My wife and I are RCCL cruisers and this time we decided to try Celebrity and their new ship, The Silhouette. As we live just outside of Washington, D.C., we wanted to be able to drive to the ship instead of flying.
Embarkation: We have read many comments about Cape Liberty and the hassle involved. But, to our surprise and pleasure, the check-in and boarding experience was not bad at all. It maybe took 20-30 minutes, and we were on our way to our first lunch buffet!!
The debarkation was also fairly painless as well taking maybe 1 hour total.
Parking: Since we drove from Washington, we parked in their parking lot for the 12 nights. Again, the parking was very easy and close to the ship. Just beware that parking is $19.00 per day and is paid when you arrive at the lot. They take credit cards so it wasn't a hassle.
Ship: The two things that really excited us about the ship, were one, the ship was brand new( still had that new car smell) and two it had a interesting itinerary as it cruised the Southern Caribbean visiting the islands of St. Maarten, Antigua, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, and finally St Thomas. We have never taken a 12 night cruise before, but found the days at sea coming and going very relaxing.
This ship is a marvel of engineering, and exceptional attention was paid to detail in its layout and appointments. The public spaces are truly beautifully appointed and there are plenty of places to relax in. They have a cozy library with great chairs and books for quiet reading, or you can go to their new I lounge where they have a mini Apple store with Internet access and Mac Books to use.
My wife and I loved the Martini Bar with its frozen counter top. We felt that the drink prices were fair and not overpriced and they always gave us a "good pour". The bartenders were fantastic and would put on a show , pouring 12 Martini's at a time while standing on top of the bar!!
The Cellar Master Lounge was a interesting concept with some interesting wines by the 1oz., 2oz, or 5oz pour. All tho We felt that they were overpriced.
There also never seemed to be anyone in the lounge the whole trip which made the large space seem wasted, and we didn't want to be the only ones hanging out there. ( it might have been because the age group seemed too old for a wine bar).
A big disappointment was the lawn club deck with its porch seating cabanas for rent. We felt it was a waste of space and $120.00 to rent a lawn cabana on sea days was laughable!!!We didn't see anyone use them the whole cruise!
Cabin: We were fortunate to have booked a Sky Suite on Deck 12, Room 2122.
If you can manage it, this is the place to be. Our room was 300 sq. ft. with a very large balcony. The bathroom was a very nice size with marble walls and floors. It had a full size bath tub with a hand held shower sprayer as well as a overhead rain shower. The room came with all the amenities of a 5 star hotel, including plush towels , plush robes and slippers!The room had a abundance of drawers for more clothes than one could take. Storage was not a problem at all and our 5 large bags were stored under our queen size bed with no problem. Cruising for 12 nights, we wanted to be really comfortable and not cramped and this room exceeded out expectations.Not to mention our 40" flat screen Samsung T.V.!!
One of the nicest touches was the " Butler Service" provided with the room.Arlis, our Butler, from Honduras, was most attentive. He would bring us a complete breakfast exactly at the time requested and would set a beautiful table on large veranda when asked complete with fresh flowers.. In the afternoon, he would come by with Hours d'oeuvres as well as with coffee and tea.
he definitely spoiled us. He was basically at our beckon call when necessary. whether it was to pick up laundry, shining my 4 pairs of shoes or making sure we Always had ice, cocktail shaker and martini glasses in the room for cocktails!!!( Thank You Arlis!!!!!!)
Dining: Now to the unpleasant part of this review. We know that a dining experience is different for everyone, but we felt that the food in the MDR was poor at best and Laughable at worst!! The menu choices were uninteresting, the food tasted as if Salt was the first ingredient. The best meal was the first formal night ( the 3rd night) in which they served rack of lamb.It was a stellar presentation. The next night they served a veal medallions with pasta in which the veal was inedible. When we commented to the Metre'd, he offered to make us rack of lamb again the next night. So the next night when we were served the lamb, it tasted like it was made the day before and was inedible. Needless to say we then opted to have most of the remaining meals in the speciality restaurants.( review to follow)
The MDR staff were exceptional in trying to accommodate and please us. They went out of their way to do whatever necessary to satisfy our wants . But there is only so much one can do with mediocre food quality and trying to serve it to 2500 people!!
Speciality restaurants: We ate at 3 speciality restaurants, 2 times each, Murano, Tuscan Grill and Qsine
We found it ironic that as bad as the MDR food was, the speciality restaurants were 5 star stellar!! They were as good as any fine dining restaurant anywhere in the would and I don't say this lightly!!
Murano being their signature restaurant was exceptional in every aspect. A real Gourmet treat. The Tuscan Grill also had great food and presented it beautifully as well as attentive service.
Qsine was by far the most novel and interesting. You ordered off a Ipad they provided. you ordered as many courses as desired ( be where that the courses are Huge) so order accordingly. The food and tastes were exceptional as well as the novel presentation. Our waiter Arthr was just fantastic,. His enthusiasm and attentiveness as well as his fun demeanor, made the dining experience. (Thanks Arthr)
As noted by other reviewers, Celebrity has a habit of up charging yo on everything! Adding insult to this was, on certain nights word of mouth, would get you a 20-25% discount or a 2 for 1 discount on speciality dining. We found this outrageous. First it says, charge what the traffic will bear and second if you cannot fill the restaurants, Discount them. Not a good policy especially if you paid full price in advance!!
As far as activities and entertainment goes, we agree with other reviewers comments , so we wont repeat them here.
Passengers: This was the biggest surprise to us. it seemed that 90% of the passengers were either very elderly or Europeans, almost no young people.( nothing against Europeans....:--)). My wife and I felt as if we were the youngest passengers on the ship( and I am 60!!!..LOL)
Spa: The Aqua Spa was a very relaxing experience considering 7 days at sea.
The treatment rooms were nothing short of 5 star and the staff very accomplished. If you get a chance book a treatment with "Ace" and "Emma", they will put you into "orbit". ( A big Thank you to them)!!
Be prepared to spend Alot on the treatments. The Persian Garden relaxation room was very nice, but was jerky. The steam room (co-ed) was in there and unless you were a Aqua class passenger, you had to pay $20.00 per day pp to use it. Another unnecessary up charge and expense. The fitness center was first class with all the equipment one would expect from a full service health club. and it was usually not crowed.
In Summary: My wife and I had a most enjoyable vacation. It's unfortunate that a upscale line like Celebrity chooses to nickle and dime passengers to death with up charges. and the most disappointing was the MDR food. With so many cruise lines to choose from and so many new ships competing for your business., Celebrity needs to rethink their pricing structures and quality of food.
If anyone has a question about this review or of our experiences on the ship, feel free to contact me by e-mail.