On board Celebrity Silhouette for her first cruise in 15 months, Vicky Mayer enjoys a fantastic UK trip where fun is the order of the day.
It’s been 15 months since I stepped on a ship and now the day has come – I’m booked on a six-night UK cruise on Celebrity Silhouette and emotions are running high.
The itinerary – a round trip from Southampton via Dover, Belfast and Liverpool – might not be the most glamorous in the cruising world but doesn’t really enter my mind as I prepare to hop on board and enjoy all the ship has to offer.
As I head down the gangway with my fellow guests, the crew clap us on board – a surreal but heart-warming experience. We are all wearing masks, but the smiles are obvious.
I’m travelling on Celebrity Silhouette’s first 2021 UK sailing and it is exciting to be stepping on board such a glamorous ship.
The vessel was given an extensive makeover in 2020 with the addition of The Retreat, a stylish all-inclusive area on the ship for suite guests, the updated Lawn Club that features eight private cabanas and a giant outside screen, plus many more updated public spaces.
A reunion with cruise friends on Celebrity Silhouette
Stepping into my stateroom is a real treat – the cabin is warm and airy with a super comfy bed and my balcony promises the chance of stepping out to enjoy a sea view. I’m also delighted to see some lovely little touches including British tea and a proper kettle.
Just two hours after I board, a reunion with old cruise friends at the Sunset Bar on deck 15 beckons and together, with what felt like most of the passengers on board, we toast the ship and give a big cheer as it sails away from Southampton at 6pm on the dot.
Many of the guests are big Celebrity fans, with some saying that they had deliberately chosen to travel on Celebrity Silhouette because the staff on board are so great.
The vibe on board is surprisingly relaxed, though everyone is very diligent about sanitising their hands. The staff are wearing masks and are keen to tell me that they’ve been fully vaxxed, so I feel like I’m in safe hands.
Moving forward as the pandemic resides, expect to see the rules for guests wearing masks loosening while staff will probably wear them for safety reasons.
Celebrity Silhouette usually carries up to 2,886 passengers but because Covid restrictions are still in place during my cruise, capacity is capped at 1,000.
Pre cruise, I was worried that this might make the atmosphere on board at bit subdued, but on the contrary, everyone is keen to make up for lost time so busy dinners are followed by late night drinks and fun nights out at the theatre.
Trips around the UK this year have been a great success for the cruise industry and when the sun is shining, it’s easy to forget where the ship is. The big difference comes on the shore excursions.
Belfast is not Barcelona and Liverpool is not Lanzarote, but what’s great is cruises such as this are giving guests the chance to explore deeper into the UK.
First up, though, before exploring on land, I’m keen to work my way around the ship, and here the Celebrity app is very helpful, assisting with navigation around the ship, booking speciality restaurants and seeing what entertainment is on each day.
Celebrity’s new Always Included package
Equally handy is Celebrity’s new Always Included package. Essentially, it gives guests an all-inclusive cruise that includes food, classic drinks, wifi and tips in the price of the ticket.
Guests can also upgrade the package prior to boarding to Elevate (for $30pp per day).
This will upgrade the package to premium drinks and up to $200 on-board credit per person for a shore excursion. Even better is the upgrade to Indulge, featuring enjoy premium drinks, stream wifi, up to $200 on-board credit per person to spend and up to $200 on-board credit per person for a shore excursion.
The Always Included package has been a real hit with guests who like its simplicity. On my trip I enjoy complimentary breakfast and lunch at the Oceanview Cafe, where the buffet is still in full swing but guests are served expertly by the staff. In fact, service here is so good that one very patient waitress manages to find me a pot of marmite.
Guests can also eat lunch and dinner for free at the spacious Grand Cuvee restaurant. The Caesar salad is fantastic and I enjoy some great fish dishes here, too.
Excursions in the UK
Over the course of my trip, I leave the ship at Dover to enjoy a leisurely ride through the Kent and Sussex countryside on heritage train line the Kent & East Sussex Railway, take a tour of Belfast that includes a visit to the Titanic Belfast Museum and a coach ride around the city, and stroll around Liverpool on a very enjoyable Beatles tour.
All the trips are great fun, but the stand-out excursion is the visit to Titanic Belfast. Informative, innovative and immersive, it’s the best museum I have ever visited.
Leaving a ship to visit a museum about a ship that tragically sank feels slightly weird, but the museum provides more about Belfast than just the story of how the world’s most most famous ship was built there.
Six days at sea on board Celebrity Silhouette is a total treat. All the great things about cruising soon come flooding back and there’s no better way to travel.
- Celebrity Silhouette has been through a comprehensive makeover, known as the Celebrity Revolution, so for guests who have sailed on the ship before, talk up the new public spaces and opportunities available on board – the same goes for clients who are new to Celebrity
- Celebrity’s Always Included initiative is a new concept that has put an end to confusing promotions and complicated add-ons, so highlight to clients what’s available in the base fare and put their minds at ease
- Encourage guests to upgrade their booking to benefit from a host of little extras, such as The Retreat, a stylish all-inclusive area on the ship for suite guests