A Tale of Two Premium Ships
The new Celebrity Solstice will feature a Cellar Masters area, shown in the rendering above. Here you may select wines by the glass or bottle or take a Riedel Crystal wine tasting class.*
By Anne Kalosh
Among the most anticipated ships of 2008 are the first in new classes for Holland America Line and Celebrity Cruises.
Both Eurodam (its funnels are shown at right*) and Celebrity Solstice will sail from Greater Fort Lauderdale’s Port Everglades next winter on seven-day eastern Caribbean itineraries.
The two lines promote themselves as “premium” -- with upscale amenities, extra space, personalized service and other refinements. But it’s intriguing that their approaches are strikingly different.
When it comes to size, Celebrity is taking a big step up, while Holland America is going only modestly larger.
Solstice’s overall concept emphasizes stylishness, while Eurodam is more classic.
Here’s a comparison of some key elements of 2008’s new premium pair:
Overall Concept and Style
It’s no surprise that Celebrity is aiming for a dramatic splash. It will have been six years since the line introduced a new build (Constellation, in 2002), so Solstice (shown below in an artist's rendering*) will sport numerous new concepts.
Standard rooms will be larger than on earlier Celebrity ships, with a higher percentage of verandas.
A new AquaClass of accommodations will come with AquaSpa privileges.
Celebrity fans will also see some familiar public spaces such as The Martini Bar (albeit with a twist).
A number of international architecture firms are contributing to the 15-deck Solstice, resulting in varied designs – from the space-age style of the Quasar nightclub to the yacht-like ambience of the Passport Bar.
Among the firms are RTKL Associates, whose landside work includes Miami’s Mandarin Oriental; New York-based BG Studio International, which created the Murano specialty restaurant on Celebrity’s Century; and 5+Design of Hollywood and Hong Kong (some of the 5+ designers are shown at left*), with a portfolio of Arabian skyscrapers, Macau casinos and mixed-use developments.
With Solstice, expect an overall look that’s sleek, imaginative, stylish -- perhaps even trendy.
In contrast, Holland America’s Eurodam closely follows 2006’s Noordam so the design is evolutionary.
Shown above, Eurodam is currently still under construction in a European shipyard.*
Past passengers will feel instantly at home on Eurodam – yet there are a few changes.
For example, an additional deck (11 in total), makes room for a new class of sky-high accommodations and a new Pan-Asian specialty restaurant.
With two principal design firms working on Eurodam’s public rooms, the ship will likely have a cohesive appearance and, as always with Holland America, plenty of art and antiques.
The line’s long-time architect, Frans Dingemans of VFD Interiors in the Netherlands, is selecting most of the artwork, taking inspiration from the Dutch Golden Age.
Dingemans is sharing the public space designs with Norwegian firm Yran & Storbraaten. Best known for luxury ships, Y&S has already made its mark with Holland America by inventing some new spaces on existing vessels.
With Eurodam, expect an elegant, consistent, traditional look with a strong European flavor.
Size and Spaciousness
Until now, Celebrity’s largest vessels have measured in the 91,000-ton range. With the 122,000-ton Solstice, the company is leaping into the post-Panamax realm.
At 1,033 feet in length and 121 feet at the beam, the new ship is too large to fit through the Panama Canal.
Solstice will outsize what will be Carnival Cruise Lines’ largest ship, the 113,300-ton Carnival Splendor (also debuting in 2008).
Holland America is staying in the Panamax realm. Eurodam’s size gently moved up to 86,700 tons from the 82,500 tons of its recent ships.
The new vessel (its hull and bulbous shown at right*) stretches 935 feet, with a beam of nearly 106 feet.
It’s a bit shorter than HAL's Vista-class ships, but, as mentioned earlier, it sports an extra deck. So it's taller than earlier Holland America liners.
Eurodam’s ability to transit the Panama Canal makes it more versatile from an itinerary standpoint than Solstice.
The Holland America new build has 1,052 staterooms for a double-occupancy passenger count of 2,104, or 2,671 passengers at full capacity (with all third and fourth berths filled).
Solstice has 1,425 staterooms, for a double-occupancy count of 2,850, or an estimated 3,521 passengers at full capacity (with third, fourth and fifth berths filled); Celebrity says its total berth count has not been finalized, though.
From a spaciousness perspective, the two ships are almost equally matched. At double occupancy, the space ratios are 42 percent for Solstice and 41 percent for Eurodam.
At full capacity, Solstice’s space ratio slips to 34 percent and Eurodam’s to 32 percent.
Both vessels present an array of bars and lounges, expanded spas and facilities for children and teens.
