So just got off the Celebrity Silhouette 12 Night HOLY LAND cruise. Boat is the same as Equinox with minor alterations and changes. Made it easy to get around as familiar with their layout. I will give you more or less as much description and recommendations and ideas that we experienced.
Okay, when you get on a boat, which is a port of call in the United States, it is easy, simple and not complicated. When you get on a boat in Europe port of call like we did it in Rome, well priority is non-existent whether you do everything on-line before hand, you have a suite or a regular stateroom, it is simply disorganized and chaotic. It took us over 1 hour, which we felt having been on 3 Celebrity boats prior, was unacceptable, and hard to comprehend coming from such a big company who should already know how to deal with issues such as this, they do it in the United States. It is not horrible, but extremely long and tiresome. You do require upon entering the check-in area is your confirmation sheet (boarding card signed, which you can print on-line as pre-boarding pass cards) and passports. The sea pass cards have the same restrictions for children under age, and allowed parents to include what they wanted on their child(s) sea pass cards. All children must check-in with the youth desk and receive a color-coded identification bracelet.
Like other ships, people ignore this procedure, however, Silhouette runs this extremely effectively. You must go to your correct muster station where your sea pass card is scanned. All passengers' once accounted watch a short film and best part, no need to carry life jackets with you.
All passengers must have their luggage outside their stateroom before 11:00pm. The boat provides you with color tags to place on each bag. Unlike embarkation, it was simple and easy. Our luggage was waiting for us in our designated group area, porters were plentiful, and it was easy to leave.
We had a Royal Suite Stateroom (1116). It is located at mid ship, right of the middle elevators next to the library. Celebrity sails extremely smooth with very little to no vibration, we never once felt we were on a ship, the only time we had some rough waters which was "extremely" uncommon was both times in Greece (Santorini & Athens). This stateroom is spacious, generous with cupboard, drawer and shelving in the living area only. The master bedroom with a king size bed, 2 night tables and a "small" cupboard for hanging and only 5 drawers. The Equinox had a bigger closet space, but it is not such a problem. The bathroom is very large off the master bedroom, but has 2 sinks, toilet, bathtub (Jacuzzi) and a separate glass shower inside a few drawers to put all your belongings. The living area consisted of a pull out double bed sofa, small second sofa, coffee table and large and a huge new HD Samsung plasma TV same as Master bedroom. There is another small bathroom with a sink and toilet located at the entrance. This stateroom has a spacious balcony and my kids loved to bathe in the Jacuzzi located outside on it. The mini bar was also sparse but we never required it, with the amount of food and beverage options you have. Room Service was also very good and easy to do through the TV set.
Butler Service (only with Royal Suites)
Our butler Singh was great. He was extremely accommodating and helped us with whatever we needed. It is very convenient if you need help to book specialty restaurants, Aqua spa...
Food & Beverage
We sat at table 145 in The Grande Cuvee Dining Room, Deck 4, but for only three meals. We booked mostly specialty restaurants. The Oceanview Cafe has a huge assortment and variety of food; it did not seemed as packed and always difficult to find a table, especially breakfast and lunch hours, so I would definite say this was a PLUS! A good alternative solution, which is sometimes very crowded, is the BBQ place on Deck 14, which offers a hotdogs, hamburgers and BBQ items. Space very small, and hardly any tables, so a little difficult at times. There is a lot of assortment of juices, which are all complimentary for kids (Apple juice, fruit punch, ice tea) they get changed at times to, so it gives you variety. We did NOT purchase a water package, it is definitely NOT necessary!!!!!
Specialty Dining - Need to book in advance, and highly recommend doing this on the internet once they allow you to book things on your cruise, if you do not cancel within 24hours of showing, you will be charged regardless, so keep this is mind when booking. If you do not book in advance, extremely difficult to get reservations.
(a) Qsine - This has got to be one of the best concepts and ideas, I have been too in a restaurant. You are given Ipads as menus to begin and your browse through the menu and place whatever you want in your favorites. Once everyone at the table has completed this, they combined all the menus and create a menu for the table. Everything is served family style, and there are a mixed variety of foods. I highly recommend anyone to book this; we ate there twice, and would have eaten more. AMAZING A++++++++++++++++++. The dessert menu is the coolest, but I will leave that as a surprise, but one hint, most are interactive and you can design and make yourselves. Kids are allowed here, smart casual dress, you definitely can wear jeans.
(b) Tuscan Grille - It was good, same as the Equinox, it is nicer than going to the dining room and better food. Kids are allowed here, smart casual dress, you definitely can wear jeans.
(c) Murano - The best "adult" ONLY restaurant, kids only over the age of 18. A beautiful, gorgeous restaurant. The food incredible, and service TOP NOTCH. I would highly recommend this, we ate here twice. The wine selection amazing too. A++++++++++++++++++++++++
(d) The Lawn Grill - located on Deck 15, outdoors, and its location is the same as the glass blowing on the Equinox. It is an interactive dining experience. You can make your own flat breads, with whatever toppings you want, as well as BBQ you meal if you are over the age of 12. My kids had the best time with the Grill Master making their flatbreads; the grill was too hot as my kids were too young. But a great family restaurant, fun, great atmosphere, great Mediterranean breeze. A definite recommendation, you can also buy the aprons, which are really nice.
