I live in New Jersey, so getting to Bayonne for our November 6, 2011 cruise on the Celebrity Silhouette was a snap. Check-in went very smoothly, and it didn't take for us to get to the buffet for lunch. The buffet was so full of people that my friend and I had to eat outside on deck, where it was absolutely freezing, even though we kept our coats on. But what can you do? I'm sure the people who managed to snag a table indoors were comfortable.
It didn't take long after we got to our cabin before I experienced my first let-down from Celebrity. Our shore excursion tickets were not in the cabin. I had sailed on over twenty cruises before (none of which were with Celebrity), and my tickets were always in the cabin. So I had no choice but go to the Shore Excursion desk and wait on line for someone to help me. Unfortunately, there wasn't a line for people who hadn't done a single thing wrong, so I was forced to wait behind people who hadn't purchased their shore excursions online ahead of time the way I did. Here I had purchased my excursion ahead of time thinking that it would save me time on the cruise. That was not the case, as I had to wait for quite a while for someone to help me. My cruise mate stayed in our cabin while I waited on line.
Finally David "helped" me. I say "helped," because when I told him that our tickets were not in my cabin, he didn't believe me. He kept saying that it was impossible, that my tickets must be there. When I protested, saying that my tickets were not there, he told me that on every single cruise he has worked, people complain to him that they didn't get their shore excursion tickets, and then he prints up duplicates for them, and they ALWAYS come back and tell him that he was right - the tickets were in their cabin after all. I insisted that they weren't in my cabin. I suggested that maybe my cabin steward put them in someone else's cabin by mistake. David insisted that that was not possible. He kept going on and on and on about how my tickets were in my cabin. He wanted me to come back in a couple of days if I still couldn't find my tickets. I said that I didn't want to. I said that I had already been inconvenienced enough by going to the Shore Excursion desk and waiting and waiting and waiting on line when I hadn't done anything wrong, and I saw no reason to be inconvenienced a second time.
David said that he could print up duplicate tickets for me, but there would be a problem if there were two sets of tickets running around. I told him that the only way there could be two sets of tickets running around would be if my cabin attendant had put them in someone else's cabin by mistake. Since David was positive that this did not happen, he suggested calling my cabin steward to see if he had put my tickets in my cabin. I said fine, although if my cabin steward had put my tickets in someone else's cabin by mistake and didn't realize it, it wouldn't solve anything.
So David called my cabin steward, and we waited for him to call David back. After he spoke to David, David told me, "Your cabin steward said that he was never given your shore excursion tickets." Vindication! So David finally believed me when I said that the tickets weren't in my cabin. He printed up new tickets for me.
So it would appear that the tickets had never been given to my cabin steward in the first place. Except that when I got back to our cabin, my cruise mate told me that our cabin steward had just shown up with our shore excursion tickets. So what does that mean? Does it mean that the cabin steward lied to David when he said that he was never given the tickets? Was it because he was too afraid to say, "Yeah, I was given the tickets but put them in someone else's cabin" or "Yeah, I was given the tickets, but I just couldn't be bothered to put them in her cabin"? Something didn't add up.
Our cabin was extremely small, and there were no shelves in the closet. I have always had shelves in the closet on other cruises. A hostess said that it was because the bathrooms were designed by a woman, and the bedrooms were designed by a man. Then she laughed and laughed.
We had Celebrity Select for dinner, which was great. It worked great every single night, except for the first night. There were two lines for Celebrity Select diners - one line for people with reservations, and the other line for people without reservations. The first night, people without reservations completely ignored the signs and crowded up the line for people with reservations, who were forced to wait and wait and wait to be seated. But once we were seated, everything was fine. My cruise mate and I loved the food, and the service was great. The dining room chairs, though, were the worst dining room chairs in the world. Not only were they so heavy that it was extremely difficult to move them (to pull them up to the table, and then to push them away from the table after dinner), but if you wanted to lean back against the back of your chair while you were eating, you couldn't, because you would be practically lying down. People who love to sit on stools, where there is nothing behind your back but air, while they eat would have been happy, but no one else.
We went to all of the shows during the cruise and enjoyed every single one. I was very surprised that there was absolutely no mention in the daily programs that videotaping and photographing the shows was not allowed for the first six shows, so I saw a lot of people taking photos, even with flash, and recording the shows. For the last six shows, I never saw anything in the daily programs about not recording the shows, but an announcement was made about not videotaping and using flash photography. However, photography without the flash was not mentioned, so I assumed that it was okay. And I still saw lots of people videotaping and photographing with flash. Absolutely no one said anything to them.
There was no mention in any of the daily programs about people not being able to save seats for others, so seat saving was rampant. To get to the shows for the "early diners," you had to get there at least a half hour ahead of time in order to find two seats together, because rows and rows of seats were saved. When Paul, the Cruise Director, told two men not to save seats, they said that they were saving them for their wives, and Paul backed off immediately. So when even the CD allows people to save seats, what can you do, other than arrive really early?
I attempted to go to an event listed in the first evening, but nothing took place.
Breakfast the first morning in the MDR was a disaster. My cruise mate and I were seated with a married couple. The married woman asked for V-8, which was on the menu, only to be told that they were all out of it. She then asked for decaf tea, and was given what they said was decaf tea. A waitress attempted to pour coffee in my cup even though I hadn't said one word about wanting coffee. In fact, I didn't want coffee. My cruise mate and I said that we wanted decaf. She actually made an ugly face at us. Gee, sorry asking for decaf was such an inconvenience! Another waitress eventually showed up and brightly announced, "Coffee!" My cruise mate and I said that we wanted decaf. "This is decaf," she said as she filled our cups.
