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Celebrity Cruises: Silhouette

Fodorite Reviews

Average Rating
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Oct 13, 2016

Mediterranean

Celebrity Silhouette September 24-October 8, 2016 15Day/14-Night Mediterranean Cruise Concierge Class Review by Lan Sluder Overview: Our two-week Mediterranean cruise on the Celebrity Silhouette from Rome generally was another good experience for us with Celebrity, although there were a few glitches and weak spots. About Us: We are a couple over 60 from Asheville, North Carolina. I am a former newspaper editor and currently

am a writer who has authored more than 20 books on travel, retirement and other subjects. My wife is an attorney. We are occasional cruisers, having been on a total of seven or eight cruises over the years. This is my third Celebrity cruise, my wife's second. We also have been on Royal Caribbean, Silver Sea, Norwegian and other lines. Itinerary: Rome (Civitavecchia); Naples; 2 sea days; Tel Aviv/Jerusalem (Ashdod), Israel for 2 nights; Haifa, Israel; sea day; Santorini, Greece; Ephesus (Kusadasi), Turkey; Athens (Piraeus), Greece; sea day; Malta; sea day; Rome (Civitavecchia). The Ship: Silhouette is a Solstice-class ship, the fourth of five ships in this class delivered to Celebrity. It made its maiden voyage in late 2011.The Silhouette is 1,047 feet in length (about one-fifth of a mile) and can carry almost 2,900 passengers with a crew of 1,500. The captain and many senior officers are Greek, and the crew serving passengers is predominantly from Eastern Europe, South Asia, Southeast Asia and South America. The ship is due to be dry-docked later this year for refurbishment. While Celebrity maintains all its ships extraordinarily well, and the Silhouette still looks good, it no longer has that "new ship" feel. If you look closely, you may see a little wear and tear around the edges, mostly in small things such as tiny holes in cabin curtains, thin, worn towels or perhaps a chair that had held a lot of behinds. Getting to and from the Port: This cruise is billed as departing and arriving from Rome. However, Rome's seaport is Civitavecchia, a town of little visitor interest about 50 miles northwest of Rome. From Rome to Civitavecchia is about 1½ to 2 hours by road, depending on traffic. Celebrity provides transfers to and from Rome to Civitavecchia at a cost of US$75 per person each way. We spent three nights in Rome before the cruise at the Rome Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria (excellent!) and so took a taxi on our own from the hotel to the port. The taxi fare was 155 euros, so we didn't save any money, and as the taxi driver turned out not to be very familiar with the port we were dropped at the wrong place and had to take two shuttles (free) to the ship. On our return we used Celebrity's shuttle service, a comfortable 40-seat bus with a helpful Celebrity staffer acting as a guide. We were staying additional days in Rome after the cruise at the Hotel Indigo Rome-St. George (also excellent, with a great location), so we got off the bus at the Roma Ostiense train station where our Celebrity guide got a taxi for us. I recommend using the Celebrity service for transfers. Embarkation and Disembarkation: Except for the goof in being dropped at the wrong place by our taxi driver, embarkation was fairly quick and easy. At a little after noon, there was a short line, but it took only a few minutes to leave our luggage and board the ship, where the Oceanview Cafe was serving lunch. Two weeks later, disembarkation was also easy and painless. The only negative was that all passengers had to be out of their cabins early, by 7 am. We joined other Concierge class passengers waiting in the Tuscan Grill (coffee and pastries were available) until a little after 9 am, when we moved quickly to the waiting bus. We were among the last passengers off the ship, as we did not have a same-day flight out of Rome. Overall, embarkation/disembarkation on this cruise was a breeze, compared to our last Celebrity cruise from West Palm Beach, where there were huge crowds coming and going. Our Cabin: We were in cabin 1025 on Deck 10, Sky Deck. This Concierge-level cabin is far forward and perhaps 150 feet from the forward elevators. This would not be our top choice for Concierge class accommodations "“ we like being closer to the elevators and more amidships "“ but it was what was available at our price point and was fine. Our cabin was pretty much a standard Solstice-class room, with veranda, a queen bed (next to the veranda, a configuration we prefer), sofa and small bathroom with a shower, no tub. There was plenty of closet space and storage. The cabin was in very good condition, although it has seen a lot of guests since the Silhouette was launched in 2011. We were not always completely happy with our room steward. It was mostly small things, such as failing to bring our laundry back in a timely way, forgetting to serve us canapés or sparkling wine as requested or accidentally leaving our door open. At