I have looked forward to this cruise for over a year and was so excited when our sailing date finally arrived. We were picked up at 8:30 am, on the day of departure, at the New Paltz, NY Park & Ride by Yankee Trails, a superb bus company that specializes in transportation to/from the NY and Cape Liberty cruise terminals. We arrived at the pier by 11:00 am, after a bit of a delay at the Bayonne Bridge.
Embarkation was a breeze -â€“ no long lines, everything was great; after a short shuttle ride to the ship, we boarded by 11:30 am and headed for the Ocean CafÃ©. What a beautiful cafÃ© -â€“ tons of choices for lunch (almost too many)!!
After lunch we explored the beautiful Silhouette -â€“ she is gorgeous, and BIG! She reminds me of a floating luxury hotel complete with 4-star service throughout our cruise! There were a couple of quirky areas, where I questioned the choice of dÃ©cor, but overall, this is a magnificent vessel!! All of the common areas, lounges, bars, etc. were gorgeous and best of all -â€“ nonsmoking!!! I probably lost more money in the casino on this cruise than any other because it was nonsmoking and I spent more time in there!! Other cruise lines should take note!! All of the public bathrooms were beautiful (well, at least the ladies rooms -â€“ don't know about the men's rooms).
Stateroom: We had a stateroom with a veranda on deck 8, which was very nice but I think they overlooked the need for better "storage" in lieu of a "modern look." The closet had no shelves and was not in a good place to access it. The over-bed storage compartments were good if you were over 5'7" tall!! Short people will have trouble getting things in and out of them. Also, there were only 3 drawers available in the bureau -â€“ definitely not enough space!! The TV (many of us thought) should have been on the wall facing the bed -â€“ not by the sofa. I would think that 99% of us would watch TV in bed, not on the sofa!
The bathroom was beautiful and had a good amount of cubbyholes to store personal items, but not enough counter space!! The shower was fantastic, complete with a raised bar for us ladies to shave our legs! Good thinking there! The sink was really pretty, but not practical and all the faucets had to be retrofitted during this cruise. The reason -â€“ the faucet did not extend far enough over the sink-bowl and every time you put your hands under the faucet, water poured out over the back! So, an added expense for Celebrity on this design, but I think they got it right now!
Dining: There were many options available for dining on the Silhouette. We ate, all but one night, in the main dining room. I felt the food was exceptional and had no reason to seek out alternative specialty restaurants, especially at the hefty $40 pp charges. We did, however, dine one evening at Murano's (primarily French cuisine), which was very good, but (again in my opinion) not worth the additional $40 pp charge! Breakfasts and lunches we usually ate in the Ocean CafÃ©. The biggest problem there was getting a table during busy times. There was so much to choose from as far as food selections, and keeping things hot until you got back to your table was a challenge. Coffee was always piping hot!!!! We had heard great things about Bistro on 5, and we wanted to try the crepes in there. There was a reasonable $5 cover charge. We had lunch there one afternoon and Banana-Nutella crepes to die for!!
Entertainment: The shows were good; some a bit "off the wall." Poolside activities were fun -â€“ the Cruise Director, Paul, did a great job!! (And what a singing voice he has!).
Celebrity staff: The staff onboard the Silhouette was outstanding -â€“ from the Captain right down to the cabin stewards, and anyone else we came in contact with. They were always friendly, outgoing, and more than willing to bend over backward to help you. Wish I could say the same for a few of the passengers -â€“ well, there always has to be a few that you wish would have stayed home!!
Ports of Call: We thoroughly enjoyed all of our ports of call. Labadee was beautiful and the cruise line does a magnificent job in keeping the beaches clean, lots of chairs and umbrellas, and great barbecues!! We took an "Adult Beach Getaway" excursion in Labadee and I really wouldn't waste my money on it again. We would have done much better just staying at the beach there and enjoying the food and ocean. Some local vendors have an area of shops and do get a bit "in your face" pushy though. All of our other excursions were great, including a "Shipwreck Snorkel" in St. Thomas, swimming with the stingrays in St. John, and beach time in St. Croix! However, Orient Beach in St. Maarten was way too crowded for my taste with 6 ships in port that day, including the Oasis of the Seas!! Also, the beach vendors there come out in droves and won't leave you alone -â€“ even when you pretend to be asleep!!! But shopping in Old San Juan, St. Maarten and St. Thomas was fun and fruitful!
The weather and water temps were great throughout our 12 days, which definitely made this cruise exceptional.
Disembarkation: Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and we eventually ended up back in Bayonne, rested and suntanned, had our last breakfast in the Ocean CafÃ©, said our goodbyes to our cabin stewardess and made our way to the waiting area. Getting off the ship was actually a breeze -â€“ we encountered no problems at all; all of our luggage was where it was supposed to be and going through Customs was quick and painless. We were scheduled to get off the ship at 8:15 a.m. but since our bus wasn't due until 11, we took our time and didn't disembark until about 9:30 a.m. As it turned out, the bus was early and arrived by 10, so we didn't have to wait very long in the cold.
I'd say this was the best cruise I've taken yet. I would highly recommend Celebrity Silhouette and would cruise her again in a heartbeat!!