First, some comments. My husband and I are in our early thirties, and these were our eighth and ninth Celebrity cruises. We were cruising with friends who also enjoy cruising on Celebrity. We love the S class, and Silhouette is our favourite ship because of the great venues onboard including the Molecular Bar and so many specialty restaurants, not to mention the live poker tables. I guess that gives you an idea of our priorities when on vacation!
The second leg was the Red Sox group cruise, which we had been a bit concerned about after hearing of some issues with large group cruises. However, we never really noticed any of their private events, so it had no effect on our cruise at all. There were a couple of offerings open to everyone, such as the Chef’s Table, which was being hosted by a player, and a Celebrity Life activity (Are You Smarter Than a Red Sox Player) but we didn’t participate in those.
We stayed at Springhill Suites Fort Lauderdale Airport/Cruiseport, and the hotel was reasonably priced and comfortable. I had been planning to book a room via Priceline but rates were so high at the last minute that I just kept my regular booking through Marriott. They had Concierge service available with a car service that would take you wherever you wanted to go at a prenegotiated rate which was much less than a taxi. My husband made a reservation at Mundi’s Italian Restaurant for us for dinner after reading some TripAdvisor reviews, and the meal was inexpensive and fantastic. We highly recommend it.
The hotel also included breakfast and a complimentary shuttle to the pier, which sounds good in theory but this is where our adventure started! First, the shuttle service sent a bus that was too small for all the passengers booked, and one gentleman had to stand. Then, halfway to the port, the trailer hitch broke and we had to pull off to the side of the road and await another bus to transport everyone to the ships, which took about an hour. After the luggage was unloaded from the trailer, someone had the idea to take the Holland America passengers (there were only a few) in the bus that was there and just push the trailer off to the side of the road with the rest of the passengers who were waiting for the new bus to go to Silhouette. Unfortunately, the trailer slipped while it was being pushed off the road, and ran over my husband’s laptop case. There was only a little damage done to the screen, but it’s not fixable which put a little damper on the start of our trip.
Normally we arrive at the pier around 11am, but given all the delays, it was a little after 1pm when we finally pulled up in front of Silhouette. I was worried we’d be caught right in the middle of the busiest embarkation time, but the Elite check in line was relatively short and we had our paperwork filled out and were onboard having lunch at Bistro on Five (our embarkation day tradition) within half an hour.
We had booked 6209 for both legs, a 2D stateroom with the triple sized veranda. I had been a little worried about noise since we were so close to the elevators and my husband and I sleep in very late since we’re night owls, but it was very quiet and we had no noise issues. The veranda was huge and it was pleasant to sit out there. My husband was not bothered by the lifeboat obstructing the view through the glass, but I found that it detracted a bit. I would book this cabin again over a smaller one, but if unobstructed oversized verandas were available at a reasonable cost, I would prefer that.
Our stateroom attendants were very polite and friendly, and they learned our schedule quickly. Our room was always made up and clean, and small requests (more laundry bags, extra pillows, etc) were taken care of promptly. The one issue I had was minor enough in my opinion not to be worth raising, but it was a bit offputting. Our glassware was not changed in the two weeks we stayed in the cabin, despite daily use. I am not sure what the protocol is for glassware, but I can’t imagine there is a sanitary way for them to clean them in the room and they were definitely not changed out. For those wondering how I know they weren’t changed out… I wear mineral makeup and I occasionally use the bottom outside of a glass to blend the powder, so there would be little dark flecks all over the base of the glass, which I left out in the main cabin area to indicate it was used. The glass was simply replaced in the bathroom and the outside, at least, was not cleaned.
We did get a towel animal one day- I suppose the stateroom attendants noticed that we collect the little stone turtles in ports, so we found a turtle on our bed one day. Very cute!
Normally we don’t make a lot of use of room service, but given our MDR experience the first week, we often found we were hungry in the wee hours after a session of poker. We ordered the pepperoni pizza from room service, and it was fantastic. Definitely the best pizza on the ship, and our nighttime attendant (same person every night) brought it to us when it was still so hot it would burn your mouth. Thin, crispy crust and lots of cheese and pepperoni. It is definitely worth trying!
We also decided to try the pay options on the Premium menu for breakfast one day, just to see what they were like. My husband ordered the steak and eggs, and I ordered the smoked salmon omelette. I’m still not sure where the caviar was that was listed as part of the omelette, but it was delicious. Both plates were served with grilled tomatoes and asparagus and mushrooms. My husband said the steak was good and definitely worth the surcharge. I also wrote in fresh raspberries and strawberries, and these were delivered as well. They did call us 45 minutes prior to the time I wrote in to confirm that we knew these items had a charge, which was frustrating since we had planned to use breakfast as our wakeup call. I asked at Guest Relations later if this was the policy and was unable to get them to confirm or deny. I would not order Premium items again if it meant getting a phone call to verify every time.
