CruiseClout score: 20.0
Celebrity Solstice: Stalwart pioneer still going strong
Celebrity Solstice is the Solstice-class namesake vessel from Celebrity Cruises. When it debuted in 2008, the ship delivered several firsts at sea. Among these new innovations was the Lawn Club, an open-air deck with real grass and plants offering a tranquil place to relax while at sea.
While the ship has been around for more than 11 years, it still maintains much of its original character. Many of Celebrity Solstice's features can also be found on her sister ships, and have been updated for the line’s newest class, the Edge class. Celebrity Solstice still offers a comfortable and upscale cruise with a distinctive, stylish design and attentive service ahead of a major makeover in 2021.
Who will like sailing on Celebrity Solstice
If you love delicious food, contemporary interior design and great service, then Celebrity Solstice is a good choice for your next cruise. Loyal Celebrity cruisers will appreciate the ship’s main dining room, superb service and popular hangouts like the Crush Martini Bar. Newbies will find the simple layout, artfully designed public spaces and the ship’s itineraries to be a worthy draw for sailing on this beautiful vessel.
Where Celebrity Solstice sails
Our fall to winter: Celebrity Solstice sails in and around South Pacific, including Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Tahiti and Bora Bora with itineraries that range from seven to 18 nights.
Our spring to summer: The ship features an itinerary along Alaska's Inside Passage with stops in Seattle, Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan and Vancouver.
Here's a 3½-minute video overview of activities aboard Celebrity Solstice from our friend Jason Leppert of PopularCruising.com.
Food & cuisine
Celebrity Solstice offers some typical cruise ship dining venues plus alternative dining spots. The World Café is a traditional cruise buffet serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. We dined there several times for breakfast and lunch and usually found the food to be on par, although the selections did get repetitive over the course of 10 days.
Other casual options are the Spa Café, a healthier alternative for breakfast and lunch in the Solarium. There is also the Mast Grill, searing up hamburgers, hot dogs and French fries for midday snacks.
One of the most addictive places on board is Café al Bacio. Treat yourself to a cookie, pastry or slice of cake at this resident coffee shop.
For dinner, we had traditional dining at 6 pm in the main dining room. The multi-course meals offered a wide selection of choices that changed nightly. In addition, the menu features “Classics” that remain the same throughout the entire length of the cruise. We never had an issue finding items that we loved.
There are three specialty restaurants aboard Celebrity Solstice. We sampled two of them during our 10-night journey. Tuscan Grille is an Italian-inspired restaurant that offers standard takes on classics like calamari, gnocchi and chicken parmesan. One of the only Silk Harvest restaurants left in the fleet, we found the Asian menu at this venue to be consistently satisfying, featuring spring rolls, tempura shrimp, and noodles. Murano is the third specialty restaurant, offering elegant French cuisine.
Also, if you have a special diet, make sure to tell your travel consultant because Celebrity Cruises will accommodate many different kinds of dietary needs including vegetarian, kosher, no-sugar-added desserts, food allergies and other dietary needs. (They do need advance warning.) Because specialty dining is very popular, you might miss out on getting a reservation if you wait to book when you get on the ship. One way around this challenge is to purchase a Specialty Dining Package ahead of time.
Where we went and what we loved
Having sailed on the ship five years earlier, we knew what to expect from our sailing. So when we saw the ship was offering a 10-night Hawaiian cruise, it was a simple decision for us to book this trip.
Originating from Honolulu, the itinerary included two stops on the Big Island and two days in Maui, along with five days at sea for the repositioning to Vancouver to begin the Alaskan season. Prior to the cruise, we spent several days on Oahu exploring the island’s sights, including Pearl Harbor, Waikiki Beach and the Dole Plantation.
On the Big Island, we had a bird’s eye view of the Kilauea volcano during a helicopter tour by Blue Hawaiian. This was certainly a highlight of our trip! We also explored Volcanoes National Park with our feet on the ground during an island tour covering other equally beautiful landmarks. It was amazing to hear stories and see firsthand the changes in landscape from the recent 2018 eruption.
In Maui, we braved the Road to Hana with a guided tour. Yes, I was not about to drive these winding roads. This scenic drive twists and turns along the island’s coast with several awe-inspiring vantage points along the way including numerous waterfalls and black sand beaches. We also spent a day at the Haleakala Crater. From the 10,000-foot summit, you can marvel at this massive crater’s landscape. While we were not here at sunrise, we hear the views are even that much more impressive.
Activities on board
The ship does not offer many bells or whistles, but the cruise director Lewis Power Stannard and his energetic activity staff hosted your typical cruise events. There were daily trivia sessions held in the Sky Lounge and game shows that took place in the Entertainment Court. Outdoors, movies were played on the pool deck and games were available on the Lawn Club.
The onboard fitness center and running track were available for those looking to get a workout in during the day. You could also take a dip in one of three pools located on the ship, including the indoor Solarium for those colder destinations. Or perhaps, you’d rather just relax at the Sunset Bar and enjoy a drink along with the uninhibited views.
