya we did a nice tour of Chacchoben Mayan Ruins in the morning with The Native Choice, and a really fun ATV tour in the afternoon. There really isn't much in Costa Maya outside of the port other than swamps & mangroves. It's a port that was developed by the cruise industry in 2001 --and was hit hard by Hurricane Dean in 2004. They've rebuilt it all though! When we returned to Fort Lauderdale we had several hours to kill before our 330p flight back to CT, so our travel agent worked out a private excursion with the ships Group Coordinator at 10% off! It was a really nice tour of Fort Lauderdale first by bus, then by boat on the Carrie B. While the bus showed us the homes of the rich -The Carrie B took us by the homes on the canals of the filthy rich! Where their docked yachts were worth more than their multimillion dollar homes! A really nice tour indeed. This is where we learned that the Ruby Princess had a significant norovirus outbreak & ported 2 days early because of it. Also, that she was staying ported for 2 weeks for a thorough disinfecting. I'll bet there a lot of disappointed people that had cruises booked on those 2 weeks... One more thing: my brother doesn't use a credit card, but instead always puts cash on his account & gets a check delivered to his stateroom for the remaining balance the last night of the cruise. He stopped at the Purser desk to check his balance & they told him that he needed to come to the desk the final night of the cruise to retrieve his balance. If he didn't, he didn't get the balance back!!! Hard to believe they'd just keep it, but that's what they said. So, just be aware of that if you use cash. I know it's a long review, but I hope that you find it helpful!!! The Solstice & her crew were terrific overall. Highly recommended! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2012
This was my 19th cruise and first time on any Celebrity Cruise ship. It is important to note that many comments here may seem "picky" in nature. They are meant only to reveal what a new passenger to Celebrity's Solstice ... Read More
This was my 19th cruise and first time on any Celebrity Cruise ship. It is important to note that many comments here may seem "picky" in nature. They are meant only to reveal what a new passenger to Celebrity's Solstice might expect. EMBARKATON Over the years, embarkation on any ship leaving from Ft Lauderdale has become an easy process. With so many retirees living in South Florida, staffing is not a problem and they are always cheery and helpful! Lines are long because ships are huge, but they move quickly. Expect to do some serious walking, mostly because of the size of the ship. From the outside, the first views of the Solstice are a bit intimidating. It is big. Really big. I know that entering the ship on the enclosed walkways depends on the tide, but I found the extra long uphill trek a bit arduous after a long day. STATEROOM Veranda forward Starboard- Deck 8 What a surprise! Roomy beyond my expectations, yet the same square foot area as on other ships- other cruise lines. Clever use of every square inch. I was finding cabinets and drawers on the second day of the cruise. Flat screen TV was great especially because it would pan to sleeping or lounging area. Sound kept going out because of an easily fixed loose connection on the back. TV at sea sucks- know that in advance and don't expect what you get at home. There is no Ellen or GMA or NCIS . . . but there is lots of CNN, MSNBC, Fox, BBC, ESPN, etc. The saving grace is the number of free movies you can get. The bathroom is large and helped by a shower that has an enclosure that is curved and full length that was easy to use with no fancy dials. All the expected amenities and lots of fresh soft towels. Could not find fault or ask for more. Lighting was a challenge, but that's something I've become used to on all new ships. Maybe they should label them. One interesting thing- this was the first ship that had a low level light adjustment in the bathroom that could be set to use as a night light. Really clever and very much appreciated! Ice buckets are shrinking and you may have to ask your room steward for more than the standard two daily refills, or a large plastic bucket like I did. I did stay away from the mini bar realizing that Celebrity probably makes a cruise profitable on people using it. The balcony was spacious and quiet and a great place to read on a lazy afternoon when there was nothing of interest going on (not often). Special notice: on my last cruise, I elected an ocean view room thinking I would be happy with just seeing what the weather was like. Big mistake. There is nothing like having the freedom of stepping outside and watching the ship dock or the dolphins swimming alongside the hull. THE STAFF The Captain was Norwegian and the balance of the officers were mostly Greek. Professional at all times and they made me feel safe. Service staff was different than most ships. They were a total mish-mash of Croatian, Italian, Indian, Hungarian, and just about every other European and Asian country. The diversity was good. but I remain unconvinced that it worked well "behind the scenes". Service, especially in the bars was often uneven, slow, and confused. Language was often a problem. I enjoy the Trivia Games and in every instance when they were hosted by a German, Italian or Greek, there was a serious problem in not understanding or hearing the question properly. Very annoying. When Assistant Cruise Director (Greg) was told of problem, he shrugged it off by saying, "Just ask them to spell any word you don't understand". Not the right answer there, big Greg. THE SHIP In the months before my cruise, I read and heard, "It's a big ship, but you won't notice it. It is cozier than it looks." Those people must live in Texas. This ship is over a thousand feet long, making it one of the largest ships afloat. The dining room was about an eighth of a mile away from my stateroom! That is not "cozy". No question that the ship is elegant and extremely well appointed, but I have always been a big fan of signage and the last ship that had decent signage was the Norway, with different color carpeting forward and aft. Why can't modern ships have more signs that say Forward and Aft? And clocks? Forget about them. The only clocks I saw were on the back wall of the forward elevator banks. As in casinos, maybe they just don't want you to know the time. Speaking of elevators, the Solstice claims a new high. Not only are they fast, smooth and clean but when they arrive, a light above them changes from blue to pink . . . but be sure to look at the arrows to know if it's going up or down. I rarely waited more than a minute, if that. The decor is muted with browns and grays repeating on all decks and corridors. No fresh flowers, but that's an expensive extra on a ship this large. Even the theater is bland with lots of brown and only red seats and curtains to wake you up. When they rehab the ship in a few years, perhaps a dip into the box of Crayolas and add a color or two. Sound in the Solstice Theater is poor. It is much too tinny and heavy on treble. For a ship this elegant, that sound system should be top notch, not third grade. The dining room is impressive . . . visually. I was told that there was music playing but I never heard it. If you cruise this ship, expect this elegant room to be deafening with conversations from every corner. There are two pool areas. One is for the masses with kids and games and noise and no available lounge chairs- a big problem on this ship that they can't seem to do anything about. The other (adults only) Spa pool is quiet, shaded with some chairs available. The deck lounge chairs on the balcony deck above appear occupied with pool towels on them even earlier. Could all 2,850 passengers be using pool lounge chairs at the same time? There are enough cocktail lounges to cater to every taste on almost every deck, forward, midships and aft. I'm sure that I didn't see them all, so I know I didn't visit them all. One, the Sky Observation Lounge high on deck 14 is special with a great look and view forward, but too large for the client profile of Celebrity. It was almost always empty, and the disco style lounge had at least 20 passengers almost every night. I'm sure you get the point. The casino was perfect- located at midships, with about half the tables and slots in use on any night. Even Bingo was downplayed and difficult to find on the daily schedule. Getting off the ship is easy. Show your SeaPass card and it's steps to the little shops (see "Disappointments"). Returning to the ship, especially on Grand Cayman is not pleasant. There are long lines for the tenders and they move slowly in the hot sun (I'm glad it wasn't raining). Since every newly built ship needs a gimmick, the Solstice class of ships feature a half acre of lawn on one of the highest decks. Play bocce ball, mini golf, or walk barefoot on thick healthy grass tended to by two full-time keepers. It was certainly different, but the Corning hot glass demonstration mini theater off to one side was the real attraction on Deck 15. I'm still not sure what the attraction of real grass on the top of a cruise ship really is. The collection of specialty restaurants we all neatly arranged at the stern of Deck 5 with the main dining room directly below on decks 4 and 3. An easy way to remember where to go is "dining-aft, casino-middle, and entertainment-forward". The passageways and rooms are decorated with large photographs by Espen Tollefson, a European artist-photographer I have never heard of. His images are uninspired, usually boring and difficult to understand. Most have no color and I wonder why Celebrity doesn't highlight images of other ports cruised by the Solstice during the year. This additional subliminal advertising might just convince one passenger to try another cruise. THE FOOD In what has to be the greatest bargain afloat, the food in the Epernay (Main) Dining Room far exceeded my expectations. Not only a daily page of changing appetizers, soups, salads, and entrees but a good old stand by page of shrimp cocktail, onion soup, NY Sirloin and other popular standards . . . just in case nothing struck your fancy on the daily special. A very smart idea, indeed. It's impossible to talk about the food without mentioning the servers. Every table has its own Maitr'd, Waiter, Assistant Waiter and Wine Steward. Aboard the Solstice, they are among the best, and make the dining experience such a joy. I never felt rushed and I thought the service perfectly paced. The creativity, taste, and presentation deserve awards. As a current published food critic, it takes a lot to make me gush about food and service in any restaurant. Except for the super strong coffee found all over the ship, there were absolutely no complaints and