|The lawn club area for the Celebrity Silhouette has many new features over Solstice.|
Celebrity Silhouette Debuts
I am currently aboard the brand new Celebrity Silhouette - the fourth ship in the Solstice-class of ships from Celebrity Cruises. We are in Hamburg, Germany, not far from the shipbuilder's ship, Meyer Werft in Papenburg, Germany.
Last night we attended the naming ceremony for Silhouette. The ship's godmother was Michelle Morgan, a well-known figure in the travel agent community - the president and chief executive of Signature Travel Network, a cooperative of North American and Canadian travel agents. She is a survivor of breast cancer, continuing a tradition for Celebrity godmothers.
Silhouette is, of course, a beautiful new ship. Her décor is a bit lighter than Celebrity Solstice, but she has all of the same exquisite features plus a few new ones. The first is the interactive "Lawn Club Grill," where guests can select and grill their own meats with the able assistance of the ship's expert chefs. If you feel like doing your own cooking they will do the grilling, to your specifications, for you. In addition to steaks the Lawn Club Grill offers barbecued pizza and garden-fresh grilled vegetables. Libations include buckets of beer or pitchers of sangria.
Nearby the Lawn Club Grill is another new feature called The Alcoves - eight cabanas ringing the edge of the lawn and large enough for two to four people. Each is equipped with Wi-Fi and comes with an iPad loaded with movies, games, movies and music. Guests also receive fresh fruit plates, hand-held fans, chilled towels and four bottles of water. At night each alcove can be set with mood lighting.
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The Alcoves rent for $99 for days in port and $149 for days at sea, available from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. They can also be booked for the entire voyage. A dedicated attendant is always standing by ready to deliver more included amenities, or you can also order fresh, themed picnic baskets with selections from the specialty restaurants onboard, as well as a la carte beverages for an additional charge. Special spa services can be arranged, as well as wine and cheese evenings under the stars.
Also distinguishing Celebrity Silhouette from the rest of the Solstice class is "The Porch," also overlooking the lawn; a casual, al fresco dining spot offering sandwiches, coffees and a spectacular view of the sea. "The Art Studio" replaces the glass-blowing feature of Solstice. This is a dedicated spot for art lessons in a classroom like setting with materials provided.
Another entirely new venue is called "The Hideaway" featuring somewhat peculiar but inviting nooks made of formed wood planks. They are said to resemble tree houses but they look more like a wigwam without the covering to me. These small rooms are also "hi-tech" with Wi-Fi for iPads and other products from the onboard Apple Computer center known as the iLounge first introduced on Celebrity Eclipse (number three in the class). The Hideaway is located inside of the grand atrium where a live tree grows suspended in midair - as upon all of the ships in the Solstice class.
Celebrity Silhouette will set sail from Hamburg, Germany, on July 23 on a seven-night cruise to Civitavecchia, the port for Rome, Italy. From there the ship will sail roundtrip 12-night cruises to the Mediterranean and Holy Land sailings until November. Following an Atlantic crossing, Silhouette will become the first Solstice Class ship to offer cruises from the New York/New Jersey market.
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The Silhouette Journey
To get from Papenburg to Hamburg the ship first had to sail through the famously narrow channel of the Ems River, a well-known process at the Meyer Werft shipyard which they refer to as "the conveyance." The word simply means relocating from one area to another, such as from a river to the sea, but in the case of Papenburg near the mouth of the Ems River the channel is notoriously small and shallow for modern cruise vessels, and so it must be done with the utmost of care.
In fact, the entire Ems river journey was only about 50 miles, while the journey up the Elbe to the famous city of Hamburg is twice as long, but the Elbe River is much wider, easily a mile across in many parts, which is the reason Hamburg has become such an important and successful port city. It is easily accessible, but also deep inland. Silhouette was christened in Hamburg as a tribute to the city which has become an important destination for cruise ships in the last few years.