one point, our regular steward was replaced by someone else, so there may have been something going on with this particular person. It was no big deal, but it was a contrast to the excellent room stewards we have almost always had on previous cruises. Passenger Profile: Anecdotally, I'd say the typical passenger on this two-week cruise was early 60s in age, retired, moderately affluent and an experienced cruiser who has been on Celebrity ships before. Some outliers were in their 30s and 40s, and a few in their 20s. There were a small number of families traveling with children. Probably a little more than one-half of the passengers were from the U.S., with lots of Brits and people from Western Europe, some from Canada and Australia, and a mix of others including Chinese, Indians and South Americans. Weather: September-October is an ideal time for a Mediterranean cruise. You miss the hot summer weather and cold or rainy winter weather. All of our sea days and shore stops had excellent weather. It was sunny, with no rain except one or two brief showers, and daytime temps were generally in the low 70s F/22-23 C. Dining: We had most of our dinners in the main dining room, Grand Cuve. On this cruise we chose not to spring for the specialty dining. We ate at most of the same specialty restaurants on a previous cruise on the Equinox, and while the restaurants offer a nice change of pace, especially on longer cruises, but we did not find them exceptional. Other passengers said they especially liked the Tuscan Grill, but I don't like to pay extra for the restaurant and then have to pay another surcharge to order a steak. For that money, I could eat a great steak at Ruth's Chris! We found the food at Grand Cuve good but not excellent. We always enjoy the classics such as escargot, Caesar salad and creme brûlée. However, some other dishes were disappointing. That especially goes for the beef, except for the prime rib, which was delicious and perfectly prepared -- I had it on two nights. Dining room service, as expected on Celebrity, was superb. We had "Celebrity Select" dining, which means you can come to the main restaurant at any time from 5:45 to 9:30. On two or three nights, we had to wait 10 or 15 minutes (the maitre d' gives you a pager), but that was no problem. We usually had a light lunch at the Oceanview Cafe and on a number of mornings had breakfast there. This venue was often quite busy, but the food was plentiful and pretty good at lunch and at breakfast. We ate dinner there one night, and it was a dismal, depressing experience. On our last Celebrity cruise a couple of years ago, to Central and northern South America, we enjoyed having breakfast on the veranda of our cabin. On this trip, though, room service breakfasts were hit and miss. On several days, our orders were totally mixed up (a telephone discussion with a room service manager fixed this issue). Sometimes the food wasn't as hot as it should be. In every case the breakfast pastries and breads were of poor quality. The Silhouette needs to improve its pastry department. Someone needs to tell the pastry chef that croissants are supposed to be flaky! I finally decided on the Cafe al Bacio for my breakfasts. I usually had cappuccino or caffè latte -- specialty coffees here were around US$5 but they were included in our beverage package -- and a donut. The ship served Lavazza coffee exclusively. Lavazza is a large Italian coffee company. It's not bad, but it doesn't match the coffees you get at specialty coffee shops in the U.S. or Europe. I'd like to see Celebrity raise the bar on its coffee service. On several days I enjoyed an afternoon cheeseburger, fries and a Peroni Nastro Azzurro at the Mast Grill near the outdoor pool. Killer fries! Bars: We got the Classic beverage package when we booked with "Pick Two" (our other pick was included gratuities, though we tipped our room steward, maitre d' and bartenders a little extra) and upgraded to the Premium beverage package. This is a small extravagance, and, yes, it does encourage you to drink more, but it's nice to be able to get almost any cocktail without paying extra or being told you can't get the martini you want. Celebrity's policy on this seems to vary. At some bars we saw other passengers without a Premium package being told they could pay the difference for the upgraded cocktail, but at other bars Classic beverage package guests couldn't get any specialty drink without paying the full US$13 or whatever the price. With the Premium package, you get all the Classic package brands plus premium brands such as Grey Goose vodka, Bombay Sapphire gin and Johnny Walker Black Scotch. The premium package also gets you unlimited soft drinks, water and specialty coffees (but only one at a time). It covers most wines by the glass. There are a few super premium liquors and expensive wines that aren't included with the Premium package. It does get to be a nuisance to have to show your card every time you want to order a drink. On a Silver Sea Alaska cruise last summer, we enjoyed having drinks without having to