Guest Author - Candyce H. Stapen
Want an upmarket, large ship cruise experience? Then look for the “X” painted on the ship’s funnel, marking the vessel as belonging to Celebrity Cruises. We like the line for such big ship amenities as dining and entertainment choices and also for the line’s good food and gracious décor.
The recently debuted Silhouette, the fourth sister ship in Celebrity’s Solstice line, tweaks the popular product that began with the launch of the Solstice in 2008, continued with the Equinox in 2009 and the Eclipse in 2010.
Both big and little elements on the Solstice made our cruise enjoyable. The Aqua Café, tucked into a corner of the enclosed solarium reserved for adults, served healthful breakfast and lunch items. Some days we started with made-to-order egg-white omelets and fruit. A few times, however, we admit to making our way to the big buffet for some calorie-rich, but tasty pastries.
Those sailing in AquaClass extended the healthy fare by having dinner in their own dining room whose menu kept the fat content and calories low. We alternated meals in the main dining room with sittings for extra fees at the three specialty restaurants that served Asian, French and Italian fare.
The lack of announcements about activities went a long way toward creating a relaxing sea day that didn’t make us feel as if we were in a train terminal. Hearing “Bingo at 11 in the theater,” “ bridge game at noon,” and “trivia at 1:00” feels intrusive. To find these activities as well as scrapbooking, basketball tournaments, ballroom dancing, stretch class and more, guests simply read Celebrity Today, the daily newsletter.
The main evening shows, like many cruise lines, showcased Cirque du Soleil-like acrobatics, a magician or a song and dance musical. A nice touch: the Solstice carried a live orchestra, a rarity at sea. We particularly liked the late night comedy show and would have gone more times except that the ship repeated the same comedian and the same routine.
We found the Lawn Club, a Solstice signature of a top deck stretch of grass to be so-so. Often it was either too windy or too humid to play croquet or hang-out and the hot glass-blowing that took place nearby was mildly interesting, but not, for us, a must-see.
On the new Silhouette, the glass blowing is gone. Blooming on the lawn are two eateries, the Grill, where you take a lesson in grilling while helping to cook your own meal as well as the Porch, a breakfast and lunch venue. Both require additional fees as does renting private lounge chairs in the Cabana Alcove on the lawn. The facility accommodates four people and rents for about $100 on a port day and $145 on sea days.
Like many cruise lines, Celebrity makes extras available for additional fees. We confess a fondness for the most-everything-is-included voyages of not too long ago. Nevertheless, on Celebrity Cruises, you can stick to the basic, no added fee services and still enjoy an upmarket and relaxing cruise. Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity’s sister line, floats out even bigger ships with more extras for fees, including good food.