May 18-May 30, 2012
PRE EMBARKATION: We left JFK by Delta on a 8 Â½ h non-stop flight on May 15, 2012 to Venice. After we cleared immigration, and picked up our luggage we got a taxi for $29 Euros to the Hilton Garden Inn located in Mestre just outside the Venice causeway. Our room on the 6th floor facing the pool was very spacious. We also opted for the breakfast. The hotel was in a quiet location only 6 Kilometers from Venice Piazza del Roma bus terminal, and far away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The bus stop was right in front of the hotel. We bought a bus and public boat (valporetto) combo tickets for 2 days to see Venice. No cars are allowed in Venice, so we travelled by valporetto or walked. We finally got to see St. Mark's Square, the famous Basilica, Doges Palace, Rialto Bridge and churches galore. We did a 2 hour walking tour of Venice streets, and saw Marco Polo's home. On Friday, May 18 we booked a car service from the hotel to the Venice port; it took us 15 minutes to reach the port. Venice Port was busy with 6 cruise ship docked that day.
Embarkation: After dropping off our luggage we took the elevator to check in. Although there was a long line with a very swift embarkation we got on the ship in 30 minutes. We took the elevator to Deck 6 Room 6264 half way between mid-ship and AFT. After dropping off the the carry on, we went to the Ocean View Cafe to a have a bite to eat.
SILHOUETTE FIRST IMPRESSION. "It's a big ship, but you won't notice it." This ship is over a thousand feet long, making it one of the largest ships afloat. The dining room was at the back of the ship or AFT. Far away from our stateroom! No question that the ship is elegant and extremely well decorated. Speaking of elevators, the Celebrity claims a new high technology. Not only are they fast, smooth and clean but when they arrive, a light above them changes from blue to pink with arrows pointing up or down. Many time we ended up going in the wrong direction for not paying attention to the direction of the arrow.
There are two pool areas. One is for the masses with kids and games and noisy, and the other one is for adults only. The Spa pool is quiet, and shaded with some chairs available. The deck lounge chairs on the deck 14 are always occupied. One has to get there before 9 AM to get a lounge chair. There is a jogging track on this area which is a distraction.
The Sky Observation Lounge high on Deck 14 is special with a great look and view forward. Here, they conduct dances classes during the day, have the Captain's Club reception and a live music band played at night for dancing. During the day it was not crowded and an ideal place to sit and read.
This Solstice class of ships features a half acre of well-maintained lawn on Deck 15 where the passengers can play bocce ball, mini golf, or walk barefoot. The ship also has a large theater and a mini theater where they show movies, various demonstrations or talks.
STATE ROOM: Forward section Room 6264, a Verandah State room. The room size is the same as other cruise lines. Due to the layout of our cabin it was very roomy, with lots of closet spaces to store our clothes, and supplies for 12 nights. We had a 32 "flat screen TV with numerous channels ie. CNN, MSNBC, Fox, BBC, ESPN, etc. The saving grace is the number of free movies you can get. The bathroom is large. The shower had a clear enclosure that is curved and full length and was easy to use with no fancy dials. All the expected amenities and lots of fresh soft towels were provided. We could not find fault or ask for more. Most of the light switches under the bed are hidden away, after a search we realized it was conveniently located to reach from the head of the bed. The bath room lights had a high and low beam and at night it served as night light, a convenient feature. The ice bucket was small but our room attendant filled it up 2 times a day. The balcony was spacious. We had our breakfast there every morning and in the afternoon quiet and a great place to read.
An announcement was made that we had to attend an emergency drill at 4:00 PM in the mid-ship bar. This emergency drill was a video presentation and very quick. Purell dispensers were placed everywhere and crew members also dispensed the hand sanitizers at the entrance to the dining rooms and Ocean View Cafe. The ship left the port promptly at 6 PM cruising through the Venice Canal to Adriatic sea. We were assigned first seating in the Grand Cuvee dining room Deck 3 with a table for eight. Our table mates were a couple from England, one couple from Germany and an American couple from Las Vegas Nevada. Our table mates were all very friendly and amicable people. After dinner we went to Cruise Critic Meet and Greet on Deck 14 and met a few people, and some of the Celebrity staff. Then we went to the theater on Deck 3 to watch the preview of upcoming events.
The collection of specialty restaurants are all located at the stern (AFT) of Deck 5 with the main dining room directly below on decks 4 and 3. An easy way to remember where to go is "dining-aft, casino-middle, and entertainment-forward".
The passageways and rooms are decorated with large black and white photographs by various European artists-photographers, and some statues. Deck 4 and5 is where the ship's shopping arcade is located. Deck 3 housed, Customers relations, Port tours. There is a Grand foyer on this deck where a live band played every evening while people were dancing. Deck 7 had a unique "Hideaway" which was a great area to read. A hanging live tree was located between 2 banks of elevators on Star board and Port side of the ship which could be viewed from Deck-3 to Deck 14. On Deck 10 and 11 the Library was located and contained a very nice collection of books.
THE STAFF : The Captain ship officers were mostly Greek. The Professional staffs were very courteous at all times and they made us feel safe. The room attendants and dining room staffs were from Croatia, Italy, India, Hungary, Philippines, Indonesia and just about every other European and Asian country. The diversity was good. We met some of the staff who were working on the ship when we cruised in February from Bayonne, New Jersey to the Caribbean. Our Cruise Director also sang well.
DINING: The Grand Cuvee dining room is impressive with large 3 story high ornately hidden wine cellar in the back. There were over 1000 passengers eating for 1st seating at 6 PM. The noise level was deafening and was difficult for conversations at our large oval dining table.
THE FOOD: The choice of vegetarian food in the Grand Cuvee(Main) Dining Room is excellent. My wife who eats all foods said the menu choices were superb. Our assistant waiter Sergio is from Honduras, and our waiter Sanjaya was from Bali, Indonesia. The Assistant t Matre` D from Croatia took care of my daily needs during the dinner time, and made the dining experience pleasurable.
The Ocean view Cafe on Deck 14 is a winner. It offers a huge buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Just like NCL they have station for different foods, and desserts. They had an Italian station, Salad and Cheese station, bread station, Chinese Thai food station, India food station. Some are not well marked and often one has to look for them. The ice cream station had many flavors of ice cream, frozen yogurt and sorbet, and soft ice cream every day. The pizza station was open for long hours (noon to past midnights) and the pizza was excellent! It was a great place for a mid-afternoon or a late-night snack.
DRESS CODE . On 13 night cruise voyages there are 3 formal nights. Most ladies dressed elegantly in short or long dresses or pant suits. Most men either wore a suit or Tuxedo, and some defied the rule .
ENTERTAINMENT: There is a mixed assortment of entertainment. The Silhouette Singers Dancers and acrobats were on for 3 different nights. The comedian- juggler from San Francisco was funny, but many people walked out when he shoved 6 Ping-Pong balls into his mouth. Lindsey Hamilton from England singing was excellent, Donoghue an English performer played multiple instruments and was also excellent.
Disembarkation was 8:30 AM on May 30, 2012 was swift. We were at the Venice airport by 9:20 AM by Taxi.
SHORTCOMING: Main Dining room was noisy.
SHORE EXCURSIONS . We took a half day ship sponsored excursion at each port: Ravenna, Italy, Split, Croatia, Valetta, Malta, Catania, Sicily, Naples, Italy, Kotor, Montenegro, and Dubrovnik, Croatia. We did not take a Rome shore excursion