Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Silhouette (2024)

Sail Date: April 18, 2024
Duration: 4 Nights
Departure Port: Port Everglades (Ft. Lauderdale, FL)

This was our second cruise on the Celebrity Silhouette and our third with Celebrity sailing out of Port Everglades, Florida. Lately, we’ve been booking short cruises either out of Port Canaveral or Port Everglades which means the itineraries are pretty similar save for each cruise line’s private island. That being said, Nassau, Bahamas is becoming very familiar to us.

On this 4-night cruise, the first port of call was at Key West, Florida. Even though Key West is in the state of Florida, in many ways the vibe is very Caribbean.

We decided not to book a Celebrity excursion since all I really wanted to do was to walk around Old Town and take some photos. As I quickly discovered, the signage providing directions to Duval Street eventually led nowhere, so to speak. We wandered around for an hour or so then decided to hop on the Conch Tour Train since we needed to rest and get a few bottles of water. I thought the tour fare would be a couple of bucks but turned out to be $100 for two people. I guess that price isn’t that high considering you can get on and off and ride all day.

This was our third visit to Key West—all via cruise ships. Since we were able to tour the Hemingway House and the Southernmost Point Bouy on our last visit we decide to pass on both locations. Besides, the lines were incredibly long waiting to take photos and selfies at the buoy.

Cruise excursions are okay, but there is really no substitute for staying over a few days in order to really become acquainted with a place, particularly Key West. After departing Key West, we had a sea day on our way to Nassau, Bahamas.

We booked the “Destination Highlight: Taste of Nassau” Celebrity excursion which was promoted as a food and drink tour. Since we had already taken a general tour around Nassau, we thought this excursion would be something different. The tour price was $197.98 per couple and included a light lunch.

Our tour guide provided a lot of background information on the area while taking the “scenic route” to each of our tour stops. Our tour included stops at: The New Duff, Tasty Teas, John Watling’s Distillery, and Cape’s Shack. Lunch was provided at Cape’s Shack.

Since the Celebrity Silhouette underwent a major refit in 2020 or “revolutionized” as Celebrity describes it, we were eager to compare our experience sailing on the pre-refitted Silhouette with the newly modernized ship. Since our last sailing on the Silhouette was in 2016, over 8 years ago, our memory of the details may not be accurate, so I checked some of my photos from that sailing. The thing that struck me the most was how dark the ship’s interior photos were compared to my recent photos. Even so, the interior motif, which I describe as “modern elegance,” is still more on the subdued side as compared to an MSC or Carnival ship for example.

Another area of the pre-refitted ship that we felt was dark and closed in was the main dining room. Again, I checked my old photos from our 2016 cruise, and I couldn’t find any pictures of the dining room. However, I believe the Grand Cuvée dining room was refurbished even though I couldn’t confirm this on any website I checked. We had two dinners in the main dining room and the food and service were very good as expected on a Celebrity ship.

We also had one dinner in the Lawn Club Grill specialty restaurant. I highly recommend the flat bread appetizers which are really thin crust pizzas.

Our cabin for this sailing was 6233, a Prime Veranda on Deck 6 portside, close to a mid-ship elevator bank.

I must admit that I disagree with Emma Cruises YouTube video describing the outside pools as “huge”—with emphasis. Well maybe so for someone from the U.K. but I found them to be very shallow and not very large at all. I think the pool on the Carnival Conquest was much larger considering it’s an even older ship. The outside pool areas were very crowded most of the time, even before the ship left Port Everglades on day one.

Again, I have to disagree with Emma Cruises’ description of the food in the buffet as “incredibly high quality.” While the quality of the food in the buffet seemed to improve as the cruise progressed, I believe the buffet overall was much better on the Celebrity Apex.

We caught the following shows in The Theater: Leslie McDonel Women of Rock, Cosmopolitan, Kevin Bozeman, Rockin’ with Captain Kirk, and Life. Photography was allowed during all shows.