nothing but praise. On one night, I made the bold decision to try one of the specialty restaurants. Tuscany Grille was tagged as an Italian gourmet jewel with exceptional food and service. I found it slightly better that my local Olive Garden. It was a disappointment from start to finish. My traveling companion and I were seated at a small table for two in the furthest corner of the room, close to the kitchen entry-exit. Aside from taking the order, our waiter left us in the hands of the assistant waiter, an overly 'chatty Kathy' from some Slavic country. I expected white tablecloths, not rubber placemats. I expected salt and pepper, not two peppers. When I asked for a mild red wine, I didn't expect a screaming strong Chianti. Note: The staff was good about replacing it. My veal Parmesan was extra thick and tough and I could only eat half. I was offered a replacement, but my appetite dissipated. The pasta was good. The starters and the side dishes were forgettable. For an extra $25 per person I missed 'lobster night' in the main dining room. A-r-g-h-h-h. When you get a recommendation to try the Tuscan Grille, my opinion is that you think twice and perhaps ask some passengers who have already been there. I cannot comment on the other added charge restaurants because I never tried them. I was too happy with the main dining experience. The Oceanview Cafe on Deck 14 is a winner. It offers a huge buffet for breakfast. lunch and dinner. The spotlessly clean buffet tables are not always well marked, but strolling them is a lot like grazing. You're bound to find something you really like sooner or later. I did suggest that they consider enlarging the one ice cream station, or adding staff and posting what flavors were available . . . just to speed things up a little. The line was always long. At breakfast, expect to fetch your own coffee and juice unless you want something special like I did. I asked a wandering female staff member for a glass of tomato juice with ice. She asked me for my SeaPass card so she could charge me for a Virgin Mary cocktail. Of course, I explained why that was inappropriate. It's called "training". The pizza station was open long hours and the pizza was excellent! It was a great place for a mid-afternoon or a late-night snack. DRESS CODE Ignore everything you read or are told. On the first formal night, I saw a total of 4 men in tuxedos. Most men wore a dark blazer and slacks with collared shirt- some ties, most not. A few were in suits. Only the most extreme violators were not permitted in the dining room. One young man had the audacity to wear shorts, a T-shirt and flip flop shoes. He was told to leave. The ladies were not much better and tried to push every rule as far as it could go. Things just are not like they once were. ENTERTAINMENT Here is another area where Celebrity and other lines are cutting back. The young men and women did appear as if they were contestants from 'American Idol'. They are good (not great) and barely pull off the two production shows. Solo entertainment (magician, singer, etc.) fill the rest of the nights. The acrobats and jugglers are fun but inexpensive entertainment for a theater that seats over a thousand. DISAPPOINTMENTS (? significant) - Overly crowded main pool area with no lounge chairs available I even fell, tripping over a lounge chair placed directly in the walking path by a lady of great girth who anchored the chair in place. Perhaps I should have been more careful. - Bar service uneven and often unfriendly - Language barrier with many of the staff whose job was to interact with passengers - Quality of food and service in Tuscan Grille - Overly noisy main dining room - Cruises visit many ports that are really centers of third world nations. Chickens and horses walking through villages and ramshackle houses may be the norm, but not what cruise ship visitors want to see, so the cruise lines have created Disney-esque villages with clean and neat little shops and shopping centers where passengers disembark. In most cases, to escape this charade, a walk past the guard gate is necessary to find land tour service or a 'real' taxi Not only is this common today. But when the U.S. allows cruise Vessels start visiting Havana, expect to see it on a much grander scale. No daily room delivery of USA News flyer, drink specials for the week, daily crossword puzzles, other items available at Guest Relations only Post cards of destination ports and appropriate stamps not available How does one of the largest ships afloat have one of the smallest pools? The shops (not owned or managed by Celebrity) offer attractive specials during the week, but don't try to purchase them on the last day. Specials are only good until day 5 Crowded screening area aboard ship when returning from port excursions Placement of pool lounge chairs- Celebrity ships appear to follow another leader when it comes to the arrangement of all loun chairs on upper decks, They all face inward, blocking any possibility of looking over the rail. Most ships in other fleets arrange them to face forward appearing making the deck look less crowded and still allowing a wide enough aisle for easy walking. I also wondered about the extra glass mounted securely on top of the railings. Why are they there? Wind protection? Safety? They block any view alongside the ship, PLEASANT SURPRISES Friendly attitude of staff at exit-boarding stations Layout of buffet tables in Oceanview Cafe Absolute cleanliness of ship in all areas Roominess of stateroom and bathroom High quality of food in main dining room Quiet late nights enjoying a cocktail at the Sunset Bar at the very aft end, looking out at the churning wake of the ship SHORE EXCURSIONS It is important to point out that once you have purchased your cruise, there are very few ways a cruise line can make more money on you. Cruise lines usually make little or no money on the shops, casinos, and photography department. So, aside from extra charges in the boutique restaurants, and expensive drinks (especially wine), shore excursions remain a major profit center. A negotiated $25 shore excursion is marked up by the cruise line to $50 or $75 before it appears in print and available for sale. I have not purchased a shore excursion from any cruise line in more than ten years. Passengers have an innate fear of arranging anything on shore not sanctioned by the cruise. Perhaps it is a fear of being ripped off or the concern that if they leave the herd, they will be subject to "wolves". The internet is a wonderful tool to find out what exists OFF the ship at prices half as much. I like to recommend finding an older taxi driver after the crowds have gone and asking him or her to take you on a slow driving tour that will avoid all the crowds. You will get to see the real destination (good and bad) with the personal commentary of a local to whom you may ask questions at any time. The freedom of a private tour allows you to stop at any roadside stand with your own interpreter and negotiator and stay as long as you want. In Grand Cayman, the 3.5 hour Stingray City tour (GC88) sold on the ship for $75 per adult. It is a good tour. The professional, identical 3.5 hour tour with Moby Dick Tours is $45.00 (www.mobydicktours.com). The tour I reserved with Moby Dick was wonderful in every way. They have an experienced, safety-conscious staff with a sense of humor and a desire to show every passenger a good time. Not counting tip, I saved $30 . . . and that is only one example. Going on your own does have some inherent risk and you need to do your homework and get some testimonials and reviews before making a reservation. Some tour operators are so small, they rely on a "clearing house" to handle all of their reservations. When a ship docks at a different-than-scheduled pier, or the weather turns nasty, there can be crazy Caribbean confusion- never a good thing. The reservation coordinator, often some small office in Florida, is out of the loop and unable to help. Often, you're on your own. Traveling in the Caribbean is an adventure and I have never felt nervous or unsafe. Over the years, I have learned the trick of throwing some inexpensive kids toys from Target, and dog cookies in the big beach bag. They don't weight much and you can never tell when they might come in handy. DO NOT be afraid of renting a car (always under $100) in the Caribbean. Once you are out of the main port city, the landscape often turns into what is truly a third world nation and then into winding bumpy roads past great scenery and into tiny villages where local markets offer up a bounty of low priced souvenirs, fresh produce and hot sauces and spices to take home. Waterside and beach restaurants always feature freshly caught fish and shellfish that will make you want to stay late and miss the ship. Don't. Do remember to drive on the correct side of the road and if you are nervous and a slow-poke, the resident truck drivers will let you know right away. Expect to use your credit card as a guarantee against damages to the rental, but you will be paying cash for the deal. Try to make certain that you ask for your credit card copy or receipt back . . . just to be on the safe side. They will want the car filled with gas, which is always expensive. The rental car companies are always fairly close to the spot where the ship lands, but there is some walking, and don't expect a Hertz or Avis in every port. Do expect an adventure. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2012
CELEBRITY SOLSTICE REVIEW -- February 5-12, 2012 Ft. Lauderdale -- Western Caribbean This was my 23rd cruise and first time on any Celebrity Cruise ship. It is important to note that many comments here may seem "picky" in ... Read More
