My wife and I travel quite a lot and usually stay in 4-5 star hotels to make our vacations special. We are willing to pay extra for a better view or club level service. With that said we selected the Celebrity Silhouette due to the raves about what a beautiful design the Solstice ships were. We selected the particular cruise so we could spend time in Venice and visit Kotor. I had been to Venice and wanted to take my wife there for our anniversary. We selected a stateroom with a terrace for the view and openness of the room. Reading Cruise Critic reviews we learned the best area of the ship for a quiet stateroom. It was very helpful.
We live in Asia and took SwissAir to Zurich and then down to Venice. In order to spend more time in Venice we arrived 4 days early and had a great time seeing the city. On May 16 we made our way to the maritime station to board the Silhouette. The line was long outside the building and it took maybe an hour to actually get checked in. We printed everything out on computer at home and were well prepared. Had we not prepared at home I am sure it would have taken us quite a bit longer. The lines are segregated based on your cabin class, so the more you spend on your cabin the faster your check-in I would guess. That seems fair to me, for the extra you pay for a higher class you should get better service. At the time we were a little miffed about how slow check-in was but when you think that 3,000 people are checking in I think one must understand it is not an easy task. I think they said you could check-in and board the ship from 11am -3pm. So what happens if everyone thinks 11am is a good time to check-in? I think things could go smoother if they issued multiple check-in times so the 3,000 people were separated into groups that were spread out over the 11-3 time period.
Once on board we found our stateroom 8277 and found it to be a delightful room. After looking over the room and leaving our carry-ons in the room we set out to explore the ship. WOW... what a beautiful ship the Silhouette is. It is well taken care of and very clean. I know it is a pretty new ship, but after hosting cruises for 2+ years you would expect a few issues here and there. We did not see anything that appeared to be needing repairs or needed cleaning.
Getting a little hungry we went to the OCEANVIEW CAFE. It is basically a cafeteria near the top of the ship on Deck 14 with floor to ceiling glass with a wonderful view. It is very well laid out so as to not have big lines. There are many separate stations consisting of all kinds of foods, main dishes, salads, fruits, cheeses, breads, desserts, and beverages. There was pasta, a pizza station, Indian food, Mexican, Oriental, a sandwich station with fresh breads and a staff member who would create a sandwich to your liking hot or cold. Selecting a few items we sat next to one of the huge windows and watched the goings on in the dock area from 14 floors up.
Returning to our room we found our luggage at the door. So we unpacked and put everything away. There is a good deal of storage and we found we actually had empty shelves. The luggage fits under the bed. The stateroom had the bed next to the terrace which we prefer. Actually we never sat on the sofa, it was a resting place for clothes and our carry-ons. The large flat screen TV was very nice and the room itself was well thought out and well built. The bed was very comfortable with nice linens . There were extra pillows and light controls by the bed. Everything including the carpet appeared very clean. The bathroom was compact but very nice. The shower was excellent with enough room, a sliding door and a super shower head with lots of hot water. The terrace was roomy with comfortable chairs.
Even with an outstanding new ship poor service could ruin a cruise. From the moment we stepped on the Silhouette we received excellent service from all the staff. Without exception they were smiling, friendly and going out of their way to make our trip special. We very much enjoyed the conversations we had with various staff members though out our cruise. Yes the crew is expected to sell drinks to you, specialty dining and shore excursions but they are not pushy. If you don't want to buy extras you are left alone. We did not feel pushed to spend more money during our cruise. If you want to buy optional services they are right there to assist you rather than you having to search out where to buy them.
I know there are many specialty eating places on the ship, but we were more than happy with the quality of the MDR and the Oceanview Cafe so we never felt the need to try the other restaurants. Plus when we have excellent meals in the MDR why do we want to pay $30-45 extra each for a meal? In the MDR we had excellent steaks and a nice selection of seafood, nice salads and very good desserts. We chose the Select Dining option and never had to wait more than a couple minutes for a table. We normally sat on level 4 at a table for two. We prefer a more private dining experience. Our waiter Wilmar and his assistant Rolando were outstanding. Wilmar was a joy to see every night at dinnertime. He had a big smile and he just made you feel special and happy. He also had good suggestions what was good that night. He told us that Celebrity has tasting sessions for the wait staff so they know what they are serving. Great idea.
