I was intrigued with the port-intensive itinerary on this 12-night cruise that departed from Rome and visited Naples, Malta, Ravenna, Bari, Sicily, Croatia, Montenegro and Slovenia and then finishing up in Venice (which makes for a terrific grand finale!). This was my fourth Celebrity cruise. Last year I sailed with my husband on a 12-night Mediterranean cruise out of Barcelona on the Solstice and loved it. This time it was a 'chick trip' with a friend who loves art, so that was our focus on this trip (along with a LOT of walking).
Thanks to our very active, over-200-member Cruise Critic roll call, we joined a group for a shuttle from our hotel in Rome to the port of Civitiavecchia. That went smoothly, and embarkation only took about 25 minutes. We boarded around 2 p.m. and our cabins were ready. We dumped our backpacks, and sped to Bistro on Five for a relaxing lunch at only $5 each. This way we avoided the huge lines and crowds upstairs at the buffet. I hate to let that secret out, but it was not crowded at all in Bistro on Five when we went.
The ship is beautiful, the colors subdued. I liked the decor on the Solstice better, but nonetheless the Silhouette is spotless and gleaming in an understated way. Our cabin, a balcony cabin aft portside, was great. I especially like the larger bathroom configuration on the Solstice-class ships.
Some things are different on the Silhouette compared to the Solstice. We loved the 'Hideaway' on deck 7. This quiet area is fun and whimsical, and you can get tea and coffee there any time. We saw people there all the time, using the 'nooks and crannies' for lounging and reading. Art classes (crafts, really) are now offered where the glass show used to be. (Art studio).
I was excited that Zumba was offered but the venue for it was awful. There is an open area just in front of the Silhouette Theater called 'Celebrity Central' and that is where they held Zumba. There was not enough room for us all in that area, plus I didn't like it that others could watch us jumping around. Later in the week it was moved poolside which was better, but why not offer it up in the fitness center? Who needs gawkers? Another problem was the performances done in the main lobby area which forced us to try and find a spot around the railing to watch the dance contest etc. It would be difficult for elderly passengers or those who cannot stand in one place for long periods of time to enjoy these performances. The Martini bar was very busy the entire cruise and probably the most popular bar on the ship.
I enjoyed all the ports of call, and found the Rick Steves 'Mediterranean Ports of Call' and other books helpful for self-guided walking tours.
The food, having been slammed in previous reviews, I found to still be excellent. On a 12-night cruise I think a couple hits or misses are to be expected. I figured out that by ordering my steak medium instead of medium well, it came to the table exactly as I wanted it, just a little pink inside. The steaks had great flavor. A couple of the pastas were very bland. However everything else I had was good. The special brunch buffet was amazing with a million choices. It was crowded but seemed quite well organized. I do have a complaint about the service. Obviously Celebrity has cut back on the number of waiters. Some nights in Select Dining at tables of 6, it took two hours to get through dinner. That is way too long. If you get a table for 2, it goes much more quickly. Those tables are still right next to others so you can talk and meet new people that way without the long waits between courses.
Getting on and off the ship, even when tendered, was easy. No delays. If you want to get off early, just go get in line for a tender ticket ten minutes before they start passing them out. If you are going off with a CC group make sure they meet you a few minutes before you want to get off the ship; go down and get the tender passes early, and you should get right off. It may have gotten crowded later on. We did have to wait about 15 minutes for a tender back to the ship in Kotor, but we probably chose the busiest time to go back, between 1 and 2:30 p.m.
Overall I felt this was a great cruise for the money. We each bought a bottle of wine in Rome to take on the ship (you can bring one bottle per person on board only on the day of embarkation), asked our room steward for a wine opener, and had a glass before dinner the first five nights, which saved us some money!
I will definitely travel with Celebrity again!