This was my first cruise ever, taking the Celebrity Silhouette on its first Transatlantic cruise. So I am going to start from the beginning and work my way through my first experience in cruising and my after thoughts.
We arrived at the port in Rome. I was a bit shocked by the embarkation venue, considering Celebrity is suppose to be a luxury or high end cruise line. The embarkation area was a giant tent in the parking lot of the port. It reminded me of my work in Africa at a refugee camp. Everyone pushing to get in the proer line to await their turn at receiving their benefit of arriving on the ship. We were lucky, since I have a severe handicap and problems walking we got to checkin with the handicapped area which that line was very very short. So we did not take hours. The people we were traveling with took over an hour to get though the process. I would have thought the embarkation and boarding process would have been a bit more casual and comfortable for a high end luxury cruise line.
Well once on board we were forced to deck 14 to the Ocean View Cafe (Buffet) for lunch and await for our cabins to be prepared for our arrival. After a couple hours we were allowed to head to our cabins. We had an Aqua Class Cabin on deck 11 (cabin 1544), near the forward elevators. I have to say the cabin was nice, actually nicer than I was expecting, and larger than I expected, which was a nice surprise. There was ample storage for my travel companion. As I use suitcases that split and half and just shove under the bed and use as a drawer. Works well for me.
Next we were all crowded into the Theatre for the mandatory Muster. That was okay. My issue is they gave the presentation in English. But three times they went through the list of various languages with the presentation on the TV/Entertainment System. Once was enough.
Well after the muster we had our first Cruise Critic (CC) meet and greet at the sunset lounge on deck 15 aft of the ship. What a beautiful place, and meeting so so many nice people. And from here we set sail, and what a beautiful view of Italy as we sailed into the setting sun.
The next morning we arrived at our first port of call, Cagliari. What a beautiful city. I want so very much to return and just tour the region.
The next morning we arrived in Palma, we had arranged to go on a tour with several of the Cruise Critic people we met on the roll call. The tour was great and a great deal cheaper than the one planned by Celebrity, we had a smaller bus, which could drive into the city, which was a great benefit for me. And the Celebrity tour followed us all over the island, so we had the same tour, much cheaper and more personal. Thank you Cruise Critic Members.
And we had a sea day, and then the 4 day Lisbon. And it was rainy. Much like weather here at home in the Netherlands. So did not effect us. We toured the city in the rain. But I have to say for many the weather was terrible. But we had a great day.
Leaving Lisbon, the fun started. The ship was in the middle of a massive storm. And boy did the boat rock and roll. And so many people were sick. I was fortunate, the bad weather did not effect me. But even my companion was getting a bit green. He went to the sick bay, but left when he walked in and saw so so so many sick people way worse than him. So I told him an old sailing trick, go out and breath some fresh air, will make you feel much better.
Well the captain took us 80 miles off course, south to miss much of the weather. So we had two days of excellent weather and then we hit another storm, and had 4 days of rocking and rolling yet again. Even Guest Services was passing out Sea Sick Pills like Candy on Halloween. But again, I was not effected. But have to say my leg muscles hurt as it was one step forward two steps to the side. and that was the only way to walk the ship. And finally as we got near the US coast the seas calmed a great deal. But it was much cooler.
So now I am going to speak about the Speciality Restaurants. First we at a Murano. Wow what a treat. We had one of the most memorable meals. We had Lobster Murano, which was prepared at the table. Was so exciting to watch them prepare it. for desert we also had crepes with balsamic glazed strawberries and ice cream. MMMMMMM again prepared at the table. The meal at Murano was well worth the up charge.
Tuscan Grill, was good, I had a crab cake for an starter, and the crab was bad. So I did not eat it all, and was sick for a day and half. And the steak was good, but nothing special. I personally do not think Tuscan Grill was worth the up charge, But the view from the aft windows was excellent.
Qsine, is made for dining in a group. So a Cruise Critic member arranged for everyone to eat a Qsine in a large group of 10. He arranged for 4 groups to attend that night. The food was interesting. You pick what you want on an iPad and then everyone at the table selections are merged and then all the selections are served family style , sharing with everyone. But this is not how it went for us. We had a South African waitress that was somewhat rude. She just selected the courses and brough them out. And when I would ask for an extra of something I was ignored, but when the other end of the table asked they got the extra round. Like one round was Indian, and I do not like Indian food, so I asked for something else as was ignored. I actually asked for three things was totally ignored. I thought the concept of Qsine was interesting. But again in my opinion not worth the upcharge, but I know many like the concept.
Because we were sailing Aqua Class, we had access to Blu. I like Blu. the casual style was nice. and with the venue being much smaller there was not all the loudness and chaos of the main dining room. Which for me was a major plus. However, I must say as the cruise progressed the food quality got lower. I do not know what happened. Like we had dinner one night and the food was tasteless. And for desert I ordered a chocolate rum cake. Well there was a bottle of rum in the cake, so it was terrible. But as my companion was sick so we missed lobster night, so we requested lobster on our last night of the crusie, and the staff and Chef was more than happy to provide us with wonderful lobster. What a treat. But Blu is a major benefit of traveling Aqua Class. And I would book Aqua again for access to Blu
The main dining room we ate one night our first night. We had Prime Rib. And it was prepared perfectly. and the service was nice. But eating with a 1000 other guests in the same room, did not lend to quiet dining. it was rather loud. So for me, I prefer Blu or the Speciality Restaurants.
