Celebrity Silhouette is more than just the fourth cruise ship in the Solstice class – which has already done so much to take premium cruising up a gear – it has a host of innovations to set it apart from its older sisters.
It seems amazing that Celebrity has launched four of these ships in just over two years and eight months – even CEO Dan Hanrahan seemed surprised when he dropped that factoid into the naming ceremony.
The first two, Solstice and Equinox, stuck to an almost identical blueprint; after all, when you have been the first to introduce a real grass lawn at sea, not to mention an interactive glass-blowing display, you’ve probably earned the right to sit back on your laurels for a while.
Changes came when Eclipse added the exciting Qsine restaurant, and the innovative i-Lounge.
Now Silhouette has taken things a step further, particularly on that celebrated lawn. Out has gone the Lawn Club shop, which probably wasn’t paying its way in sales of polo shirts and slacks, and despite its undeniable popularity, it’s goodbye to the Hot Glass Show.
Celebrity fans should not waste time weeping over the loss, because what has been put in their place adds much more to Silhouette’s cruise experience.
The Porch (above) is a new casual cafe seating 48, perfect for al fresco breakfast or lunch, but the big news is the Lawn Club Grill, where passengers can barbecue their own steaks, chops and kebabs. Royal Caribbean chairman Richard Fain, shipbuilder Bernard Meyer, and Celebrity’s Hanrahan and vice president of food and beverages Jacques van Staden (below) – who devised the concept – were all feasting there during the inaugural two-day cruise. I grilled a succulent ribeye steak myself, but when it came to eating it, I’m afraid I couldn’t do it justice so soon after breakfast. Passengers will pay $40 a head to dine at the grill.
Also new to the lawn are eight cabanas, called The Alcoves, for private relaxation. The cost is $149 a day when the ship is at sea, and $99 on port days. For that you get a plate of fruit, four bottles of water, hand-held fans, chilled towels and use of an iPad loaded with music, games and magazines.
The lawn has also been provided with eight hammocks and two giant Adirondack chairs which will be popular for photo opportunities, if not for lazing in the sun.
Inside the ship The Hideaway is another sanctuary for quiet relaxation with tree houses and comfortable chairs a moment away from the library and the iLounge.
Without changing its decor, the wood-panelled Michael’s Club has been transformed from gentleman’s club into a sports bar featuring more than 50 different international beers. Choose from the Dues Brut des Flanders Cuvee Biere de Champagne from Belgium for a mere $49 a bottle (it doesn’t taste like beer OR Champagne) or something more familiar and affordable, such as Boddingtons, Fuller’s ESB and Belhaven.
There will be even more changes on Reflection, the fifth ship in the class, due to be launched in October 2012. Fain, however, was reluctant to discuss the plans for now. “Let me revel for a few more hours in the glory of Silhouette,” he pleaded.