Celebrity Silhouette Cruise Review by snidelywhiplash: A disappointing experience
Overall Member Rating
A disappointing experience
Destination: Europe - Western Mediterranean
With the rave reviews I've seen for this ship, I wonder if our recent cruise was on the same ship of the same line. I'm not sure where to start but I do know where to finish, so I'll begin with that - our experience did not meet our expectations and we'll never take another cruise on the Silhouette, nor on Celebrity.
The room (we had a concierge class verandah) was fine other than the lack of storage space that others have mentioned. I know the rounded bed edge allows for a narrower room (saving a few inches in each room means more rooms over hundreds of feet of ship), but the curve was enough to put my feet dangling out into space, which was uncomfortable for me. I guess maybe they market to short people?
What was good? The attitudes of many (but not all) of the service personnel. Cabin attendants, most dining room personnel, etc., were friendly and accommodating for the most part. To passengers. On the other hand, we witnessed more than a few rude and nasty More conversations between such people and others who seemed like their bosses or area supervisors. I don't know, is it run like a slave ship where the low level employees (many of whom are likely poor and/or from third world countries) are simply trod upon? Whatever was at work, these displays were unpleasant.
The coffee bar, where you go for an espresso, was excellent.
The ambiance on the ship seemed ungenerous and penny-pinching. You want some water for your excursion, there's a charge for that (it's been free on other cruises, it's frigging water for goodness sakes). You want real juice instead of watery orange punch for breakfast, there's be a charge for that. You don't want to walk 2 miles from the distant berth we have to the port exit or town center, well then there's a charge for the shuttle. You want some flexibility in your dining time, there's a charge for that. It's not the money, it's the point - it sets a tone that's off-putting. Wine and booze was expensive, as on most cruises. Which always makes me scratch my head, because all this is purchased duty free (and so it's VERY cheap for the cruise line to buy). There were frequent drink specials and 2 for 1 deals, which were welcome.
The Cafe buffet restaurant was disappointing. Choices were limited and uninspired, and it seemed like they were on a 2 or 3 day rotation with the lineup. If you like eating greasy fried chicken or shepherds' pie every day, you'd be happy with it. The ethnic food offerings (Stir-fry, Indian and Mexican) were bland and also greasy. The salad bar and the bread counter were consistently good, both being hard to mess up. Service was spotty, on one day you'd be offered a coffee fill-up every few minutes (which was fine with me), the next day there would be no one around at all. Desserts were the same day after day, though none of us really needs desserts!
The dining room food was consistently awful. Here's a new cruise experience - you order something and the waiter would say something like "I don't recommend that, you might be happier with something else". That didn't happen once or twice, it happened repeatedly. It was usually several items in each section that we'd be steered away from. I learned to ask "What do you recommend tonight?" Even with that, the parade of watery soups, tasteless dishes, etc., became tiresome. The one extravaganza in the dining room, the buffet brunch, was unimaginative and featured mostly the same tired and limited selection that was offered every day in the Cafe buffet.
We bought the dining package to try the so-called "specialty restaurants". Qzine was a fun experience and the food was good, the Lawn Club was also unique, but the Tuscan grill (twice) was AWFUL and Murano was only ok. I felt like I'd been ripped off. We paid to escape the horrors of the dining room fare, only to find new horrors and new places we needed to escape from.
The prepared food in all the venues was often WAY too salty.
We found the entertainment offerings poor. If you think about it, successful (and talented) entertainers can get better paying gigs and don't do cruises (other than for their own vacations or as a lifestyle choice). The a capella group tried hard, but after a few days, their 10 song repertoire became tiresome to hear again. The cover band also tried hard, but their talent was also limited. The theater offerings were hit and miss. If cruise ships paid more (and Celebrity is not alone in this regard), they'd get better quality. Otherwise, you get what you pay for. As with so many other things on this cruise, we got the feeling that Celebrity was just going through the motions in planning and presenting entertainment, without much energy or inspiration.
One thing that had too much energy (electricity) was the PA system or Muzak in public places and bars. There were many occasions when the "background music" was too loud to have a conversation among people sitting together. If you asked the bartender if the sound could be turned down, the response was "That's how it always is". Yes, there were some bars that were quieter, but to be blasting music in several of the large central bars did seem like a poor choice. We would leave when that happened, I'm sure that's not what Celebrity would prefer of bar customers.
The excursions we took were mostly disappointing in how they were conducted. How much does an otherwise anonymous and faceless village or farmer pay (or kickback) to have the tour buses stop by for a nonsensical visit? On one excursion, we had a tour guide who was so terrible that I complained about him upon returning to the ship (something I never do). They refunded the charge, though that was not my goal, I wanted them to know they need better quality control. Such an experience shouldn't ever happen but it would seem that on this cruise, anything was possible.
The disembarkation went smoothly until stepping off the gangway, at which point it was chaos and pandemonium. With a crew >1000 people, I think they could have spared another 10 or 20 more people to be available on the pier to organize things, answer questions about baggage and to direct people to different transportation services. But no, there was just a small handful of the ship's staff present, an inadequate number to orchestrate the movement of several thousand people through the gauntlet that was there. I guess they all had the morning off? The departure experience is their customers' last experience on the cruise, you'd think they'd put more thought and effort into it. Did anything difficult happen to us or was anything lost - no. But there was so much commotion, noise and confusion going on around us, I can't imagine that an escape from a burning or sinking ship would have been much different. Hey there, Celebrity Cruises, like it or not, our last memory of the cruise is the scene of complete disorganization and confused souls that we had to pass through and deal with as we left.
I have no comment about the ports of call, that's something everyone is free to consider in deciding what specific cruise routing to book. I will say that likely none of our friends will receive raving encouragement from us to visit Adriatic ports, but that's again a matter of choice and personal preference. Less
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TA November 2016