I have just returned from a 12 night cruise around New Zealand and back to Sydney.
I travelled with a family group of 10 so we were quite a crowd. We have travelled as a family many times before and this cruise was everything we had hoped for,
The Solstice is a very large ship with a LOT of passengers and crew. Never-the-less, we only felt crowded when trying to dine and I was surprised at how many quiet nooks and crannies could be found when we simply wanted to get away and have a quiet read.
The food was extremely good and the service in the dining room was efficient but still very personal. Within a day of boarding the waiters knew all of our names and our personal drink preferences. They always took care of the younger members of our group and made each of us feel very special. The food was rich, varied and tasty and I understand why the average passenger gains 0.5 of a kg per day (the executive chef told us that).
We had adjacent balcony cabins on deck 6. I have previously travelled on higher decks but I prefer to be closer to the water also, the rocking of the boat is more obvious the higher up you get. The cabins were scrupulously clean and well fitted out and the stewards very attentive. The balconies were a good size and large enough for 2 comfortable chairs and a table with room to spare.
The entertainment was hit and miss. Some of the shows and acts were very amateurish including singing out of tune and dancing out of step. Others were spectacular, especially Solstice's own show.
The activities staff were fun and funny and took time to engage with most of the passengers.
The lawn was a nice touch but I think the space could have been used better.
The art auctions were given far too much emphasis and regularly took over whole bars, rooms and other public spaces, preventing the majority of passengers from using that area. I really resented them blocking windows and seating in some of the large bars where trivia and other more broadly popular activities were also held. I think art auctions on cruise ships are terribly over priced and rely on you getting caught up in the moment, trusting their descriptions and advice and not being able to access the internet to check the truth of what they tell you. Be very weary and do your research before you go. Read some reviews and complaints about Park West Gallery and make up your own mind.
Every day for us was fun, interesting and full of food and laughter. Cruising really is the best way for a family group to travel. It was especially easy for my 83 year old mother as she could rest when needed, only had to unpack and repack once but could still be with us all as we travelled.
I highly recommend cruising and Celebrity did not let us down.
Spacious and very clean and comfortable with one of the best bathrooms I have found on a cruise ship.. We spent a lot of time sitting on the balcony either reading or looking at the view. Just being able to have fresh air and hear the waves makes the extra cost of a balcony worthwhile.Being on a lower deck is more comfortable as the ship rocks more the higher up you go.