In these pictures the Solstice and her identical twin sister the Equinox docked side-by-side in Grand Caymen. It was an awesome sight.
Today’s cruise ships are bloated floating cities that carry more than two thousand five hundred passengers and a crew of more than twelve hundred. They come complete with movie theaters, libraries, internet cafes, cable television and boutique shops. If you’re in need of an intimate experience, this probably isn’t it.
We cruise because we like to STOP and be entertained, eat, read or sleep — Our itinerary is set; we don’t have to pack, reserve a car, or think about where we’re going to eat. Well, that last part isn’t exactly true. These days cruise companies have created new up charge features – specialty dining experiences that do require reservations, but they’re worth it because they put the rest of the ship’s culinary efforts to shame.
But that being said, our week aboard the Celebrity Solstice was our tenth cruise and it was heaven to be waited on whenever we wanted. The bed was made and the towels were always fresh. Champagne arrived with the canapes promptly at four. Long ago we figured out that if you get organized you can eat twelve times a day, but then, who wants to be organized on a cruise?
The Solstice was the largest one in our experience, at one thousand forty-one feet long and one hundred twenty-one wide. There is something to be said for the sheer marvel of engineering that modern ships employ.
The Solstice and her four ecologically designed sister ships (all built in Germany) are powered by Azipods – marine propulsion units with electrically driven propellers, which are mounted on steerable pods – very little vibration, very little rock and roll, very little wake. The elevators are powered by movable solar panels that cover the indoor swimming pool. Most refuse goes into a high temperature burn facility and other food refuse is ground and fed to marine life. Recycled materials are crushed and bundled for deposit at the end of the cruise.
For me the one non sequitur was the real grass growing on the putting green on deck 16…I couldn’t quite envision one of the crew up there with a lawnmower…
Our ports of call were Cozumel Mexico, Roatan Honduras and Grand Cayman Island. But if you’ve cruised the Caribbean before and aren’t there for the snorkeling & diving, or Mayan archeological wonders – or the ship’s casino – you’ve probably seen more than enough of the interchangeable jewelry shops and desperately sad trinket hawkers trying to get the attention of the tourists who like scurrying ants leaving a disturbed nest, are disgorged from the ship in every port. So in the end, it for us it’s more about the on-board experiences.
Clebrity Cruises, founded by the Greek Chandris Group is known by the signature X that appears on the side of the ship signifying the Greek letter Chi. Most of the crew is Indonesian: attentative, beyond pleasant and delightfully efficient. Senior officers are mostly Greek and Dutch.
The only fly in our ointment was the front-of-the-house culinary personnel who were from the Eastern Bloc nations and were beyond overly officious and off-putting.