Background: I have been cruising on Sitmar/Princess since 1981 and have wanted to try Celebrity since I saw the Equinox when I was on the Ruby Princess two years ago. My wife, eight-year-old son and I have been on several cruises together and after a week on the Silhouette, agree this was the best cruises experience we've had (more on this later).
We flew Friday night out of LAX on Virgin America. We reserved a room at the Hyatt Place 17th Street and enjoyed the hotel's amenities and location. The weather was great in Fort Lauderdale - very comfortable with no real humidity.
We took a shuttle to Port Everglades at around 10:30 a.m. Check in was a breeze and then waited for about 15 minutes before boarding the ship. We had lunch at Bistro on Five, which was very nice. We were immediately struck by how upscale and "cool" the ship felt to us - sort of like a floating W hotel with great background music playing. After lunch we explored the ship and eventually went to the stateroom to unpack and prepare for the Muster Drill. We had a nice sail away and were excited for our week ahead.
The Cruise Experience:
I'm not going to go into details about the ports since I believe the Silhouette is going back to Europe after the Western Caribbean itinerary this week. I would like to share our impressions and experiences of the ship, staff, etc. which hopefully will be helpful to folks.
As I mentioned earlier, this was our best cruise experience yet. If I had to put my finger on the biggest thing that made the difference for us, it would have to be the staff. Consistently, we felt they went out of their way to ensure we were having a great time. From the public restroom attendant to our room steward, we were thoroughly impressed with the attitude of the staff. They all genuinely seemed happy to be there which directly impacts how they treat the guests. Like anywhere, this starts at the top. The Captain was funny and engaging, as were the other officers. This was new to us, as we've never experienced such officer involvement with the passengers on other lines.
We loved the food - MDR was comparable to Princess, maybe a bit better. The Ocean View Cafe was hands down the best buffet we've had on a cruise. I think the only things I missed from Princess was the pizza and pasta (much better on Princess IMO). We did Qsine and the Lawn Club Grill. Qsine was fun but wouldn't go back. The Lawn Club Grill was great, as they let my son make the pizza and grill the meats. Great experience, but both are a bit pricy, especially given the quality of food in the MDR.
Another highlight was the Celebrity Life staff, who organized many of the events around the ship - they were GREAT! We had so much fun participating in their various events.
We loved the on-board musicians, and The Runways party band was at the top. Along with the typical party songs, they did some really nice acoustic sets by the pool in the afternoon. The two female singers were wonderful. We also enjoyed the Steel Drum player as well as the Miami DJ (two-man group consisting of a DJ and a percussionist).
The layout of the ship was so much better than that of the Princess Grand Class. There were so many great activities going on at night inside the ship and so many cool places to sit and have a drink, read a book or just people watch.
Service, staff attitude (including officers), interior layout of ship, staterooms, inside and outside pool areas, atrium design (effective use of lot's of glass), on-board music (both live and piping), Cafe on deck 5, great public bathrooms, self-service beverage machines.
Could be better:
Outside pools are too small. Pasta and pizza in the Ocean View Cafe. Lack of traditional outside promenade deck. Small bath towels in standard rooms. No light on balcony for reading at night. No self-service laundry.
We enjoyed the cruise so much that we booked an Alaska cruise for this August on the Solstice (we have an existing cruise reservation on the Star Princess for the same week which we will now cancel). We also booked a Med cruise for summer 2014.
Hope this is helpful. Feel free to ask any questions