We both had the Classic Beverage package and were glad we did. We signed up for it when booking our cruise. I felt we would enjoy the cruise more if we were not worrying about spending more money every time we were thirsty. We are not big drinkers but we did have a few beers and we normally had a nice glass or two of Australian Shiraz with dinner. We were able to have several glasses of fresh squeezed orange juice with breakfast every morning, select juices throughout the day and all the bottled water we wanted for our stateroom and when going onshore. I believe the beverage plan paid for itself. We will definitely always get a beverage package. Celebrity seems to offer them as a perk during their 123GO promotions quite often too.
The weather was not what we would consider POOL WEATHER on this cruise but we did enjoy the hot tubs. The ship has a nice gym but we did not use it, we tried to work off the extra pounds by using the stairs and walking a lot onshore.
The entertainment on the ship was pretty good. The excellent cruise director Ian and his main man Pete & sidekick Martin seemed to keep things hopping. Their humorous daily TV bantering was enjoyable. Ian's BAD JOKE OF THE DAY spot was cute but the jokes were truly BAD! Knock Knock..... Who's there? Ian. Ian who? Ian needs better jokes! The production shows were very good and we enjoyed them. Obviously they cannot be the quality of Vegas or Broadway but considering the setting they were very well done. Sorry but you are not going to get Elton John and The Bolshoi Ballet for the price you paid for your cruise. The other individual entertainers were either good or so-so. The musicians were all quite good. The band playing nightly by the main staircase played a mix of ballads, jazz and light rock. Most people seem to enjoy them. I am sure some cruisers would prefer classical but unfortunately you can't please everyone.
The BINGO is a waste of your money. You are better to use that $30-50 and get a few good drinks and watch the sunset in one of the nice bars throughout the ship. The trivia games were fun and the ping pong & pool volleyball against the crew was great.
When the ship gets into port you always have the issue of moving 2-3000 people in an orderly, timely manner. When we were docked it went pretty good most of the time however it depended on the transportation that was arranged at each port. Some were very good others were slow. When we were tendered it was a lot slower and not as enjoyable. If you were intent on leaving when everyone wanted to go you could get frustrated. This is to be expected on a ship with so many passengers. However if you go a little later things were more relaxed and faster.
The ports we visited were interesting, some better than others. We did not use Celebrity to book tours but preferred to be on our own. We don't really like organised tours. Kotor, Dubrovnik and Ravenna were our favourites. Malta, Split and Sicily were our least favourites. Venice was fabulous in mid May before we boarded for the cruise, but very crowded when we finished the cruise at the end of May.
The bottom line is that we had a exceptional vacation. We were truly sad to have to leave the ship. Do we plan to cruise on Celebrity again? Yes, while we were on this cruise we booked another cruise to Alaska on the Silhouette's sister ship the Solstice for next year.
I read many reviews on CruiseCritic and while most are very positive I find it hard to believe how very negative some reviews are. The reviews of this ship are mostly very good but there are a couple that really blast Celebrity and they say they will never book them again. In life there are people that want everything perfect and expect nothing less. These are the people who will find it difficult being happy with most things. Because NOTHING in life is perfect and there are always things that go wrong no matter how hard people try. Humans are humans! Maybe some people would be happier on a cruise at 3 times the price with fewer passengers and twice the crew. Or maybe they need their own ship and crew to realise not everything always goes like clockwork?
My wife and I go on a cruise expecting to have a nice time. We don't expect everything will be perfect. There are long lines sometimes and waiting. There are good entertainers and not so good ones. There are great meals and some that are not so great. Sometimes waiters forget to bring a spoon with your dessert, it happens and should you let this ruin your cruise experience? Some people do...... we don't. If you go on a cruise expecting perfection you will be disappointed. With a huge ship, 1,000 crew and 3,000 other passengers there will always be screw-ups. Like they say if life hands you lemons .... make lemonade.
Cruising is a delightful, relaxing way to travel. We wish everyone a great cruise!