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Celebrity Solstice
Where The Grass Is Always Greener

Celebrity Solstice

A tree grows above Celebrity Solstice's Lobby

Part One

by Linda Coffman

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.

It 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 Celebrity Solstice.

While 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 simple—clean 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?

Celebrity Solstice
AquaClass stateroom 1605 on Deck 11
Celebrity Solstice
AquaClass bathroom

One of the first things we noticed from the Port Everglades parking lot is the abundance of balconies on Celebrity Solstice. A whopping 85% of all outside accommodations feature spacious private balconies. My 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.

Accommodations on Celebrity ships have traditionally featured numerous amenities and the line continues to provide Celebrity Solstice 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.

The "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 flavored 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.

More 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 request.

Celebrity Solstice

 Blu 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 restaurant/cafe options.

  • 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, and dinner.
  • Blu, the 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 gratuity charge).
  • 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.
  • Murano 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.

More in Part Two --> Celebrity Solstice Preview

Cruise Diva's Celebrity Solstice Blogs:

  • Celebrity Solstice: Embarkation
  • Celebrity Solstice: Day One
  • Celebrity Solstice at Sea: Day Two

Cruise Diva's Celebrity Solstice Background Articles:

  • Celebrity Solstice 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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Celebrity Cruises Cruise Reviews

Celebrity Cruises Cruise Line Profile

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