Where The Grass Is Always Greener
A tree grows
above Celebrity Solstice's Lobby
November 2008: "Everything
about the Celebrity Cruises brand is authentic, so we knew nothing
less than real grass would do"—Richard
Fain, chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
should come as no surprise that the year's most anticipated new ship
is impressive. However, "hardware" is only as good as the "software"
that runs it and, in that regard, Celebrity Cruises has a winner in
not the world's biggest cruise ship, at 122,000 tons Celebrity Solstice is
the largest vessel in the Celebrity fleet. She's innovative, yet
and crisp with an edgy vibe. Accompanied by a steward to show us the
way (and lug our carry on bags) we rode a scenic elevator to our
stateroom. Midway up we noticed the TREE. Yes, there's a real live
tree suspended above the ship's lobby. A real tree growing beneath
real grass. How's that for quirky?
AquaClass stateroom 1605 on Deck 11
One of the first things we
noticed from the Port Everglades parking lot is the abundance of balconies on
whopping 85% of all outside accommodations feature spacious private
AquaClass balcony on Dolphin deck featured clear panels beneath the
railing and was deep enough for two chairs with adjustable backs,
matching footstools, and a metal dining table.
To get in touch with their feminine
side, Celebrity planners tapped five well-traveled women to advise
them on the layout and design of staterooms. While
their suggestion to expand the size of the bathroom wins kudos, the
only other "improvement"—a
fairly useless foot rail for women to use while shaving their
legs—seems to be a bust. An informal poll of women on my sailing
resulted in them either not noticing it or not knowing what it was
for. However, the sliding shower door is a big plus, as is the abundant
storage in the bathroom.
While the standard cabin itself is 15% larger
than other Celebrity ships, it has a space problem. One wall is
slightly bowed out into the adjacent cabin, which gives more
floor space to walk around the foot of the bed. That's fine, but it means that
the opposite bow into the cabin makes the area housing the
vanity/refrigerator cabinet/drawers on one wall and sofa facing it a
bit too narrow to comfortably navigate, especially with a coffee
table taking up floor space between them. In my cabin, the bed was
situated on the far end by the balcony door, with the sofa and
cabinetry closest to the entrance; in the adjacent cabin, the
position of the furnishings was reversed and that layout appeared
more spacious. Which leads us to the closet—it has sliding doors and
is located in the cabin, not in the entrance passageway. That's
good; however, there isn't much room to get into it because the long
white leather sofa is in the way. There's more room to access the
closet in the layout that has the bed closest to the entry, with the
sofa next to the balcony door.
on Celebrity ships have traditionally featured numerous amenities and the line continues to provide
passengers with staples such as hairdryers, small refrigerators,
interactive television, telephone with voice mail, a personal safe, and robes for use throughout the cruise. Beds are dressed in
100% Egyptian cotton and have posh fluffy pillows. Bathroom towels
are 100% cotton terrycloth. Real
conveniences for passengers who must remain in touch with family or
the office are ship-wide WiFi and cell phone connectivity. A highlight of
Solstice-class ships for families is a unique
"interlocking" system that connects adjacent accommodations—instead
of a door-in-the-wall to connect two staterooms, the staterooms
connect via a folded door in the passageway that becomes a single
cabin door when in use.
Two "upgrades" to standard balcony
accommodations are ConciergeClass (194 sq ft) and AquaClass (194 sq
ft). While they are the same size as all other Ocean View Staterooms
With Veranda, they feature special appointments. ConciergeClass
passengers are greeted with a special check-in counter and welcome
aboard champagne, and find amenities such as express luggage
delivery, daily deliveries of fresh fruit and canapes, shoeshine
service, expanded room service breakfast, an extra hair dryer,
Hansgrohe massaging showerhead, dining preferences, personalized
stationary, a Celebrity tote bag, pillow menu, and the use of Frette
bathrobes, a golf umbrella, and binoculars during the cruise.
"secret" staircase from AquaClass on Deck 11 to the AquaSpa
Located on the same deck as the spa's
relaxation room, AquaClass is an all-new category that caters to
spa-lovers. With a "secret" staircase that leads to the spa
a deck above, just think... roll out of bed, slip on your robe, and
head straight to the spa without having to enter public spaces.
