What a great Cruise on a truly beautiful Ship with a wonderful Cruise Critic Roll Call Group!
We are fairly seasoned Cruisers with this being our 26th Cruise together and our sixth on Celebrity with two more scheduled with them over the next year. This was our first Cruise on an S-Class ship and we are booked on the Equinox TA in November and the Eclipse next March. I am a newly turned 60 year old and my DW is 54, and we love to enjoy time with our fellow Cruisers and relax on every Beach we can.
We normally fly to the Home port two days ahead of time to avoid stress due to issues that can arise with air travel, but since this was sailing out of Bayonne, NJ we opted to just fly in one day prior. We stayed at the Newark Airport Hilton. We had an enjoyable dinner that evening at the Hotel and were joined by another Cruise Critic couple we had been speaking with on our Roll Call. The next morning we called for a Taxi for the 15-20 minute ride to the pier. Get your price ahead of time though as he charged us 60+ dollars for the trip while the Taxi from the Pier to the airport after the Cruise was only $45.
Embarkation went very well with no crowds when we arrive around 11:30am. We waltzed right through with only a few minute wait in line and were on board the Silhouette by about noon. Cabins are not available until around 1:00, but we were able to get in and leave our Carry On bags in the room before heading out to explore the ship. What a beautiful ship she is too.
Pool area is a bit crowded on nice Sea Days and available chairs around the pool are pretty much gone by 8:30-9:00, no big shock there and I was up early to secure a reasonable spot. Not wanting to be a chair hog, I was never gone from my location for more than Â½ an hour? Lawn areas are pretty unique and was the first time I ever saw a sprinkler running on the top of a Cruise Ship. Bocce areas were always pretty busy and bar areas around the Lawn were active especially later in the day. The new Cabanas mid ship seem to be very underused and do block a lot of the views of the ocean. Maybe better to have a couple less of them so people could relax more on the grass with a towel, etc.
Loved Cafe al Bacio and the staff there were wonderful and knew my name by the second or third day. Our Cruise Critic Group had a standing Happy Hour at the Martini Bar. We had anywhere from 12-24 people there each evening and Ari the Bar Waiter did a great job taking care of us. We also enjoyed the Molecular Bar a few times. The Casino was not my favorite though, almost all the machines are newer and it is hard to figure out what the heck you have to hit to win anything. Don't mind losing a little, just would like to know what is going on.
The Buffet layout was nice in that you did not have to wait in one long line but moved from one food station to another based on what you were looking for. We ate in Blu most nights as we were in Aqua Class, our first experience with that and we loved it. Service was superb and food presentation a real treat. We really enjoyed the food and the experience and look forward to being in there on our TA on Equinox this fall. We also ate in Qsine one night with a group of 14 Cruise Critics -- what a blast and I thought the courses would never end. We ate in Murano with two other couples later in the Cruise and thought it was one of the best specialty restaurants we have been too. One lunch was at Bistro on 5 for Crepes, our second visit there after enjoying it on the Constellation in January. The desert Crepe is just too good!
Entertainment was really pretty good too. The Production Shows we saw were very good, with added acrobatic aspects and not the same old "Broadway Hits" shows. The other live entertainment in the areas bars and pool areas was pretty good too. One thing I missed is there is no Piano Man type performer on board, usually they are fairly popular on Cruise Ships and I was disappointed not to have one on this ship. Pool area entertainment was not overbearing as it can be on some lines. Announcements were kept to a minimum and the music was not too loud, so you could carry on a conversation easily. Bar servers were also not overly forceful as I have seen before on cruises. They were around when you wanted one, but were not in your face all the time 'hawking" cocktails.
Our cabin was in AQ, as I mentioned, and we had a forward facing Balcony on the angle of the "Hump" mid-ship not far from the Elevators. When booking on the S Class Ships, keep in mind there are no Aft Elevators so is a longer walk from that part of the ship. The AQ cabins on the angle have a larger balcony with two chairs, two footstools and a nice sized table. Loved the location and any concern about increased wind there was unfounded. No noise issues either from being below the pool deck. Only noise was from the Hallway which is common on any ship.
Not a lot of storage in the way of drawers in the cabin itself. They did provide two large storage areas above the head of the bed which saved the day as there is only three drawers around the vanity area. The bath did have plenty of space for items though. The shower in AQ is nice with a waterfall head and 5 jets at waist area. Space in shower was larger than most too.
Our Itinerary included Labadee where we rode the coaster and then relaxed back on board this time; San Juan where we shopped a bit and then went to Old Harbor Brewery for snacks and a couple good Micro brewed beers; St Thomas where we went to Emerald Beach; St Maarten where we took the water taxi across the Harbor to the Beach for $6 RT; Antigua where we went to Valley Church Beach (beautiful!!); and St Croix were some of us went to Cane Bay. We had two sea days to start the Cruise and three Sea days back to NJ. Silhouette will not sail this route out of NJ next season as it will homeport in Florida. Sure many on the east coast wish they would have a ship going to the Caribbean.
Our Cruise Critic Roll Call group was a real highlight of the Cruise. We enjoyed many activities together including a Sail Away Party, Celebrity Connections Party, a Slot Pull, Happy Hour at the Martini Bar every night (Go EME!), dinners together in smaller groups, and a group luncheon the last Sea Day. Made some great new friends and some of us are actually having a Reunion this summer. If you are not joining the Roll Call for your Cruises, you are really missing out on some great experiences.
The Captain and Crew did a wonderful job and we always were greeted with a smile and a friendly "hello" by every crew member we saw. It really adds to the enjoyment of the Cruise when the Crew appears to be in good spirits, and when they are warm and welcoming to the passengers. Our Cabin Steward was great and answered to our every need. The Captain took part in the Pool Volleyball Tournament one sea day, and was quite the comedian at times when speaking to the passengers at various events. The Cruise Director also did a great job and MC'd the Celebrity Connections party the first Sea Day.
Disembarkation went very smoothly. We had tags for 9:10 am and were called down about 9:45 to claim our bags and clear customs. We grabbed a Porter who moved us right through and loaded our bags into a Taxi to the airport with no problems.
I think the S-Class Ships have become our favorites, and we are really looking forward to our next two sailings on the EQ and the Eclipse. It will be like visiting an old friend.