Celebrity Solstice Debuts

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

Optimized Structural Design Elements Overall, the Celebrity designers believe they have a winner in Solstice even with the difficult economic climate we are all sailing into. Despite the unknown, Celebrity is still going to bring five of these vessels online at the rate of one per year.

Still, I perceive no lingering doubt within the cumulative psyche of the company. This ship is economically sound - offering balconies with 85% of the cabins, 90% of all staterooms having ocean views. She holds 2840 guests at double occupancy, but has a maximum capacity of over 3250 (estimated) via 418 cabins that can accommodate an extra one or two guests. There are 121 connecting cabins and 30 that are wheelchair accessible.

One of the biggest innovations is energy efficiency for the 21st-century, beginning with 216 solar panels generating enough power to operate 7000 LED lights.

More impressive is the ship's hull design. This is the first Celebrity ship designed from the hull up, rather than beginning with the public spaces and adapting the hull to fit. Over 90 efficiency tests were conducted, including wind tunnel and test tank trials with three different scale models. The goal was to find the optimal longitudinal center of buoyancy to maximize cruising speed, stability and fuel efficiency. Indeed, on my introductory cruise I barely felt a wiggle despite the fairly choppy waters near the Miami coastline.

RETAIL THERAPY: click on pics for larger images:

the store for MEN   glass statuary on display for sale   coral and glass necklaces for women

The hull is white (breaking the Celebrity profile for blue hulls) for less heat absorption, and it has a silicon coating. The unique ducktail-style stern minimizes the wake and reduces drag. There is also something called an "interceptor" to lift the stern, also reducing drag. The designers equate this to the spoiler on a racecar.

The propulsion system is equally state-of-the-art beginning with Azipod engines, but with five blades of smaller size and greater angle rather than the usual four. Celebrity has reverted to rail diesel engines, as opposed to the gas turbines on the Millennium class, for cost benefits and adaptability to various fuel types.

Incandescent and halogen light bulbs have been replaced with more efficient LED lighting. The windows are highly glazed to reduce heat transfer, filtering out 99.9% of UV rays. All wastewater, gray and black, is treated to near potable before it is discharged, and all solid waste is fully incinerated or stored onboard for proper disposal at a shore facility.

Bottom line, Celebrity feels that Solstice, offering a balcony to 85% of guests and with maximized propulsion and energy systems, will win out over the tough economy due to the efficiency of its design.

Interior Design and Décor Is energy efficiency of concern to the average cruiser? Only imperceptibly, perhaps. But the relaxed yet vivacious atmosphere of this vessel will surely please everyone. Every piece of furniture has been people-tested for comfort as well as eye-appeal. The beds are sublime, as are the chairs in the restaurants and the loungers on the sun-soaked outside pool decks.

There is nothing sparse or boring about the interior décor. Most interesting are the views of rooms like the library and the unique "Team Earth" from across the twelve-deck sun-soaked atrium. When you can see around the living "flying tree" you get a diorama-like view of these special rooms that makes them look like they were placed there solely for visual appeal. Not so, of course, the library has over 8,000 books, and Team Earth is a user-interactive display of various worldwide topics of interest.

Atrium Views: click on pics for larger images:

foyer staircase   full DIORAMA view. Library, Card Room, Team Earth   atrium roof
The Solstice Diamond   library   looking down on flying tree

The dining rooms are each spectacular in their own way; with perfect light and color coordinated table settings. The Grand Foyer, with its unbroken three-deck staircase and billowing drapes hanging from three decks above, creates a majestically memorable setting for the string quartet and solo guitarist who set up and play, amplified organically by the marble and glass surroundings.

There is more shopping onboard than almost any ship I can remember; 18 different boutiques and shops, including the "Boutique C" jewelry shop. This one, open by appointment only, features the "Solstice Diamond," the unique 86- faceted star shaped diamond that comes as a single stone, in rings, necklaces or earrings. You can order a Solstice diamond to be custom cut for you. I saw a 1.1-carat sample, color-F and clarity VS-1, carrying a price tag of "only" $25,000.

Atrium Views: click on pics for larger images:

Team Earth   atrium flying tree   inside the library

There are two different shopping areas; the "Galleria Boutiques" offers more indulgent ideas such as jewelry and a shop just for men with exclusive watches. "Shops on the Boulevard" features impulse buys such as Celebrity logo-wear, kitchen accessories, snack items and spirits.

Continue Article >> Onboard Dining (Part 3)

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