From Small to Extra Large!
So by now you get the idea that I love the small ships, but if I have to make it extra-large I will take the Solstice class by Celebrity Cruises.
Dave and I, along with 2 other couples, sailed on the Solstice for a Trans-Atlantic journey from Barcelona to Ft. Lauderdale. Our ports of call included Malaga, Cadiz, Lisbon and Ponta Delgada (in the Azores).
We splurged a bit on this one and went for a Sky Suite (Category S1), located in the port aft corner of the ship. This is a large corner cabin with a slight wraparound balcony. Storage was not an issue as they utilized every bit of useable space for cabinets and closets while still leaving plenty of room for a sitting area. I loved the extra large round porthole at the side of the cabin which brought in wonderful light.
The ship itself is just beautiful. While it will hold 3400 guests if full, it never felt crowded. There are enough public spaces for everyone to spread out. They concentrate the indoor public spaces to decks 3,4 and 5. And the library, card room, and internet area are situated in open areas of the Atrium near the mid ship elevators. If I have any real issue with the design of the ship is that there are just 2 main elevator banks (forward and mid). With our cabin being in the far aft section it was always quite a hike to get to mid ship. However, I did get a bit of exercise that way!
The outdoor space was also great. The Solstice was the first ship to have a top deck with a Lawn! It also included a Hot Glass Show area (sponsored by Corning) that always drew a crowd.
There is also space for Bocce and other lawn games along with a bar on this deck.
Food and service on Celebrity have always been a favorite, no matter what ship it has been. Solstice kept up the reputation. From the main dining room all the way through to the specialty restaurants the food was top quality. While there are additional charges to eat in the specialty restaurants we enjoyed the variety over a 14-night trip.
Entertainment on the ship was on a large scale as well. The quality was excellent.
On recent cruises, on other lines, we felt that the staff was not happy and just going through the motions. But even with the very long hours that the crew and staff endure daily we found them honestly friendly and engaging.
When I mention how I enjoy the longer Transatlantic sailings many will say they can't imagine that many days at sea. However if you have a ship with lots of daily options it is a wonderful vacation. Personally, if there are 3 or 4 interesting ports included in the mix, I am happy.
Stay tuned for a page on Ports coming in the near future.