CELEBRITY SOLSTICE REVIEW -- February 5-12, 2012 Ft. Lauderdale -- Western Caribbean This was my 23rd cruise and first time on any Celebrity Cruise ship. It is important to note that many comments here may seem "picky" in nature. They are meant only to reveal what a new passenger to Celebrity's Solstice might expect. EMBARKATON Over the years, embarkation on any ship leaving from Ft Lauderdale has become an easy process. With so many retirees living in South Florida, staffing is not a problem and they are always cheery and helpful! Lines are long because ships are huge, but they move quickly. Expect to do some serious walking, mostly because of the size of the ship. From the outside, the first views of the Solstice are a bit intimidating. It is big. Really big. I know that entering the ship on the enclosed walkways depends on the tide, but I found the extra long uphill trek a bit arduous after a long day. STATEROOM Veranda forward Starboard- Deck 8 What a surprise! Roomy beyond my expectations, yet the same square foot area as on other ships- other cruise lines. Clever use of every square inch. I was finding cabinets and drawers on the second day of the cruise. Flat screen TV was great especially because it would pan to sleeping or lounging area. Sound kept going out because of an easily fixed loose connection on the back. TV at sea sucks- know that in advance and don't expect what you get at home. There is no Ellen or GMA or NCIS . . . but there is lots of CNN, MSNBC, Fox, BBC, ESPN, etc. The saving grace is the number of free movies you can get. The bathroom is large and helped by a shower that has an enclosure that is curved and full length that was easy to use with no fancy dials. All the expected amenities and lots of fresh soft towels. Could not find fault or ask for more. Lighting was a challenge, but that's something I've become used to on all new ships. Maybe they should label them. One interesting thing- this was the first ship that had a low level light adjustment in the bathroom that could be set to use as a night light. Really clever and very much appreciated! Ice buckets are shrinking and you may have to ask your room steward for more than the standard two daily refills, or a large plastic bucket like I did. I did stay away from the mini bar realizing that Celebrity probably makes a cruise profitable on people using it. The balcony was spacious and quiet and a great place to read on a lazy afternoon when there was nothing of interest going on (not often). Special notice: on my last cruise, I elected an ocean view room thinking I would be happy with just seeing what the weather was like. Big mistake. There is nothing like having the freedom of stepping outside and watching the ship dock or the dolphins swimming alongside the hull. THE STAFF The Captain was Norwegian and the balance of the officers were mostly Greek. Professional at all times and they made me feel safe. Service staff was different than most ships. They were a total mish-mash of Croatian, Italian, Indian, Hungarian, and just about every other European and Asian country. The diversity was good. but I remain unconvinced that it worked well "behind the scenes". Service, especially in the bars was often uneven, slow, and confused. Language was often a problem. I enjoy the Trivia Games and in every instance when they were hosted by a German, Italian or Greek, there was a serious problem in not understanding or hearing the question properly. Very annoying. When Assistant Cruise Director (Greg) was told of problem, he shrugged it off by saying, "Just ask them to spell any word you don't understand". Not the right answer there, big Greg. THE SHIP In the months before my cruise, I read and heard, "It's a big ship, but you won't notice it. It is cozier than it looks." Those people must live in Texas. This ship is over a thousand feet long, making it one of the largest ships afloat. The dining room was about an eighth of a mile away from my stateroom! That is not "cozy". No question that the ship is elegant and extremely well appointed, but I have always been a big fan of signage and the last ship that had decent signage was the Norway, with different color carpeting forward and aft. Why can't modern ships have more signs that say Forward and Aft? And clocks? Forget about them. The only clocks I saw were on the back wall of the forward elevator banks. As in casinos, maybe they just don't want you to know the time. Speaking of elevators, the Solstice claims a new high. Not only are they fast, smooth and clean but when they arrive, a light above them changes from blue to pink . . . but be sure to look at the arrows to know if it's going up or down. I rarely waited more than a minute, if that. The decor is muted with browns and grays repeating on all decks and corridors. No fresh flowers, but that's an expensive extra on a ship this large. Even the theater is bland with lots of brown and only red seats and curtains to wake you up. When they rehab the ship in a few years, perhaps a dip into the box of Crayolas and add a color or two. Sound in the Solstice Theater is poor. It is much too tinny and heavy on treble. For a ship this elegant, that sound system should be top notch, not third grade. The dining room is impressive . . . visually. I was told that there was music playing but I never heard it. If you cruise this ship, expect this elegant room to be deafening with conversations from every corner. There are two pool areas. One is for the masses with kids and games and noise and no available lounge chairs- a big problem on this ship that they can't seem to do anything about. The other (adults only) Spa pool is quiet, shaded with some chairs available. The deck lounge chairs on the balcony deck above appear occupied with pool towels on them even earlier. Could all 2,850 passengers be using pool lounge chairs at the same time? There are enough cocktail lounges to cater to every taste on almost every deck, forward, midships and aft. I'm sure that I didn't see them all, so I know I didn't visit them all. One, the Sky Observation Lounge high on deck 14 is special with a great look and view forward, but too large for the client profile of Celebrity. It was almost always empty, and the disco style lounge had at least 20 passengers almost every night. I'm sure you get the point. The casino was perfect- located at midships, with about half the tables and slots in use on any night. Even Bingo was downplayed and difficult to find on the daily schedule. Getting off the ship is easy. Show your SeaPass card and it's steps to the little shops (see "Disappointments"). Returning to the ship, especially on Grand Cayman is not pleasant. There are long lines for the tenders and they move slowly in the hot sun (I'm glad it wasn't raining). Since every newly built ship needs a gimmick, the Solstice class of ships feature a half acre of lawn on one of the highest decks. Play bocce ball, mini golf, or walk barefoot on thick healthy grass tended to by two full-time keepers. It was certainly different, but the Corning hot glass demonstration mini theater off to one side was the real attraction on Deck 15. I'm still not sure what the attraction of real grass on the top of a cruise ship really is. The collection of specialty restaurants we all neatly arranged at the stern of Deck 5 with the main dining room directly below on decks 4 and 3. An easy way to remember where to go is "dining-aft, casino-middle, and entertainment-forward". The passageways and rooms are decorated with large photographs by Espen Tollefson, a European artist-photographer I have never heard of. His images are uninspired, usually boring and difficult to understand. Most have no color and I wonder why Celebrity doesn't highlight images of other ports cruised by the Solstice during the year. This additional subliminal advertising might just convince one passenger to try another cruise. THE FOOD In what has to be the greatest bargain afloat, the food in the Epernay (Main) Dining Room far exceeded my expectations. Not only a daily page of changing appetizers, soups, salads, and entrees but a good old stand by page of shrimp cocktail, onion soup, NY Sirloin and other popular standards . . . just in case nothing struck your fancy on the daily special. A very smart idea, indeed. It's impossible to talk about the food without mentioning the servers. Every table has its own Maitr'd, Waiter, Assistant Waiter and Wine Steward. Aboard the Solstice, they are among the best, and make the dining experience such a joy. I never felt rushed and I thought the service perfectly paced. The creativity, taste, and presentation deserve awards. As a current published food critic, it takes a lot to make me gush about food and service in any restaurant. Except for the super strong coffee found all over the ship, there were absolutely no complaints and nothing but praise. On one night, I made the bold decision to try one of the specialty restaurants. Tuscany Grille was tagged as an Italian gourmet jewel with exceptional food and service. I found it slightly better that my local Olive Garden. It was a disappointment from start to finish. My traveling companion and I were seated at a small table for two in the furthest corner of the room, close to the kitchen entry-exit. Aside from taking the order, our waiter left us in the hands of the assistant waiter, an overly 'chatty Kathy' from some Slavic country. I expected white tablecloths, not rubber placemats. I expected salt and pepper, not two peppers. When I asked for a mild red wine, I didn't expect a screaming strong Chianti. Note: The staff was good about replacing it. My veal Parmesan was extra thick and tough and I could only eat half. I was offered a replacement, but my appetite dissipated. The pasta was good. The starters and the side dishes were forgettable. For an extra $25 per person I missed 'lobster night' in the main dining room. A-r-g-h-h-h. When you get a recommendation to try the Tuscan Grille, my opinion is that you think twice and perhaps ask some passengers who have already been there. I cannot comment on the other added charge restaurants because I never tried them. I was too happy with the main dining experience. The Oceanview Cafe on Deck 14 is a winner. It offers a huge buffet for breakfast. lunch and dinner. The spotlessly clean buffet tables are not always well marked, but strolling them is a lot like grazing. You're bound to find something you really like sooner or later. I did suggest that they consider enlarging the one ice cream station, or adding staff and posting what flavors were available . . . just to speed things up a little. The line was always long. At breakfast, expect to fetch your own coffee and juice unless you want something special like I did. I asked a wandering female staff member for a glass of tomato juice with ice. She asked me for my SeaPass card so she could charge me for a Virgin Mary cocktail. Of course, I explained why that was inappropriate. It's called "training". The pizza station was open long hours and the pizza was excellent! It was a great place for a mid-afternoon or a late-night snack. DRESS CODE Ignore everything you read or are told. On the first formal night, I saw a total of 4 men in tuxedos. Most men wore a dark blazer and slacks with collared shirt- some ties, most not. A few were in suits. Only the most extreme violators were not permitted in the dining room. One young man had the audacity to wear shorts, a T-shirt and flip flop shoes. He was told to leave. The ladies were not much better and tried to push every rule as far as it could go. Things just are not like they once were. ENTERTAINMENT Here is another area where Celebrity and other lines are cutting back. The young men and women did appear as if they were contestants from 'American Idol'. They are good (not great) and barely pull off the two production shows. Solo entertainment (magician, singer, etc.) fill the rest of the nights. The