Celebrity Solstice broke new ground when it debuted in 2008, and while several sister ships have undergone what the line calls "Revolutionized" status, this vessel has not. That means that it lacks some areas and amenities that are now standard on the line.
That being said, Celebrity Solstice still has plenty of oomph. Nature is a theme on Solstice, with its large tree anchoring one of its atriums, a live plant wall in its Solarium pool and of course, the real grass that makes up the Lawn Club on the top deck.
Holding 2,850 guests at double occupancy, Celebrity Solstice flourishes wherever it is deployed, be that Australia, Asia or Alaska. The Sky Lounge, with its bank of windows, is perfect for wildlife viewing in Alaska and scenic cruising anywhere else. The Lawn, with its private Alcoves for rent, is a draw when the ship is in warm climates and two pools, indoor and outdoor, mean that you can swim, no matter what the weather.
Unlike some cruise ships, Celebrity Solstice and the vessels in its class that came after it -- Celebrity Eclipse, Celebrity Equinox and Celebrity Reflection -- have more than one atrium area. Despite this, the ship is easy to navigate, especially if you remember the cruising adage that "the fun" -- the theater, spa and kids' and teen areas-- are in the front, while the "food" (main dining room, specialty restaurants, buffet) are in the back.
The "main" atrium opens fully to Decks 3, 4 and 5, around an area called the Grand Foyer. Activities such as archery (yes, archery) and dance parties such as the Silent Disco take place here at all hours of the day into the night. (People center themselves around the atrium to watch the fun). Some of the more popular venues, such as Café al Bacio, Sushi on Five and the ice-covered Martini Bar, are located off the Grand Foyer; it's always a bustling area and sometimes can lack seating at prime hours. Make sure you check out the signature live tree when you use the elevators.
From the main atrium, you can take two paths to the theater. One side brings you past shops and venues like the Qasar nightclub, while the other takes you through the (happily, non-smoking) casino. A smaller entertainment venue, Celebrity Connections, is often used for lectures and other events when there's a show going on in the larger theater.
The Lido Deck on 14 is where you'll find both of Celebrity Solstice's pools. The covered Solarium is adults only, most of the day, and provides ample and airy seating, even when the weather isn't great. The outdoor pool is a nice size, with seating alcoves nearby (unlike on Edge-class ships, these primo lounges are free) and also facing outward.
While the pool can feel hectic on sunny days, the Lawn Club on Deck 15 provides a lush alternative. Although Celebrity has monetized some of the best spots -- the hut-like Alcoves are rented by the day -- there is still room for people to enjoy the greenery and play mini-golf or bocce ball. The Hot Glass Studio is up here as well; if you want to take a class, book as soon as you board. The Sunset Bar at the back of the ship is one of the best sailaway points.
The cabins on Celebrity Solstice are functional, with choices for different traveling groups. One thing we missed were outlets and USB ports near the bed, now a necessity on newer cruise ships. Purists who love real walk-out balconies will be happy with the choices on Solstice; the ship does not have the infinite balcony cabins that dominate the Edge-class vessels.
Storage can seem tight at first, but if you're having trouble fitting everything, look up over the beds. We didn’t discover the large cabinets there until toward the end of the cruise; the space is perfect for storing bulky jackets and cold weather gear on Alaska itineraries.
We'd shy away from booking a balcony cabin with an obstructed view on Deck 6, however, as the lifeboats/tenders dominate your field of vision (and inhibit good picture taking). We also heard that forward cabins were especially susceptible to noise from the foghorn on an Alaska itinerary.
There was a time when Celebrity had some of the best mainstream cruise dining. We wouldn’t say that's the case now, as other lines have made more forward-thinking cuisine investments. Celebrity has stated publicly that it's looking to reduce food waste and promote efficiencies; the result of that, unfortunately, is that diners have fewer options than they did a few years ago.
Still, you won't go hungry on Celebrity Solstice and the main dining room, the glass-filled Grand Epernay, is an impressive home base. The Oceanview Café is likewise airy, although it can be difficult at peak hours to find a seat. The AquaSpa Café and Mast Grill round out the ship's complimentary options, although these venues do close at dinner. Suite guests have dining privileges at Luminae, with a menu boasting dishes from celebrity chef Daniel Boulud, while Aqua class passengers eat at Blu.
The main specialty restaurants onboard provide Italian (Tuscan Grill); French (Murano) and Japanese (Sushi on 5) options. The animated dining experience Le Petit Chef takes place nightly in the Silk Harvest restaurant.
There are also a variety of special meals that almost appear like pop-ups in your daily planner that are special interest to foodies. Two are based in Murano -- the Chef's Table menu with Boulud dishes, and also a special Veuve Cliquot pairing meal. We also didn't act fast enough to snag a spot at a special extra-fee Alaska Seafood Shack lunch in the Tuscan Grill. If long epicurean feasts are your vacation jam, make sure you look for these, either before you go or as soon as you get onboard.
* Meals in the main dining room, the Oceanview Cafe buffet, select snacks and continental breakfast room service
Nearly all activities unless noted below or in the daily program
Most onboard entertainment including all production shows in the theater
Use of the gym (excluding yoga and most fitness classes)
Gratuities (but only for those from Australia or New Zealand and paid in AU and NZ dollars)
Automatic 20 percent gratuity added to all beverage and mini-bar purchases (18% for spa and salon services)
All drinks onboard except water, tea (including iced tea), basic coffees and select juices from the Oceanview Cafe buffet
Meals at specialty restaurants and snack venues
Access to the Persian Garden thermal suite (except for those in AquaClass staterooms, for whom entry is free)
Daily activities including, but not limited to, alcohol tastings, select game shows, bingo and art auctions
Artwork and onboard photos from the photo gallery
Celebrity Solstice echoes the line's commitment to diversity and inclusion; you'll see people of all backgrounds and identities on the ship. Meetups for veterans, solo travelers, LGBTQ+ and sober cruisers take place daily. In addition, Celebrity hosts a Pride party onboard once per sailing in June.
Families are also welcome on Celebrity Solstice. On our Alaska sailing, we saw multiple variations of multi-generational cruising -- adult children with parents in their 80s; grandparents with grandkids; babies and teens as part of a large family reunion. It's also a good ship for girlfriend getaways -- so many opportunities to dance! -- and couples.
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Good anniversary cruise, but food quality needs to be improved