Silhouette Eastern Caribbean 3/2 through 3/9
I don’t know the ‘traditional’ way of writing a review, so I will simply try to categorize the important stuff and keep the trivialities at a minimum.
Check In: Almost smooth! Almost. We checked in around 1:30 and had some weird issues with my partner’s seapass card. They could not get his photo and card to jive together. My process was seamless; his took a total of five attempts before getting it to work. The girl at check-in kept taking his photo and running his card without success. We eventually had to go see ‘someone special’ at the far end of the check in booths. This special person was finally able to make it happen on try #4. Kind of. Because when we went up to board, the card still would not read. So some more behind the screen magic happened and then this was attempt #5, without knowing if it was really resolved. But….finally onboard. (More on this later!)
First impressions: WOW. We supposedly had access to our Sky Suite (9376) but we wandered around a bit first. In a word, I would say ‘modern luxury’ really does describe the décor. Not overblown, but with so much understated beauty and proportion. There was no overabundance of fake wood (which we are used to seeing on Princess ships) and no bright neon. The public areas were well designed in every aspect. Loved the tree in the elevator atrium!
Sky Suite 9376: This was our first time in a suite of any kind. Prior to now we have just done the usual balcony stateroom on Princess (and once on an unfortunate Celebrity Millennium cruise in 2003 that I won’t go into now. Suffice it to say that the Celebrity of 2014 is quite improved). Naturally we were blown away by all the space in this corner aft. The bathroom with a tub and shower (no clingy shower curtains this time) were a breath of fresh air. I loved the big porthole window on one side and did some reading while sitting inside it throughout the cruise. The balcony was a big hit. So huge and panoramic. We spent more time on this balcony than any other cruise we have taken. As for storage, we didn’t even use all that was available to us. I could not find a single thing to improve on this room. There were some rumors on Cruise Critic about soot on the balcony of these aft cabins. Yes, there was a miniscule amount on the way down to Puerto Rico, but it never collected on the loungers or table or even the deck; just a tiny little recessed area next to the glass. It is hardly worth mentioning and had no effect on our cruise. None. The room is quite a distance to the stairs and elevator, which was not an issue for us. We liked the privacy it afforded.
Service/staff: So, so different from what we experienced in 2003! FANTASTIC! Not one slip-up or negative; no not one. And so friendly! And funny! We both said to each other, “They must have a training class on sense of humor for every one they hire.” Everyone seemed to be having a great time on the ship and so happy to be doing their thing. Nicole was our room attendant, Singh was our butler. I can’t praise them enough. There are no words. They anticipated needs before we ourselves did. Clare at Guest Relations was quite funny. By this time, we realized that my partner’s card STILL did not work, so we went to her to get it sorted out. She produced a new card, we tested it out…and voila! On attempt #6 it did work! However…when he tried to use his card to get a beer, the beverage package verbiage was not on his new card…so we had to go back to Guest Relations again for a new one. This was attempt #7, and it did get resolved. Clare was so patient, apologetic and at the same time hilarious throughout this snafu.
Ports: Honestly, we did not book this cruise for the itinerary, but to try out an S Class ship in a sky suite. We had been to Puerto Rico and Saint Martin before, and loved these ports, but we had never been to Saint Kitts. We did not book excursions for Puerto Rico or Saint Martin; we just got off the ship and wandered around a bit in our favorite haunts. At Saint Kitts, we took the excursion to Brimstone Fort and to the Batik place. The fort was fascinating, and we took some beautiful photos there. Neither of us are into Batik, but we did walk around the botanical gardens that surround the place and got some great shots. There is a tree there that is over 400 years old! Probably in retrospect we should have done the zipline to avoid some of the cranky cruise passengers on the Brimstone Fort excursion. There was a big drama over someone sitting in a different seat on the van when we left the fort to go the Batik place. It was so ridiculous I won’t even bore you with the details, but we heard about the details for a good 45 minutes of the tour. We are not youngsters (both 57 years old) but some of our fellow passengers who are not much older seemed a lot less thrilled to be alive. I think the 400 year old tree we saw was a lot happier than this one woman who was so rattled about not getting her original seat on the van.
As I say, we did not choose this cruise for the ports, but for the ship.
