The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
A review of the Celebrity Silhouette sailing of 2/10 to 2/22/12
The crew is top notch. We did not encounter a single sullen, rude or depressing individual (save one). There were some exceptional examples as well. The Master of the ship, Captain Dimitrios Kafetzis, was available, informative and exceptionally personable. Matteo Pavoni in Guest Relations handled a particularly vexing luggage issue with understanding, professionalism, and an accommodating smile. Everywhere we went aboard ship we were greeted with good morning/afternoon and a smile. In the past the concept of variable dinner seating has not been the most efficient, although we had "select dining" the exceptional attention of the Maitre D', Mr. Fazli, ensured that we had the same table and wait staff for the entire cruise (Sebastian and Joel) so that they could "learn" our preferences. The crew is outstanding and is the reason we will only sail on Celebrity. We met many crew who "loved" their jobs and signed multiple contracts. When we arrived it was clear that someone on a previous cruise had been smoking, Guest relations searched for and found an available cabin and offered a move Since we were travelling with friends we declined but they took extra effort to deodorize the cabin. Another example of Celebrity fixing problems they did not cause! Kudos to management for excellent training and motivation
The food was average to good. There were some misses ( a too tough steak/ a salty soup/and a boring stuffed lobster) but on balance the meals were well prepared, presented and served. There were some hits, we enjoyed the French onion soup as well as an excellent Caesar salad. The Buffet was amazingly varied. For lunch there was stir fry, freshly prepared pasta, fresh turkey and ham carving stations, pizza, a salad bar, a station with varied rolls, biscuits and breads, a grill (franks/hamburgers/fries), a cold cut and cheese station, as well as daily specials such as a taco bar or braised ribs, all accompanied by fresh fruits and vegetables. Breakfast consisted of standard fare (Pork or Turkey sausage, Canadian and American bacon, corned beef hash, hash brown potatoes) as well as an omelet station and a carving station of ham and Canadian bacon. The pastries and rolls were all fresh made and even jelly donuts were available as well as yogurts, cereals, cottage cheese etc.
The entertainment was generally good. The normal shipwide entertainment consisted of a fair a cappella group (The Riptides); a good classical duo (Bel Canto duo); a good steel drum duo Big Vibe); an excellent party band (Sipra) and an outstanding Guitarist/Vocalist (Martin Andales). There was a different movie available everyday. In addition there was the standard cruise fare "Newlywed game", trivia contests and Bingo. Thankfully there were no art auctions! They were replaced by Acupuncture , Botox, non surgical facelift, and the history of Faberge seminars (among others). The theater shows by the Celebrity singers and dancers consisted of a good "Cirque del sol" production as well as a fair "Broadway Nights" revue. The guest entertainers consisted of an energetic singer/comedian (the ubiquitous Judy Kolba), an equally ubiquitous but entertaining singer (Lindsey Hamilton), an excellent pianist (Brooks Aehorn) who did an outstanding one handed version of "March of the Wooden Soldiers", a unique solo violinist (Craig Halliday) who did not lack for enthusiasm; a good comedian from Boston (Don Gavin); a fair comedian (Kevin Flynn) who seemed a little tentative, and a great seven piece theater orchestra!
We had a balcony stateroom which seemed smaller than previous Celebrity ships and lacked sufficient or convenient storage for a twelve day cruise. Limiting the Silhoutte to seven day cruises might make the situation better. There were two spaces above the bed, three drawers and two cubby holed nightstands for storage. The closet lacked a shelf at the top or a drawer at the bottom. Considering Celebrity scheduled three formal nights there was definitely a lack of efficient storage. The bathroom was well designed both for storage and utility and one of the better we've seen at sea.
Although we are far from being marine architects, the design of the stairs and elevators is a problem. There are only two vertical banks, although referred to as aft and forward stairs/elevators they really "bracket" midships(each hump end). At least there should have been a true aft and forward staircase if they did not want three elevator banks. People who had stern cabins needed to walk almost half the ship to find a staircase/elevator. (the proof here is that passengers in the rear are to use crew stairs to reach the boat station, which was not practiced during the drill).
The dining room chairs are virtually immovable, only hydraulic pistons can effectively move you in or out from the table! When the photographer came to our table of six for pictures, we declined the group shot because of the ordeal of moving about. Many venues lacked sufficient seating for events, for example they would schedule an activity in Michaels Pub which seats maybe fifty people and seventy to a hundred or more would show up. We saw many people arrive only to leave unaccommodated. (Bring back the Piano Bar concept!) There definitely seems to be a lack of real space on this ship. What space exists is poorly allocated and many times blocked up by photographers. There were many places almost empty and others over crowded. The Grand Foyer seems to have less square footage than the Quasar disco!? People were sitting on the stairs during performances in the Foyer. Lawn space concept almost unused on this itinerary, only saw one alcove in use ( and it was possible the gentleman didn't realize it to be "rental" space, for most of the sea days it was closed for maintenance/high winds/weather. Perhaps this is one the reasons why Celebrity is abandoning New York as well as the barely endurable Embarkation/Disembarkation procedures (which is certainly not any fault of Celebrity; as usual they take an intolerable situation and somehow make it seem acceptable).
The noro virus!! Embarkation was delayed by the need to clean the ship. Unfortunately, Celebrity chose to use crew to accomplish this task instead of having a group of professionals waiting for the ship to dock, so that the crew could perform their usual transition duties. The cabin setup simply suffered from the protocol (no preorderd drink setups were available, no pen or paper/ no ice/ no fruit /no room service order forms/no bedspreads/binders etc) until the next day (when the stewards "caught" up). There were no books in the library for four days The food service was a nightmare. EVERYTHING had to be served only by wait staff for four days. If you wanted a cup of coffee the server needed to fill the cup, then pour the cream/milk (a little more please) and then hand you the sweetner (White/Blue/Yellow/Brown) with a set of tongs. NEXT person in line please! Passengers could not handle anything. Not salt shakers nor pepper mills. Thus all food service took forever! Clearly this, again was not the fault of Celebrity...they really didn't have a choice as they marshaled an army of Purrell squirters and handrail wipers. (The casino and shops clearly had the virus licked early on, as chips flowed hand to passenger hand, slot handles were pulled repeatedly, merchandise was touched and retouched, jewelry tried on and examined etc). We guess library books are more prone to infection.
Well I'm almost the end... remember the (crew save one)..it was DJ Benji who to us (and others) looked as if he were in a trance. On "request" night he declined to play any songs from the 60's as he said "we have a night for that". Oops, sorry, thought it was request night. What music he did play was not accompanied by DJ patter (such as song ID, Artist, facts) just a bored and motionless far away stare...hmmm. Perhaps he was sailing his own magic ship!
Ultimately, we enjoyed this cruise despite the events. We would, without a doubt, sail Celebrity again...their crews can overcome anything...just might consider a Celebrity ship with a different design.