show a card or sign a chit. I predict that eventually lines like Celebrity will go to an all-inclusive system for drinks. My favorite bar remains the Martini Bar, or Ice Bar as I always call it, on Deck 4 near the Grand Cuve. The bartenders are friendly, the drinks are strong, and I enjoy the ice shelf around the bar and watching the bartenders juggle bottles and drinks. On the other hand, my wife loved the World Class Bar, which replaced the Molecular Bar on Deck 5. The bartenders at the World Class Bar (that's a terrible name for it, by the way) are skilled, and the drinks are interesting and creative. I also enjoyed the Passport Bar on Deck 3, near the service desks. It was always quiet and a good place to sip a G&T and read a book. The Sky Bar, far forward on Deck 14, ought to be a good concept, with views of the sea over the bow of the ship, but it didn't cut it for me. It was often closed for private functions and when it opened in the evening it was too dark to see the sea. Shore Excursions: We used Celebrity's shore excursions in Naples, Tel Aviv/Jerusalem, Ephesus, Santorini and Athens. We did Valletta, Malta, on our own and did not get off the ship at Haifa, Israel, as we were tired out by long, strenuous excursions on two previous days. Celebrity's contract tour company guides were all very good "“ friendly, knowledgeable and professional. However, all of the tours suffered from the usual disadvantages of many cruise tours "“ they try to pack in too much in too brief a time, and they often require you to spend time at their "preferred" shops. Enough, already! When are cruise lines going to realize that many passengers don't want to shop for jewelry or Turkish carpets?! Our favorite ship's excursions were probably a 5½-hour tour of Jaffa and Tel Aviv ($116 per person) and a 10-hour tour of Jerusalem and Bethlehem ($130 per person). The ship's excursion we liked least was a four-hour tour of Athens and Plaka ($60 per person). If we go on another Celebrity cruise, which we probably will, especially if Celebrity introduces a new ship or two, we'll do fewer Celebrity excursions and do more on our own. Entertainment: We went to a few shows in the Silhouette theater. I don't expect much from cruise ship entertainment, and my expectations were met on Silhouette. Internet: I bought the Accelerate internet package for one person (around US$250 after discounts, as I recall), which permits unlimited internet usage via satellite for any number of devices (laptop, smartphone, tablet, etc.) but only one at a time. I was pleased with this package. Speed was fast enough to stream Netflix. Cruise Cost: We paid slightly over US$4,000 for the Concierge class sailing for the two of us. This included a Classic beverage package and shipboard gratuities for each of us. With upgrade to Premium beverage packages, internet service, shore excursions, laundry, additional tips and miscellaneous, our total cost for the 14-night/15-day cruise was about US$5,800. That doesn't include airfare from Charlotte, NC, to Rome (we used American Airlines frequent flier miles to book business class air) or hotels in Rome and London before and after the cruise (four of the six nights were booked with Hilton and IHG frequent stayer miles). Hits and Misses: Here is what we liked about this Celebrity cruise and what didn't quite meet our expectations. HITS: Value: We feel this 14-night cruise offered excellent value for our money. The Concierge level cruise cost about $430 a night total for the two of us, including everything from food to booze to laundry to tours to tips. We'd pay that much or more just for a four-star hotel room in a major European city. Celebrity Staffers: Celebrity does a great job with its employee training. Virtually every Celebrity officer, crewmember or hospitality employee we encountered had a smile, a friendly greeting and tried to be helpful. Ports: This cruise offered a good mix of ports. Our favorite stops were Ashdod for Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and Santorini, Greece. Bars: We loved the World Class Bar and Martini Bar. Yahoo! MISSES: Dining: Dining on Silhouette was fine. It just wasn't exceptional. Perhaps if we had opted for the specialty restaurants for four or five nights we would have had a better overall experience. In-Room Breakfasts: We love having breakfast on the verandah in our cabin. Unfortunately, Celebrity fell short on this cruise, with mixed-up orders, occasionally cold eggs and poor pastries. Entertainment: Mediocre at best. The "mentalist" was awful. Would We Cruise Celebrity Again? Yes. After this cruise, we'll be Captain's Club Select, which offers a few extra benefits. However, before booking Celebrity again we'll probably want to explore cruises with super premium lines that we haven't tried yet such as Regent Seven Seas and Azamara (Azamara is part of the Royal Caribbean/Celebrity family of cruise lines). We also likely will wait until Celebrity introduces the new "Edge class" ships, which are positioned as offering small ship itineraries with large ship amenities.