Hands down the best and most unanticipated show was Rockin’ with Captain Kirk…yes, our very own ship’s captain. He was front and center on guitar and vocals, and for one song he put down the guitar and played the drums.

The Silhouette is a nice ship for a short cruise, and I wouldn’t hesitate to take a cruise on her for a duration longer than 4 nights. That being said, we met a senior single cruiser during dinner one night in the dining room who had booked 8 back-to-back cruises on the Silhouette including a transatlantic hop that was her next sailing after our 4-night cruise ended.

Celebrity Apex (2023)

Sail Date: March 25, 2023
Duration: 7 Nights
Departure Port: Port Everglades (Ft. Lauderdale, FL)

The Celebrity Apex, launched in 2020, is the second of three Edge-class ships in Celebrity’s fleet. A fourth Edge-class ship, Celebrity Ascent, is scheduled to being sailing sometime in 2023. Celebrity Apex can accommodate 2,910 passengers and 1,536 crew members: nearly half the capacity of some Royal Caribbean’s (Celebrity’s parent company) newer ships.

Celebrity Apex was built in the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France. The ship’s port of registry is Valletta, Malta.

We booked our cruise only 10 days prior to sailing directly on the Celebrity website. I always book on the cruise lines’ website since the so-called “deals” offered by most travel agencies are things that I either don’t want or don’t need. For example, I won’t book inside cabins or veranda cabins fore and aft no matter the reduced rate; I prefer mid-ship cabins near an elevator bank. Mid-ship staterooms are preferred since they tend to sell out early.

Celebrity Apex in Port, Ft. Lauderdale

The Ship

Our stateroom was number 6206 located on the vessel’s starboard side. Our cabin was categorized as Celebrity’s Category E3 – Edge Stateroom with Infinite Veranda. Cabin 6206 satisfied all my stateroom requirements. The Infinite Veranda stateroom is unique to Edge-class ships, and this being our first cruise on an Edge-class ship, we didn’t have any prior experience with this stateroom layout. Even so, we found our stateroom to be roomy, modern, clean, and tech savvy—exceeding all our expectations. Lighting, temperature, and veranda glass/shade controls were encapsulated on an intuitive touch panel near the bathroom door as you enter the cabin.

In my opinion, the Celebrity Edge-class hull design loosely resembles the hull design of the ships in the Virgin Voyages’ fleet not to mention the Prima, one of Norwegian’s newest ships.

While it’s been over 7 years since we sailed on the Celebrity Silhouette, the Apex interior design seemed to have a similar feel…only better. For example, the Grand Plaza (i.e., Atrium) is located dead center mid-ship. But unlike the Grand Foyer on the pre-refurbishment Silhouette, it is brighter and more inviting with better seating allowing everyone to see the performers.

As far as the non-stateroom decks are concerned, I would describe their layout as asymmetrical. That is, these decks are, for the most part, non-linear containing many niche areas. It took us nearly the entire cruise to get comfortable with the locations of most public areas on the ship.

The Oceanview Café, located on Deck 14 Aft, is organized along the lines of the buffet on the Silhouette. However, the seating arrangements varied between the port and starboard side of the ship; and after a day or so, we were able to find our favorite seating area. The buffet seemed a little chaotic probably because of the scattered arrangement of the various stations.

Also on Deck 14 are the indoor and outdoor pools and hot tubs. I preferred the indoor pool under the solarium since most of our days at sea were windy.

The walking/running path traverses Deck 15 and includes an elevated section that includes a section of Deck 16. A short section of the path on the starboard side running along the Rooftop Garden felt like being in a NASA wind tunnel during our sea days.

I won’t dwell on all the details of the ship since there are countless videos on YouTube that the reader can watch. However, since I’ve made some comparisons to the Silhouette, I do recommend Emma Cruises’ Celebrity Silhouette – Ship Tour (After Refurbishment) YouTube video for her before and after refurbishment review of the Silhouette.

