I hope everyone finds this review helpful but please note that certain parts are tailored more towards those with travelling with a baby or young families as I found reviews for moms and dads were lacking when it came to the Celebrity and specifically the Silhouette. Here is some key information to provide further context for my review. My wife and I are in our early 30's and took our 8-month old with us on our first ever cruise (1st cruise for all). We were joined by my in-laws (mother, father, brother and sister). For moms and dads having the extra hands helped but I think we could have managed on our own as well. The staff and other cruisers were always respectful and tried their hardest to help us out when and where ever possible.
Flights (applicable to moms and dads)
Our flight to FLL was an early one on embarkation day. It was 3hrs in length. Wife was able to get little on from crib to car seat and she slept most of the way to airport. Getting boarding passes, checking bags and going through security was manageable but not ideal with a little one. That said, she ran with the punches and we arrived at gate just as they were allowing passengers who needed assistance on board. We took this opp to get on board and get settled. We took with us her car seat and compatible travel system stroller. Chicco Key Fit with Liteway Plus was perfect as we used both car seat mode and umbrella seat mode when necessary. Airline allowed us to take both right to gate and we picked up when we got off plane. We packed plenty of food and toys for the little one and were fortunate that she slept for an hour and a bit on the way to FLL and on the way back home. Cheerios and rice rusks were key to success on the plane. Also, a tip I received from the ladies in my office was to feed baby during take-off and landing to prevent babies ears from from popping. This seemed to work.
Airport -- Pier -- Embarkation - Disembarkation (applicable to all)
Getting out of FLL was quick we grabbed a Go Shuttle to pier which took no more than 10 -- 12 minutes. We got a van which was a little more than we needed but it was there and ready to go. A key for families looking to just get to where they wanted to go rather than getting the best deal on transportation. We paid $68 to get 5 ppl to pier even though they could have taken more. Once at the pier I found everything to be quite well organized we were got out of cab right at the baggage drop off (again, great as I only had two hands) and left our bags with the Celebrity baggage handlers. After that we were directed into a nearby building where we went through security which was quick and painless and then off into an adjoining room where we checked in with Celebrity and got our Sea Pass cards. Our daughter even got her own card which is a nice souvenir for her (hope she didn't charge anything). After this you go into yet another adjoining room where they snap your photo in front of a Silhouette backdrop drop and then you wait to be boarded. It should be noted we arrived at the pier around 10:30 and by 11:30 (latest) we were on the ship. For moms and dads I would suggest you change and feed your baby at the airport where there is a family washroom because there isn't at the pier where you'll be waiting to board. After we boarded the ship we were greeted by many smiling faces who offered up champagne and orange juice which was delightful. We were directed up to the Oceanview Cafe on deck 14 where a lunch buffet was available while we waited for our room. On disembarkation day we had a 12:55pm flight out of FLL. Our pre-arranged meeting time for disembarkation was 8:45am in main dining room. Once our number was called we were off the ship and while we did encounter a few lines first getting our luggage and again to go through security both moved fairly quickly. Picking up the luggage was quick and easy all our bags were in the area we were told to go to and we were out of that area in a matter of minutes. The only line that looked like it was a potential challenge was the taxi line which was quite large but was well organized. Two ships passengers were feeding into the line which made it somewhat slow. On our next cruise the only thing I would change for disembarkation would be to pre-arrange transportation to the airport as we would have avoided that long so moving line...that said not a deal breaker.
