This will be a review of the ship and pertinent comments about the itinerary and ports but is not meant to be a travelogue of our journey. This was our 3rd sailing with Celebrity, 16th cruise overall covering 9 different cruise lines, so we have a good basis for comparisons.
The itinerary included an overnight in Venice. We had come in early to tour Venice so we boarded on the 3rd day in the city. We took the Alilaguna boat from near San Marco where our hotel was located to the port, arriving around 12:30. Unlike most ports we have sailed from, the place where one drops off their luggage is a separate building from the cruise terminal itself. This involved a bit of a walk from the local boat drop off point with all our bags, then another walk with our carry on luggage to the terminal itself.
Check in took about 30 minutes, not too bad but there are some opportunities for efficiency improvements. First, rather than fill out the standard health questionnaire prior to entering the queue Celebrity had us fill it out at the counter, which holds up the line. Also, the process of getting one's photo taken for the boarding card was slow, while other lines take it as you board the first time. Finally, my credit card used for charges had expired and been renewed, same number but just a new expiration date. Rather than making a note or marking up the original online form, they made me fill out a whole new form. Bottom line, not a bad check in but could have been even better. By the time we boarded our cabin was ready, which was very convenient.
The Silhouette is one of Celebrity's newest ships. It takes advantage of state of the art technology and its furnishings are modern and Art Deco. The public areas are laid out so we never felt crowded wherever we went on the ship.
We were in stateroom 9266, a starboard side verandah mid ships. The location was excellent except we learned port side would be better for this itinerary as we faced away from town at all ports where we docked . Because our cabin was in the "bump out" we had a larger balcony, which was appreciated. The stateroom was large enough and well appointed. There is a large closet and extra storage over the bed. The beds were high enough to fit our 2 large suitcases and 2 carry-ons under the bed. The only downside is there are 3 fairly small drawers to put away clothes so we had to access our suitcases regularly. The bathroom had lots of room to move around and loads of storage for toiletries, so much that we did not come close to using it all. The shower is also roomy. We were very pleased with the in-room entertainment as there are a large number of first run movies available on demand as well as the largest number of TV channels available we have experienced to date.
We elected Celebrity Select for dinner, which means we can eat any time between 5:45 and 9:30. You can make reservations earlier that day or one day in advance. We quickly discovered that whenever we went down without reservations there was very little wait, the dining room was incredibly efficient. We were always happy with the food quality and wide variety of selections and the service was excellent. We never dined in the speciality restaurants as we were happy with main dining room. We did eat at the Oceanview Cafe twice for dinner when we came back tired from a long day of touring, but found the food at dinner less than satisfactory.
For breakfast we either ate in the Oceanview Cafe buffet or had room service. The selection of food at the buffet for breakfast was staggering and generally good quality. Some of my favorites like smoked salmon and herring were available every day, as well as eggs to order and so much more. Room service can be ordered through the TV the night before. The selection was much more limited but the convenience was appreciated, especially on days when we had early tours.
Since the itinerary was so port intensive, many days we just grabbed a snack while we were out, had tea in the Oceanview Cafe and then had a late dinner. A few days we had lunch in the Oceanview Cafe where there was a large selection which always included Indian, Chinese and Mexican food, pasta, sandwiches and a variety of hot entrees as well as a large salad bar and a build your own sandwich station.
We caught about 1/3 of the main shows. This included a few musical productions, a young violinist and a comedian. Enjoyable but nothing above standard cruise fare. The lounge acts we enjoyed were the party band Sipra, an A Capella group that was very talented and a pianist in the atrium lobby. All made for a relaxing interlude but were not on a level with some other cruises we have been on, including our Celebrity cruise to Norway. A special treat were the 5 lectures on the space program by Ed Buckbee, who co-founded Space Camp and was in public relations for NASA and knew many of the astronauts personally.
Pool and Spa
There are 2 main pools, each with a number of hot tubs, the outdoor pool and an indoor solarium. Except for the one day at sea, neither looked like it was overwhelmed. I primarily swam and relaxed in the solarium. Even on the rainiest days I never had trouble finding a place to lay down. The pool water temperature was perfect, comfortable but not warm. The hot tub was not as warm as I prefer but understandable since it has to appeal to a broad range of tastes.
