Just returned from the 3/10/13 7 day voyage on the Celebrity Silhouette with my wife and 3 friends, all in our 40's and 50's. The handful of negative reviews here made me adjust my expectations downward quite a bit. Matter of fact, I was sure the ship, crew and whole experience would be a disaster.
I will tell you that the problem I ran into was with security at the port, before boarding. While this issue might pertain to 0.0001% of you, it may be worth noting as a matter of principle.
My carry-on went through the scanner and I was asked if they could look through it. "Fine" I said. There was nothing in there that I hadn't brought on a cruise before. They take me to a table and go through the bag. The guy pulls out my handheld police scanner and says "you can't take this on the ship". I told him that I have taken it on many cruises before with no problem (I use it to listen to ship-to-shore communication during docking, undocking, tendering, etc.). He said that since February they have been told not to allow them.
Before you tell me to read the list at Celebrity's website of prohibited items before I pack- I did! They tell you no HAM radios. This means an amateur radio that is capable of transmitting on frequencies that may interfere with the ship's radios. Mine is a receive-only radio. It does not transmit.
Now they want to take my $500 radio, tag it, give me receipt for it, and let me pick it up after the cruise is done. I was afraid of the scanner being damaged, as it was not in a hard case. A very nice lady named Jillian from Royal Caribbean (yes, RCCL) helped me out, packaged it, and sent it onto the ship for security to hold.
After being onboard for 2+ days, talking to security and having them tell me that they needed to email their home office with the model number of my radio, and dealing with guest relations, the scanner was given back to me. A great guy named Angel at guest relations went above and beyond to help me. Thank you Angel!
After thinking for a day or two, and remembering the comment about "since February" from the security person, I came to the conclusion that with what has been happening with cruise ships lately (fires, tugboats, plastic bag toliets, etc..) the cruise line does not want you to listen to what they are telling the coast guard while they are telling the passengers something entirely different.
The scanner does not allow you to listen to internal communications. That is done over a secure, cellular-type network. But if they are telling the passengers, after the power goes out, that everything is fine and it's minor, while meanwhile they're telling the Coast Guard that the ship is taking on water, I can hear that. I think that's what they don't want.
Bottom line: Had it been on the website as prohibited, I would not have brought it.
The cruise: Did I mention we went on a cruise??
Let me tell you my personal take on the Silhouette, her crew, the rooms, the food, the service, etc..
The entire ship is beautiful, fairly well laid out, squeaky clean and has a very cozy feel. It really never felt crowded, even though it was full. Our 8th floor, mid-ship, bump-out, balcony room was among the nicest we've had. The bathroom was good size, the balcony had reclining chairs and a tall table, the bed was comfortable, the TV had some of the best reception and channel choices that I've seen on a ship.
We were not Aqua-class, but our friends were not. However, they liked the Grand Cuvee food better than Blu, so we dined together often. We did not have a bad meal on the Silhouette at all. Most of the food was great, some excellent, and a few not that great. For the most part we were very happy with the food in the dining rooms, the Oceanview (buffet), and the Mast Grille (excellent burgers!). The only food that was not good was on Coco Cay-bland backyard barbeque fare.
We also dined in Bistro on Five. Crepes were excellent, salads very good, soup decent. For $5 it was well worth it.
Also had dinner in Qsine one night. The experience was quite unique. The tenderloin melted in your mouth. Many other items were fantastic as well. However, I have a bit of a problem with high prices to dine in these places: $90 for 2-people, ipad cocktails $15 each!? Did you forget that while I'm eating here I'm not eating somewhere else, saving the ship money on the Grand Cuvee dinner we didn't have. When specialty dining started years ago I remember RCCL charging $25pp and it came with a cocktail.
Speaking of cocktails, we did have the standard alcohol package, and boy did it pay off!! But when I ordered a Blue Moon in Michaels it came as a beer covered in my package, and when I ordered a Blue Moon from the ipad in Qsine it came as a $15 mixed drink that was not covered.
All in all I can say that having the drink package does not get you poor service or having bar waiters hiding from you. We had great service next to the pool, in the dining rooms, sunset bar, Coco Cay, etc. The bartenders are a lot busier because of the drink packages, so find a secluded bar that's not busy if you can't wait.
The Staff: Top-notch, friendly, smiling, saying hello, very helpful, etc..
I always make a point to be very polite and engage the staff in conversation whenever I can. Eumesh, our Maï¿½tre 'D, was such a great guy. He took us on a guided tour of the multi-level wine rack in the Grand Cuvee that holds 2000 bottles. These people work very hard, and for months on end. Be pleasant to them and show them some respect and you'll be surprised how much they appreciate it. Ask them about their home country and they light-up, ask the Serbian bartender that you may think is "dour" about where he comes from and his family and you'll likely see a smile. I saw passengers ordering ship staff around like slaves at times. Really? Do you do that at home or at work??
Ports/Excursions: Did only one excursion during the week. It was the Cozumel snorkel and Jeep tour around the island. For $70pp I thought it was well worth the money. We saw more of Cozumel than ever before. The rain and flooding roads made for a bit of a challenge, but Nathan was a great guide and we had fun!
Grand Cayman is a nice place to shop then go to the beach, so that is what we did.
Coco Cay: Our Favorite! Laid on the beach and sponged 'em up. Great day!
Falmouth: no excursion planned, so we shopped right outside the ship in the "manufactured" mini-city. If you want to experience the real Jamaica go outside the gates and onto the actual city streets. Not a real safe feeling so we went back inside.
Shows/Entertainment: We didn't see many "shows", but did catch the bald magician one night. I was not impressed, but the others in our party liked him. The other "roving" musicians were pretty good. And, this was the first cruise I can remember where there was no pool-band that played reggae every-day (thank god!).
Our cabin attendant fell far short of our expectations. One evening the room did not get serviced, another, the beach towels were taken and not replaced. Ice bucket not being filled, dirty bathroom floor, etc.. Our friends in Aqua-Class had stellar service from their attendant, we did not.
Coco Cay stops beverage service at 3PM, but last tender is 4:30/4:45?? Keep one bar open with limited items for goodness sake. I nearly became sober!
Disembarkation took forever (embarkation was fast and smooth), and then the taxi lines were very long. Lesson learned: walk off early w/luggage.
Not many children on the ship. You decide how you feel personally about that.
This did not seem like an "old-person's" cruise. Ages varied greatly and there was something for everyone.
Bottom Line: Pretty close to perfect in my book. The Silhouette experience for us was worth our time and money. We would sail on her again and would definitely recommend her.