Well it has been a couple of weeks and I am finally finding time to sit down and write a review of our March 15, Silhouette 9-night Southern Caribbean cruise. I will hold no punches, but unfortunately (or fortunately) there are few ... Read More
Well it has been a couple of weeks and I am finally finding time to sit down and write a review of our March 15, Silhouette 9-night Southern Caribbean cruise. I will hold no punches, but unfortunately (or fortunately) there are few punches to hold.
Our cruise started, as always, with embarkment. The Silly was docked at the new Terminal 25. My thoughts where we were finally going to be able to test out if this terminal was all cracked up to its hype.
Well, yes it did. Since we were in the suites, we had a separate entrance. From the time we took a foot into the terminal until the time we stepped into Michaels Club was maybe 10 minutes. The reason it was so long is that I stopped in the restroom right before the group of waiting passengers were escorted on board. DH and I had to wait for the next group to be escorted by my new bestie, Venessa, the Michaels club concierge. I swear, on embarkment and disembarkment days she must put in at least 50,000 steps and always with a smile on her face.
For people not in suites, I heard similar stories from the other passengers. There were few lines and getting on board was a breeze.
Once we hit Michael’s club, we were greeted by staff, crew and some officers. I’m sure part of the reason we have so many faces is that, they think, us suite people will be willing to open our purse strings quicker than some others. And of course, one of the first persons to greet us was from Canyon Spa.
Although this can seem like a sales pitch as she offered to give me a shoulder massage, I knew what I wanted. DH LOVES the Persian Garden. Since they only sell a few full passes outside of the Aqua class, this gave me the chance to snag the passes so DH could be happy.
Soon it was off to Laminae for lunch. (hint: One dish I enjoy is Chicken and Waffles. I found out the only time this is served is embarkment day.) Then to our rooms to drop off our bags, meet our room attendant (Su) and our butler (Suren). At this time, I explained to Suren that we were going to have a little get together (30 to 40 people) at the end of our cabin crawl. Could he put out a little spread? Since we and a couple of our friends had brought wine on board for this, we shouldn’t need more than one bottle of wine.
Then it is off to the muster drill. These drills are getting less and less painful. When we first started cruising, I remember standing outside next to the lifeboats as the crew yelled over the crowd hoping everyone could hear. Now, if you arrive early enough, you can find some nice seating, strike up a conversation with your new found friends and wait for the short video of dubious entertainment quality. I actually think it is a little hokey, but it is humorous and does get the points across.
After the drill, we are off to our tradition of meeting up with our newest best friends we have yet to meet, the Cruise Critic gang. Our meeting spot, the Sunset Bar, is configured different than Reflection, which has the bar set in a circle. I really like the Silhouette’s (and other S-class) configuration. I think it is more conducive to sitting around with your new friends.
As we entered our cabin, after the muster drill, our cabin phone was ringing. It turns out that because of some issue with the registration, they didn’t have us as being on-board. the customer server asked us if we made it to the ship. I so wanted to say “no, I’m still at the pier waving at you.”
After dinner, it was off to the show, a comedian, Daran Howard. But first, the captain and his officers were introduced. Unlike other ships we have been on, the officers were always visible and interacting with the guests.
Our ritual at the end of the evening was to stop at Michaels Club for a night cap. Albert was always there with a smile on his face and quick service. For the first couple of days, he took our order and promptly returned with drinks in hand. Well, we are very predictable. After a couple days, we sat down and the drinks would magically appear at our table. How he was able to remember all of his clients and what they prefer is amazing.
Now our first full sea day and the cabin crawl. We were to have the cabin crawl right after the meet and greet. Since we were the final cabin, I wanted to make sure that everything was in place. But, as we checked in before going to Cellar Master, the room was not made up and Suren, our butler was not around. I just hoped they would finish before I brought by the gang of cruise critics.
