“Not Your Average Boat Trip… A week with a Celebrity”
Confession number 1. I can’t swim. I did try to learn as a child but, like quite a few things in my life I wasn’t very good at it. I kept sinking. I did have a go. I think i could sink in the Dead Sea. Then one day while trying to catch newts at a local dyke aged around 8 or 9 ( under supervision ), I slipped. I went in feet first, and all I really remember after that is the water and the fear. I’ve no doubt it’s an old wives tale but somewhere along the line I recall a tale of someone drowning. The bottom line being that “if you go under three times that’s it, you ain’t coming back up again”. It’s probably rubbish. I’m damn sure however if it wasn’t for the heroics of a chap called Paul, who I still consider to be one of my closest friends, I wouldn’t be here now.
From that moment on my fear of water grew and grew. Im scared of water to the point I wear water wings in the bath.I know in theory everyone should be able to swim, but that feeling of water going up your hooter, over your head and in your ears, you can keep it. Which beckons the big question really. Why the hell would you book a cruise holiday?… If truth be told, I suggested it over a tipsy Indian meal, while discussing our fellow diners forthcoming cruise. It was something that was ringing around my head as we approached the port in Fort Lauderdale. I wasn’t panicking, but I was nervous. It’s not as if we were on a fishing boat I know, but we were about to go to the middle of the ocean. The sheer thought of looking all round and just seeing water petrified me. Maybe a trifle over the top but what if it started getting rocky?
I have never really taken much notice of how big a cruise ship actually is. I don’t think the word huge does it justice. Monstrous makes it sound ugly. I will say it was a little
overwhelming walking up to the boarding ‘Hangar’ with this giant floating hotel alongside it. Thankfully our fellow travellers, TH and Juzza are experienced in the cruising world. I don’t mean that sense of cruising. They don’t spend their pastime cruising the streets of Rochester looking for extra excitement, no I mean holidaying on cruise ships. This was to be their 7th cruise, and their 2nd time on this particular bad boy. We were about to board the Celebrity Silhouette.
Originally I had sent a text asking ‘The Doe’, ( that’s TH to you, a long story I will get to later ), what he would suggest or recommend for a first cruise. TH I thought would possess a little knowledge of which line would be the best for rookies like GB and me. It turns out TH is a full on cruise geek these days. I mean that as a compliment. We agreed to meet up for some food and a drink to have a chat about what they thought of it, and if there was anything or anywhere in particular these water lovers would endorse as a way forward. I won’t lie, GB didn’t need much persuading. She would be happy with a week on Loch Lomond in a dinghy. I on the other hand like my luxury. This will sound awful but I’m not overly fussed at having hundreds of kids swamping me either.
I love a brochure but was no further forward when our friends came up with a plan. They had a week long Caribbean cruise booked already. We could tag along with them. Just under 11 months later here we were staring up at this gigantic modern day Trojan horse, though thankfully not made of wood. Apparently I hadn’t printed off the correct paperwork. I found this out when in the queue. TH, being his ever caring self allowing me few excuses before calling me countless names ( jokingly, I think ), and walking off to find out if there would be a problem. Luckily, the chap who took care of us in the hangar was good as gold and before we knew it we were on the walkway boarding our home for the next week.
To give you a day to day blow would be too much. I will however give you some idea of what to expect onboard the ( as our captain continuously called it ), ‘Beautiful Celebrity Silhouette’. Let’s start with the accommodation. We were in AquaClass. This allows you access to Blu restaurant, and free entry and usage of the relaxation rooms. Blu restaurant and AquaClass in general I believe is designed for a slightly more healthy outlook and cruise appeal. We ate in Blu for dinner once and the 4 of us met there for breakfast at least a couple of times. The food isn’t buffet style and is cooked to order. The Muesli, made in front of you with a countless choice of ingredients was delicious. All hot plates ordered, were again cooked very well and we couldn’t really complain.
Our room was bigger than I thought. After spending an evening on a Marco Polo ship in dock recently I was fearing the worst. On that night the room was tiny and had not even a window or clock. Aboard the Celebrity Silhouette however things couldn’t have been more different. We had a good size balcony space for a start. A definite recommendation in my eyes. Plenty of room for relaxing in the evening while watching the world go by. The room itself had a decent shower, considering what I was expecting. The bathroom was more than adequate. There was some wardrobe space and it had plenty of little nice extras.