acrobats and jugglers are fun but inexpensive entertainment for a theater that seats over a thousand. DISAPPOINTMENTS (? significant) - Overly crowded main pool area with no lounge chairs available I even fell, tripping over a lounge chair placed directly in the walking path by a lady of great girth who anchored the chair in place. Perhaps I should have been more careful. - Bar service uneven and often unfriendly - Language barrier with many of the staff whose job was to interact with passengers - Quality of food and service in Tuscan Grille - Overly noisy main dining room - Cruises visit many ports that are really centers of third world nations. Chickens and horses walking through villages and ramshackle houses may be the norm, but not what cruise ship visitors want to see, so the cruise lines have created Disney-esque villages with clean and neat little shops and shopping centers where passengers disembark. In most cases, to escape this charade, a walk past the guard gate is necessary to find land tour service or a 'real' taxx. Not only is this common today. But when the U.S. allows cruise ships to start visiting Havana, expect to see it on a much grander scale. No daily room delivery of USA News flyer, drink specials for the week, daily crossword puzzles, other items available at Guest Relations only Post cards of destination ports and appropriate stamps not available How does one of the largest ships afloat have one of the smallest pools? The shops (not owned or managed by Celebrity) offer attractive specials during the week, but don't try to purchase them on the last day. Specials are only good until day 5 Crowded screening area aboard ship when returning from port excursions Placement of pool lounge chairs- Celebrity ships appear to follow another leader when it comes to the arrangement of all lounge chairs on upper decks, They all face inward, blocking any possibility of looking over the rail. Most ships in other fleets arrange them to face forward appearing making the deck look less crowded and still allowing a wide enough aisle for easy walking. I also wondered about the extra glass mounted securely on top of the railings. Why are they there? Wind protection? Safety? They block any view alongside the ship . . . PLEASANT SURPRISES Friendly attitude of staff at exit-boarding stations Layout of buffet tables in Oceanview Cafe Absolute cleanliness of ship in all areas Roominess of stateroom and bathroom High quality of food in main dining room Quiet late nights enjoying a cocktail at the Sunset Bar at the very aft end, looking out at the churning wake of the ship SHORE EXCURSIONS It is important to point out that once you have purchased your cruise, there are very few ways a cruise line can make more money on you. Cruise lines usually make little or no money on the shops, casinos, and photography department. So, aside from extra charges in the boutique restaurants, and expensive drinks (especially wine), shore excursions remain a major profit center. A negotiated $25 shore excursion is marked up by the cruise line to $50 or $75 before it appears in print and available for sale. I have not purchased a shore excursion from any cruise line in more than ten years. Passengers have an innate fear of arranging anything on shore not sanctioned by the cruise. Perhaps it is a fear of being ripped off or the concern that if they leave the herd, they will be subject to "wolves". The internet is a wonderful tool to find out what exists OFF the ship at prices half as much. I like to recommend finding an older taxi driver after the crowds have gone and asking him or her to take you on a slow driving tour that will avoid all the crowds. You will get to see the real destination (good and bad) with the personal commentary of a local to whom you may ask questions at any time. The freedom of a private tour allows you to stop at any roadside stand with your own interpreter and negotiator and stay as long as you want. In Grand Cayman, the 3.5 hour Stingray City tour (GC88) sold on the ship for $75 per adult. It is a good tour. The professional, identical 3.5 hour tour with Moby Dick Tours is $45.00 (www.mobydicktours.com). The tour I reserved with Moby Dick was wonderful in every way. They have an experienced, safety-conscious staff with a sense of humor and a desire to show every passenger a good time. Not counting tip, I saved $30 . . . and that is only one example. Going on your own does have some inherent risk and you need to do your homework and get some testimonials and reviews before making a reservation. Some tour operators are so small, they rely on a "clearing house" to handle all of their reservations. When a ship docks at a different-than-scheduled pier, or the weather turns nasty, there can be crazy Caribbean confusion- never a good thing. The reservation coordinator, often some small office in Florida, is out of the loop and unable to help. Often, you're on your own. Traveling in the Caribbean is an adventure and I have never felt nervous or unsafe. Over the years, I have learned the trick of throwing some inexpensive kids toys from Target, and dog cookies in the big beach bag. They don't weight much and you can never tell when they might come in handy. DO NOT be afraid of renting a car (always under $100) in the Caribbean. Once you are out of the main port city, the landscape often turns into what is truly a third world nation and then into winding bumpy roads past great scenery and into tiny villages where local markets offer up a bounty of low priced souvenirs, fresh produce and hot sauces and spices to take home. Waterside and beach restaurants always feature freshly caught fish and shellfish that will make you want to stay late and miss the ship. Don't. Do remember to drive on the correct side of the road and if you are nervous and a slow-poke, the resident truck drivers will let you know right away. Expect to use your credit card as a guarantee against damages to the rental, but you will be paying cash for the deal. Try to make certain that you ask for your credit card copy or receipt back . . . just to be on the safe side. They will want the car filled with gas, which is always expensive. The rental car companies are always fairly close to the spot where the ship lands, but there is some walking, and don't expect a Hertz or Avis in every port. Do expect an adventure. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2012
My wife and I and 4 other couples cruised on Solstice February 5-12, 2012. We are all seasoned cruisers; each couple having cruised at least 8 times primarily on Carnival and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. We are all in our mid to late ... Read More
My wife and I and 4 other couples cruised on Solstice February 5-12, 2012. We are all seasoned cruisers; each couple having cruised at least 8 times primarily on Carnival and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. We are all in our mid to late 50's. We began our trip by departing ORD on Saturday, February 4. No flight problems and we arrived on time at FLL. We took a cab to our hotel, the Marriott's Beach Place Towers in Fort Lauderdale. The hotel location was excellent with great (walking) access to restaurants, bars, shops, liquor stores, etc. The hotel itself was satisfactory in most respects. However, on Sunday morning we attempted to leave our 11th floor room at 10 am and waited over 35 minutes for an elevator. Obviously, cruisers and vacationers all had the same intent- get an early start. One of 4 elevators was out of service which exacerbated a bad situation. However, the most complicating factor of all was the use of the elevators by hotel housekeeping staff during the peak check-out/departure time. We witnessed one housekeeping employee with a large laundry cart occupy 95% of an elevator cab- totally absurd. Other hotel staff also displaced guests from elevator use during this time. If you stay at this hotel be advised of this issue. We finally reached the parking garage and met our GO Shuttle driver, Dorina. She was very patient while waiting for us tardy travelers and loaded 9 large suitcases into her full size van. We left the hotel and Dorina had us dockside in less than 15 minutes. Dorina gave our bags to the porters and we entered the line that was quickly forming at the terminal doors. We entered the terminal building just after 11 am. Upon entering the terminal building we were given a printed sheet that advised guests of norovirus potential and asked guests to consider possible travel risks. We never hesitated to proceed to the ship. Security screening was very efficient and we entered the registration line serpentine. We had all of our documents properly executed and were on Solstice 45 minutes after Dorina dropped us off. We boarded Solstice and were greeted with champagne and mimosa cocktails and we each grabbed one. We were also greeted by Solstice employees who held what I would describe as bota bags filled with hand sanitizer. These employees were also deployed at all times at the entrances of the Epernay dining room as well as at the entrances to the Oceanview Cafe. They would give you a squeeze of sanitizer gel from their bags as you entered these dining venues. Most dining patrons availed themselves of this service. There were also Purell disinfectant stations deployed throughout the public areas of the ship. Periodically, during the cruise,there were public service announcements made about the importance of hand washing and the importance of practicing good hygiene. There was also a constant cadre of workers wiping, mopping, spraying, and/or disinfecting virtually every surface on the ship. My personal opinion is that Celebrity is very dedicated to the health and safety of the guests and crew. We headed to the Oceanview Cafe on Deck 14 and had a great lunch. Another example of the illness preventation measures taken on Celebrity Solstice was the temperature of the plateware in the buffet area. Most of the time they were too hot to hold with your bare hand. We finished lunch and toured the ship while waiting for access to our cabins. Cabin access was granted at approximately 1:30 pm. Three couples in our group had adjacent balcony cabins on the starboard hump. Our cabin size was satisfactory and was typical of the class. The balcony was perfect for reading, eating, napping, etc. The bathrooms were spacious and had real shower doors and plenty of vertical storage and some drawer storage. Vanity surface room was minimal but the vertical shelves made up for the deficiency. The complimentary toiletries were disappointing and consisted of shampoo and lotion. Eventhough I bring my own toiletries, it is always nice to obtain samples of new and different products. No big deal. Our cabin had adequate drawer and closet space. There were also large storage cabinets above the