I will firstly post this on the forums and then copy it onto the 'cruisecritic' website. We sailed on the Silhouette on the 12th - 24th December, myself and my wife are both in our mid 20's and this was our first cruise. Celebrity was deliberately chosen as a compromise between good facilities and activities that would interest us(basically no belly flop contests). The cruise was a belated honeymoon after I had spent the majority of 2011 away with the military and my wife was busy with work. I have uploaded a few photos of the ship onto flickr, heres the link;
Any questions feel free to post below. It feels like we were on a completely different cruise to most reviewers, we loved it and would recommend to anyone. You may want to go and boil the kettle before you begin or drink a red bull as I often go into far too much depth.
And so it begins;
I will include; embarkation, stateroom, dining, dress code, spa and fitness, public areas, entertainment, staff, fellow passengers and disembarkation.
Embarkation: We had stayed in Manhattan the night before and got a cab to the ship, a point to note for people grabbing cabs from Manhattan, make sure that your cab driver is 100% sure of exactly where you are going. I felt sorry for a Chinese couple who's cab driver got lost and took 4 hours, yes 4 hours to get from Manhattan to the port. I didn't think we could board until about 2pm so we didn't arrive until about this time. As it turns out, it seems that most people must have arrived earlier as it wasn't too bad for us at all. After arriving, bags were taken off us and we proceeded through the security checks, all was fairly smooth and as someone else has eluded to the checks were not too scrupulous. That said, if you can afford a Â£4000 cruise, it baffles me that people then sneak on a Â£12 bottle of gin, maybe its the thrill of getting away with it! We then moved into a main lobby area, everything is tented due to it being a temporary departure port, being Aquaclass we were then, to our relief, moved away from a huge queue through to a separate area with the suite passengers. It took about 20 minutes to get 'check in' finished, not too bad we thought. Coffee, water, cookies etc are available, as are seats for older passengers. I particularly enjoyed the people in motorised scooters pushing to the front of the queue, this wouldnt have bothered me had I not seen them that night, scooters parked, performing a lovely bit of ballroom!
We then boarded a bus and began the journey to the ship, nothing to note here, I had heard in previous reviews about the speed of the lifts. It took about 15 minutes to get a lift after initially going through security on the ship, this worried me a little but was just due to the large amount of passengers at once.
Stateroom: We were in Aquaclass #1587, the balcony was more than adequate and we often lounged outside on our way into a port. The bed was fine and the interactive tv was superb, I found out on the last day that you can pull the tv off the wall and swing it to face your bed on a bracket, a bit late! There are numerous complaints about storage, for passengers such as ourselves, limited by airline baggage then storage shouldn't be a problem. Our housekeeping staff were really nice and often gave us time for a chat. Flavoured water, fruit and canapÃ©s were available daily. The bathroom was a good size and we found the sink and shower were fine.
Dining: The bulk of the reading will be based around the dining, being in Aquaclass our first choice eatery was Blu. The only places I cannot comment on were the Main dining room, The porch and the Bistro on five, we simply didn't have big enough stomachs to eat everywhere. After boarding we ordered the five speciality restaurant package. This included a night at Murano, Lawn Club, Qsine and two in the Tuscan Grille. We enjoy trying different restaurant's and would have been left wondering unless we tried them all. One comeback to other reviews was the use of language in menu's, its aimed to be 'haute cuisine' and people should be willing to try something out of the ordinary. If not there's always the buffet or the burger grill!
Blu -- We ate a number of times in Blu for dinner and breakfast. Don't think for a second you'll be losing weight by eating in here,its healthier, but once you've had 4 pieces of bread and 4 courses its certainly not healthy. What is nice though is the choice that you could eat lighter meals if you fancy it. The menu was extensive with different dishes each time we ate. Overall the food and service was excellent, our waiter once apologised after we had been waiting only 10 minutes for a course. It is nice to eat in smaller room that gives a more intimate atmosphere. As with all the restaurant's, you have to order any soft drinks from the sommelier, not just the wine. Also Blu provides flexible dining, meaning you can turn up anytime between 6.30 and 9 for dinner.
Murano -- The surroundings are beautiful and it is obvious that the ship is aiming for a fine dining experience. Everything about the meal was perfect, our only small complaint would be that portions are very large, not that it matters, this is possibly catering for the American market.
Tuscan Grille -- The first time we ate there was good but the second was much better. A large selection of breads, oils and pesto, good antipasto, a nice position on the ship and excellent staff made it a worthwile place to visit.
