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Kenneth Eden

Age: 63

Occupation:retired

Number of Cruises: 79

Cruise Line: Celebrity

Ship: Celebrity Silhouette

Sailing Date: 2012-01-29

Itinerary: Caribbean

The Solstice Class, the newest of the Celebrity class of ships, deserves much more attention from the general cruising public for the reasons layed out below.

Consoidering they plan and preparew meals for overe 2,800 passengers, in various dining venues, the food was excellent, with a very few shortcommings, not so to be noted.

Smallish, but very adequate.

Wide ranging, suitable to all tastes and likes.

We, myself and partner Richard, took Amtrak from Williamsburg to Newark, NJ, where the Silhouette would sail from at nearby Bayonne NJ. The train was a good option since we did not have the hassles of luggage and fees imposed by the airlines. We booked a hotel with the transfers, by travel agent, as part of Celebrities hotel and cruise package. The Renaissance Hotel at Newarks Liberty Airport was recently rennovated, was clean and had a very nice restaurant. Here is what happens when things do not proced all that well. With train schedule as it was, a pre-night stay was needed.

Late check out at the hotel was fine, however, chaos reigned as ground personnel were not too well at handling luggage and passenegrs, the bus was way over crowded, there were in fact three buses, people actually shoved to get on the buses. I guess they thought that wouuld get them to the ship faster? When the buses arrived at the pier, a run down shoddy place, few lines for processing, and again, pushing, and shoving ensued. Luckily, we booked Concierge Class, and had express boarding after we showed passports and docs.

Upon boarding we haad free bubbly, and were left to find out cabin on our own. We had Concierge Class, as noted, and found our way to deck 9 without a problem. Kerwin, a ever smiling steward, was at the cabin door as we approached and greetted us by our sir names, and we asked him to use our given first names and he did from then one.

The cabin is smallish, compared to other new and newer ships we have sailed, yet there was lots of ingenious storage space. One really nice touch was the dinning height table on the balcony, perfect for room service which we used often. The bath was smallish, yet had a spa like decor, and a goodly sized shower with slider door, not the usual clinging shower curtain. The fridge was stocked per our request, not complimentray, which we knew before we sailed. The towels and the bedding were all divine beyond words, Egyptian cotton towels, oversized and the sheets and duvet we high count cotton. Matress like sleeping on a marshmallow, and the Frette robes - cuddly.

The ship is one of great importance among the new ships sailing today. Celebrity has commited to five ships in this Solstice Classs, the Silhouette being the fourth, the fifth, the Reflection due later this year. Huge they are, yet there is an intimate feel and ways to have quietude and relaxation on these ships. If I may, from what I noted, there are three main distinctions that made the Silhouette special, I can assume the others in this class offer the same. First and foremost, the food, which I will give details on, then crew, so personable and professional, and lastly, the innovative interrior design.

Briefly, abouth the ports, we did not take shore excursions, we have been here to the Islands many dozens of times, and have been to St. Thomas at least forty times. Ports were Labadee Haiti, san Juan, St. Croix, St. Thomas, Saint Maarten and Antigua. We enjoyed them all, but Labadee made an impression, a good one. As one of the "private island" experiences, it is very well planned, really offers a lot when the ship is docked,. Royal Caribbean did a great job designing and maintaining Labadee. For those that do not know, Royal Caribbean owns Celebrity and lets Celebrity operate totally differently than RCI ships.

During port days, the Main Dining Room, the Grand Cuvee Restaurant, was closed during lunch time, other venues on the ship were offfered, and room service was provided. We ordered room service as well as used the other options. Part of the Concierge Class ammenities was an expanded room service menu, which offered more selections at all meals and 24/7.

We loved the Porch, set up high, and rather secluded, with the fresh paninis, salads and heavenly desserts. The decor was very high end resort, a selection of citrus fabrics and white patio furniture offfset by the lawn, the real green grass that has become legendsary on the ship, made for a soothing escape. The paninis were perfect, hot and toasty outside, warm and melty inside. And those desserts, just like the designer confections in the better markets and bakeries. All for $5.00 each, for service not for the food.

Another option for lunch, Cafe Bacio, with the adjacent Gelataria. Crepes made to order, meat crepes, vegetatian, as well as deseert crepes, salads, with sopecialty coffees and chais, and beer and wine. Beverages cost extra, the service fee $5.00. From the adjacent Gelateria, ices and gelatos were available, as well as dessert crepes. Breakfast crepes and dinner menu are also available here.

Then there is the Ocean View Cafe, not your typical Lido Buffet option. The place is huge, expansive, with multiple food stations, and the offerings are unlike anything I have ever seen on a ship. Many diverse cuisines are offered, from pizza and pastas, to Indian, to Asian, and seafoods and vegetarian, Tex mex and Mexican, seemingly fresher and very imaginative than found on other ships. Tables are always packed, well bussed and there is a crew member available to assist in finding seats or a table. This place has it over other similar venues found on the big ships.

One place we really did not care for was the Mast Grill. Too few tables, poorly bussed -charred dry burgers, and so-so hot dogs - not worth the trip, except for the best soft serve we had ever found at sea, not sicky swet, fridgid cold, and refreshing. No fee here. We did not care for the place, yet, it was popular.

We could not get enough of the Murano Restaurant, a rervations only al la carte place, exquisitatly decorated French themed dining room. Although Murano is Italian, the ambiance here is purely French. Dinner fee $40.00, a once per cruise lunch, $25.00 per person, service fee. We enjoyed two dinners and the once per lunch. Spcialties that we enjoyed were the Maine Lobster bisque, Dover Sole Veronique, table side prep, Murano Lobster, a shell less version of Lobster Savannah. The menu is presented in two parts. To the left, a four course dinnner, to the right, al la carte. Our servers urged us to order from BOTH sides, which we did. We could not get enough of the place. This is the way we dine on luxury ships, with far fewer passengers and Murano delivered a faultless luxury experience.

Another faultless luxury experience is found in The Tuscan Grille, purely Italian, not too heavy on the pasta choices, with huge NY sirloins, dinner plate sized oportions of veal, soups and chowders fresh and delicious, try the ciopinno, or a favorite pasta, wild mushroom ravioli in veal and balsamic reduction, with shaved black truffles. Lobster is also offered. A proper antipasti is offered, and is sharable, with the finest prosciiutto I have ever enjoyed outside of Italy.

A quirky restaurant is Qsine, located past Murano, before Tuscan Grille. Food items are not what they appear to be, normally, anf there are not waiters, you order via provided i-pad. Sure, a waiter brings the food, but he or she is there to explain the oddly unique items from the extensive menu. We plan to try Qsine on our next Celebrity cruise.

The MDR, Grand Cuvee, is a lavishly done space, two tiers, its design resembling a champagne glass, with the diners being in the glass, sourrounded by crystal orbs and baubles, chandeliers and iconic wine tower, all crystal and.glitter. The service was outstanding, all items lplated and garnished to their inteneded elgance, and served at the proper temperatures. Luxury, gourmet items were offerd as well as more comfy items. Considering that well over 2,800 can be served, this was high end dining, not the typical banquet fare passsed along by most cruise lines. Very impressive, indeed.

Drinks were excellent, and a fair price. The ships shops well stocked, logo items well priced. The entertainment was just okay. Not the best, not the worst.

All told, this was an excellent experience, on a wonderful product, in a beautiful ship. We booked another cruise on the Eclipse while on board. Other "premium" lines, take a lesson from Celebtiry. They come through with their promises, and a grand cruise is the result.

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