Celebrity Solstice Cruise Review by Buster's Mom
This was my first mega-ship experience, after 4 prior cruises on mid-to large size ships with Royal Caribbean and Carnival. In general, Solstice is beautiful with modern decor and well designed to manage the number of passengers - except for the pool areas, which were quite crowded on sea days and full of kids. Forget looking for a deck chair after 8 am.I am in my mid-40s, and traveled with my parents, also veteran cruisers, and we all felt that Celebrity missed badly with food in the main dining room. Also, we were not able to be seated with the rest of our party of 8, even though we had booked the cruise 6 months in advance; at embarkation, I discovered that I had been assigned a table separate from my parents and the rest of our party. I was able to get a table for 4 seated with them, but unsuccessful in resolving the request to be seated with the others. The best they could do was to have us seated on the same side of the upper dining room floor, which wasn't much, considering there was a wall between us. Our service in the main dining room was excellent, we received our food first and from our vantage point in the far corner were able to see that it took quite some time to serve the rest of the room. Some offerings were good, but most fell into the average category; portions were adequate. The number of entrees, appetizers, and desserts was limited compared with previous cruise experiences, and not in keeping with Celebrity's positioning as a "premium" cruise line. For instance, meat loaf was on the menu one night, and chicken fettucini another. Not exactly special fare! Filet showed up once, although strip steak was available every day. The wine list was extensive, although prices tended to be high, I was able to find some good values from Italy and with less familiar varietals. We enjoyed the food in the Oceanview Cafe and were able to quickly figure out when the most crowded times were and managed to avoid them. We also ate at Murano one night and that was the best meal of the trip, but it was an extra $30 per person upcharge. The best value came from Bistro on Five, at $5 per person. The crepes and salads were fresh and tasty.Our cabin was Concierge Class, and on deck 11 aft. It was quiet at night, but noisy during the day as it bordered a hallway lined with service cabinets for the room attendents. You could tell when they came on duty each morning between 6 and 7am. Our room attendents were fast and efficient. Disappointingly, we had a problem with items being removed from the minibar when we were absent from the room. I complained twice with Guest Relations and asked to have the minibar locked, with no response and a total of ~$23 charged to my account by the end of the cruise. Our cabin door was difficult to close and you had to pull hard from the outside to lock it - twice during the trip we came back to the cabin to find it ajar. No personal items were missing but we were very careful to use the safe and ensure all valuables were locked away. The only advantage to Concierge Class that I could see was room location, being on a high deck and away from the atrium staircases. The afternoon canapes were a CC item, but one that I wouldn't recommend. Our veranda was slightly larger as we had the last cabin before the stern, which was nice, but it had a partially obstructed view to the rear. The spa was totally disappointing. The staff seemed rushed and the treatments I had (pedicure, facial, massage) were treated as an opportunity for them to do hard selling to buy more expensive options and products. Not the relaxing experience I was expecting, and overall, not worth the prices charged. I hope Aqua Class guests received better service. One bright spot was the Corning Glass show - definitely a must-see. Get there early for a good seat. The Lawn Club seemed a waste of deck space. And we hated the fact that a smoking section was located on Deck 12 just prior to the Solarium entrance on the AquaSpa Cafe side. Smoke floated into the Solarium and made it difficult to reach the "healthy alternative eating" at the Cafe (which was suprising good, but too small and hours of operation limited).Entertainment was modest. The Broadway review on the first formal night was nicely done. Public areas and the many bars were thoughtfully designed. We enjoyed Michael's Club and the Passport Lounge for pre or post dinner drinks. The Martini bar was always crowded ($10 each). Drinks were inconsistent, some evenings well made, other times not. Finally, the reason we chose this cruise was the number of ports and price paid. We enjoyed our trip and had a great time seeing the sights, and did a mix of ship tours and independent.
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