Friday June 16th we boarded the Celebrity Solstice. It’s a beautiful ship, and overall we had a great time. I would definitely sail on her again. There were just a few bumps. The main one was that there was no arcade.
My son is 23 and on the autism spectrum. He is high-functioning and can be pretty independent, so being able to do things by himself on a ship is a huge thing for him. His favorite thing in the world is video games. He brings along his Nintendo Switch, but going to an arcade and being around others in that type of social setting is huge for him. One of the reasons we chose Celebrity Solstice was that it boasted an arcade. We even went over the deck plans together the week before so he would know where everything was that he liked doing.
When we boarded the ship, we dropped our bags at the cabin then went to explore. I was checking out the bars and met back up with him a few hours later. I asked him if he found the arcade. He said there wasn’t one. It was showing on the deck plans for the ship on the app. I went with him to where it should be and there was just a ping-pong table and a couple of board games. It was right next to the teen club, so I went over to ask them about it. They said the arcade had been taken out.
Danny was very disappointed but there was nothing we could do. It’s not like they could install an arcade for us! I went over a few other things he could do. Luckily there was a solarium with a pool in it, so even though it was going to Alaska, he’d be able to swim. I went through the daily activities and told him he could hang with us any time he wanted. We do a lot of trivia on the ships. They also had an open time for Microsoft Kinect, but his response was “Kinect sucks.” He doesn’t like the other games where there would be a lot of attention focused on him; that’s part of his disability. He ended up spending a lot of time in the cabin, watching TV.
We were at a bar near guest services that evening and there was no one at the desk, so I went over and made my feelings known. I didn’t demand anything – I had to be realistic that they weren’t going to put in an arcade for us. I was just ticked that even right then while we were on the ship the app was still showing that they had an arcade and they didn’t. For most people, that wouldn’t matter, but for Danny, that’s a big part of his vacation. The next two days I played phone tag with the Cruise Director who contacted me personally to talk about it. When I finally caught up with her, she was willing to try a few different things to make Danny happy, but he really wasn’t interested in those solutions. I do commend her for trying, though.
Beyond that little problem, our cruise was excellent. The food was good and all of the staff I encountered were excellent. Most of our time was spent at the Martini Bar (see above) or the Observation Lounge where most of the trivia games took place. The first night there was an Abba sing-along that we went to and had a good time. The second night I went to the show Rock. It was like a good cover band meets the Solid Gold Dancers. Some of the acrobatic dance moves were really incredible!
The first night I dined with my friends at Le Petit Chef. The idea here is cute and is executed very well. An animated 6cm cartoon “chef” comes and creates your meal at the table. The plate at each setting is the “stage” and it’s a lot of fun to watch. We went again later in the week and while the food was great, the storyline on the first night was better.
Other than that, there were 2 nights I dined in the dining room and three that I dined at the buffet. All of the food was great, no matter where I ate. I tried the gelateria on the ship and it was good, although it was an extra charge and the ice cream they had at the buffet was just as good. There was also a specialty coffee shop that had pastries as well. I’d grab coffee from here when I didn’t have time for more than a small cup at the buffet.
A unique experience they have on Celebrity Solstice is glass-blowing. We signed up before we left and scheduled our time one after the other on the day we were sailing into Juneau. What a beautiful day we had to be on deck doing this! I went first and decided to spring for a little more expensive piece and made a vase. The photos above show my friend Mickey making the same style vase I did and the bottom two pictures are my finished piece. Yes, it made it home in one piece!
We sailed up Endicott Arm to the Dawes Glacier. This was beautiful, and again, we lucked out with perfect weather. The forecast had been in the 50sF and rainy for most of the week. Instead, we had sun and warm weather. I wore a t-shirt and jeans most days, but I had packed for different weather. We saw seals on ice floes that had calved off from the glacier on the way in, including some with pups!
This was a great ship and a great vacation. Other than the issue with the arcade, I have nothing to complain about. The staff was excellent. There were plenty of activities and it didn’t feel like they were nickel & diming us. In fact, I think I spent the least amount of money ever on a cruise, and that includes the glass-blowing. I would definitely cruise Celebrity again, although my son might not choose to go.