Places for kids
Fun Factory - It is a small area, no swimming facilities and a small outdoor basketball area. My kids went a few times, as we did a lot of excursions at the ports of call. They made a few small art projects, most the same as previous Celebrity ships, colored t-shirts and bears, and some key chains. The staff was great and extremely friendly. The older kids ages 9+, are allowed to sign in and out on their own, so this gives them some freedom and independence. There are 3 age groups 3 to 5, 6 to 8, 9 to 12, and a teenager group. They also have a small arcade for teenagers as well as an alcohol free lounge/bar. Everything located on Deck 15, you must walk all the way to the front, and so we generally walked Deck 12 and took the 2 designated elevators that go to Deck 15.
If you are really looking to keep your kids occupied, Celebrity is not designed for this. There are no other areas than the Fun Factory, any ping-pong tables, shuffleboards, and mini putt....
Places for Adults
(a) Pools -There are 3 to choose from. 2 outdoors on Deck 12, which happily are NOT salt water, but FRESH water and kept extremely clean. However, they are NT heated at all, and could be somewhat chilly, but you get use to the water once submerged. They are not large, and tend to feel extremely crowded on Sea Days when it is very hot outdoors. I would have to say, they do need more pool areas, too small for the amount of people requiring it. There are 4 hot tubs, always packed to the rim, and very hot and full of chlorine. There is a pool in the Aqua Spa area, but for ADULTS ONLY and it is covered, there is no sun exposure, they also have 2 hot tubs in there as well. Chairs are abundant and but once again, I do not get why they cannot work out the reserve seats, they have 9 pool butlers and they simply do not organize themselves well. They can bring you more chairs, but reserving chairs should NEVER be allowed!!!!!!!!!! I will say which was my "truly" my only disappointment, the lack of security and pool lifeguards (monitoring) is definitely unacceptable. No one is watching our controlling what adults or kids are doing. When they write "at your own risk" on the pool rules and regulations, here they definitely mean it. Not impressed at all!!!!
(b) Bars - We never used them.
Places to hang out
(a) Deck 4 & 5 - They have some shopping, but you would think by now, they would have some shops that would be interesting enough to want to browse, a lot of the same cut your own chains, celebrity stuff. They did add a Michael Kors shop, and Bulgari store on Deck 5. The jewelers have some nice items, especially Bulgari. However, I say this with EXTREME caution, price and make sure you know how much something costs, it is all a myth that they say you pay no taxes and duties and get an extra 10% off. Trust me the price is not different in the end then buying retail at a store. So if you are looking make sure to check on the Internet or know your prices, especially Bulgari.
Shows - We saw the Broadway ones with the dancers and singers, the entertainers are great, and have super voices and dancers extremely talented. If you go 15 minutes before the show, you will get whatever seats you want, not difficult to get, if you order drinks, just make sure they fit in the cup holders, as most don't and then you end up holding them the entire time.
Casino - My father and husband went once or twice, they said same as being at any casino.
Ports - The ports are DEFINITELY what attracted on this cruise.
(a) Santorini, Greece - This was our only tender, it accommodates I believe 40+ people. They take you to the island; maybe 3 minutes drive to shore. Once at shore, you can either take a cable car to the top of the hill, walk the thousands of steps, or a donkey ride. I believe the cable car is not that expensive, for our family of 5, it was 18 euro. It accommodates 4 people, and is fast and speedy. If you are scared of heights, sit with your back facing the ocean, this way you don't need to look down. Once on top, cool with all the small shops, full of souvenirs and tons of jewelry. It was short port of call so we did not get to experience the entire island. Two restaurants right when you get off cable car, the one on the right okay, but if looking for typical Greek souvlaki, don't bother. Ask someone as they have smaller places, which supposedly are much better.
(b) Ephesus, Turkey - We booked our own tour through Auto Venture, and it was incredible. Our guide was truly amazing. She took us though Ephesus, and we toured the ruins, she took us to this amazing place for lunch " BULBUL MOUNTAIN LOOMS", they can be reached at; firstname.lastname@example.org, private and gorgeous, it was in a garden where it is a family business and they make silk and naturally carpets, the most beautiful. I would highly recommend this, very relaxing and not open to the general public. The owner (Ertugrul Karasu) guides you through his premises and he also harvests his own crops, so the meal and fruits and vegetables are YUMMY. We headed closer to the town and we did a little browsing through the market area, a beautiful store with respectable pricing and designs for Jewellery is Faberge. They have lots of leather shops, so if you cannot find at one, trust me 20 others will. Turkey is magnificent and would definitely like to go back and tour the other cities and places.
