Having never experienced a cruise holiday before, I was delighted to be able to join one of Celebrity Cruise's first post-pandemic sailings aboard the Celebrity Silhouette, which had been docked for 427 days before we set sail in July! Departing from Southampton, we were whisked to Dover, Liverpool and Belfast on a luxury UK cruise, giving us chance to admire the destinations right on our doorstep, whilst living in pure luxury. Did I like it? Put it this way - I'm already planning my next voyage!
A Warm Welcome and Peace of Mind
Perhaps the ultimate highlight of my cruise from start to finish was the service, and we could tell just how genuinely delighted the staff were to be back on board. After taking a COVID-19 test and showing that we'd been double jabbed (really easy via the NHS app), we were applauded by the friendly staff (who were also fully vaccinated) as we boarded the gorgeous Crystal Silhouette - a memory that will stick with me forever!
As a first timer cruising, I felt at ease instantly, thanks to both the staff and the other guests. The dress code was relaxed yet always elegant, and completely went against the really strict formal image that I wrongly associated with cruising. I loved the daily announcements from the Captain too, especially when he let the entire ship know of England's semi-final success in the Euros (let's not talk about the final!). I also felt completely safe in terms of COVID during the cruise. All staff wore masks throughout, and passengers wore them whilst walking around inside, though they could be removed when eating, drinking or outside.
Delicious Dining and Drinks
I had heard great things about the cuisine aboard Celebrity Cruises before I travelled - but I was completely blown away by just how delicious it was, and there were so many restaurants to choose from. As well as the fantastic complimentary restaurants, there were several specialty venues that could be enjoyed for an additional charge. My personal favourite of these was Murano, which served super-elegant, classic French dishes in an equally classy setting. I chose the lobster tail which was flambéed in cognac right in front of me, whilst my husband opted for Dover Sole (on the same day we visited Dover!) which was just as delicious.
As we stayed in an AquaClass stateroom (which I'll tell you a little more about in a moment) we had access to the complimentary Blu Restaurant for breakfast and dinner, which was exclusively for AquaClass guests. There was so much choice here - from timeless classics, to innovative signature dishes, to spa-inspired health cuisine. The service here was impeccable and the sommelier went above and beyond to make sure we had the perfect wine. I mentioned that I loved the Chablis I'd had the previous night in Murano and he arranged for a bottle to be brought to Blu, despite them not featuring it on their wine list.
Whilst the incredible Classic Drinks Package is included in every voyage (allowing you to choose from complimentary beers, spirits, cocktail, wine and more), we opted to add the Premium Drinks Package to our stay, meaning we could enjoy unlimited specialty coffee, tea, craft beer, premium spirits, cocktails, wines by the glass and premium bottled water. It was a great choice for us as the ultra-cool Martini Bar turned out to be one of our favourite spots on the entire ship. The bartenders here were so talented, flipping and crafting both classic and creative martinis behind the ice-topped bar.
Serenity at Sea
Thanks to the plush interiors, amount of space and fabulous finishes, I found myself forgetting as was at sea and not just in a luxury hotel! As I said before, we stayed in the AquaClass, in which the staterooms have all been designed to enhance relaxation. This was certainly the case in our cabin, complete with a sea-facing balcony, cashmere mattress, yoga matt, eco-friendly toiletries and a huge TV with on-demand wellness programming. Whilst our Personal Room Attendant couldn't enter our stateroom due to safety restrictions, he brought a coffee each morning, and our special requests of decaf beans and lactose-free milk were no trouble. Sitting on the balcony with a coffee in hand, watching the morning light reflect of the sea, was something so special. There was also the option to enjoy room-service breakfast for no additional charge - great if you wanted a quick bite before an excursion. You simply filled out a form, hung it on your cabin door and the delicious breakfast would arrive at your desired time!
AquaClass guests can also make the most of complimentary unlimited access to the Persian Garden - a serene area of the spa that uses aqua therapy environments (from aromatic steam to tropical rain showers) for a rejuvenating experience. After seeing the spa, which is genuinely like one from a five-star hotel, I couldn't resist a treatment. I opted for an indulgent package which included an ELEMIS facial and full body massage - bliss.
Whilst the ship was stunning and I could genuinely have kept busy all day with the facilities on board, cruise holidays also offer the chance to explore different destinations while only unpacking once! The UK voyage we chose really showcased the beauty of our home islands and it was a great chance to visit places that I may not have done otherwise. The weather was really on our side too... sitting on the sundeck in the sunshine, sipping a glass of rosé whilst overlooking the White Cliffs of Dover, we could have been in the Mediterranean! Celebrity Cruises also offers loads of unique excursions on all of its cruise itineraries. In Dover, we were taken to a charming local cookery school where we learned to make delicious homemade scones, whilst in Liverpool we took part in the (really informative) Beatles walking tour. We visit Liverpool quite often (it's pretty close to Chester) but this gave us a completely new and eye-opening experience of the city and its heritage.