Our plan for these cruises was to eat in the MDR the first week, and on the second leg when our friends joined us, we were going to book the Ultimate Specialty Package. The MDR on Summit in October had been so good that Silhouette’s was more of a disappointment in comparison. We had requested a table for two, and when we were ushered to our table, it was approximately 2” away from another “table for two”, which was 2” away from a third. Realistically, for a couple who prefers to dine alone unless we are with family or friends, this was a table for six. If Celebrity was unable to accommodate our request, then that would have been fine, but to give us this and call it a table for two really feels inappropriate to me. When I requested a change to a more private table, I was told none were available. Our tablemates were nice people and we did enjoy ourselves, but we had been looking forward to the first week as some private time to ourselves and hadn’t planned on socializing at dinnertime.
Main seating was at 5:45, and we were told that a lot of service staff were ill because it was very difficult to get wine on a timely basis, and the pacing of dinner itself was slower than normal. We didn’t leave the MDR before 8:15 on the evenings we ate there. We wound up only having dinner there three nights out of seven as a result. The food was perhaps a little worse than on Summit (the gnocchi particularly on the final night was overcooked badly) but on the whole it was fine.
We did go for formal night both times on the first cruise, and people generally followed the dress code.
Our friends knew Koray, the Food & Beverage manager on Silhouette, and he told us there had been some issues in the MDR during the first week. He had invited us back to try again on the second cruise but since we had the Ultimate Specialty package, we didn’t take him up on it. It sounded like he was on top of the issues though, so hopefully people on the Jan 12 and future Silhouette cruises will enjoy their meals in the MDR. He even visited us in the specialty restaurants to see how we were enjoying our experience there.
We did not use the MDR for breakfast or lunch.
As usual, we really enjoyed Bistro on Five. We went several times on both legs and the service and food were always excellent. We also enjoyed the Porch and visited it several times.
Tuscan Grille is probably our favourite of the four specialty restaurants on Silhouette. If you’re lucky enough to score a table by the wake, you get a fantastic view, and the food is delicious. The antipasto course is wonderful, and the onion soup here is much better than in the MDR. Their Caesar salad is prepared tableside and my husband ordered it every time we visited because it was so good.
We also enjoy the Lawn Club Grill, especially the flatbreads and the lobster mac and cheese, but don’t forget the warm chocolate chip cookie a la mode! We joke that the other desserts are just filler on the menu because we’ve never seen anyone order them. It is fun to make your own flatbread, and if you don’t actually want to knead the dough, they will give you a premade crust for you to put toppings on. The best steaks on the ship are at the Lawn Club, especially the filet mignon.
Qsine is always fun, and we generally go at least twice because otherwise you can’t get through all the courses you’d like to try. The menu has offerings for pretty much every palate and we enjoy the interesting presentations. And of course, the Qsine cocktails are fantastic. I’m a Pineapple Julep fan but my husband and our friends enjoy the Moscow Mule. Now with the Premium drink package covering up to $13, there’s no surcharge to enjoy these drinks.
And Murano… I find it tougher to review Murano than the other three, because we used to enjoy it so much, back when it was the only specialty restaurant onboard. The food is still excellent, but the service isn’t what it used to be. On our first visit, we waited fifteen minutes to be offered bread. There’s also only one sommelier for the entire restaurant, so if there are a lot of wine lovers, getting your glass refilled may be a bit slow. We really enjoyed the days where the service was over the top fantastic and one could make special requests of the chefs or even just have them surprise you with some offmenu items, but it just doesn’t happen anymore. We still enjoy our visits there and we went twice (once on a 2 for 1, once with our package), but feel that it is overpriced at $45 and would never go there at full charge, while we did pay full charge for Tuscan Grille one night the first cruise and felt it money well spent.
Make sure to go to Murano first thing on embarkation day if you want to purchase the Ultimate Specialty package, as we were told they only sell 12 of them.
Oceanview Café/Poolside Grill:
The Mast Grill was always busy when we visited it, so our burgers and fries were always fresh and hot. I remember in the past when burgers were sitting in warming trays but we didn’t see any of that this cruise. On sea days at lunchtime, it was impossible to get a table by the grill and the line wrapped around the railing!
We had lunch once or twice in the Oceanview the first week, and we’d pop by occasionally for afternoon tea (love the scones with real clotted cream!) or a light snack. I felt like the buffet offerings were improved over what we’d seen in the past. There were more selections and we never saw anything cold, and trays were replenished as needed. The pizza stand wasn’t nearly as good as the room service pizza, but it was okay. I liked the Mexican station, and my husband tried the Indian food a few times. It wasn’t very spicy, so if you like heat, pick up a bottle of hot sauce in port!
Aqua Spa Cafe:
We never made it to the Aqua Spa Cafe this cruise. We stopped by once on the first leg but decided to get a burger instead, and the second week we used either the Bistro or Porch for lunch every day. I kept meaning to get a yogurt parfait since I’d enjoyed them so much on Summit, but there was so many other choices I forgot.
