Above: Silhouette's more intimate theater, Celebrity Central, is often used for lectures.
Below: Visiting lecturer Tim Calvert giving a presentation in the Silhouette Theater.
Above: The ship's officers participate with guests in the dance contest "Dancing with the Stripes."
Below: Large screen computer games and Zumba classes are popular daytime activities.
Above: Mr. Baya chats with the manager of the Lawn Club Grill as part of a show seen on the ship's television.
Below: The in-cabin television offers a wide variety of programming as well as interactive functions.
Consistent with its more intellectually demanding clientele, lectures are an important component of the programming onboard Silhouette. "Those are usually affiliated with Smithsonian Journeys, our Beyond the Podium speakers. Certainly, it is a nice component to our program. People seem to thoroughly enjoy it."
The speakers change from cruise to cruise. "You will probably have a destination speaker [on each cruise]."
But other than that, the speakers cover a wide variety of topics. "Pirates of the Caribbean, the real pirates, seems to be a common theme. I just walked by and saw that Tim Calvert's presentation on ocean liners of the past had packed Celebrity Central [Silhouette's cinema]. Next cruise, [we have speakers talking about] anthropology and astronomy."
"We had a really great presenter on our transatlantic crossing on the Solstice. This gentleman, Nigel West from the UK, spoke on espionage, the CIA and the real James Bond. He was up there and did not have any slides to back up his presentation, no notes. He just had this engaging way about him that just packed the place. You were there listening to the stories and it was easy to imagine what he was describing. You are just wrapped into this gentleman presenting authentic stories of what goes on behind the scenes."
The ship's officers also contribute to the lecture program. "The officers conduct their Oceans Ahead presentations. [For example,] our environmental officer does a presentation on recycling, The Captain has really stepped up, volunteering to do a navigational presentation. He had a roaring standing ovation last cruise."
Another sophisticated component of the programming takes place in the iLounge. Celebrity has partnered with Apple Computers and the iLounge is equipped with Apple computers, which guests can use to access the internet. They can also attend classes on using the computers and purchase Apple products. The iLounge managers are trained in and well-versed in Apple technology.
"It is not just your computer room [where you] check through the internet. It is a nice partnership that Celebrity has. It really fits the brand. That is pretty cool."
A new feature on Celebrity Silhouette is the Art Studio where guests can attend art classes. As with the iLounge, the classes are not taught by whatever member of the activities staff happens to be available but rather by master artists.
"Our other previous Solstice class ships had the Hot Glass Studio and the Corning Museum of Glass. This is the first one where that has been replaced by the Lawn Club Grill. So it's a new concept to have that arts area that is not locked into glass."
"Two master artists are up there. It is a limited space. They can open the doors [to the outside] and have 25 or 30 people scattered away."
The idea is to go beyond the traditional cruise ship arts and crafts class and to have classes such as jewelry making. "We are just seeing what different classes can be offered. They are also getting the kids involved and do some classes with the kids."
Both the Art Studio and the iLounge have some free classes and some classes where a fee applies. One reason for the fees is to cover the cost of materials used by the guests in classes such as jewelry making. Another reason is to limit the number of participants to a manageable number. "It is just an option for the guest. There is a lot going on for the guest to choose what they want to get out of the cruise."
Silhouette also has some less cerebral daytime activities such as a poolside air guitar contest where the contestants mime playing the guitar while a recording of a rock and roll song plays. "The winner actually gets an authentic Jack Daniels electric guitar sent to their home. Jack Daniels is sponsoring the event and there are some drink specials that night. You see our cruise staff wearing Jack Daniels shirts. It is a nice collaboration and kind of adds a little more cool value to a rock and roll night."
The fact that the contest involves giving away a unique guitar takes it from being a fun-in-the-sun cruise ship activity and brings it into a realm that Celebrity's sophisticated passengers find acceptable. Such mass market cruise ship staples as "the traditional belly flop contest, sexy legs or hairy chest competition - - is that what we consider modern luxury? Is that what we want to be identified with? Obviously not. We want to maintain an element of fun but you want people to say: 'Hey the poolside experience was a bit different, a little more to our inclination of what we consider to be tasteful without being stuffy."
Another example is "the officers versus guests water volleyball challenge where the officers in uniform go into the pool and play volleyball against the guests " The guests can also interact with the ship's officers during croquet and bocce contests, Texas Hold'em poker tournaments, and during dance contests. Not only are these events fun but the removal of the wall that often separates the guests from the people who run the ship makes these events unique cruising experiences.
These examples only scratch the surface of Silhouette's offerings. Indeed, even in the cabin the guest has the option of watching broadcast television channels, free movies, pay-for-view movies, an array of documentaries, and programming produced onboard. Furthermore, the films on the television are different than those shown in the ship's movie theater
"I never want to have a situation where the guest says: 'the movie in the cinema, I saw that in my stateroom last night.' I want to keep that differentiation. The company wants to make sure that people are enjoying the TV but it is not saying: 'Go to your room to have the entertainment tonight.' We want to see them on the floor, in the theater and in the lounges. I like to see the guests get involved, something which is a tangible experience, we are just the catalyst for this."
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The entertainment programming on Celebrity Silhouette is dynamic. Yes, there are numerous things that Silhouette does that are done throughout the Celebrity fleet. But "they are not cookie-cutter cruises." For example, as noted earlier, the shows on Silhouette are different and the theme parties are different from those on her fleetmates.
This dynamism promotes innovation. ""What is the next cool thing we can do? How can we be the ones who are continuing what has been thought of in the home office? I like being a cruise director who Celebrity can turn to and say 'let's try this out."
As a result, the brand remains vital. Celebrity cruisers know the type of cruise experience to expect. However, it will never be the same old thing
Cruise ship interview - - Celebrity Cruises - - Celebrity Silhouette - Cruise Director Paul Baya - page 2