Food

You can’t talk about food on a cruise without mentioning the buffet, so here goes…for me, the critical meal in a buffet is breakfast. On the Apex, the English breakfast station was easy to find where I was able to get my fried toast, sauteed mushrooms, sausages, bacon, and scrambled eggs. By the way, the Apex buffet had the only edible premade scrambled eggs of any cruise I have taken so far. Congratulations to the chef and food staff! For a change of pace, I will occasionally order an onion and cheese omelet or simply make my own breakfast sandwich using cold cuts, bacon or sausage on a toasted English muffin or French baguette. As for the coffee in the Oceanview Café, it was always somewhat bitter.

Pizza is served in the aft section of the Oceanview Café but if you want burgers or hotdogs you need to walk through the pool area to the Mast Grill mid-ship. The burgers were okay but nothing, I mean nothing like Guy’s Burger Joint on Carnival ships.

We chose the Celebrity Select Dining Anytime option for our dinner selection which allowed us to pick from any of the four main complementary dining rooms: Cosmopolitan, Normandie, Cyprus, and Tuscan restaurants. We ate twice in the Normandie, and once in both the Cyprus and Cosmopolitan restaurants. While the food was good in all venues, the big hit of the cruise was the French onion soup being served in all four main dining rooms.

For our specialty dining we chose Fine Cut Steakhouse and Raw on 5. In Raw on 5, I was able to get Tonkatsu, a Japanese dish that consists of a breaded, deep-fried pork cutlet—go figure.

Entertainment

There were shows in The Theater nightly throughout the cruise at 7 and 9 p.m. While the shows on the Apex were excellent overall, they may not have been as creative or elaborate as the shows on the Carnival Mardi Gras. Nevertheless, the strongman act in the Caravan show, a reimagined circus production, was a showstopper.

The Apex has their own house band members who played at various venues throughout the cruise. And unlike most shows on Norwegian ships that are copyrighted, photography is not only allowed but encouraged on the Apex.

Shopping

As expected for a premium cruise line, the shops on the Apex were upscale including Cartier, Bulgari, and Monte Blanc. On this cruise, we only made a few modest purchases of Celebrity branded items.

Shore Excursions

Destination Highlight: Buck Island and Water Island by Catamaran

This Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas excursion started off with a very fast and very bumpy 30-minute ride out to the Buck Island snorkeling area. We had about 45 minutes splash time which turned out to be more than enough since I only saw one fish swim by along with a small lone stingray. My daughter thought she saw a nurse shark, but the tour operators wouldn’t confirm it.

Our next stop on the excursion was Water Island, a beach near our cruise terminal. While snorkeling from the beach we were able to see numerous sea turtles.

Destination Highlight: Town and Country Open-Air Bus

This Tortola, British Virgin Islands excursion on an open-air bus began in Road Town which then proceeded to make its ascent into hills towards Belle Vue. Afterwards the bus traversed along very steep and narrow Ridge roads stopping at Cane Garden Bay for lunch. The tour concluded on the Sir Frances Drake Highway on the way back to the ship.

Inside Access: Behind-the-Scenes Ship Tour

This tour was conducted during our last sea day of the cruise, and yes, I know it isn’t really a shore excursion. I believe this activity was worth the $115.99 since it included tours of kitchen, beverage storage, laundry, and waste processing areas. Also included were tours of the bridge and the engine room. I’m sure the mention of “engine room” has the ability to conjure up images of sweating crew members shoveling coal into the ship’s furnaces. But in reality, the tour included the Engine Control Room which consists of a single room that is split into two smaller areas, separated by a glass panel, one of which was filled with many rows of equipment monitors.

Observations and Conclusions

With the addition of the Apex Edge-class ship to its fleet, Celebrity has more than lived up to its claim as a luxury premium cruise line. While there are many aspects of the ship worth elaborating, there are two venues that I believe deserve special mention and those are Eden on Deck 5 Aft and the Rooftop Garden on Deck 15 Aft.

