I never intended for this to happen, but it seems that I have become thoroughly addicted to cruising in general, and now, with Celebrity in particular.
This was my 10th cruise overall, 4th with Celebrity, and 3rd transatlantic.
Being retired military and of modest means, overall cost is always a major consideration, and the ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE deals available on transatlantic cruises make them a perfect match for me, and my budget.
With a half-billion dollar cruise ship all around to boggle my mind and slacken my jaw, and the brains of a couple of thousand passengers and employees to pick, the only time I spend in my cabin is to sleep and shower. Therefore I only book inside cabins, which also works out quite well with that limited budget thing!
This is the 9th cruise in the last 7 years that I have booked through my favorite online website, and I have always received a fantastic price AND flawless service, with never so much as a even a minor glitch.
I booked this cruise in late January, right after the price dropped from $699pp to $599pp for a Cat 10 inside cabin on deck 9. (taxes were an additional $122.00pp) I received a $100 OBC from the website, and a $250 OBC from my RCL stock/shareholder benefit. With the amenities, entertainment, food and service available on Celebrity Silhouette, I thought it an offer I couldn't refuse!
Air travel from Fargo, ND to Fort Lauderdale, FL was with American Airlines, connecting through Dallas Fort Worth, and went off without a hitch, arriving at 11:45 PM.
We booked a night at the Hilton, Fort Lauderdale Airport through an online site for $98.00. The price was fantastic, the complimentary airport shuttle was much appreciated, and the service was impeccable. The facility and room WAS just a little "worn" but still wonderful, and the bed was EXTREMELY comfortable!
Friends, (from our previous cruise on Celebrity Constellation) picked us up at the hotel, and after enjoying lunch together, provided our transportation to Port Everglades.
I am STILL trying to understand all of the complaints I read from people about their problems with embarkation!? We arrived at the pier at 1:30 PM, attached our room tags to our 4 pieces of luggage and 2 cases of canned sodas and passed them off to a porter. It took a total of 90 seconds to pass through security.
We waited in the check in line for all of TWO MINUTES, and we had already completed all of our paperwork online through the Celebrity website. It took a grand total of FOUR MINUTES at the check in counter to show our passports, sign some papers, and wait for the very friendly agent to retrieve our cards.
We had our welcome aboard photo taken, walked up the ramp, and were on board in under 20 minutes from getting out of the car. My best embarkation experience yet!
Silhouette is even MORE stunningly beautiful than Solstice was last year! WOW! This was my girlfriend's only second cruise, and she was absolutely blown away. The views of the grand foyer, hideaway, library, and pool deck area from the mid-ship elevators is absolutely amazing.
We walked around for about an hour before I realized that cabins were already available so we went to check out our home for the next two weeks. I actually prefer the shipboard LOCATION of the Cat 11 inside cabins on deck three, but the cat 10 cabins themselves, on higher decks feel MUCH larger! My only complaint is a lack of drawer and closet space compared to M class ships. Service from our room Stewards, Melanio and Andrew was FLAWLESS and enjoyable.
We had select/anytime dining and every night asked to share a table for six as we both agreed that this is the perfect size for interesting conversations. Meeting new people is a highlight of the cruise experience for us, and the idea of needing the same servers to remember your iced tea or coffee preferences each night strikes us as ridiculous. Both the food and service in the MDR were wonderful, and I think the decor is absolutely fantastic!
We did eat one time each in Murano, Tuscan Grille, and Qsine and very much enjoyed each experience, with Tuscan being our favorite. We also both agreed we would just not bother with Qsine again. I WOULD have gladly tried Bistro, The Porch, and The Lawn Club, but we just never felt the need or urge.
The service at the Sunset Bar was overwhelmed each night during the 5-7 "Elite voucher rush" and they never seemed to think about adding extra staff at that time, but the setting was great! Service in the Sky Lounge also seemed a little slow quite often, but again the setting was fantastic. The molecular bar ALWAYS seemed deserted, and the Martini Bar was ALMOST ALWAYS the "hopping-est" place on the ship!
Gusti, my favorite Martini Master from Solstice last April, managed to transfer to Constellation in time for my December cruise, and showed up yet AGAIN on Silhouette! I don't know if my liver or brain cell count can survive another encounter. A GREAT guy and an OUTSTANDING Mixologist! Ask for the Almond Joy or the Espresso Martini. Thanks Gusti!
Entertainment was varied and quite good with a Beatles Tribute Band being the most fun. The Cirque show was just OK, and nowhere NEAR as good as the one on Solstice last year. I found the "Beyond the Podium" speakers to be completely uninspiring. A couple of the comedians were REALLY enjoyable, especially their late night "adult" shows. Unfortunately, I just can't remember their names.
Cruise Director,(Lisa) and Activities Director,(Maria)formed an act that was never outdone! What a couple of thoroughly entertaining kooks, who kept us in stitches on a daily basis. The Captain's daily 10 AM announcement from the bridge is another form of interesting entertainment not to be missed!
Once again my only complaint concerns the ABYSMAL situation with the music, both live and recorded, on EACH of the FOUR Celebrity Cruises I have taken. The average age on this cruise was similar to my previous ones. (65-68) At 56, I was among the YOUNGEST 20% of the passengers. I have a wider range of musical interests than most, and if I was exasperated by the music, you can be SURE those people 5, 10, 15 and 20 years my senior are most likely not having fun either.
The Party Band was quite a bit of fun, playing almost anything from the 50's to toady's pop hits. Whenever they played 50s, 60s, OR 70's music, especially in the foyer around dinner time, there were lots of 60 and 70 year old couples dancing their hearts out on all three decks. Every time the band switched to more contemporary music, the dance floor EMPTIED and stayed that way.
COME ON CELEBRITY!!! FIGURE IT OUT!!! PLAY THE MUSIC YOUR *G*U*E*S*T*S WANT TO HEAR AND DANCE TO!!!
One night in the Sky Lounge, the band played TWO FULL SETS of more contemporary music, AND NOT *O*N*E* *S*I*N*G*L*E* *P*E*R*S*O*N* danced the entire night!!! The LAST SONG of the night, they played a Diana Ross and the Supremes hit and people jumped up on the dance floor, just in time for the band to say "good night, see you tomorrow." HELLO... CELEBRITY... WE HAVE A PROBLEM HERE!!!
The last night in the sky lounge there was a HUGE crowd that had attended the Beatles Tribute Band show, just waiting to dance. The party band started out with COMPLETELY inappropriate contemporary music! I was sitting near the exit and counted 84 people, as they literally ran out of there to avoid the music. COME ON! Its NOT that difficult to adjust your play lists for venue, time, and audience!
Once again Quasar was a TOTAL COMPLETE JOKE and a WASTE! It is an absolutely BEAUTIFUL SPACE that was almost ALWAYS completely empty.
Did I already say the music on board is a MAJOR PROBLEM??!!
OK, now, cleansing breath, and... rant complete.
This was my first cruise where I did not partake of a single shore excursion from the cruise line, opting instead, for group tours organized by Cruise Critic members. All turned out to be thoroughly enjoyable and significantly less expensive. This includes the educational excursion, hosted by yours truly, to the world's largest radio telescope in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, one hour west of San Juan. If you're a science geek like me, check it out.
Debarkation in Civitavecchia was as painless, fast, efficient and easy as was embarkation. Again I am left to wonder about all the people out there who seem to constantly complain about every little thing. Life is WAY too short, ENJOY
In Summary, this was the best cruise ever! I have NO idea how it could possibly be topped, but I will give it yet another shot this fall!