Celebrity Solstice Debuts

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

Entertainment on Solstice - Daytime Solstice has something for everyone in terms of entertainment. While it isn't as sports-oriented as sister company Royal Caribbean, many of the outdoor elements are there. There is a basketball court, a jogging track, putting green and Bocce ball.

Indoors during the daytime the library is extensively informative and the card room has plenty of tables and games.

A new attraction called "Team Earth" features user-interactive computer generated showcases of various topics of human interest. It is overseen by Conservation Intl., a Washington D.C.-based non-profit organization that gently persuades large American corporations and other organizations to make their daily environmental practices "greener." Celebrity donated $10,000,000 to the fund as seed money for the Team Earth display. Naturally, it is there to underscore the point that Celebrity is environmentally aware and has many forward-looking practices to help planet Earth remain green.

Diorama Views: click on pics for larger images:

full diorama: Library, Card Room, Team Earth   Team Earth   looking down from atrium top

The pool area is ample with plenty of plush loungers, two pools and two hot tubs. The cabana loungers are comfy and plentiful. The Solarium is an adults only greenhouse style swimming pool with great temperature-controlled sunning in any climate. The AquaSpa restaurant is inside.

Online at Celebrity is the Internet Café, but the entire ship has wireless access anyway. This room is great for people who do not travel with a laptop, but your surfing will be limited to web sites or a temporary Celebrity-assigned email address.

Although there is plenty of shopping, the Art Gallery on Solstice is notable in that Park West Galleries, the company that runs art auctions on most cruise ships, does NOT run it. Millenia Fine Art, an Orlando, Florida-based company, is taking a much lower-key approach. The purveyor of the gallery actually told me they only do onboard auctions only at the request of the cruise line. Otherwise, the gallery is open for viewing, like a museum, and there is no pressure to buy anything.

Daytime Enrichment Views: click on pics for larger images:

Art Gallery   Rado watches for men   Hot Glass show begins

For fine art, it is hard to beat an original piece of art glass or crystal by the glass blowers of the Corning Museum. Corning Glass is already well known in America for Corningware, but many people do not realize the Corning Museum is one of the finest glass museums in the world. Corning Glass is also the home of Steuben Crystal, a company that features original works of art in crystal by different artists. The Corning Museum "Hot Glass Show" is held a few times each day on "The Lawn." The gift shop is also an excellent place to buy original pieces of glass artwork.

Entertainment on Solstice - Nighttime Nighttime entertainment begins in the Solstice Theater, which features three different shows with a full cast of singers and dancers on every seven-night cruise. The theater is a two-deck venue with a forward thrust proscenium stage and extensive balcony seating. The singers and dancers are very talented and the show has universal appeal.

Other diversions include the casino with several table games including craps, roulette, 21, let it ride and more. There are hundreds of slots including nickel and 2-cent machines. There are poker tables with an electronic "dealer" that allow from five to eight players to challenge one another.

The Sky Observation Lounge features a live band and large dance floor. It is high atop deck 15 forward and has an eclectic décor of white and red couches and chairs. The Quasar Dance Club is the ship's "disco" with pod-like seating and a loud sound and lighting system. This is the late night hot spot. The Martini Bar is located in the main public area next to "Crush" and both feature mixed drinks with the stronger spirits.

Nighttime Entertainment Views: click on pics for larger images:

Quasar Nightclub DJ Booth   a nook inside the Quasar nightclub   Skywalkers Lounge
Michaels Club (men & cigars allowed)   Skywalkers Nightclub Dancefloor   Crush Ice Bar

Michael's Club is the "Gentlemen's Club" where one can smoke a cigar and sip a brandy. The décor is decidedly masculine with deep recliners and paintings of popular game targets. The entertainment is a piano soloist.

The Passport Bar is a casual nightclub perfect for conversation with mixed company. Cellar Masters is for oenophiles looking to taste the finest vintages by the glass. The Ensemble Lounge is the late night live music venue. Galleria Tastings is for sampling malt-based scotches, brandies and other spirits.

Throughout the day and night various musical artists can be heard throughout the ship. A singer/guitarist plays sets poolside, in the atrium and in the Ensemble Lounge. A string quartet plays in the Atrium during the day and in Michael's Club and the Solarium at night.

A Jazz Trio plays in the Ensemble Lounge nightly, A pianist fills the atrium Grand Foyer daily, A steel drum player plays poolside and the pop/rock band "Top Secret" plays poolside during the day and in the Sky Lounge at night.

Solstice keeps up the tradition of Celebrity having an excellent A Capella vocal group onboard. There is a quartet group that performs at least twice a day in the Ensemble Lounge and in the Entertainment Court.

Children's Facilities: Solstice has some of the most well placed a feature-filled children's and teen's facilities I have ever seen. Fully forward on the top decks, they have the best views on the ship. They are very isolated from the regular ship population, unlike Carnival and Royal Caribbean, so if you do not care for the company of younger people you will probably never feel bothered on Solstice. Young people of all ages will find more than enough video games, computer facilities, movies, table games and other supervised activities for an entire cruise waiting for them.

Kid's Facilities: click on pics for larger images:

teen video games   Dance Fuel   Little Kids Movie Area

Itineraries and Future Ships Solstice is scheduled to sail Eastern Caribbean itineraries to San Juan, St. Martin, Tortola and Labadee, Haiti until April when it will add a few Western Caribbean cruises into the mix. In May, the ship returns to Europe where it will sail 11 and 12-night Mediterranean cruises.

Furthermore, Celebrity will take delivery of Equinox in 2009 and Celebrity Eclipse in 2010, PLUS two more yet-to-be-named sister ships in 2011 and 2012. Equinox will be home-ported in Germany and Eclipse will be based in Southampton, U.K. According to company president, Dan Hanrahan, Celebrity sees as much of a European presence for these ships as an American one.

These ships are indeed beautiful and comfortable. The one phrase I heard repeatedly is "I feel relaxed." Although the ships are on the big side, at 122,000-tons and 2850 passengers, they feel more spacious than many ships with a higher passenger capacity. These are the kind of ships where there is always something new to see just around the corner. Celebrity is confident they have a winning design in Solstice and I agree.

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