Celebrity Cruises’s Celebrity Solstice, the first of five vessels in the cruise line’s new Solstice Class, has wowed industry critics and passengers alike since its launch on 23 November 2008.

Setting sail on a seven-night cruise through the Caribbean, three weeks earlier than originally scheduled, the 122,000t, 2,850-passenger ship by German shipbuilders Meyer Werft dazzled guests with spacious cabins, innovative entertainment concepts and variety of dining options. Solstice is the first release from Celebrity Cruises since 2002, and will be followed by the Celebrity Equinox in summer 2009 and Celebrity Eclipse in summer 2010.

Cruise industry firsts

The ship features a number of industry firsts, including a half-acre Lawn Club with real grass, and a Hot Glass Show glass-blowing demonstration, presented in alliance with the Corning Museum of Glass.

Celebrity Solstice is the first of five vessels in the cruise line’s new Solstice Class.”

The Lawn Club has proved a hit, enabling guests for the first time ever to wriggle their toes in lush lawn grass while at sea and play a game of bocce, croquet, or have a picnic. The popular glassblowing demonstration, situated in the Lawn Club area, regularly attracts a full complement of spectators, with the audience occasionally spilling over into the seating area, creating some turf attrition. This, in addition to poor weather, may require some parts to be temporarily sectioned off.

Accommodation

As the biggest ship in Celebrity’s nine-strong fleet, Celebrity Solstice has 1,425 staterooms on board, 85% of which have balconies and 90% have ocean views. Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

The luxurious minutiae of the staterooms reflects the unique approach Celebrity took in designing rooms, which was guided by the opinions of a panel of female cruisers and cruise industry professionals.

New concepts include an AquaClass level of stateroom that gives guests privileged access to spa treatments and cuisine as well as the spatially innovative ability to link separate staterooms via adjoining doors, providing more space for families and groups. The deluxe veranda rooms are 15% larger than on previous ships.

Wine and dine

The Celebrity Solstice has ten main dining areas, covering French to Asian cuisine in casual and formal settings.

The Oceanview Cafe and Grill on the lido deck gives the option of indoor and outdoor dining, and features buffet stations to reduce queues and enables made-to-order options.

The cruise line’s Silk Harvest restaurant serves very fashionable pan-Asian cuisine in a share-friendly way, while the Tuscan Grille steakhouse caters for those guests looking for elegant yet approachable food. It remains to be seen how the cluster of alternative dining options in the one area of the ship, which includes the two aforementioned outlets as well as Blu (a restaurant exclusive to AquaClass guests, serving ‘clean cuisine’) and Murano (a fine dining Celebrity mainstay) will accommodate maximum capacity traffic.

“The AquaClass level of stateroom gives privileged access to spa treatments and cuisine.”

Another dining highlight is The Grand Epernay, designed by interior architect Adam Tihany of Tihany Design in New York, which gives a spectacular twist on the traditional main dining room with a two-storey glass wine tower centrepiece, from which waiters retrieve select vintages. Guests will not be short for a drink with 14 bars to choose from, with brand new cocktail bars Ensemble Lounge, Passport Bar and the Sky Observation Lounge, where guests can gaze through floor-to-ceiling windows
while they boogie on the dance floor.

More youthful entertainment comes in the form of Celebrity’s youth programme, which organises activities (video games, crafts, sports) and meals for kids, mostly situated on deck 15.

On the whole, Celebrity Solstice offers a taste of the sophisticated direction Celebrity is taking with their Solstice Class of ships; a direction that addresses the key needs – increased space, variety and choice – of 21st-century cruise passengers.