bed. These cabinets provided somewhat inconvenient storage due to their location but all storage space is valuable. We had plenty of hangers in the closet. A safe was located in the closet on top of the shoe rack. The drawers in the cabin were adequate for our needs. Be advised that my wife and I always overpack so the previous statement is noteworthy. Our cabin steward, Elder, was super. Most of the time he was invisible. By that I mean he serviced our cabin 2 or 3 times per day and we rarely saw him. If our schedule conflicted with his duties he always acquiesced. He always had a spray bottle of disinfectant in-hand or nearby. He met special requests with speed and cheerfulness. The only negative comment about our cabin is that the balcony dividers do not project far enough to prevent adjacent cabin guests from peering into your balcony and cabin. It was no big deal for us since we had close acquaintenances on each side of our cabin but I can envision privacy issues with strangers. Balcony Club members beware! The bed was very comfortable as were the pillows. We used the in-cabin couch mostly for storage. The flat screen television is wall mounted opposite the couch and not opposite the bed. The television pivots to facilitate viewing while you are in bed. Solstice has a good selection of television stations: MSNBC,CNN, ESPN, BBC,SEATV,TBS, CNBC, and a few others. There is an impressive free on-demand collection featuring movies, programs and a great set of documentaries related to the operation of Solstice. Our television viewing was minimal but it was nice to have options. We ate all dinner meals in the Epernay dining room each evening. We had a table for 10 and had a great window view location. Our waiter was Petre and his assistant was Elisha. Both of them were excellent servers. Petre and Elisha always served the ladies first. Petre constantly asked if everything was satisfactory and encouraged us to try multiple menu items. The ten of us agreed that the food was very good. Our group has very diverse palates and the Solstice menu never left anyone disappointed. There are recurrent items on the left side of the menu which give people basic options for each course in the event the evening specialities do not appeal to them. These recurrent items include escargot, shrimp cocktail, Caesar salad, lettuce salad, French onion soup, steak, chicken, cheeses cake, apple pie and similar basic menu items. On a personal note, I was most pleased with the escargot, the rack of lamb, and the osso bucco. Desserts, while not overly impressive, were satisfying, especially when consumed in multiples. We ate breakfast and most lunches in the Oceanview Cafe. Celebrity Solstice has reinvented the cruiseship buffet by employing food stations rather than forcing people into the typical long buffet line. Simply stated, there are numerous individual food stations which offer foods by type. There are bread stations, fruit stations, meat carving stations, cheese stations, salad stations, pizza stations and cooked- to-order stations. The result is that you only go to stations that appeal to you. You are not trapped behind hundreds of other people in a continuous line. The concept is simple yet brilliant and efficacious. I thought the food quality was very good in the Oceanview Cafe. As others have mentioned, the variety is somewhat limited on a daily basis but I always found good things to eat. The hamburgers/cheeseburgers at the Mast Grill were great. We had them for main lunch courses and for afternoon snacks. They also served Pabst Blue Ribbon beer at the Mast Grill which is a favorite of the males in our group. The french fries were also very good. I purchased the Classic Beverage Package and I can state without equivocation that I saved money. I obtained juices and bottled waters in the morning, beer and pop in the afternoon, pre-dinner cocktails, and wine with my dinner. There were also a few nightcaps consumed strictly for medicinal purposes(wink wink). We found all staff members to be very accommodating, proficient, and courteous. I never experienced the bartender issues that previous posters have alluded to. In fact, I found all bar staff throughout the ship to be excellent servers. And believe me, I visited every bar on this beautiful ship. The employees were very engaging and would talk to guests at every opportunity. We enjoyed talking to the staff about their jobs and about their homelands. My wife and I have a proclivity for saying please and thank you so maybe staff attitude was reflective of our attitude. The onboard evening entertainment was ok. I truly enjoyed the first night show which was a Solstice equivalent of a Cirque du Soleil show. The next evening was an illusionist who was entertaining. The third nght was a female impressionist who,IMHO, spent more time changing wigs and talking than she did performing. The next nights shows were music oriented and I did not attend. Incidentally, we were on the ship during the Superbowl. The Solstice Theatre was outfitted with bars and food stations. There were 2 large screen televisions and a huge screen for television projection. Viewing the game in the theater was outstanding. It was exciting to watch the game with hundreds of other cruisers. The theatre was the perfect Superbowl party venue. My wife and I had been to 3 of the 4 scheduled ports at least twice before so we decided to do self-guided excursions: We went to Seven Mile Beach on Grand Cayman via taxi. We rented chairs and enjoyed the sun and surf, the water was heavenly. In Cozumel, we did some shopping and then stopped for $1 Coronas at our favorite seaside cantina. We foolishly walked around the Roatan shopping area. I won't leave the ship if I ever return to Roatan. We had a great beach day at the Green Iguana in Costa Maya/Manahual. Cheap beers, free chairs and umbrellas and a 7 minute $5 roundtrip perfectly safe cab ride- can't be beat. The water temp was 82 degrees. Most of the restaurants and bars in the Costa Maya/Mahahual beach area have free wi-fi. Strangely, the big joints at the pier do not. We returned to Fort Lauderdale at 6 am Sunday morning. The windchill was 38 degrees. Sad reality after our 6 days in 80+degrees. We followed the disembarkation rules and only had to spend 30 minutes in the theater after having had a nice leisurely breakfast. We were off the ship at approximately 9 am. We got a cab for 6 and went to FLL for our return flight to ORD at 3 pm. FLL was a hassle. You can not check in with bags more than 4 hours prior to flight time. Once you check in and clear security at Terminal 3 it is obvious that FLL is processing more passengers than the airport terminal infrastructure can support. There are not enough seats for the cleared passengers. There are people laying and sitting on the floor everywhere. Bathroom facilities are grossly insufficient. Simply stated, FLL is a victim of their own popularity. We took off 20 minutes late but landed on time. In closing, I want to state that my wife and I were thoroughly impressed with the Celebrity Solstice. Celebrity is now our preferred cruise line. We are looking forward to our next cruise on "x". I know this review was lengthy and verbose but I could not help myself. in vino vertae Read Less
Sail Date: February 2012
Having just come iff the Eclipse, our second week aboard the Celebrity fleet was spontaneous, unexpected and unplanned thanks to a fortunate turn of events. this time aboard the Eclipse's older sister the Solstice. Very much her twin, ... Read More
Having just come iff the Eclipse, our second week aboard the Celebrity fleet was spontaneous, unexpected and unplanned thanks to a fortunate turn of events. this time aboard the Eclipse's older sister the Solstice. Very much her twin, the only significant differences were in minor details such as the color of the chair pads by the pool, however, her layout and feel is identical and every bit as elegant and refined. We hopped off the Eclipse in Miami and grabbed a car for the short trek up to Lauderdale. Because we had not planned on being gone two weeks, we found ourselves out of clean clothes, so we found a little coin operated laundry and did a load of underwear... images of the guy in the commercial standing in front of a washer in just his boxers flashed in my head, although in reality I don't have six pack abs, and the lady at the end of the row of driers was a short round cuban grandma, rather than a coed. It's a good thing no one uses my life as a basis for marketing as it would not sell much. Once aboard, exploring was not necessary, however we did keep trying to get off the elevator where our old room was - and it took a solid day to settle into the orientation of our new spot on the ship and not zig when we should have zagged. Again, as with the Eclipse, our favorite part of the ship without a doubt is the lawn club up on deck 15. The perfect place to relax in either sun or shade, with your barefoot toes curled up in some real grass, and just a stone's throw from the bar. Our drink of choice, the Summer Solstice, a refreshing blend of fresh basil and blueberries, mortared mojito style with some simple syrup, lemon infused rum and white cranberry juice. The only real problem is that it is very easy to down three before you know it. The lauderdale port was busy, with five ships, including the massive Allure of the seas. Only slightly taller than the Solstice, it is easily twice as wide, and gives the impression that someone welded two ships side by side resulting in a cruise ship guppy with a catamaran top side. We'll have to give her a try sometime. Budget has a car rental place directly outside the port entrance, with a free shuttle so logistics were smooth and easy, and embarkation was without issue. The one notable observation was a veritable army of staff with disinfectant spray and rags. We had learned that the Princess ship in port had an outbreak of intestinal virus and was delayed in sailing. Celebrity was taking no chances and had staff wiping down counters, cue line ropes, turnstile handles, and even pens between each patron. Our itinerary this week was Western Caribbean, to include Grand Cayman, Cozumel, and two new ports for us, Roatan, Honduras and Costa Maya, Mexico. Although we had been to Cayman several times previously and initially planed on some new exploration, we found ourselves doing the quintessential tour to stingray city. This sandbar sits approximately a mile from shore where fisherman of old used to clean their catches and you can stand in waist deep water along with a couple hundred stingray and feed them squid. Followed by a trip to seven mile beach, and a comfy umbrella chair with a bucket of ice cold local beer. After all, some days you just need to let the Caribbean blow you where the trade winds may. Cozumel was an experience this