Silhouette Holyland Cruise 9/3/2011
Europe - Eastern Mediterranean
After reading the negative reviews of the Silhouette, posted by previous passengers, we were a little apprehensive about our trip. We should not have been. The ship is beautiful, the staff has gotten the message to smile and be extremely helpful and the food was good (but not great). The other passengers, both North Americans and Europeans, were cooperative and polite. Whatever the earlier problems were, we did not experience them.
We loved the itinerary, and the combination of "Sea Days" and Ports. (see my comments below about Israel)
There are about 2800 passengers on the ship, and you never fell part of a herd. Everything is done so efficiently that there were no long lines to embark, retrieve one's passport or find a seat at the pool. There is more than enough facilities for all.
We ate at Murano and Tuscan Grill, and I would say avoid both unless it is a special occasion. $40 per person to eat food that is similar to what is served in the MDR is More
ridiculous. Of course the presentation, service and ambiance is better-but not $80 a couple better. I also thought it was downright "tacky" for Murano to charge extra for Earl Grey Tea.
In fact, Silhouette charges too often for items that should be included-it seemed to be the universal opinion that we were being nickel and dimed to death. (Of course, you can avoid these charges if you wish and still have a wonderful time) Less
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Cabin review: Celebrity Silhouette Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom with Veranda Vista Deck (8) 8109
We were in Cabin 8109 which is at the very front of the ship - a long walk from the elevators. The closet is too small, and hard to get into. There is not enough drawer space. The lighting was wonderful for make-up and reading. The shower is excellent for a cruise ship - big enough for a large size person.
Port and Shore Excursions
The reason we selected this cruise was because it spent four days in Israel. Cruise ship should do more of this kind of scheduling since it allows a more thorough visit.We went to Haifa for a day and a half, and then onto Ashdod for 2 whole days. We used AviTours for private touring. (There were four of us). They sent one guide for our stay in Haifa, and another for Ashdod. Both were were good, although I preferred Norit in Ashdod, and the other couple preferred Sandy in Haifa. It was good having two guides since we got two different viewpoints - one was an American immigrant and the other a sabra. We had many e-mails with AviTours about what we wanted to have included, and some of the items were omitted. In general we saw those places of importance to us. Highlights include Yad Vashem and the Rabin Museum in Tel Aviv. The Israelis really do a great job with their museums, and neither should be missed. On the other hand swimming in the Dead Sea can only be described as "icky", and the smartest one in our group was the one who decided to stay onshore taking pictures.
We joined a tour organized on Cruise Critic that went to Ephesus. It was run by a company called Ephesus Tours and the guide's name was Taner. There were 13 of us in a mini van,and it was a terrific tour which included a Turkish lunch. He really made Ephesus come alive! Highly recommended. We then got back to Kusadasi in time for some shopping. It's a great place to buy leather, and also little gifts for friends at home - eyeglass cases, pillow covers, boxes. You can also buy rugs but it is rather difficult to make an expensive purchase on the run.
We had been to Mykonos before, and therefore did not avail ourselves of a tour to Delos to see the Grecian ruins. I think some of the passengers went to the beach, but we just shopped in downtown Mykonos. I bargained for 2 pottery figures, and paid half of the marked price. The key is to bring Euros since paying with cash puts you in a much, much better bargaining position. It is hard to believe that all the jewelry stores in Mykonos can make a profit. We also had a delightful lunch at a restaurant called Nico's. I don't travel to shop, but one day out of twelve wasn't bad.
We took the ship's tour to Herculaneum. The tour was so-so because the guide was not the best English speaker, and I did not have the impression that he really had a "feel" for Herculaneum. However, it was the only game in town for us. I think that you could hire a car and driver to take you there (and back) from the port (it is only 5 miles), and then use the available audio tour; you will come out ahead