About Us: We are married, in our early 40's and have cruised 4 times previously (RCI twice, HAL once, NCL once). As this was our first Celebrity Cruise I will be comparing some of the aspects of the ship against the other lines we've cruised.
Embarkation was fairly smooth, we were on the ship 45 minutes after arriving at the pier. An announcement was made about 1:15 that all the cabins were ready, and soon after most passengers discovered their room keys didn't work. Celebrity set up many make shift passenger services tables around the ship for everyone to turn in their original key card for a new key card (with lines of 20 plus passengers at each table). We overheard many people complaining about this for a few days.
Ship: The ship is 4 months old, modern, well designed and sparkling clean. Although the Silhouette doesn't offer a promenade deck (where you could walk the entire perimeter of the ship outside) like other lines offer, I was impressed with the large variety of shady places to sit outside (on high quality, wooden deck chairs). Unlike RCI and NCL, there were also many places to sit outside where it was quiet. There are two banks of elevators, fore and aft. With the larger number of elderly passengers on board these would often time be full and we'd end up taking the stairs which was fine by us.
Fellow Passengers: As the ship departed from Bayonne, NJ a large number of passengers were from the NYC area. I'd guess about 15 to 20% of the passengers were European, and well over 2/3 of the passengers were over 60. I recall previous Silhouette reviews had noted a large numbers of passengers on scooters with a penchant for running over other guests' feet and I was a bit leery of that possibility. On our cruise there were only a few scooters and I'm glad to report they all were driven responsibly and with respect for the other passengers.
We met many great people of all ages. Interestingly several of them had been loyal (long time) HAL fans who had switched to Celebrity in the past few years for the better service they report Celebrity delivers.
Staff: Fabulous, Celebrity really shines in this department. Our room attendant, Ozzy, kept our room spic and span, and was always available if we needed anything. All of our requests (extra towels, foot stool for our balcony) were taken care of immediately and with a smile. I can't say enough about him. Best room attendant we've encountered on our 5 cruises. Every staff member we encountered always made eye contact and asked us if there was anything else we needed.
We also noted that there were always officers walking around the ship mingling with passengers, I don't recall seeing this on other lines.
Room: We booked room 8226 (Category 1A), on the hump, for the sole reason the balcony is over twice the size of a standard balcony (book early, they sell out quickly). Ample storage space, great water pressure in the shower and more than enough room for the two of us. Each room has 2 bathrobes, a small bag and an umbrella (all of which are for sale but available for your use during the cruise). They also provide you with very large, high quality beach towels on port days.
Bring a power strip as there are only two outlets (both located at the desk) to plug in your various items. Nice flat screen (27" or 32", I forget) TV where you could check your onboard account, order room service or look at photographs the staff had taken of you.
Food: We ate in the main dining room 6 nights out of the 12 and found the food and service to be top notch. After missing a few nights (having gone to specialty restaurants) our waiter greeted us like long lost family and appeared somewhat nervous we had skipped the last few dinners due to something he had done wrong (it wasn't). I'm not a fan of the waiters parading around the dining room on the last formal night but I guess I'm in the minority on that one and it seems that all the mainstream cruise lines seem to be doing that. We were pleased with the food and service in the MDR.
We tried 3 speciality restaurants: Murano, Qsine and The Lawn Club Grill (our favorite of the 3). We ate breakfast and lunch in the buffet which provided a large selection of food (including fresh vegetables for salads). Sometimes it was difficult to find an open table at breakfast or lunch. We ordered room service once and our food was in our room within 20 minutes.
Drinks: My husband and I both opted for the soda drink package (about $90 per person for the 12 night cruise) and were very pleased that we were given cans of soda with a glass of ice each time. I recall that RCL and NCL's soda packages require you take your plastic soda cup (that they give to you the first day) to the bar to be refilled (from the tap) - not only does this mean you must have that cup on hand any time you wanted a Coke but you had to clean the cup yourself. Not exactly the most sanitary route (but I'm sure RCL and NCL save money with this routine). Celebrity's soda package was a very good value (and includes Diet Coke, Coke Zero and Diet Sprite).
Silhouette's Martini Bar was located right off of the Atrium and those bartenders were entertaining (check them out on You Tube) but also made great drinks (most martinis here were $10 plus 15% gratuity). A nice alternative was the Molecular Bar (on deck 5), they made some great martinis as well (very unique, these were $12 each plus the 15% gratuity). If you're a wine drinker you really have to check out the Cellar Masters (deck 4) where they have samples of all sorts of wine available to try out before you commit to an entire glass. We've not found this on any other cruise line; two more stars to Celebrity for this idea.
Entertainment: We didn't go to any shows so I can't comment on those. The music onboard the Silhouette was very, very good. Unlike NCL (who follow the 'This is Spinal Tap' School of Music in that everything is played at 11 on a scale of 1 to 10), all the music on Celebrity was played at a reasonable level where you could actually speak to your neighbor at a normal tone of voice and hear what they said to you in response. There were also many movies available to view in your room (and one daily in the theatre) at no cost.
Gym: Stocked with 'Life Fitness' brand treadmills and eliptical machines, weight machines and free weights. Other than the first full day there were always machines available. There is a smaller aerobics room that was being used the majority of the time for classes or seminars so I found I had to do my stretches and sit ups on the perimeter of the main room. The mens and womens locker rooms off of the gym each have a sauna (no add'l cost), but if you're looking to use a steam room you need to either book an Aqua Spa cabin or pay extra to have access to the Persian Gardens (we didn't do either).
Spa: Neither of us used the spa so we can't comment on the quality of services. The prices of the services seemed a bit steep to us (on the second to last day they were running a special for a 100 minute massage for $200 plus a standard 15% gratuity).
Kids Program: our daughter didn't join us on the cruise, so we have no firsthand knowledge of the program (we also found there were less than 25 kids on board for our cruise). We spoke to many families on board, all of whom reported their kids absolutely loved Celebrity's Kids Program (one young lady, who I'd estimate to be about 10, told us she liked Celebrity's Kids Program better than RCL, HAL, Carnival and NCL). We toured the kids area with a staff member who told us that 600 kids are booked for Silhouette's Christmas Cruise and they had about 400 kids for the Thanksgiving Cruise. I assumed Celebrity to be more of an adult line but based on everything we heard from other passengers they have a very well run kids program and we have no hesitation including our 7 year old daughter on our next Celebrity cruise.
Summary: Based upon this cruise I'm sold on Celebrity as their customer service was great. The majority of passengers we spoke with are seasoned cruisers who are loyal Celebrity fans. There were not as many sales pitches as on the other lines (but there were still some). A huge plus is that there is only one announcement per day (so you don't have to listen to multiple announcements about useless art auctions, gold necklaces being sold by the foot, bingo, etc) and that is only broadcast in the public areas (not staterooms). As non smokers we liked that there was little smoking going on (and were told that as of 1/1/2012 smoking will be further limited to a small section in the pool area - two 'snaps up' to Celebrity on this move). We look forward to sailing with Celebrity in the future.