This was our seventh cruise, third on Celebrity, and the largest ship we have sailed. We expected to feel more crowded, but in fact, there were plenty of relaxing and open spaces to explore on the ship, and many we did not have time to fully utilize.
We started our vacation by flying from Newark to Key West the Thursday before we sailed. We explored the Keys on the drive to Ft. Lauderdale and had a rental car without a drop-off fee (Hertz). After brunch with some friends in Ft. Lauderdale we drove to the airport, dropped off our car, and took a cab to the ship and walked right on at 1:30 pm. Our cabins were announced as ready when we boarded.
As part of the Sam Adams Beer package, we had an Aqua Class cabin, 1575, mid-ship, deck 11. The cabin has a good layout, a balcony that served us well, plenty of head-room, the bathroom is larger, and shape of the shower and shower jets/shower head are a treat and spa-like. There is a canape service in the afternoons, and daily fruit, tea, bottled water and flowers delivered to the room that are a cut above. The one drawback to these cabins is the arrangement of storage space. The over-the-bed storage is awkward, and other cubbies that we found on the Celebrity Summit are missing, and...we missed them. Our steward Michelle was outstanding, friendly and ever-attentive.
Our Meet & Mingle was Monday, at 10:30 am. Plenty of food and beverages, and attended by at least 35 Cruise Critics. The Cruise Director, Damien, and Hotel Director Christophe, were sociable, and stayed to speak with our fellow critics.
We ate in Blu, Quisine and The Lawn Club, The Grand Cuvee (lunch), Cafe al Bacio, and the Oceanview Cafe. We found the food to be of good variety, nice quality and great abundance. The bakery was especially fresh and delicious. One of the only dining drawbacks is that seating was noticeably tight, and though it made for nice conversation, it did not allow for any diversity in the experience of dining--especially at a premium price. On more than one occasion, we felt that we were seated in waves to be served in larger numbers, and might have been more satisfied with traditional seating times at big tables than in small tables waiting for other small tables right next to us to fill up. Or, the first courses were delivered smoothly and were timed well, and then there was too much time before the next course. We are not sure that Celebrity's answer to Norwegian's Freestyle Dining measures up, and might try different dining arrangements on our next Celebrity cruise.
Entertainment on board was varied, and a good experience was enhanced to great by the spaces made for the musicians and bands (which were of a high quality to begin with). The theater is Broadway style terrific, the central lobby allows for listeners to sit on multiple decks in varied seating spaces, and the smaller venues had comfortable seating and well stocked and staffed bars. Of course the most unique experience is the ability to listen to music while sitting on the lawn.
We took a bicycle tour of San Juan (booked through the ship with Rent the Bicycle), a sail and snorkel in St. Kitts/Nevis (booked with fellow Cruise Critics) and a bus tour of both the French and Dutch sides of St. Martin/San Maarten (booked by us with Bernard's Tours). Each tour delivered better than expected--and we feel we got what we paid for and more.
We participated in the Sam Adams Beer Cruise events that could only be booked through Cosco Travel. We attended a Sail Away Social in the Quasar Lounge, two tasting events in Tuscan Grille and a tasting and lunch in The Lawn Club. There was an additional add-on tasting at Michael's Club. We cannot say enough about Meagan Anderson of Sam Adams. Her knowledge, enthusiasm and ability to engage the whole room made the Sam Adams interactive events entertaining, educational and satisfying.
One of the only disappointments in the cruise was disembarkation. We were not called to leave the ship until nearly 50 minutes after the time we were scheduled to leave, and then there was a standstill in the line for Customs that lead to an hour's time between leaving the ship and getting through Customs. If we had a plane to catch we would have been in trouble.
Final thoughts: The Silhouette is a gorgeous, well-maintained, well-laid out ship. The crew prides itself in being ranked number one in the fleet for friendly customer service. Some of our other highlights were barbecuing our own meal with the staff in The Lawn Club, The Q&A with the Captain who gave one of the better management lectures we have hear, and should be a mandatory session at Celebrity, our tour of the galley (arranged by event coordinators for Sam Adams Beer Cruise). It was very nice to be able to attend Catholic Mass during a seven day cruise--nice space was offered for it. Last but certainly not least, was a Cruise Critics Wine Tasting get together.
As you can tell, we really enjoyed our week on the ship, and would definitely sail on the Silhouette again.