trip. We chose to take a culinary class at a mexican resort. Most cultures express themselves best through their food, and who am I to argue with a three course lunch and open bar! We donned chefs hats, aprons and stood at our own cooking stations where we made fools of ourselves as we prepared and fabulous meal of chili shrimp on a hand sculpted tortilla cake, some of the freshest grouper I have ever had with sauted vegetables in a tamerin fruit reduction and cinnamon caramelized plantains with a chocolate tequila sauce. Luis or chef instructor was exceptional as he managed to maintain composure while he attempted to herd thirty somewhat inebriated stray cats, across the finish line. As he stated, however, when we sat to eat at the end, if your lunch sucks, feel free to blame the chef that cooked it! We had never been to Roatan previously and were not sure what we were going to do when we got there. The port is small, and not at all touristy like many. There is no Diamonds Intl every block. Directly outside the port gates is the Honduras you would expect with dirt floor single story buildings, stray dogs playing in the street, corner stores with an gold guy standing in the doorway and a peeling Coca Cola logo emblazoned on their wall by some sales rep back in the 60's. We ended up spontaneously renting a vespa scooter and took off through the village for parts unknown. The rental guy said it had a full tank of gas, although the gauges did not work, and gave us his cell number in case we got stuck somewhere it would not start... Off we went, first through the village to the east side of the island, traveling through several little village townships, and past a few nice gated resorts. Then, much to our surprise, on the left a shopping center, with an Applebee's, Wendy's and Grocery store. It was very out of place but a welcome stop with a clean restroom! A funny thing happened there. The parking lot was virtually empty, with only two or three cars in the Wendy's lot. We Vespa'ed in and took a space in the front row next to the building. As we dismounted our sturdy steed, an security guard in body armor and holding an intimidating looking rifle approached us and indicated that these spaces were for cars only. We needed to move the scooter over to the official 'scooter' parking on the other side of the lot. Several skinny painted spaces with a half dozen other small motorcycles in them. Far be it of me to argue with a man holding a gun - but the lot was empty - sheesh! Good thing I didn't have a hummer and try to take two spaces! Our travels took us to a spot on the less developed East side where you could see both the North and South shores from one overlook. Trinket salespeople had set up little stands in front of what was obviously once a overlook bar and cantina, but was now abandoned. Down the hill was a closed down empty beach resort in disrepair. We then traveled all the way back to the West side beaches, where we had a nice lunch at a little hotel and open air cafe owned by an american couple that relocated to the island about five years ago and had built the hotel, one cabana at a time. Our outing was uneventful save one unexpected pothole that was almost problematic for us, however we heard another older couple had dumped their scooter on the horrible roads and ended up in the hospital. We did see them the next day re-joining the ship in Mexico, both with arms in a sling.... Out adventure was a blast. We got rained on, blow dried, and puttered over hills where one moment we had the scooter floored just to make it up the hill then had the brakes mashed so hard your hands hurt to slow down the other side, but In hindsight, the next time we are there, we will probably rent a jeep - The last stop of our trip was Costa Maya, Mexico. This port is relatively new, built in 2001 specifically to bring some cruise ships to that part of the coast. It was then wiped out in 2004 by a hurricane, and re-opened again in 2006. It consists of just a small shopping village, and the obligatory Senior Frogs and Carlos & Charlie's. along with a pool, and dolphin swim area. Here we took a bus tour to the Chacchoben ruins, since we had never done ruins before, and it was very interesting. This particular set of Mayan ruins was built from 300 to 600 AD were also partially restored and opened as a park in just in 2001 to coincide with the port. Other than that, there is really nothing here for an hour in any direction other than swamp land and mangrove. As a result the stop is not really worth it. We saw the ruins in about an hour, and spent the rest of the day at the little port. Because it is so remote, there are really no local vendors, only the officially sanctioned ones within the port area walls, and the only beers available are $4.50 for a Dos XX at Senior Frogs... As a result, this stop was my least favorite of the whole trip. The ship itself has some very nice features and good policies. for example, at the pools, there is no towel nazi dispensing only 1 towel per person, just a huge bin where you can grab two or three good sized towels and make yourself comfortable in padded chairs or one of several climb shell love seats that have pull over canopies. There are also good pool attendants that place a card on empty chairs saying you have 30 minutes to return, otherwise they remove your stuff and release the chair. - That way you don't have the problem of the 0800 ladies that put a book on a prime chair and never returns until 1pm, The other really interesting thing on board is that the technology for the TV's and photo studio is all driven by Apple. When you first get on board, they swipe your sea pass card and take your photo. Then all the rest of the photo's you take the rest of the cruise are processed through face recognition and appear on your stateroom TV automatically. No searching for your stuff in little photo studio with 1000 other people. Very cool, but also kind of creepy in a big brother way. The internet lounge is actually an iLounge set up very much like an Apple store with the same look and feel. Once again the food was exemplary, with great menu choices, specialty restaurants, Good sushi at 5:30 every evening to tide us over until dinner at 830 and an ice bar martini lounge that featured a showy six-drink martini sampler for just $15. (see video below) Although we have never sailed Celebrity before, their solstice class ships now have two new fans, and we have already booked a 14 day Southern Caribbean for January next year. Kudos to the staff and crew of both the Eclipse and Solstice. We were impressed and will most definitely be back. A photo tour can bee seen here http://theamsteinblog.squarespace.com/journal/2012/2/12/celebrity-solstice-week-2.html Read Less
Sail Date: January 2012
This was my 9th cruise, 5th on Celebrity but first on an S-class ship. This was not an itinerary that thrilled me but this cruise was mostly about going somewhere warm in January and experiencing an S-class ship. I sailed with my ... Read More
This was my 9th cruise, 5th on Celebrity but first on an S-class ship. This was not an itinerary that thrilled me but this cruise was mostly about going somewhere warm in January and experiencing an S-class ship. I sailed with my step-dad and a couple that we met on the Summit last year. The ship is beautiful and well-maintained. Someone thought about passenger flow when they designed this ship. The pool is on a different deck than the Buffet area. You don't have to walk through the casino to get from dinner to a show or vice versa. We had an inside cabin on the 10th deck. After being used to lower decks where it's easier to get to activities, I don't know that we liked being up so high. However, with the way they are designing the newer ships, there aren't many cabins on those decks. The food was good, we had excellent service and thought the wine tower in the MDR was amazing. The only specialty restaurant we ate in was Bistro on Five. For a $5 charge, we got really good crepes and service. Our cabin stewards were mediocre. Nice enough gentlemen but they forgot to clean the room one evening. No biggie and we certainly didn't say anything to anyone. The couple we were with never even saw theirs. The Hot Glass Show is absolutely amazing - I went to just about every one of them and probably took more picture there than anywhere else. I also thought that there were more interesting activities than on the M-class but maybe that's just me. The shows that I went to were well-done but I was usually at the Hot Glass show :). We also did a special tour of the bridge that they offer for $75 per person. A small group is taken to the bridge when the ship leaves a port. This was fascinating and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Disembarkation was ridiculous. This was not Celebrity's fault - I blame this entirely on the port and Customs. From the time we got off the ship, it was over an hour to get through the customs line and we were one of the last groups off the ship. The line ran down the outside of the warehouse and moved at a snails pace. We got our luggage quickly but then had to fight our way into another long line to clear customs. The port knows how many ships are going to be disembarking on any given day so they should know how to staff. Maybe I've gotten spoiled by sailing out of San Juan but I'll definitely think twice about sailing into Ft. Lauderdale again. I would sail this class again if the itinerary and disembarkation port were different. Don't know that I'll sail on anything bigger than this but it was a very manageable size ship and the only time it felt crowded was on disembarkation day when everyone is trying to eat breakfast at the same time. Overall, we had a great time on a beautiful ship! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2012
We have cruised on Norwegian Cruise Lines once and on the Celebrity Millenium,twice in Concierge Class Staterooms. We have enjoyed all of our cruises but our experience on Solstice was one of the best Embarkation/Debarkation: All went ... Read More
