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We were traveling with a group of 47 public safety professionals, many of whom we travel with annually. I've been on multiple cruises before, but this was my girlfriend Jodi's first one! She certainly wasn't disappointed --but I may have set the bar a little high with Celebrity! We arrived in Fort Lauderdale via JetBlue the day prior to the ship's departure. First time flying with them, and will definitely do it again. The built in entertainment on every seatback make the flight go by quickly! We stayed at the Cambria Suites, which were very nice & reasonably priced. For dinner, we walked over to Islamorada Fish Company in the Bass Pro Shops store for a really great dinner! The hotel had an $8 breakfast buffet ($10 after tax/tip) in the lobby the next morning that was decent. At breakfast I talked with a guy who was going out that day on the Ruby Princess -& he heard that they had some norovirus issues on the previous sailing... more on that later. The Ship: Our first experience on the Solstice was disappointing --a stop at the pool bar for a Bud Light & a Captain/Diet --neither of which they had! It's difficult to believe that they don't have the ability to stock 2 of the most popular (& revenue generating) beverages for their guests until the next day in their bars --but it's true. Our stateroom was a balcony cabin # 6125 (port side just above "Solstice" logo.) It was clean, spacious, comfortable, & very well maintained by Lucas & Ezekiel -our fine cabin stewards. There were plenty of drawers & closet space & the bed was comfortable, & the bathroom size was just right. Unfortunately though, our balcony cabin had an obstructed view when you wanted to look straight down at the water (it was the bumpout of Deck 5 where the "Solstice" lettering is.) That was a tad disappointing & it should be listed as an obstructed view because that's part of what you pay for on a balcony. The Lawn Club on Deck 15 was awesome! There were plenty of setups for Bocci & for putting, and that's also where the Hot Glass Show is held. I'd be careful shopping onboard. Liquor prices changed mid-cruise for some reason & they blamed it on "Headquarters." The best liquor deals were in Roatan, Honduras & not on the ship anyway. The layout of the Solstice is terrific. Very easy to learn your way around & also to navigate the buffet. Dining: The food was exactly what I expected after sailing the Summit last year --outstanding! The buffet's were fabulous, and the only disappointment was dinner. We opted for the Celebrity Select Dining, which is their "flexible" dining option (where you can dine anytime between 6-930p.) However, it was anything but "select." It was very difficult to get a reservation at a time other than after 830p. I don't think that I'd do that again. If I did, I'd book my preferred time days in advance like many seemed to do. Of course, that isn't much different than the traditional "Main" & "Late" seatings --you have to be at dinner at a specific time! One night they moved a group that just came in (from Bleu) & took over a table. They were going to leave the same soiled tablecloth, napkins & dinnerware there for us! Are you kidding? A ship that easily went through 1,000 gallons of Purrell that week trying to prevent Norovirus! We ate in one of the up charge restaurants one evening - the Tuscan Grille ...& it was just exemplarily! Also of note: there were Eggs Benedict at the breakfast buffet each morning & sushi every day at 530p! Entertainment: Kudos to the Celebrity Solstice for hosting a terrific Superbowl Party in the Solstice Theatre on our first night. Lots of fun & food (& drink available for purchase.) I wasn't impressed with the Cruise Director Stewart, who seemed a little stiff & didn't have the onboard presence that I've seen with past cruise directors. I once again noted, and really enjoyed the involvement of the ships officers' with the guests (& not like on Carnival where the officers are cruising the bars at night seeking out the female guests.) There were several events that many of the ships officers were involved in. "The Liars Club" in a lounge one night, "Dancing with the Stripes" their onboard version of Dancing with the Stars! Ships officers (male & female) would team-up with guests for a dance contest that was judged by an American Idol like panel of judges. Captain Gerry (pronounced "Gary") from Norway, who could often be seen walking about the ship & also mingling with guest's, held a very informative talk on navigation in one of the lounges on the first sea day. He also performed twice in the Solstice Theater --both are surprises not to be missed! (You can YouTube search "captain gerry larsson fedde" if you can't wait!) Then there was the Officer's vs. Guests pool