We're just back from our twelve night 2/22/12 Silhouette sailing and I thought I'd pass some of our experiences along . My husband and I are in our mid fifties and this was our seventh cruise (second with Celebrity). It's a marvelous ship, a great itinerary, and overall it was an excellent cruise with a few little snags.
Sailing from Bayonne was the good, the bad and the ugly and the good, all in one shot. The Good: A one hour drive up the NJ Turnpike and there you are! Once inside the "terminal" (intentional use of air-quotes here), embarkation was a breeze. The Bad: We arrived around 10:45 AM and there was such a long line of traffic to get to the "terminal" that it almost negated getting there early to explore the ship before the throng. The Ugly: Disembarkation.... not so good. We were delayed on the ship about 45 minutes after our scheduled departure time (9:45 AM) before we could head down the busses. We were herded like cattle into the SRO bus for the 50 second drive to "the terminal". We were stuck sitting on the bus for a while because "the terminal" was too crowded. Once there, we were able to secure a Porter very quickly and going through customs was a breeze. That's the end of the niceties. Trying to load our luggage into the limo was like taking your life into your hands. Cars, busses, people, suitcases flying in every direction. With all of the people arriving and the people departing, the poor driver had to wait five minutes to back out into the traffic that once again was like taking your life in your hands. Back to The Good: We were home in an hour. Yey!!
The ship is beautiful and she is gleaming in most parts. There were some questionable design elements. Best for me was the absolutely beautiful Solarium and the fantastic art installations found at every stairwell, elevator lobby and at various other places around the ship. Do the art tour with the iPad and take the guided tour given by the art historians on board. Worth it! The theater is very well designed. The running track is ridiculously situated on the floor above the outdoor pools and is very narrow and often blocked by sunbathers. How dare they sunbathe on a cruise ship?!? No promenade deck either. I missed that. The gym is large and well appointed with various machines, etc. The bars and clubs were spectacularly appointed, each with a different feel. There was no expense spared on materials and furnishings. The Casino was great (although I hear the slots were a bit stingy). A great disappointment was the Lawn Club. The lawn was closed off for most of the journey. There were very large dead patches which made it pretty un-attractive. We had only one short rained- out wine and cheese concert on the lawn. I was looking forward to enjoying that time under the stars at least twice. I must also remark on the size and centrality of the grand foyer. It really wasn't so grand. There were many events planned there and there was just no way that you could get anywhere near most of them. It was difficult to see anything. The bands had to be crammed into a little hallway between the elevator shafts while they were performing. Another missing element was a set of aft elevators. Aside from the obvious (that is of the 3000 passengers wanting to use the mid-ships elevators), folks in the Sunset back had to walk Â½ mile each and every time they wanted to leave their rooms!! We referred to boarding the elevator as "how many clowns can you stuff in a Volkswagon".
The cabin was beautifully appointed. The bathroom was pleasant and had ample storage space and a great shower with a glass enclosure. We missed the expandable clothes line to dry bathing suits, but we just packed a couple of plastic hangers and used them on the hooks in the bathroom. The bed was near the balcony doors in this cabin, and although I thought that I wanted the opposite arrangement, this worked out to be fantastic! We had very easy access to the closet and moved the coffee table away from the front of the couch and used that as a dressing area. Speaking of the closet... that was interesting! There was no upper shelf and it wasn't deep enough for the hangers, so I was always tucking the sleeves of the things on the ends into the doors. Silly design! I had read about the lack of drawer space and the extra lower bar in the closet, so I hung many of my things on hangers and packed them directly into the suitcases. That worked out great! We had four large suitcases, and between the over the bed storage, the closet, the drawers and the little shelves under the nightstands, we were fine. Only thing that had to live in the suitcase was our shoes as there was no room on the bottom of the closet with the lower bar down. I think a seven day cruiser would have no issues what so ever. We had a hump balcony and we were second from the end, so our balcony was HUGE!! We were on the aft side of the hump and you couldn't see forward, but that was not an issue for us. I have to say that the accessibility on the TV to your accounts is a mixed blessing. I had to hide the remote from my DH since I usually rely on the element of surprise at the end of our cruises to settle our accounts! Also, there was a great variety of free on demand movies to fall asleep to. I also wanted to take our cabin steward Filipe home with us. He was great!