Minor details can make a difference, such as the printing of the stateroom number on your ship card. Our stateroom was [6]206 but the card omits the deck number to preserve privacy and security.

A nice touch was the captain’s daily messages broadcast ship-wide over the intercom system. Given the ship is sailing around 25 miles from land in seas that could reach depths over 20,000 feet (nearly 5 miles!), it’s comforting to know someone’s in charge.

The single obvious anomaly related to the ship design is the Magic Carpet. First of all, the space is too small to accommodate the number of passengers the ship can hold. And second of all, I don’t believe Celebrity has figured out exactly how to utilize this space since the only time I’ve seen it being used was in port in San Juan, Puerto Rico and that was mostly for observation.

During our sea days, ocean swells ran 5-9 feet and winds were at 25 knots yet very little ship movement could be detected in our stateroom. As a matter of fact, this was the only ship I’ve sailed on where I couldn’t hear the closet hangers jangling all night. All things considered; I would not hesitate to try a transatlantic crossing on the Apex.

Overall, the Apex is a very photogenic ship, and this was our best cruise since our 2021 sailing on the Carnival Mardi Gras.

Celebrity Silhouette (2016)

Sail Date: January 31, 2016
Duration: 7 Nights
Departure Port: Port Everglades (Ft. Lauderdale, FL)

We signed up for this cruise during spring of last year after one of our friends in The Villages had told us about their plans to take this cruise. This trip was advertised as a line dance cruise coordinated through a local travel agent in The Villages. Although we weren’t interested in the line dance angle, we decided to sign up anyway since we haven’t been to two of the three ports of call on the itinerary and also since we’ve never cruised on Celebrity.

Our travel arrangements were made by:

Travel By Ellie
947 Glencoe Ct.
The Villages, FL 32162
352.751.2612
Tripitup12@gmail.com / kjt1441@gmail.com

The Ship

This was our first cruise where our cabin was outside—a balcony on Deck 6 Aft. The room was very nice, much larger than the interior rooms we had on our last two Norwegian cruises.

The layout of the ship is pretty much what you would expect, although there were some differences from the two Norwegian ships that we had sailed on previously. First of all, nothing beats the “The Waterfront” Deck 8 open-air quarter-mile oceanfront promenade on the Norwegian Getaway. I believe this is a unique feature of the Getaway, Breakaway, and Escape in the Norwegian fleet.

On the Silhouette, the Oceanview Café buffet restaurant is located on the Deck 14 Aft whereas on the Epic, the Garden Café buffet is located on Deck 15 Fwd.

I think the Grand Foyer on the Silhouette left a lot to be desired. First of all, the seating in that area was sparse and located around the sides whereas the band was playing in a recessed area in the center. The result being that you couldn’t really see the band while you were seated. If you weren’t dancing you probably were standing one or two decks above in order to see the band (check out the photos in my Photo Gallery). In comparison, the Atriums on the Getaway and Epic are large, bright, inviting, and designed so that you can see the performers while seated.

The Shows

On the Norwegian ships, you had to make a reservation for the shows. On the Silhouette, there were two shows each night, one at 6:00 p.m. and one at 9:00 p.m., no reservations necessary but you had to arrive early to get the seats you wanted. I think the shows were better on the Celebrity cruise. They had a nice variety of comedians, musicals and acrobatics—Cirque du Soleil style.

Dining

On this cruise, we chose the 6:00 p.m. seating in the Grand Curvée dining room. The staff was excellent, and the menu had decent choices, some which varied each night and some that were fixed. You could order anything you wanted from the menu. Overall, the food quality in the main dining room was good, but portions were small.