It was hard to really debate the quality of the food. We ate in all the speciality restaurants. Each have their own standout reasons to be tried. My personal favourite was Murano. The food was outstanding. The service perfect. It was a more refined affair than the others but it was still relaxed enough. It was at least as good as some meals I have eaten at Michelin starred restaurants in the UK. Alternatives though were as below, ( and at a supplement unless you buy a package )
Qsine: Designed to be different. Lots of food served in very unusual ways. Ordered on an iPad. Well worth a visit for original dishes such as Sushi Lollipops and a Meatball Trilogy.
Tuscan Grille: basically, an excellently executed steakhouse. Obvious in its name, Italian dishes are par for the course. The food again was pretty much faultless and was a great way to start our week.
The Lawn Grill: GB’s favourite. Up on deck 15. An interactive experience where guests get to make their own pizzas as starters and then if they choose to they can grill/barbecue whatever cuts of meat/fish/vegetable options they selected from the menu, and there is a huge choice. The most fun of all the speciality restaurants. We went twice.
Blu: I may have this slightly wrong but I believe this is reserved for AquaClass only, or anyone in a suite. Please note you won’t get in dressed as a Malteser! The dinner we had in there was very nice, but out of them all I would say this was my least favourite.
There was also The Porch. A small surcharge was involved when we ate there for lunch. I wouldn’t say it was outstanding. It was a wrap or panini type affair. By the same token I’ve eaten much worse. It’s difficult to find issues in the food in any way really. Everywhere that I tried had so much choice, and was cooked to a very high standard. The main restaurant was great. Lots of variations, good service and food you would expect to pay a reasonable price for in the UK.
I’m not even covering the pool grill and pool bar, the main breakfast buffet area, and not forgetting there is a Bistro along with a cafe serving cakes, coffee, etc and an Ice Cream parlour all on Deck 5. The food as I have already stated is extremely good. What I haven’t mentioned though is the service. I am going to sound like I am writing an advert for Celebrity Cruises but truthfully I cannot think of any place I have been to where the people treat you better. The little things the staff onboard do to go that extra mile really does make a difference.
There are other bars as well. The chap running the bar down on deck 3 was a lovely man. Impressive in itself that when I ventured there the following day he remembered what I was drinking. Considering we had one drink there the day before and the traffic going through that section just made it that much more noticeable. The Sunset bar at the back of the ship. What a place to watch the sun fade away, and amazingly while drinking your G & T, you can sit on the perfectly cut lawn or play Boules. GRASS!.. On a BOAT!… It’s not my drink of choice but you still have to visit The Martini Bar. The bar surface is made of ice and is über cool ( literally ). Of course being childish we did play the who can keep their hand on the bar longest!
There is a casino. Apparently it’s the norm on a cruise ship these days. I’m not a big gambler but I had the odd go on a fruity, TH and Juzza spent a few Disney ducks in there. GB even tried her hand at Craps. For those unaware of the game it’s the one where you throw dice down the table aiming to get certain numbers. GB actually walked away with a hundred dollars in her bin. The same cannot be said for her playing partner Jim. A crusty looking skinny old boy who came to the table wielding a fistful of cash. He changed up $300 and started well. He even offered GB some $25 chips to stay insisting she was his lucky charm, but we headed off to dinner. Upon our return Jimbo was not looking so chipper. He was down to the tune of 8000 DOLLARS!… Which shows two things in my book.
1. The house always wins
2. Never judge a book by its cover.
Jim might have looked like a washed out vagrant with his Vegas Dice Tattoo but he obviously had the wedge. Eventually he bowled away from the table, still laughing and joking, drink in hand without a care in the world although bemoaning his luck. I dread to think how much he lost over the course of the week. Each to their own though so good luck to him, or at least better luck. The bar in the casino always had at least two staff on and it was never a problem getting a drink.
My favourite bar and surprisingly the quietest bar mostly was the Molecular Bar. TH knows I love a drink. He had suggested I would like Molecular. TH was right. Jelena, a lovely Serbian girl and the main mixologist onboard was friendlier than a politician looking for your vote. More importantly this girl could make a serious cocktail. I must add she had an incredibly sexy way of saying my name as well which wins her a vote in my book!… Favourite cocktail without doubt was “The Black Mamba”. GB was spoilt with either the Espresso Martini or a 3G. I think we tried virtually all of them through the week ( it’s a tough life ). I won’t go into what was in each drink as the blog would go on forever. We made this or the Martini Bar our meeting point for the evening. It tended to be our “late” drinking den as well.