volleyball game. I was disappointed there that I had signed up for that very early, but was omitted from the team. That is the kind of detail that they need to be more attentive too. Celebrity has this "Behind the Podium" series & there were a few interesting talks, one from a woman that was the Whitehouse Travel Office Director for President Clinton. (She never mentioned Travelgate though!) The Staff Captain (Taso) also did one on the building of Solstice, but I missed that one. The production shows were just horrible! They only had one comedian on board the entire trip, although he did appear on 4 different nights doing the same exact show (which they do tell you about in advance.) He was so unimpressive I don't even recall his name. Too much one sided political stuff for my liking. The entertainment highlights of the week clearly were: a Circ de Soleil show, Jason Bishop --a phenomenal illusionist from Pennsylvania, and Canadian Karen Grainger --a female impressionist (Cher, Celine Dion, Tina Turner, Alanis Morissette & Whitney Houston among others,) an Acapella Quartet and of course Captain Gerry! Oh yeah, and a casino! Oddly enough I don't remember a solo guitarist on board--but there would have been a great place for one at the Sunset Bar on the stern. Probably a good place to mention the aggressive photographers. In what appears to be a new twist there are a series of photographers that you have to go through when getting off the ship in port! A polite "no thanks" suffices, but it does get old having to say it 3 times. Excursions: Our Travel Agent, Russ Schrader of King Travel here in CT put together some private excursions for our group. Russ & his wife Nancy are very well traveled themselves, and always do a great job. Each excursion was priced very reasonably, and all offered much more than the ship did ...for less $$! In Grand Cayman we did a catamaran/snorkeling sail. After a short walk to the buses that transported us to the catamaran, we motored (no wind) out to Stingray City, which is always a fun place. Then we made another snorkeling stop before going to a the Kaibo Beach Bar on Rum Point for lunch & drinks (not included.) We had a liquor store stop on the bus built in, but they don't open until 10a. In Cozumel we took a taxi to Cozumel Beach Break. A very nice facility that included open bar & excellent food! Jodi did parasailing & we both enjoyed a beach massage! The staff here were excellent! Taxi fare was $15 each way for 4 people. After that we took a taxi to downtown for some shopping. I had forgotten about the free liquor/beer in the jewelry stores! Of course, what visit to Cozumel wouldn't be complete without a visit to Senor Frogs (or Carlos & Charlies!) In Roatan, Honduras we did another catamaran/snorkeling tour on the 51' Stray Cat. It was an excellent tour thanks to Captain Dave & his crew. Plenty of beverages & a nice lunch after some great snorkeling. (However, another windless day so we motored.) In Costa Maya we did a nice tour of Chacchoben Mayan Ruins in the morning with The Native Choice, and a really fun ATV tour in the afternoon. There really isn't much in Costa Maya outside of the port other than swamps & mangroves. It's a port that was developed by the cruise industry in 2001 --and was hit hard by Hurricane Dean in 2004. They've rebuilt it all though! When we returned to Fort Lauderdale we had several hours to kill before our 330p flight back to CT, so our travel agent worked out a private excursion with the ships Group Coordinator at 10% off! It was a really nice tour of Fort Lauderdale first by bus, then by boat on the Carrie B. While the bus showed us the homes of the rich -The Carrie B took us by the homes on the canals of the filthy rich! Where their docked yachts were worth more than their multimillion dollar homes! A really nice tour indeed. This is where we learned that the Ruby Princess had a significant norovirus outbreak & ported 2 days early because of it. Also, that she was staying ported for 2 weeks for a thorough disinfecting. I'll bet there a lot of disappointed people that had cruises booked on those 2 weeks... One more thing: my brother doesn't use a credit card, but instead always puts cash on his account & gets a check delivered to his stateroom for the remaining balance the last night of the cruise. He stopped at the Purser desk to check his balance & they told him that he needed to come to the desk the final night of the cruise to retrieve his balance. If he didn't, he didn't get the balance back!!! Hard to believe they'd just keep it, but that's what they said. So, just be aware of that if you use cash. I know it's a long review, but I hope that you find it helpful!!! The Solstice & her crew were terrific overall. Highly recommended!

Great Week on the Solstice!

