This was our second cruise on Celebrity. Both Celebrity sailings have been on Solstice class vessels, the first being the Solstice itself and this past cruise, the Silhouette. Both ships are magnificent! Engineering marvels, really! This review will concentrate on the Silhouette primarily. Check-in was a breeze. We are currently stationed in Germany so a European embarkation point just makes sense for us. We now know Venice a little better and can say that it is so very very easy to travel from the Marco Polo International Airport to the Piazza Le Roma by bus! From Piazza Le Roma, it is a one stop trip (only 1/2 a kilometer really) directly to the cruise port on the People Mover monorail. You can't go the wrong way as there is only one direction out of Piazza Le Roma. 14 Euros one way for both of us! Private taxi, you had better have 70 - 80 Euros handy. Once at the cruise port, we went directly to check in. We were early, 11:00am and no lines. We had done the online check in process which saves a lot of time at the counter. Verification of travel documents and credit card for the on board account and we were off to security for clearing. Rooms were not ready yet but there were parts of the ship ready for travelers (like the buffet for lunch and pool area.) Announcement let us know when rooms were ready and luggage arrived very timely. On the first night, specialty restaurants were %50 off so we went to Murano.
- Murano is a very nice on board restaurant with exquisite cuisine. This was our second meal in one. The food quality is excellent, presentation remarkable, and taste is very pleasing! We had the premium drink package and opted for wine with dinner. This is where the experience went south... Sommelier informed us of our options with the drink package. He also recommended a wine that was $2 over the allotted drink package and since our package was premium, it would only cost us the difference. We said yes to my wife's glass of wine. All was good except the Sommelier decided to bring out wines for the other courses and failed to mention they too, were over the drink package cover. By more than $2 dollars! I did not appreciate him taking liberties with our bill. On day 1 I decided to not let it spoil the trip and not raise a fuss, but what he did was wrong. And from that point, I made darn sure I was getting what I expected with no more surprises.
- Aqua Class: This was the first time we sailed Aqua Class and I give it mixed reviews. Overall, I very much liked it! Priority boarding was excellent. Champagne is the room was good if unspectacular, but a nice touch none the less. Access tot he Persian Gardens was oh so relaxing! Loved that and couldn't understand why more people didn't take advantage. I did like the quiet relaxation all to myself though... Room shower with the jets was nice for my aching bones.. Access to Blu, the Aqua Class restaurant was worth the upgrade in my humble opinion. Although we did not dine there exclusively, we did dine there quite a bit and it was like a specialty restaurant experience every night! Maria, our Sommalier at Blu gets a special shout out for being what all Sommeliers should be.. She was excellent and enhanced our dining experience so much! Thanks Maria! Only drawback on Blu - Where is the coffee cream at breakfast? Only Brits like milk in their coffee... They were always gracious enough to get us some and we appreciated that! Blu = EXCELLENT! Aqua Class downers:
1. No flowers in the room until late on day 2
2. Fruit plate daily was apples. ONLY Apples. Like there was a shortage of other fruits or something. We threw away the apples and they brought us MORE apples! We gave up.. Grabbed a banana in the buffet...
3. Daily canapes.. What are these things anyway? hor d'oeuvres? Whatever they were intended to be, the thought was nice but quality was questionable. Stale tortillas. ham wrapped around a bread stick? Looked like leftovers from the buffet at times.. Olives were good though!
4. Pillow menu? WHAT pillow menu? Not sure what I expected but I sure didn't expect to have to describe what a pillow menu is to the cabin steward. Hey, Celebrity advertises a pillow menu for Aqua Class, not me.. You should know what you are promising to people... As it turns out, not much there... Although the regular pillows are fine.
Overall food grade would be a A-. To be fair, that is an exceptional grade for any cruise line to achieve with someone who loves food they way I do! I am totally amazed at the quality of the food on board with Celebrity considering the sheer quantity they prepare! Kudos to the chef and crew! The ONLY drawback is food can get a little cold or stale of the buffet line. Not a lot mind you, they do keep it reasonably fresh. I also believe there is always room for improvement when handing out grades so do consider my scale a half letter down from the average person.. Food = GREAT on Celebrity.
Drinks - I LOVE the drink package thing! I don't ever want to worry about the cost of anything when I am on vacation! And in this case, I prefer to have my drinks prepaid and not go against my on board account! Its a personal preference for my own budgeting.. All specialty coffees are covered. i like that! Got my money's worth right there, never mind the two glasses of wine at dinner or the beers poolside... Vacations are supposed to relax you so take the worry out of the equation and prepay the expenses.. Then experiment with new tastes at THE MOLECULAR BAR! AWESOME!! Second time there and I have now worked around the menu! Would never have tried it if buying drinks individually...
Pools - not enough pool space yet, had a great time up top on deck! Soothed my aching bones in the whirlpools too! Standard on ships and very nice! Deck got REAL hot in the sun though.. Wear flip flops! Solarium is so relaxing and quiet. It's like an indoor pool area without the noise of kids or music. Designed for quiet relaxation.
Casino - We made $5 on slots. I'm happy! Nice casino with assortment of games. Very clean and new, like the rest of the ship!
Onboard shopping - Never understood this. Why would anyone spend all that money to go on a cruise to spend even more in specialty stores.. But nice to window shop as the merchandise in the high end stores is quite nice. If you want to do duty free shopping, wait until you're at the airport...
Crew - A very professional crew. Always took care of business. Knew what their job was and did it. Not as engaging or as friendly as the Solstice with a few exceptions. (Maria and Anna from Blu, Suzanne at the Molecular Bar) Slobodon, the manager of the Blu restaurant, does a wonderful job.
Entertainment - Did not take in any shows so no comments.
Specialty Restaurants - Only ate at Murano. REALLY wanted to try out the new grill restaurant but can't fathom why anyone would spend $40 on a steak.. Bring your price back to reasonable Celebrity.. We got nice steaks in Blu for free... QSine was pushed awfully hard but I thought the concept to be too playful.. I like to eat not play with my food...
Shore Excursions - Only took one and was a little disappointed. I'll never be a fan of the scare tactics all cruise lines use to get you to sign up for an excursion - letting you know that they WILL leave you behind at port UNLESS you are on their authorized excursion. That is all well and good but after telling me 20 times, I get it.. And still managed to get my butt back on board all by myself on time. Got to see the ports of call on my terms which frankly, always is better (for me) than being herded onto a bus.. Grab your Rick Steves book and go your own way. Plan your adventures in advance to include reservations for museums you may want to see. Have a good watch and plan on getting back to port and give yourself an hour of leeway in case of unforeseen delays.. If the ship offers transportation to a particular city (i.e. $12 for shuttle service to Dubrovnik's old town) take it.