(c) Ashdod, Jerusalem - We booked our own tour guide here for 2 days, as we stayed at The King David Hotel (gorgeous) for one night, as opposed to driving back to the boat and getting more time in Jerusalem. We took a guided tour with a well respected and amazing person, his name is Emanuel, and you can reach him at email@example.com, and his website is www.normantour.com. An experience you will never forget. We went to the Dead Sea to swim, we walked Ben Yehuda street, did the Western Wall Tunnels as well as putting notes in the wall (remember you need to cover your shoulders and knees - for women only), took us to a great lunch place called "FOCACHETTA", bought Kippas as a great place which has whatever you think you are looking for and more "KIPA STORE on Ben Yehuda. We planted trees at JNF, took a great city tour throughout Jerusalem, ate at a typical and amazing restaurant for dinner called Dolfin-Yam, not to far from the Mamila Mall, which we walked through too, closes at 11:00pm. Beautiful definitely an outdoor mall to walk through. The whole experience was memorable and Emanuel is incredible with kids, he brought along toys and gadgets for them to play while we ate and travelled from location to location such as PSP, DS, and puzzles, cards and this cool blow up balloons. Don't miss this opportunity!!!!!!!!!!
(d) Haifa, Israel - Emanuel met us there, same tour guide as Ashdod. Droves us through the town, highlights all the important points and gives you a great history in a fun way. He took us to the Galilee to Kfar Kedem, a re-creation of a First Century village in the Galilee and participated in hands-on projects to learn about life in ancient times. Made our own pita bread and even ride a donkey around the village. The place is Hosha'aya, and the man who owns and the place is Menachem Goldberg, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and Internet www.k-k.co.il. My kids as well as the adults had the best experience and time here. I don't want to tell you everything, but you dress and go back in time as what live was really like. I HIGHLY recommend this experience, something you will never forget!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We then took a tour through the Drews village and ate at an amazing place called Abu Anter Restaurant, email@example.com. Extremely generous and a typical and delicious Mediterranean lunch. We went to visit the ancient ruins of Caesarea, which is okay, but if you were limited in time, I would definitely take this time and go and visit more the Bahai Gardens from atop Mt Carmel. We did get to see them but only from a distance as they close at 5pm, so we could not walk through. They are spectacular. I complete experience was remarkable and all due to Emanuel.
(e) Athens, Greece - We booked our own tour through Courmouzis Travel Services. We saw the original stadium of the 1896 Olympics, unfortunately Olympic rings no longer on the building. You see how well maintained it is and they did use it for the Marathon run and Archery for the 2004 Olympics and still for musical venues. The 2004 Olympic park is 14 miles to the North of Athens so too far to visit on a one-day tour. We drove the Temple of Zeus and saw the arches as well. The city is very commercialized with evident ruins. The acropolis and seen from everywhere and so cool. We took the long and hot trek up the steps and witness the acropolis, so cool, but very windy and just be careful when walking as all marble and slippery at times. We did not go the museum, as our kids were so tired, it is full of statues and ruins from the acropolis. Overall was not as impressed with Athens as we had anticipated, but a great experience and glad to see something from history that still remains. We had a typical and delicious Greek meal at Spiros Bairaktaris, Tabepna. A definite recommendation. We also had tea and ice cream at The Hotel Bretagne, which is spectacular.
(f) Naples, Italy, We booked our own tour with Giuseppe Dipino he can be reached at Giuseppe.firstname.lastname@example.org. He was amazing especially with the kids. Due to the ruins of Pompeii being on strike in the early morning we visited the small towns of Ravello, Amalfi and Positano. My husband and I had visited the region before so it was amazing to come back and see it in the summer. It is still fantasyland and simply paradise. Our guide was awesome, we finished in Positano but before he took us to a store for ceramics, so we would get the best pricing. He said not to buy in the small towns they rip you off. So I recommend Piccadilly, you can check out their website www.piccadilly.com. Beautiful and very well made products and items. We ate at Chez Black on the water, which we had eaten at 13 years prior and it was the same awesome food!!!!!! We were unable to go see the ruin, which was for our kids, but we had seen. If you have never seen it, it is amazing and incredible to see what they have recovered for the volcano. Overall a great, relaxing day.
I have to stay our voyage was pleasant, nothing other than when we got on, would we say anything negative. A great ship and definitely recommend it and the itinerary. We did stay a few days in Rome at The Hotel Eden, which is in a great location, and if you plan to visit any of the sites, definitely get private tours the Hotel can set it up for you. This way you do NOT wait in the hour-long line at the Colosseo. Private tours get priority and do NOT wait in the Colosseo lines. Best to visit the Vatican after 2:30pm the lines are small and short. It is very hot and remember to bring a shawl or cover your shoulders and knees. One of the best restaurants is Alla Rampa, just below and behind the Spanish steps, a definite!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Great job Celebrity on a nice ship, just make some security issue adjustments, and getting on the ship embarkation and some more upscale stores, and you continue on a great path of continued success.