Cruise Review: Italy and Croatia on Celebrity Silhouette
Celebrity Silhouette is barely a year old and still looks pristine. Sharron Livingston went on aboard to find out if the service is plain sailing.
It was 7.30am on day two of my Adriatic cruise and I had made my way to the Hideaway, on deck 7, a cosy corner of the ship, to retrieve a coffee before breakfast.
My stateroom, also deck 7, had a veranda and I wanted to sit there sipping something warming while I watched the early morning sun sprinkle shimmering beads of light over the sea as we entered the port of Kopor in Slovenia. It is, after all, a view that can only be seen from a cruise ship and I wanted to savour and share it with my partner.
But that wasn't to be, not on this day anyway, because as I prepared my coffee in the tree-house styled space, Pam wanted to engage me in conversation.
Pam, a woman in her sixties from Palm Springs and was on board with a group of 100 travellers from her neighbourhood – all of them retired, all of them avid cruisers.
In fact there were many Americans on board which was surprising, because like me, they would have had to make their way to Venice to join this two-week cruise. But die-hard cruisers will fly anywhere for a cruise with appealing ports of call.
For instance, an American couple from Atlanta, had chosen this cruise specifically to disembark at Ravenna in Italy and join the excursion to the Ferrari factory and museum. A section of the tour can only be accessed by Ferrari owners, and as he was the proud owner of gleaming dark blue one, he had signed up.
The Celebrity Silhouette, a Solstice class liner, is one of five sister ships and she celebrated her first birthday in July 2012 and still looks pristine. She weighs 122,400-ton and carries 2,886-passengers and even in high season, feels spacious and uncrowded.
Unique to Silhouette are some eccentric features like The Lawn Club (see photo), a half-acre of real grass spread over the ship's stern sun deck and its grill restaurant where you can prepare your own pizzas.
Dining in the Ocean View restaurant is included in the price of the cruise and though the dishes are fine, it was good to get a change of scene at times.
There are alternative options in the speciality restaurants but they charge an extra $20 to $40 a head. Craving variety, we dined at the traditionally Mediterranean speciality restaurant, Murano.
The food and service were sensational and certainly on par with any Michelin starred restaurant I have ever had the pleasure to dine in. My fish dish was cooked in front of me in a flourish of delightful showmanship and frankly the meal and experience was worth every extra cent.
Another, Qsine, is more about fun than quality. The menu is an IPad and though the food, is pretty ordinary fare it is served in quirky ways. There are no main dishes, more a series of as-much-as-you-can-eat small “bites” like fish and chips in cardboard, and spring rolls in springs. There was even Tzatziki and crispy falafel bites.
Dining at the Captain's table was an eye-opener. Sitting to my left were a couple of Brits and to my right, a couple of Turks. What they had in common is that they had sailed more than 20 times with Celebrity and this special dinner was part of a series of perks – others include being invited to the Elite lounge for free as-much-as-you-like tipples between 6.30pm and 7pm and room upgrades.
There are 12 bars dotted around the ship, each quite different. I spent many evening hours at the ice-bar engraving doodles into the snow-topped bar. Another, Michael's Club, specialises in beer and the barman insisted I try a something a little different – can't say I like the fruit beers much.
There are easy-listening and easy-watching shows most nights. One that really tickled me was the Juggler Devo who juggled everything from batons to balloons and ridiculously light supermarket shopping bags. I particularly loved his opening line “If you are not happy with your room and you want a large room all to yourself go to the Quasar disco”.
I knew exactly what he meant because the previous night, feeling fabulously fed and watered, I was ready to strut my stuff beneath a strobe light. The strobe was there, and the DJ was poised but I was lonely on the dance floor most of the time.
This was testament to the general age group of the passengers who preferred the soft tones of the cabaret to disco sounds. Amid 2,000 or so passengers I spied a handful of youngish families around the pools (there are two outside and one in the solarium), and the odd amorous twosome enjoying a quiet time in an alcove (private cabana-style retreats overlooking the law and ocean), but mostly it was a mature clientele who were enjoying the abundant supply of sun-beds.
My partner told me that the gym was never too busy and there was always a free exercise machine available. On gala evenings, there was always a bit of rush for the hair salon and the beauty parlour whose team did a great job of helping me scrub up. There are hot stone massages, an acupuncturist and facials galore, all of which were offered to me.
I didn't mind being sold to, though I was put out to be approached by the doctor who insisted I need a liquid facelift to sort out my crow's feet, and she continued her sales pitch for the duration that my hair was being coiffed. Still reassuringly, when I got back to my stateroom I bumped into my unrelentingly polite butler who reported that the dress he took away to iron was now ready to wear and took the time to comment on how well I was looking.
Mind you, he said so again early the next morning when I passed him as I made my way again to the Hideaway to pick up an early morning coffee. Nevertheless, his demeanour and the early morning sun over the sea left me smiling as I savoured the green and terracotta hued view on the horizon as we sailed into the port of Dubrovnik.
Italy and Croatia Cruise
How long: 13 Nights
Ship: Celebrity Silhouette
Intinerary: Departing from Venice, Italy -> Koper, Slovenia -> Split, Croatia -> Dubrovnik, Croatia -> Kotor, Montenegro -> Corfu, Greece -> Valletta, Malta -> Sicily (Messina), Italy -> Bari, Italy -> Ravenna, Italy -> Venice, Italy
How much: Inside cabin £867 per person
What's included: Meals in the Ocean View restaurant, on board accommodation and on-board entertainment.
What's not included: Flights to Venice and excursions
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