April 24, 2024

Aboard Celebrity Solstice

Celebrity’s 120,000 ton Solstice was launced in 2008 and carries over 2800 passengers.

It’s been over a decade since I last cruised on Celebrity Solstice. At that time I was invited aboard with travel agents and other journalists to sample Celebrity’s newest ship and for some reason came away unimpressed. It remains a bit of a mystery why but I think I was cranky over very minor things such as the use of synthetic material instead of real teak on the promenade deck and I also didn’t like the idea of the exposed workings of the atrium elevators. The lawns on the upper decks seemed contrived.

But I was so much older then, as the saying goes, and now, being younger I see the Solstice in a different light. This is a beautiful ship with many intelligent features and a layout which still stands up well some 15 years after its launch, And today I like the idea that so many teak trees were spared from the Solstice’s decks.

Aboard flight AC flight 519 to Honolulu to catch Celebrity Solstice.

My wife and I boarded the ship in Honolulu for a 17 day cruise to Sydney stopping at French Polynesia and New Zealand. We flew from Vancouver on an Air Canada 737 Max which I think is too small a plane for such a long flight. Nevertheless, it departed on time and we and our luggage made it fine after the five and half hour flight. We hopped in a cab and went to the very serviceable Ramada Hotel located near the Hilton Hawaiian Village. Cab fare is around $50 to $60 USD.

Having a morning and a few hours in the afternoon gave us plenty of time to revisit the area near the hotel along Ala Moana Boulevard and the beaches near the Hilton. Soon though it was time to take the short cab ride to Pier Two and get aboard the ship. Arriving, checkin was a breeze, Celebrity allows passengers to book a time to checkin. Lo and behold, several staff were waiting for us and in minutes we were on the ship and in our cabin. Celebrity does lifeboat drill individually so there is no master drill after you get to your cabin – a big improvement over the draw-out process of assembling on the deck with hundreds of other weary ‘guests’.

Our travel agent, Todd Hancock from Seacourses, convinced us to get one of the cabins with an angled balcony which is bigger that most in the ‘Concierge Class’ cabins. And he was right, these are nice comfortable cabins. The other smart thing about the Solstice is the doors are inset so ambient noise is reduced and you are out of the way of other ‘guests’ when you enter and leave your cabin. Another good aspect is the cabin door swings outwards so doesn’t bang or interfere with the bathroom door.

The next challenge though was trying to get a table at the early sitting as we, booking late, had been relegated to Select or open seating. That’s for the next blog.