A Safe Cruise Vacation aboard Celebrity’s Newest Ship the Silhouette
Before we begin our review of the wonderful new Celebrity Silhouette, we think a statement about cruise ship safety is in order for those readers reconsidering a cruise vacation because of the tragic event of the capsizing of the Costa Concordia. This unfortunate incident has cast an unwarranted shroud across an entire industry that should be applauded for its excellent record of passenger safety.
The Wall Street Journal recently quoted G.P. Wild, an industry consultant, “Over the six-year period from 2005 to 2010, the [cruise] industry carried nearly 100 million passengers, but only had 16 fatalities and 518 injuries from maritime accidents.”
If you are considering the fun of a cruise vacation, and were put off by the Concordia incident, remember that your next ride to the supermarket will be infinitely more dangerous than taking a cruise.
On to the good news
Celebrity Cruise Line continues to forge its reputation in the mass appeal luxury cruise category as a ‘notch above’ with the introduction of the Silhouette.
Design and layout
“Inspired by a balance of light and shadows and the fluid lines of modern art and design.”
The Silhouette has the feel of modern luxury and sophistication, but she is not stuffy or pretentious. She sports contemporary color schemes and inviting tones throughout her interior – yet the overall sentiment is warm and relaxing.
As you can see from the photo gallery, this is elegant space designed with the most discerning cruise customer in mind.
There is much to discover on this ship that is not immediately obvious. There is attention to detail even in the most unlikely places. It was too hard to contain all the new and exciting features in a single article of reasonable length. There will be a Part II, so stay tuned.
Pedigree of the Silhouette
The Silhouette is the fourth of Celebrity’s Solstice Class fleet. The next ship to see service in this class will be the Reflection due to launch in the second half of 2012.
The Silhouette is a big ship, but not the biggest. She is 122,210 tons with 15 decks above the waterline. She has 1,443 staterooms with a capacity of 2,886 passengers. She sails with a crew of 1250.
Big ship, but not crowded
Many prospective cruisers fear crowding on these very large ships, but they are so well designed for traffic-flow that there is rarely a jam-up or uncomfortable cluster of guests.
Even 2,000+ passengers tend to disappear when you spread them among seven decks of corridors with 1,443 staterooms, ten restaurants, a huge theatre, a casino, a library, art studio, photo gallery, a computer center, video arcade, fitness center, jogging track, spa, beauty salon, 14 lounges and bars, multiple swimming pools, sundry whirlpools, several sun decks, a dozen or so “quiet hideaways,” a vast real-grass lawn club, and a huge gallery of fine boutique shops. Whew! They should issue walkie-talkies to stay in touch with friends.
Even during port visits, the disembarkations are orderly and the process moves along quickly.
Nice “touches” in the staterooms
The stateroom designs on the Silhouette are sleek, open, and comfortable. Each standard stateroom has sizable modular closets and useful under-bed storage. The beds are luxurious with rounded bed corners. The bathrooms are roomy with sliding doors on a bigger than expected shower. There is a convenient footrest in the shower – sometimes it is the smallest things that make us smile.
Each stateroom has digital entertainment. That means a reasonable selection of free movies, and crystal-clear reception on a flat screen TV. Network TV channels are conveniently available at sea.
The staterooms are quiet – no rattles, squeaks, or passageway noise.
Eat your heart out
The pictured penthouse suite in the slideshow photo gallery is 1,291 square feet of floating luxury. All the suites aboard the Silhouette elegantly avoid being trendy and thematic. Each suite is lavishly decorated to be a fitting home for any duration. We wanted to stay after we took the photographs, but the lucky vacationing key-holders had arrived.
Speaking of eating
Food plays a role of cardinal importance on any cruise vacation and Celebrity prides itself in culinary leadership and innovation.
Plenty of dining choices and venues
With ten restaurants, and multiple dining-time choices, only those who favor open dining without a reservation face any delay in seating in the main dining room.