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By SENR_CR

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Apr 29, 2016

Transatlantic

This 13 Day transatlantic cruise on the Celebrity Silhouette from Ft Lauderdale FL to Southampton England exceeded expectations. With 17 cruises taken including transatlantic crossings my husband and I decided to try our first Celebrity cruise. Our primary cruise line is Norwegian and we have also sailed Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Holland America and Princess.The itinerary began with 9 days at sea before the first of 4 ports, Lisbon Portugal, Vigo

Spain, LeHarve France and Southampton. This was an excellent cruise that started with the ship itself. The pictures on the Celebrity site give an idea but experiencing sailing on the Silhouette was more than the pictures could depict. Especially attractive are the Sky Lounge and the library. Also the casino, which is located across from the main shopping, is totally non-smoking. Overall this was a very nice cruise with excellent service by all of the staff and crew, beautiful accomodations and an interesting itinerary. The food in the main dining rooms was good and comparable to other cruise lines including a fixed nightly menu and a menu of selections that changed every week. Sample menus are available on the website. We noticed the portions were smaller than on some other cruises we have taken which we thought was a plus because you could always order more and the waste was less. There was also a separate vegetarian menu that was provided on request that featured mainly Indian and Asian selections. The food in the Oceanview Cafe buffet was also good and featured a variety of cultural offerings including Mexican, Asian, Indian, and British in addition to the usual buffet menu selections. The service in the main dining room and the cafe was very good with attentive servers who were professional and personable. Celebrity eliminated formal nights that were replaced with "cruise chic" 3 nights on this cruise and only a few passengers were formally dressed. We prefer non-scheduled dining and Celebrity did an excellent job with their select dining format. Our evening dining time preference is between 5:00 PM and 5:30 PM and it was very convenient from the first evening. We were able to be seated immediately and were shown to our preferred table by the window without having to request each night. Other cruise lines have not perfected the anytime dining format and we have experienced waiting in line for 30 minutes to get a table. Our veranda (balcony) stateroom was very nice and well maintained and was larger than comparable balcony staterooms on some other ships. The furnishings were not new but were in good condition and even the balcony furnishings were of good quality. The entire ship was very attractive, modern and well maintained. Excellent marks for activities. There was a lot of variety including very well done lectures by professional presenters in a series entitled Beyond the Podium. There were 5 presenters in all in the Beyond the Podium series that gave lectures on their individual topics each sea day. Dr. Sam Glassner's series on the history of medicine and Sherry Hutt, PhD author of "Cruise Through History" series was on the history of the ports of call were well done. Other activities included an art lecturer that combined presentations with painting classes. There were Tai-Chi classes in addition to the standard trivia, line dancing and classes and presentations by the spa, photography department and all the usual cruise activities. There were also scheduled competitions that matched the ships officers against passengers in activities that included golf putting and ping pong tournaments, bean bag toss, and other games. The entertainment was good with offerings for a variety of tastes at a variety of times, The evening and afternoon shows were all between 45 minutes to an hour long which we appreciated after experiencing shows that ended after 25 or 30 minutes on other cruise lines. All of the headliner entertainers can be found on YouTube or by searching the internet. The acts were: James Delisco (singer and cabaret style show), Tom Foss (comedian), Mark Nizer (juggler), Lionardo (pianist, singer and trumpet player), Fred Becker (magician, comedian), Nicola Loud (concert violinist), Katy Setterfield (singer and impersonator), Beatles Celebration (Beatles impersonators). All of the entertainers also performed in afternoon shows during the sea days and there was an afternoon talent variety show that featured the passengers and some crew members. The Celebrity Silhouette cast performed 3 evenings in productions entitled, Life, Pearl and Cosmopolitan and the audience was encouraged to record and post the shows on social media and there was an afternoon performance by the cast singers entitled Beyond Broadway. The Silhouette house band was Front Row and the lead singer Christine did an afternoon show impersonation performance of Adele in a show entitled Just Adele. The ship's musical entertainers also included Ray Brown Jr jazz band, Liv & Joe (singing duo), Terry Dobson (guitarist and singer) and the Cruise Director Paul teamed with other singers from the production cast and house band in several performances. We selected and scheduled tours on the Celebrity website in advance and found out that we saved $10.00 on each tour by not scheduling the tours on the ship. We took tours in Lisbon, Vigo and LeHarve. All of the tours were very well organized with excellent tour guides and very nice buses. The prices were worth the convenience and quality of the tours. If interested, the Normandy D-Day beaches and cemetery full day tour in LeHarve is very interesting and well done. This 13 Day transatlantic cruise on the Celebrity Silhouette from Fort Lauderdale FL to Southampton UK was an excellent vacation. Noticed but not missed were in stateroom towel animals and a farewell show salute with officers and crew from various departments presented on stage. Nice touches were complimentary cocktails served upon embarkation, during dinner the first "chic night", at the future cruises presentation and at the buffet lunch extravaganza (champagne and chocolates) on the last sea day at the Oceanview cafe. One evening the Spa offered complimentary neck and shoulder massages in the Grand Foyer to anyone who wanted one. Celebrity Silhouette exceeded our expectations for our first cruise on a cruise line where we do not have loyalty status that included any perks! A very enjoyable cruise experience and enthusiastic recommendations for Celebrity and the Silhouette.

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Dec 16, 2014

caribbean

We had a very disappointing cruise to say the least. Hardly anything about cruising on the Silhouette was worthwhile. To begin with, we were deceived into believing that we sailing to three ports that we paid for only to be notified on printed paper that we were not going to Puerto Rico. We were then notified the following day that we would go to Puerto Rico but not to St. Kitts. There was one excuse after the other because the Captain knew fully

well that he was commanding a sick ship that should have been in dry dock. This was disappointing to a great amount of passengers as most of us were looking forward to visiting St. Kitts. Entertainment was pretty much nonexistent. No Caribbean band, not even for the sail away. The house band played only elevator music. The only place to dance was the disco which opened late at night. This was the most boring cruise that we have ever been on. We went on a seven day cruise and had only two ports and no entertainment whatsoever especially during the daytime. It's a miracle some of us did not go overboard due to boredom. The food was fine but could not believe that were served only one half of a small lobster tail on one of the formal nights. Based on the way we were treated, we believe that this cruise ship does not care about it's guests. There are there to make money, no matter the cost. That being said, we did meet a few very nice and considerate crew members which meant a lot. We absolutely would never cruise with Celebrity again. The food was fine. Great state room I felt the entertainment was absolutely nonexistent Took bus tour of New and Old San Juan, not too exciting

