Celebrity Cruises' Modern Luxury Ships
Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Cruises - Cruise Line and Cruise Ship Reviews

If you had to choose one word to describe Celebrity Cruises, it’d be “style.”

The line got its start in 1989 as a project of the Chandris family, who’d operated cargo and passenger ships in Greece and beyond since 1915. Celebrity made such a splash, so quickly, that it was bought by Royal Caribbean Cruise Line just nine years later. It has operated as a sister line to them ever since, while the trademark “X” in the line’s logo is a reminder of it’s origins: It’s really the Greek letter chi, for Chandris.

From the beginning, Celebrity Cruises has been known for high-end design, cutting-edge contemporary art, superior cuisine, and great spas. Its newest ships, the Solstice class, take all that to the next level, with multiple dining options, innovative public spaces, and a truly high-end aesthetic. Fleetwide, the line offers a glamorous, exciting experience while also keeping its prices within reach of the mainstream crowd.

iPads On Board
“Modern” is another word you could use for Celebrity Cruises. On the newer Solstice-class ships, you can check out an iPad from the guest services desk and take a self-guided tour of your ship’s art collection. iPads are also used as menus at the Qsine specialty restaurants aboard several of the Celebrity cruise ships, and can even be bought duty-free on several Celebrity ships at the Celebrity iLounge, a high-style space where you can also take classes from Apple-certified staff, browse the web on MacBook Pro laptops, and buy other Apple gadgets.

Activities On Celebrity Cruises
Fleetwide, the onboard atmosphere balances enriching experiences with others that are just plain relaxing and fun. Foodies can sign up for culinary tours, wine and mixology events, and “Food as Art” demonstrations. Guests interested in fitness and health can take a seminar on Chinese herbal medicine or acupuncture; get an actual acupuncture treatment at the spa; or take a yoga, spinning, Pilates, or tai chi class at the gym.

There are also stargazing sessions, language-learning workshops, and talks by visiting experts from Smithsonian Journeys, tailored to the cruise region: archaeologists or art historians on Mediterranean cruises, marine biologists on Bermuda sailings, naturalists on Alaska sailings, etc.

The Cafe al Bacio on Celebrity CruisesAnd then there’s pure fun: dance classes, game-show-style trivia contests, karaoke, Nintendo Wii and XBox Kinect sessions, and pool games — including pool volleyball matches between guests and the ship’s officers, who sometimes play fully clothed in their uniforms.

Evening Entertainment & Kids Programs
At night, Celebrity Cruises offers all the popular cruise entertainments, including Vegas-style musical revues, comedians, and passenger talent shows, but it’s the smaller touches that tend to stand out, like the a cappella singing groups that walk around the ship in the evening, performing in various lounges.

For kids and teens, the line offers a supervised program with different activities for the various age groups. There’s also group babysitting in the playroom, both late nights and for a couple of hours on port days.

Celebrity QsineDining On Celebrity Cruises
Dining-wise, Celebrity Cruises offers a stylish experience, with modern touches spicing up menus. Dining service is excellent, and the line’s main dining rooms are uniformly stunning. Guests can opt to either dine traditionally — at a fixed time, with the same companions every night — or choose “Celebrity Select Dining,” which lets you vary your dining time day by day.

In terms of specialty dining, the newer Solstice-class ships win the prize, supplementing their main restaurants and buffet with four specialty options each: the high-end Tuscan Grille for steaks and pastas; the European-themed Murano, featuring table-side cooking, carving, and flambé; Blu, a spa-cuisine option for guests occupying the ships’ AquaClass staterooms; and either an Asian restaurant or Qsine, which serves an eclectic international menu with super-creative presentations.

Celebrity Ocean Liner restaurantCelebrity’s older Millennium-class ships aren’t far behind on the specialty dining front. From the beginning, each has offered a specialty option intended to recreate a dining experience from the golden age of transatlantic passenger liners, with period decor, music, and menus. Recently, Celebrity has also begun retrofitting these ships with some of the best features of their newer Solstice-class fleetmates, so each of them now has two or three specialty options apiece, or will soon.

