This "review" is going to take a different approach -â€“ instead of the standard review (embarkation, cabin, food, etc.) I thought it might be better to answer questions I had before sailing on Celebrity Silhouette.
First a little about us: We are a couple in our almost-50's. We've cruised 13 or so times and were RCCL fans until RCI re-branded RCCL to a more mass market audience, at which point we revisited Celebrity (X) after an absence of several years. Our number one priority is service. Good food, fun times with friends, and relaxation in an upscale environment are also at the top of our list. Entertainment, activities or parties, and shopping are not important to us. We always book a junior suite or higher, and choose late seating for dinner.
How was getting on and off the ship?
Getting on was a bit tedious. Not because of anything X did but because our fellow guests had not completed their Xpress Pass nor did they have their photo ID ready when requested. When going through the security scanners they also didn't remove all metal objects, causing them to have to be scanned several times. Fairly annoying. Getting off the ship was a breeze. TIP: Have all of your documentation completed prior to arrival at the terminal and have your photo ID out and ready.
How was leaving from New Jersey? Would you do it again?
We traveled on the 11/18 sailing and our first day at sea was rather chilly, but by mid-day on day 2 it was fine to sit on deck. Coming back we were lucky and had nice weather even on the last sea day. If it had been cooler you would lose 3-4 days to sit outside. Having said that the Solarium, which is indoor and heated was lovely to enjoy even though it was cool outside. We would not recommend sailing out of Bayonne beyond October. NOTE: X has decided this will be the only season it will homeport Silhouette in Bayonne.
What did you think of the ship?
Stunning, understated elegance. Think a boutique hotel at sea. TIP: If you like the glitz of neon and bright colors this ship is not for you.
How would you describe your fellow guests?
X attracts a more mature crowd -â€“ the age range for this cruise was mid 20's honeymooners to a woman celebrating her 103rd birthday. The average age was mid 50's. The onboard experience is geared toward those demographics meaning activities are more "grown up"; think cooking demonstration not art auctions, guest versus officers pool volleyball versus belly flop contests, lectures on local history and culture instead of port shopping talks. Cruise staples are still offered such as bingo and trivia. TIP: You must check your Celebrity Life daily planner each day to determine what activities you want to participate in since X keeps announcements over the PA system to a bare minimum.
How was the service?
Outstanding. From the officers to the crew everyone was friendly and smiling, always offering a warm greeting. Service at the bars was prompt, professional and courteous. Cabin attendants, butler and dining room servers were all terrific. TIP: If you're nice to them they will be nice to you. If they smile at you return the favor.
We're thinking about buying a beverage package. Are they worth it?
This was our second cruise buying the premium beverage package. Essentially this makes the cruise "all inclusive" since almost everything such as specialty coffees, bottles water, soda, and almost all alcoholic beverages are included. Another perk is that you avoid having to sign all those slips of paper. Just hand them your card and you're done. Buying drinks individually adds up but if you're only going to have a beer with lunch and glass of wine with dinner, then a package certainly is not for you. TIP: Review what beverages are included with each package and, if you choose to purchase one, do so on the X website to avoid any additional paperwork on the ship.
How many formal nights were there? Did people get dressed up?
Three. Check with X to find out which nights are formal nights. There were a bit more guests in formal attire than we have seen on previous cruises but that will vary from cruise to cruise. TIP: If you don't want to get dressed up you can have your dinner in the Oceanview CafÃ© which serves essentially the same food as in the Grand Cuvee Dining Room.
Are the specialty restaurants worth the extra charge?
Absolutely. That's not to say the food in the Dining Room isn't wonderful (more on that later), but for a more intimate dining experience each one of the specialty restaurants is excellent and unique in their own way. The only one we did not try was the Lawn Club Grill -â€“ it just didn't appeal to us -â€“ but we heard very positive comments from others. TIP: While you should try all of the specialty restaurants Murano is a MUST DO. It is truly a 5-star dining experience.
How was the food overall?
It ranged from very good to exceptional. Food is very subjective, but I'm going to expound on this a little more to dispel any misconceptions. When I read online or hear onboard complaints about the food my only question is, "What do you eat at home that is so much better than what is being served on the ship?" From selection to quality to presentation the food was great whether in the Dining Room, Oceanview CafÃ©, Mast Grill or any of the specialty restaurants (as mentioned above). It seems to have become fashionable to complain -â€“ overheard on an elevator: Guest, "The food has been awful, but since they're offering a deal on a future cruise I may give them another chance." Really?
Let me say that if we ever had problem with our food, which we didn't, all we needed to do was say something and it would be taken care of. If we wanted more of something all we needed do was ask. For example: one evening there was an appetizer of seared tuna carpaccio (how often do you get that at home?) and I asked for two portions. Our server didn't even blink and brought it with a smile, even asking if I wanted more. The servers always checked back to make sure you were enjoying everything.
As I mentioned we were on second seating (8:30). Personally I feel that many of the complaints may come from first seating guests who have a limited amount of time to eat their meal before the Dining Room has to be turned over for the next seating. While 2 hours seems like enough time, Â½ hour of that time is needed to reset the tables. The food for first seating may also be prepared ahead of time to improve serving times and keep things moving along, which may result in a dish not being as hot as one might like it. Again, all the guest needs to do is ask and it will be corrected, but some would just rather complain. TIP: If you don't like the way something tastes, feels, smells or what have you SPEAK UP.
We had another outstanding experience on the Silhouette and have booked two more cruises, including another on the Silhouette.
Okay, this is long enough. If you have any other questions or would like any additional TIPs, please email me.