I booked a cruise on the Celebrity Silhouette in December of 2011 for a 7 night Western Caribbean cruise for December/12. As soon as the cruise was booked, I then booked the accommodations(3 full days in advance of the cruise),a car rental and airfare in Fort Lauderdale due to the ship being scheduled to depart out of Port Everglades.
A little more than three months after booking, I received an email from the travel agent advising that my cruise had been cancelled due to a charter. The travel agent, who was representing Celebrity, advised that I had three options.
Cancel the cruise with Celebrity
Select from 4 cruises that were departing on January
Sail on the new ship Celebrity Reflection.
Being that the airfare was booked on points and there were no more available flights out of either Fort Lauderdale or Miami and our points were non refundable, I did not really have a choice. Hindsight being 20/20,I should have cancelled with Celebrity and sailed on the Ruby Princess that was sailing out of Port Everglades the same day that the Silhouette was scheduled to depart.
To be fair to Celebrity, the Reflection is a beautiful ship both inside and out. The room that I had booked on the Silhouette was also granted to me and was even bigger that the same room that I had when I sailed on the Solstice in 2010.
I need to point this out for anyone who is planning to sail with Celebrity or any other cruise line for that matter. DO NOT book your shore excursions until you are on the ship! I had booked mine two month prior to boarding the ship. The two excursions I booked were for Puerto Rico (I had never been to) and St Maarten (also had never been to). Upon entering into my stateroom for the first time, there was an envelope with the shore excursion tickets as promised and a ticket stub showing the purchase of the two and also the departing times.
Where my first problem began was when I opened up the envelope. The St Maarten tickets were there but there were no signs of Puerto Rico. I advised my stateroom attendant about the missing tickets and was advised not to worry that he would look after it. It was not until we were on the first day at sea (the day before Puerto Rico) that there was an announcement that our expected time of arrival in Puerto Rico was at 5:00pm.We actually arrived at 4:00pm. My shore excursion receipt showed that the excursion was scheduled to leave at 3:00pm. Up until I left from home (five days before the Puerto Rico excursion), there was never any notice that there was a change in the arrival time in Puerto Rico ... even on the trip summary that I printed out. The trip summary still showed the Puerto Rico excursion departing at 3:00pm. It was for this port that I decided to stay with the Celebrity cruise instead of going to the Ruby Princess.
Upon checking our stateroom TV for our up to date credits, I noticed that instead of issuing a credit to my credit card that I paid with a few months earlier, Celebrity had deposited the money into our on board account (I was not impressed). I went down to the front desk of the ship and advised that there was no way that they were going to force me to spend any extra money on the ship ... especially money that was not theirs to begin with.After about 20 minutes and about two different managers I finally had the money taken off the shipboard account and refunded to me in cash.
The other negative thing that occurred was over a simple piece of fruit in the Opus Dining Room at our dinner service. On any other cruise I have been on, including the Celebrity Solstice in 2010, I have always enjoyed having papaya either before or after a dinner service. You would think that because papaya grows in the Caribbean, there would be a problem getting papaya.After all this is a tropical cruise and papaya is a tropical fruit. Try telling that to the Executive Chef that was on board the December 15th Eastern Caribbean Cruise.
The first might was not a problem and our waiter (Michael) which is probably the best waiter I have had on any cruise ship was able to deliver each night ... even after the Executive Chef denied serving it. It turns out that this Executive Chef had it in his mind that we were insulting his menu when in fact we were complimenting his menu with the papaya. This chef had no idea what customer service is supposed to be like on a cruise ship. People pay big money to travel on cruise ships and expect to have good service.It is not that I was asking for the Moon ... just a simple piece of fruit. This is the first cruise where I have ever had a meeting with the waiter, Maitre D, Restaurant Manager & Executive Chef. I was given a formal apology for the actions of the executive chef and was assured that he would be disciplined. I quickly stated that I have no issue with the chef and I do not want there to be any bad feelings or further discipline. Upon concluding this unscheduled meeting, we all shook hands. The only thing that I can point out is that the chef is the only one that did not look me in the eye when it came to shaking my hand. That goes to show the arrogance of this chef as he has no concept of personal relations.
Ironically we had room service deliver breakfast to us every morning so that we could enjoy in on our balcony on the top passenger deck and at the back of the
ship. Although not on the menu, we had generous portions of papaya served to us every morning without any issues.
As a positive foot note,the net result of this experience from this unscheduled meeting was a very large fruit platter that was in our room upon returning from the night. We received a daily delivery of fruit for being in a concierge class stateroom, but this plate was huge and as we later found out was courtesy of the restaurant manager.
Although we had these minor mishaps, this was a very enjoyable cruise except for missing out on Puerto Rico. The very positive that can be said about the entertainment in the theater, these were by far the best singers and entertainers that we have had on any cruise that we have had.
The only other Problem that I had with Celebrity was to compensate me for the transportation from Fort Lauderdale to the Miami Cruise Terminal. I did finally get through to Dana who was working on the front desk to help out with a taxi ride from the hotel of the last night in Miami to the Fort Lauderdale Airport. After many times of advising that Celebrity does not cover additional costs for transportation, she finally broke down and gave us $ 70.00 for the taxi ride. It ended up costing $75.00 for the taxi ride. It cost me $ 140.00 from the Ritz Carlton in Fort Lauderdale to the Miami Cruise Terminal though,that I am still out of pocket.
On the positive side though ... because it was Celebrity messed up our flight plans for the day of departure, they did cover us for a night's stay at the JW Marriott in Miami ( about a $285/nt room ). The reason for this is that we had planned to leave Fort Lauderdale on December 23rd. But,because the Reflection left one day earlier that the Silhouette, we still had one more full day either in Miami or Fort Lauderdale. Celebrity chose Miami.
All in all this was a verg good cruise. Because of some of the mishaps that we had, I cannot call this a great cruise like the one we had two years ago on the Celebrity Solstice on a Westen Caribbean cruise. That cruise was first class all the way !!