Along with style, Celebrity Cruises is known for its service, which rarely disappoints. In the restaurants, waiters and sommeliers are poised and professional, while cabin stewards are both friendly and precise. If you book a suite, you also get the services of a tuxedo-clad butler, who’ll bring you afternoon tea, shine your shoes, and otherwise make sure you don’t have to lift a finger.

Celebrity SilhouetteFleet Overview
Celebrity Cruises sails a fleet of ships that range from the Millennium Class — Celebrity Constellation, Celebrity Millennium, Celebrity Infinity and Celebrity Summit — to Xpedition Class — the 98-passenger Celebrity Xpedition that offers year-round Galapagos sailings – to the new Solstice class: Celebrity Solstice, Celebrity Eclipse, Celebrity Equinox, Celebrity Reflection, Celebrity Silhouette.

Celebrity Solstice: Celebrity Cruises’ New Solstice Class Ships Break The Mold

The very popular Celebrity cruise ship Celebrity Solstice

Celebrity Solstice breaks the mold in every conceivable way. Measuring 122,000 gross tons (remember, ships measure, not weigh — a gross ton is a unit of interior space), Solstice is Celebrity Cruises’ largest ship by far. Carrying 2,850 cruise vacationers when fully occupied, she’s a big hunk of hull for a cruise company whose ships have hovered right around the 2,000-passenger capacity.

Solstice wears her excess steel well, and what strikes you – or what struck me – was that while the renderings, photographs, press releases and press events had prepared me for what to expect, seeing Solstice in real life presented an even better ship than I had expected. Sometimes cruise lines go hoarse with hyperbole in promoting their products, but Solstice actually exceeded what I had expected.

The Grand Epernay restaurant on Celebrity Cruises' new Celebrity SolsticeThe most ballyhooed feature, of course, was the Lawn Club, with real grass. I thought it was a joke when Celebrity Cruises first announced the half-acre grassy area on the top deck of the ship, but it simply works. The Lawn Club is a great place to relax, play croquet, putt, picnic, practice bocce or wiggle your toes in the cool blades of real grass. This unique area, shaded by canvas sails, is a natural touch that’s somehow more impressive than some of the whiz-bang technologies that cruise lines add so often.

Next to the Lawn Club, artisans from Corning Glass provide a look at glass-blowing, with demonstrations and some opportunities to participate. You may be yawning at the prospect of an afternoon watching grown men blow glass, but the demonstrations truly are remarkable – especially at night, with the glass all aglow under Caribbean stars.

Sleek and Sophisticated
Verandah cabin on a Celebrity Solstice cruise. Earth tones and pleasant colors make for a relaxing stateroom.Designers abandoned the ornate and glitzy on this ship, instead going with clean, sleek lines that give the Solstice a modern, sophisticated look.

Celebrity Cruises promised a new cabin layout, which results in 15 percent more space and creative solutions, such as lots of storage areas for clothes and luggage, flat-panel televisions, and a “shaving bar” suggested by Celebrity’s “leading ladies,” a panel of five ordinary women who gave their input into what they wanted most in staterooms and bathrooms. The shaving bar, contrary to what you may be thinking, isn’t a place to sip cocktails. Rather, it’s a metal bar, situated in the shower, designed to assist women shaving their legs in the shower.

Celebrity showed similar attention to detail throughout the bathroom design. No longer are the showers so small that you simply soap up and spin, as a friend of mine once said about another cruise ship’s showers. I found the showers roomy and spacious even for my 6’5″ frame.

Creative Cuisine
Solstice’s menu of restaurants runs the mouth-watering gamut, led by a two-level main venue, three alternative restaurants — priced at $20 to $30 per person — and a 24-hour bistro for casual meals, including some creative twists on crepes. Altogether, there are ten dining venues on Solstice, more than on any other Celebrity cruise ship.

One of the restaurants, Blu, is reserved for AquaClass stateroom guests. These 192-square-foot staterooms, with balconies, are aimed at passengers who want a spa-oriented cruise. Guests in these Penthouse Deck cabins get unlimited access to the AquaSpa relaxation room, the aforementioned Blu and other facilities.