We spent most of our time split between our favourite bars, Cafe al Bacio and the Molecular Bar. I don’t drink coffee, but I enjoy the Iglu frozen beverages at the coffee bar (also great with a splash of Bailey’s) and my husband drank Americanos.
We always started our evening with a drink or two at the Molecular Bar, and spent the evening there after dinner before going to the casino. The mixologists, Suzana and Jelena, are fabulous. Great service and they are so much fun to spend time with. This was our third cruise with Suzana at the Molecular Bar and we always enjoy her company very much. I think it would be helpful if there was better signage or advertising for the bar, though. So many people come by and ask for a beer or some sort of drink that isn’t made there, and they get upset when told it can’t be made there. The cocktails served are fantastic, so why not make it clear that this bar only serves specialty drinks? Even on the deck plans, it’s only marked “Galleria Tastings” so people don’t really know about it unless they walk by.
We went to the late night Sin City comedy show, and I couldn’t stop laughing. The performers were a lot of fun and we would have liked to go more frequently, but the timing interfered with the nightly Texas Hold’Em cash game, so we mostly played poker instead.
We didn’t go to any of the regular evening shows as we preferred either to spend that time in the casino or at the Molecular Bar.
Busy as usual! The blackjack tables were minimum $10 in the evenings, although we caught it at $6 on one slower sea day. The Texas Hold’Em table was spreading $2-$5 no limit (buyins $200-$500) with a 10% rake capped at $15. There is a live dealer, but that’s a much higher rake than the 7% we paid on Summit with the PokerPro machine. Of course, since there was a live dealer we were able to make use of house rules like live straddles and buying the button if you missed a few hands.
We didn’t have our son this cruise, so we didn’t check out the Fun Factory on this ship. We saw some children around but generally they were well behaved.
When we saw the prices on Silhouette were the same as they were on Summit in October ($29.95 for a formal night portrait), we didn’t bother having our pictures taken this time since we’d bought a few photos so recently. People may remember that I was one of the posters who felt that the previous $19.95 price for photos was reasonable given the cost of professional photographers, but this price hike is too much even for my tolerance. We normally buy between five and ten photos per cruise, but if prices stay as they are I suspect we will probably buy one or two at most in the future.
Since we had the Premium beverage package, we never made it to the Elite cocktail hour. They didn’t give us tickets so there must have been only a relatively small number of Elites on board. Except for using our coupons, we never made it to any of the Elite events this trip.
Ports of Call:
We travel to the Caribbean frequently just to avoid Canadian winters, so none of these ports were new to us. We love St Maarten because of the great prices on high end wine and champagne, and we often stop in at the casino in the shopping area as well. Just watch out for their complimentary rum punch- it does indeed pack a punch!
The weather wasn’t great on this cruise- it was pretty rocky around San Juan, although it settled down after a few days. On the second leg, it rained in both Grand Cayman and Jamaica, although Celebrity had a chance to shine. In Grand Cayman there were several ships tendering, and the Carnival Breeze had a long line waiting in the rain for tenders. The Celebrity gate had no line, and porters handed you an umbrella as you walked to the tender- that was definitely a nice touch.
Except for Labadee, we generally just walk around or shop in port. We picked this specific itinerary because it went to Labadee, which is our favourite port. We booked a cabana on Barefoot Beach and had a fabulous day floating in the ocean on the beach mats that came with the cabana rental. Our cabana attendant stopped by frequently to make sure we had drinks, and the drink package works on Labadee which is a nice touch. We also enjoyed the upgraded lunch buffet which had burgers, hot dogs, steak, ribs, BBQ chicken, and shrimp kebabs, as well as cold salads, grilled fish, and rice.
We had booked a 10:45 am flight home, which we knew was going to be tight. We set our alarm early to do express walkoff, and we were off the ship by 7:45am, bags in hand. The only problem was that there were no taxis waiting, and the taxi line already wrapped around the building. We were worried about making our flight until we saw a porter wearing a red shirt offer us a shuttle to FLL for $11pp. He told us it was on its way now so we got out of the taxi line and went with him. We were at the airport by 8:30 and assumed we’d have plenty of time, but with six ships in port, the airport was mobbed. By the time we got through checkin and security, we made it to our gate with only ten minutes to spare.
Would I book a flight that early again? Only if I had to. We like sleeping in as late as possible and having one more drink at Cafe al Bacio before getting off the ship. It was stressful when I saw that there were no taxis and worried about missing the flight. The next Air Canada flight wasn’t until 8pm and that’s if they were able to accommodate us.
We had a really nice cruise, especially the second week when our friends joined us and we did all specialty dining. The experience onboard with both the Premium drink package and the Ultimate Specialty package is fantastic, but we just can’t eat that much two weeks in a row! It worked out well to have MDR first week and specialty the second week, because it made the food and service in the specialty restaurants that much better in comparison.
We don’t cruise for the activities onboard- we just want to dress up and have good food, good company, a few drinks, and a poker table and we’re happy. This cruise, we got that, and we had a great time. We are booked on Reflection for B2B next year, almost identical itinerary so we can go back to Labadee.