From an iLounge to an ice-table, not to mention a half-acre lawn, Celebrity Silhouette takes the latest and best ideas from the Celebrity line and makes them sparkle – as well as streamlining all the essential features you’ve come to expect.
Celebrity Cruises turned a new page in cruise-ship design with the launch of Celebrity Solstice back in 2008. Finally, a large cruise ship that was genuinely cool, with sleek curves, neutral palettes and lush textures, from silver gauze curtains to cream, leather-topped tables. The bars had a sophisticated feel, there was a wide choice of restaurants, and the beautifully designed cabins were the product of a lengthy consultation with female travellers.
Solstice was an instant success, and another ship in the same class, Celebrity Equinox, followed a year later. Last summer, in 2010, Britain got its own ship in the series, Celebrity Eclipse, which cruises out of Southampton.
Now there’s a new buzz: Celebrity Silhouette, the fourth sister in the Solstice class, launching on 21 July. Currently under construction in Germany, this 122,000-ton ship will carry 2,884 guests in 11 categories of cabin, from inside to lavish suites with butler service. Its central point will be a stunning atrium lobby, 13 decks high and flooded with sunlight from above.
Having had three years to figure out what’s working and what’s not on the new ships, Celebrity Cruises has made some tweaks to Silhouette. So if you’ve sailed on any of the others, prepare yourself for some surprises when the ship is unveiled this summer.
The biggest talking point about these Solstice-class ships is the halfacre of beautifully tended lawn on the top deck. It may sound trivial, but when you’ve lain back on the grass with a book and a glass of wine, gazing at the blue sky as the ship steams slowly to some far-off port, you’ll know there’s nothing like it.
So it’s hardly surprising that the whole Lawn Club area is being enhanced on the new ship. An indoor/outdoor restaurant is being introduced, the Lawn Club Grill, offering live cooking demos by day and posh barbecue-style dishes by night that you can have served, or grill yourself, under the stars.
Another new addition will be The Porch, a café with chic, modern furnishings that are meant to emulate the style of the Hamptons, the coastal resorts where hip New Yorkers spend their summers. This will be a small, casual venue offering fresh pastries, salads and sandwiches; speciality coffees, beer and wine, overlooking the lawn.
Dining is also on offer at The Art Studio, up on the lawn deck, where guests will be able to try drawing, painting and beading, as well as the art of food, or attend cocktail mixology classes and themed dinners hosted by special guest chefs, reflecting the destinations to which the ship is sailing.
Finally, eight cabanas have been added to the Lawn Club – private alcoves in which you can access the ship’s WiFi, order a picnic or share a bottle of wine, while gazing out over the expanse of green.
What about the Silhouette’s interiors?
Like its sisters, Celebrity Silhouette will radiate contemporary elegance through careful use of classy finishes and textures: touches like warm, teak decking around the pool, and sunloungers with luxuriously thick cushions. The main pool is surrounded by private, shaded cabanas, and dotted around are huge cream basket chairs in which you can nestle comfortably with a book. Dancing fountains cool the air and sometimes ‘perform’ to music. A second pool, with a retractable roof for cooler days, is just forward of the main pool, overlooked by the AquaSpa Café, one of the nicest and quietest breakfast spots on board.
The ship has multiple bars but the place to be seen is Martini Bar & Crush, a frosted bar serving 100 varieties of vodkas from around the world and a small alcove, Crush, with an ice-filled table where guests can participate in caviar and vodka tastings, or even throw their own private party.
Michael’s, meanwhile, is the opposite in ambience: a piano bar with squishy leather chairs and, unusually, a new menu of more than 50 types of beer. Beer tastings and even beer-and-food-pairing sessions will be offered here.
There are ten different places to eat, some included in the price; the more exclusive restaurants carrying a supplement of $25 to $35. You’ll be able to find anything from juicy steaks to upscale Italian or Asian fusion dishes.
Cabins on Celebrity Silhouette are smart and contemporary, with neutral tones, comfortable beds, flat-screen TVs and deep balconies. Bathrooms have glass-enclosed power showers and shimmery mosaics, as well as fog-free mirrors (all innovations of the original female ‘dream team’ design panel). Some 85 percent of the cabins have private balconies, and the more expensive AquaClass staterooms come with aromatherapy scents, fancier showers, pillow menus, a range of herbal teas and juices. These cabins also have unlimited access to the spa’s gorgeous Persian Garden, an exclusive suite of aromatherapy steam rooms and saunas.
Celebrity Cruises was the first line to offer an Apple store on board its ships, and Silhouette will have a Celebrity iLounge where you can buy Apple equipment or just borrow it to play around with. There’s an interactive tour of the ship’s art collection on pre-loaded iPads, or you can read a book on an iPad in one of two ‘treehouses’ in The Hideaway, a quiet reading spot high up in the light-filled atrium.
Innovations like this confirm that this ship is aimed at the iPod generation: cooler, younger, more sophisticated cruisers who appreciate the finer things in life. But this doesn’t mean Silhouette is expensive: its pricing is a long way off upscale lines like Oceania Cruises or Crystal Cruises. And although there is a grown-up feel about the ship, families are definitely welcome.
Celebrity Silhouette will be named in Hamburg on 21 July before setting sail on her maiden voyage on 23 July, sailing southern Europe and the Levant in the summer, and crossing the Atlantic in November for a series of Caribbean cruises departing from Cape Liberty, New Jersey.
Celebrity Cruises Tel: 0845 456 0523;
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Small but perfectly formed
Somewhere everybody should try once is Qsine, a restaurant new on Eclipse and repeated on Silhouette serving tiny tasting and sharing dishes, for a cover charge of $30 per person. The menu is presented on an iPad, and you choose whatever you want; the waiters will keep bringing food until you’re full (which doesn’t take long).
Everything has a twist. The sushi is served as lollipops. The guacamole is a DIY affair: you’re presented with tomatoes, avocadoes, chilis, taco chips and so on, plus a pestle and mortar, and you mix your own dip. Melt-in-the-mouth bite-sized burgers are self-assembly, while a miniature Greek meze was served in a tiny set of shelves.
For dessert we ordered cupcakes and had lots of fun icing them and festooning them with jelly tots and sprinkles. If you like playing with food, this is the place to go!
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There are ten places to eat, some included, others carrying a supplement of $25 to $35. Don’t miss the Lawn Club Grill, the Porch Café, the AquaSpa Café, the hip Martini Bar & Crush, Michael’s piano bar, and Qsine, with tasting dishes to share
The half-acre lawn on the top deck; the beautiful cabin designs, put together with the help of an all-female ‘dream team;’ the innovative and fun Qsine tasting restaurant; and the iLounge, if you’re ever tempted to play around with an iPad