On my AA flight to Fort Lauderdale, a teeny tiny screw came out of my glasses frame and a lens fell to the floor. I retrieved the lens, but no way could I find the screw on the carpet. As we were leaving, a man next to me said let this guy look. “This guy” was about 16, glanced down, and then bent over and picked the screw off the deck. I am serious when I tell you that I could hardly see the screw when it was in my hand, and I was using the eye that had a lense.

When I reached the Hilton, which is only 5 minutes from the airport and a lovely hotel, Ariel, at check in, kind of stared at this guy with one side of his glasses frame hanging open. After the usual, she said, “I think you might need this.” and gave me a coupon for the morning buffet. Hmmmm yes, biscuits and gravy and cheese grits. Neat to be in the south again.

As we approached Solstice, it was apparent that this wasn’t just any ship. Solstice holds 2850 passengers with 13 decks and 1426 staterooms. She’s over 3 1/3 football fields long and close to a half a football field wide. I know that those of you who call soccer football will be more impressed than most. Wherever she goes people will know she’s a Celebrity ship. There is a huge X on each side of the boat.

It’s difficult to give complete coverage of a ship when you are limited to two days aboard. Solstice has an amazing array of novel features, so let’s start with the most ground-breaking, ground being the operative word.

There is a bit over a half acre of grass on the “Lawn Club” deck. On real grass there is a three hole putting course,

plenty of room for lawn bowling,

and a great place to wriggle your toes.

One area answered my question of where my former gardener had found work.

My cabin is roomy,

but I do think the closets are too cramped. This ship will do up to 14 day sailings, and although there are plenty of drawers, stuffing all those hanging clothes into the allotted space may be a problem.

The bathroom has plenty of storage space, and is the first ship’s “head” where the mirror is close to your face. I could easily see what my razor was doing, and remember, that’s without the glasses.

OK, out of the cabin and to the elevator. It took me awhile to stop looking at the wall for the call button. I stopped when I bumped into the new-fangled button “edifice”.

When your lift arrives, a large panel over the elevator entrance brightly glows red for up or blue for down. There are six glass elevators center ship and the view is great.

There’s the library,

an entrance hall,

The Ocean View Cafe is what most ship’s call the Lido. The novelty here is that there are three or four kiosks with the same food offering.

That way no lines form. Food choices are plentiful, from Asian to Mexican to meat and potatoes.

Deserts are varied and tasty. The eating areas, besides standard chairs and tables have cushioned arm chairs and demi-couchs.

In fact the entire ship has unique lounging areas.

The main pool

offers all sorts of choices besides the standard lounge chair.

The main pool also has a water feature….the kids, when they can get away with it love it.

One of the new and brilliant features of the main pool area is they have a tiny boutique that among other things has a nice choice of books.

Next to the main pool is the enclosed spa pool, again with a water feature.

Late yesterday afternoon the naming of the ship ceremony took place in the Solstice Theater.

Bagpipers and Solstice musicians played for the entrance of Richard Fain, Godmother Sharon Smith (a biological oceanographer), the ship’s Captain and other dignitaries.

Next came the Star Spangled Banner.

This was entirely unlike any naming I’ve seen. Usually naming ceremonies are outdoors with a bottle of Champagne smashed against the bow of the ship. We had the bottle, we had the Godmother, and we had oohs and ahhs as the audience saw how all this was going to happen.

An acrobatic dancer was moved in the air along the edge of the balcony. When she reached the center she was handed a wide red ribbon.

She floated back and then descended to the stage where she passed the ribbon to the luminaries.

When Sharon cut the ribbon, it zoomed away to zip through the ship to the Champagne hanging over the lawn. When it got there it released the striker that went down a wire and shattered the bottle.

Lucky grass.

We had dinner in the Grand Epernay dining room.

One of the difficulties for a blogger is judging the food. I am a member of a press group, and in our honor, the chef made a special menu. The only choice is fish or meat, everything else is set. Thus, it’s not possible to judge the cuisine served when Solstice will enter regular service. Regrettably, last night’s meal was judged mediocre by all six of my tablemates. Two of them left before dessert and went for pizza.

While we were eating two guys came by. One had a large microphone. It turns out they were testing the acoustics of the big room. If it turns out to be too noisy they may put in thicker carpet, or change the ceiling sound absorption.

Solstice’s casino is large but not imposing. The ship’s architects were very careful to not to let passengers feel packed in.

This morning, now that we are a named and legal ship, we had our first lifeboat drill. Simple and fast, we gathered at muster stations; were told what to do in case, and no one had to tell us how to put on the jackets. We were lectured about throwing things over the side. “Never, ever throw anything over the side!!!” All I could think of was someone seeing a man overboard, grabbing a life preserver, and then remembering that never, ever could they throw anything over the side.

Solstice stores have a lovely facade.

The bars are themed with one being very futuristic; it’s Quasar.

I can’t imagine being perched in those seats after a couple of martinis.

after a couple of martinis.

Tonight, we’ll eat as a group at specialty restaurant Morano. I hope we’ll get the actual menu.

In conclusion, I can’t imagine anyone not enjoying this ship. Book a longer trip; you’ll then have plenty of time to discover all that Solstice has to offer. And after you come back, maybe you can tell me what this is.


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