by Don Church and Tony Schillaci 1 February 2011
By Don Church & Tony Schillaci
When something is exceptionally well-designed and made from the finest materials – an Armani suit, a Valentino dress, or Louis Vuitton luggage – it’s truly a work of art.
In the world of cruise ships, Celebrity Cruise Lines, selected by Conde Nast as the world’s top-rated premium brand, has achieved design and comfort dominance with its Solstice-class ships. These magnificent floating resort hotels are in a class by themselves on the seas.
Known as the ‘Xceptional’ series’ – the ‘X’ referring to the logo on the ships’ funnels, three Solstice ships are currently in operation – the Solstice, Equinox, and Eclipse, with two more to be launched: the Silhouette in July, 2011 and the Reflection in November, 2012.
Last January Celebrity Cruises marked its 20th anniversary at the Manhattan Museum of Arts and Design with its ‘Designed for You’ presentation. Dan Hanrahan, President and CEO of the line, spoke of the Solstice “firsts,” including The Lawn Club, complete with real growing grass that is trimmed daily; The Hot Glass Show, a glass blowing demonstration by Corning; the AquaClass Spa and suites and BLU restaurant; the industry’s first application of solar technology; stylish staterooms whose designs were influenced by a panel of travel-savvy women; and public spaces adorned in rich color palettes and energizing natural light.
We’ve luckily sailed on both Equinox and Eclipse, each with 2800 passengers and 1200 in crew. Gay men and lesbians are treated with the same enthusiastic attention and service as everyone else aboard. There is always a ‘Friends of Dorothy’ (LGBT) get together in Michael’s Club.
We have never felt overwhelmed by the size of Solstice ships, a happy surprise that’s the result of brilliant 21st-century marine architecture and interior design. You can’t stand in any corridor and see from one end of the ship to the other because passageways bend and curve through a series of distinctive “neighborhoods” and quiet reflective spaces, including the magnificaent multi-story library and the Celebrity iLounge.