The MAJOR difference is whatthey have done with the lawn. On the original Solstice it was just a lawn - but they had no idea wht to do with it - it was just there.
I remember on the first cruise they announced "Bocce ball on the lawn" and we all showed up, and someone had rto show us the rules, etc. and so four people volunteered too play and they did for about 10 minutes. Then it was like... "so,,, that's Bocce ball."
Then it was "now what do you want to do" - so they had the lawn but really no purpose for it. Now they have the lawn, which is lovely, but they have ringed it things to do - so it isnt just a lawn anymore, it is a "space" with activities all around it.
It is hard to say how it will work in the tropics - or in bad weather (like we are in today in the North Sea) - in the tropics the spaces are nice but it seems like you need water to cool off - and there isn't any. The Alcoves are inviting, but also costly and it kind of seems like you might get a little tired of them unless the weather is perfect.
The restaurants up there do look good - we are dining at the Lawn Grill tonight. But once again the weather has to be ideal because it is outside. All in all - I hate to sound critical but sometimes you see an idea where you think "hmm, they certainly make it sound attractive but would I personally feel compelled to do it?" and at that point I wonder.
If I had three kids to entertain, I might rent an alcove for the day ($149 sea day plus expenses in you want food/drinks delivered, etc) but otherwise why wouldn't I just sit by the pool?
Still these are stunningly beautiful ships, and always will be. I just think the "lawn" needed water to be something truly special.