Where the Celebrity cruise excelled was in their buffet. The variety and quality of the food in the Oceanview Café on the Silhouette was much better than the buffet food on the Norwegian ships we cruised on. On Celebrity, there was a carving board during each mealtime: breakfast, lunch and dinner. One night they even had a whole roast pig on the carving board. Pizza was served every day and it was pretty good. Also, surprisingly, the curry selections were excellent. On the negative side, the premade scrambled eggs were horrible; when I wanted eggs, I had them made to order at the omelet station. Another aspect of the buffet that I didn’t like was that burgers were not regularly served; it wasn’t just me, during the rare instances when they were served, they would disappear in an instant.

The specialty restaurants on the Silhouette were very expensive. Again, Norwegian has it all over Celebrity in this area. On Norwegian free-style cruises, you can buy a Specialty Dining Package for about $200/person for a 7-night cruise where you can eat at any specialty restaurant you want on any given night, with a reservation of course.

Excursions

Unless you’re one of those rare individuals who’ve been everywhere on every cruise line, shore excursions are important. The Celebrity Cruises’ shore excursions seemed to be very expensive compared to Norwegian Cruise Line shore excursions. Nevertheless, we signed up for the following excursions anyway:

Old San Juan Walking Tour, $49.75/adult
St. Maarten Butterfly Farm & Marigot, ~$50.00/adult
St. Kitts Beach Extravaganza $49.00/adult

The Old San Juan Walking Tour was definitely a rip-off. We could have walked from the boat ourselves, which is what many others did. Our tour guide was well-meaning but he spent way too much time at fort El Morro. He also went into way more detail about the place than anyone would care to hear or even remember. I’m curious to learn things, but enough is enough; I’m on vacation. If I’m interested in learning the details about a place, I can look it up myself on the Web.

The St. Maarten Butterfly Farm & Marigot excursion was cancelled due to lack of interest. I was disappointed and a little angry but we decided to go it on our own and good thing we did. At the port in Philipsburg there are taxis and tour operators that are more than happy to take your money and to take you wherever you want to go. We decided to try a whole island tour that included Orient Beach, Marigot and Maho which included a stop near the airport runway. We shared the tour van with a few others so our fair was about $40.00. This was by and far the best excursion of the cruise.

The best part of the St. Kitts Beach Extravaganza was the ride from the port to the beach. Our driver took us on a scenic ride through the mountains including a perfect stop for some photos (check out my Photo Gallery). Seeing all the beautiful scenery, resorts and neighborhoods made us want to make plans to return (I guess that was their intention). And yes, the beach was nice but we didn’t have reserved beach chairs as promised.

In the future, instead of just signing up with the cruise line’s excursions straightaway, I plan to research all the ports of call on the cruise ship’s itinerary and then compare the available activities and points of interest that I find with what the cruise line is providing. I believe, in many cases, you can do just as well on your own with a little planning. That being said, I would not want to try a snorkeling/scuba adventure on my own because I think it would be safer to go with a cruise line sponsored provider.

Summary

For the most part, the weather during the cruise was perfect. Seas were fairly calm on the way out but by 9:00 p.m. the evening we left St. Kitts; we were in 8-foot swells that caused some noticeable ship movement that lasted all night. However, by morning things started calming down again but ship movement was still noticeable, especially on the upper decks. For some reason during this cruise, I never regained my sea legs, I always found myself a little off balance which seemed strange to me because on our last cruise on the Norwegian Epic I hardly noticed any ship movement at all. When questioned about the noticeable ship movement, one of the crew said, “it’s not the ship but the ocean that’s moving.” I guess that’s one way of looking at it.

As we were approaching Port Everglades, I could hear the wind howling outside our cabin since we normally sleep with our balcony door slightly open at night. When I stepped out onto the balcony the wind and cold nearly took my breath away. Seas were rough as I watched the harbor pilot approach the ship.

Needless to say, the worst part of the trip was walking to the terminal in the brutally cold wind after disembarking the ship. To make matters worse, the Port Everglades terminal was currently under construction which made the walk longer, and colder. It was so cold I couldn’t believe I was back in South Florida.

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