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Dec 15, 2014

Carribien

The ship left the dock with only one engine running correctly, we were told we would miss one of our ports because of the head winds, well we had a tail wind, then we were told we were missing the port because some one got hurt on the ship, then we were told that we would go to that port and miss another one, let me tell you we missed one of our stops because they left Fort Lauderdale with only one engine and knew it and this size ship running on

one engine could not make the destinations, we were lied to time and time again, that being said we were stuck on the ship for extra days with 3rd class entertainment at best, the disco was open one night, the last night. The ship rocked from side to side so bad because the outrigger could not be used because with only one engine there simply was not enough power. Then when we returned to home port they loaded up and took off with a new cruise knowing of the engine problem, I will never cruise Celebrity again and warn you to go elsewhere. The food was good The stateroom was good size and clean Should have picked another line, But I did enjoy being with my wife.

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Apr 25, 2014

Western Caribbean

There was something very wrong going on behind the scenes on this cruise. The food in the main dining room was a joke ! Left much to be desired. The cabin was concierge class handicapped accessible for three women aged 56, 66 and 71. The third bed ended up being cushions placed in a frame on the floor which was a corner seat when we first entered the cabin. The bed was never put back to a seat for the entire cruise. There was only one

chair in the cabin so two people had to sit or lay on their bed when trying to relax. Cozumal was nothing more than a movie set. Falmouth, Jamaica was a disaster. At one church a woman tried to prohibit people from exiting without making a donation. A nursery school was another case of children being exploited. This was my first cruise and will be my last. Most of the amenities stated on Celebrity' s website never happened. Celebrity didn't deliver!

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Mar 2, 2013

Caribbean

This can be one of the most boring cruises one can be on. The programme consisted of activities of short duration all over the place, and nothing of great quality. The music is poor to put it mildly: one can almost find nothing suitable to dance to anywhere on any deck, The food is the main dining room is poor: luckily we had already booked in Murano and Tuscan for 5 nights: they were exceptional. The service in the main dining room is also unacceptable.

My wife asked for a latte (and we were on the so-called drinks and coffee package which cost an additional $250) and presented her shipboard card (which indicated she was "entitled" to this latte), only to be told she had to wait till I turn up with my card so that 2 lattes can be ordered at the same time On the last day at brunch, the brunch was set up on Deck 3, and we had to carry out own plates up 2 sets of stairs to Deck 4 as they had run out of dining tables on Deck 3 Having paid thousands of dollars as a Suite Guest, we did not expect such service. What made up for it was our butler Nelson (from the Philippines) who worked hard and attended to every detail. He was the best part of our cruise.There were some impolite staff members in the Salon/Spa and in the Captain's Club office who were miserable. The Land tours were often not well-organized: we stood on the pier for 45 minutes before anyone turned up to take us on our golf tour. Not likely to take any Celebrity cruise again: although our last Celebrity cruise on the Summit 2 months prior was a much more pleasant experience. Only good in Specialty Restaurants. Fine Poor Not well organized Not likely to cruise on this ship again

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Apr 22, 2012

caribbean

Overall, this was a wonderful cruise on the Silhouette. The food and service we found to be excellent. The room was convenient. The entertainment was superb but the seats were filled 45 minutes early before the show began. I am sure that was because of the cruise being mostly with seniors and they do get their seats early. The ship seemed more crowded than other ships we have been on and I think that is because the space on this ship is less.

We only found the elevators to be inconvenient and also the chairs in the dining room to be very uncomfortable. I thought the Breakfast Buffet had anything that you could ask for available. The dining room was very crowded but the food was wonderful and our waiters made the experience a delightful one. The stateroom was very good. The onboard activity kept everyone busy all day if you wanted to be busy all day. It was relative for the age group that was on the ship when we sailed. A lot of elderly seniors were aboard the week we sailed. Excursions we found to be expensive for what it included. You can get off the ship and go anywhere by taxi or vans more reasonably as long as you know what you would like to do. Had a great time.

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Mar 18, 2012

Eastern caribbean

Boring cruise. Little activities for peoplebetween 35-50 years old. Food in main restaurant was normally fair, only a few times really good. Sometimes you get the food cold or warm. Desserts were very poor. We got a warm chocolate lava cake with no lava, itwas a chocolate cupcake with ice cream. Staterooms clean, but the stateroom attendant usually forgot to clean it all Service at the main dining room was not the

best either. If you purchase a beverage package, bar attendants will make you wait for your drink. Ports were very nice, the ship was very very clean. It was our first time with Celebrity and definitely our last Only very good in the speciallity restaurants. The casual dining room at deck 14th offers the same breakfast for 14 days . The desserts were "cheap". Nice, few drawers, no shelves in the closet. Boring. The days you spend at sea there was nothing to doat night. We went twice to the disco only to find 4 or 6 people. St. Martenn you have to go to Orient beach. In St. kitts to Reggae Beach.

