Solstice Theater, the ship's main show lounge is a well-designed room with semicircular rows of comfortable theater seats, all with good views of the stage. There are no tables, but armrests have drink holders. Normally three big-production stage shows take place on a seven-night cruise; one is a stadium style concert featuring iconic rock anthems while the other two are production shows showcasing the ship's star aerialists. Other main show performances included a comedian, juggler and welcome aboard and farewell shows.
Celebrity's enrichment program, offered day and night, is called Celebrity Life and features activities divided into four categories: culinary, enrichment, wellness, and trivia and games.
Culinary-oriented options include bourbon tastings, galley tours, cooking and cocktail-making demos, and Blendtique, a wine blending class -- the majority of which are free.
Arguably, a unique enrichment experience is the "Hot Glass Show," where passengers sit surrounded by the grass of the Lawn Club and watch a master from the Corning Museum of Glass practicing his or her art, with a second artist providing assistance and a third providing commentary. Passengers can also attend lectures at Celebrity's Beyond the Podium talk series, where topics range from astronomy to Australian native bush foods, and forensic science.
Then there are the standbys all cruisers expect: bingo, trivia, dance lessons and the like as well as digital camera and computer seminars at the iLounge on Deck 6. Deck 10 has a pleasant, relaxing and open library with a fairly typical cruise-ship book selection. The card room on Deck 9 sees quite a bit of action, although it's not much more than a vestibule between elevator bays. Deck 7's Team Earth is essentially an advertisement for Celebrity's nonprofit partner, Conservation International. The interactive displays are slick, and there's quite a bit of information on offer for those interested. A video arcade appeals as much to adults as it does children, and the Lawn Club regularly hosts bocce games. Musical performances -- on deck, in lounges or in the main showroom -- cover a variety of musical styles from a classical string quartet to a jazz combo and big band stylings from the main show band.
Most nights, you'll find live music in several spots throughout the ship -- guitars and vocals or jazz in the Ensemble Lounge midship, as well as a DJ spinning dance music poolside.
Passengers can dance the night away at Quasar, the futuristic-themed nightclub on Deck 4, or at the Sky Lounge bar, which has a large dance floor. Both venues are restricted to passengers aged over 18 after 11 p.m. The Grand Foyer also hosts a live band each evening, with a rotating selection of musical styles so everyone is catered for.
Don't miss the Silent Disco which takes place once or twice each cruise. Chairs and tables surrounding the Martini Bar are cleared to create an impromptu dance floor. Get there early to score a pair of glowing headphones with a switch so you can swap between three different music channels: old-time favorites like the Monkees, contemporary pop and a live mix from the ship's DJ. Don't worry if you have two left feet; no one knows if you aren't in time with the music. Even if you don't feel like dancing, this unique disco is a lot of fun to watch.
Movie buffs can catch feature films most nights in Celebrity Central, a secondary theater venue located on Deck 4. Films tend to be of the new-to-DVD variety. Celebrity Central also hosts events like game shows and bingo.
Solstice uses its Lawn Club to host Concerts on the Lawn and daily movies on the new outdoor movie screen on Deck 15. A food and film experience, "A Taste of Film," which pairs a foodie-themed movie with delicious culinary bites, is held in this attractive outdoor space a number of times during each cruise at a cost of $20 per person.
On Deck 4 there is also Fortune's Casino, which offers games such as slots, blackjack and video poker. Free table gaming lessons are offered in the casino on sea days.
There is no shortage of spots to raise a glass on Celebrity Solstice with a choice of almost a dozen bars ranging from cosy, clubby spaces to light-filled lounges with ocean views.
Passport Bar (Deck 3): This bar located on the same deck as the guest relations and shore excursions desks is the perfect spot for people watching and catching the nightly entertainment in the Grand Foyer.
Cellar Masters (Deck 4): Rather than having to wait for a bartender, wine lovers can access an impressive array of wines from around the globe via automatic dispensers using a "wine card" that can be inserted to obtain a measured portion of one, two or 4 ounces. If you prefer buying your drinks the traditional way, Cellar Masters is staffed from 5 p.m. to midnight. The Old World Euro atmosphere makes this an attractive spot for a late-night drink.
Martini Bar (Deck 4): The Martini Bar, with its ice-covered surface and charismatic bartenders, is popular from early evening until late at night, with the vibe changing from quiet sophistication to party time, depending on the mood of the crowd. It's one of the most popular onboard drinking venues. Order a couple of "flights" and you might see a spectacular show involving bottle-flipping, glass-stacking and the pouring of a dozen drinks at once.