If you're looking for a bit of enrichment, the Beyond the Podium lecture series in another great activity onboard Celebrity Solstice, especially when they feature naturalist Brent Nixon.
If you're willing to pay an up-charge, you could purchase a pass to the Persian Garden, the ship’s thermal suite. You can also take advantage of the food and wine pairing classes or book a session at the hot glass studio.
Bars & lounges
Not to miss are the delicious samplings mixed just for you at the Martini Bar & Crush, which is an ice-topped bar, or Michael's Club, which pours fine whiskeys, scotches, cognacs and bourbons. If you are a wine aficionado, then taste some wine at Cellar Masters, where you can try the state-of-the-art Enomatic wine-by-the-glass dispensing system. You can also head to Cosmos Lounge at the observation lounge for dancing and a libation.
While we found few families onboard the ship, there is children’s programming and additional activities specific for families.
Each night in the main theater, you'll be able to take in a different show. These featured a variety of production shows by the Celebrity singers and dancers, with our favorite being Broken Strings. There were also several guest vocalists, a comedian and a piano prodigy featured as headliners during our trip. Most of these acts were pretty typical of cruise ships. Of course, there was also plenty of live music to be found around the ship.
During our overnight in Maui, a local group called Drums of the Polynesian was brought on board to showcase music and dance from the region. It was a great performance, as the group featured adults and children and felt authentic. We wish Celebrity had a few more of these types of performances during the trip.
One area that we hope gets attention during the ship’s 2021 refurbishment is the staterooms. Our balcony cabin on deck 7 showed considerable signs of wear. Furniture and décor were quite dated as well. The bathroom had visible rust spots, and the outdoor balcony furniture looked like it should have been replaced a few years ago. As balcony staterooms go, the room was average size. With some creative unpacking and storage, there was just enough space for our 10 days worth of clothing and gear.
That said, each stateroom features:
- Celebrity’s eXhale bedding, with modern Reverie mattresses and custom-embroidered linens made of Egyptian cotton sateen weave.
- Individual safe
- Thermostat-controlled air conditioning
- 100% cotton towels
- Complimentary use of terry-cloth robes
These spa-inspired staterooms feature indulgent amenities like a Hansgrohe shower tower and custom-blended bath products to help you feel restored and renewed. An AquaClass Spa Concierge can help you arrange all your spa appointments, and you will have complimentary access to the relaxing Persian Garden.
Inspired by the vineyards of Napa Valley, Cellar Masters brings to life the experience of a global wine tour while you learn about and taste a large variety of wines from around the world. A welcoming and unique onboard environment, you'll discover new wines, receive recommendations and enrich your knowledge of the world of wine.
Sky Observation Lounge
Don't look back, look forward and be amazed by the breathtaking views. The floor-to-ceiling windows in the Sky Observation Lounge will captivate you, and the expansive space will please you as you relax in the comfy seating all around. The lounge is versatile and can be transformed to suit any occasion.
There was a lot of variety among the passengers aboard on our 10-night Hawaiian cruise. While the cruise line offers a children’s program, you will typically find fewer families sailing on Celebrity Solstice than contemporary lines like Royal Caribbean or Carnival. Mainly, there were couples and groups of adults from various age ranges sailing this unique itinerary. Many of the fellow passengers were also regular cruisers.
The main dining room is business casual, and for the most part, cruisers abided by these suggestions. On the two Evening Chic nights, Celebrity Cruises’ version of formal night, there were plenty of suits and cocktail dresses though not mandatory. During the day, almost any type of attire is acceptable.
Celebrity Solstice is scheduled for a major update in 2021 as part of the Celebrity Revolution project. It is expected that the ship will be receiving updates to the staterooms and several public areas, as well as some new specialty dining and an updated exterior paint job.
Currently, the ship is an excellent choice for sailing to regions like Alaska and Australia and New Zealand. It provides the perfect complement to those port-intensive exotic locations. Service generally met our expectations, and the cruise director’s staff ensured that the guests were well entertained.
However, if you are looking for a ship with newer amenities and diverse onboard options, Celebrity Solstice might not be your first choice. Instead, you might want to opt for one of Celebrity Crusies’ newest ships, like Celebrity Edge or Celebrity Apex, which will be debuting in April 2020. Those ships sail traditional Caribbean and Mediterranean itineraries but offer new features like the Resort Pool, signature entertainment, the Rooftop Garden and a variety of restaurants.
Don and Heidi Bucolo sailed on Celebrity Solstice at their own expense. See Cruiseable's Ethics & Disclosure policy.
Have you cruised on Celebrity Solstice? What was the highlight? I'd love to hear about your experience or see any photos you took.
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Top highlights on this ship
- The Martini Bar, near the Atrium, is the perfect pre-dinner or after-dinner spot for drinks.
- Celebrity Life activities include a variety of fun and engaging events throughout the day.
- The new glass blowing classes in conjunction with Hollywood Hot Glass let you create your own personal souvenir.
- Get your country club on at the Lawn Club.
- Sample fine wines from around the world at Cellar Masters wine bar.