Food (applicable to all)
You will not go hungry on this ship ever as they have tons of options to suit any taste from picking eaters to the most hardcore foodies. The main buffet is the Oceanview Cafe which was fantastic and provided a nice variety of foods each and every day. We ate our breakfasts here every day and lunches on sea days. The breakfast buffet always had staple items such as scrambled eggs, bacon, fruits and breads while always providing some made to order options like omelettes and eggs. At lunch all the staples were there from pizza, break and meats and pastas made to order. The main dining room was a beautiful room and we found the food to be fantastic. They have two menus one with regular items such as steak, chicken etc and a daily menu which offered items on a rotating basis such as ribs, gnocchi and a turkey parmesan which is a must try. We didn't end up doing any of the specialty restaurants but heard good things about the Tuscan Grill. Here is a little tidbit for moms and dads. If you have a baby Select Dining is the way to go as they allow you to eat at any time you which from 545pm til close. They make you pay gratuities upfront which is no big deal because you'd pay those anyway on the back end. We went to the dining room every night at 545 as our little one goes to be religiously at 7pm. I would recommend making a reservation as it does help you get in a little quicker as line ups do form around that time. Servers are great, the wine sommelier is good too however the pace at which food is served would be considered too slow for moms and dads who work around baby's clock. That said, the food service is at a relaxed pace not a slow pace which allows for a nice 3-4 course meal with time to chat with your tablemates. For moms and dads on our last night we asked if our food could be served quicker than my in-laws to allow my wife and I the opportunity to eat a full meal and the server delivered on our request. We ate a 3 course meal in 45 minutes which was more than enough time and got the little one out of the dining room just before she started to fuss. That said, here is the blip I mentioned that would be coming. The cruise ship doesn't quite understand what baby food is exactly. My wife called ahead and asked about the availability of a microwave and if staff could puree foods for my daughter to which they said they could handle no problem. Reality is microwaves are fee and far between and often when our baby food (that we brought) came back to us to feed the baby it was often cold because the microwave is on deck 4 in main dining room when we were eating lunch in Oceanview on deck 14. Foods that we asked to get pureed came back somewhat chunky which again was not ideal for a baby. I addressed this on board with Guest Relations and with Maitree Dee a couple times and while they did try and address the problem the situation never really go resolved. Again, a blip in what otherwise was a 'fine' dining experience across the board.
Formal Nights and Smart Casual Nights (applicable to all)
Another subject that comes up a lot is what is and isn't acceptable as far as dress is concerned. My wife and daughter wore dresses every night and fit right in with the rest of the crowd. I did see a few gowns on formal night but not many. I wore a suit (with tie) on formal nights and dress pants with a collared shirt on smart casual which seemed to be what most men wore. I saw a couple men in tuxedo's but not many. I would refer to the dress code on Celebrity's website and use that as your guide. If formal isn't for you just avoid the main dining room that night we saw lots of people going to the Lawn Club or the buffet wearing shorts and we found this to be totally acceptable not only by us but other cruise goers.
Beverage Package (applicable to all)
A lot has been discussed about whether or not one should get a beverage package or not and while I believe this decision is one that is personal I will provide my feedback. I'm one that likes having a beer in my hand throughout the vacation that said I don't guzzle it like it's going out of style. On vacation I probably have 8-10 over the course of the afternoon/evening with a glass of wine or two with dinner. I opted for Premium over Classic because I thought I may have a few smoothies and sparkling water. I never had a smoothie and had maybe two glasses of sparkling water. I had a couple beers that were priced over the $8 covered by the Classic package but not many as I mostly drank Corona, Red Stripe and a few Bud Light. If I did it all over again I would go Classic over Premium and save myself the $70.
Stateroom (applicable to all)
We booked our cruise rather late less than 60 days before embarkation. That said, we still had a decent choice of all room categories but settled on a 2C room on deck 6 which was near my mother and father in-law. Category 2C is one of the rooms that is classified as having a partially obstructed view and while that is accurate if I could do it all again I would pay the extra $100 or so dollars to avoid the obstruction. The obstruction is the life boats and the massive arms that hold them in place and while they don't block your view of the ocean (if looking outward) they are always clearly visible and make taking pictures of sunrise/sets or ports challenging if you want to avoid seeing them in your pics. Did the view ruin the trip? Not at all especially since we had an idea of what it was going to be like going into it. As far as the rest of the room itself it has all you need, a decent sized bed, nice TV, good couch, desk and PLENTY of storage. My wife packed a dress for every night plus clothes for the day. I packed two suits, two pairs of dress pants, 7 dress shirts and clothes for the day. While baby didn't pack for herself she had two to three outfits for each day plus sleepers for night time not to mention all the diapers and baby necessities. It should be noted we brought a little mesh collapsible drawer 'thingy' that hangs in the closet which provided us with more storage than what we needed. Bathroom was a decent size and when necessary could fit two people comfortably. Our stateroom attendant Ade and his assistant were fantastic and got our room made up fairly quickly each morning after we left for breakfast. Usually when we returned from breakfast for our little ones first nap the room was clean and ready to go. Due to an early bedtime for baby we missed turndown service on the first couple of evenings but Ade and his assistant adjusted their schedule and the last few days of the cruise they got to our room early so we came back from dinner to a nice clean room ready for baby's bedtime. Thanks Ade! For moms and dads on windy nights the lines that hold the life boats bang around and sometimes you can hear and whistling noise which may wake up your baby if you leave the sliding door open while they sleep.
