Jim and I have sailed on seven cruises using three different cruise lines. We have sailed Norweigan Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean, and Celebrity Cruise Lines. Celebrity is far and away our favorite for couples. Of our seven cruises, four have been aboard Celebrity’s Solstice-class ships. We have sailed on 2 Carribean Cruises, one Mexican cruise and one Mediterranean cruise aboard Celebrity’s Solstice, Equinox, Eclipse. We sailed aboard the Reflection in March. Celebrity Cruise Lines is not entirely child-free, however, there are not as many children as on some other cruise lines, and the Solstice class ships are far more geared to couples than kids from the cabins to the solarium and the nightlife.
Celebrity’s crew does a wonderful job of spoiling passengers. The cabins are modern, and if you get a veranda cabin, nicely appointed with a king size bed, a couch, coffee table, a bar, and refrigerator. The beds are quite good. We are spoiled at home with a Tempurpedic mattress, so Jim often complains about any other bed we sleep in while traveling. Not so on Celebrity. Even he likes the beds (Believe me, no small feat). The bathrooms are big enough even for his wide shoulders. If you spend a little extra and go concierge class, you get fluffy robes, a complimentary bottle of champagne, canapes delivered to your room daily, and extra attention from your cabin steward. We’ve never had a bad cabin steward aboard Celebrity. The canapes are normally quite good. We’ve had mini pastry shells filled with cream cheese and caviar in the past. During our last cruise aboard the Reflection, they were generally olives, chips, and guacamole, which was not quite as fabulous.
The main dining room on all Solstice-class ships has a floor to ceiling wine tower. The food is the best we have had on the three cruise lines we have experienced, and the head waiters go out of their way to make sure we are satisfied with our dinner. I am gluten and dairy free (not out of choice either) and I love that the menus on the Celebrity ships are coded so I know which are vegetarian, gluten-free, and dairy-free. The head waiters also make sure that I am always happy with my meals and have gone beyond my expectations to have the chef make me gluten free deserts at times. During this last cruise, they even had gluten free bread that was delicious. Jim doesn’t like anyone’s cooking except my mother’s, but he has been very pleased with the selections aboard the Celebrity ships. If the chefs aboard Celebrity ships can keep him happy, you won’t be disappointed.
During the daytime, there is the usual outside pool, but the wonderful part of Celebrity Cruise Lines is that on the Solstice class ships, there is also something called the Solarium. It is a glassed in area with its own pool and hot tubs. There is also small cafe with salads and fruit and wine located within the Solarium. The spa is right next to the Solarium and offers a range of services from teeth whitening to Botox. Tranquil music is piped in and it’s a relaxing place to read, relax and talk to other travelers. The best part? No kids under 16 allowed! On Celebrity Solstice class ships, you have a place you can relax and be assured that you won’t be disturbed. Jim and I have spent entire sea days in the solarium reading and chatting with fellow passengers.
One of the new trends aboard cruise ships is having an art gallery. Park West Runs the art galleries on many of the ships. They have fun art talks and raffles, and champagne art auctions. Walking through tons of art in the lobby while drinking champagne is a wonderful way to spend part of a sea day. Just understand that in these auctions you will find original Michael Goddard pieces and lots of Peter Max. None of it is inexpensive. If you have the money and the wall space, go for it, but understand that it is best if you know what to look for and how much to pay.
In addition to the art auctions and talks, you will find lots of live music. There is always a good band at the pool in the afternoons, and another band playing in the lobby as everyone comes to dinner. This last cruise, there was a lot of jazz played in the main lobby, which I loved. There was a string duo in Michael’s lounge every night. On past cruises, Celebrity has had a barbershop quartet roaming the ship which I thoroughly enjoyed. The evening shows are usually quite good with one show a Cirque du Solei inspired artsy, high flying affair. Jim and I have seen seven Cirque du Solei shows, in Vegas and Orlando and generally, Celebrity’s shows are engaging and capture the spirit of Cirque. You must, of course, understand that the performers are working in a ship sized theater without all the accouterments of a full Cirque show. What you won’t find are rock-climbing walls, surf -pools and ice skating rinks.
Nighttime also brings fun at the lounges. Whether you go to the casino, the Sky Lounge on deck 15 to listen to the band or do karaoke, or relax in Michael’s lounge, or visit the martini bar, there are plenty of options. Aboard the Reflection, the martini bar was our favorite. The bar is coated in a sheet of ice. There is lots of comfortable seating around it, and they had a DJ there a couple of nights. The chocolate martinis were delicious! The Sky Lounge aboard the Reflection was subject to what I can only call an experiment. Instead of karaoke or a band, they had what they called a silent disco. People would get headphones at a stand outside the lounge. These headphones had three channels, all of which were color coded, so the headphones lit up either green blue or yellow according to which channel the listener chose. There were people on the dancefloor all with the same color shining from their headphones singing at the top of their lungs and dancing. There was, of course, no background music. This little diva couldn’t get out of there fast enough. Jim refused to even give it a go. We tend to choose lounges where we can relax and chat with our fellow passengers, but there were others who loved the silent disco. We ended most of our nights at the Martini Bar having wonderful conversations with other travelers from all over the States and Europe. Whatever suits you, Celebrity has it.
Celebrity remains our pick for the best child-free cruise line so far, and well worth the money. Our last cruise was concierge class and the cost was $3,200. That included a pick two sale which allowed us a free alcohol package and $300 onboard credit. You do, of course, earn points and perks the more cruises you take aboard a cruise line. Since this was our fourth cruise with Celebrity, we got to go to a free wine tasting with one of the head somaliers, a cocktail party with the captain and officers, and sail away party on the helipad on the bow of the ship. We’ve had good luck booking our cruises with our favorite travel agent, although you can book with the cruiseline directly. You can book your next cruise while aboard ship. My parents are diamond members of Celebrity’s parent company, Royal Caribbean, and they did not think booking through the cruiseline directly was any less expensive. See my page about cruise tips and tricks for more information about how to save money on cruises.