Above: A resort at a resort - - Silhouette at the Labadee private resort.
Below: A table in Qsine.
Above: The Lawn Club looking toward the Lawn Club Grill
Below: An Alcove.
Above: The Art Studio.
Below: Silhouette's senior officers answer questions from guests, left to right, Cheif Engineer Manolis Vougaris, Captain Nicholas Pagonis, Ms. Richardson and Food and Beverage Manager Carlos Echaiz.
As the Hotel Director on Celebrity Silhouette, Sue Richardson has responsibility for most of the things that directly affect the guests' cruise experience including the accommodations, the entertainment and the dining. Her credentials include managing a resort in Bermuda as well as having been a hotel director for Royal Caribbean International and for Silversea Cruises. I asked her to describe the cruise experience on Silhouette and who the ship is designed to attract.
"I think Silhouette defines modern luxury. Not only are we a traditional cruise ship, I think we are now truly a modern resort at sea."
A few examples illustrate this point. "The specialty restaurants are outstanding on Celebrity. I have worked with other products and I have seen what other lines have to offer. I think Qsine is something rather extraordinary. It is exclusive to Celebrity, exclusive to Jacques Van Staden [Celebrity's master chef]. It is a signature restaurant, an Alice-in-Wonderland of food and food service with a culinary tour guide rather than a server; iPods rather than our traditional way of enticing guests through a menu."
"I think we are very well known for our unique personal service, the friendliness of the crew."
"The iLounge [and Celebrity's partnership with Apple Computers] is quite exclusive. I think the programs that they teach are wonderful. There are a lot of guests who come aboard with their iPads, iPods and iTouch and they are not really sure how to navigate around them. And they come away feeling that they have gained knowledge."
Adding a resort-like flavor to Celebrity's Solstice class ships is the Lawn Club on the ships' open deck. "It is a huge attraction, almost 1,200 square feet of beautiful lawn, and where else at sea?"
During the day, the Lawn Club is a restful place to relax as well as the venue for games such as croquet and bocce. "One of my favorite experiences though is the concerts under the stars. We are underway, it is a beautiful evening, sitting on a beautiful little seat or a blanket with a cushion and watching a jazz concert or a string concert or various different artists on the lawn. It could be a wine and cheese with our strings or it could be jazz with chocolates. And to have those types of offerings on the lawn, I think is amazing."
With Silhouette, Celebrity has enhanced the Lawn Club area with additional features as well as new venues that are adjacent to the lawn. One of the new features is the addition of eight cabana-style enclosures with premium lawn furniture called Alcoves. "You really have a wonderful experience. You can rent out an Alcove and have your own personal experience with your own personal server. We have complemented the Alcoves with speaker systems. You can go up there with your iPads and iPods. So [you can have] modern technology while relaxing in the sunshine but yet still having your own personal space. In addition, they have these beautiful cheese plates and offerings of food and beverages in the Alcoves."
The most significant addition to the Lawn Club, however, is a new dining venue, the Lawn Club Grill. Guests can participate in cooking the meal or leave it to Celebrity's chefs. "It is a fantastic atmosphere. It's an al fresco opportunity, the best ingredients, wonderful menu and it is entertaining in that it is interactive. However, if you choose not to do your own cooking then the option allows you to just sit back, watch and enjoy."
Nearby is another new dining venue, the Porch. It too is an al fresco venue with its country club patio furniture sheltered by a glass roof and partitions. "Again, very popular with wonderful paninis. We have taken those wonderful paninis that we had on the crepes menu in Bistro on Five and we have now put them upstairs as an alternative breakfast and lunch option."
In the corresponding area on the port side of the ship is the new Art Studio. "I think it is a first in the industry. Guests have the opportunity to come onboard and really look at their creative talent, their creative skill. We offer an array of classes whether it be watercolor classes or jewelry making and again a very, very popular opportunity."
Despite these and other enhancements to Silhouette, the cruise experience remains the award-winning Solstice class experience. "If you go on Solstice, Equinox, Eclipse or Silhouette you should feel the same experience. You should have the same memories. Of course, we have a few different hardware venues. In every ship the designers have created small subtle differences in the color palette. But you shouldn't be seeing anything truly different, only personality of people. If you go over to Equinox, are they going to have an Oceans Ahead program, a Beyond the Podium speakers program, are they going to have bingo, are they going to have the Zumba class, are they going to have all of the spa seminars - - yes they are. So the base program will always be the same. But it changes with personality. [Silhouette's cruise director] will have a slightly different talent or skill set than perhaps [the cruise directors on the other Solstice class ships]. Each captain is slightly different. Each captain has his own personality."
Who does this resort at sea attract? Celebrity has described its target audience as: "affluent vacationers seeking an elevated vacation experience combining thoughtful details and enriching, entertaining programming with exceptional cuisine and impeccable service. Our target is 35-55+, household income $100,000 and up." However, that does not mean that Silhouette is limited to just one demographic group or nationality.
"We want the whole range and we advertise to the whole range. Also, different nationalities as well. [Therefore,] we have to offer something for everyone. And I truly believe that we do."
"We have art classes for those creative minds. We have educational programming for those people who want to come onboard and learn something new. There is wonderful interactive programming and events that we offer. And a lot of our guests who are returning, we have about 1500 on this cruise, they really enjoy to be entertained. And I am not just talking about our entertainers in the theater. They want to be entertained by activities that are interactive whether it be trivia, whether it be a game show in the Celebrity Central. We are seeing much more demand for anything associated with Wii, Zumba and the Xbox - - new trends."
"The 40-something, young professional businessman who typically steps out and goes to trendy bars, goes either to the unique boutique-style hotels or may stay at W, can come aboard this ship and feel comfortable in the environment. We have venues that I think are designed for that age group."
"We have a wonderful family program, the Fun Factory. Children that come abroad with their parents do go away having a really memorable experience."
For "a vacationer who is primarily looking for a well-being experience, we have the facilities of this absolutely phenomenal gym with amazing classes. We have a beautiful spa with the Persian Garden and the Relaxation Room. If you are staying in the Aquaclass staterooms, we have it down to the last detail, you can even watch your own personal yoga classes on the television in the stateroom. While they are the same size as our regular staterooms, it is the amenities that make it so special - - the beautiful bathrobes, the slippers, the infused waters and the teas.
"The choice to dine in Blu is quite exclusive. We do choose to market this venue as clean cuisine. While the menu could be somewhat similar to what one could experience in the restaurant, the chef [uses] emulsions and more healthy ingredients."
"We offer something for everybody I believe. And the ships were designed with that purpose in mind. You can choose whether to participate or not. There are so many resort vacations whether on land or other cruise lines where you don't have such choice."
Cruise ship specialty restaurant interview - - Celebrity Cruises - - Celebrity Silhouette - Hotel Director Sue Richardson