On Celebrity, passengers can enjoy the traditional early or late seating at the same table and with the same companions at every dinner. Conversely, they can reserve a different time for dinner every night – In which case they can dine alone or with others – a chance to make new friends. In either situation, seating comes quickly in the main Grand Cuvee’ restaurant.
For breakfast and lunch there is open seating in the main dining restaurant for the published hours that the room is open.
For those who don’t wish to ever shed their shorts and T-shirts
The Silhouette has one of the finest casual buffet dining rooms at sea. The Oceanview Café on Deck 14 has both indoor and outdoor seating. It serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner from a series of small food islands in the center of a circle of ocean view tables.
Each island features a cornucopia of different tasty selections at every meal, and the culinary offerings are reassuringly diverse. Care for Indian, Asian, Italian, Vegan – it’s all there to enjoy. It would be a rare guest indeed that could not find an interesting and delicious meal at the Oceanview Café.
A very important personage on any cruise ship is the Executive Chef. In the case of the Silhouette, and on our cruise, his name is Steve Van der Merwe from South Africa. Chef Steve is a true master of balance and expediency as he orchestrates 13,000 meals per day among several dining venues. His staff also prepares between 100 and 700 room service trays per day.
An example of the complexity and enormity of a cruise ship kitchen: A favorite dinner on any cruise is one that offers broiled lobster. Typically, passengers on a ship the size of the Silhouette will consume about one ton of lobsters at that single meal. Serving thousands of lobsters at just the right temperature, texture, and consistency is just short of a culinary miracle. Somehow, they get the steaks just right as well.
Kudos to Chef Steve and the other great Chefs of the Seas.
The specialty dining rooms
If you want more intimacy while dining, or wish to celebrate a special occasion, for an additional charge the Silhouette offers the answer. The specialty dining rooms offer food to inspire even the most discerning palates in a most enchanting dinner setting.
We sampled the cuisine at the “Murano,” one of the five specialty restaurants on board the Silhouette. Each of these restaurants has its own kitchen, and each table is replete with exquisite china and gorgeous crystal. Mr.Tudor Soacat, Maitre D’ Hotel of the Murano spares no effort to make certain his guest’s continental dinner is delicious and memorable.
The 1113 seat Silhouette Theatre is the first Theatre on a cruise ship designed to accommodate aerial acrobatics – this is an exciting addition to the traditional Broadway style reviews usually found at sea.
Like other progressive lines, Celebrity Cruises does not require their professional entertainers to do double duty as Bingo hosts or passenger group moderators. Consequently, they can attract a better class of performer. The quality of the “star attractions” on the Silhouette was quite good.
However, we were disappointed in the choreography, costumes, and the set designs of the revues on this Celebrity cruise. In our view, this was the only aspect of the entire cruise that failed to meet the high Celebrity standard.
Notwithstanding our disappointment with the production shows, we heartily recommend Celebrity Cruises and the new Silhouette for a vacation at sea. In our fast-paced modern world, the chance to get away from it all can do wonders to recharge our batteries and re-energize our lives. There is nothing like a top-notch cruise to do the trick.
Be sure to see our complete photo gallery of the beautiful Silhouette by clicking *here*.
If you go
It is easy to book a cruise on the Silhouette or any one of the ten other Celebrity Cruise ships. Call your travel agent, or book directly with Celebrity by calling toll-free in the US: 1-800-647-2251 or by visiting their website at http://www.celebritycruises.com/
At the time of this writing, the Silhouette is sailing a winter itinerary to the Caribbean out of Cape Liberty, New Jersey. Our next article will present some important travel tips to consider about cruising out of this relatively new cruise port.
On this trip, we also discovered a great private-car service in GroundLink.com. They offer private car service throughout the United States (and many foreign countries) and all airports and cruise ports. More on them in the next article as well. You can check them out now at http://groundlink.com, or call toll free in the US: 1-877-227-7260.
© Travels with Wayne and Judy Bayliff
Photos © Wayne and Judy Bayliff
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