We ordered room service breakfast with a hang tag almost every morning and enjoyed it on our beautiful balcony. It was delivered promptly at the requested time. We never ordered anything hot other than the beverages, so I can't speak to the food temperature. The buffet was fantastic with a great variety for breakfast and lunch. It is organized in a kiosk manner with many stations for personalized preparation of foods. The main dining room is beautiful and the service was fantastic. Our waiters, bar servers and wine stewards were very attentive. Sadly, the food was not nearly as wonderful as I remembered. We last sailed the Millie when Michel Roux was the EC, and we missed his influence on the MDR this cruise. My husband was sorely disappointed when they ran out of escargot about three nights into the cruise and we were informed that they would not be getting any more for our sailing due to a "worldwide shortage". Really?? Is there a snail blight or something??? Hmmmm.... The menus and the food quality were sub-par. MDR... not so good. We did purchase the Baccus package for $399 which included five specialty restaurant dinners and five bottles of wine. Just a word of warning, if you plan on doing this you have to choose your reservation times and dates when you purchase, so be prepared. We enjoyed QSine with the Cruise Critic group. The presentations were jaw-dropping. A huge variety of foods and desserts that made my foodie heart sing!!! The Lawn Club Grill was great fun and the food was fabulous. I enjoyed making flatbreads and cooking the meats for our table of six. Murano was phenomenal, with many of our dishes prepared table side. Incredible! The service here was by far the best on the ship. My personal favorite was the Tuscan Grill. It's a sort-of Italian Steak house. Recommendations there include the Filet Mignon, the fantastico onion soup and the wonderful chocolate fondue for dessert. The wine list with the package was great, and whatever remained in the bottle at the end of the meal was happily sent to the MDR for us to finish.
We didn't visit all of the bars onboard, but we gave it the old college try! The Martini Bar was as enjoyable as promised. Great fun place for a drink and the bartender shows are not to be missed. Get the martini sampler, and watch what happens! The Passport lounge was a snooze. The Cellar Masters was someplace I expected to spend a great deal of time, but I must say that the staff in there turned me off both times that I visited. Really, I don't want to spend my cruise dollars somewhere that I don't feel welcome. The ensemble lounge was a great place to end the evening and always had late night entertainment. The casino bar felt like little more than a service bar for the floor waiters. The Sunset Bar for sail away is by far the most wonderfully relaxing place on the ship. There was always great music and great service. Just a note.... The Port side is for smoking. DH enjoyed a few cigars up there!
The bands on the ship were certainly a mixed bag. The party band was ho-hum and phoning everything in. It was very antiseptic listening to their music. Martin Andeles is very, very talented and very, very soothing. Best to listen to him at the end of the evening! The jazz band (and especially the little piano player Ashley) was kickin'! The female Jazz vocalist that was just brought onboard from Vegas puts you through some paces!! Bel Canto Duo (violinist group) was incredible. The range of music from them was astounding. They played every type of music in their own fashion. Fantastic! The Orchestra is an incredibly talented group of musicians. The Production numbers were long and needed a little more rehearsal. The comedian was a horrible bore, and I didn't see the ventriloquist (although I heard he was good). The steel drum duo was good, but unfriendly to the crowd. Overall, some were good and some were bad. Entertainment is very subjective though.
We had a great cruise and I must say that given the opportunity, I would have turned around and jumped right back on that ship! The service was stellar. The officers were highly visible and quite personable. The Captain is a riot!! What a great experience. What a ship! I miss her a lot, although my office is still rocking just like she did! Thanks for re-living our cruise with me!