This was our second Solstice Class sailing, the first being on the Solstice in the Mediterranean in November, 2009. Though the ships felt identical (down to much of the carpeting) our on board experience was much different. We booked this cruise less than 3 weeks before sailing and at the time were only able to get an inside cabin. Granted, we got a fantastic deal, but we sure missed the balcony. On Solstice, we were in AquaClass and had the Blu experience but this time we got to enjoy the Silhouette dining room. My partner and I traveled with my sister and brother-in-law, who had booked their trip many months in advance.
The whole trip got started off on the wrong foot, but fortunately Celebrity was outstanding in coming to our assistance. Long story short, Continental Airlines canceled our day-of-sailing flight from Newark due to weather the day before. We were unable to secure alternate flights that would get us to the ship prior to departure from Ft. Lauderdale. A representative from ChoiceAir, Yuli was relentless in helping the 4 of us meet the ship, preferably in Ft. Lauderdale, but ultimately in the first port -- St. Thomas. We flew to Ft. Lauderdale on Sunday where Celebrity picked us up and took us to Miami. They put us on a flight to St. Thomas, provided a hotel, and got us to the ship as it was docking in St. Thomas the next morning. We got on around 7:00a.m. before the passengers got off and ended up with a 7 night cruise. Once on board, we were able to relax and enjoy our vacation. I have to note here that the hotel Celebrity put us up in. The Windward Passage, was horrendous. Dirty, worn, and didn't feel very safe. We spoke with different staff members and made several phone calls to alert Celebrity that it is certainly far from Celebrity standards and something they need to rethink. Don't get me wrong, we are very appreciative that Celebrity took care of us, but would never stay in that hotel again. Ever.
Service: Outstanding. Truly. From our cabin steward and assistant to the dining room staff. Because we arrived so late, our original dining room table for 4 was reassigned. Our first night's location was not optimal but Marcel the head maitre d' worked hard to secure us a prime location -- lower level, center section just under the balcony above. Our waiter and assistant were among the best we've ever had on 16 cruises. The dining room manager, Fabio, was also very concerned about our well-being and happiness,checking on us nightly. The only weakness was in the sommeliers. Across 3 of them, they seemed ill-informed and ill-prepared. Not a show stopper, but not what we are used to.
Food: Very good. I read so many reviews with complaints and disappointment in the quality and selection of food. Granted it is very subjective and persona, but across the 4 of us, we felt the food was very good in the dining room and in the buffet area. We still don't like the absence of trays in the buffet and seating is often difficult to find at prime time. We ate in Tuscan Grill one night and thoroughly enjoyed it. We spoke with other passengers that experience bad service and mediocre food. Our experience was completely positive. We skipped Murano this trip having done it or it's equivalent numerous times before.
Entertainment: Simply awful. There was not one show we attempted to see that we could manage to sit through. Wow. What happened? I know ship entertainment is not Broadway or concert caliber generally, but the production shows were similar to a really bad high school performance at best.
General Ship Impressions:
As mentioned above, I didn't see any significant differences from the Solstice. The public areas were all in great shape and as typical for Celebrity, people were cleaning, repairing, etc. all the time. One change I did notice was that there are more lounge chairs around the pool and on the decks above, however the little tables are gone so the chairs are literally right next to one another. You certainly get to know your fellow sun bathers a bit better.
We thoroughly enjoyed the hot glass show but learned that the plans have changed and it will only be on the first 3 ships, not all 5. It's being replaced by a food and bar location as I understand it on Silhouette and Reflection. More revenue generating venues, I suppose.
We visited St. Thomas, St. Kitts, Barbados, Dominica, and St. Maarten. Much has been written on the boards about these islands so I won't elaborate here.
Bottom line, we are still Celebrity fans. We seem to like the M class ships a little better than the S class, especially after a second try. If we were to sail an S class again, I would hope for AquaClass and Blu. Again everything was great in the main dining room, but we really enjoyed the whole experience in Blu previously. We're going to try Azamara next year for something different and a little more intimate.
8159 -- Very quiet inside cabin on deck 8. Great location on an interior hallway so very little foot traffic nearby. It felt bigger than a standard outside even though there was no window.