Some cruise ships are designed with couples in mind and Celebritys newest addition, the Celebrity Silhouette, is one of the great ones. The fourth installment in Celebritys two-year-old Solstice class of ships, Silhouette combines size (at 122,000 tons and 2,886 passengers, theres room to roam) with the style-savvy design and extra amenities of a sleek boutique hotel (that's the popular Martini Bar, shown at left). While some ships decor is garish and others mundane, Silhouettes is chic, sophisticated, and, at times, even cozy. Sailing from Cape Liberty in Bayonne, New Jersey, on 12-night alternating itineraries to the Southern and Eastern Caribbean through early April, Silhouette then heads to Europe for the summer of 2012 for 12- and 13-night cruises through the Mediterranean and Adriatic. I recently had a chance to sail aboard Silhouette for a few nights, and am happy to report back on some of my favorite aspects for couples seeking a decidedly grown-up cruise vacation:
AquaSpa: This two-story spa not only offers a couples treatment suite, but both the serene Relaxation Room and Persian Garden, with its heated tile recliners and aromatherapy steam room and sauna (shown at right), are co-ed, so you can enjoy pre- and post-massage relaxation time together. My 75-minute Thai Herbal Poultice Massage ($190) was exceptionally soothing combining gentle heat (with lemongrass-filled poultices) and exfoliation with rhythmic massage.
Solarium: When the suns too hot (or theres no sun at all), you can still enjoy a refreshing dip or a Jacuzzi soak in this adults-only oasis located just outside the spa. This is the place to unwind with a book and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc in either hand.
Aqua Class Staterooms: While the same size (192 square feet with a 54-square-foot veranda) and layout as the Deluxe Ocean View and Concierge staterooms (shown at left), the 130 Aqua Class Staterooms are located on Deck 11, near the AquaSpa, and offer unlimited access to the Relaxation Room and Persian Garden, guaranteed priority dining in Blu (Silhouettes clean cuisine restaurant see details below), an invigorating Hansgrohe shower panel, complimentary bottled water and flavor-infused iced tea, and an exclusive continental breakfast in Blu. The staterooms have understated décor, comfortable beds, a well-designed bathroom (theres even a footrest in the shower for shaving legs), and an interactive 32-inch LCD TV. My one complaint was the soundproofing (or rather, lack thereof) as I could hear my neighbors come in late at night, as well as foot traffic from the spa above us.
Cellar Masters: For wine connoisseurs (myself included), this cozy tasting room is a favorite spot on the ship. Designed like a sophisticated living room with comfy sofas and chairs, plus state-of-the-art Enomatic wine dispensers on either end featuring 32 reds and 32 whites its an ideal way to sample varietals (priced from about $5 to $75 per glass) from around the world. You dip your key card in and serve yourself (and your room will automatically be charged), or you can ask one of the expert sommeliers for advice.
Michaels Club: If beer is more your thing, head to this casual bar, which stocks more than 60 brews, from familiar labels like Corona and Stella Artois to lesser-known microbrews like Rogue Dead Guy Ale from Oregon and OHaras Red Ale from Ireland it's a perfect place to catch a game on several 46-inch TVs. Sign up together for a beer tasting ($15.95 per person) to sample five brews in different styles (both lagers and ales) and perhaps find a new favorite.
Lawn Club: Silhouette is one of only four ships at sea (all Solstice class) where you can walk barefoot or play bocce on real green grass, thanks to the carefully tended Lawn Club (shown at left). While Silhouettes quarter-acre oasis of green is about half the size of its counterparts on Solstice, Equinox, and Eclipse, it benefits from the addition of The Alcoves, eight cabanas available for rental for a picnic-style meal or simply for hours of relaxation, and the Lawn Club Grill, the first interactive grill at sea. If you or your sweetie like to barbecue, head here to make sure your beef, lamb, chicken, or fish is grilled just the way you like it by seasoning it with any of five spice rubs and grilling it yourself and then sitting down to a feast of expertly prepared side dishes such as lobster mac n cheese and creamed corn, followed by decadent desserts like cheesecake and blueberry cobbler (since its one of the ships specialty eateries, theres a $40 per person surcharge)
Blu: if you are trying to slim down (or at least not gain), book an Aqua Class stateroom so you can dine at Blu. Not only is the restaurant (shown at right) stunning, but it serves healthy clean cuisine thats full of flavor try a lump crab martini appetizer followed by tuna, steak, or salmon served with deliciously seasoned vegetables and purees without piling on calories with heavy sauces. You wont feel deprived.
Qsine: In addition to the wonderful Grand Cuvée Restaurant (which seats 1,428) and the more casual buffet-style Oceanview Café, Silhouette features four more intimate specialty restaurants (Lawn Club Grill, Tuscan Grille, Murano, and Qsine each requiring advance reservations and incurring a $30 or $40 surcharge). I had a chance to sample bites from innovative Qsine, which uses iPads for menus and serves truly delicious and whimsical tapas-style dishes from around the world, such as Disco Shrimp (poached shrimp with avocado, tomato, celery, and a crunch topping) and Lobster Escargot (lobster and escargot fritters with parsley-garlic butter sauce). The presentation is part of the experience, so youll want to dine here a few times to try everything!
Nightlife: No matter if your post-sunset style is subdued or energized, theres a spot for you after dark onboard Silhouette. Catch the suns fading rays from the alfresco Sunset Bar at the rear of the Lawn Club; taste a wonderfully aged Bordeaux or a microbrew or two at the aforementioned Cellar Masters or Michaels Club; take your chances in Fortunes Casino; sip a potent creation in the sleek Martini Bar or enjoy vodka and caviar pairings in Crush; unwind in the Sky Observation Lounge (shown above), which also hosts karaoke nights; listen to live music in the Ensemble Lounge; or dance the night away in the futuristic club Quasar. Movies and production numbers in the Silhouette Theater are also available if thats more your speed.
Say I Do: PS: You can even get married onboard Silhouette (the Lawn Club is a popular venue); the ships registry in Malta means its captain can legally marry passengers at sea (packages begin at $2,500).
Cost: Silhouettes current 12-night Eastern Caribbean (St. Martin, Antigua, St. Thomas, Puerto Rico, and Labadee, Haiti) and Southern Caribbean (St. Thomas, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, Antigua, and St. Martin) itineraries from Cape Liberty in Bayonne, NJ, start at $999 per person for an inside cabin and go up to $3,339 per person for a suite. Aqua Class staterooms start at $2,189 per person.
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