Celebrity Cruise Lines - Cruisemates Reader's Cruise Reviews
Celebrity Cruises

Solstice
by Bud Lockwood
Eastern Caribbean
January 25, 2009

My wife and I sailed on the Celebrity Solstice from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to San Juan, St. Kitts and St. Maarten. Our primary motivation for selecting the cruise was to experience the new Solstice class Celebrity ships. We were not disappointed!

The Ship

The Solstice, a large 122,000 ton vessel, is hard to describe in a word. Tastefully elegant, beautiful, eye-catching, and superb are all appropriate. The décor throughout is excellent with great color mixes that range from white and light in the main dining room to dark and elegant in Michael's Club or the Murano restaurant. Celebrity has selected a new art company, the Millenia Fine Art company for its art auctions and displays all around the ship. The paintings, sculptures and photographs are everywhere and are excellent. Art is even displayed on the slot machine players' screens.

Unusual uses of outside light enhance the ship interiors. The guest relations desk and the shops have outside windows or light backgrounds. The shops are also along a boulevard-like walk.

The Lawn Club, on the top deck, with a large area of real grass was unusual, to say the least. Glass blowing was in the same area.

The public areas were nicely designed with plenty of comfortable seating in just about every available space. Bars, clubs, and food venues were readily available on decks four and five as well as the dining rooms and buffet. Elevators were conveniently placed and waits were reasonable even during peak use times.

Parking and Access

There is a convenient parking lot next to the ship, about a five minute walk to the ship. It is easy to drop bags at the terminal, park the car and walk to the ship. The parking is outside so you can count on a filthy car when you return in a week. There is a lot of construction next to the ship and current terminal so we concluded that Port Everglades is working on a new parking garage, terminal or both. They need the garage.

Food and Dining

The food was excellent in every dining venue that we tried. The Grand Epernay Restaurant, the main dining room, had nice selections for lunches and dinners. We noted that the meat/steak was above average on the Solstice. The Oceanview Café, their buffet, was one of the best, if not the best, buffet areas we have experienced. The food display/serving area was one large area where we could see which foods they were serving. The seating area was very large and easily accommodated guests without a lot of walking and looking for a table. The buffet had a large variety of foods for every meal.

We tried two of the specialty restaurants, the Murano French themed restaurant and the Silk Harvest oriental restaurant. Both were excellent with very nice menus. We thought the Silk Harvest was a special flavors delight.

Staff

The staff was excellent. Stewards, waiters, hosts, desk personnel, officers and crew were all attentive and seemed pleased to be there. They kept the ship clean and neat, kept the food and drinks coming, and spoke and smiled when you met them.

Rooms

The rooms were well designed. We did think they were a little narrower than similar rooms on other ships. This was emphasized by the fact that the location of the beds was alternated from close to the closets to close to the balconies in adjacent rooms with the widest areas being where the beds were located. Lighting in the rooms was unique with a lot of control. A nice feature was a low level bathroom light that was on all night, making a night time bathroom visit much less hazardous. Bedding was comfortable. Closet space seemed to be less than we have experienced on other ships.

Casino

The Solstice casino had a large selection of games including "penny" slot machines. The slots were coinless ticket-in/ticket-out, which is nice as well as clean.

Entertainment

The theatre, movie theater, lounges, entertainment court, and pool area all had entertainment available throughout the cruise. There was adequate seating in each area. The Ensemble Lounge, near the specialty restaurants, seemed to be an especially popular gathering place.

Smoking

If you smoke, you need to be made well aware of the Celebrity smoking policy and the on-ship restrictions so that you won't be surprised or disappointed when you get on board. Smoking is not allowed in any cabin or on any balcony. There are designated smoking areas, outside on the port side of deck five (the outside walkway/promenade) on the back half of the ship, is one such area. If your cabin is convenient to this area it will help. There are also other areas designated, but not all are as convenient.

We believe Celebrity needs to revisit their policy and should include some smokers in the policy group.

Pricing

Prices seemed to have taken a step up on the Solstice. My special gripe was the drink prices. Beer, for example, ranged in price from $4.50 for a bottle of domestic beer to $6.00 for a bottle of premium beer. Gratuities were $11.50 per person per day, higher than many other ships, but the staff earned every penny of every gratuity.

Conclusion

The Celebrity Solstice is unique and has set new benchmarks in several areas, especially in décor and design.