For the Meet and Greet, the Cruise Critic get together, I was impressed that so many of the officers came to say Hello. I do wish they had something a little more than coffee, but the captain did welcome us and stated that our opinion does matter and we should not hesitate to search out an officer if we have concerns.
Now, the portion of the cruise I was anxious to get done, the Cabin Crawl. I enjoy the fun, but I am always so sure that something is going to go horribly wrong. It is so nice to see the different types of cabins. I was impressed with the Inside Cabin. I had this idea it would be dark and dingy and crowded. It was amazingly spacious. We had a good selection of cabins and each was well appointed. But now was time for my cabin. This is where the rubber meets the road. There was to be 30+ people, hanging around, at least momentarily, in my cabin and I was not able to check what was setup before I got there.
Well, Suren and Su had done their best work. The cabin looked spotless and somehow, everyone was able to fit. People were everywhere, but that is what it is all about. And Suren was stopping in every once in a while to make sure we didn’t need anything else. As we were leaving, Su was rushing in to clean up and put the cabin back in order. I thought to myself, THIS IS THE WAY TO THROW A PARTY.
We decided to book an alcove for the day. Since I hate chair hogs, this seemed to be a perfect solution and since there were two other couples we were hanging around with, this gave us enough room to comfortably sit and talk and a beautiful view of the ocean and grass and enjoy sipping sparkling wine.
OK. Complaint time. First, the sparkling wine was average. I think it would be nice if they offered an upcharge for a better bottle of wine. Also, since it was so windy, stemless wine glasses please.
The entertainment was All McCartney Live, a Paul McCartney cover band. Since I grew up on the Beatles, I thoroughly enjoyed it. But more than that, I was talking to a huge McCartney fan, who praised the band up and down.
There is something special about evening chic night, even if you are not a huge fan. It seems everything is a little more elegant, people are in a more upbeat mood and officers are all around. (I love seeing men in uniforms.)
Our first port of call was tendering at Grand Cayman. I had booked a handicap accessible excursion purposely because it was a tender, I thought that the guides would help us to the pier. That was not the case. We were to meet on the pier. But, it really was not an issue getting on the tenders. And I wonder, if the reason we met on the pier was to not have all these wheelchairs descending on the tenders all at once.
By the time we headed to shore, the water was rather choppy. Getting in the boat was a little tricky, but the crew managed it well. In the true nature of Celebrity, they quickly reacted and moved the tenders to the starboard side to help minimize the waves hitting the boats.
Our tour guide was professional and very adapt at handling all the mobility issues, never skipping a beat. Seeing so many turtles in so stages of life is fun and interesting. Kids really enjoy getting into the water with the turtles.
Hell has such interesting rock formations. The best part is being able to send a postcard from Hell. Some great lines could be “since you didn’t join us our vacation went to Hell.” Some bad ideas are sending a postcard to your boss with “Which you were here.”
We were back in time to enjoy a Mast Grill hamburger and just enjoy the beautiful weather. The Mast Grill does a great burger and fries.
Next comes another sea day. I woke up early and decided that I wasn’t going to waste the day. So, I pulled on my swimsuit headed down to the Spa Pool, found the perfect lounger before the chair hogs and laid down and fell asleep. Hours later, when the rest of my lazy group got up, they woke me up by texting me to meet them at Café Bacio.
And now the most disappointing part of our cruise. Tracy, from the Cruise Critic group, had offered to head the Cruise Critic slot pull. She did an amazing job of organizing the group, working with the casino to find a good time. But the casino did not do their part. They were supposed to give us a winning machine. Instead, we pretty much broke even. Even though we had a great time cheering each other on and just enjoying the new found friends, couldn’t Celebrity have found a slot machine worthy of our group. LOL.
We were thrilled when we heard that the entertainment tonight was Jesse Hamilton Jr. We had seen him on other cruises and greatly enjoyed him. He has great vocal range and a true entertainer. He has starred The Lion King as Simba.
