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2 Celebrity Solstice Cruise Reviews for Cruises for the Disabled Cruises to Caribbean - Western from Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)

CELEBRITY SOLSTICE Western Caribbean Cruise August 1-8, 2010 By Mary & Vincent Finelli Last January we cruised on the Solstice with Capt. Dimitrios Kafetzis and had a memorable cruise. We booked the Solstice again in order to ... Read More
CELEBRITY SOLSTICE Western Caribbean Cruise August 1-8, 2010 By Mary & Vincent Finelli Last January we cruised on the Solstice with Capt. Dimitrios Kafetzis and had a memorable cruise. We booked the Solstice again in order to experience the new Aqua Class cruising. Since we published a review on the Solstice in January, we will refer readers to that review on this web site for a deck-by-deck description of this gorgeous ship and focus this review on the delights of cruising in Aqua Class. We had a warm welcome aboard and the week proved to be equally enjoyable. EMBARKATION On Sunday morning, with light traffic on I-95, it took us less than half an hour to travel from our home in Boca Raton to the ship in Ft. Lauderdale, where the embarkation process was so smooth that we were on board in 15 minutes. Alas, the staterooms were not yet ready, so we proceeded to the Ocean View Cafe` for lunch. At 1:00 pm, while we were eating, the announcement was made that our cabins were ready. SHIP OVERVIEW Under the supervision of Hotel Director Sue Richardson, the ship is kept in excellent condition: Solstice is less than two years old and looks just as new and sparkling as the day she left the Meyer Werft shipyard - just celestial as she was on our first cruise. The Solstice (2008) is the first of a class, the ship's dimension are 122,000 gross tons; 1,033 ft. long; beam is 121 ft. and a draft of only 27 ft. Celebrity's next two ships in this class are the Equinox (2009) and the Eclipse (2010), in cookie cutter fashion, and the Silhouette (2011) is in the works. Guest capacity is 2,850 and her crew numbers 1,200. There are 130 staterooms in the Aqua Class which are identical to the deluxe ocean view cabins with veranda (194 sq. ft. with an 54 sq. ft. veranda and 299 sq. ft. with 80 sq. ft. veranda for the wheelchair accessible cabins). Some of the features in the Aqua Class cabin are queen size beds, 32"LCD TV, wireless internet access and a table with two reclining chairs on the balcony. Special amenities in these rooms include the following: Complimentary dining in the Blu Restaurant (clean cuisine, spa style food); upgraded bathroom amenities; plush robes and slippers; oversized towels and contour pillows; sound and aromatics for relaxing: complimentary Italian Spring Water; Carafes of infused teas daily; daily canapes; available full breakfast in room service; daily breakfast in the Blu restaurant from 7 to 9 am and finally Concierge Services! Waiting in our stateroom were a bottle of French Brut Champagne, chilling in an ice bucket, and fresh flowers. SERVICE & FOOD Service on board any vessel takes its cue from the Captain and Dimitrios is a friendly and outgoing Greek! All week we had marvelous service and were aware that he made passenger and crew safety a priority on the ship. Aqua Class is aimed toward a healthy life style and dining in Blu was always interesting. For years we have been grumbling that ship portions were always too large --- Blu has achieved perfection in portion sizes. We always felt satisfied after dining, but not bloated. The dEcor of Blu is lovely: windows to the sea provide a terrific backdrop, overhead a gorgeous chandelier, in crystal and cobalt blue, evokes thoughts of Santorini and the Greek Isles. The chargers and plates were uniquely shaped and in whites glass and cobalt blue as were the water tumblers. The whole effect is understated beauty. We asked the Maitre d' Dariusz Chowaniec if we could have the same waiters each evening -- Wilmer Castillo and Santos Ramirez because they were so wonderful. They were prompt and remembered all our likes (i.e., lemon wedges for Mary). We had an excellent sommelier, appropriately named Napa, and every evening assistant Maitre d' Marjan welcomed us. Dinner at Blu Restaurant was always a pleasant and relaxing event. Appetizers: Seafood ceviche, empanadas, baked goat's cheese, soft shelled crabs, beef carpaccio, lump crab martini, etc. Soups: Chilled sweet pea with crab and toasted almonds, tortilla soup, spicy roasted plantain and corn soup, etc. Salads: Endive, Blu Caesar salad, Boston bibb and arugula, Shaved fennel and blood orange emulsion, etc. Entrees: Broiled Atlantic salmon, roasted chicken breast, NY strip, braised lamb shank with couscous and glazed carrots, etc. Desserts were tiny and light and included crème brulee, a variety of fresh sorbets like mangoes and ginger, etc. Many desserts were mysterious and surprising. We also highly recommend the upscale Tuscan Grill restaurant, where we ate and were very happy with the gorgeous veal chop and the delightful ginger snap tulip cup filled with wild berries and mascarpone cream for dessert. Vincent noted that wherever he ordered meat entrees (fillet Mignon, New York strip, veal chop or prime rib) from the Grand Epernay to the Tuscan Grill and the Ocean View Cafe`, they were the best at sea. Perhaps our loveliest meal was with Captain Dimitrios on the first formal night in the Grand Epernay dining room. He is a wonderful story teller and he regaled the table with parenthood tales. The very democratic captain used the dining room menu as his table menu. Excellent! Yet, we did notice a difference between this cuisine under Executive Chef Mischa Graafman and that of Executive Chef Mikael Tochetto on our last Solstice cruise. Chef Tochetto used a superb mix of French and Italian cuisine, while Chef Graafman's cuisine has overtones of Holland America and Indonesian spices. As the Latin maxim says: "De gustibus non est disputandum (no disputing about taste)". We met many officers who were always courteous and friendly, especially the Food and Beverage Manager Michael Bramlett, who was everywhere and his work was evident. CABIN Wheelchair accessible cabin #1538 is spacious and just like the one we described in the January Solstice review. The nicest thing about it is the automatic door opener and the huge bathroom. Mary had a fall in the bathroom and four stewards including John our steward and Roman and two others plus Medical Assistant Alistair all rushed to help and still the bathroom was not crowded. Alistair took us to the Hospital Facility on Deck 2 where Dr. Cosmopoulos(?) was wonderful and caring; he took x-rays and wrapped the knee. All gratis! The facility and the Doctor were terrific. ENTERTAINMENT Cruise Director Paul Baya has an excellent voice. He did a rousing rendition of "Stand by Me" at the Elite Cocktail Party. We especially enjoyed the Sipra Band and the two girl singers: Janisa and Maricel, and the male vocalist Bryan Allan. The Tony Viviano Quartet in the Ensemble Lounge did a lovely job on our favorite "Green Sleeves". The Solstice singers and dancers produced peppy shows and the Solstice Band provided excellent entertainment. There is plenty to do on board and even educational courses, one can play Bocce on the lawn on Deck 15. Get out there! PORTS OF CALL Day 1: Port Everglades, Ft. Lauderdale FL Depart: 4:30pm. Day 2: At Sea. Day 3: Georgetown, Grand Cayman Arrive: 9:00am Depart: 4:00pm Day 4: Cozumel, Mexico Arrive: 9:00am Depart: 6:00pm Day 5: Costa Maya, Mexico Arrive: 8:00am Depart: 6:00pm Day 6: Roatan, Honduras Arrive: 8:00am Depart: 5:00pm Day 7: At Sea. Day 8: Port Everglades, Ft. Lauderdale, FL Arrive 7:00am. DEBARKATION The debarkation process went very smoothly. After our breakfast in the restaurant Blu, we returned to our cabin and waited for a crew member that the Associate Hotel Director Sheldon Thompson had arranged to help us. We are both disabled and need assistance, even though Mary has a motorized wheelchair and Vincent has a scooter, we also use a walker for short distances. This time Vincent's scooter broke down on one of the ramps exiting the ship and, fortunately, the attendant that was accompanying us helped to bring the scooter down. Thanks again to the crew for being always helpful and courteous. By 10 am we were back home in Boca Raton. CONCLUSION Even though we have done many Caribbean cruises, this was our first done in August. We usually prefer to cruise the Caribbean during the fall and winter months, when the chances for tropical storms and tempestuous seas are low, but to our surprise the weather this time was great. Vincent enjoyed the view from our starboard balcony, especially the colorful sunsets and the sighting of Venus, as bright as ever, during the evening in the western skies. The only evidence of storms during this trip were the lightning seen from our balcony in the distant cloudy horizon, so distant that no thundering sound followed the flash of lightning. Captain Dimitrios Kafetzis must have kept us away from the storms. We had the pleasure of seeing again this friendly captain who remembered us from the previous cruise and invited us for dinner at the Captain's table. Thank you, Captain! We are getting ready for another cruise on Emerald Princess, Aug. 15th, only a week away, then on Liberty of the Seas, Sept. 6th, on Norwegian Epic, Oct. 2nd and on Crown Princess, Nov. 6th. We have not booked one for December yet. Happy Cruising! Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
This review is for the Celebrity Solstice for the 1-3-2010 and 1-10-2010 sailings. By W John Johnston. Since I am Disabled, I had checked into reserving a Wheelchair stateroom, but decided against it since I only have to use a cane. Even ... Read More