I wondered if it was really decaf. Because if it was, why did she announce "Coffee!" when she came over? Why didn't she ask, "Who wants decaf?" I asked the married woman to look at her teabag. I said that if she was given regular tea, then we were probably given coffee. Sure enough, her teabag said "Tea." When she asked for a refill, she was given a teabag that said "Decaf tea." So they had decaf tea all along, but couldn't be bothered to give it to her the first time. The four of us tried to order eggs, but the waiter tried to discourage us, saying that eggs would take a while. We all insisted on eggs. And it didn't take that long. Gee, why didn't Celebrity warn us that you can order eggs only at your waiter's discretion?
That afternoon, I went to listen to a piano performance in the Grand Foyer. It was spoiled by no pianist showing up. I went to Guest Relations, a very short distance away, and I showed my program to the GR guy and asked if I was in the right place. He confirmed that I was in the right place, and he said that he had absolutely no idea why the pianist wasn't there. He made a phone call, and then he told me that the pianist had gotten off the ship. Somehow, the pianist had gotten off the ship without ANYONE knowing about it, which is why he was scheduled to play, and why there was no substitution offered.
The GE guy brushed this off as something that happens on EVERY cruise - entertainment is scheduled and doesn't take place. I told him that I had never encountered this on any other cruise. He didn't believe me. I then told him about the event last night which didn't take place. He checked his records and said that it took place more than an hour before I went there. So it was completely my fault that I missed it. I told him that the time in the daily program was different from the time in his records. He did not believe me. So I had to pull out the daily bulletin and show it to him. Then he admitted that the daily program listed the wrong time. Again, he insisted that it is something that happens on every single cruise.
We went to breakfast in the MDR on the second morning, and when we asked for croissants, we were told that they were all out of them. We said that we really wanted them, and guess what? They magically appeared! After that, except for a couple of room service breakfasts, the brunch, and the final morning of the cruise, we ate breakfast at the buffet, which was great. But I'm not someone who would say, "Well, if they give you shoddy service in the MDR, you should go to the buffet," because I don't think they should give you shoddy service anywhere!
I attended a few trivia contests, and just like on other cruises, the crew did not know the correct answers to the questions. But I can't hold that against Celebrity, because it seems to happen on every cruise that I've been on. In what part of the body is the femur? If you said "the thigh" then you are wrong, because the guy running the contest insisted that it was the wrong answer, and no one could convince him that it was correct.
Our sightseeing excursions were excellent. But these were not Celebrity's own excursions, even though I booked them online through the cruise line. They were excursions arranged by the islands' tourism bureaus and offered to Celebrity. On one excursion, we shared the minibus with passengers from Carnival Victory, and on another excursion, we shared the minibus with passengers from Royal's Explorer of the Seas. In St. Kitts, we took a morning and an afternoon excursion, and everything went very well. I just wish that the timing of the other islands' shore excursions had been better, because it was impossible for us to find morning and afternoon excursions that did not overlap (meaning that you couldn't take both of them).
The pianist and the other event were not the only events that were suddenly canceled without any substitution offered. At least eight times, my cruise mate and I attempted to see the a Capella group and the strings trio, only to find no show being offered and no substitute show offered. I never came across anything like on my previous cruises.
I was talking to people who just loved Celebrity and told them that it was my first cruise with them, and that I was not impressed. They said that Celebrity offers all sorts of extras. Such as what, I asked. The 2-for-1 drinks between 4:00 PM and 5:00 PM, they said. I'm not a big drinker, so it didn't mean much to me (but it might mean a lot to other people). And the brunch, they said.
I didn't consider the brunch to be much of an extra, because we had to get our own food (like at a buffet), and there were many lines of people forming here and there and running around, and lines would collide with each other, and everyone thought that his line had the right of way, and there were so many people all over the place that you couldn't even see all of the food that was available. A waiter came over to us with a tray of drinks and asked us if we wanted one, saying that it would cost $6.00. We didn't, and I told my cruise mate that I appreciated his saying upfront that the drinks weren't included. However, afterwards a woman told me that she and her husband were asked if they wanted drinks, giving the impression that they were included, and it was only after they said yes and took the drinks that they were told there was a charge.
Paul the CD kept telling us over and over that when we filled out our comment cards, we should give the cruise a good review, so that it would stay in Bayonne. Sorry, but I don't appreciate someone telling me to give something a good review, as opposed to letting me say what I truly feel, especially when it's for a reason that means nothing to me. I couldn't care less if the Silhouette stays in Bayonne.
So I gave a bad review to the Shore Excursions dept. (I did not care for David's treatment of me) and the Guest Relations dept. (I did not care for the GE guy's dismissal of my complaints about events that did not take place). I was annoyed that there was only one rating I could give to service in the MDR, because breakfast service was awful but dinner service was perfect, so I averaged it to fair. I wasn't too thrilled with my cabin steward claiming that he was never given my shore excursion tickets and then all of sudden finding them, so that factored into my review of him.
Disembarking took somewhat longer than it should have (we were in the last group called), but it wasn't too bad. At least we found our suitcases. I have read about far too many cases of people walking away with other people's suitcases because they just can't be bothered to check, and no one else ever checks. Every time we've gone through Customs, we just walk right through. Even Customs doesn't care if we're walking out with other people's suitcases.