Ninth cruise, fourth with Celebrity, first on Solstice. Others. HAL x 2, Princess x 1, Carnival x 1, RCI x 1.
Embarkation from Seattle was reasonably smooth and quick although the queue was rather long. All our Celebrity cruise embarkations have been quick and hassle free. First impression of the ship was very favorable. Nice decor without being ostentatious or OTT, kinda classy in a way. We settled in on deck 14 with a couple of drinks then had lunch in Oceanview until our cabin was ready. The way the serving areas have been set out has eliminated the loooong queues we have previously experienced on X Millennium and X Infinity. Plenty of variety and little trouble finding somewhere to sit and eat, there was always a vacant table somewhere. We ate in oceanview for breakfast and lunch and MDR for dinner. We didn't dine in any of the specialty restaurants as we were quite happy with what was on offer in Oceanview and Grand Epernay (MDR).
Dining. As previously mentioned we had dinners in the MDR. We were allocated fixed 8.30 slot in our TA's package. This is far too late for us. We easily switched to My Time/Any Time. As we are prepared to share we never had to wait when turning up at between 6 and 6.30. We are from Australia and love to meet and get to know people from other countries - although on this cruise it was mosty with Americans, without exception, we enjoyed their company.
The menu on Solstice was a little different to what we have seen before to as there was only three courses, not the usual four. Starters, entree and dessert. (to us that translates as entree, main course, dessert). There seemed to be fewer selections. Most meals were very good to excellent. We had lamb one night but it seemed more like mutton we've had better. I had a cajun fish one night. The fish was excellent but the cajun part was missing. For a change the gumbo was more like what I expected it should be as on other cruises the chefs seem to dumb it down for those with delicate palates. Beef Wellington was best I've ever had, a really melt-in-the mouth experience. Steaks were good and cooked as ordered.
Table service was excellent although on the last night, when we were docked in Victoria and most people were ashore, we had to ask the waiter to slow down and give us a little time between courses.
The entertainment we saw was excellent, top class. The singers/dancers all gave 100% and, although we are in our mid sixties, we really enjoyed the more modern themes of the shows. I'll mention here too that there seemed to be a much younger age demographic on this cruise compared to our previous Celebrity cruises, a good spread of ages. Quite refreshing being among a younger crowd. The illusionist was excellent, there's no way we could see how he did what he did, whether it was making people disappear from various boxes or slight-of-hand card tricks. One night, one of the singers (I apologise for not remembering her name) did a show stopping Whitney Houston tribute. WOW.
Itinerary. This was our second inside passage cruise, the first being on X Millennium mid August last year. The difference between was that last year it was one way from Vancouver to Seward including Ketchikan, Juneau, Hoonah, Hubbard Glacier and Skagway.
Excursions. Last year we booked private excursions. Ketchikan - the Duck. Skagway - Grizzly Falls ziplining, incredible. Juneau - float plane that was cancelled due to high winds.
This year we prebooked, with Celebrity, Juneau - 5 glacier and Salmon Bake a fantastic experience. Skagway - White Pass train ride, both ways. Excellent. Ketchikan - The Great Lumberjack Show. Fun and entertaining. And, we had good weather in all ports. Also, we did a little geocaching along the way which often turns up lots of interesting places and snippets of history. eg Patsy Ann in Juneau YCGT (You Can Google That).
Disembarkation was a breeze with a big exception. We elected to disembark with our luggage and as we travel light, this was quick and easy. The big exception was that once we cleared the terminal we had to wait over an hour for our bus to get into the place due to insufficient capacity for such vehicles. This was compounded due to Explorer of the Seas also disgorging her passengers at the same time. We were told there were about a 100 buses waiting, for about 10 or so bus parking spaces, to pick up. This problem needs to be addressed by the Seattle port authority or whatever department is responsible.
Extraneous. There is probably stuff I've overlooked. Can't finish without mentioning that the coffee was not up to previous X standard. I think they've gone back to the syrup(?). On Millenium and Infinity I seem to remember having filtered coffee in Oceanview. Mrs L had a cappuccino in Cafe el Bacio which was as weak as water. We complained and it was suggested she should have ordered double shot, so she ordered a double shot. It was barely any better. No more coffee for us, we expected better being Lavazza. The quality, or lack thereof, was confirmed by a couple in our tour group who own a cafe.
This cruise again confirms Celebrity as our cruise line of choice however we are not averse to cruising on another line if the itinerary suits. We've never had a bad cruise, some lines just do things a little better than others.
Our first time ever in an inside and hopefully our last. Inside was part of our TA's cruise tour package (which included a 10 day, 3000 mile, tour of National Parks in UT WY NV AZ) and to upgrade to OV would have been another $100 a day, each. We prefered to put that towards a couple of special excursions. Cabin size was good, not too cramped but certainly not what one would call spacious. It was well appointed with enough power outlets, nice big TV which swung out from the wall and could be easily adjusted for almost any angle (could even see it from the shower). Large sofa and one desk chair. Bathroom was roomy and modern modular design with curved, double sliding doors for the shower recess which was also roomy. Never had any plumbing problems and never ran out of hotwater. Bed was large and comfy - we are used to a much smaller double bed at home. Plenty of closet space for the two of us but Mrs C had dibs on all the drawers except one, for me. Plenty of space under our bed for suitcases.