This review is for the Celebrity Solstice for the 1-3-2010 and 1-10-2010 sailings. By W John Johnston. Since I am Disabled, I had checked into reserving a Wheelchair stateroom, but decided against it since I only have to use a cane. Even though the wheelchair stateroom would have given us more room, the AquaClass space was larger than a normal stateroom on other ships. Including the veranda. When I made the reservation, I looked at the available staterooms and selections that were available for both cruises and selected one that was available for both cruises so we would not even have to pack and move between the Back to Back cruises. Before the cruise I contacted Celebrity about getting a shower seat put in the cabin for me. This was acknowledged, but none was there when we arrived. Our Room Steward (Serio) greeted us by name when we went to our room upon boarding, and when I asked about the shower seat, he immediately went and brought two so I could pick the one I liked best. He also greeted us by name during both cruises every time he saw us. In AquaClass, there is a bottle of Champagne in your room when you sail, two half liter bottles of water, an urn of Tea and a bowl of fruit every day. ( The oranges, apples, and grapes were fine, but the bananas were black in large areas, and the pears were rock hard but the ones we got the first week ripened by the second week) There is a mini bar refrigerator in the room that we used to keep things cold in. Being AquaClass, we had free run of the Persian Garden which consisted of a few heated tile/cement beds, a sauna, and a steam room . That's it. Everything else is available to everyone. The literature makes it appear that the Solarium and the relaxation room are only for AquaClass. Not so, they are available for every one. In AquaClass during the first cruise, We ate our evening meals in Blu at an assigned table for two that was 6 inches from another table for two, in a grouping of 5 tables. No one ever sat at the other 3 tables. Blue was never more than half full for the entire cruise. After a couple of meals, We would go look at the Grand Epernay menu and since all meals are prepared in the same Galley, we could order from that menu when we tired of the Blu menu. The second cruise we opted out of Blu so we could have an assigned table in the main dining room. The second cruise is when Celebrity went to "select" dining which means that you do not have to have assigned seating and you will be seated at an available table in the main dining room. You can also be seated in Blu if you are AquaClass. The Tuscan Grill, Silk Harvest, Murano, Blu, and The Bistro on Five are all Specialty restaurants and there is an added per person charge. In the Ocean View Cafe and Bar (the Buffet Area), there are no trays to carry food with, but I did not have a problem with that. All I had to do was walk into the area and someone would walk up to carry whatever I wanted, go to all the food areas, and then to our table. Waiters were always roaming with water and coffee and would go for a refill of whatever else you might be drinking. The AquaSpa Cafe was at the indoor Solarium and had healthy food items for lunch. Yogurt, Salads, etc. The Mast Bar and Grill was a great place to get a lunch. It is located on the upper Pool deck and has Hot Dogs, Bratwurst, Hamburgers, Cheeseburgers, Nachos, Chili, Hot Wings, French fries, and Onion Rings just to name the most obvious. They also have sodas, beer, and the bar has all the other beverages. The one thing missing was a place to sit down. They had five 24 inch round tables with 3 chairs at each table. If you did not have a lounge chair around the pool, you had to stand and eat or carry your lunch to find a place to eat it. The lifeboat drill was different in the respect that we did not need lifejackets on, or have to go outside (It was cold outside). Everyone went to 'A' muster station. On other ships, the crew checked off your name on a muster sheet when you arrived at your muster station. This time, nothing. On the second cruise we went to the theater Muster station by accident and stayed so I did not have to stand during the drill, and no one was the wiser. The AquaClass stateroom was roomy and you could recline the veranda deck chair and relax with room to spare. When we ordered Room Service Breakfast it was served on the dot at he time it was requested, and everything was piping hot. The bed is listed as a Queen size when the two are mated, but We have a queen size bed at home, and the stateroom bed was much larger. If it is not a King Size, it is not far off. It was extremely comfortable and we had three different types and sizes of pillows to use. The amenities in our bathroom were outstanding. Cotton Balls, Q-tips, Soap, Shampoo, Conditioner, Hair Moose (?), Hand Lotion, etc. The tissues were thin but adequate if you used three at the same time when you blew your nose. The retractable clothesline in the shower on the other cruise ships has been eliminated. Wet bathing suits must be placed on a veranda deck chair to dry. One problem with the bathroom was the sink. The spout extended halfway into the bowl and was in the way whenever you tried to use the sink. It was pretty, but not functional at all. The Shower was fantastic. There were 5 torso spray heads and one overhead spray. You could select overhead only, torso only or both torso and overhead. The center of the control was for temperature so it was just right when you turned on the water. There is a lot of storage space (modular closet, large safe, drawers, cabinets). We had three Pullman suitcases and there was room for everything. There is ample space under the bed for suitcase storage also. We sent a bag of