This is my fourth Cruise. 1st was Carnival to Mexico, 2nd was Windstar to Western Med, 3rd was Windstar to Costa Rica, and now this trip to the Eastern Med on Solstices. My first impression was Wow, big ship. The ship is big, and comfortable. Most of the staff were very nice. The Glass blowing by Corning was outstanding. But... It's not Windstar or Carnival. In both cases OUTSTANDING food. This trip, the food in the main dining room was less then good. Broccoli way over cooked, lousy steak, dry over cooked chicken. Don't get me started on the Salmon. The sauces were over salted or too rich, or just bad. OK so the food was not their main selling point. The interesting thing was the quality of the food in the Ocean View Cafeteria was way better, and much better tasting. When I asked the Brown suited gentleman that was in charge of our section about the food, he got very upset, and said that we were not aloud to complain. I'm sorry, say what? I spoke to customer care, and were very surprised to learn such a rule had been implemented by one of their staff members. As for the other restaurants, it got very expensive, very quickly. At $30 per person, and then add drinks (4 people) it's not something I was interested in especially after both my Windstar experiences and Carnival. The term nicked and dimed comes to mind for the other things. A bottle of beer is $5.75, Coke or Diet Coke was expensive too. But they made a deal for that, For $6+ a day you could buy a cup that would be refilled as much as you liked at any bar. On an 11 day cruise that's $66 worth of Soda pop. Understand, once you buy the cup, you are charged automatically, whether you use it or not. As for the things to do, The glass blowing is very interesting and is a must see. On the other hand the onboard entertainment was painfully BAD!!! That trumpet player must go, he never found the note he was looking for. The dancing was somewhere between silly and stupid. I don't play bingo, so that sort of ends the things to do.The automatic tipping $11.95 a day, means the staff is not busting their butts for the tip.Now to some of you reading this, you might be writing me off as someone who just complains, about everything, because I enjoy complaining. Yes, I know people like that. This is not the case. Though I do not have tons of experience, the people I went with did. Including the Queen Mary II. They too, made the same observations. Indulge me in one more example. The tour I had signed up for was to be for 3:15 min, Starting at 2:45pm and ending at 6pm. OK... They put us in the Solstices forward theater stage area, were the people on stage were cracking jokes and talking. All the while you relies that the tour is almost half over and your still waiting. The every three min this guy comes by trying to sell you a bottle of water for $4.50. The first twenty times you tell him no thank you, does not change his enthusiasm to sell you very over priced water. At 3:45 they start telling us to get ready to go, another 15 min later, we go. So the three hour tour was about 1.5 hours. No refund, no "I'm sorry", no free water. Just an attitude of what do you want me to do about it. I know it's a new ship (first trip was Oct 08) and this was it's first trip in the Med. The GPS in the room was still set to Florida, Why. It's really seamed like nobody was in charge, or the people in charge were over their heads. Am I just spoiled by the Windstar experience, and this was a normal cruise. Everything I mentioned was "Normal". I hope that's not the case. The Mexico trip was fantastic, the pool and jacuccis were open late, so after you been on shore all day, you get back to the ship, Eat, then relax, drink, swim if you like. The food was outstanding. The people making up the rooms were fun and clever. Did I mention the food was very good.Then Windstar, what can I say... Outstanding food, crazy fun stuff to do, Beach BBQ's swimming off the dive platform. Hang out on the bridge with the Capt. Anytime day or night (except when docking), Kitchen tours, cooking demonstrations and lessons.Something is missing from the Solstice and I would guess it's in the management area.
Great Cabin, great view on the 8th floor. The interactive TV was great. Bring a flatter suitcase so you can place it under the bed.