Celebrity Solstice Debuts

Celebrity Solstice is the first of a coming industry wave of newer and larger Celebrity Cruise ships, and breaks the mold.

I was on the inaugural cruise of Celebrity Solstice this last weekend (11-14-08). She is the first modern cruise ship to debut in several years with an all-new design from the keel up and the funnels down.

I just returned from the grand opening of "Bocce Ball 101" followed by the "Corning Hot Glass Show". These are two activities you won't see on any other class of ship than Celebrity Solstice.

Bocce Ball is still played in the town squares of Europe. I watched locals playing in Rouen, France a few years ago. As I tried hard to look not too interested, I realized how certain things in life are purely imaginary until you see them in person. When I took lessons in Bocce Ball 101 on Celebrity Solstice I experienced a moment of symbiosis.

click on pictures below for larger images:

bocce ball on the lawn   buffing the hot glass in a wooden cup   Hot Glass show begins

Not far away from Rouen is the island of Murano, Italy, the world capital for original glasswork. The United States equivalent to Murano is the Corning Museum of Glass in New York State. When I heard Celebrity Solstice would feature the "Corning Glass Hot Show exhibition center" I experienced yet another moment.

These activities underscore my initial impression of what makes Solstice unique in the world of cruise ships, and everyone told me the same thing. She may be grand in size, but there is something personal about her. She is more than simply elegant; she is intellectually stimulating yet relaxing at the same time.

No worries about appearing as a tourist now, everyone is on vacation. We were all like the children who couldn't resist the Solstice "glow in the dark" bocce balls the night before. We knew what to do almost instinctually and took to the game as if we had been playing it for centuries.

Celebrity Solstice Inaugural Ceremony   Highly recommended video! Godmother of Celebrity Solstice Professor Sharon L. Smith, the first ocean scientist ever to serve as Godmother of a cruise ship. She is also a two-time cancer survivor and is active in the field of cancer research funding..

Welcome to Solstice, Celebrity Fans! If you already like Celebrity you will love Solstice. Is it too big? Is the Hearst Castle too big? Size is relative and in many ways Solstice is like a roomier version of the Celebrity Millennium-class. The designers more than compensated for the larger capacity, making her the perfect size - alive with activities but never too crowded.

Solstice is also beautiful with many of the same features that make the Millennium class appealing. There are long drapes cascading down from three decks above to frame the Grand Foyer staircase. There is a beautiful chandelier in the dining room while the alternative dining spots are generously apportioned with plenty of space between the tables.

click on pictures below for larger images:

Grand Epernay Dining Room   Exterior Balcony view   String Quartet plays in Grand Foyer

The vast majority of staterooms have balconies, and they average 15% larger than other ships, Most of the extra room is given over to the bathroom where there is enough room for two people to get ready for dinner. The large showers feature sliding doors rather than plastic curtains that hug against you and there is more storage than I have ever seen on a cruise ship.

One major extravagance is shopping with 18 outlets for "retail therapy" onboard. There are gift shops exclusively for women and for men, jewelry shops, dress shops, souvenir shops and kiosks. One does not generally cruise to shop, but these stores are certainly tempting and you can always go in just to chat.

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