Celebrity Solstice: cruise ship rated Australia's best gets $11 million makeover

Rated Australia's best cruise ship, Celebrity Solstice, has arrived in Sydney following a multimillion-dollar makeover, which includes new outdoor cinema and foodie experience and Australia's first Tiffany & Co. store at sea.

Celebrity Solstice was awarded the Best Cruise Ship – Domestic by Australian travel agents in 2015, and after an $11 million revitalisation, the 1041-foot (317-metre) ship looks to be in good stead to retain its top rating.

Boasting a Miami Beach vibe, from the lobby DJ dressed top to toe in shimmering black, to Ke$ha's and Jordan Sparks' chart-topping songs pumping through the sound system, this cruise ship is nothing like the old-school, rather stuffy sea experience we've come to imagine. There's definitely a US east coast flare and something quite luxe-hip about this ship, from its bars, to restaurants and the touch of subtle neo-lights, which oddly evokes the feeling of summer music festival and parties.

The ship's new features elevate this fun, luxe holiday vibe. Adam Armstrong, Celebrity Cruises Australia managing director, says the ship's new contemporary designs are focused on creating that "luxurious, modern travel" look and feel. Something Armstrong says, from the ship's new outdoor lawn area which houses the new club cabanas to the Opera House in the background, that distinguishes Celebrity Solstice from other cruise offerings in the market.

One of the ship's standout new features includes the new lawn club cabanas. The ship has added six new alcove-style cabanas with super comfy cushions to the lawn area on the top deck, which mirror the sails of the Opera House. The cabanas can be adjusted, so when you tire of the views out to sea, it can be rotated to face the outdoor movie screen. The most surprising bit of the new lawn on the top deck, is that it's actually made of "real grass". A rather exciting feature for a cruise ship where you can walk around, shoes off, and feel grass on your feet while at sea (there's also a real tree onboard).

See also: Why Celebrity Solstice was voted Australia's best cruise ship

The other is the addition of a new outdoor movie and foodie experience. Celebrity Solstice has capitalised on the foodie-traveller trend with its "A Taste of Film" offering, which pairs big-screen movies about culture, cooking or destinations with cuisine. To put simply, you watch a film and the food that is prepared or talked about in the film is then served to you by a butler. Combining the gastronomic and cinematic experience makes this a must-do thing for passengers. Even if you're not a foodie, you'll appreciate the innovative concept, and if you don't, the views from the top deck will definitely spoil you. Screening at the moment is The 100 Foot Journey, which stars Helen Mirren, and will be followed by Chef, starring Dustin Hoffman.

The foodie experience continues with the new speciality dinning option, Sushi on Five (level five) by sushi chef Yoshikazu "Yoshi" Okada; a practical name that will definitely help the 2850 or so passengers on board the 16-deck ship to easily find this restaurant. The menu will include hand-rolled sushi and Asian-inspired cocktails, Japanese beers and premium sakes.

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For the shoppers, the ship features the cruise line's first Tiffany & Co. store. The boutique store will offer exclusive designs to passengers at tax-free and duty-free prices.

The new additions are a perfect complement to the ship's existing highlights, including The Persian Garden in the Canyon Ranch Spa Club, which features a solarium pool surrounded by a green wall and waterfalls, two larger outdoor pools and four whirlpools, and stunning views from the Sky Observation Lounge, which turns into a club at night.

Celebrity Solstice is home-ported in Sydney till April 2017.

Fares start at $1529 for a balcony stateroom on a seven-night South Pacific Getaway cruise, departing from Sydney on April 13, 2017. The cruise will call at the pristine island of Lifou in the Loyalty Islands and vibrant Noumea in New Caledonia, before returning to Sydney. Guests who book before November 30 will enjoy savings of up to $400 per person, and up to $US300 onboard credit per stateroom, plus Oceanview bookings receive a free Classic Beverage Package, as part of Celebrity's Global Cruise Sale. For more information, see celebritycruises.com.au

See also: Best cruise destinations in 2016

See also: 20 best cruise trips for first-timers

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