Boomeresque:Definition
1. Adj.: Describing a person born between 1 Jan. 1946 and 31 Dec. 1964
2. Adj.: Description of a person, place or thing possessing Baby Boomer je ne sais quoi
3. See also, Boomer, Esq.: A Baby Boomer who is also a licensed attorney (See, e.g., About).

Cruise Report — Winter Escape on the Celebrity Silhouette

by Suzanne Fluhr on March 9, 2015 · 31 comments

The Celebrity Silhouette

Rose Garden Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The winter version of the Rittenhouse Square rose garden in Philadelphia.

We recently returned to a phrozen Philadelphia after a 7 day Caribbean cruise aboard the Celebrity Silhouette. When we left Philadelphia to fly to Fort Lauderdale, Florida where our cruise started, Philly was dealing with a “gift” from Canada—the dreaded polar vortex.

My friends are all over the map (literally and figuratively) on mass market cruises. Some think they are evil incarnate, symbols of First World excess, polluting behemoths. Some think they would hate to be one of 3,000 guests—in a floating hotel that you can’t just leave whenever you want to—unless you are an amazing swimmer and not afraid of sharks. At the opposite end of the spectrum, some think cruise vacations are the best idea since Noah’s Ark.

We’ve been on at least ten cruises since the late 1990’s. With a few exceptions, they have been kind of formulaic. This is because most of the ones we’ve been on have been Caribbean “get me outta here” winter cruises. (“Here” being the mid-Atlantic United States).

The Celebrity Silhouette

The Celebrity Silhouette. Photo credit: Kyle, Creative Commons Lic. 3

Although “formulaic” might have certain negative overtones, there is also something to be said for the comfort of knowing what to expect. Mr. Excitement and I enjoy  independent travel to new places where we don’t know the language; where public transportation is mystifying; where insects might be on the menu; and where the scenery, arts and culture are National Geographic worthy. However, in February, when Seasonal Affective Disorder descends, I want to enjoy seven days:

  • of being able to go outside without attire that makes me indistinguishable from the abominable snowman,
  • where someone else makes the bed and cooks my food,
  • where the staff is invariably friendly,
  • where I can mingle with the other guests from all over the world or pretty much avoid them altogether,
  • where I don’t have to carry a wallet,
  • where I have my choice of zip-lining through the jungle on a Caribbean island or curling up with a book (and/or my Zentangle supplies) on a chaise lounge and looking up to gaze at the azure sea;
  • where Mr. Excitement and I can go dancing with music provided by a live band (yes, Mr. and Mrs. Excitement enjoy dancing—especially when no one we know is likely to see us),
  • where we can go to a decent (as in, not poor quality) show every night,
  • where we can both enjoy several a mojitos without worrying about whether we have a designated driver; and,
  • where I can visit, but don’t have to fly to, an island on “Pray for Me” airlines.
Celebrity Silhouette library and central atrium

Central Atrium of the Celebrity Silhouette looking down on the Deck 10 library and the Deck 12 pool deck.

Many of our cruises have been on Celebrity Cruises which is the mid-tier of Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd. brands. The Celebrity brand is intended to occupy a niche between the upper end Azamara Club Cruises and Royal Caribbean International’s more frenetic, family friendly brand.

We picked our cruise on the 694 passenger Azamara Journey last year because of the itinerary—a 13 night Southeast Asia cruise. At each port, we were off the ship early and spent the entire day on excursions in Hong Kong, Vietnam, Thailand and Singapore. We picked our February cruise on the Celebrity Silhouette because:

  • it would not take us 4o hours to fly to the embarkation port, Fort Lauderdale, FL;
  • the ship is not billed as a “Fun Ship” (i.e. no hairy chest, beer chugging or belly flop contests); and,
  • it was pretty much guaranteed that our days would be spent in outside temperatures greater than 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Bathroom on the Celebrity Sillhouette

Our cabin bathroom on the Celebrity Silhouette was the largest we have ever had on a cruise ship.