Celebrity Solstice Cruise Review by CTFireChief

1 person found this helpful
Trip Details
We were traveling with a group of 47 public safety professionals, many of whom we travel with annually. I've been on multiple cruises before, but this was my girlfriend Jodi's first one! She certainly wasn't disappointed --but I may have set the bar a little high with Celebrity! We arrived in Fort Lauderdale via JetBlue the day prior to the ship's departure. First time flying with them, and will definitely do it again. The built in entertainment on every seatback make the flight go by quickly! We stayed at the Cambria Suites, which were very nice & reasonably priced. For dinner, we walked over to Islamorada Fish Company in the Bass Pro Shops store for a really great dinner! The hotel had an $8 breakfast buffet ($10 after tax/tip) in the lobby the next morning that was decent. At breakfast I talked with a guy who was going out that day on the Ruby Princess -& he heard that they had some norovirus issues on the previous sailing... more on that later.
The Ship:
Our first experience on the Solstice was disappointing --a stop at the pool bar for a Bud Light & a Captain/Diet --neither of which they had! It's difficult to believe that they don't have the ability to stock 2 of the most popular (& revenue generating) beverages for their guests until the next day in their bars --but it's true.
Our stateroom was a balcony cabin # 6125 (port side just above "Solstice" logo.) It was clean, spacious, comfortable, & very well maintained by Lucas & Ezekiel -our fine cabin stewards. There were plenty of drawers & closet space & the bed was comfortable, & the bathroom size was just right. Unfortunately though, our balcony cabin had an obstructed view when you wanted to look straight down at the water (it was the bumpout of Deck 5 where the "Solstice" lettering is.) That was a tad disappointing & it should be listed as an obstructed view because that's part of what you pay for on a balcony. The Lawn Club on Deck 15 was awesome! There were plenty of setups for Bocci & for putting, and that's also where the Hot Glass Show is held. I'd be careful shopping onboard. Liquor prices changed mid-cruise for some reason & they blamed it on "Headquarters." The best liquor deals were in Roatan, Honduras & not on the ship anyway.
The layout of the Solstice is terrific. Very easy to learn your way around & also to navigate the buffet.
Dining:
The food was exactly what I expected after sailing the Summit last year --outstanding! The buffet's were fabulous, and the only disappointment was dinner. We opted for the Celebrity Select Dining, which is their "flexible" dining option (where you can dine anytime between 6-930p.) However, it was anything but "select." It was very difficult to get a reservation at a time other than after 830p. I don't think that I'd do that again. If I did, I'd book my preferred time days in advance like many seemed to do. Of course, that isn't much different than the traditional "Main" & "Late" seatings --you have to be at dinner at a specific time! One night they moved a group that just came in (from Bleu) & took over a table. They were going to leave the same soiled tablecloth, napkins & dinnerware there for us! Are you kidding? A ship that easily went through 1,000 gallons of Purrell that week trying to prevent Norovirus! We ate in one of the up charge restaurants one evening - the Tuscan Grille ...& it was just exemplarily! Also of note: there were Eggs Benedict at the breakfast buffet each morning & sushi every day at 530p!
Entertainment:
Kudos to the Celebrity Solstice for hosting a terrific Superbowl Party in the Solstice Theatre on our first night. Lots of fun & food (& drink available for purchase.) I wasn't impressed with the Cruise Director Stewart, who seemed a little stiff & didn't have the onboard presence that I've seen with past cruise directors.
I once again noted, and really enjoyed the involvement of the ships officers' with the guests (& not like on Carnival where the officers are cruising the bars at night seeking out the female guests.) There were several events that many of the ships officers were involved in. "The Liars Club" in a lounge one night, "Dancing with the Stripes" their onboard version of Dancing with the Stars! Ships officers (male & female) would team-up with guests for a dance contest that was judged by an American Idol like panel of judges. Captain Gerry (pronounced "Gary") from Norway, who could often be seen walking about the ship & also mingling with guest's, held a very informative talk on navigation in one of the lounges on the first sea day. He also performed twice in the Solstice Theater --both are surprises not to be missed! (You can YouTube search "captain gerry larsson fedde" if you can't wait!) Then there was the Officer's vs. Guests pool volleyball game. I was disappointed there that I had signed up for that very early, but was omitted from the team. That is the kind of detail that they need to be more attentive too.
