I loved it!
EMBARKATION: Easy. The room key debacle was unfortunate for all, and we waited on line for an hour after muster drill, but it was easily forgotten by Day 1 (plus, we always arrive on board early enough to slip into our rooms before noon, and since they weren't locked at that time, the steward kindly suggested that we leave our stuff in the cabin before going to lunch, so we were fine.)
DECOR: Loved the sophisticated on-board art collection. You could even take an audio tour of the art exhibit. QM2 offered a similar tour of its historical exhibit. Those extra educational features are always nice.
LECTURES: They had guest speakers, including an astronomer and a historian, as well as presentations by the Captain and a very good Q&A with the crew.
ENTERTAINMENT: I loved the musicians! The band Sipra was awesome, and I got to meet the amazing pianist Rory Bolton, whose fantastic blog got so many of us excited about the trip before the trip! The production numbers and performances that I attended were more sophisticated than many I've seen on other lines.
FOOD: Best buffet food I've ever had. The dining room food was OK, but we never went back after a fabulous buffet lunch far outshined a disappointing dining room dinner on Day 2. Love the buffet pasta bar, pizza, Indian food, the omelet bar, the different types of French toasts and pancakes -- and let's pay special tribute to the homemade ice cream! Available all day, hand-scooped with many amazing new flavors rotating through twice a day (Buttermilk lychee! Coffee! Cinnamon!)
The free AquaSpa Cafe was a nice hidden gem (order the poached salmon for lunch!)
We tried several specialty restaurants too: Murano had interesting dishes; the pan-seared foie gras with mango-vindaloo confiture, phyllo wrapped duck rillettes, roasted ginger sauce, toasted almonds was yummy.
The Lawn Club had good food, but after donning an apron for the interactive experience of creating a 1/2 pepperoni, 1/2 bbq chicken pizza as an appetizer (!), it was nearly impossible to eat the rest of the giant meal that followed: salad, rib eye, veal chop, red snapper, lobster mac & cheese, baked beans, cheesecake and blueberry cobbler!
We also had dinner at Qsine, where you order all dinner courses on iPads -- except dessert, which you "discover" by opening a Rubik's cube. And it arrives in whimsical forms that sometimes need explanation: the soups came in test tubes with straws, the red velvet cupcakes came in metal boxes to be assembled by us (frosting in pastry bags, cups of sprinkles, several cakes). The whole concept sounded good BEFORE we got there, but once we sat down, we decided it was a bit much. I can't live without my iPad, so it's a device I truly worship, but after the painstaking process of "ordering" the whole meal, including wine selection, on our individual iPads, the waiter came around and WROTE IT ALL DOWN ON PAPER! So the iPad thing truly felt like a gimmicky waste of time. The "soup & souffle" course: corn soup, tomato basil soup, green pea soup, and the souffles are crab & asparagus, lobster & corn, cheddar cheese. (OK, I shouldn't complain about things like this, but it's a restaurant concept that needs to be re-examined. My DH thought he was ordering slider burgers and fries. The "fries" arrived on a tree bearing 5 containers with 5 different kinds of potatoes... )
ROOM: Loved the decor and the balcony furniture. Let's pay special tribute to the bathroom! Gorgeous modern design, biggest standard shipboard bathroom I've ever seen. Circular shower felt gigantic compared to most ships. Sink and cabinetry was lovely. I always over-pack and brought way too much for the 12 days, but even though the closet space was very tight, it all fit. The overhead space was a good addition. The in-room Apple TV info system was awesome; everything was available via remote control, from room service to accounts to shore excursions to free on-demand movies to photo ordering.
SERVICE: So friendly! I couldn't believe how many crew members called me by my first name--even people I don't remember introducing myself to! That says it all.
PUBLIC SPACES: Loved sitting in the "treehouse" to read in The Hideaway; Was blown away by the white leather recliners facing the giant ocean-front windows high up on the deck 14 Sky Lounge.
ITINERARY: I'm all about the ship, but we had 5 nice ports too. They were back-to-back: St.Maarten, Antigua, St.Lucia, St.Kitts, St.Thomas. it would have been nice if some of the six sea days were interspersed between the five port days, but I know that's not always possible...
I live in Manhattan and love leaving from local ports, so if the Silhouette comes back to NY, I would make this trip an annual event!