My husband and I are a 50'ish couple who are not regular cruisers. I have always wanted to see the Norwegian Fjords, and when i saw a good sale with 2 perks last fall, i jumped!
We were originally booked in a standard veranda cabin but about 10 days before we sailed, we received an email offering us to bid on moving up to Aqua class. I bid $10 (per-person) over the minimum, and we won our bid. I had no idea how much we would adore that Aqua class! The restaurant, BLU, was fantastic. We loved, with one exception, every single item of food we ate in BLU.
Everything about the ship and the staff was wonderful - the Silhouette is clean and elegant and full of nice, if sometimes goofy, spaces (that Sky lounge's decor is straight outta a Star Trek episode - like, an alien's idea of what a fancy bar on a ship on Earth should look like). Yet we grew quite fond of that funny Sky Lounge. We also spent a lot of time in the Ensemble Lounge as we really enjoyed the quirky yet super talented musical duo playing there most nights, along with a guitarist/vocalist who also played in the Lounge. It was music we actually wanted to listen to, but could still have a conversation, and it is dimly-lit, so i always looked very nice in the Ensemble Lounge.
The staff, almost without fail, was efficient, friendly, and good at their jobs. The public areas, including bathrooms,were spotless no matter what time of day it was; we felt very pampered on this trip.
We did miss a good full jogging track outside - the one they have is silly and not long enough. Since I am a walker and not a jogger, and it wasn't particularly beautiful weather, I just either walked on the treadmill or chose a floor with nothing but cabins, and walked long laps. My husband ran on the treadmills. However, had it been really nice weather, we would have been annoyed at having to be inside to get good exercise.
Specifics below, if you want them:
EMBARKATION - We are from the U.S., and had never been to Southampton, and I was a bit worried about getting to Southampton from London with all of our luggage, but we took the train down the night before, and then got a taxi to the pier in the morning. The train was comfortable and we just put our luggage next to our seats. it was very easy!
Our instructions said to arrive between 10:30 and 11, but we arrived around noon. Since I had just been upgraded to Aqua, we hadn't received new luggage tags yet, but a guy was there, johnny-on-the-spot, and he made us new tags and carted off our luggage. We walked into the city terminal building and saw a pretty long line - it was not very organized in the "exterior" part of the line, so if for some reason Aqua class cabins could have gotten into a shorter or different line, nobody told us that or pointed us toward a different line. So we stood in the "main" line, and waited about 15 or 20 minutes before we got "inside" past security - at that point, we WERE directed by some very quick-acting and smiling people, to go to a special line, and we essentially went right up to a window to register and get our pictures taken and to get our Sea Pass cards.
Once onboard, we received pink sparkling wine, and then wandered around the ship until our room was ready just a bit after 1:00.
CABIN - We were in 1514, a very forward cabin on the Starboard side. My husband was worried about sea sickness and feeling the motion of the ship, so I therefore worried about how far forward we were and how high up we were, but really, she is a big ship, the Silhouette, and for the most part we never felt much movement at all. The very first morning we heard some odd noises above us, right around 7:00 AM - and learned later that we were right underneath the gym. The sounds were a combo of something being dragged around and then - maybe - someone on a bike or treadmill I think. ANYWAY, i then worried we would be awoken each day by these sounds, but that was the only day we really heard anything at all from above us. The only other noise issue we encountered was the night/morning we sailed into Geiranger, which is an town in an inlet in northern Norway. It was apparently an excessively and unrelentingly foggy night and morning, as the captain blew the fog horn every few minutes for HOURS. LITERAL HOURS. It was so loud in our room, it seemed like the horn was on our balcony. We got no sleep that night. Those were the only blights on the room. I thought it had lots of usable storage space, and we did like the extra-fancy shower experience that they provide in Aqua cabins. Our room steward was the best! Ali truly worked seemingly non-stop - our cabin was cleaned essentially the moment we left in the morning, and he somehow always knew when we were out for dinner to provide the turn-down service and leave us our chocolate and next day's planner.
Dining - I can't say enough good things about BLU. One of the few other cruises we took was MANY years ago, on the Celebrity Mercury, and the dining room and food on that cruise were exceptional. We know times and the industry have changed so didn't expect much, but we were very happily surprised. It is "anytime" dining but we only ever had to wait one night - the very first night. Other than that, we could walk in at anytime and get a fantastic table immediately. My husband's steaks were tender and flavorful and cooked perfectly medium-rare, my salmon was always rare, as I like it, and our other entrees, as well as our starters and sides were very very good also - salads had fresh ingredients and vegetables were not overcooked.
I do think they don't have enough staff in BLU and some nights we waited a bit to have someone take our order, but we could see the waiters practically being run off their feet, so we didn't take that personally. When they did come to our table, we got very personal and efficient service. But Celebrity should staff more appropriately in this restaurant I think.
We ate most lunches in the OceanView and that food was delish as well. I tended to focus on the Indian food (REALLY REALLY GOOD), and the "grilled delights" were i could get a thinly-sliced piece of chicken breast that was nicely seasoned. The food was hot - even one day when we got in just as they were finishing the lunchtime meal - and plentiful. My husband liked the pizza and usually found something at the carvery to eat as well. Since it was not a hot weather cruise, I was worried the OceanView would be super crowded (people weren't inclined to eat outside), but we only had one day where we struggled to find a table. The service was good at the tables and staff quickly came over to get our drink orders pr clear our plates.