#A. Blu: I must say that I was extremely doubtful of all the great things I’d heard about Blu. I mean, how different could it be? But surprise! It was one of the high points of this cruise. We had wonderful waitstaff every time, but the standouts were Baron and Yasine. The maître de was Fernando. He could not have been more accommodating! I felt as if we were old friends within a few minutes. So…for the food here: What is there to say but that we were never disappointed in the slightest. My partner got the New York strip on two separate visits and pronounced it perfect. He is very particular when it comes to steak. We loved Blu so much we never even made it to the main dining room. Since we were in a suite we had the surcharge of $5 each time. SO worth it.
#B: Bistro on Five: This was quite a busy place. I had read on Cruise Critic that it seemed to be empty a lot, but not the case on our cruise…and as the trip went on, it became even more popular. Service was great once again, and the food was spectacular. We came here twice. I had the Buffalo crepe (spicy roasted chicken with blue cheese) and also the Mediterranean crepe (which I can’t remember the details about, but which was just as good). The desserts here are remarkable and different from what you get elsewhere on the ship. I would have loved to have tried breakfast here, but we didn’t get around to it.
#C. The Porch: Another place with a $5 surcharge. Worth it. I had the Reuben Panini and a Caesar salad. My partner had some kind of Tuscan/italiano Panini. A nice change from the buffet. The décor is fun too, and it’s nice to be more connected with the outside and the sound of the ocean.
#D. Oceanview Café (buffet): Best buffet setup by far on any cruise I have been on. We did not make it here a lot, as we wanted to try all our options…but it was so de-lish! My favorite thing here was a greek chicken salad to die for. I also did like the pizza, despite all the complaints I have read about. Perhaps Princess pizza is slightly better, due to their perfect crispy crust…but nevertheless, I thought it was quite tasty!
#E. I Forget What It’s Called But It’s The Burger Place: Much better burgers than Princess! We had them twice we liked them so much. Once again, great to have lunch on the little tables next to the ocean.
#F. Tuscan Grille And Murano: I am combining these together because my opinion of both is the same: Excellent in every aspect, and just as good as…but not better than Blu. I wanted to try them and was happy I did. Not disappointed in any way, but why pay more for something that I like just as much as Blu? Next Celebrity cruise I think we will just book Aqua Class and stick with Blu. Or we might eventually get to try out the Main Dining Room! If you book a cruise without access to Blu, then I would highly recommend either of these. If you’re able to eat in Blu, then I don’t see the point.
#G: Qsine: We had our free specialty night booked here. I was and am still fascinated by it, and will try it out again. It started out for us as great fun, but my partner accidentally ate some avocado that was in one of the dishes we chose, and he is deathly allergic. He became drastically ill within minutes and we had to cut our visit short. We will be back! We loved the lava crab and the disco shrimp, and the few other things we had before we made our exit. It is such a different concept, I think it is well worth the surcharge.
Entertainment: By far, this is the best cruise we have been on for entertainment. So much to do, and such high quality. All the onboard activities were wonderful, but the production shows….EXCELLENT EXELLENT EXCELLENT. As I have mentioned, we have been on many cruises, all but one on Princess, and enjoyed the majority of them, but this particular cast on Silhouette outshines them all. I majored in vocal performance and worked professionally in this field for several years, so I recognize great singers…and this ship has four spectacular ones! You will not be disappointed. Try to see at least one of the production shows if you can. My least favorite was the Cirque style show but that is just my personal thing. I don’t care for the genuine Cirque de Soleil shows, so it was hard to win me over on this one. I like the acrobatics; the gymnastics, the juggling. What I don’t care for is the nonsensical musical scores full of words that mean nothing. As I say, this is what the bona fide Cirque shows do, and Celebrity does it well…it is just not my cup of tea to hear gibberish sung. If you like Cirque stuff, you won’t be disappointed though.
SUMMARY: I suppose I could write more, but this covers all the main points that I’d be interested in if I was reading a review. We will definitely cruise with Celebrity again, and I can honestly say it was the best cruise experience ever. We will still go with Princess in the future, depending on itinerary…but yes, in a side by side comparison, Celebrity rules in our book.