Our March 2023 Pacific Coastal Cruise on the Celebrity Solstice was our first time sailing on a higher-end cruise line. There were three main factors that went into booking this cruise: dates (it lined up with my spring break), ports (Pacific Coastal with a focus on California ports is an unusual itinerary), and price (this was the cheapest cruise I have ever booked) so the more-luxury amenities didn’t really play into our decision to book this at all, but they were very nice perks!
I originally booked us in an oceanview cabin but as we were getting closer to sailing, I notice the prices going down and I called our travel agent who was able to upgrade us to a balcony for $100 total with an additional $250 in onboard credit. This was much better than the minimum bid to upgrade that the cruise line offered. I highly recommend making a note of the fare when you booked and keeping an eye on the prices as you get closer to sailing. It is important to note that if you booked with any perks like free drinks or gratuities, a lot of times the sales may not include them so you would have to decide between your perks or the upgraded stateroom.
Embarkation in Los Angeles was much improved over the headache we experienced in Vancouver. We had an 11:00 check-in time and we had to sit around for a little bit waiting for boarding to begin. Celebrity is known for having several higher-end cabin options including Concierge Class and Aqua class. Guests in these cabins and those that are Elite and above in the Captain’s Club (Celebrity’s Loyalty Program) were able to board first but we were on the ship in no time and enjoying lunch in the Oceanview Cafe.
The food on Celebrity was unbelievable. I am not usually a fan of cruise ship buffets, but I chose to eat lunch at the Oceanview Cafe instead of finding a restaurant on land several times. They had a large variety and everything we chose was very good. The ship was sailing at about 60% capacity, which is unheard of right now, but it was never a problem to find a seat and the crew was always around cleaning tables. There was a crew member that stood in the middle of the buffet singing good morning to everyone. It put a smile on my face each day.
After our experiences with my time dining on Royal Caribbean, we booked the early dinner on this cruise. When we got on board, we went straight to the Maitre D and switched the late dining and I am really glad that we did. At home, we are not late diners, but the late dining time allowed us to eat a big lunch and not worry about having dinner in just a few hours. One thing that surprised me, was when she made the switch, the Maitre D asked if we wanted a table for two or to share a table with other young people. Part of me wished I was more outgoing because that could’ve been fun. It also could’ve been very annoying, so we opted for the table for two.
The food and service in the main dining room was spectacular. There has been a lot of talk in the Celebrity Facebook groups about reduced offerings in the main dining room and the quality going downhill. If that is the case, I cannot imagine what it was like before. The food was leagues above what we experienced on their sister-line Royal Caribbean.
With that extra onboard credit, we tried two of Celebrity’s signature restaurants, Tuscan Grille, the Italian Steakhouse, and Murano, the French restaurant. The steaks from Tuscan Grille were great but I feel like we missed out because we didn’t order sides of the pasta. Murano was amazing. We had the Chateaubriand for two and it was prepared tableside. The atmosphere of Murano was not for me. It was too stuffy. I really don’t need a server to ask for permission before setting down the food that I ordered. If we sail Celebrity again, we would probably try Tuscan Grill again but skip Murano.
Entertainment on the Solstice really blew us away. There was live music going on pretty much all day somewhere on the ship. We really enjoyed the house band, Soundtrack. They played a lot of Scary Pockets arrangements of songs, which is Chris’ favorite YouTube band so we watched them pretty much every night. The theater shows were high quality and we enjoyed the special acts they brought on for our sailing. One of them was on the current season of The Voice.
The Celebrity Solstice is a mid-sized ship, but the offerings were very unique. Up on the top deck is the lawn club (below) where there is real grass that you could sit on, play bocce ball, and practice your putting. There is also a hot glass studio. When the ship launched it was a partnership with the Corning Museum of Glass, now it is the Hollywood Glass Studio. The weather on this sailing was chilly so there weren’t a lot of people hanging out by the pool and chair-hogs definitely weren’t a problem. The Solstice was a lot more low-key than the rock wall and Flow Rider on the Royal Caribbean ships, and because of that, there are few children on board. Nothing about the ship was stuffy or too formal, which was one of my worries about booking on a higher-end cruise line.
Our balcony stateroom was great. It was an average size for a balcony cabin, but the bathroom was bigger than on the Royal Caribbean ships and had more storage. Since we upgraded to a balcony guarantee, we had an obstructed view, so we got to watch the crew members power washing the lifeboats during port days (below). Our stateroom was toward the aft of the ship which made it very easy to get around. Our stateroom attendant was great and was very quick to clean our room each day. Celebrity is still servicing staterooms twice a day and they are still leaving chocolates on your pillow at night. I haven’t seen that anywhere in years so I was impressed.
All of our encounters with the other guests were very positive. We were definitely some of the youngest guests on the ship, but everyone we ran into was friendly and happy. They didn’t constantly complain like on our Alaska cruise with Royal.
Disembarkation was a bit of a mess, but it wasn’t Celebrity’s fault. The port of San Pedro had two other ships coming in that day, so we had to use a third pier a ways away from the other two. Because we were disembarking with the ramps they use in ports and they are very steep, we were not able to carry our luggage off and we had to take a shuttle to the area where we could pick up our luggage from a tent. We found our luggage no problem, but since we ended up in the last disembarkation group it took forever to get a ride back to Los Angeles and it ate into our day of exploring the city.
Overall, this was a wonderful trip and I would book a Celebrity cruise again in a heartbeat. I have already been searching to see where the Solstice will be next year on my spring break. Chris says this is the best vacation we’ve had in a while and if you’ve been following this blog, you know some of our recent trips have been once-in-a-lifetime kind of trips.
Thanks for stopping by! To read more about this trip, check out the Cruising the Pacific Coast Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! For my list of gadgets to make your travels easier, click here. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.