Entertainment - my husband is a bit of a drag and refused to go see ANY of the shows. I did hear one couple describe one of the shows as "rubbish", and everyone around them nodded in agreement - it sounded kind of high-concept for a ship, some acrobatics, some singing, maybe an attempt at a plot? (maybe my husband isn't a drag, maybe he is just "wise") We focused on trivia - which we lost - but which we had lots of fun playing; Karaoke - which we only 'watched' but LOVED all of it - those English/Irish/Welsh are quite good at Karaoke, and the activities person in charge of Karaoke was hilarious. She was helpful when a singer needed some assistance (very rarely - since these were English/Irish/Welsh, people who seemingly spend the bulk of their lives in bars, learning the words and cadence to every single song written since 1960), she was full of funny asides, and just a perfect host for the event.
We also, as I previously mentioned, like to spend time in the Ensemble Lounge, listening to the "contemporary duo" and also Angie, the guitarist/vocalist. Both acts are very talented and had shockingly large repertoires, they weren't really what we expected on a large cruise line, and we liked that about them. We enjoyed hanging out before and/or after dinner, and the wait staff and bartenders in Ensemble were lovely. They immediately remembered the beer my husband asked for on our first night, I think because they thought it was funny that anyone would want Miller Lite, and would have it for him practically as soon as he caught their eye.
I have never really understood why people care who the cruise director is BUT we liked the looks of Sue as soon as we saw her picture, and one night in the SKY Lounge, she danced over to me and said something about what a fun night it was, and I have to say, I felt her good energy.
NORWAY IS AMAZING. WE LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT. It is stunning, awe-inspiring, gorgeous (i could go on and on with superlatives, but will end there), the people are friendly, and it is easy to navigate.
Bergen - we mostly walked around town looking for a bus to the mountain overlook - there is so much talk about the funicular to Floyen but I had it on good authority that Ulriken provided a better view. However, my google maps hadn't downloaded yet while we were in Bergen so there was no info on mass transit options. We finally found the bus station where a patient woman explained to us which bus to take and where to pick it up, and then we took the 12 to the Hospital (north exit, don't go under the bridge!) then walked behind the hospital, up the hill, to the cable car. It was AWESOME at the top of Ulriken. GO THERE. You won't be sorry.
Alesund - we took a Celebrity excursion to a ski mountain where we had again AWESOME views. (the theme of Norway is definitely, AWESOME views). We had to take a bus and a ferry and a cable car, but it was well worth it. We also got traditional Norwegian waffles served to us at the top of the mountain, which was funny to us as we live around many people of Norwegian descent here in the midwest, and none of them claim waffles as the most beloved food of their home country. They all try to make us eat Lefse, which is bland and dull and quite inferior to a soft waffle.
Geiranger - We had pre-purchased tickets on a local tourist bus - not a hop-on, it takes you to two specific scenic points in Geiranger - very inexpensive and picks you up right at the port! Sadly, one stop was inaccessible as we were so early in the season that the road at the very top was still closed because of snow (so we stopped at a slightly less-high point - I think that would have been fine, on a clear day - this was our foggy town - the fog came in on monstrous cat feet and sat, on its big fat haunches, overlooking the harbor, the town, the hills, the fjords, etc, and broke all of the Silhouette's passengers' hearts that day in Geiranger) - and the other stop seems like it would have been AWESOME, as it was a perfect view of two rock walls as the water curved between them - at this second stop, the fog lifted for a few seconds here and there, so we could get a glimpse of the stunning scene we were missing out on. Still, once the bus deposited us back down in the harbor, we walked up the waterfall that is right off the pier - it is a really easy walk to the top, and despite the fact that most of the landscape was still covered in fog and clouds, we could see rolling hills and green green grass and flowering trees and not just the waterfall we had walked up, but 2 or 3 others. It is a beautiful, awe inspiring area. I imagine the beauty of it all in sunlight would have blinded me,so it is probably fine that we had such bad weather there.
Stavanger - crazy town! It is very industrial, as it is the petroleum capital of Norway (fyi, if you are interested in the petroleum museum, you do NOT need to purchase that as an excursion on Celebrity. The petroleum museum is essentially IN the harbor. You can make it on your own! We did not go in but we saw it RIGHT there.) But in the midst of this industrial town sit hundreds of charming white houses on cobblestone streets, which were originally built for cannery workers, and then restored in the not too distant past. People actually live in them, so don't stare in windows, but do walk around and through those streets. Just trust me on this one. Also, we took the Strandafjell cruise and that was AWESOME. I felt like we saw some of the grandeur we couldn't see in Geiranger. It was a gorgeous ride. We sailed to Pulpit Rock ultimately, with a stop in a cove with a history relating to bank robbers, AND a stop for WAFFLES.
I am not sure how many cruises we will ever take in our lives, but we really enjoyed the ship, the people we met onboard, the crew, the Captain, the karaoke, and Norway. Read Less