Celebrity has this "Behind the Podium" series & there were a few interesting talks, one from a woman that was the Whitehouse Travel Office Director for President Clinton. (She never mentioned Travelgate though!) The Staff Captain (Taso) also did one on the building of Solstice, but I missed that one.
The production shows were just horrible! They only had one comedian on board the entire trip, although he did appear on 4 different nights doing the same exact show (which they do tell you about in advance.) He was so unimpressive I don't even recall his name. Too much one sided political stuff for my liking. The entertainment highlights of the week clearly were: a Circ de Soleil show, Jason Bishop --a phenomenal illusionist from Pennsylvania, and Canadian Karen Grainger --a female impressionist (Cher, Celine Dion, Tina Turner, Alanis Morissette & Whitney Houston among others,) an Acapella Quartet and of course Captain Gerry! Oh yeah, and a casino! Oddly enough I don't remember a solo guitarist on board--but there would have been a great place for one at the Sunset Bar on the stern.
Probably a good place to mention the aggressive photographers. In what appears to be a new twist there are a series of photographers that you have to go through when getting off the ship in port! A polite "no thanks" suffices, but it does get old having to say it 3 times.
Excursions:
Our Travel Agent, Russ Schrader of King Travel here in CT put together some private excursions for our group. Russ & his wife Nancy are very well traveled themselves, and always do a great job. Each excursion was priced very reasonably, and all offered much more than the ship did ...for less $$!
In Grand Cayman we did a catamaran/snorkeling sail. After a short walk to the buses that transported us to the catamaran, we motored (no wind) out to Stingray City, which is always a fun place. Then we made another snorkeling stop before going to a the Kaibo Beach Bar on Rum Point for lunch & drinks (not included.) We had a liquor store stop on the bus built in, but they don't open until 10a.
In Cozumel we took a taxi to Cozumel Beach Break. A very nice facility that included open bar & excellent food! Jodi did parasailing & we both enjoyed a beach massage! The staff here were excellent! Taxi fare was $15 each way for 4 people. After that we took a taxi to downtown for some shopping. I had forgotten about the free liquor/beer in the jewelry stores! Of course, what visit to Cozumel wouldn't be complete without a visit to Senor Frogs (or Carlos & Charlies!)
In Roatan, Honduras we did another catamaran/snorkeling tour on the 51' Stray Cat. It was an excellent tour thanks to Captain Dave & his crew. Plenty of beverages & a nice lunch after some great snorkeling. (However, another windless day so we motored.)
In Costa Maya we did a nice tour of Chacchoben Mayan Ruins in the morning with The Native Choice, and a really fun ATV tour in the afternoon. There really isn't much in Costa Maya outside of the port other than swamps & mangroves. It's a port that was developed by the cruise industry in 2001 --and was hit hard by Hurricane Dean in 2004. They've rebuilt it all though!
When we returned to Fort Lauderdale we had several hours to kill before our 330p flight back to CT, so our travel agent worked out a private excursion with the ships Group Coordinator at 10% off! It was a really nice tour of Fort Lauderdale first by bus, then by boat on the Carrie B. While the bus showed us the homes of the rich -The Carrie B took us by the homes on the canals of the filthy rich! Where their docked yachts were worth more than their multimillion dollar homes! A really nice tour indeed. This is where we learned that the Ruby Princess had a significant norovirus outbreak & ported 2 days early because of it. Also, that she was staying ported for 2 weeks for a thorough disinfecting. I'll bet there a lot of disappointed people that had cruises booked on those 2 weeks...

One more thing: my brother doesn't use a credit card, but instead always puts cash on his account & gets a check delivered to his stateroom for the remaining balance the last night of the cruise. He stopped at the Purser desk to check his balance & they told him that he needed to come to the desk the final night of the cruise to retrieve his balance. If he didn't, he didn't get the balance back!!! Hard to believe they'd just keep it, but that's what they said. So, just be aware of that if you use cash.
I know it's a long review, but I hope that you find it helpful!!! The Solstice & her crew were terrific overall. Highly recommended!
CTFireChief’s Full Rating Summary
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