For this cruise, the itinerary was not a determining factor for us. The ship did a western Caribbean itinerary with port visits to Cozumel (Mexico), Grand Cayman; Falmouth (Jamaica) and was supposed to dock at Celebrity’s private beach, Labadee (Haiti), but could not because of surf conditions. For the first time ever, having already “been there and done that” on prior cruises, we did not book one excursion off the ship and, in fact, only got off the ship once (for a brief walk around the port shopping area in Falmouth, Jamaica). Based on our frequent cruiser status, we paid a discounted $265 for unlimited wifi which was of better quality than before. Unfortunately, access to wifi meant this turned into an oxymoronic “working” vacation for Dr. Excitement.

Art installation aboard the Celebrity Silhouette

This art installation was actually an entire painted room, with stones and woodland sound effects.

A friend sailed on the same ship (Celebrity Silhouette) and same itinerary shortly before our February cruise. She and her husband paid a premium for a more expensive Aqua Class cabin and additional dedicated services. Whereas she does not intend to sail again with Celebrity based on what she considered a less than satisfactory experience, our cruise mostly lived up to our expectations.

We booked the least expensive type of cabin—an inside cave cabin (i.e. with no windows). We were very happy with our choice. It was pretty much in the center of the ship on deck 10 (near the library) and was the largest cabin and bathroom we have ever had on a cruise ship. It had a too very comfortable bed. It was quiet and It. Was. Very. Dark. Mr. Excitement is usually an early to rise type. However, in our cabin with no light nor sound cues, it was all we could do to get up in time for the main buffet breakfast.

Statue aboard the Celebrity Silhouette

This life size statue aboard the Celebrity Silhouette is here for my Zentangle peeps.

Tip: When booking a cruise ship cabin, location is very important. Make sure you will not be trying to sleep under the gym, a disco, or an active deck (i.e. the pool deck or jogging track), nor near an elevator or a major dining room.

Other things we liked about our time aboard the Celebrity Silhouette were:

  • The ship itself. We figured out the ship’s layout fairly quickly and the signage was helpful for those of us who are spatially challenged. For people who needed/wanted to use the elevators, the capacity seemed adequate. The original artwork around the ship was quite interesting.
  • Although the Celebrity Silhouette has a regular capacity of 2,850 passengers, we never had difficulty finding a comfortable place to sit outside–even on days at sea when everyone was on board. Admittedly, we were not looking to sit by the pool nor out in the sun where the lounges filled up quickly.
  • This ship is big enough to house a dedicated theater with excellent sight lines. For the most part, we enjoyed the quality of the shows we saw. Maybe one or two singers were off key a few times, but people who sing in glass houses (i.e. me and especially Mr. Excitement), shouldn’t throw stones.
  • There was a choice of the traditional fixed early or late meal assigned seating times or an “anytime” dinner in the main dining room. We chose “anytime”. You could make a reservation, but every time I called, none were available for our preferred time. However, we found that if we left the 7:00 PM show as soon as it ended and went immediately to the dining room, we did not have to wait for a table.
  • Our embarkation went very smoothly.

First World “Problems”:

  • We thought the food was OK, but not great, both in the main dining room and the buffet. Despite plenty of fresh salad options at the buffet, I still managed to gain two pounds in one week, probably because I did not deprive myself of ice cream and an excellent creme brulee was available for dessert at dinner each night. We did not try any of the on board specialty restaurants nor specialty venues (such as the top deck “lawn”) for which there is an additional, not insignificant, charge.
  • Our cabin attendant was not particularly attentive and, not to be childish or anything, we never had a towel animal waiting for us 🙁
  • There was a surprising dearth of live music around the ship. This is not to say there wasn’t any live music; however, for the first time on a cruise, we could never find any when we were looking for it—i.e. after dinner in a bar.
  • Unlike on Azamara, there didn’t seem to be the “enrichment” speakers we had enjoyed on prior Celebrity cruises.
  • For additional charges, Celebrity provided the opportunity to check our suitcases through to our airline for our flight home and a bus transfer to the Fort Lauderdale Airport. Our suitcases were there when we landed in Philly; however, the bus transfer was disorganized and slow. The Fort Lauderdale Airport is very close to the Port Everglades Cruise Terminal and there were plenty of taxis. That seems to be the best option for getting to the airport.

