Celebrity Crusies after a 4 years of sailing Cunard.
Since I left Celebrity Cruises in favor of Cunard Line four years ago, I came across a very good offer from Celebrity for a Transatlantic Cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Southampton ... Read More
Celebrity Crusies after a 4 years of sailing Cunard.
Since I left Celebrity Cruises in favor of Cunard Line four years ago, I came across a very good offer from Celebrity for a Transatlantic Cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Southampton this April on board the Silhouette.
I thought that a good opportunity to try my once favorite Cruise Line again!
The main reason for me switching to Cunard was the constant cost cuts of Celebrity and the fact that their ships got “louder and louder” by every cruise- even more so after the introduction of their new Marketing Slogan“ Modern Luxury”!
I flew in four days prior the cruise and stayed in Fort Lauderdale- Hotel Atlantic. A very nice Hotel in a perfect location. Very close to all the sights of Fort Lauderdale. The Hotel itself could do with a little love and care- but otherwise a most enjoyable stay!
Embarkation was breeze- we left the Hotel at about 11 am and were on board 45 minutes later! Since this was my 3rd time on board the Celebrity Silhouette I knew what to expect! We were welcomed with usual Sparkling wine and started our cruise in nice and relaxed manor!
Sadly they have done away with my favorite “first meal option on board”- Bistro on Five- it is now Sushi on five- which may be nice for fans of Sushi- but not for me! So we opted for the Ocean View- as usual it was very well attended and very crowded. The food was mediocre at best- and it stayed that way for the reminder of the cruise – I just went there two or three times! I prefer the Main Dining room anyway – so that was not a big problem.
Since many years I wanted to try one of those aft verandah cabins- they were always either gone by the time of my booking or the prices were just ridiculous! They offered those cabins to a reasonable price so I took the opportunity to try one of them on Deck 8!
I really liked this cabin from the moment I entered. The view is just spectacular and the very well worth the rather long walk from the elevators. Helps to burn calories anyway – so that was just fine! The balcony size in this type of cabin differs – mine was slightly longer than the others – but that is really not that important!
I found the cabin to be in great shape and very clean. Here and there a little wear and tear but nothing really bothering! In fact one does not feel to be on a ship almost 8 years old- and that goes for the whole ship. Very well kept and clean.
The cabin steward was very friendly and helpful- I always tip the cabin steward extra and at the BEGINNING of the voyage- when the cabin steward introduces himself. My wish to empty out my fridge ( I like to put my own stuff in there- sodas and Orange juice) was seen to at once! After a request the bathrobe was put in- I asked for it, when I met him on the corridor! Turned out the thing was quite useless, since it was really ready for the trash bin, or still good enough to polish the furniture - not a big problem, since I use the bathrobe just inside my own cabin. Well- not up to Celebrity´s standards – so thought I mention it!
The stuff in the bathroom – shampoo – conditioner, (shower gel was missing) , and so such things were rather cheap and not to my liking- one may call me picky with good reason- LOL- so I bought my own stuff in the shops on board! Maybe they
(Celebrity ) order the cheapest stuff they can lay there hands on to force one to buy in their shops! Anyhow- I call that “Luxury Problems”- and they did not bother me really!
With all those discussions going on about plastic waste- and taking in consideration that Celebrity no longer uses plastic straws – bravo to that! I would recommend they install dispensers for Shampoo and Shower Gel. They tried that concept- but that was ten years ago. Maybe the cabin stewards forgot to refill them from time to time!
I knew of the little design flaws of the Solstice Class ships beforehand, I will just mention them anyway! The first one is that there are not enough elevators for a ship this size- just two sets in the middle and the front (compared to the Millenium Class- which are smaller ships with three sets of elevators) - I did not- as already mentioned , mind the long walk to my cabin at the very end of the ship- it was just annoying sometimes to wait that long for an elevator to arrive! I usually walk if I have just a few Decks to cover- but from Deck 3 to Deck 15 is quite a walk… !
Number two- the centrum is open to all other lounges on three Decks and all the other Decks ending in the atrium! They have music and activities there from “dusk till dawn” - so if you look for quite place to read or let the “world go by” you are hard pressed to find such a place! The one lounge dedicated for silence is the Ensemble lounge- very quiet indeed- but since all the windows are iced – there is no view at all- rather cave like and very dark.
Even when nothing is going on in the atrium it is hard to find a quiet place, since there is background music going on all the time- sometimes far too loud! I found the Silhouette- still- to be a very “loud” ship indeed. “Lively” Celebrity may call it- I call it annoying and disturbing- at least when “lively” means all day long.
The lack of a real and proper promenade deck would be the third flaw in otherwise wonderful, stunning- yet elegant ships! At least there are loungers and chairs in the section of the promenade deck were the view is not blocked by lifeboats!
Now to the restaurants- I do not call myself a “Gourmet” – so simple and traditional fare does the trick for me! Even though not a Gourmet I am perfectly capable to differ a good peace of meet from a bad one- so to speak!
The Ocean View Restaurant- the Buffet- I just went there three times- neither of these times I was really satisfied. The layout and food presentation is nicely done and looks quite appealing- there is something for everyone´s taste! The Quality of the meet I found to be rather bad- though and sometimes just not to eat! Can´t say anything about breakfast there- because I never to my breakfast in the Ocean View. I tried pasta – bland and tasteless. The pizza was quite good, though!
As for the Main Dining Room- we had breakfast, lunch and dinner there. We always found the Quality very good! The Quality of the meet – well, that was a hit or miss! The Service at all meals- especially during dinner was exceptionally great! Friendly, not overdone and very personal!