Solstice is rolling out attractions and gathering spots not seen on previous Celebrity ships. Cellar Masters, for example, will pour wines by the glass or bottle and host classes like the Riedel crystal wine tasting.
And in a seagoing first, a top-deck glass-blowing studio in conjunction with New York's Corning Museum of Glass will provide demonstrations and narrated performances by three resident "gaffers" -- skilled glass-blowing artists.
With its floor-to-ceiling windows, the Sky Observation Lounge (shown above) on the top of the ship will change appearance depending on the evening’s theme, from wild red for tango nights to midnight blue for ballroom dance.
Quasar, or “Q,” is a a nightclub themed on the mod, futuristic designs of the 1960s and 1970s with cocoon-shaped acrylic chairs suspended from the ceiling. Large LED screens will emit light shows synchronized to the music.
Other new lounges are the yacht-like Passport Bar on the Grand Foyer’s ground level and, for cocktails with instrumental and vocal entertainment, the cosmopolitan Ensemble Lounge.
At Galleria Tastings (a rendering is shown at right*), passengers can take a break from shopping to sample a variety of foods and beverages.
New twists on signature Celebrity lounges include The Martini Bar & Crush (shown below*).
Solstice's version features a frosted bar with more than 100 varieties of vodkas and an alcove (Crush) with an ice-filled table where patrons can take part in caviar and vodka tastings or host a private event.
As on earlier ships, Michael’s Club is the place for sipping single malt scotch or cognac with a backdrop of piano and jazz music. The Solstice version will be furnished with English leather club chairs and a grand marble fireplace.
The enlarged AquaSpa includes an adults-only Solarium with an indoor lap pool, whirlpools and waterfalls. The spa’s Persian Garden holds scented steam rooms and other thermal treatments. There’s also an acupuncture salon.
Fortunes Casino will be the largest in the fleet with 16 gaming tables and 200 machines.
Children and teens get their own top-of-the-ship hangouts, with the colorful Fun Factory for kids ages 3-12, and X-Club with a dance floor and coffee bar for teens.
Eurodam’s many familiar lounges and bars are punctuated by a handful of new places. As always, the Crow’s Nest observation lounge/dance club will be located high up and forward.
It's also the new setting for the Explorations Café (shown at right on a different HAL ship*), the line’s signature coffee lounge for Web surfing and music listening stations.
Another change is a dramatically expanded shopping area with more luxury-brand collections. Featured is Merabella, a high-end jewelry boutique with exclusive collections.
A Culinary Arts Center for cooking demonstrations, an Explorers Lounge, piano bar, sports bar, nightclub, casino and spaces for children (Club HAL) and teens (The Loft) are other customary features. The show lounge will rise to a height of three decks.
The Greenhouse Spa has a thermal salon and hydropool, and the ocean-view fitness center is 25 percent larger than on earlier Holland America ships with more exercise equipment and space for yoga, Pilates and spinning classes.
Spa provider Steiner Leisure will operate both the Eurodam's Greenhouse Spa and Solstice’s AquaSpa.
In addition to a two-story main restaurant and a casual Lido Restaurant, Eurodam will offer three alternative dining venues.
The new pan-Asian restaurant, Tamarind, is perched high on Deck 11 beside the Silk Den Bar. (You can see the location of this new Asian venue at left.*)
In addition, a new Italian-themed dinner spot, Caneletto’s, nestles in a section of the Lido Restaurant. It boasts intimate seating for 66.
Pinnacle Grill, Holland America’s hallmark for Pacific Northwest cuisine, is also aboard Eurodam, in a new Deck 2 location flanking the atrium.
One seafood appetizer typically available at Pinnacle Grill is shown at left.*
Turning to Solstice, only thing Celebrity will reveal about dining (thus far) is that AquaClass customers will have access to a private restaurant, Blu.
An artist's rendering of Blu is shown at right.*
Menus are being developed by Celebrity’s culinary consultant, Blau & Associates.
That group is known for eateries at high-end hotels such as Las Vegas’ Bellagio and Miami’s Setai.
Staterooms and Suites
An artist's rendering of an AquaSpa veranda stateroom on Celebrity Solstice is shown above. The Stateroom features neutral tones, premium bedding and clean architectural lines.*
Remarkable for both large ships are the high percentage of veranda staterooms.
- Solstice has 90% oceanview rooms and 85% of the total accommodations have verandas.
- Eurodam has 87% oceanview staterooms and 69% of total accommodations have verandas.
Both Celebrity and Holland America put extra effort into designing their accommodations.
For Celebrity, that meant assembling a focus group of five Baby Boomer women whose opinions were solicited by a consulting firm over four months.
