Overall we had a wonderful time, with lots of great ports of call on this itinerary and excellent service from our cabin attendants, all the staff in Blu and the Martini Bar bartenders.
We have previously cruised on the Equinox (2011) and Eclipse (2012) and so expected everything to be very similar on the Silhouette. However, this cruise didn't feel quite as good as the previous 2, although it's difficult to say exactly why not.
Embarkation, and disembarkation, were well organised and efficient. We made our own arrangements to and from the ship with ease. Our Aqua class cabin was as we expected from our previous cruises -- clean, compact and more than adequate for our needs. But just a small note, there's a different draw configuration on Silhouette -- 3 large instead of 5 of varying sizes -- so it was easier to leave some items in the case under the bed.
The main differences in ship layout are on decks 7 and 15. On deck 7 there is a new area called the Hideaway in place of what I call the 'Earth' lounge (as I'm not quite sure what it was called). On deck 15, there is now a very large sealed off lawn area (The Alcoves) which is only accessible to passengers who pay to rent one of the private cabanas at $99 on port days and $149 on sea days. It seems a bit of an 'eliteist' area, but we were actually surprised that so many people paid to use them. There is also a new Lawn Club Grill (fee applicable), the Patio (fee applicable) and the Art Club, all situated where the Corning glass show is held on the 3 earlier Solstice class ships. As a result of these new facilities, there is less lawn for passengers to play bowls and other games on. Oh, and just in case one of the bartenders at the Martini Bar asks you to spot the difference there, it's got different lighting!
Silhouette is a beautiful ship, but we think Celebrity may have taken their cost cutting initiatives from the earlier Solstice class ships, a little too far in quite a few areas and this could be a worrying development for future cruise experiences. Celebrity pride themselves as being a luxury, 5+ star cruise line, and they are in danger of bringing it down a level if they are not careful. For example, we never heard any noise from neighbouring cabins on previous cruises, but this time we did and so we think the insulation between cabins, both at the sides and above and below, has been reduced on the newer ships. We also had noisy neighbours in the 3 adjoining cabins to one side of us which didn't help. This really spoilt the cruise for us as we had deliberately booked an Aqua cabin on deck 11 under the Persian Gardens for the peace and quiet.
We ate in Blu every morning and evening and the food and service were excellent. We had salads most lunchtimes from the Oceanview Cafe, but tried to get a table outside or sat by the pool area, as we didn't think the tables inside were as clean as they could be.
We didn't try the main dining room at all so can't speak from experience, but we heard numerous negative comments about the quality and quantity of food, and the level of service. If this is true, then this is a real shame, as our experience of the main dining room on the Equinox was very good.
We are not big fans of the onboard entertainment -- neither the daytime activities or the evening shows in the theatre -- but we understand from fellow passengers that these were mediocre, at best.
Anyway, enough of the 'slightly negatives' and on to more about the ports of call. All of the ports, apart from Malta, were new to us, so we had planned to just get off the ship and do things by ourselves, unless there was somewhere specific we wanted to see. Here is a brief summary:
Koper, Slovenia -- just walk off the ship and you are there. Very small and easy to walk around without a tour.
Split, Croatia -- tendered, so expect to wait unless you have early tickets. A lovely town to walk around and nice areas to sit and watch the world go by. Again, easy enough to do by yourself.
Dubrovnik, Croatia -- shuttle service at $12 per person return. Lovely old town, and a walk along the old city walls with fantastic views.
Kotor, Montenegro -- tendered but with less waiting around than Split (maybe more passengers took ships tours). This was one of our favourite ports. Easy to walk around and lots to see. Again, easy to do by yourself.
Corfu, Greece -- shuttle service at $12 per person return. We were pleasantly surprised with Corfu Town as many people had said it wasn't much to look at. It was Sunday so many shops were closed, but it was still nice to look at some of the non-souvenir shops, especially the olive wood establishments.
Valletta, Malta -- we had arranged a bus (with some other CC members) to take us to Mdina, wait and return to Valletta or the ship for 5â‚¬ per person. This was the bargain tour of the whole cruise and worth every cent. Mdina is lovely, as is Valletta.
Messina, Sicily, Italy -- we had arranged a minivan with driver/guide for 8 (with some other CC members) to take us to Taormina and Castelmola for 33â‚¬ per person. Beautiful places, fantastic scenery and a very good driver/guide. A great day was had by all.
Bari, Italy -- it's about a 20 minute walk from the ship into town, but on the flat and easily do-able. Celebrity do try to discourage you from walking as it's through the port area with a number of lorries, but just follow the pathway and it's perfectly safe. However, there is a shuttle for $10 (I think) if you want to take it. Probably the most uninteresting port on this cruise, but a nice small town with a pedestrian shopping area behind the old town.
Ravenna, Italy -- we had arranged a minibus for 16 (with some other CC members) to go to the Ferrari Museum in Maranello (near Modena), at a cost of under 40â‚¬ per person, plus the 13â‚¬ Museum entry fee. We were a little disappointed at the size of the Museum (we expected it to be bigger with more to see). A few of our group drove Ferrari's from a nearby hire shop, and although their driving experiences were short, they all had smiles on their faces all the way back to the ship! It's a 3 hour round trip from Ravenna, but worth a visit if you are interested in Ferrari's. There was still time left to see Ravenna in the afternoon for those who wanted to.
Venice -- what more can I say. It has to be one of the best sail-ins (and outs) in the World. And then you get a whole day and night to see the sights before heading home. What a perfect way to end the cruise.
Despite the slight negatives I mentioned earlier, we are still avid fans of Celebrity and are currently planning another cruise on the Eclipse for next summer.
If anyone wants further details of the transport we arranged as CC members in Malta, Sicily or Ravenna, then please let me know and I'll gladly pass on the details.
And as final note, we met a lot of really nice fellow CC members on this cruise, both at the informal sailaway at the Sunset Bar, and the official get-together on the first night. If you are reading this, then it was nice to meet you.