Hello everybody! This is my first article for Hotspots Magazine and I’m very excited to give you my review of Atlantis’ most recent cruise aboard the brand new Celebrity Solstice. Hello everybody! This is my first article for Hotspots Magazine and I’m very excited to give you my review of Atlantis’ most recent cruise aboard the brand new Celebrity Solstice.
This was Atlantis’ first complete charter on the ship since its inauguration back in November 2008. This is one beautiful ship. It’s pretty much a five star hotel at sea. Celebrity spared no expense in making this ship the best in their fleet. From the Martini Bar to the restaurant to the theater to the lawn, they pulled out all the stops.
And yes, I said lawn. The Solstice is the first and only ship afloat that has a lawn on its upper deck, encompassing the back of deck fifteen. Now before you get the idea that you can run around on it and lay on it like a park, let me tell you how it actually works. They have had to replace the lawn three times already because of weather and people using it too much. There are times when you can’t walk on the lawn because it needs to rest. So basically the lawn is a showpiece that doesn’t get used all that often.
To make the most of it on our Atlantis cruise we enlisted the help of one of the best-loved drag queens, Miss Richfield 1981. Those of you who know Miss Richfield will appreciate that one of the TV channels onboard the ship was dedicated to a looped video of Miss R cutting the lawn with a small pair of scissors. This 15-minute loop was probably the most watched program of the week – and that included the crew! By the way, when an Atlantis or RSVP cruise takes over a ship, the ship’s crew loves it. In contrast to their normal guests, the gay guests just want to have fun. They say “hi,” “please” and “thank you” and we throw the best parties. So watching Miss R cut grass was a treat for them.
The ship sailed with 2,735 guests from all over the world. It’s nice to know that gay men put vacation high on their priority list in a recession. In fact, many people told me it was not only their “get away from winter vacation,” it was their “get away from recession vacation.”
The entertainment kicked off great with former American Idol contestant Kimberley Locke performing the first night to several standing ovations.
Our headliner was the iconic, legendary and incredibly sweet Chita Rivera. Her two shows brought the house down and each lasted over an hour because of the constant standing ovations. She is not only the best entertainer to have on board, but also the best guest – she went to everything! And I have to tell you, on a personal note, being dressed as Heidi Klum hosting Project runway and seeing Chita Rivera falling over laughing at you is a big compliment.
In addition to Kimberly, Chita and Miss Richfield, we also had Alec Mapa, Poppy Champlin, Jessica Kirson and Lindsey Alley as entertainers. We also welcomed, for the first time on an Atlantis cruise, comedians Daniel Leary and Shawn Pelofsky, The Boo font Sisters, and James Judd with his show, the Seven Deadly Sins. The Solstice’s singers and dancers performed three amazing and highly entertaining dance review shows, including a Cirque style show that measured up there with the Vegas shows.
The weather on this cruise was stunning – blue skies every day. If there was rain on the horizon the captain steered the ship to avoid it. My Project Runway pool game was a hit again this year, but I have to say I was quite happy teams actually made an effort this time.
The Mommie Dearest Obstacle Course was the highlight of pool games. One at a time, seven contestants had to go to six different “Stations of the Crawford” to perform a task. At one they had to chug a Pepsi then scream out “Don’t F@#K with me, fellas. It’s not my first time at the rodeo!” Then they had to run to the next station where they had to spank someone with a wire hanger while screaming out, “No more wire hangers, EVER!” The game was co-hosted by Joan Crawford herself, portrayed by Jamie Morris, whose show Mommie Queerest has played all over the country.
The parties this cruise were a hit as always, from the Dog Tag T-dance on day two to the White Party on day six. The collection of costumes was amazing. I think my favorites were the four guys in mini dresses made from Subway and McDonald gift cards. After the dance you could get a foot long and a coke for five bucks.
The pool deck had a water feature in the center that consisted of water shooting up at different heights at different times. Since it was located in prime sun deck space, the water feature was turned off most of the time so the boys could work on their tans. I had it on one day until 1 pm so I could keep the place cleared for pool games but the guys somehow bribed the staff to turn it off. It did go off in the middle of the Mardi Gras party by accident. Yes, an accident, it was on a timer. However most of the boys didn’t seem to mind or notice.
Another fun feature of the ship is the Martini Bar. Located on deck four, it’s a funky cool place decked out in white where part of the bar itself is refrigerated so when you put your glasses on it they stay cold. It also forms frost and after a while you could scrape off enough to make a snowball, or since this was a gay cruise, a snowman – and guests made several!
Our guests came from all over the world, and yes we include Canadians as being not from the US. In fact at the first tea dance almost all of the 251 Canadians arrived en masse wearing only red and white maple leaf bathing suits to the party. Needless to say it was quite a sight.
All in all I would have to say it was one of my favorite cruises. The ship was great, the staff awesome, and all the guests were happy and extremely grateful. Everyone had a great time and are still talking about!
This cruise was just the beginning. Come back to the pages of Hotspots Magazine to see what else I may be stirring up, whether it’s at sea or at ports of call all over the world!