Tip: I highly recommend perusing the Cruise Critic website when picking a cruise. This site has candid, detailed passenger reviews of all cruise lines, ships and specific cruise itineraries. You know best what amenities and environment you need to be happy and in my experience, you can glean a very good idea of what to expect by taking the time to read as many reviews as possible. There are also reader forums (fora?) where you can ask specific questions.

Are you a person who considers taking a cruise vacation? Do you have any cruise tips or recommendations for your fellow Boomeresque readers?

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Betsy Wuebker | PassingThru March 9, 2015 at 4:05 am

We’ve never cruised, but I know well the feeling of needing to escape the polar vortex. I suffered from seasonal affective disorder as well, and the winters in Minnesota where absolutely debilitating. I think it’s a very civilized decision on your part and it sounds like it was a perfect break.

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Patti March 9, 2015 at 5:46 am

I love the list of “What I Wanted to do For 7 Days” as well as the first world “problems” list. A friend told me to say it like this, I’m not complaining, I’m explaining. So, you’re explaining that the food was not the best of the best, not complaining. But some things need to be noted. 😉 We’ve never cruised, never had a real burning desire to do so. We were supposed to take a Baltic Cruise with 2 other couples, several years ago, but we didn’t make it because we found our B&B and we’re busy closing escrow and such. Timing. I think we made the right choice.

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Paula McInerney March 9, 2015 at 6:19 am

So glad that you enjoyed escaping the vortex. Sometimes you just need a break #firstworldproblems or not.

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Lux Ganzon March 9, 2015 at 7:23 am

Wow. Cruising is one thing I’d like to try soon.

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Patti Morrow March 9, 2015 at 9:44 am

I hadn’t cruised until last year… when I took 4 cruises in 13 months. I cruised as a solo, with girlfriends, and with a significant other. The cruise lines are very different in what they offer. For example Norwegian had great shows but I absolutely hated the independent dining (I’m very social and love making new friends at dinner) and the clientele was quite elderly, so I’d never cruise on that line again. But others might actually be looking for that. It’s nice to come back to the same room instead of hauling your suitcase to the next hotel.

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Josie March 9, 2015 at 9:47 am

Hi Suzanne,
There’s a lot to be said for the easy, expected voyage when winter’s chill takes all your energy away. So glad you had the opportunity to enjoy one!
Regards,
Josie

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Suzanne Stavert March 9, 2015 at 12:20 pm

I truly appreciate your candid comments. I am very disappointed that there were no belly flop or wet t-shirt contests… We have never gone on a cruise, I have always been afraid that I would feel claustrophobic and/or seasick and be stuck on the ship with no way out. That being said, I know that many of my friends and fellow travelers LOVE cruising and I should get over myself and try it! Thanks for the tips.

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Christine Greaves March 9, 2015 at 1:14 pm

Hi Suzanne

Were in the Caribbean at the same time? Have we missed seeing each other again? We’ve just returned (1 March) from a fantastic 2 week cruise on the P & O ship Ventura. I would say it was my best ever holiday experience. Albert, (I call him Mr Cautious:) my husband, considered my opinion carefully and disagrees. For him, it was the Nile cruise we embarked on 4 years ago. It was the Ancient Egyptians and antiquities that captured Albert’s interest. Plus our family came too as he celebrated his 60th birthday watching scenes of the river and banks that probably had not changed in centuries.

My reasons for booking the Caribbean cruise in February? 1. It was going to be sunny and warm. 2. I could swim and snorkel in the warm beautiful blue Ocean 3. we were going to be waited on hand and foot 4. we wouldn’t have to live out of suitcases to visit the different islands 5. There was excellent entertainment and excursions available. 6. Excellent food in lovely surroundings served when we wanted. I could go on with the positives, but I think your Baby Boomers should try it for themselves.