clothes to the laundry and everything came back clean and neatly folded. Slacks were pressed and the dress shirts were lightly starched and ironed. The cost was about $23 and change. The room TV did not work correctly when I tried to display our position during the second week (a minor thing) and then quit altogether. I called customer service and the re-booted my unit and then it worked fine. It was great for keeping tabs on our account an spending. In the Spa I had a Deep Tissue and Muscle Massage and a Swedish Massage while Mar opted for the Swedish Massage and a Facial during the cruises. All were fantastic. The In-Port prices are less than At Sea prices and since the number of people wanting a massage is less, Natasha spent over an hour and a half with me on each of my sessions. The internet room had about 40 terminals, and if you were Elite, you get 90 free minutes each of air time. Otherwise for about $30, you can, purchase time. There is someone there at certain times to assist you if you need help. The hot tubs seemed cold, and everyone I talked to said the same thing. I went down to customer relations and complained that the water was too cold. The next day I received a message that they follow some health code that specifies the water be no hotter than 99 degrees. Today I did some investigating and it appears that 102 is the optimum, and 104 is the maximum temperature not 99. The stage shows were great. It is amazing what they can accomplish at sea. In the theater, you should try to get there a little early or you might find yourself in the back third of the theater with a 24 inch column in front of you. There are 6 of them obscuring ones vision. As far as music on the ship, We were greatly disappointed. The times and type of music was disappointing compared to the other Celebrity ships we have cruised on. Ballroom dancing was almost non existent. There is no Rendezvous Lounge to meet . Have a cocktail and dance with friends before or after dinner. There was a DJ that played danceable music, but never at the same time each day. Sometimes at 5:45 sometimes at 7:30 to 8:30 pm sometimes at 10:00 pm. One never knew when. In trying to use the public restrooms, they all had handicapped door opener buttons. I found two on the entire ship that worked. The other doors had to be pulled open to go in. I reported three on the first cruise and they were still inoperable at the end of the second cruise. There was No Carnival Night with the party band. The one night the party band was to play at poolside, they did not show up. There was NO Grand Midnight Buffet. There was No Watermelon Parade. There was NO Chocolate Buffet. There were NO after dinner mints upon leaving the dining rooms. There is NO enforcement of dress code. Wear anything you want, anytime you want, anywhere you want At the Captain's Party, the invitations said Smart Casual. (Slacks, Shirt with collar) It specifically said NO JEANS OR SHORTS. At the door were senior officers greeting everyone, but they still allowed at least one guy I saw that had a tee shirt and shorts to enter. On Formal night in Blu, I was the only guy in a tux, with one other guy in a white dinner jacket and a handful of dark suits. The remainder of the men were in sport shirts, some with jeans, and one guy in flip flops. The dress code could have been enforced by telling them that their attire was suitable for dining in the Ocean View Cafe on formal night. On the Summit I finished the books I took along for the cruise/tour and went to the library to see what there was to read. There was about a dozen or more books by Stuart Woods. I figured if someone stocked that many books by one author, I could give him a try. He is one of my favorite authors now. On the Solstice, the library needs attention. It is a confusing mess starting on the 10th deck with some of the bookshelves going to the 11th deck and no way to get up to them. Fortunes Casino had all the games of chance that are normally found on large cruise ships. Why they increase their minimum bet from $5.00 to $10.00 in the evening is beyond me. I know why Las Vegas and Atlantic City do it, but not why a cruise ship does it. I like to start each session at the tables with a $5.00 bet. Before the session is over, my bets are usually $25.00. I normally like to play on formal nights and usually have a Vodka Martini, Shaken, not Stirred while I am playing. It's a Bond thing I guess. I won about $400 for this cruise. Anytime I Come out ahead I am happy, and I am always happy. All in all, they were good cruises. NOT GREAT but good. I took pictures of the Menus in Blu and Grand Epernay if anyone would like to see them. If there is anything that anyone would like more information about, let me know. W John Johnston Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
Celebrity Solstice Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 4.5
Dining 4.5 4.1
Entertainment 4.5 3.8
Public Rooms 5.0 4.6
Fitness Recreation 5.0 4.1
Family 4.0 4.1
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.7
Enrichment 5.0 3.8
Service 5.0 4.4
Value For Money 4.5 4.0
Rates 4.0 4.2

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