Passengers in an ideal position to save money
MINIATURE UNION jacks are waving as the band plays and champagne corks shoot into the air. The busy few hours getting to Southampton and settling into my cabin on Celebrity Silhouette are behind me. Now, the revelry begins. Departing on a transatlantic cruise recalls the glory days of the great ocean liners, when travelling by sea was the only way to get to the New World, Australia and beyond. The party mood is evident as our 2,886-passenger cruise ship pulls away from its berth at the Ocean Terminal and everyone hoots and hollers.
Our ship will enter the Solent, then the English Channel, with the Atlantic Ocean beckoning just beyond. After seven nights, I will pass the Statue of Liberty in the early hours and our vessel will dock overnight in Cape Liberty (New Jersey) before sailing on to Florida without me. Sadly I will fly back home from NYC.
Celebrity Silhouette is leaving Northern Europe for Fort Lauderdale, where she will be based for a winter season of Caribbean cruises.
The purpose of a re-positional cruise is to get a ship to its new base. A cruise ship that has been sailing itineraries in, for instance, the Mediterranean all summer will have to cross the Atlantic to be based in the Caribbean for the winter. A re-positional cruise needs to be efficient and will probably cover a large distance with as few calls at ports as possible.
So, will I become bored at sea? After all, there will be seven nights of continuous sailing. The ship, in fact, is the destination. Will I feel unnerved at not seeing land after the shores of western Ireland are far behind us?
Nothing could be further from the truth. It turns out to be the perfect opportunity to enjoy the wide-open sea and all the amenities on board.
First stop in my orientation of the Silhouette is the top — deck 16. Open to the air, this sun-soaked area has loungers aplenty and the views over the open sea are inspiring.
Being surrounded by indigo as far as the eye can see takes my breath away and I never tire of it.
The deck below, 15, is covered with grass — uniquely among cruise liners. The lawn is the outdoor spot where I plan to spend most of my time, starting with a lively game of croquet.
The ship’s outdoor restaurant, the Lawn Club Grill, is also here; I can choose my food and grill it myself or hand it to a friendly BBQ master to do it for me.
There is a clean space for cooking fish-only or vegetarian-only meals, with no risk of coming into contact with the meat. And there are plenty of options for non-meat eaters — a whole variety of vegetables to grill and a full salad bar.
All restaurants on-board cater well for those not wanting to eat meat.
Deck 14 features my favourite bar on the ship, the spacious Sky Observation Lounge, a great place to meet people, as well as the jogging track.
From the grand foyer on deck three, the atrium soars up three stories, giving a feeling of space and elegance. Meanwhile, bargain hunters must make regular trips to the sales in the shopping precinct, deck four. Who can resist duty-free on-board shopping?
Also on this deck is the theatre, where I indulge my entertainment habit virtually every night.
There is a Las Vegas-style casino, too, where I have a few goes on a slot machine just for fun. I also find myself having a speciality drink more than once at the Martini Bar (a Classic Martini with a twist hits the spot), while the Cellar Masters is the place for wine aficionadi.
Spa treatments at the Canyon Ranch Spa Club are a delicious extravagance — I can recommend a Swedish massage with lavender oil.
The deck 12 Canyon Ranch Spa Club is next to the well-equipped gym. The morning stretch session is a great way to start the day and I dutifully turn up at 8am each time.
If the weather disappoints, retire to the solarium, a covered area with swimming pool, loungers, heated spa baths and plants to give a tropical vibe.
Or curl up in the surprisingly secluded Hideaway, furnished with hanging wicker chairs and cosy 1960s-style egg pod chairs, where you can curl up with
Celebrity Silhouette: the ship itself is the destination
Who needs to go ashore when you have a croquetready lawn on deck?