Ensemble (Deck 5): With sultry lighting and comfortable seats, this bar located near the specialty restaurants on Deck 5 is a popular choice for pre-dinner drinks. It can be lively or quiet and romantic, depending on the time of day and the musical entertainment on offer.
Michael's Club (Deck 5): This clubby bar decked out in dark woods and plush seats is only available to Zenith members of the Captain's Club (Celebrity's loyalty club) and suite guests. A continental buffet breakfast is available each morning and alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks are available throughout the day on request. There is also a dedicated concierge to help arrange specialty dining, shore excursions and the like. The vibe depends largely on the type of passengers onboard with an atmosphere that could be anything from (almost too) quiet to loud and lively. Michael's Club is available 24 hours a day but desk hours vary depending on the itinerary.
World Class Bar (Deck 6): Serving classic cocktails with a contemporary twist, this bar became more popular as our cruise progressed. It's a nice bar for socializing with other passengers if you want a quiet place to chat.
Pool Bar (Deck 12): This bar serves wine, beer and cocktails, as well as soft drinks in a poolside setting, weather permitting.
Mast Bar (Deck 14): Overlooking the Pool Deck, this bar serves the same drinks as the Pool Bar below. Smoking is allowed at this bar.
Sky Lounge (Deck 14): Whether the bar is open or closed, this lounge area with floor-to-ceiling windows and panoramic ocean views is the place to be. During the day it is a blissfully quiet spot to curl up in a comfy seat and read; after the bar opens it takes on a more lively vibe, especially after 10 p.m. when the dance floor attracts a good crowd.
Oceanview Bar (Deck 14): This space at the aft of the ship also serves as an overflow seating area for the Oceanview Cafe, which means it can get busy during the lunchtime rush. However, outside these times there are plenty of tables where you can enjoy a relaxing drink accompanied by sea air and ocean views.
Sunset Bar (Deck 15): With its prime aft location, this bar is a favorite at night, when you can settle in for some cocktails and an unparalleled view of the sun setting over the sea. You'll also fight for a seat there during sail-aways.
Two plunge pools and an interactive water feature made up of numerous dancing fountains make up the Deck 12 pool deck's well-designed outside space. The two-pool layout, with raised hot tubs and showers on deck in tucked-away spots make for a cozy but adequate setup for swimmers and sun-worshippers, although it can get busy on sea days. The walkways of the deck above provide shaded spots underneath to relax. On sea days, you will often find live music or a DJ spinning tunes here in the afternoon. Passengers vs. ship officers water polo competitions also liven up the atmosphere occasionally. However, this area is predominantly a place to relax, soak up the sun and chat with fellow passengers.
The adults-only Solarium on Deck 12 houses within its blissfully quiet enclosure two hot tubs and a lovely pool bookended by a living wall of ferns and flowers, as well as a soothing water and light display. If you have a late seating in the main dining room, the early evening hours are a fantastic time for a swim. You'll likely have the place to yourself.
Most of the outdoor recreation can be found around The Lawn Club located on Deck 15. While still a public space, it also has six extra-fee alcoves available ($99 on port days, $249 on sea days). Each alcove accommodates up to six people and bookings run from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and include an array of extras throughout the day such as a large fruit plate, a cheese platter, bottle of Veuve Clicquot Champagne, Evian water and room service delivered to the alcove on demand. Book on the same night as "A Taste of Film" and you can watch the movie in style.
Back on the same deck near the Sunset Bar on Deck 15 you will find a bocce court and forward on the same deck, a basketball court. There's also a jogging track on Deck 14. Eight laps equals 1 mile.
Around the pool you will find the two-person poolside beds that are a signature of all Solstice-class ships as well as loungers spaced around the same area. These cannot be reserved so you need to grab one early. For additional sunbathing space, the sun deck at the front of Deck 16 rarely gets crowded, even on sea days. You can also grab a towel and relax on the Lawn Club's lawn although it can feel like you have an audience if people are in the alcoves.
The guest relations and shore excursions desks are located on Deck 3, with Future Cruise Sales located one level up in the Entertainment Court. Most of the action takes place on decks 4 and 5, where you'll find the main dining room, a number of bars and alternative restaurants, the theater, casino, shops, art gallery, photo gallery, coffee shop and gelateria.
Solstice's iLounge, where passengers can access the internet, take classes and purchase shiny new Apple products, is located on Deck 6. It acts as an internet cafe but you can also log in to personal devices via Wi-Fi.
