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Grilling for your friends over lagers and sunshine is not exactly a new vacation experience, that is, unless your vacation is at sea. Now, for the first time ever, clients can enjoy this interactive group dining event onboard a cruise ship. Celebrity Silhouette, the fourth of five Solstice-class ships, delivers Celebrity Solstice’s signature style, elegance and innovation, which guests will experience through new additions and enhancements to the Lawn Club and Michael’s Club.
“We start with the mindset to always improve, which helps us stay very open when moving forward,” said Dan Hanrahan, president and CEO of Celebrity Cruises, aboard Silhouette’s pre-inaugural press sailing on the North Sea this summer.
On Silhouette, guests can experience the evolution of the popular Solstice-class venue, the Lawn Club. The outdoor top deck still features the real grass lawn and country club ambience that guests love but, in the place of the Hot Glass Show by the Corning Museum of Glass, clients will find a brand-new, one-of-a-kind dining experience. At the 58-seat Lawn Club Grill, guests can grill their own meat and vegetables under the guidance of a chef, as well as make their own pizzas using the outdoor pizza oven. Each party selects one grill master, who is in charge of preparing the food, under the guidance of a chef, who teaches the group leader grilling techniques as well as presents them with a memento apron. The venue will also feature daily cooking classes and demonstrations. An industry first, the restaurant offers groups the opportunity to host their own onboard dinner parties for $30 per person, following the Solstice-class trend toward gourmet experiences that are interactive, novel and offered at a nominal charge.
“We are putting the fun back into food by awakening the inner foodie,” said Jacques Van Staden, vice president of culinary operations and master chef, who was also the creator of the popular Solstice-class specialty restaurant Qsine, which still delivers one of the most fun experiences onboard.
Adjacent to the Lawn Club Grill are eight hammocks and two oversize Adirondack chairs. Enveloping the grass lawn and overlooking the ocean are eight cabanas, known collectively as The Alcoves. Each cabana seats two to four people and features amenities including a fruit plate, chilled towels, four bottles of water, hand-held fans and an iPad loaded with music and magazines. For an added fee, cabana guests can enjoy Wi-Fi access and picnic baskets — delivered by a dedicated cabana attendant and stocked with food from the ship’s specialty restaurants — as well as a la carte beverages. Alcoves can be booked online for the entire voyage or per day, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., at $99 for port days and $149 for sea days. Special values are arranged for guests who book more than one day and special evening events, such as a wine and cheese night, can be arranged.
Also new on the top deck is the Porch, an outdoor casual dining venue which offers breakfast pastries and lunch paninis as well as specialty beverages.
The innovative gourmet culinary experience does not stop with food, as fans of CellarMasters wine bar, which features an Enomatic wine serving system, and the Mixology bar, which serves artisanal molecular mixology cocktails, have known from the other Solstice ships. Debuting on the Silhouette, the Michael’s Lounge cigar room concept has been replaced by a laidback bar serving a selection of 64 international craft beers from more than a dozen countries. The well-curated offerings represent a variety of beer styles, featuring Belgian brews — including the rare, high-end biere de champagne, Dues Brus Des Flanders Cuvee, which runs for $49 per bottle — as well as a selection of ales, lagers, porters, stouts, wheat beers, ciders and lambics. While sharing my favorite California beer — a Stone IPA — and learning about the destination’s beers through a sample of a Frankiskaner — a German hefeweizen — it was easy for me to imagine the future success of the new concept. Michael’s Lounge is equipped with gourmet snacks, artisanal spirits, several 46-inch flat-screen television screens and promises themed beer tastings throughout the sailing as well as live entertainment.
In addition to new dining experiences, the Silhouette is debuting two new high-end retail shops. Bulgari, which offers jewelry, watches and sunglasses, and Michael Kors, which offers handbags, shoes, jewelry, sunglasses and more, are both of the brands’ first shops at sea. Another new feature, The Hideaway, a reading area designed like a tree house, will also add to a comfortable, luxurious onboard experience.
Other Solstice-class favorites appear on Silhouette — including the Apple iLounge, AquaClass accommodations, specialty restaurants including Qsine and Blu, the Martini Bar, Cafe al Bacio and Gelateria and Bistro on Five creperie. This November, Celebrity plans to bring these features onboard four of its Millennium-class ships in a $120 million, five-month effort, which it has named “solsticizing.”
“Revitalizing a ship is not an insignificant investment, but we’re quite happy with where we are in completing the solsticizing,” said Hanrahan. “At this point, we don’t have plans for a new class of ship. We are still in the reveling stage.”
The Silhouette will sail a range of itineraries in the Caribbean as well as in Europe. Celebrity Reflection is scheduled to launch in fall 2012.