The Ocean View Cafe, the grand Buffet was nice, and I have to say there was everything on the buffet from pizza and pasta to roast beef. I really enjoyed lunch and our times we ate off schedule. the food was nicely prepared. and it was very easily to go. One of my issues was during off times, they closed many of the drink areas and such, so it you had to be careful where you sat or you had to walk all over the area to get various drinks and thinks, and we enjoyed eating outside on the aft deck.
The Mast Grill which served hamburgers and hot dogs. Was fun a great place to sit out on the deck and have a quick snack and they also had soft serve ice cream. MMMMM just a fun and great place to hang out.
We did not eat at Lawn Grill.
My favorite places to hang out on the ship, 1 was Sunset Bar Deck 15 aft. A great place to sit outside and think and watch the sea go by, this was my favorite place. The second was the Coffee bar, deck 5. You could sit there all day and watch the people go by, and see and interact with most things happing on the ship.
Oh and finally the Crepe Bistro on Five was excellent, was so good I paid the upcharge twice.
Enough about food. Let me get into some things I did not enjoy. First I was interested in taking a water color class, which I arrived on the first day, and was so full they were turning away people. So I never went back. I think the ship personnel should have realized on a cruise with mostly sea days and over 2000 passengers 25 people in a class was a little small.
I also started getting into the art lectures. I went to Klimt and Matese, but the times kept moving and getting earlier and earlier. So I missed a few. I also participated in a Kirigami class, which I thought was some form of Origami. But we put together a card that was designed for small children.
This was my biggest issue, was the events and programs provided by Celebrity. Many were designed for young children, which there was not very many, like Wii contest, RC car races, and Ring Toss. Or the programs were designed for older people. Like Dance Lessons, which I can not do with my handicap.
Or the programs were provided as a up charge which we did not participante, Bingo was $20 per card or two for $30. Wine Tasting was $20 to $40, which I did participate. Everything was an up and I mean everything.
And my biggest complaint was with the daily schedule. It did not include all the activities. Like there was a big Brunch Buffet and we learned about it in a presentation as they let us out to go and told us about it. But we did find it, was a very small item listed on the back of the program under places and times open on the ship. Not in the regular schedule/calendar. And there was not overview of the programs offered at the beginning so you could plan your cruise. and be aware what was being offered over the entire cruise and what was repeated. I personally thought the Activities staff were newbies, but met the director and he had 15 years experience which surprised me. I was very disappointed in the planned activities.
The next thing was, being in Aqua Class we had access to the spa area, but every time I went up there to use the facilities it was packed out. And you had to wait 15 to 20 minutes for space to open up. So I just stopped going.
Our cabin steward were perfect. I do not know how they did it. But they kept our cabin perfect. I wanted to bring them home with me to keep my house. They were so good. We left one morning and headed for the elevator. My companion forgot something in the cabin and when we walked back, the cabin was clean and ready for the day. They were perfect, and always there to help
We arrived in Bayonne NJ several hours late. The door was stuck and they could not off load the luggage. We had a very orderly time schedule planned. You would meet your disembarkation group at an allotted time in the main dining room and head down to disembark, in theory this is a great idea. But with the stuck door. The staff decided not to react, so suddenly there were basically 2000 plus passengers in the main dining room, and no one was there to help. they started disembarkation almost 2 hours late. And the cruise director Paul kept calling for more and more groups to head down to disembark, but the area was already full of people. What a mess. This ship was blaming Customs and Immigration, and deal with the US this is possible, but once we got off the ship. we had to again walking around a huge warehouse to search for our luggage, which was tagged by our disembarkation number. Mine was on the furtherest end from the entrance and the passport control area. My companions luggage was no where to be seen. We were group 9. He found one bag in the area with unmarked bags, his tags were removed. And he found his second bag in group 12. What a mess. But when we entered Passport control everything was smooth. Again it was Celebrity staff disorganization that caused most of the problems.
I have to say, if I had not been involved with the Cruise Critic group during roll call. This would probably be my first and only cruise. But they give me hope. The cruise critic group made my cruise, not the chips staff. I actually was disappointed with the staff onboard. But I throughly enjoyed all the planned cruise critic events and want to think everyone of them for saving my vacation.
My view of the Celebrity staff is they are always smiling and happy, and with a warm welcome. But their planning seemed to be for a boat half its size. Which I think will be my next cruise, a much smaller boat with a much higher luxury rating.
We did book two opened ended furture cruises so I know I will be back to Celebrity. And it is not that bad. My future thought, is book a much cheaper cabin, invest in a excellent drink package and bring things to entertain myself. And just have a private relaxing vacation. And plan everything with my fellow cruise critic members and not rely on Celebrity for much of anything. That seems the way togo.
Hope this helps you in your future cruises. I did enjoy my first cruise, But learned many lessons.