When you take to the seas on a cruise, you usually think you’re leaving solid ground behind, but the Celebrity Solstice brings a whole new experience to its passengers. Aboard Celebrity Cruises’ 317m long ship is a half-acre lawn of living Agrostis stolonifera, or creeping bentgrass. The Celebrity Solstice is the first cruise ship ever to house live grass.
Nikolas Asproudas, the ship’s environmental officer told New Zealand’s 3 News, “It was a crazy idea to start with. 5 years now, they say that this lawn is the most walked lawn in the world.” It’s a badge of honor particularly because the lawn installed on the top deck of the Solstice has special challenges with growth at sea including “burns” from the salt water, which must be washed off immediately, and clearance checks by the biosecurity staff before the ship can dock.
The lawn is grown in silica sand rather than soil, which not only reduces weight helping the ship’s stability, but also complies with restrictions and helps control pests that may otherwise stay on the grass.
Nikolas sends Captain Yannis Berdos a weekly turf report on the status of the lawn. “We know that Australian and New Zealand authorities are very strict you know with the grass and of course they have to check before we come if everything’s ok,” said the Captain.
The lawn is a source of pride for Nikolas so when there are problems with it he said, “It brings me some sad feelings and, but I need to be strong because I know that this will recover within one week.” All of the crew’s hard work to maintain the “backyard” is appreciated by its many guests including some that say the Celebrity Solstice’s lawn is better than theirs at home. Two recent passengers aboard said, “We’re at drought at home so...It was brilliant!”
Though the option of walking barefoot through a grassy field on a moving cruise ship seems like the height of odd amenities, there are many other vessels that are trying to outdo one another with even more surprising guest options. The Queen Mary 2 in Cunard’s fleet boasts a full-scale planetarium with different shows each day in a space that can serve multiple functions as a cinema, a 500 seat lecture hall, or a broadcast studio.
The Norwegian Epic is home to the Svedka Ice Bar where guests wear winter coats, gloves and hats while they drink in a frosty room made of ice kept below 17 degrees Fahrenheit and outfitted with lights of varying color to simulate the northern lights. Kids aren’t left out either.
On Norwegian Cruise Line’s Nickelodeon cruises guests young and old can experience the network’s signature slime.
The cruise industry has dealt with many stories of bad customer experiences, but they seem determined to offer alluring amenities to get hesitant travelers aboard their lavish vessels.