We opted for anytime dining and did that the first two nights. It may have worked for many – not for us, though! Tables for two were hard to get- and if so, one had to wait. So we agreed to share the table. The first night we were shown to a table, a big table- for eight. They were already in the middle of the meal and had a lively conversation going. There was just one chair left- so the obvious decision would have been to sit us at a different table. The waiter asked the whole dinner table to stand up- move their seats in order to accommodate another chair for the both of us! I looked a rather cramped affair. 7
I told the waiter in no unmistaken terms not to do so- since I found it in very bad taste and in totally lack of manners for all dinners to interrupt their meals and conversations. The other dinner guests were very relaxed about the whole incident- and included us quickly into their conversations and we had a great evening and nice dinner. We apologized for the inconvenience we caused- and all had a good laugh about it!
The next evening we went again- were shown to a table – we again were prepared to share- again another table were all seats, except of one were already taken. This time I insisted on another table- which we were given- only to see six people approach “our table” and asked us to leave that table at once – since we crashed their table. We were embarrassed to say the least. The third table of the evening- also again- turned to be a great one- and we had a nice evening, despite the bumpy beginnings!
We switched to late seating after those mishaps and were very happy with our decision and enjoyed every dinner in the Main Dining Room immensely! The service – as said - was perfect and could not have been any better!
We dined also in three of Silhouette´s Specialty Restaurants. First in Le petite Chef@ Qusine- the show around the really great and very good dinner was an experience in itself and very well worth a visit! Before every course – four courses in all- a little Film was shown, whereas the table turned into the screen. Very entertaining, indeed! The Films shown were all about the preparation of the course that followed the film!
Tuscany Grill came next- also a great dining experience- not to be missed- wonderful food and great service! Well worth the extra money we spent! However the highlight came with Muranos- a very elegant diner setting. Some might call it far to “Old school”- but that’s exactly the reason we liked it. Table side presentation and preparation as it was done in those wonderful Specialty Restaurants on board Celebrity´s Millenium Class! During the table side presentation the waiter slightly overdid his little jokes – but otherwise a wonderful evening.
We did not take part of much of the provided entertainment Celebrity offered- it seem to be a wide range. They showed great and very popular films in the Theater and had some nice shows – again a little something for everyone´s taste.
The one – for us quite new evening entertainment- was the “Silent Disco”- I read about that on Cruise Critic- so I was curious to see for myself! First it was just amusing to watch people dance, some totally out of tune- so we thought- then we figured that everyone was dancing to their own music- three different kinds of music were on option! The participants seem to have such fun- it was really infectious – so we went down, grabbed our headphones and took part in the fun!
We experienced very bad weather and heavy waves during the last two days of the crossing and even more so while sailing along the Bay of Biscay. I really like it when it feels like one really is on board a ship – so I didn´t really care.
It was sight to be seen – all deck furniture- literally everything was bound and safely stored on the railings! The sight of the empty decks ( Decks 5,14 and 15 were closed- Deck 12 remained open but bar of every lounger chair, except for the area were smoking was allowed) alone could give an idea what was in store for us! And indeed it was- walking the corridors was challenge sometimes.
We were kept well informed by all that by the Captain Peppas- and his staff, who came on the public system a few times to warn us to be careful, when walking around the ship- since it were Evening Chic he warned the Lady´s to forgo wearing high heeled shoes to avoid accidents!
I witnessed only one accident- in the Ocean view Café, when an elderly man fell whilst taking some food from buffet- during tea time. He was well taken care of from the staff and from the guests surrounding him. He was appeared to be a bit haken up, but otherwise okay- I saw him enjoying his afternoon tea later!
The scones, including clothed cream they offered for tea time are- as the saying goes – to die for! The best I ever had- and that includes Cunards scones at tea time in the Queens Room!
As for the port of calls we did not use Celebrity´s shore excursion in neither of the three destinations! In Nassau- Bahamas we booked a day pass in the Colonial Hilton- it was within walking distance. The docking times on this particular cruise were not very favorable – in Nassau the departure time was set at 2pm- which leaves not much time- hence the very close Colonial Hilton. I would go for a Hotel Resort a bit farther away from town next time, when there is more time to enjoy the Beach and use the provided food coupon! Such a day pass in a resort is nice option to avoid the overcrowded town.
Kings Wharf – Bermuda- there we took the ferry to Hamilton. It is just a short walk to the ferry stop- very convenient. Hamilton is nice little town- extremely clean and very British!
Lisbon- we arrived late- at 2pm- so we were able to get ashore not earlier than 3pm. For those who never have been there I recommend the Hop on Hop off bus. The Cruise Terminal is very close to the city center- so after 5 days at sea – we were glad to see if our sea legs were also back in full function on land!
Summary: Would I sail with Celebrity again- yes- sure, I would! Beside all the things that I found to be disturbing, Celebrity offers still a upscale, good product, with excellent food and service!
I wrote that I found the ship to be too loud- THAT IS MY OPINION- many may not agree in the slightest! All activities were well attended- some very well! So I take it, the majority does love that lively atmosphere- and so it should be- everyone should have a great time and should take fond and nice memories home!
The Entertainment staff on board Silhouette did a great job in motivating people to take part- it seems to me that people need more and more Entertainment nowadays.
Some would be bored silly on board a Cunard ship- I rather enjoy the calm, rather old fashioned cruise experience they offer- with a nod to the golden times of ocean crossing (one has to keep in mind that those days were just “ Golden “ for those who could afford first class- and in retro perspective – one has to admit that things seem a bit more “ Golden “, a bit more “ Shinny” then they really were).
Celebrity Cruises should be careful not to drift too much into the direction of those Party- Boats we all know from “hearsay – of course- only from hearsay“!
So suppose I might interchange Cunard and Celebrity with the occasional “stray” to Holland America!
Michael Bayer, April 2019 Read Less