We were three generations of our family (Grandparents, Parents and Toddler in tow) looking to make memories, and decided to go on a cruise to Alaska. We chose Celebrity just because it was the best deal our Travel Agent could get us. With a grand total of one cruise (on Carnival) behind us, we had nothing to compare with, really - but all I can say is - the Celebrity experience was fabulous and future cruises for us will have a high bar to live up to!
We are local to Seattle so getting to the ship was the easiest thing - we drove up to the Pier. Parking at the Pier for a week is pretty expensive, but still, an Uber XL would cost almost the same, so it was an easy choice to make - at least we wouldn't have to carry our toddler's car seat along!
Our embarkation experience was sadly, not the best. We unfortunately arrived at the peak rush period, and so the lines to check in were serpentine and endless, and the check in hall was stifling hot. The person at the counter also was very slow, and took ages to check us in and get us our SeaPass cards. We were still at the counter after people behind us had been checked in and gotten onboard! He took my credit card to put it on record, but that never happened, and I had to go to Guest Relations onboard to get it corrected.
Once we got on the ship - well, it was a totally different world! The Solstice is amazingly luxurious, even if it is an "old" ship. The crew is hospitable, and very attentive to the passengers' comfort. My mother suffers from bad knees, and the attendants at the embarkation gangway guided her to an armchair so she could recover her breath, brought her some orange juice and generally took care of her till she felt rested.
Our cabins were fantastic - we had booked Deluxe Verandahs on the mid ships "hump", and they were totally worth the price. Ours probably had the biggest balcony around - big enough to fit four deck chairs and a table. The cabins were neat, clean, well appointed with lots of storage areas and hidden cabinets. The bathroom was cramped, but adequate. Our cabins were close to the mid ship elevators, and the Team Earth lobby, but we never heard any outside noises ever.
The food.. ahh, the food!! We ate most of our meals in the Ocean View Cafe buffet, and hardly ever felt we missed anything. This place served every kind of cuisine possible- including vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options. They also had "theme" meals - like a Taste of America, Taste of Mediterranean themed lunch, and a Taste of India, Taste of China, Taste of Eastern Europe themed dinners - where in addition to the regular stations, they had additional stations dedicated to the advertised cuisine. On the last night, they had a "Best of the Cruise" buffet, with the most popular items from the entire cruise, and to make things fun - a chocolate fountain with fruits and bits to dip into it. Absolute treat! We had a couple of meals in the MDR which were lovely - my family prefers Indian food, and the MDr had an excelltn Indian menu to choose from. They also adapted the menu items to cater to my father's dietary needs, and when requested for something that was not on the dining room menu, they went and fetched it from the Buffet! The entire Catering and Serving staff
We didn't really indulge in any shows, etc on board the ship - preferred to spend our time enjoying the glorious views outside. the talks by the naturalist (and the running commentary during the fjord visit) and the destination highlight sessions were wonderful, though. And so was the Q&A session with Captain Tasos - I admire the way this man can talk, Greek accent and all, and the tongue in cheek manner he has! We did visit the Silent Disco (hilarious) and the dueling violins and band performances in the Atrium which were enjoyable. It might have been better to have them a bit further away from the Guest Relations desk though, since it made conversation harder. There were also quite a few good free movies on TV, on Demand, that we were able to catch up on.
We avoided booking any excursions via the Cruise line, instead preferring to do our own thing in each port we visited. The Daily planners provided each ay were helpful though, in planning out what we could get done when in port.
Overall, we had a fabulous family trip, and experienced something we can relive over and over again for the rest of our lives. Our kid enjoyed his time aboard the ship and was sad to say good bye to the Solstice.
Cabin 7260 on deck 7, is at the front end of the mid-ship "hump" on the starboard side. Given it's location on the hump, the veranda is trapezium shaped, and it's BIG - big enough to fit in 4 deck chairs (Our veranda had 3 deck chairs and a normal chair, with a round table). It looks towards the front of the ship and you get a good view of the bridge as well - but since it is front looking, you also get blasted by the wind, if there is a breeze going. The cabin itself was pretty well appointed - a queen bed and a pull out sofa bed (which we never used). There is a minibar in the cabinet, which we asked to be emptied out since we had a curious kid in the room. There are a lot of useful nooks and cabinets hidden away that can be used for storage. The cabin is pretty close to the elevators, but there is a glass door between the elevator lobby and the cabins, that cuts out all external noise, so the cabin is super quiet. The bathroom is small, but adequate. Only drawback - there is no retractable clothesline in the bathroom, where we could dry wet swim clothes, etc. We were able to hook up a bungee cord as a makeshift line, but this is something to keep in mind, for extended length cruises.
We did a self guided walking tour of Ketchikan, and walked around along the waterfront, and on Creek Street, which is a colorful, fascinating walk. It was interesting to see the "historic" buildings (historic in quotes, because I really don't consider a brothel historic) which are in quite good shape. We also paid a visit to the Discovery Center Museum which was worth the price of admission to experience the background and history of the area.View All 31 Ketchikan On Our Own Reviews
We did a self guided tour of the Saxman Totem Park and nearby Native village. We took a Silverline bus ($2 ticket) to the park and back, which was super price effective. The totem poles were interesting to look at, but we regretted not getting a guided tour, since we didn't have anyone explaining what they meant. Google helps, but not much. Thankfully we sat through a lecture on board the ship that had given us sufficient background information. The native village was just okay - to be honest, it felt staged, and not an active, lived in village, which we thought we were going to see.View All 109 Saxman Native Village Reviews
The Mendenhall glacier was awesome! The bus provided to drive us there was a ramshackle old school bus, but it got us there and back in one piece. The glacier itself was picturesque and the visitor center was very informative. We were lucky enough to see a lot of bald eagles, as well as a porcupine in a ditch by the hiking trail to Nugget FallsView All 971 Mendenhall Glacier Reviews
Most stores along the main roads are tourist traps, selling overpriced jewelry and souvenirs. Still a fun time though, because everyone wants to make sure tourists have a good time!View All undefined undefined Reviews
We did a guided tour of the historic buildings in the city, which is part of a National Park, and conducted by the Forest Rangers from the National Park Service. It was a wonderful glimpse into the history of the Yukon gold rush, and the horrors and tragedies that were inflicted on the natives back thenView All 23 Historical Tour Reviews