We've cruised many times and in recent years have moved away from big ships, preferring the small more intimate ships instead. However, this Celebrity cruise had exactly the itinerary we were looking for and the price was very attractive compared to the small ships we were considering. We were very hesitant about the size of the ship, but decided to go for it based on many positive reviews seen here. Thought it only appropriate to provide a review in return.
Despite our concerns about the size of the ship (and it IS big) we truly enjoyed ourselves and we did a pretty good job of avoiding the crowds, which was by design. For us, we still really prefer the smaller ships, but the Silhouette did not disappoint, and we would consider cruising on Celebrity again if the itinerary and price were all as attractive as this one was.
Embarkation: Because of personal schedules we opted to fly in day of the cruise. It worked out, but I will not do it again, much nicer to come in ahead of time. But travel was smooth and we arrived in Rome on time mid-morning, found our private transfer easily enough and arrived to the port late morning. Embarkation was a breeze. We chose concierge class as one of our tactics to avoid the crowds, and it paid off right from the start when we went right to the front of the line and were on board in a few minutes. Was even faster and easier than some of our small ship embarkations! Cabins were not ready, as expected, but we were invited to enjoy any of the public areas and have a bite to eat. We headed for the Bistro on Five, another of our crowd avoiding tactics, and it was perfect. Not busy at all. We opted for breakfast crepes and Bloody Mary's and sat back to relax. Timing was perfect as the announcement that cabins were ready came just as we were paying our bill. We headed straight to our cabin and were pleasantly surprised to find our luggage already inside! Set the alarm so not to miss the muster drill, then took a nice, much needed nap. Muster drill was pretty simple. Grabbed a couple of drinks and headed back to our balcony for departure and we were on our way!
Cabin: We were very happy with the location of our cabin on deck 10, very quiet. Cabin seemed a bit small, but was well appointed and bed was comfortable. Small sitting area was nice, although the sofa was not comfortable. Not enough drawers for 12 days, but we made do. Bathroom was nice for a cruise and shower seemed bigger than most with a curved glass door, room for two even. Lots of storage. No pull out clothes line, which we missed. Balcony was small, but nice. Glass did not obstruct views and furniture was nice, comfortable chairs with ottomans and a nice sized table perfect for dining. We enjoyed the balcony every day, another crowd avoiding tactic.
Public Areas: The ship is very large, but we knew that. Easy to get around, plenty of elevators, very nice décor throughout and very clean. We didn't use all the spaces by any means, but enjoyed all the areas that we did. Deck space seemed plentiful. Busy around the pool, of course, but we opted for the top deck and found plenty of peace and quiet there...and no crowds. Sunset Bar was a little disappointed, just didn't seem to be big enough area for a ship of this size and was usually very busy. We normally love this spot at the back of a ship, but learned early on that our balcony was a pretty pleasant spot to retreat to. Lounges were all very nice. We dine late, so didn't do much of the entertainment, but visited the theater once, nice room and act was okay, and also the small theater once for a comedy show, which was also alright.
Dining: Cannot comment on the MDR or Buffet as we never stepped foot in either. One of our tactics to get more of a small ship feel was to plan several nights to dine in specialty restaurants, and we did this the first night and it was great. Our waiter told us about the ultimate dining package which include unlimited specialty dining for a flat price per person and we were sold! Loved it, felt like we were eating in a nice restaurant every night (which we were) instead of a big dining hall. Really enjoyed both Murano and Tuscan Grill. Qsine was very nice and unique, but the novelty does wear off. The Lawn Club for us was disappointing and after one dinner we didn't go back. Didn't care for the salad bar, but the real issue was the steaks weren't good. We both sent ours back, not a speck of pink to be seen for steaks ordered medium and medium rate. A little better when they came back, but still not right. We did have a nice pizza here for lunch one day, but unless you opt for the package as we did I wouldn't recommend it as the price would be ridiculous for just pizza. Service and food in the other three restaurants was excellent. We also enjoyed the Bistro and the Porch for an occasional lunch or breakfast. Room service was okay for breakfast, but we normally got coffee and croissants at the Coffee Bar and enjoyed on our balcony in the morning. We had the classic drink package included in our booking and upgraded to the premium package and were glad we did. One nice glass of wine and a martini every day paid for the upgrade and if we wanted something a little nice the difference in price was very nominal.
Itinerary: We primarily booked this cruise for the ports of call and enjoyed it very much. The weather was spectacular every day. The crowds were a bit much in some places and not as easy to avoid in many cases, but we tried!
NAPLES: We would've spent the day in Capri, but felt we would still be a bit tired from travel and chose an afternoon tour to Pompeii with the cruise line. We know better, but did it anyway and were disappointed. Crowded, rushed and the audio box quality was poor. Wish we'd gone on our own. Returned to very long lines to get back on board and was beginning to think the big ship was a big mistake. Thankfully this was the only day that the lines were a problem.
MALTA: Did our own thing, very enjoyable and pleasant day.
MYKONOS: Did our own thing, beautiful island, very enjoyable. Bought the shuttle tickets from the cruise line and thought it was ridiculously expenses for such a short distance - should have researched other options.
KUSADASI: Hired a private tour with Ephesus Shuttle for the two of us to Ephesus and the Sirince village. This was the way to go! Guide was excellent, knew how to avoid the worst of the crowds, easiest way around, very informative - very enjoyable day!
RHODES: Again, did our own thing and enjoyed it. Delightful walled city and fun to explore.
SANTORINI: Priority tender made getting off the ship a breeze! We chose the speedboat to Oia right from the pier to avoid the crowds going up the cliff via cable car. (Alas, no way to avoid it coming back down that I could find) Spent most of our time in Oia and loved it! Did not care for Fria at all, and there was, as expected, quite a line to get the cable car back down. Line for the tender back wasn't too bad.
ATHENS: We did an excursion with the cruise line here, just for the convenience of it, but we did chose one that gave us three hours on our own and were glad we did. The crowds at the Acropolis were terrible, guide was good though and tried to make the most of it. After an overview of the city by bus we were dropped off at the Plaka for our free time and we headed in the opposite direction from the group. Strolled back along the promenade and found a delightful restaurant with a fabulous view of the Acropolis for lunch -not a tourist in sight at this place (except us, and I know, we ARE tourist!) Nice, authentic food, really enjoyed it. Then walked back and explored the Plaka for a bit before getting the bus back to the ship.
CRETE: Fairly short stop at this port if you don't want to get up at the crack of dawn (and we don't!). We arranged for a driver and a tasting at a lovely little winery outside of town. It was a wonderful spot, the tour was very informative, and of course, we enjoyed the wine! Nice way to spend our time here...and no crowds.
VENICE: Ah, what can you say about Venice. Wonderful to enjoy the sail from our balcony. Used the ship's water shuttle option for $20 pp, very convenient and worth it. Did our own thing here and had a wonderful time exploring the city and of course did the requisite gondola ride. Found a lone gondolier on one of the side canals and this was the way to go! Enjoyed some of the small canals and also the grand canal, our gondolier pointed out sights of interest and even serenaded us, what more could you ask for! We stayed over one extra day and arranged a wine tour for the day. The guide picked us up right at the ship and we headed out to the Veneto for the day. Visited two wineries, saw the countryside and had a wonderful lunch before being dropped back to our hotel for the night.
Overall, it was a wonderful vacation and Celebrity did not disappoint. Service throughout was excellent, the ship was nice, and we managed to not feel like we were on a huge ship most of the time. While we still prefer the small ships, I would sail on Celebrity again,.