Everything was perfect – apart from the ‘Special assistance’ I had requested at Barbados airport. (I have Parkinsons Disease and requested a wheelchair and I’d hoped it came with a friendly, considerate driver) .However that’s another story to be revealed after my complaint has been dealt with!

Anyway cruise holidays are the way to go for us in future – just have to save up the pennies, or rather British £££££’s.

Best wishes
Two of your worldwide friends
Christine & Albert, Shrewsbury, England

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr March 9, 2015 at 2:37 pm

Chris, thanks so much for stopping by and for your extensive comment. I think we just missed each other in the Caribbean. Of course, that’s not an insignificant sea, so chances are our paths would not have crossed, but I’ve lived long enough that I’ve had stranger things happen. Maybe they will another time!

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Leslie in Oregon March 9, 2015 at 4:08 pm

My husband and I have never considered a cruise vacation. Then again, living in Portland, Oregon, we’ve never experienced a winter that made us crave warmth and easy living. We spend a lot of time on the lakes and rivers of the Pacific Northwest in our own little motorboat (and, in times past, our own little sailboat), so if we went on a cruise, it most likely would be on a sailing craft where we could “help” the crew (and dive into the water whenever we wished!). The only other cruise I can imagine taking would be to or along places best (or only) seen from the water, and then it would have to be on a vessel with a very small passenger load. All that notwithstanding, I found this post very interesting, and it brought me closer to imagining going on a cruise than ever before!

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr March 10, 2015 at 12:12 am

Leslie- We once took my father (a retired art teacher) on a cruise with him complaining that he would never be interested in anything on a cruise. The dude had a great time. He even bought some Charles Bragg prints at the art auction. When we disembarked, a lot of other passengers came up to him to say “good-bye” and they knew him by name! I would certainly recommend a cruise for visiting Alaska and the Galapagos. If you remember Montecristo, the travel blogging Chihuahua, he went on a very small boat Greek island cruise with his peeps. http://montecristotravels.com/blog/what-dog-owners-should-know-about-the-litte-cyclades-greece/

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Mike March 9, 2015 at 5:28 pm

I’m still rubbing my chin with interest over the dancing and mojitos! The Excitements Paint The Town! 🙂 This was an awesome read as you know I’ve been waiting ever so IMpatiently for it LOL. No kidding on “Pray For Me” airlines. I’m glad you mentioned Cruise Critic, Suzanne, because I’ve clicked on and read reviews on that site A LOT. Three big things I would want is access to good food 24 hours/day, no kids on board and a QUIET room with a veranda. Are there cruise lines that offer that? 🙂

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr March 9, 2015 at 8:13 pm

Absolutely, Mike, but I can guarantee you’d be the youngest person on board.

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Mike March 9, 2015 at 11:47 pm

I actually find that very appealing. You know where I’m “at” with traveling right now, so I have zero desire for The Love Boat! 🙂 I know you are swamped right now and for the next many months. We will have to “sit down” and go over cruise ships 🙂

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The GypsyNesters March 9, 2015 at 11:11 pm

No towel animals?!?! Not sure how we would act if that happened to us.

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Corinne March 10, 2015 at 7:44 am

Suzanne, I’m certainly glad you enjoyed your “warm” time, but I still don’t think I could bring myself to take a cruise…I just can’t! Great review, though!

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Roz Warren March 10, 2015 at 10:04 am

Your post almost makes me want to actually take a cruise. Almost. What stops me is spending that length of time without a terrific pool to swim in. From what I gather, pools on cruise ships are usually pretty small. And the mediocre food doesn’t sound very appealing. How was the coffee?

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Christine Greaves March 10, 2015 at 2:09 pm

One of the 4 pools on the Ventura has a current machine – exercise while swimming and getting nowhere fast!

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Leslie in Oregon March 10, 2015 at 4:00 pm

After reading your posts, article and comments for years, I somehow didn’t realize that you are a fellow swimmer, Roz. I couldn’t agree more with you about needing a terrific place to swim in. For me, it would be torture not to have constant access to the warm sea/ocean waters of many cruise routes.