We have cruised on Norwegian Cruise Lines once and on the Celebrity Millenium,twice in Concierge Class Staterooms. We have enjoyed all of our cruises but our experience on Solstice was one of the best Embarkation/Debarkation: All went very smoothly. We arrived for our cruise and our first embarkation was a breeze. We were on the ship before noon and found a nice place on Deck 12 to relax and wait for our cabin. This was the only day that we ate lunch at the Oceanview Cafe and it was fine. Public Areas: The Solstice is elegantly contemporary. I like the open area in the middle where you could listen to the band below from all floors. Yet, with the glass sliding doors encasing that area with the elevators, the cabins near the elevators were very quiet. The tree hanging from midair was impressive and we enjoyed the lawn area very much. We watched the glass blowing a couple of times. They did very informative presentations. The best time to watch this is when it's dark out! I liked the distinct differences in the pool areas. If you were more in the party mood there were plenty of lounge chairs in the outside pool area and you could choose between sun & shade. There were many hours filled with live music or interactive games. You could hear the music on either the 12 or 14th deck. The track was on the 14th deck. While there are plenty of lounge chairs for everyone, having them on both sides of the track caused many traffic jams while people were exercising. In the long run, I would rather not fight for a lounge chair. After the first couple of days, I used stairs, or did more walking in port and forgot about the track. My preference for the pool most days was in the Solarium. There is a more relaxing spa mood there and there were always plenty of seats. We enjoyed the hot tubs, both inside and out. The Stateroom: Part of the reason we enjoyed our trip is that we splurged for a Celebrity Suite. We had a separate bedroom from the living room and more closet space that you can imagine! I also loved the shower in the tub! We had Cabin 1110 which has an awesome veranda which we used a lot! We will definitely get a suite again occasionally, but I think we will try the Aqua Class Stateroom next time. One of the best things about being in a suite is taking advantage of Elite Captain's Club benefits. It will be awhile before we earn that status. Food: Actually the food was excellent! The Ocean View Cafe was much more open than the "cafeteria style" dining that we have experienced on other cruises. No matter where you eat, this is not going to be the best food by our standards, so we only ate here for lunch the first day and for one morning with our friends. Grand Epernay main dining room was a mix. The food was very good, but the menu was not terribly inventive. I hope that others had better service than our table. Our head waiter never learned our names. My husband & I typically have sparkling water for dinner and every night that we ate there we had to ask. By the second night they should bring it automatically. We had a table of 10 at a table that would have been better suited for 8 however we enjoyed all of our tablemates. We had to move to this table because even though our reservations said that we were paired with some friends when we got on ship we realized they had put us at different tables. Murano Fabulous!!! We ate here with our free dinner reservation from our suite. Our friends ate with us for her birthday. Everything was excellent and the service was exquisite! Blu Aqua Class passengers have priority, but suites passengers can eat here with availability. We had no problem getting in. We used room service for breakfast at the beginning of the week which was good, but we really enjoyed breakfast here the last 3 mornings. We decided to try it for Friday (2nd formal night and our friends were comfortable with other tablemates). It was so excellent that we went back the last night. This is why I think we could downgrade, but only to Aqua Class. Entertainment: It must be difficult to come up with entertainment to make everyone happy! We went to a backstage tour and learned that the visiting acts are planned by the demographics of the passengers that have booked each week. That makes since. The three main shows are Solstice (an amazing Cirque du Soleil type show), Ghostlight (a variety of Broadway tunes) and Pulse (??? I'm sorry, but I just didn't get it. The clapping part in the middle killed the show.) Make sure you get there early enough to sit in the balcony for Solstice. You can see amazing talent. As far as the bands and other acts, they were hit and miss. Some people loved acts that we weren't crazy about, but we enjoyed others that I'm sure they didn't like. We loved Tony Daro like a lot of people (Celebrity Central was standing room only most nights.) We liked Neil Austin, our friends didn't. We sought out Anton Marlokov in different lounges, but were not crazy about Voyage Strings, even though we like classical music. Actually, Voyage Stings was the only act that we were disappointed with. Ports: There are certain times that we would still use the ship to reserve excursions but this time we did not. Grand Cayman: We stayed on ship. Blissful! Cozumel: For $10 less than Ship Tee time, we got Tee Time, Rental Clubs, a 6 Titleist balls each and Course book at Cozumel Country Club. $15 cab fee, $9 back to Los Cinco Soles. We ate at Ponchos Backyard, then shopped our way back to ship. Roatan Kevin from Christophers Tours took us around the island. We ended with THE BEST SNORKELING EVER!. Just 4 of us went out with a guide in a row boat with motor. Our snorkeling experience was like in pictures! Amazing! Costa Maya: We went to Maya Chan. My husband doesn't like beaches and he wants to go on a cruise to Costa Maya next year just so we can go back. It was that good! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2012
My first time on the Solstice, or any of her class. I have been on the Millennium class several times (5), and on the Century. I've also tried Carnival, Holland America, and Royal Caribbean. We booked this cruise at the last ... Read More
My first time on the Solstice, or any of her class. I have been on the Millennium class several times (5), and on the Century. I've also tried Carnival, Holland America, and Royal Caribbean. We booked this cruise at the last minute after booking the Solstice for New Zealand and Australia in January 2013. I couldn't wait that long to cruise and the price was right. We flew from San Diego to Miami the day before the cruise. No issues. We stayed at the Marriott Courtyard near MIA. Nice hotel. We went to dinner at Versailles and enjoyed some great Cuban food. Picked up a couple bottles of wine at a local store for the trip (which all turned out a bit off). The next morning we grabbed some Cuban pastries as Rosa's bakery--also yummy, and headed for FLL to drop our car and then onto the Port. (FYI we could have dropped the car at the Port, but didn't know. Next time). We arrived a little after 11 and sailed through check in and onto the ship. We had lunch up in the Oceanview cafe and toured around the ship a bit. We had a balcony cabin on deck 8. Overall the cabin was very nice. The one thing I didn't like was we had one of the cabins with the bed next to the balcony rather than closer to the bathroom/door. I prefer the other configuration. But not a big deal. Our steward was fine. He took good care of our room, but otherwise was not visible. Not really interactive, but when we called for a bucket of ice and a wine opener he took care of us very quickly. We opted for select dining when we booked because originally it was just going to be my BF and me on the cruise. My Aunt and her SO, and some friends of theirs ended up joining us for the cruise. So we all did Select. I like the flexibility of select, but you definitely don't get as good of service as you would at the set dining. But we did end up finding a great waiter (Beliz from Turkey) and asked for her the rest of the nights. She was wonderful. But she mentioned she was transferring to Silhouette so you can't request her on Solstice. :( I thought the food was very good. I liked the menu changes that were made from my last cruise in December 2010. We did breakfast and lunch in the Oceanview Cafe. I prefer the old style Millennium class oceanview set up for both breakfast and lunch. This seemed more hectic and unorganized. I definitely missed the made to order eggs benedict. And the waffle bar was way to busy and didn't ever seem to have enough made. At lunch they didn't have as many of the tasty Indian food options that we had on our last two cruises. They always had Indian, but not very good choices, except for embarkation day. The beef curry was delicious. Overall though the food in Oceanview was good. I went to a couple of the shows. I caught part of the Show (cirque d soleil style), while watching Alabama win the NCAA National Championship. (Roll Tide.) It was great. I also really enjoyed the Broadway show. I thought the two male lead singers were really good. We also enjoyed the musician who played at the Oceanview bar during sailaway. I can't think of his name now, but we enjoyed him. I also really enjoyed the Acapella quartet. Only wish their shows were longer than 15 minutes. :) Ports. I'd been to all of the ports before except Roatan, and still enjoyed them all. In Grand Cayman we did a private excursion with Stingray Sailing to the stingrays and for snorkeling. Overall it was a good excursion, but we didn't get as much interaction with the Stingrays as we had on my last trip. I'm not sure why--the water was a little rough. The snorkeling was okay--just not as spectular as other places I've been. In Cozumel we did a private snorkeling excursion with Eagle Ray Divers. The snorkeling was amazing! And the crew with Eagle Ray was great. The only issue was the boat was really slow, so it took a long time to get out to the first snorkel stop. Not good for my BF who was a bit motion sick. But the snorkeling was wonderful, and the included lunch at Money Bar was great too. In Roatan we did a private excursion with Rony's Tours to the South Shore Ziplines and Mahogony Bay Beach. Rony set us up with Norbert who took us to South Shore for ziplining and stayed with us the rest of the day. Norbert took good care of us. We really enjoyed the zipline--our first time. It was not scary at all once we got there and started. The beach was also great. Such wonderful snorkeling there right off the beach (start in front of Infinity Bay Resort). We had lunch and enjoyed the beach at Bananarama. One note of caution--the waitress added a $5 service charge for the kitchen and other staff, but said gratuity for her was "optional." I think we were taken on that one, but I didn't argue. We paid the extra $5 plus tipped her. In Costa Maya we had a outstanding tour through Natice Choice of the Chachobben Ruins. I had done this tour two years before, but wow this was even better because we had Ivan as our guide. Ivan's Dad discovered these ruins and he was actually born in a house on the site. Ivan was a wonderful guide with such a unique connection. He told us a lot about the Maya, and about the ruins of course. Normally Ivan does one of the smaller tours with lunch at a local Mayan's house, but when we were there he took the large group we were in. Just can't say enough about how interesting he was. After the tour we headed to 100% Agave for lunch. Apparently it had been raining most of the day near shore so it was very quiet in town. Worked fine for us. We had a great lunch at 100% Agave and then headed to Tropicante for massages. Because of the rain we were inside rather than on the beach for the massages but it was still good. The last day at sea was a little chilly and cool. We attended the lecture by the Staff Captain on the making of the Solstice in Celebrity Central. It was a great presentation mostly because the Staff Captain was so funny and had a lot of info to share since he was at the ship yard for the building of both Solstice and Equinox. At the end someone asked a question about safety given the Costa incident in Italy. That was news to us--we hadn't heard about it at that point. The Staff Captain addressed the question but within minutes had to leave the room as he was so upset about it. Anyway it was a great presentation. Other than that we just relaxed and enjoyed the last day. The next day was disembarkation. We chose to self-disembark, and just kind of took our stuff and headed off around 8 am. It was a slow with only 4 customs agents as described by others, but we were early enough that it wasn't as bad as it sounded from others' stories. I think it only took about 30 minutes to get through customs. After that we headed to FLL to pick up a rental car for the day. We had a late flight (5:05). We toured a bit around Miami (my BF had grown up there), and Miami Beach before heading to the airport. Flights were good home to San Diego. Overall we had a good time, but I think I'm more suited for the Millennium Class ships. This just felt a bit too big (and Century was a bit too small). It didn't really seem too crowded, but that must have been part of it. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2012
This is my first review, so bear with me.Last year was the first time we cruised on the Celebrity Solstice. It was a disaster. My father took six of us to celebrate his 92 birthday. He wrote to complain that there weren't enough ... Read More
This is my first review, so bear with me.Last year was the first time we cruised on the Celebrity Solstice. It was a disaster. My father took six of us to celebrate his 92 birthday. He wrote to complain that there weren't enough activities. The shows were terrible and one of us came down with the Norvo virus. They even had to close the library and stop all self service. This year, on his 93 birthday, was a wonderful improvement. The shows for the most part were top notch. There were activities going on almost hourly.Lectures, ping pong tournaments, golf tournaments, and various other games. I had been to the ports several times before so I really can't comment on the current tours.The other passengers seemed to be pleased with the offerings.We did have fun at Senor Frogs. The front desk people were very helpful when my father left his carry on bag on the wheelchair that was used to take him on board. They kept checking and even offered to call his pharmacy for his medications. Fortunately they found it. When the dining room staff delivered a chocolate birthday cake in error they insisted upon giving him a strawberry shortcake the next night (the best ever). The staff couldn't have been nicer. Embarkation was a breeze but disembarkation was a nightmare due to only 4 custom agents. It was a madhouse during which the celebrity bag tore and I lost my medication and one of my shoes. The pushing and shoving made it impossible to retrieve them. I have cruised on Princess,NCL,Holland America and RCL, Celebrity has been the best. Read Less
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Sail Date: January 2012
Let me start off by saying a little something about myself. I'm a solo traveler. This was my very first cruise with Celebrity, since I am a Platinum member with Royal Caribbean, Celebrity recognizes me as a Select member so I got to ... Read More
Let me start off by saying a little something about myself. I'm a solo traveler. This was my very first cruise with Celebrity, since I am a Platinum member with Royal Caribbean, Celebrity recognizes me as a Select member so I got to enjoy all the perks that the Captains Club had to offer Select Members. I have been on quit of few cruises before. Carnival, NCL and Royal Caribbean and now I can add Celebrity to the list. I'm 29 years old about to be 30. I will say that this was the best cruise I have ever been on. There were some good and some bad but I always tend to find some good in the bad. A bit of warning for the young cruisers, this ship is predominantly 60 and over. It didn't bother me any, actually I prefer an older crowd. I live in Aventura, FL which is about a 15 min drive from Port Everglades, so getting to the port was a breeze for me. Embarkation: Security took a little bit long, not dreadfully long but once we got past security it was about 5 mins for check-in and got on the ship right away. They had said that the rooms would be ready at 2:30pm so I went up to my Deck on 11 and I saw some people going in through the hallway to the cabins so I followed them and stop by my room and dropped off my luggage and came back out. The Stateroom: I booked an Aqua Class room which in my opinion is well worth the money. The room was lovely, great location near the Aqua Spa. They bring you a pitcher of tea. Everyday a different flavor, and they'll re-fill as much as you want. They put bottled water in the rooms, some toiletries that were very nice. They also put a set of Binoculars, an over sized umbrella, and a very nice bath robe in your room for you to use during your cruise and if you wanted to keep any of these items you can purchase then through your CS. The room itself was very nice and nice size. Lots of storage area. Public Areas: My favorite part of the ship was the Lawn club. The funny thing is they have a lawn mower on board. The theatre is a nice size very basic, nicely decorated. Other venues include Celebrity central which is the small the theatre they use for Comedy shows, entertainment court, very nice casino, lots of shops on the boulevard. Dining venues were plentiful. All the specialty restaurants were all in one location. Didn't spent too much time by the pool but it was a very nice pool area as is the Solarium. Entertainment: Here's where the cruise lacked. Some of the production shows were not all that great. The signature show "Solstice" which is a French circus (cirque du soleil style) the stunts were excellent. Some of the stunts were hard to do on a cruise ship rocking back and forth so I'll give the crew credit on this, the acrobats were very impressive however the singers were not. They always sang off key and they sang like they didn't want to be there. I even met one of the singers during a back stage tour later in the cruise and just by the way he spoke and his attitude it seemed like he didn't want to be there. Maybe it's time for Celebrity to consider using another production company. The best entertainment on the ship in my opinion was the Hot glass Show. I was a Glass Blowing groupie. Went to all the Shows. At first it was just Zack and Lori and then when we met with the Equinox in Cozumel, Helen came on and three were just superb. Very entertaining and instructive. The three seemed to work very well together, knew exactly what the other was doing and able to narrate and explain perfectly. Hot glass show gets a 12 out of 10. Sucks that the newer ships don't have this show anymore. I got to meet the glass blowers on the last day, super nice people I got to talk to them for a while and they told me how they started out in glass blowing and they even showed me some pictures of some of there works. Also, on the very last show the captain comes out and does something I would never expect a cruise captain to do. I wont say what it is cause I don't want to ruin the surprise for people about to go on the Solstice but Captian Gerry was the best. I also, did a tour of the bridge one afternoon and Captain Gerry was a very good host. We got to sit in on the officers meeting before we left Roatan and we got to watch the First Officer pull the ship of port. The Captain and his crew were very information and accommodating to our group. The tour is $75 but it's really a once in a lifetime experience not allot of cruise ships/lines offer this tour. If they offer it on your cruise do it. Dining: I did not have a single bad meal on this ship and I am a very picky eater. Didn't eat at the dining room at all since I was in Aqua Class I had access to eat a Blu breakfast and dinner. Ate at Silk Harvest twice, Blu twice, and once at Murano and Tuscan Grill and one night I ordered room service which was excellent. Murano and Tuscan girill were very good, however I believe those two restaurants are a bit over priced. $40 for Murano and $35 for Tuscan Grill I believe. Both very good restaurants just not worth the price in my opinion but if you're willing to spend the money give it a try it is very good. At Murano get the Goat Cheese Soufflé it is to die for. Ports / Shore Excursions: (Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Roatan and Costa Maya) This was my first time in Roatan and Costa Maya Grand Cayman -- I love grand Cayman however tendering is such a pain. Lots of waiting around to get off and on the ship. I did the Turtle Farm tour which was excellent. You get plenty of time to interact with the sea turtles. There's a lagoon that you can swim and snorkel in. Cozueml -- Did the Cozumel Island tour. First stop was to a tequila farm where you get to sample all different flavors of tequila and then naturally they hound you to buy something. Then to El Mirado which is beautiful then we stop in this town which I cannot remember the name which was a complete waste of time. Then the final stop was to Playa Mia which was another waste of time, nothing special there. Just a crowded beach and pool. Roatan- this by far was my favorite port to visit. We were the only ship out of 4 there were able to dock due to rough seas and high winds.. I did the Gumbalimba Park excursion which was excellent. Bit of warning, don't bring expensive sunglasses with you. The monkeys will take them. Lol. Lots of fun that day. Costa Maya -- I had a town tour scheduled this day but got cancelled the night before so I ended up just walking around town and having lunch at Carlos n Charlie right there in town. If you love to shop this is the town for you. As I said before this was probably the best cruise I've ever been on. Is there room for improvement? Always. Especially in the entertainment department. The crew was excellent everyone was very polite and helpful. The restaurant staff all knew me by name which is a big plus. I would definitely do this ship again and all the other Solstice ships. Celebrity Cruise Lines is now my favorite cruise line. Cheers ! Read Less
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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