This morning started with my daughter and I getting up at 6:00 am, when the ship was passing by the Rock of Gibraltar. We had hoped that it would daylight at that time of day, but it was still dark so the view was not any different than what we saw last year when we passed by at 10:00 pm. So it was back to bed for a few hours.
The first event that I attended was the Cruise Critic gathering. Cruise Critic is one of the oldest most established cruising websites on the internet with hundreds of thousands of members. Celebrity always hosts a gathering for their members aboard its ships which is usually about 100 people or fewer, but on this cruise there were over 250 people at the gathering. It made it a little difficult to meet others from the message board, but still I did meet some nice people.
The next event was one of the best events weâ€™ve attended here on the Solstice, the Corning Museum of Glass Hot Glass show. This was a special â€œYou Design Itâ€ show for the kids in the youth program. The kids had come with drawings they had made of their own glass piece. Our daughter had drawn a detailed electric guitar and she was thrilled when the glass artist, called a gaffer, chose her design to create in glass. The gaffer, Brenna, choose the guitar because she had never done one before and she liked the challenge. During the show the narrator, also a gaffer, explained how the Hot Glass show had come to be on a Celebrity ship. The Corning Museum of Glass has a Hot Glass Road Show where they have set of ovens and glass blowing equipment on a semi truck that they can take across the country to perform shows. Richard Fain, president of Celebrity saw the show at the Salt Lake Olympics and knew that this was something that he wanted to bring aboard for Celebrity guests. It took them two years to design an all electric oven system in preparation to put the show on the Solstice. The narrator commented â€œIt sure beats another rock climbing wall.â€, and the audience all nodded in agreement. It took about 35 to 40 minutes to create the glass guitar and then they place it in a special computerized cooling oven that will slowly cool the piece so that it doesnâ€™t crack. The best part is that my daughter will get to take it home for free. Now we just have to figure how to get it back to Arizona in one piece.
My daughter and I enjoyed a nice sit down lunch in the Gran Epernay dining room while the boys grabbed a nice lunch in the buffet area. The service was good but not as outstanding as the dinner service has been. There was one lady at the table who had special dietary needs, and that may have led to slight confusion in other areas as well as her own order. The food however was excellent with a nice selection of soups, salads, and entrees. I had Orichetta pasta with seafood, and my daughter had a very juicy burger and fries. It was our first chance to dine with other guests whom all happened to have interest in dancing. We had great conversation.
We were also able to enjoy dinner with a fellow guest by chance last night. The youth staff had invited my daughter to join them for dinner in the buffet area, and so we had an extra seat available at our dining room table. We met a passenger/vendor representative in the Cellar Master bar. He is the representative of one of the suppliers of wine for the cruise ship and is on board to assist in some of the wine tasting events. He was not formally assigned a table and so we asked him to join us for dinner tonight. We really enjoyed talking to Larry, who was well travelled and well informed on wines. He brought along a great bottle of Luis Jadot French burgundy. We enjoyed talking with him about a variety of subjects from what there is to do in Madeira tomorrow, to raising kids and sending them off to college.
After dinner we stopped by the Sky Bar hoping to catch a bit of country music from the Headlines Band during their Country Western Night. However when we arrived the cruise director was in the middle of teaching a country line dance class, so the music was only sporadic. We enjoyed a few songs and then headed off to bed for the night.
In talking with the crew today we learned that this cruise is actually Celebrity Solsticeâ€™s first Trans Atlantic cruise with real passengers. Last year it crossed the but only with crew and a few special guest. This is the first official â€œcruiseâ€ crossing.
Tomorrow our return visit to Funchal, Madeira.