We're fresh off the ship from our 12 night cruise and could not be happier with our experience. We had a truly wonderful vacation and can recommend Celebrity and their Mediterranean cruise without hesitation.
My husband and I were first-time cruisers, both in our mid-to-late 30s. Quite frankly, we had read so many reviews but didn't know what to expect onboard Celebrity. We were hoping for a hassle-free vacation in many beautiful cities, high-quality dining, attentive staff, and a beautiful ship that didn't make us feel stir-crazy. We are frequent travelers and thought we'd give cruising a try. Celebrity delivered in every aspect.
We arrived at 11 a.m. on embarkation day to try and get the most out of our cruise. Turns out there were problems with my passport (a very long story) and the contracted port agent in Rome went above and beyond the call of duty to help me sort things out. It was dicey for a while, but at 4:25 p.m. we were cleared to board the ship. Celebrity was understanding, but their gate agents were AMAZING.
THE SHIP AND CREW
From the moment we boarded the Silhouette we were pleased by everything we saw. The Silhouette was a beautiful ship and we found the common areas to be nicely decorated and very attractive. Throughout the course of the cruise it was hard to believe that there were 2,400 people on the boat with us. I truly felt that there were always quiet/peaceful places to go -- between the Sky Lounge, Solarium, Hideaway, and Library (not to mention other options) you could find a spot to relax and get away. The pools were busy but generally orderly (apart from the annoying CelebrityLife activities and live entertainment). The gym was well-appointed.
We encountered nothing but smiles and greetings from all the crew. I'd say we were treated wonderfully across the board -- from bathroom attendants to cleaners to pool butlers to waiters. I'm not sure what we expected, but I was surprised at how warm and open everyone was. We had great chats about countries of origin, living conditions onboard the ship, parties at the crew bar (!) and family. What a wonderful group!
We were in an AquaClass stateroom (A1) with an unobstructed veranda on Deck 11. We were mentally prepared to be cramped, but found the stateroom to be a good size with room for all our things. The bathroom was very nice. Our balcony was lovely and we enjoyed the sea views. Our stateroom attendant kept everything impeccably clean (despite our best efforts to make a mess!) and we've no complaints about noise.
We visited nine ports during our cruise and had a forced sea day on what would have been our tenth port (Mykonos) due to bad weather. We only booked a shore excursion in one port (Ephesus) and had a positive experience with Celebrity's tour company. We booked tours in Sicily (Taormina and Castelmola), Naples (Capri), and Athens. We did our own thing in Rome, Rhodes, Santorini, Crete and Venice. I don't think we'd change a thing.
DINING AND ACTIVITIES
We ate breakfast and lunch in the Oceanview Cafe on most days. Again, you were not lacking in variety there. Good selection of food across the board.
Because we were in AquaClass our main dining room was Blu -- we ate there every night. On 11 nights we were immediately seated at a table for two with great views. On one night we had to wait a whopping 5 minutes. The food was consistently excellent. We felt there was a good variety on most nights between chicken, meat and fish. I'd say appetizers were always fabulous and we indulged almost every night (we joke now that it was 10 pounds well-earned!).
I'd say that the waiters and assistant waiters were nice, attentive and friendly, but I did feel that they were understaffed. On most nights at past-peak (9:00 p.m.) hours everyone was running around in all directions -- for long periods glasses went unfilled, bread baskets were empty, etc. -- but the team tried to compensate with friendly service when they could. Once things died down they smothered you with extra love.
Although the dress code in Blu was "smart casual" for the entire trip, on formal nights I'd say 75% of the diners did dress up for formal nights. People looked lovely in their gowns, dresses, tuxedos and suits -- on 2 nights we dressed up and on the third night we went smart casual. Smart casual was just that: look nice and don't show up in ripped clothes, t-shirts or shorts. Common sense prevailed and people didn't overdue it or unnecessarily look down upon people who were in the stated dress code for the restaurant. I think we felt a little awkward in smart casual next to tuxedos and ball gowns, but no one seemed to mind.
I will say that my first three days on the ship I felt annoyed at the constant push to book at the specialty restaurants. Some crew members bordered on 'used car salesman' territory and I hated the constant hard sell. We loved Blu and had no reason to go elsewhere. It seemed like Celebrity was hurting for customers, however, as almost every night there was some big sale on the fee. We did go to the coffee shop and gelateria on Deck 5 -- wonderful stuff there as worth every penny!
Nightlife might have been a little bit lacking for the under-40 age bracket (although the Molecular Bar and Martini Bar had great bartenders that put on quite a show) ... but we weren't looking for a Spring Break party-a-thon either. Live entertainment was just ok.
Finally, I thought it worthwhile to comment on the AquaClass experience seeing as there is so much debate on whether it's worth it. I've copied and commented on all the AC amenties in hopes that it might help others. I think it's worth it up to a point -- we'll cruise with Celebrity again and will probably choose between AC and the veranda stateroom based upon the price difference.
According to the website, AC gets:
1. A Personal Spa Concierge to arrange AquaSpa' treatments -- if that's true I didn't know about it. I don't think this impacts your overall cruise experience, there are always people at the spa willing to help you spend your money!
2. Daily delivery of bottled water and tea -- Two small bottles of water were great, but we had the beverage package so it wasn't an added benefit. The tea was there but we almost never touched it.
3. Daily fruit delivery -- Same fruit that is available for free in the Oceanview Cafe. Not sure this is a game-changer.
4. Daily canapes -- We were on a port intensive cruise and never requested the canapes. Some people took advantage of this benefit; we didn't.
5. Exclusive access to Blu that also serves complimentary breakfast every day -- As I mentioned, Blu was wonderful for dinner. The ambience was lovely and so much more intimate than the main dining room (we visited but didn't like how big and noisy it was). If Blu maintains its current breakfast hours then the hours are far too limited to be utilized. I'd say that 90% of the time Blu opened upon arrival in port and/or after some of the scheduled shore excursions departed -- we could only eat breakfast in Blu 3 mornings during the cruise. What a disappointment!
6. Upgraded room service menu -- We didn't use this during our cruise.
7. Complimentary access to the Persian Garden -- I visited the room once, and didn't really see the draw. For us this did not impact our overall cruise experience.
8. Aromatherapy diffuser -- It was there, not sure it made a difference!
9. Pillow menu -- Our pillows were great to start with and we didn't see a "menu" or care to make a change. I think they are only available upon request. This strikes me as a non-amenity amenity.
10. Additional bathroom amenities, including shower gel, facial spray and lip balm -- Shower gel was there, the other stuff was not.
11. Plush Frette' bathrobes, slippers, bath towels -- They were very nice.
12. Hansgrohe' shower panel and fog-free mirror -- Very nice shower and the fog free mirror is cool -- but are you willing to pay $$$ just for a cool mirror??
We'd book AC again just to dine in Blu at night -- but it'd all depend upon the cruise and (admittedly) the price difference.
On the whole we could not be more pleased by our cruise experience. The ship was great. The food was wonderful. The ports were everything we imagined. Now we're looking for an opportunity to cruise again!