Amenities include seating in Blu Restaurant and plentiful stateroom
goodies, such as Hansgrohe shower panels with multiple jets and a
rainshower head, aroma
scent selections, a pillow menu, daily delivery of bottled water and
teas, a spa concierge to handle appointments, Frette bathrobes and
loofah slippers, unlimited complimentary use of the Persian Garden
thermal suite and relaxation room, and spa toiletries, including
foot spray, facial mist, and lip balm.
space and comforts are available to Penthouse Suite (1,291 sq ft)
and Royal Suite (590 sq ft) occupants,
including separate sitting areas that feature high-end entertainment
systems and bathrooms with whirlpool tubs and other luxury
appointments. Their huge balconies offer occupants the opportunity
to relax in private hot tubs with unparalleled sea views. Celebrity
Suite (394 sq ft) and Sky Suite (300 sq ft) accommodations have
combination shower/tub in the bathroom and oversized televisions.
Additionally, Celebrity Suites have a walk-in closet, surround-sound
system, and the bedroom features a second television.
Thirty accessible cabins are available in a variety of
categories, including 12 with balcony, 12 ocean view, and 6 inside.
For those who need some accessibility assistance, and who aren't in
an accessible cabin, devices such as shower stools, transfer
benches, and adjustable height commode chairs are available upon
Restaurant, Reserved for AquaClass Dining
Celebrity Cruises made
their reputation on fine dining and exquisite service and Celebrity
Solstice expands on the experience with no less than ten
Grand Epernay dining room
is the main restaurant where dinner is served in two assigned
seatings. Elegant in its crisp simplicity, it serves breakfast, lunch,
dining room exclusively for passengers booked in AquaClass,
serves "clean cuisine"—a
lighter version of the main restaurant's fare. Blu is also open
for suite occupants based on availability (for a $5 per person
Oceanview Cafe & Grill
is the casual buffet restaurant with wide open serving stations
that reduce lines. Servers are on hand to provide assistance
with seating and drinks from either the beverage station or a
full service bar located at the restaurant entrance. Adjacent
aft is the Oceanview Bar for refreshments and
al fresco dining.
AquaSpa Cafe offers light,
healthy breakfast and lunch selections in the tranquility of the bright and airy Solarium.
Mast Grill & Bar
is the place to go for fast food options such as burgers, tacos, sandwiches, and
the trimmings in an ultra-casual setting near the pool.
Cafe al Bacio & Gelateria
features signature and specialty coffees, teas, pastries,
chocolates, truffles, and traditional Italian gelato. The menu
lists charges for individual items.
Bistro on Five serves a
variety of specialty crepes complemented by sandwiches, soups,
salads, and other light fare in a casual chic cafe setting.
A $5 per person charge is assessed.
- Tuscan Grille
diners enjoy Caesar salad prepared tableside, an antipasti bar,
Kobe beef, and a variety of tempting steaks. A
$25 per person charge is assessed.
- Silk Harvest celebrates
a fusion of hot and clod, mild and spicy Asian-inspired dishes.
A $20 per
person charge is assessed.
blends the specialty restaurant style introduced aboard
Celebrity Century with those of Celebrity's Millennium-class
ships to produce classic and contemporary Continental cuisine in
a warm, intimate setting with tableside preparation and
exquisite service. A $30 per person charge is assessed.
A restaurant Hospitality Director, in charge of
overseeing reservations for all specialty dining, insures that all
requests are handled efficiently. Suite passengers receive complimentary specialty
dining based on the length of their cruise: two evenings for cruises
of seven nights and three evenings on cruises of eight nights or
more. A $5 gratuity per person, per dinner is suggested.
If that isn't enough choice, there's 24-hour room service at no
charge, although it's good manners to offer the steward a small
gratuity for delivery.
Cruise Diva's Celebrity Solstice Blogs:
Cruise Diva's Celebrity
Solstice Background Articles:
Get an inside look at what's new,
what's not, what's cool, and what's hot on Celebrity Cruises'
new class of cruise ships.
Celebrity Solstice Dining —
Ten of 2008’s hottest new restaurants have opened on board one
of the year’s most anticipated new cruise ships.
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Photos © Linda Coffman