And now another perfect day, Aruba. Since this is about Celebrity, I will not go overboard about our excursion with Aruba Trikes, but if you want to do something a little different than the beach, what could be more fun than riding a Motor Trike around this beautiful island.
Since we were not leaving the island until midnight, we decided to take a break from restaurants on board and trying out Barefoot, a very well-reviewed restaurant in town. It was nice to have to true Caribbean restaurant experience.
Curacao was another amazing island. We decided that we would just relax, find a nice pub to have lunch and do some shopping. We found a cute restaurant, Iguana Café, next to Queen Emma Bridge. It is so charming to watch the pontoon bridge open and close.
Now, the reason I love traveling with my DH. Our friends were shopping for jewelry at Diamond International. She found a necklace, but didn’t want to spend that much. I had just asked to look at a necklace I thought was pretty, with no intention of buying it, just biding my time while she looked. Next thing, DH is bartering for a price if we bought both pieces. He loves this game of negotiating for the best price, even if he had no intentions of buying jewelry before he started. We walked away with both pieces at a good price.
That night was a full moon, so Celebrity celebrated a White night, Full Moon party around the pool. The house band, Ocean’s Five, was rocking and the whole pool area was lit up with pop-up performers in the pool. The radar towers were illuminated as if they were full moons. Just a great time.
In Bonaire, we decided to rent golf carts from Bonaire Cruisers. Again, this was not through the ship. But if you want to see the island on your own, this is a very affordable and fun way to see the island. Bonaire is a lovely island and having golf carts allowed us to pull over and hop on and hop off whenever we saw something we wanted to check out a little more.
I don’t know how this happens, but we get so wrapped up with talking with friends, we miss the show. Although we love the shows, we have found so many new friends that we find at least one a cruise, we send the night sitting around the bar talking and getting to know new people. We have met so many wonderful people who have become friends and cruising partners.
Our favorite days are sea days. Today is also the second chic night. How can you not love a day of sun and fun and a night of wine, steak and lobster? As always, Celebrity really knows how to treat you right.
Most of this day was spent just hanging out with our friends. And of course, no cruise is complete without spending time with Future Cruises booking our next trip (or trips).
On last sea day, a day to relax and connect with the new friends you have met. Café Bacio is our place to meet. We can sit there and relax with an ice tea for hours. Unfortunately, those tempting cookies and pastries are call to us. And the smell of the Gelato Bar is torturing. But, after all this is vacation.
Boo-hoo. Disembarkment day is always a bad day, but the disembarkment was poorly run. This was not Celebrity’s fault. The had only 2 to 3 port agents when there should have been 4. Also, there was confusion about the Suite priority line. (Yes, if I paid for it, I will insist on using it.) As a suite guest we were supposed to have an expedited line. No one in the terminal were acknowledging it. Since my DH has mobility issues, if we know this would happen, we would have rethought about when we were leaving the ship.
Poor Venessa, who was supposed to be escorting us off the ship, had to also handle a passenger who had issues with his statement. Things were finally resolved, but I learned, if you have Global Entry, BRING YOUR CARD WITH YOU. That line was flowing quickly.
Final thoughts. I had been a little panicked because we have never really dealt with wheelchair accessibility issues before. Our friends, who we had invited to join us had mobility issues, I was nervous about what we could do and the logistics of getting around. Celebrity did more than I could have hoped or even thought was possible. The only issue we had were sometimes, people in the elevators were not as accommodating as they could be. (You know who you are!) You are on vacation. Do you have to shove your way to the front of the line ahead of people in wheelchairs, who were waiting before you. But even at the ports, cab drivers and tour guides knew just how to handle the wheelchairs with ease.
Silhouette was immaculate. I'm not sure how they do it, but I never saw any trash anywhere on the ship. I think they have invisible elves picking up any stray piece of paper or empty coffee cup.
We have been on many cruises with Celebrity, Silhouette's staff was heads above the others. That is a difficult task since the other cruises were outstanding. I haven't cruised another line in years and I can't think of a reason to switch. Read Less