After a wonderful vacation on the Celebrity Solstice, I decided to take a chance on board her newer, sister ship the Celebrity Silhouette. It had launched literally just a few months before we got on board. Hands down, the Celebrity Silhouette is one of the best cruise ships on the water today. I cannot imagine a more beautiful series of cruise ships in the modern era of cruising. This was my fourth major cruise and I loved it! (Note that this review is not as detailed as my typical reviews and I really only have positive things to say).
Our October 2011, 12-day itinerary included stops in Palermo (Italy), Haifa (Israel), Ashdod (Israel), Mykonos (Greece), and Naples (Italy). This was actually called the “Holy Land” tour. The ship remained docked overnight in Haifa and Ashdod so you could actually stay on land in Israel for 4 days without returning to the ship at all. As a side note, the cruise director joked that an Israeli flew to Rome to get on the ship only to spend four days back at home! LOL!
From Rome to the Port of Civitavecchia
When we went on the Solstice, we had purchased the travel package to get us to the port of Civitavecchia by bus directly from the airport. This time, we stayed in Rome for a few days and decided to make our own way to the port because it was much cheaper to do so. We’re not cheap by any means but for a minor inconvenience (which was actually part of our adventure), we saved something like $200. If you intend to take the train from Rome to Civitavecchia, I’ve written a detailed guide with photos for you.
As expected, boarding was quick and easy. I sometimes read on websites like Cruise Critic that people complain about how slow lines are, sometimes waiting upwards of an hour to get an a ship. That has yet to happen to me and I must say that it would be annoying to be all excited then forced to wait to get on board. Celebrity did a fantastic job of getting us on board painlessly.
We had a cabin with a balcony. I could never go on another cruise without one, especially on the deliciously blue Mediterranean sea. We knew what to expect because the room was similar to the Solstice. Great layout, decently roomy bathroom, comfortable bed, interactive TV (plays movies, TV shows, and music), effective air conditioner, and so on.
That said, they did something very stupid on a minor but annoying part of the room. Since this ship was built after the Solstice, I was surprised to see that the closet design was actually inferior to the one the previous ship. That’s not to say that the closets are bad. They aren’t. They just aren’t as good as on its sister ship.
The ship is very well designed in that there are multiple small pools and lots of comfortable lounging chair options (different styles of chairs). The pools are uniquely designed with colorful water and light “shows” which are pleasant to relax by. You can feel the serenity!
There were activities like bingo, karaoke, and so on. The usual stuff I’ve come to expect.
Given that we travelled in October, it was a Mediterranean cruise, and a little longer than typical cruises, it’s no surprise that the crowd was primarily adults in their forties and up. We were clearly among the youngest on the ship but it didn’t bother us at all.
Walking around the ship, you could hear many different languages and see people from all over Europe with some Asians, Americans, and Canadians mixed in for good measure!
This was not a party ship by any means, and because of the mature crowd, there wasn’t a lot of after hours activity. It was available but not much was happening (e.g., empty night club).
There is no shortage of excellent food on this ship. Breakfasts consisted of the “usual” fare, with just about anything you’d want from eggs to waffles to cereal to peeled fresh fruit. We tended to eat in the Oceanview Café. We often got a seat on the deck at the back of the ship which was just so enjoyable on these beautiful sunny mornings. I think there may have been more seats available because the older crowd tended to stay indoors a little more than other crowds. That’s just my anecdotal take on it, certainly not fact. Either way, we got to sit outside a lot and loved being there.
At dinner, we opted for the later seating in the main dining room (which we always do) and gladly enjoyed ourselves. Meat, fish, desserts,… it was all good. No complaints on the food front.
Without trying to be pretentious or classist, I observed that the passengers on this ship generally ate a lot better (healthier) than other ships we’ve been on. For example, at breakfast, I didn’t see people with big stacks of bacon on their plates which quickly disappeared into their bottomless pitted stomachs!
The ship has an outdoor grill but we were so busy, we never had a chance to eat there.
Smiling Staff & Feel-good Times
The staff on this ship were always smiling and saying hello. I found that the level of service on this ship was exceptional and everyone was quite receptive to any requests I had. The staff seemed happy to be there and that becomes infectious, rubbing off on the passengers who then have a great vacation. At one point, during one of the nightly shows, the captain introduced his crew. One by one he’d give the crew member’s name, rank, and country of origin. All but one were Greek and he joked about that as the one “Not Greek” crew member which I still laugh about today. Good times.
First, I have to say that I love the theatre. It’s comfortable and most seats give you a good view of the stage. The shows were entertaining but like I’ve found on other ships, they can get a little tiring after a while. They have a Cirque de Soleil type of show which makes you cringe because you think they’re going to fall but then they come out ok!
We took the ship’s land tour that took us around the island. When we got to the other side of the island, we had some gelato and then walked around. As you may know if you’ve been on previous cruises, you can sometimes feel rushed on tours because you only have a set number of hours before the ship leaves. I felt a little rushed here, hoping to take more photos and enjoy the novelty of the island a little more. Still, it was well worth it.
We actually hired a private tour guide for 3 days. He picked us up and dropped us off at the ship each day. We discussed where we wanted to go, what we wanted to see and for the most part, that’s what we did. He was a little ADHD, driving us all over the place and giving us almost too much history (proudly so) but I would still recommend him if you’re going to Israel and need a tour guide. His pricing was unbelievably reasonable.
This was my third time on this Greek Isle. We walked around, ate a delicious Greek salad to further compare it to the many Greek restaurants at home and make sure we get authentic food. The verdict is in (again!) and we do, in fact, get great tasting Greek food in Montreal. I think stopping at Mykonos was kind of a waste. I would have much preferred to visit Santorini for the third time. There’s so much more to see and it’s such a unique island.
Since I’ve been to Pompeii twice, we opted to visit the “newly” discovered and uncovered town of Herculaneum which was also covered in ash on that ill-fated day when Mount Vesuvius exploded. We took the ship’s land excursion. I recommend it. There were many fascinating relics to see as we walked through this place that had been so well preserved. Ancient vases, paintings and murals with actual original color, “restaurants,” ancient wooden doors that resembled today’s styles, and other marvels were fascinating and worth the trip. One thing I did find was that some of the people were a little pushy and shovey on this excursion as they tried to take photos, but it’s the luck of the draw.
On the way, we stopped at a cameo store which I find insulting to my intelligence. I know that Celebrity makes a cut of every sale but it’s just a waste of my limited off-ship time to visit these stupid stores. No one cares! We just want to get to our chosen excursion.
Should You Take This Cruise?
Yes, I’m biased because I love the Celebrity Solstice class of ships but there’s good reason for that, as you can see. That said, if a beautiful ship, great destinations, delicious food, and good times are your thing, this is the cruise for you.