Qsine -- A warning, its probably not worth snacking in the run up to Qsine, it is a literal feast. You choose all your dishes on the Ipad and your waiter will then choose which he belives to be the best order to eat them in. All were brilliant, especially the tacos, disco shrimp and sliders. Its a shame we went so late in the cruise or we would have gone back.
Lawn Club Grill -- Another good eatery, the concept is really simple. We didnt make our own flatbreads but I cooked the steaks with a little help! Possibly our favourite meal on the ship, you can go as crazy as you like with the meat you choose.
We opted for a non-alcoholic beverage package. Although my wife wouldn't have got her money back it was a good idea for us. We rarely drink alcohol with meals and found the freedom it provided made the cruise even better. We used it mostly for cafe al bacio on deck 5, it makes a good speciality coffee and has a good selection of pastries in the morning, sandwiches in the afternoon and cakes in the evening.
Dress Code: I have added a small paragraph on dress code as I know its mentioned time and time again. Blu seemed to follow the dress code throughout as did Murano. In my opinion, unless eating in the buffet it is best to always be dressed as per the dress code. If you feel you shouldn't dress up to go to the lawn club grill for instance, it could annoy other guests when you then move around the ship not in the stated dress code. I cooked a steak in a three piece suit and tie and never felt out of place. I feel its better to be overdressed than under dressed.
Spa and Fitness: My wife used the spa for a manicure and pedicure, possibly the low point of the cruise for us. She was treated to Rhonda, one of the spa staff. She not only made my wives feet bleed and subsequently ache when removing skin but then gave her the treatment above what she ordered and made her pay for it. She had a poor attitude and told my wife, 'the tip needs to go there' when handing her the receipt. There were other gripes with the treatment but I think you get the idea........disappointing. The gym on the other hand was very well equipped,for the really big guys the free weights are limited but there is something for everyone. The machines can fill up quickly at busy periods and the gym is HOT, if you are planning to go hard, take lots of water.
Public Areas: We thought the ship was amazing, all the public areas were well kept and the central area, complete with tree was awesome. There's not a huge amount more to add on that, it was just a lovely ship, so much glass made it feel very spacious. Never was there a time we thought the ship felt busy.
Entertainment : We never ventured into the theatre to watch the entertainment so my comments are based on the live music throughout the ship. The standard was excellent and 'Sipra', the party band, could cater for anything from classical ballroom to modern chart music, we also enjoyed watching Michael, an acoustic guitarist, on the lawn. You could have wine and cheese whilst you watched if you wished. It was nice to sit and listen to the music, even when you didn't deliberately go there for it.
Staff: The staff were excellent, my wife, having previously worked in a 5 star hotel always has an eye out for things that shouldn't happen. Throughout we found the staff were engaging and polite, the only exceptions to this were Rhonda from the spa and one of the ilounge staff, I need not go into detail but the individual was obnoxious and rude. For future cruisers reference he is the young, slightly overweight American, unfortunately I didn't get his name. Two other couples we spoke to also had bad experiences with the individual.
Passengers: No big complaints here, it amazes me to see how rude certain people are towards the staff but this was to be expected. I will go into disembarkation shortly. Oh and we enjoyed an older lady in the Oceanview Cafe, looking at us and saying rather too loudly, 'You look at all these young people, what I want to know is where the money comes from?' My wife restrained me from saying drugs or selling tele's from the London riots.
Disembarkation: This really, really annoyed me. After we were given paperwork to make our choice, we choose 'Express walk off:Carry your own luggage'. I cannot comment on the other methods of disembarking but to me its very simple, 'CARRY YOUR OWN LUGGAGE'. We waited at 0730 to be allowed off and then the barriers were removed and you were allowed to walk off the ship. Cue people shouting, borderline heart attacks, old ladies not able to lift their luggage. If you cannot walk down 15 steps with your luggage then wait and get it taken off for you. It only further delays people such as myself who can carry my luggage. This is no fault of Celebrity but lies with passengers believing they are still 30! Aside from this, we were onto a shuttle bus(with the same passengers reeling that they were tricked into carrying bags after ticking the box) and were in a taxi within 10 minutes. For us it was all pretty smooth.
To summarise, a thoroughly enjoyable holiday. We literally loved it and would book again with Celebrity in the future. Aquaclass for us is a huge plus due to express boarding and the use of Blu, we would also recommend a beverage package. I wont go into individual ports and excursions as this falls outside of the ships touch.