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Mar 1, 2012

Caribbean

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly A review of the Celebrity Silhouette sailing of 2/10/12 The Good The crew is top notch. We did not encounter a single sullen, rude or depressing individual (save one). There were some exceptional examples as well. The Master of the ship, Captain Dimitrios Kafetzis, was available, informative and exceptionally personable. Matteo Pavoni in Guest Relations handled a particularly vexing luggage issue with understanding,

professionalism, and an accommodating smile. Everywhere we went aboard ship we were greeted with good morning/afternoon and a smile. In the past the concept of variable dinner seating has not been the most efficient, although we had "select dining" the exceptional attention of the Maitre D, Mr. Fazli, ensured that we had the same table and wait staff for the entire cruise (Sebastian and Joel) so that they could "learn" our preferences. The crew is outstanding and is the reason we will only sail on Celebrity. We met many crew who loved their jobs and signed multiple contracts. When we arrived it was clear that someone on a previous cruise had been smoking, Guest relations searched for and found an available cabin and offered a move Since we were travelling with friends we declined but they t10ook extra effort to deodorize the cabin. Another example of Celebrity fixing problems they did not cause! Kudos to management for excellent training and motivation The food was average to good. There were some misses (a too tough steak/ a salty soup/and a boring stuffed lobster) but on balance the meals were well prepared, presented and served. There were some hits, we enjoyed the French onion soup as well as an excellent Caesar salad. The Buffet was amazingly varied. For lunch there was stir fry, freshly prepared pasta, fresh turkey and ham carving stations, pizza, a salad bar, a station with varied rolls, biscuits and breads, a grill (franks/hamburgers/fries), a cold cut and cheese station, as well as daily specials such as a taco bar or braised ribs, all accompanied by fresh fruits and vegetables. Breakfast consisted of standard fare (Pork or Turkey sausage, Canadian and American bacon, corned beef hash, hash brown potatoes) as well as an omelet station and a carving station of ham and Canadian bacon. The pastries and rolls were all fresh made and even jelly donuts were available. The entertainment was generally good. The normal shipwide entertainment consisted of a fair a cappella group (The Riptides); a good classical duo (Bel Canto duo); a good steel drum duo Big Vibe); an excellent party band (Sipra) and an outstanding Guitarist/Vocalist (Martin Andales). There was a different movie available everyday. In addition there was the standard cruise fare "Newlywed game", trivia contests and Bingo. Thankfully there were no art auctions! They were replaced by Acupuncture , Botox, non surgical facelift, and the history of Faberge seminars (among others). The theater shows by the Celebrity singers and dancers consisted of a good "Cirque del sol" production as well as a fair "Broadway Nights" revue. The guest entertainers consisted of an energetic singer/comedian (the ubiquitous Judy Kolba), an equally ubiquitous but entertaining singer (Lindsey Hamilton), an excellent pianist (Brooks Aehorn) who did an outstanding one handed version of "March of the Wooden Soldiers", a unique solo violinist (Craig Halliday) who did not lack for enthusiasm; a good comedian from Boston (Don Gavin); a fair comedian (Kevin Flynn) who seemed a little tentative, and a great seven piece theater orchestra! The Bad We had a balcony stateroom which seemed smaller than previous Celebrity ships and lacked sufficient or convenient storage for a twelve day cruise. Limiting the Silhoutte to seven day cruises might make the situation better. There were two spaces above the bed, three drawers and two cubby holed nightstands for storage. The closet lacked a shelf at the top or a drawer at the bottom. Considering Celebrity scheduled three formal nights there was definitely a lack of efficient storage. The bathroom was well designed both for storage and utility and one of the better we've seen at sea. Although we are far from being marine architects, the design of the stairs and elevators is a problem. There are only two vertical banks, although referred to as aft and forward stairs/elevators they really “bracket” midships(each hump end). At least there should have been a true aft and forward staircase if they did not want three elevator banks. People who had stern cabins needed to walk almost half the ship to find a staircase/elevator (the proof here is that passengers in the rear are to use crew stairs to reach the boat station, which was not practiced during the drill). The dining room chairs are virtually immovable, only hydraulic pistons can effectively move you in or out from the table! When the photographer came to our table of six for pictures, we declined the group shot because of the ordeal of moving about. Many venues lacked sufficient seating for events, for example they would schedule an activity in Michaels Pub which seats maybe fifty people and seventy to a hundred or more would show up. We saw many people arrive only to leave unaccommodated. (Bring back the Piano Bar concept!) There definitely seems to be a lack of real space on this ship. What space exists is poorly allocated and many times blocked up by photographers. There were many places almost empty and others over crowded. The Grand Foyer seems to have less square footage than the Quasar disco!? People were sitting on the stairs during performances in the Foyer. Lawn space concept almost unused on this itinerary, only saw one alcove in use ( and it was possible the gentleman didn't realize it to be rental space, for half the sea days it was closed for maintenance/high winds/weather. Perhaps this is one the reasons why Celebrity is abandoning New York as well as the barely endurable Embarkation/Disembarkation procedures (which is certainly not any fault of Celebrity; as usual they take an intolerable situation and somehow make it seem acceptable). The Ugly The noro virus!! Embarkation was delayed by the need to clean the ship. Unfortunately, Celebrity chose to use crew to accomplish this task instead of having a group of professionals waiting for the ship to dock, so that the crew could perform their usual transition duties. The cabin setup simply suffered from the protocol (no preorderd drink setups were available, no pen or paper/ no ice/ no fruit /no room service order forms/no bedspreads/binders etc) until the next day (when the stewards caught up). There were no books in the library for three days The food service was a nightmare. EVERYTHING had to be served only by wait staff for three days. If you wanted a cup of coffee the server needed to fill the cup, then pour the cream/milk (a little more please) and then hand you the sweetner (White/Blue/Yellow/Brown) with a set of tongs. NEXT person in line please! Passengers could not handle anything. Not salt shakers nor pepper mills. Thus all food service took forever! Clearly this, again was not the fault of Celebrity they really didn's have a choice as they marshaled an army of Purrell squirters and handrail wipers. (The casino and shops clearly had the virus licked early on, as chips flowed hand to passenger hand, slot handles were pulled repeatedly, merchandise was touched and retouched, jewelry tried on and examined etc). We guess library books are more prone to infection. Well I'm almost the end… remember the (crew save one)..it was DJ Benji who to us (and others) looked as if he were in a trance. On request night he declined to play any songs from the 60's as he said "we have a night for that". Oops, sorry, thought it was request night. What music he did play was not accompanied by DJ patter (such as song ID, Artist, facts) just a bored and motionless far away stare…hmmm. Perhaps he was sailing his own magic ship! Ultimately, we enjoyed this cruise despite the events. We would, without a doubt, sail Celebrity again! Their crews can overcome anything just might consider a Celebrity ship with a different design.

