Having sailed twice on the Silhouette since it was launched last summer, it is apparent that the company has a qualified winner.
Our first voyage was September 3, out of Rome. The second was December 24, out of Bayonne, NJ.
The pluses include the look and feel of the ship, which is spectacular, but then what would one expect for $1+ Billion? The fact that it was launched on time, and very little was missing when we sailed 6 weeks into its life. My favorite area is the Aqua pool area, which is adult only, and is enclosed, but sunny, and has quiet new age music piped into the area. It has a serene, Zen feel to it and is a great area to just read, listen to personal music, or have a quiet conversation. The Aqua breakfast and lunch bar offered healthy stuff like fruit, nuts and yogurt which were helpful given that all other food items required a trip to the other end of the ship.
Some of the unique features like the Lawn Club which features Bermuda grass (which was starting to show its wear in December) and the Aqua Spa which is about the best I have seen on any ship. The health club was well attended and the fitness classes were always well attended.
The cabins are larger than most ships of this class, with lots of bathroom storage, and a shower that you can actually turn around in. The cabin was set up with a king size mattress which is terrific to sleep on, but access to the small closet is very restricted. The verandahs have glass sidings, feature floor to ceiling patio doors as opposed to a small balcony door as on many RCI ships. An outside light would be nice to be able to read at night. even at full speed, there was little wind buffeting outside other than the one nasty weather day sailing back to Bayonne. We used the balcony constantly. During the Mediterranean cruise, it was awesome just sitting out watching the sun set over the Greek islands
The crew is very hospitable and willing to please guests, whether it was the overworked cabin steward, or the overworked servers in the dining room, or the guy cleaning the deck while in port, they all were friendly and always had a good morning or a hello for me. The greeter with the sanitizer bottle singing opera when you entered the cafÃ© was a nice touch.
The shows were all good, although not always accessible for select Dining guests. I even laughed at the comedians, which I don't do on most cruises. Celebrity could drop their attempt to do a Cirque de Soleil show called 'The Show', as the music was lost on most guests, and the acrobatic acts were repetitive. The highlights were the A Cappela group ( whose 15 minute sets were too short, and you had to keep running around where to hear them next), the Jazz combo and the band that played every night for about 5 hours almost without a break in the third floor meeting area. Dancing with the Stripes was amazing and fun. The dance party Celebrity Box was another highlight, with all the shows dancers participating one evening on deck at poolside, where they engaged the guests. There were a decent selection of seminars to attend on the bad days, but seeing there was only one bad day in 24 sailing days, I personally did not take advantage of the very informative sessions. My apologies to Dr Joe Schwartz for only attending one of his lectures.
Being a holiday cruise, there were plenty of decorations for Christmas without becoming too gaudy, and even a menorah which was correctly lit each night of Chanukah.
Shopping was outstanding, especially the high end watch and jewelry. This is the first ship to offer a Bulgari boutique or a display of Faberge eggs.. But how many Bulgari trinkets or Faberge eggs can one buy in 12 days?
Other than the poor embarking and disembarking at Bayonne which is a topic of its own, and not really a flaw of the ship, the only real negatives would have to be food, food and food.
Having sailed Celebrity several times before, I guess our expectation was that of a cut above RCI and Carnival. In fact, the food served in the main dining room left a lot to be desired. When we first sailed in September, we felt that service and preparation were its main problem, but that due to the newness of the ship, they needed time to get their act together.
Timing between the wait staff taking orders, and the serving of the meal was uncoordinated. 3 months later, it did not get any better. Both ships went out full, although the holiday cruise went out more full. We were told there were 3250 guests filling the 2850 capacity ship due to the tremendous number of children on board being the holidays. In fact, we had to have the assistant Maitre d' intervene for us almost every night. Most nights he was also helping serve the meals.
Several guests we spoke to eventually took their evening meal in the cafe, which is a shame. The cafÃ© was good, featuring many types of cuisine most of the day. When they were closed you could always get pizza, a salad or ice cream. But it is NOT fine dining, nor anything like what cruise ships built their reputations on. Also, the cafÃ© was located on the 14th deck while the pool is on deck 12. Not a good design. If you are at the pool, and wanted a simple glass of water or ice tea, you had to climb the stairs to get it. Of course there is always a waiter running around trying to sell you alcoholic or soft drinks There should be an outside station next to the pool like there is on many other ships with water, juice and tea. The Aqua bar which is on 12 was not always open.
Unless you were willing to fork out $40 per person for a good meal, and this ship had 4 great restaurants, the meals were average at best, and never cooked properly at worst. This is the main thing the ship has to overcome. They claim that they put their best staff on board for other ships. hard to tell
What has become unfortunate is that there is a tendency to charge for things that used to be free, like specialty coffee or smoothies. Cappuccino or espresso with your meal? Fork over $4.50.
Want a fruit juice with breakfast? Another $4.50. Pastry and gelato that is free in the cafÃ© if sold at the bars on the 5th floor. People are gullible, lazy or just so used to being hosed by the airlines, they just think it is OK to pay extra.
So in order to have that old time cruise experience it would have to cost an additional $600 - $700 per person for a 12 day cruise. Shame on the industry. I was told by other frequent cruisers that they had better experiences on the Solstice, Eclipse and Equinox. I wonder if that is still true.
Labadee, Haiti -- this is a good jumping off point for a ship that spent 2 days in northern waters. Once docked,m it was a 5 minute walk to the beach, activities and food. It is a piece of Haiti bought by the cruise line and operated like a private island, although it is not an island. Nothing basd to say, all good.