This was our sixth Celebrity cruise and our third Transatlantic which we enjoy because of the relaxed sea days and extreme value provided by these "repositioning" cruises. This was an especially great cruise because it visited some great and unusual ports in Europe like Gibralter, Sardinia, and Sicily, as well as a couple of our favorites - Madeira and Naples before arriving in Rome (Civitavecchia). On top of that, we had reached Elite status and were meeting up with 14+ friends we had met from previous cruises.
A great "Roll Call" had been set up and managed by Monica P. which allowed us to set up shore excursions prior to boarding the ship, which allows a more customized excursion than those available from Celebrity, and often at a better price (Thanks Cruise Critic). Monica had also provided extensive activity, ship, and port information. My wife and I have found that you usually enjoy a cruise more if you contribute and participate in the events so we usually host a cabin crawl, but this was already being managed for this cruise, so we were able to avoid the effort involved. Instead, I brought some paracord in various colors and taught some of my friends how to make survival bracelets. I often joined the "knitting group" for this activity. LOL One of my other friends, Fred C. gave astronomy lectures and stargazing sessions.
We arrived at the pier about 1PM and were quickly on the ship. The embarkation process was fast and efficient. We immediately headed to the Oceanview cafe where we found our friends lounging and re- connecting on the aft deck. After a while, we decided to head to our Aqua Class cabin to see if our bags had arrived. It was at this point where we did have an unusual negative experience. Basically, our cabin had not been cleaned properly (drawers had not been emptied and bathroom not completely clean) and it was not set up to represent an Aqua Class cabin (missing amenities, etc.) I would not want a first time Celebrity cruiser to think this was typical of Celebrity. Unfortunately, it took a trip to Guest Relations and two sessions with the steward manager to get things about right. We WERE given another bottle of Champagne to compensate, but I sincerely hope this was an isolated experience and not a trend as our previous cabins had been perfect.
This was our second time on the Silhouette and it is still our favorite ship. Modern and beautiful. The first night we ate at the Lawn Grill with our friends and celebrated a birthday. IMHO, the handmade pizzas are great and the best part of the experience. I wish there was an option to just go for the pizza at a reduced price because you always end up getting too much food.
Our daily schedule consisted of activities like art classes, lectures, bocce ball contests, trivia, reading, relaxing, etc. We were disappointed that Celebrity has cut back for some reason on the activity staff. This is perhaps understandable for port intensive cruises, but for transatlantics/transpacifics with many sea days they need to provide additional staff. For example, on this cruise, they cut out the very enjoyable golf events. Nontheless, there were always plenty of activities to keep you busy. A particular highlight was the egg drop contest where you devise a suitable container for three eggs to survive a 4 story drop. We needed some plastic for a parachute, and after asking for help from Guest Relation were provided with a 4 ft. wide 100 ft. roll of plastic sheeting. (An example of great customer service).
All of our evenings started out with cocktails in the Sky Lounge, or at the Sunset Bar with our friends. This was made even more enjoyable by our complimentary Elite drink coupons. If you went to the Sky Lounge there were always staff members available to talk to as well as small Hors d'oeuvres. Waiters always seemed to be friendly and attentive. Since we were Aqua Class we could eat in Blu which has a quieter atmosphere and different menu. I have heard people say the portions are smaller, but you can always ask for more, which I did for the delicious Panko crusted scallop appetizer. Since we couldn't bring our friends to Blu, we ended up eating a number of meals in the main dining room (MDR). We found the food and service here to be just as enjoyable, and that has actually caused us to wonder if we will pay the extra fee for Aqua Class in the future, although I would encourage new cruisers to try the experience. We also had great dinners in Qsine and the Tuscan Grill. I would like to mention the Oceanview Cafe (buffet).
I don't understand how people can criticize these buffets. Breakfasts include custom omelets, eggs benedict, etc. Lunches and dinners include regional specialty items and carved meats as well as extensive salad and sandwich bars. Only one day did we think the seating got a bit full during lunch, and I personally befriended a waiter who always brought me coffee. I really don't know how anyone could expect more.
The weather for this cruise was outstanding! Shorts and swimming suits the whole way across. I won't discuss the port stops as those are different for every cruise, but the disembarkation and reembarkation process was always smooth and efficient. I only went to a couple evening events in the theater, but heard a great pianist and wonderful female vocalist. On a very positive note, several of us noted this was the best band and DJ music we had heard on a cruise. Very oriented to our age group. There was a bit of an issue with the internet service on this cruise, which the Captain addressed in a letter to each passenger, but again I think this is an isolated experience, as are the individual passengers who showed up on formal nights in shirtsleeves for dinner, and those who pushed in front of other in the buffet and pool deck events.
Overall this was a great cruise on a great ship with some great staff. We can't wait for our next cruise on Silhouette (hopefully with some of our great cruising friends).