I return from a 12 nights cruising on Celebrity Silhouette (Solstice class), at the beginning of Cape Liberty, NJ on March 17th, 2012 for a round in the Caribbean (3 days at sea, 6 stopovers, then 2 days at sea for the return). We had a fixed price groups with transport in the bus of Drummondville at Edison NJ, one to lay down with the hotel on March 16th, breakfast and transfer to the port on 17th in the morning. Temperature at the beginning, approximately 16Â°C, variable sky; temperatures of variable day according to the latitude, but once "in the south", between 27 Â°C and 32 Â°C approximately, nothing exceptional. We were apparently some 240 French-speaking people on board, as a large majority from Quebec, some French, Belgians, etc, the majority nice! My wife and I appreciated much, even if we had 2 days with much rain (in St-Croix especially, and Puerto Rico). With the return, the increase was not confirmed a progressive descent of the daily highs... 24... 20... 16... then 10...
Embarkation without problem, perhaps a little less better organized in Bayonne NJ than at Fort Lauderdale in Florida (at the return, one of my luggage had been placed at the bad place in the terminal, a little stress and 15 minutes later, I found it).
Celebrity was once again shown worthy of its reputation, mainly for quality, the variety of food and the service, professional and attentive. We got on the ship around lunch time, our cabins were not yet ready but one invited us to go to Oceanview Cafe for a buffet among the most complete and delicious... There is really for all tastes.
The ship is superb, all is new, resolutely modern, I felt filled of excitation by the time I put the foot there... We were in front of bridge 7, in an interior cabin of 183 square feet, installation is functional and of quality, comfortable "king" bed, simple bed linen but of quality; the storage space was sufficient, slightly lower than that of the Constellation in 2011 (Millenium class) but it is true that the horizontal cupboard hidden with the top of the bed somewhat requires stretchings to have access there. The wardrobe has a sufficient width (I counted 24 clotheshangers out of wooden, removable, which appeared quite sufficient to us.) Modern bathroom of modest size but functional, very sufficient arrangement, showers in corner with glass doors and thermostatic valves and fittings. The safety pane functions well and is of sufficient size.
Public spaces, halls, staircases, theater, restaurants, etc, vast and are well maintained. Staff is omni present to make us disinfect the hands... Pfrrrttt! Pfrrrtt! One has enough stuff to disinfect oneself till behind the ears... No microbes at Celebrity! (They had their lesson this winter, apparently...) The iLounge is equipped with Apple portables... For one accustomed of the ergonomic PC and mouse, not obvious! And I do not speak about Internet rate 0.75$ US per minute. As opposed to what I had thought, Lawn Club did not really impress me, and I do not believe to be the only one (moreover the Alcoves did not seem to be very popular either). We did not test specialized restaurants except "Bistro on Five": for 5$US more, it is worth the price and I highly recommend it(for lunch, not for dinner, one goes in the main dining room).
We had chosen the "Select dining", allowing us to go between 18:00 and 21:30 (this option implies the payment of the tips as of the purchase of cruising, but that simplifies much things). One of the waiters and its assistant, nicer and having served us particularly well, we asked thereafter to be sitted in their section, which made the hostess smile, who recognized us each time.
Entertainment on the ship, here one is in American style! We appreciated in general , firstly because the artists singers, dancers, acrobats, etc, were very talented. Not being really bilingual, the language constituted sometimes a challenge which we could not take up (for example at the time of humorists...). The director of cruising, the nice LISA, and Peter, do a superb job.
About the prevalent classical music one has experienced on the pool deck, they had to be readjusted because I did not hear any. The musicians in general were powerful (and that to say Celebrity orchestra!) but I found the various musical venues a little rarer and were sometimes distributed according to a schedule difficult to follow. For the ballroom dance music, the time and the place was not often appropriate to us, but good, there was some.
Stopovers: in order, St-Maarten, Antigua, St-Thomas, Co.-Cross, San Juan, and Labadee. I acknowledge having highly appreciated Antigua, it will be necessary that I return in San Juan to spend there more time. As regards the excursions, we reserved some of them on the spot, the organization was well tied up. The paid price was of course higher. We tried a "private" excursion in St-Croix and were disappointed.
The cruise industry seems to be closely related to offers of all kinds, but mainly jewels, clothing and alcohol, on the ship as much as at the time as of stopovers... It is enough politely to decline the offers. Be advised that certain services on board are not cheap, like washing/cleaning of clothing... this year again, some 100$US were spent in laundry.
After all, a word on the drinking water: we bought some bottles on board, 1 liter of Evian with 4.00$ + 15% of service = 4.60$ (US) but also bought water bottled in small bottles from 500 to 725 ml in the islands at the time of our excursions (1$ to 2$); one drank also much water produced on the ship, of good quality and completely drinkable. A critic on this level: on the Constellation last year there was a stainless jug of water and ice which the steward frequently filled, on the Silhouette no jug, just a small insulated stainless container filled with ice... Insufficient in my opinion.
So, beautiful cruise... but even if I avoided the plane and associated worries , I didn't really appreciated the first day at sea and especially the 2 days at sea on return, cool and very windy!