Archive for December, 2011

New Ship Review: Celebrity Silhouette

Posted by at 5 December, 2011, 1:35 pm

As a self-employed travel writer, I am my own boss…the captain of my own ship. (Sorry for the bad pun, but couldn’t resist). That means I’ve got the flexibility to attend media events when deadlines permit. Since the Celebrity Silhouette leaves out of Cape Liberty, New Jersey—just an hour from my Westchester, NY home—the complimentary 2-night press sailing in early November was easy to fit into my schedule. It was my first time on a Celebrity ship, though I’ve written about the line before.  I was eager to finally experience it for myself, with my sister as my guest.

The vibe: This stylish ship is sophisticated without being stuffy. It’s being marketed as affordable luxury. The Silhouette is the newest member of Celebrity’s Solstice class, set apart from other large mass-market ships by its sleek design, personalized service, intimate spaces, and high-end amenities and cuisine.

Best for: Families with older school-age children and tweens/teens; multi-generational vacations; and couples’ or girlfriend-getaways (sisters too!).

What’s special: For starters, almost the whole top deck is covered with real grass. It’s called the Lawn Club, and it’s where you can practice putting, play croquet or bocce, listen to outdoor concerts, or hang in a hammock or oversized deck chair. For an extra fee, you can rent one of the 8 Alcoves—plush, private, shaded, wi-fi-wired cabanas with dining tables and gourmet picnic baskets made to order. There are some very pretty restaurants up there too, with great sea views. We loved the breakfast paninis at The Porch (it’s open till late afternoon). And at The Lawn Club Grill (one of the ship’s specialty restaurants, available for an additional charge), you can fire up your own steaks, fish or kabobs, or create pizzas with your choice of toppings. Families nominate a grill master or pizza maker from their group, and he or she dons a souvenir apron, selects pre-seasoned ingredients from the fridge, and cooks up a customized meal. If that sounds like too much work for a vacation, the chefs will be happy to do the cooking too!

The Lawn Club feels like a big back yard!

The Lawn Club feels like a big back yard!

Nooks & crannies: Though this isn’t a super-sized ship, it’s not tiny either. Yet it feels very intimate, thanks to the cozy spaces you’ll find throughout. One of my favorites was The Hideaway, with its treehouse-style retreats (grab a book and climb up) and hippy-dippy 60s-style pods with beaded curtains. Having lots of choice is a good thing—especially when family members don’t agree on their relaxation style. Let’s just suppose, for example, that your sister is a wind-in-her-face kind of gal who doesn’t mind hanging on the deck in the crisp November air. You can grab a blanket and nap in the warmer adults-only Solarium, with its teak lounge chairs, hot tubs and café. I’m just sayin’!

The Solarium is a great place for a nap!

The Solarium is a great place for a nap!

Serenity now! Personalized service is a hallmark of this ship. Pool butlers hand out chilled towels, while you soak up the sun or snooze in one of the super-comfy canopied daybeds (my sister’s favorite place to unwind). All the staterooms have flat-screen TVs and down comforters, and most have verandas, as well. If you book into the extra-plush Aqua Class cabins (equipped with jetted showers), you get complimentary use of the spa’s Persian Garden relaxation area (the heated lounge chairs are to die for!) and aromatherapy steam room, plus a concierge to make last-minute spa reservations. Aqua Class passengers also get exclusive access to Blu, a specialty restaurant with a menu focusing on light and healthy fare.

Also on the menu: Besides its main dining room and buffet-style cafes, the Celebrity Silhouette has a number of other innovative restaurants and bars on board. The coolest eatery is specialty restaurant Qsine, which takes the small plate concept to new high-tech levels. The menu is on an iPad, and food is fun and artfully presented. Choose from entrees like Sushi Lollipops (colorful fresh fish on a stick), Disco Shrimp (nested in flashing globe bowl), or Popcorn Fish-N-Chips (served in a popcorn box). For adult beverages, try the beer tastings at Michael’s Club—featuring over 50 international craft beers—or the Cellar Masters wine bar, where you can sample whites and reds from self-serve dispensers. And don’t miss the ultra-cool Molecular Bar on Deck 5, where the mixologists use foam and dry ice to create drinks that are literally smoking! (I ordered the very beautiful Coming Up Roses, a delicious pink frothy concoction with real rose petals floating on top.)

Kid stuff: Children ages 3 – 11 can hang in the Fun Factory, where they’re split into age appropriate groups for supervised games and crafts, costume parties and treasure hunts, karaoke and video game contests. For tweens and teens 12 and up, there’s the hip XClub, with mocktail bar, dance floor, video games and energetic youth counselors leading the festivities.

Itinerary: In winter: Caribbean cruises from Cape Liberty, New Jersey. In summer: European cruises from Mediterranean ports.

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Category : Travel | Travel Writer Mom