Other Ship Services
Our Cruise Critic Roll Call group approached 200 people. Celebrity scheduled our Connections get together the first night in Venice, which was a bit unfortunate since many in our group were still out touring as we were docked overnight. On the plus side, they gave over most of the Sky Lounge to us and the free champagne was available for the entire time we were there. For the Venice sail away we took over the Sky Bar and Celebrity put on extra staff to handle our large group. This was representative of the attentive service throughout the cruise.
The Internet service was excellent. Except on rare occasions it was able to handle e-mail and browser searches rapidly. We did not use it for streaming music or video as the cost would be prohibitive for usage time. We bought a package for around $98 that gave us over 200 minutes which was more than adequate for our needs.
The guest services desk staff were friendly and knowledgeable on the few occasions when I used them. We arranged all our shore tours privately or simply walked the ports on our own, so the only time we used the Shore Excursions desk were for shuttles in Ravenna and Dubrovnik.
The intent here is not to discuss what to do in each port as there is ample information on Cruise Critic and elsewhere, but rather to describe access to the ports and the relevant facilities and transportation.
Koper, Slovenia The small city center is right across the street from the port. There were a few tour operators at the port selling shore excursions and a small number of taxis. There is no big terminal building so other services must be accessed in town.
Ravenna, Italy The town is a 20-30 minute ride by taxi or bus. Celebrity offered a shuttle that for 2 people was about the same as the cost of a taxi. There were many taxis waiting at the port. The terminal is very small with minimal facilities that included a Wi-Fi hot spot. In town there is a hop on hop off bus.
Split, Croatia This was a tender port. This turned out to be the only day where there was a disembarkation issue through no fault of Celebrity. Due to rough weather the number of places around the ship where tenders could tie up were limited so the tender operation ran about 30 minutes late. Kudos to Celebrity for placing paramount focus on safety. We had the cell number of our tour guide so we could keep him appraised of our progress. Once you reach Split you are right in town, including the massive Diocletian Palace. Taxis were everywhere as we're folks offering shore excursions.
Dubrovnik, Croatia The old town is about a 5 minute ride by taxi or bus. Celebrity offers a shuttle that for 2 people was cost competitive with the cost of a taxi. You can take a city bus into town at a much lower price but you need Kuna to pay the driver. Taxis were abundant, and they also offered area tours as well as transport to town. There is a fairly large port terminal in Dubrovnik. This was the one port where popularity as a cruise and tourist destination was painfully obvious. The old town was a crush of tourists and the wall looked like a sea of humanity. Here I will offer one tip, if you want to walk the wall, go to the far side of the city to access it where there was a small line.
Kotor, Montenegro This was the other tender port and here the disembarkation was fast and easy. We got our tender tickets at 8:00 for group 1 and by the time I went back to the room to meet my wife and head back down they were already calling group 3. Where the tender docks is at the foot of the old town. I saw a lot of boat tours offered but did not see taxis, although I assume they were available as the town was quite busy. There was no big port terminal but all manner of services were available in town.
Bari, Italy Celebrity offered a shuttle but the walk in to town was no more than 10 minutes at an easy pace. Where we docked was just down from the huge port facility. There were taxis available as one disembarked as well as at the port terminal and in town. There were also local tour operators at the port terminal as well Amy's a hop on hop off bus.
Valletta, Malta The city overlooks the dock area. A short walk takes you to an elevator which brings you up to the old city. There is a large terminal with an abundance of services and access to taxis and tour operators.
Catania, Sicily The entrance to the old city is a 5 minute walk from the dock. Where we docked there was a full service port terminal and just outside is a taxi stand.
Naples, Italy The Naples cruise terminal is one of the largest we saw and has a multitude of shops and services. Once you exit you are by Castle Nuovo and the foot of the old city. Taxis are plentiful as are all manner of tour operators. There is a hop on hop off bus as well.
Disembarkation in Civitavecchia for Rome
This was by far the simplest disembarkation we have ever experienced. We walked off the ship with our carry on bags, had our luggage in 2 minutes and there was no passport control, only a token customs officer. We met our transportation and 90 minutes later were at our hotel in Rome.
One final note, Captain Dimitrios Kafetzis was the most entertaining ship's captain we have ever encountered. He is clearly a frustrated stand up comedian and he would be very good at it. He is a consummate professional and takes his duties very seriously. We always looked forward to his announcements and seeing him around the ship.
In closing, the cruise lived up to our expectations of Celebrity and we would not hesitate to sail with them again and recommend them to anyone.