My wife and I enjoyed our Western Celebrity March 23-30, 2014 cruise a great deal. Overall, the cruise was the best of the dozen or so we have been on, the best of our four Celebrity cruises. Was everything perfect? Of course not, but overall we had a fantastic vacation.
We enjoyed a couple of nights prior to the cruise at the Boca Waldorf Astoria Beach Club and enjoyed the perfect location directly on the beach. On departure day, we returned the rental car and made our way to the pier via taxi. The pier was a bit of a madhouse. There were no Celebrity people directing where to drop luggage, and many ended up inside on the check in line with all their luggage and were sent, rather rudely, to the valets, probably 1000 feet away. The entire registration experience was characterized by rude, clueless Celebrity uniformed people directing guests incorrectly and with little concern. Strange that our select/elite Captain's Club line took more than three times as long as the standard line. Luckily, this was the last negative experience of the week.
We boarded within minutes once we survived the gauntlet of registration and were greeted by a welcome glass of champagne. Immediately, we were struck by the beauty of the Silhouette. We purchased the Specialty Dining 5 restaurant package prior the cruise, and headed to make our reservations for the week. The lovely young Ukranian woman at Murano was fantastic and handled the details for us.
After a quick lunch and a drink at the sunset bar, an announcement was made that our cabins were ready. Our cabin was near the back of the ship, well sized, and perfectly adequate for a week. The bathroom was particularly large. Our attendants introduced themselves as Ariel and Antonio and provided good service for the week.
Throughout the cruise, we found the ship to be impeccably clean. The public restrooms were often attended and always sparkling. Around the ship, you never saw a stray glass sitting around, nor any stray papers. By far, the Silhouette was the cleanest ship we've ever experienced.
The ports were adequate. We enjoyed the ATV tour in Cozumel, disliked the long tender process in Grand Cayman, and spent a bit of time ashore in Falmouth. We so looked forward to Labadee, but the rough seas cut our day a bit short. And while the Captain certainly could of cancelled the port all together, he did dock and only cut the day short when the conditions created a safety issue if we would have stayed longer. Getting all the ship's passengers and crew on board in only an hour was impressive.
Overall, we found the food to be outstanding. In the oceanview cafe for breakfast or lunch, there were always many different selection in various stations. Eggs were cooked to order at breakfast. At lunch, we favored the ethnic food, especially the Indian.. All were varied throughout the week. Fresh fruit was always available and the salad bar variety was outstanding and fresh. While crowded at peak times, the flow was good and we rarely had any issue finding a table either outside or inside. Drinks service was somewhat sporadic, but not an issue.
We ate at Tuscan Grill twice. We loved the view, the service, the menu, and the ambiance of the room. The steaks were perfectly prepared and the appetizers inspired, especially the tuna crudo and the goat cheese salad. i enjoyed the best creme brulee I've ever eaten and my wife's gelato came with pop rocks sprinkled on top!
We enjoyed the Lawn Club twice, once as part of our package and once as a prize in one of the Celebrity Life activities. This is a great concept. We loved eating outside, and the heat was tempered by the breezes. The highlight of the menu for me was the red snapper...perfectly cooked and extremely flavorful. We heard the couple next to us say that their steaks were the best they've ever eaten. Dessert included a chocolate chip cookie and ice cream...yum. Service, once again, proved to be outstanding. And a comment about the French matre'd... this may be hardest working "manager" on the ship. We were impressed with the way he helped his staff from clearing tables, pouring wine, or even pulling items out of the oven. It was great to see such leadership, and you could see that his staff was inspired.
We had a nice dinner at Murano, especially our lobster entrees, and while we enjoyed Qsine, that was probably our least favorite meal--seems the concept got in the way of serving outstanding food in our opinion. The only other dinner we had was casually in the oceanview cafe...which meant never eating in the dining room. We liked this. We also really like that the specialty restaurants do not require formal dress on formal nights. We don't go on vacation to dress up..so it was nice that those who enjoy doing so had a venue to do so, and those of us that don't could simply dress in the smart casual style.
We enjoyed our Premium Alcohol package. We upgraded the standard beverage package that came as part of the promotion for our cruise. We aren't big drinkers, but not needing to sign for any drinks made it so easy. Our greatest surprise was how much we enjoyed the Molecular bar and the ice-covered Martini bar. The nominal fee to upgrade the package was well worth it, as it provided access the molecular bar and in the few cases where we upgraded our wine by the glass selections, we merely paid the few dollars per glass difference.
Now the staff...without question, the crew on board the Silhouette was outstanding. Everyone was friendly and wanted to do whatever possible to make your day a great one. I'd like to call out a couple of individuals, who warrant specific mention: Suzana and Jelena at the Molecular bar were delights...full of personality and with constant smiles. Beatriz at the Ensemble bar was another lovely individual. And Maarten, of the activities team, shared his great sense of humor at every trivia event he hosted. And while these are a few specific individuals, we found the entire crew to be outstanding. We better understood why this was the case at the Captain's question and answer session on our last sea day. He clearly creates an atmosphere were he values his crew and insures they are happy. It really shows. For the first time in our cruising history, we felt that the crew was happy to be there and enjoyed their jobs and the passengers.
And our fellow passengers...the great majority of whom were lovely. But the ones who can't manage a please or thank you, that can't wait in a line, or that don't request, but demand should be ashamed of themselves. And if there are any negatives written about this cruise or crew, I bet that's where it would come from.
Thanks to the crew of the Silhouette for a wonderful week at sea.