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Dyanne March 10, 2015 at 10:37 am

Excellent report, Suzanne – thorough and entertaining. Though I’m among those who would feel like a prisoner on a “floating hotel” (shoot, I don’t like large hotels on LAND, much less in the middle of an ocean).

I did once bite-bullet and did a week’s cruise from Tampa to Mexico, Honduras and Belize (only b/c I was then ” in the biz” – a tour operator guiding small group trips to Belize, and thought I’d best check out the billion$ cruise industry as a possible add-on to my “Imagine” programs). In short, I declined. Obviously I was biased from my many years romping amid Belize’s islands and jungles, and with but an 8 hr. anchor drop in Belize, I’d hardly call that worthy of a check-off on a bucket list. Uh, didImention: “biased”? 😉

Nonetheless, I can definitely see why many (soooooo many) folks do it. No “right” or “wrong” about it, just a different way to travel. g-knows a perfect antidote to the frigid temps in the U.S. these days (something else I can’t relate to, given the absolutely p.e.r.f.e.c.t. year-round temps here in the Ecuador Andes.)

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Shelley March 10, 2015 at 11:55 am

I think I must have seasonal affective disorder, and getting away on a cruise or anywhere it’s warm in February sounds fantastic to me. On behalf of Canada I apologize for sending that polar vortex your way, but sometimes we just need a break!
We have enjoyed our cruise experiences. I probably wouldn’t go on the fun ship again, but we enjoyed Royal Caribbean both in Alaska and Mexico. I would recommend a balcony room if it is affordable.

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Anita @ No Particular Place To Go March 10, 2015 at 1:54 pm

We’ve never considered ourselves to be “cruise people” – I think it has to do with watching the “Love Boat” years ago or picturing myself as I roll off the ship after a weeks-plus orgy of gorging! However, we ran into a great deal for a cruise on Norwegian from Miami to Spain for less than airline tickets would have cost and decided to see what all the fuss is about. Loved reading your impressions of your last cruise and, I have to admit, we are ridiculously excited about taking our first cruise!

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nan @ lbddiaries March 10, 2015 at 4:34 pm

Alpha Hubby and I have tossed the idea around. Now that you’ve shown me what it can be like (both bad and good) and led me to that Critic website, I can become better informed. We’d definitely want a “no kids” trip. Looking for more romantic and amazing food and not necessarily getting off to walk forever somewhere else. Water views is where its at for land-locked people like us!! GREAT post.

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Carole T. Meyers March 10, 2015 at 9:07 pm

I like the mojitos and the dark cave room. I am considering a cruise around Tahiti.

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Irene S. Levine March 10, 2015 at 11:28 pm

I have a new found admiration for you being so good-hearted about an inside cabin. Sounds like you are good travelers who can adapt to different circumstances!

Would love to read more about your Asia cruise. Can you direct me to the links? We’re headed that way!

Best, Irene

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Kristin Henning March 11, 2015 at 11:31 am

This is a nice overview of cruises–while still being a fun, personal account. Our one experience was a Parenting Publications association annual convention on The Big Red Boat (Disney) cruise. The kids and I loved the free-range approach to a family vacation (like your enjoyment of wandering around with no wallet). Tom, well, he was among the many who didn’t appreciate rocking and rolling on the rough seas. Half the staff was even down!
I’m so happy the Nile River cruise was a better experience.

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Doreen Pendgracs March 11, 2015 at 6:12 pm

Hi Suzanne: I’m surprised at how many of your readers have not yet experienced a cruise! We’ve done 4 and have loved them all. The best in my opinion, was the Panama Canal Cruise because of the beautiful scenery and exposure to numerous cultures. We always take in as many shore excursions as possible. We did an 18-night itinerary and LOVED it! We’ve also done a 14-night Alaska cruise and loved that for all the wildlife. We did a Cajun Cruise out of New Orleans and loved learning about he Cajan culture and cuisine. And the 4th was a standard Caribbean cruise, which was fine for the reasons you describe and nice for the reasons of snorkelling and water sports we enjoyed. You’re sure making me want to go on another cruise!

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