I was delighted to be invited to experience the Celebrity Solstice, the first of the Solstice Class ships which entered service in 2008. It usually takes awhile for the West Coast to get a new ship or relatively new ship. Celebrity Solstice will be doing 7 day Alaska Cruises out of Seattle for the 2013 and 2014 seasons. It's too soon to tell for 2015, but for now she is a welcomed beauty to the West Coast!
ARRIVAL AT SEA-TAC AIRPORT
We took a very early morning flight to Seattle because I didn't want to risk any flight delays that could have made us miss the ship and I also love to be first on board! A character trait that I've had all my life: being first or being in the front. Some things never change. Our flight was on time and by the time we walked to the baggage claim, our bags were waiting for us. A short walk to the end of baggage to meet up in the "Cruise Ship Passenger Transportation" area. Everything went very smoothly. We were about 45 minutes earlier than the first bus, but we were able to get some coffee and donuts at the airport while we waited. The transfer company was very efficient, guiding us to the bus when it was ready and then loading us and our luggage. About 45 minutes later we arrived at Pier 91 where Solstice is currently calling her Seattle homeport. This is NOT the pier that is walking distance to downtown Seattle, it's a quick cab ride though.
CRUISE CHECK-IN & EMBARKATION
Because this was a special 2 day cruise, we were told that there would not be any baggage assistance, so to be prepared to carry on your luggage, which was fine. We were routed through security where our bags went through x-ray machines and then we headed to our appropriate line according to our cabin deck. This was the first sailing for Seattle's ground crew and they were experiencing some computer issues. The process was fairly smooth, but they kept apologizing for the wait in line- so I'm sure it would normally go smoother. Good thinking to have "initiation" day be with a ship full of Travel Professionals instead of our clients. Getting on the ship was easy and we were greeted with the choice of Champagne, Mimosa or Juice. White glove service & a welcoming smile from the crew members. As is always the case, cabins are not ready that early when you board, so we were directed to go have lunch in the Oceanview Cafe.
Solstice is a beautiful ship and very easy to navigate. I've been on several ships over the years (this one was cruise #27) and there have been many where you try to get from point A to B and have to go through D-E-F to get there. So this ship has very good flow. Once we finished up with lunch, we brought our bags to our cabin (they had not announced that the cabins were ready yet) but our cabin steward was fine letting us put our bags in there. Leave it to the Travel Professionals to break the rules. But then we were hands free and able to walk freely around the ship and investigate all that it has to offer. This ship is very tastefully decorated, very classy and beautiful. I took close to 200 pictures which you are welcome to view HERE.
DINING & LOUNGES
Grand Epernay Dining Room is the main dining room and it's light and airy, beautiful wine cellar of sorts located in the center. There are also a variety of specialty dining venues, unfortunately, I was not able to experience any of those on this short cruise. But I do know that Silk Harvest, Tuscan Grille, Murano and Blu all get rave reviews from my clients who have experienced them. Of course, the Oceanview Cafe is the "buffet" venue where you can dine throughout the day for any meal and we did have one lunch, one breakfast and one late night snack at the Cafe. It is set up with stations, so you never wait in line, it never felt crowded - a very nice set up.
For some quick snacks or novelty items- there is the Cafe al Bacio where you can get a pastry treat or specialty coffee,. The Gelateria where you can get Gelato and other sweet concoctions. Bistro on Five is also a nice option.
This ship does not lack for "watering holes". There's the Tasting Galleria, which I didn't check out closely enough- but looked a bit like a cocktail mixing experimental place. There is the Oceanview Bar, the Casino Bar, a few pool bars, the Ensemble Lounge, Michael's Club, Quasar & Sky Lounge. I'm sure I've missed a few!
This ship does not lack in the fun stuff department! There is a full scale Theatre where different shows are performed each night. We had an Acrobatic type show one night (think Cirque type of things) and a Beatles Tribute band the other night. Both were excellent. There is a full scale Casino where you can made deposits and hopefully some withdrawals from the ships account. There was the Adult Only Comedy & Burlesque show "Sin City Comedy" which was pretty good. Quasar is the disco, The Sky Lounge also had some musical entertainment & dancing. This was also the venue for Karaoke both nights. There is the lawn club- an area on the ship with real lawn where you can play bocce ball or croquet. There is a Glass Blowing area where they do demonstrations, which was quite fascinating.
The ship as an outdoor basketball half court, like most ships do. They also have a pretty amazing fitness facility. I was pretty impressed and it takes a lot to impress me when it comes to fitness facilities on ships given my second career as a fitness professional.
There were some activities on our one day at sea on the agenda, but we chose to rest and relax outside in the warmth of the sun. It was a pretty nice day sailing out in the Pacific not too far from land because my cell phone was still getting coverage, so we had a restful day being in one of our happy places (on a ship)!
There are two pool areas, one of which is adult only and enclosed. Lots of sitting areas around the pool decks both in the sun and in the shade, very comfortable seating as well.
We had a balcony cabin with a slightly obstructed view. When you looked out if you glanced down you saw the top of the lifeboats. It was an unusual view from what I'm used to, but we could still see the ocean very easily. I think for someone who wants the balcony & doesn't mind having the lifeboat right there, it wasn't a bad obstruction. The cabins are very spacious though and the bathrooms & shower really did not feel cramped at all. A decent amount of closet space, overall very comfortable cabin.
I would highly recommend this ship and would love to sail on her or one of her sister ships sometime n the future for a "real" cruise.
Again to view my pictures from this cruise: click this link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pamstravel/sets/72157633649240953/