Maureen Marriner sails on Celebrity Solstice.


Royal Caribbean, operated by Celebrity Cruises.

How big: 315m long, 37m beam, 19 decks, 14 of which are open to passengers.


How old: Built in 2008.

How many passengers: 2850.

Destination: From Auckland to Bay of Islands, Lautoka and Suva in Fiji, Apia in Samoa, Pago Pago in American Samoa and Va'vau and Nuku'Alofa in Tonga and back to Auckland.

Cabins: Vast majority are balcony cabins, the outdoors of which comfortably take a round table, big enough for a shared breakfast, or sunset bubbles and nibbles, and two wooden-armed chairs. Inside there is a wardrobe, drawers and storage nooks wherever it is possible to nook storage. The bathroom has a shower with curved, solid doors so no flapping curtain.

Food: Headed by the Grand Epernay dining room over two floors linked by a double-height wine wall, there are four complimentary eateries. Epernay has two sittings for dinner but also an eat-anytime option, which needs to be booked the previous day. Passengers in suites have their own restaurant, Luminae, and there is another restricted to passengers in AquaClass (they love the spa and have discounts there).

There are also four restaurants and a gelateria where there is an extra charge. Solstice has 14 bars where opening hours range from 6.30am to "late".

Entertainment: Along with trivia and tastings, musical shows and mixology classes to dance lessons and destination lectures, Solstice trumpets its live green lawn, trimmed in the early morning with a push mower, and its hot glass (blowing, not holding) classes.

Facilities: Deep two-tier theatre, three pools, one of which is in the three-deck-high solarium, four spa pools, two inside, two out, and a 13-deck centre atrium where banks of glass-walled lifts glide.


Plentiful deck space and apparently more deck chairs and recliners than passengers. The elegant library, open to the atrium on deck 10, has an oddly healthy supply of Scandinavian language books and the card room directly below rarely has an empty table. The spa, called the Canyon Ranch, has beauty and skin treatments, acupuncture, massages, sauna and steam and an aromatics room where it feels that blocked sinuses wouldn't stand a chance. The aft's well-equipped and spacious fitness centre with panoramic windows puts to shame the facilities on many other cruise lines.