Award-winning cruise blogger and journalist, Dave Monk, shares his experiences on-board the newly revitalised Celebrity Silhouette.
Celebrity Silhouette is back and looking like new after a 42-day makeover.
As I joined its first UK summer cruise out of Southampton, I was impressed by the renovation of this ten-year-old ship.
Cabins, suites, restaurants, bars and lounges have all been a fresh new look.
Among the changes is The Retreat for suite guests, with a private sundeck and redesigned lounge planned by British designer and former Dragons’ Den star Kelly Hoppen. Guests also have their own restaurant, Luminae.
Cellar Masters has been replaced by Craft Social, a casual venue offering more than 40 craft beers, wines and cocktails on tap – yes, that’s right, even the wines and cocktails can be dispensed from a tap, while the beers can be served ‘bottom up’.
My personal favourite dining venue is Murano ($50pp supplement for dinner, $30pp for lunch), which serves a blend of classic and modern Continental cuisine.
For a fun meal, there’s Le Petit Chef ($55pp supplement for dinner), where the old Qsine restaurant used to be on Celebrity Silhouette. Animated figures appear to prepare your food, then the real dishes are served by the human staff.
Meat lovers will enjoy steakhouse Tuscan Grille ($45pp supplement for dinner, $25pp for lunch) at the stern, though vegetarian options are also available.
The Lawn Club charges a $45 supplement for dinner and the nearby private cabanas can be rented for $99 for a port day or $249 on a sea day – a bottle of wine and six beers are among the treats included in the price.
Of course, you can always dine for free at the main dining room, Grand Cuvėe, which has a selection of wines in the central tower that holds 1,643 bottles costing up to $4,400 – that’s more than £3,100 – each.
One of the great things about sailing with Celebrity Cruises is that wifi, drinks and service charges are now ‘Always Included’, although you can pay to upgrade your internet and drinks options if you wish to sample that £3,100 bottle.
Before boarding Celebrity Silhouette, all adult guests must be fully vaccinated and produce a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours before sailing. Unvaccinated guests are given an antigen test at the terminal.
During my cruise there were only 1,000 passengers on board – around a third of normal capacity – with almost as many crew.
Because of Covid, all passengers aged 11 and over had to wear a mask in all indoor public spaces unless seated and ‘actively eating or drinking’. Masks weren’t required outside unless in a crowded area.
The buffet was no longer self-service. All the food was on display, as normal, but you pointed out what you would like and staff handed it over on a plate with your cutlery.
The only way to go on land – we stopped at Dover, Belfast and Liverpool – was on one of the line’s organised shore excursions.
All these restrictions should be eased or ended once the UK government lifts Covid measures on land. But executives on Celebrity Cruises stressed they would still take a cautious approach and be guided by the company’s own scientists and advisors in Miami.
One thing that could stay is the new muster drill that is now done electronically via your phone or cabin TV. You have to click to say you’ve watched it and then proceed to the assembly station to have your card swiped.
There was actually a celebrity on board my Celebrity Silhouette sailing – Strictly Come Dancing judge Shirley Ballas, who joined us on a shore excursion of a train ride in Kent and also went on stage on the last night to praise the singers and dancers who put on such excellent performances during the week.
One thing to bear in mind during the round-Britain cruises is to set your phone time to UK hours, not automatic, because it can jump forward an hour if the ship approaches France. Alternatively, wear a watch!
Secondly, on phones, ensure you switch to ‘airplane mode’ whenever you leave port to avoid any roaming charges by straying into the Maritime Network, or French operators.
Bon voyage if you decide to treat yourself to a voyage on Celebrity Silhouette!