We will attempt to provide a daily report of our time onboard the Celebrity Solstice this week. We will withhold our food review until the end, and review all of the food options at once. We will also wait until we are back on land before adding pictures to the reviews.
Our flight landed in Ft Lauderdale at 11:30 AM. Once we retrieved our luggage we hailed a taxi since we had not pre-purchased cruise line transfers. The taxi from the airport to the cruise terminal cost $15 plus tip, whereas cruise line transfers would have been $14.80 per person (and we could have purchased them at the airport).
We arrived at the cruise terminal shortly after noon. After leaving our checked bags with a porter, we entered the cruise terminal (the same one used by Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas). Check-in was a quick, smooth, and painless process. They do ask that you do have the welcome-aboard picture taken, because they now use facial recognition software to tag future photos as being yours (so you can review them in your room on the TV). We officially stepped foot on the ship at 12:25 PM, less than an hour after our plane at landed at the airport.
As you board the ship you are offered a complimentary Mimosa or glass of champagne, as a string quartet plays in the atrium. We made our way to the Oceanview Cafe (buffet) on deck 14 Aft for lunch. The only drawback was that the Cafe was very crowded – it took us about 10 minutes to find a table (and then had to wait for it to be cleared). Once the announcement was made, advising staterooms were available, the Cafe cleared out rather quickly.
After lunch we took care of some “administrative” issues – purchased the sode package (note that beverage package offerings are changing this month), changed one of our pre-purchased excursions (very easy to do), and scheduling some seriously-needed spa appointments. We did find out that the spa now automatically adds a 10% “surcharge” to your stateroom account for all appointments (noted in fine print).
We asked what the surcharge was for, and she said that it was actually a gratuity. We do typically tip well in the spa but would have over-tipped if we hadn’t caught the automatic surcharge.
Then it was time for the mandatory lifeboat drill. I cannot tell you how much we appreciate the changes in the lifeboat drills: no more lugging of life jackets from the stateroom to the muster station, and no more reporting outdoors for the drill! We went directly to our muster station in the Solstice Theater. It did seem to take awhile to get everyone to show up, but once the drill started it was pretty straight forward.
We did skip the sail-away party and headed back to our room in order to get ready for dinner. For our first night onboard we skipped dinner in the main dining room and enjoyed dinner in the Tuscan Grille (italian steakhouse). It was a nice leisurely evening, and worth the $30 per person surcharge.
We didn’t go to the welcome-aboard show “Opening Night.” Instead we strolled around the ship, checked out the shopping options in the shops, perused the (small) casino (a recent review I’d read said they had a “Let it Ride” table, which they do not have and according to the casino staff they have never had).
Our overall first impression
This ship is visually stunning! It is serene, relaxing, elegant, and very beautiful. It is by no means stuffy or rowdy. The pool area and solarium have a lot of lounge chairs, as well as more intimate areas to relax. The staff is wonderful, with an intuitive attention to detail. You definitely ARE the star onboard Celebrity ships!
Tomorrow – Day 2 – Day at Sea