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Feb 27, 2012

Caribbean

The Solstice Class, the newest of the Celebrity class of ships, deserves much more attention from the general cruising public for the reasons layed out below. Consoidering they plan and preparew meals for overe 2,800 passengers, in various dining venues, the food was excellent, with a very few shortcommings, not so to be noted. Smallish, but very adequate. Wide ranging, suitable to all tastes and likes. We, myself and partner

Richard, took Amtrak from Williamsburg to Newark, NJ, where the Silhouette would sail from at nearby Bayonne NJ. The train was a good option since we did not have the hassles of luggage and fees imposed by the airlines. We booked a hotel with the transfers, by travel agent, as part of Celebrities hotel and cruise package. The Renaissance Hotel at Newarks Liberty Airport was recently rennovated, was clean and had a very nice restaurant. Here is what happens when things do not proced all that well. With train schedule as it was, a pre-night stay was needed. Late check out at the hotel was fine, however, chaos reigned as ground personnel were not too well at handling luggage and passenegrs, the bus was way over crowded, there were in fact three buses, people actually shoved to get on the buses. I guess they thought that wouuld get them to the ship faster? When the buses arrived at the pier, a run down shoddy place, few lines for processing, and again, pushing, and shoving ensued. Luckily, we booked Concierge Class, and had express boarding after we showed passports and docs. Upon boarding we haad free bubbly, and were left to find out cabin on our own. We had Concierge Class, as noted, and found our way to deck 9 without a problem. Kerwin, a ever smiling steward, was at the cabin door as we approached and greetted us by our sir names, and we asked him to use our given first names and he did from then one. The cabin is smallish, compared to other new and newer ships we have sailed, yet there was lots of ingenious storage space. One really nice touch was the dinning height table on the balcony, perfect for room service which we used often. The bath was smallish, yet had a spa like decor, and a goodly sized shower with slider door, not the usual clinging shower curtain. The fridge was stocked per our request, not complimentray, which we knew before we sailed. The towels and the bedding were all divine beyond words, Egyptian cotton towels, oversized and the sheets and duvet we high count cotton. Matress like sleeping on a marshmallow, and the Frette robes - cuddly. The ship is one of great importance among the new ships sailing today. Celebrity has commited to five ships in this Solstice Classs, the Silhouette being the fourth, the fifth, the Reflection due later this year. Huge they are, yet there is an intimate feel and ways to have quietude and relaxation on these ships. If I may, from what I noted, there are three main distinctions that made the Silhouette special, I can assume the others in this class offer the same. First and foremost, the food, which I will give details on, then crew, so personable and professional, and lastly, the innovative interrior design. Briefly, abouth the ports, we did not take shore excursions, we have been here to the Islands many dozens of times, and have been to St. Thomas at least forty times. Ports were Labadee Haiti, san Juan, St. Croix, St. Thomas, Saint Maarten and Antigua. We enjoyed them all, but Labadee made an impression, a good one. As one of the "private island" experiences, it is very well planned, really offers a lot when the ship is docked,. Royal Caribbean did a great job designing and maintaining Labadee. For those that do not know, Royal Caribbean owns Celebrity and lets Celebrity operate totally differently than RCI ships. During port days, the Main Dining Room, the Grand Cuvee Restaurant, was closed during lunch time, other venues on the ship were offfered, and room service was provided. We ordered room service as well as used the other options. Part of the Concierge Class ammenities was an expanded room service menu, which offered more selections at all meals and 24/7. We loved the Porch, set up high, and rather secluded, with the fresh paninis, salads and heavenly desserts. The decor was very high end resort, a selection