Holland America tapped a new design group (also female-led) to update its style. Members of that design team are shown at left.*
For the first time on any Holland America ship, some staterooms are on the top decks.
Deck 11, off the Crow’s Nest, holds 10 veranda rooms.
Deck 10 has 28 veranda accommodations and four, forward-facing “panorama” rooms.
Eurodam staterooms start at 154 square feet for standard insides.
Veranda categories start at 249 square feet, including the balcony.
Top-of-the-line penthouse veranda suites are 1,318 square feet.
One of Eurodam's inside cabins is pictured above, while one of its suites is pictured at left.*
Guests in deluxe veranda suites and penthouse veranda suites may access the Neptune Lounge. It boasts a 24-hour concierge services and other perks.
Solstice's inside staterooms start at 183 square feet, ocean-view rooms at 176 square feet and veranda staterooms at 244 square feet (192 square feet plus a 52-square-foot balcony).
Suites on Solstice range from 300 square feet to 1,291 square feet with verandas of 77 square feet to 385 square feet.
One suite's living area is depicted at right.*
As with earlier ships, Solstice offers ConciergeClass accommodations with extra services and amenities.
New on Solstice are the AquaClass rooms that provide access to AquaSpa facilities and a speciality restaurant.
When it came to rethinking Holland America’s accommodations, Nancy Burfiend, principal designer and founder of NB Design Group, explains the intent was to transform each Eurodam stateroom and suite into a calming oasis for relaxation and rejuvenation.
One good example is the Eurodam veranda cabin is shown at left.*
Eurodam's deluxe veranda suites feature rich walnut furniture, charcoal gray seating, crisp white draperies and a patterned gray tip sheared carpet. Accents of orange and powder blue add dimension and interest.
Inside staterooms have blond, maple-toned furniture to create a lighter environment, with the recessed area behind the beds painted sky-blue and covered by sheer curtains to create the sense of a window.
All Eurodam accommodations include plush-top mattresses, waffle/terry cloth robes, Egyptian cotton towels, flat-panel televisions, DVD players, make-up mirrors with halo lighting, massage shower heads, professional grade hair dryers, fresh flowers and fruit baskets.
As a result of its Boomer focus group’s recommendations, Celebrity is designing Solstice staterooms with a more efficient floor plan, “smarter” storage, double doors between adjoining rooms, more spacious bathrooms and a neutral, sophisticated color scheme. All rooms will have flat-screen TVs and plush European bedding.
Fog-free bathroom mirrors, jetted bodywash showers, a pillow menu and aroma scent selections will be among the extra amenities in the 130 AquaClass staterooms.
Itineraries and Fares
Eurodam will enter service in Europe in July 2008 then sail New England/Canada cruises in the autumn before migrating south. Port Everglades-based itineraries begin in October 2008.
Sailing on Saturdays during that winter season, Eurodam will operate two, slightly different Caribbean routes.
One itinerary includes Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos (cruise pier shops are shown in the photo at left*); San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; and Half Moon Cay, the line's private isle in the Bahamas.
The other route substitutes Tortola, British Virgin Islands, for San Juan.
Per person, double occupancy fares start at $649 for an inside stateroom, $799 for an outside stateroom and $999 for a veranda stateroom. The top penthouse veranda suites are $4,799 per person double.
The maiden voyage of Celebrity Solstice is set for Dec. 14, 2008. The ship will sail Sundays from Port Everglades.
One route visits San Juan, St. Kitts and St. Maarten (shown at right*). The other calls at San Juan, St. Maarten, Tortola and Labadee, the line's private island experience in Haiti.
Per person, double occupancy fares for the three-port itinerary start at $879 for an inside room, $1,079 for an ocean-view room and $1,329 for ConciergeClass.
Four-port itinerary prices start at $899, $1,099 and $1,349 respectively.
Which new “premium” ship of 2008 is better? That depends on your taste.
Though they’re quite different in style and size, Holland America's Eurodam and Celebrity's Solstice also have common elements – better designed accommodations, lots of verandas, fresh specialty restaurants, larger spas and an array of lounges.
Why not try both?
For More Information
Holland America Line:
Anne Kalosh is a Miami-based journalist who has been covering the cruise industry for national and international publications for 25 years. She is the U.S. editor for Seatrade Cruise Review and Seatrade Insider. Kalosh got hooked on cruising when, fresh out of college, she signed on with Royal Viking Line as a shipboard newspaper editor sailing the world.
*Photos of Celebrity Cruises and Holland America Line are owned, copyrighted and used with permission of those lines. All rights reserved. Please do not link to nor copy these photos. Thank you