This isn’t a top tip, it’s a no – brainer. During our time on board I heard one chap order a Gin & Tonic and a beer. The price was $13.90 give or take a dollar. Asked if he had a drinks package he replied no. Asked if he would like one, his answer was the same. If you take into consideration that during the day this fellow drunk, just for example, 3 cups of coffee and had 3 Gins, why on earth would you NOT have any form of drinks package?.. A cocktail at the Molecular Bar I believe to purchase would be approximately $13. A daily drinks Premium package costs $12 more than the classic beverage bundle ( I may be slightly out but not by much ). So by having one drink alone gets you your money back. I’m sure people have their reasons but for me regardless the biggest saving we made was purchasing the drink deal. I did mention I like a beer though!
Here is another worthwhile point, at least for some. The smoking areas or as we renamed them “The Lost & Found”. If ever we lost GB, we found her here. I have to say I was surprised how many smoking areas there were. Four in total I think. It’s not like you were forced into a tiny corner and velcroed into a tiny little space. Plenty of seating and with some lovely views. Not a problem for the smoking fraternity onboard Celebrity.
This isn’t a quibble, just a view or outlook about life on board a Celebrity ship. I thought I’d get bored. By the time I left the Silhouette I was cream crackered. There is SO much to do. From 6am to midnight something , somewhere is going on. From the cheesy stuff like music quizzes and bingo to ballroom dancing and theatre shows. You also had tours and talks regarding the ship. I’ve not even mentioned the sports, karaoke or egg drop competition. It’s all about choice.
The outdoor pool area with hot tub naturally is busy but a bed was always around somewhere. The spa was nice and peaceful as was the indoor pool.
I did mention it before but the thing that made this part of our break so good were the staff. Faultless in every way. Always smiling, always busy, but never too busy to say hello. They certainly earn their cahoonas. Including swan towels in the room. I mean who doesn’t love a swan towel!. The hideaway is where you go for an afternoon nap or an air conditioned book read in peace and quiet. I also loved a lot of the art in the stairways.
Finally our destinations visited. We were lazy. GB and myself didn’t even think to look up where we were visiting for tours etc..
We avoided any official trips on advice of the Doe ( TH ), and made our own way off the liner.
Puerto Rico, San Juan: nice views, large Ralph Lauren shop in port. Not having read up on it we were unsure of what to do or where to go. We were back on board within the hour.
St. Kitts, Carambola Beach Club: The Doe had done his research. We spent 3 hours lapping up the sun in this lovely beach club around the other side of the hills. I would recommend getting there ASAP though as the best beds go quicker than a hot loaf in a bakers. It’s on the Pacific Ocean side, so the water ( according to The Doe, Dizzee, and GB ) is much warmer. I confess, I went in to my ankles but that was it. Food and drink were reasonable and our taxi driver Bernadette was lovely. Did you know you can have two wives on St. Kitts? Very entertaining ride. My favourite island. I would go back to St. Kitts tomorrow.
St. Maarten, Mahoe Beach: firstly let me say it’s by far the busiest of the 3 places we visited. 6 huge vessels sat there in dock by the time we returned from our day out including the gargantuan Anthem Of The Seas. It dwarfed the others. You may have seen Mahoe Beach on TV. It’s the one where planes fly roughly 100ft above you as they land a stones throw away. The beach itself gets exceptionally busy and is quite a short beach from road to water, steep and a little awkward as well. Again a tip is get there as early as possible. It is well worth a trip out though if a big bird is coming in. Make sure you book a return with plenty of time to get back to the ship though. Don’t end up a “Runner”.
Trust me, this is not like going on a canal boat down the Norfolk Broads. I’ve not even mentioned the bands that play during the day/evenings. Special mention to 5 o’clock Somewhere. A two piece band that were awesome both acoustically and as a full band. Loved Tabitha’s voice. I must have enjoyed my first cruising holiday. We are booked to go again next year. The Doe told us that Celebrity was 5 star luxury. As a snow buddy, and now a cruise buddy I have to say he wasn’t wrong.
Did you know it took our Captain 21 years to gain his position. I’m not going to try and spell his name. It was longer than a Christmas conga.
Celebrity please note: the Birdie Song is called the Birdie Song. It is NOT called Chicken Dance! We lost a music quiz on this question!
There you have it. We sailed the erm… 1 sea and we’re heading back to Miami. I am officially the newest member of the Celebrity Cruises fan club!