of citrus fabrics and white patio furniture offfset by the lawn, the real green grass that has become legendsary on the ship, made for a soothing escape. The paninis were perfect, hot and toasty outside, warm and melty inside. And those desserts, just like the designer confections in the better markets and bakeries. All for $5.00 each, for service not for the food. Another option for lunch, Cafe Bacio, with the adjacent Gelataria. Crepes made to order, meat crepes, vegetatian, as well as deseert crepes, salads, with sopecialty coffees and chais, and beer and wine. Beverages cost extra, the service fee $5.00. From the adjacent Gelateria, ices and gelatos were available, as well as dessert crepes. Breakfast crepes and dinner menu are also available here. Then there is the Ocean View Cafe, not your typical Lido Buffet option. The place is huge, expansive, with multiple food stations, and the offerings are unlike anything I have ever seen on a ship. Many diverse cuisines are offered, from pizza and pastas, to Indian, to Asian, and seafoods and vegetarian, Tex mex and Mexican, seemingly fresher and very imaginative than found on other ships. Tables are always packed, well bussed and there is a crew member available to assist in finding seats or a table. This place has it over other similar venues found on the big ships. One place we really did not care for was the Mast Grill. Too few tables, poorly bussed -charred dry burgers, and so-so hot dogs - not worth the trip, except for the best soft serve we had ever found at sea, not sicky swet, fridgid cold, and refreshing. No fee here. We did not care for the place, yet, it was popular. We could not get enough of the Murano Restaurant, a rervations only al la carte place, exquisitatly decorated French themed dining room. Although Murano is Italian, the ambiance here is purely French. Dinner fee $40.00, a once per cruise lunch, $25.00 per person, service fee. We enjoyed two dinners and the once per lunch. Spcialties that we enjoyed were the Maine Lobster bisque, Dover Sole Veronique, table side prep, Murano Lobster, a shell less version of Lobster Savannah. The menu is presented in two parts. To the left, a four course dinnner, to the right, al la carte. Our servers urged us to order from BOTH sides, which we did. We could not get enough of the place. This is the way we dine on luxury ships, with far fewer passengers and Murano delivered a faultless luxury experience. Another faultless luxury experience is found in The Tuscan Grille, purely Italian, not too heavy on the pasta choices, with huge NY sirloins, dinner plate sized oportions of veal, soups and chowders fresh and delicious, try the ciopinno, or a favorite pasta, wild mushroom ravioli in veal and balsamic reduction, with shaved black truffles. Lobster is also offered. A proper antipasti is offered, and is sharable, with the finest prosciiutto I have ever enjoyed outside of Italy. A quirky restaurant is Qsine, located past Murano, before Tuscan Grille. Food items are not what they appear to be, normally, anf there are not waiters, you order via provided i-pad. Sure, a waiter brings the food, but he or she is there to explain the oddly unique items from the extensive menu. We plan to try Qsine on our next Celebrity cruise. The MDR, Grand Cuvee, is a lavishly done space, two tiers, its design resembling a champagne glass, with the diners being in the glass, sourrounded by crystal orbs and baubles, chandeliers and iconic wine tower, all crystal and.glitter. The service was outstanding, all items lplated and garnished to their inteneded elgance, and served at the proper temperatures. Luxury, gourmet items were offerd as well as more comfy items. Considering that well over 2,800 can be served, this was high end dining, not the typical banquet fare passsed along by most cruise lines. Very impressive, indeed. Drinks were excellent, and a fair price. The ships shops well stocked, logo items well priced. The entertainment was just okay. Not the best, not the worst. All told, this was an excellent experience, on a wonderful product, in a beautiful ship. We booked another cruise on the Eclipse while on board. Other "premium" lines, take a lesson from Celebtiry. They come through with their promises, and a grand cruise is the result.

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