Internet packages are available: one hour of continuous browsing for $19.99; 24 hours for $49; two to three days for $69 pre-purchased or $79 onboard; four to six days for $145 pre-purchased or $159 onboard; seven to nine days for $224 pre-purchased or $249 onboard; 10 to 13 days for $269 pre-purchased or $299 onboard; and 14+ days for $285 pre-purchased or $319 onboard. While some computer classes are complimentary, others attract a fee, so check the daily program or ask the iLounge staff if there is a charge before attending.
There is a card room on Deck 9, although it is rather small, and a library on Deck 10 with a selection of romance novels, action thrillers and other cruise-ship favorites. Solstice doesn't offer a self-service laundry facility, but you can pay to have ship crew do laundry for you.
Run by the famed destination spa Canyon Ranch, services in the SpaClub include a dizzying array of treatments, including a variety of massage offerings from sports to New Age and everything in between. A standard 50-minute massage is $145, excluding bells, whistles and hot stones. Other treatments include facials to suit all ages and skin types (from $140 for 50 minutes), scrubs ($140), wraps ($160) and pedicures ($115). The spa also offers teeth whitening and acupuncture.
Teens aged from 13 to 15 have their own "Bliss" menu with hair treatments such as "new you" ($109), "set the tone" spray tans ($99) and "clean and clear" facials ($145). Spa prices do not include a mandatory 18 percent service charge.
The Persian Garden thermal area has an aromatic steam room, herbal sauna, traditional Finnish sauna and various therapeutic showers. Heated tile loungers facing a wall of windows provide scenic views and are a pleasant place to read or relax. There is also a relaxation lounge with padded loungers and complimentary refreshments such as lemon infused water and herbal tea. Aqua Class stateroom passengers automatically receive access to the Persian Garden. Others may purchase a Persian Garden pass at the spa, starting at a cost of $25 per day.
Solstice's fitness center and spa occupy the forward section of Deck 12. The fitness center features modern equipment, including the standard treadmills, stationary bikes and elliptical trainers, as well as resistance equipment and a solid selection of dumbbells. Classes, which include yoga, Zumba, boot camp, and spin, cost $12 a piece. Solstice's serpentine jogging track is on Deck 14; eight laps equal 1 mile.
Three spaces on Deck 15 are dedicated exclusively to children onboard Celebrity Solstice. While it is true there are no water slides, climbing walls or ropes courses, that doesn't mean children won't enjoy cruising on this family-friendly ship. In fact, your biggest problem could be enticing the kids to leave their newfound friends and hang out with you for a while.
In-room babysitting for children 12 months and older is available for $19 per hour, for up to three children in the same family, anytime of day (but one parent needs to stay on the ship). Book at least 24 hours in advance if you would like to use this service.
Celebrity Cruises has achieved Autism Friendly Cruise Line status, having completed Autism Friendly Certification with nonprofit Autism on the Seas. Solstice offers movies, games and activities that are suitable for kids with autism, as well as toys that can be borrowed for in-cabin use.
ShipMates is designed for the youngest set, ages 3 to 5. Kids can participate in theme parties, treasure hunts, T-shirt-decorating, talent shows, arts and crafts, dancing, musical games, imagination play and interactive challenges, cartoon trivia, and ice cream and pizza parties. Children need to be toilet trained to participate in organized activities.
The Fun Factory is for those ages 6 to 11. Staff members divide the kids by age and encourage participation in age-appropriate activities. For children ages 6 to 8, activities include theme parties, relay races, arts and crafts, gaming, movies, ice cream and pizza parties, and interactive team-building games.
Those ages 9 to 11 can participate in scavenger hunts, karaoke, talent shows, theme parties, T-shirt-decorating, sports activities, team challenges, movies, gaming and late-night pizza parties. Children aged 9 and over can sign themselves in and out of the program with parental permission.
Babies and toddlers (aged 6 months to 3 years old) are permitted in the Fun Factory only with parental supervision. They do not need to be toilet trained to enjoy the facilities with their parents.
Lunch and dinner babysitting is available for $6 an hour per child for kids aged 3 to 11 (dinner is free on port days or when the ship is sailing prior to 2 p.m). Children are taken to lunch or dinner by youth staff and then continue with the afternoon or evening program. Late-night group babysitting for the same age group is offered from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m., also for $6 an hour. A late-night group sitting "slumber party" is free on the last night of the sailing.
Teens have the XClub, which includes a dance club and coffee lounge for those aged 12 to 17. Teen activities include theme parties, scavenger hunts, pool Olympics, sports tournaments, team trivia, karaoke, gaming and fitness activities. Don't be surprised if you see aspiring teen filmmakers shooting footage around the ship using GoPros. It's part of iTake, an XClub video project that gives them a chance to plot, shoot and edit their own movie in the iLounge.