Ports (applicable to all)
We stopped in Cozumel (Mexico), Georgetown (Grand Cayman), Falmouth (Jamaica), and Labadee (Haiti). While having a baby may have altered our plans a little I would say that my wife and I still did the things we wanted do while on shore. We are both huge beach people so finding a nice beach was a priority at all stops. In Cozumel we got off the ship and planned to find a beach on our own. We went to an info booth in port and were told to take a cab to Carlos and Charleys Beach Club. In just 10-15 minutes we were sipping Corona's and putting our little one in the ocean for the first time. Carlos and Charleys was a nice spot to spend the day as you had direct access to the beach and the benefits of having a restaurant and servers to keep us fuelled all day. Wife and I took the opportunity to get a massage on the beach instead of the boat. I would say that massage was equally as good as what we would have got on the ship while costing a fraction of the price as we paid $1 a minute on the beach. If you'd like to hit a beach but think Carlos and Charleys isn't your thing I heard Paradise Beach was nice too. All ships tender in Georgetown which made it a little less baby friendly just because you had to wait for a boat to take you to and from the ship but this wasn't anything that made Georgetown less enjoyable than the other ports. Georgetown was gorgeous. Here we did the Dolphin Encounter and 7 Mile Beach excursion. A 20-25 minute drive to Dolphin Cove was a nice way to see part of the island. The bus driver was very knowledgeable and pointed out things along the way. For $89 bucks a person the excursion was worth it. We mainly did it for my wife but I'll admit it was pretty cool to do the hokey pokey with a Dolphin. After Dolphin Cove the bus takes you to an area of 7 Mile Beach where you meet up with your beach hosts who have a lunch and a beer waiting for you. You spend an hour on the beach and then they drive you back to the port. The beach is really nice. Clear blue water and nice white sandy beach. Umbrellas and loungers are available for rent. I think the umbrellas were about $6 each for the day. If you are looking to hang out at a private beach I heard others who went to the Iberostar Resort who I think charged a small fee for access to resort facilities and required you to pay for food to spend the day at the resort. For moms and dads navigating 7 Mile beach with a stroller was the only difficult part of the day. I would reco an infant carrier only if going to a public beach like this and if you feel it necessary you can take car seat and leave it on the bus if you ask and tip the driver (I paid him a couple bucks). The port in Jamaica was recently renovated and is very nice and suited to anyone looking to get some shopping in but you won't find any bargains here. Most of the shops charge prices you'd expect to pay at home. While my wife and I didn't do an excursion here this time in previous trips we have done Dunns River Falls and YS Falls. I think YS is too far from port so Dunns maybe your only choice for a water fall. If you haven't done it you should because it's a lot of fun but you definitely need to have some athletic ability...bring water shoes. For moms and dads Jamaica was a very accessible port and we pushed the stroller around the entire area. Not sure how accessible Dunns would be for baby as we didn't have one when we did it so I wasn't paying attention to ramps etc. Our last and final port day was also my favourite part of the cruise which is Labedee, Haiti. I questioned why we would stop in Haiti before the cruise due to the negative stories I've heard especially after the earthquake but after reading a few reviews I understood the port to be private parcel of land owned and operated by the cruiseline (RCCL and Celebrity). The food on shore comes right off the boat and is prepared by the cruiseline itself so no need to worry about food quality. The resort style compound they have set up is equal to the 5-star resorts (Sandals and Couples) my wife and I had gone to pre-baby. Nellies Beach is second to none as far as I am concerned. It's in a little cove which offers protection from wind and waves and a great view of your ship. Water is crystal clear and sand is pure white. No need for water shoes here. Floating mats are available for rent for $12 a day and they even have these big blue half shelters called 'clam shells' which you can rent I don't know the price though. They are big enough to cover two lounge chairs. That said, I did my research in advance and found out about the 'over the water' and 'hillside' cabanas that were available for rent and while I would reco to anyone looking to have an exceptional time in Labadee I highly reco to moms and dads. Each cabana is available for up to six people who receive wristbands for access. After getting off the ship a golf cart picks you up and drops you off right at your cabana step where you meet your personal attendant. They take care of you all day stocking a cooler they provide with bottled water and bringing any drinks you want which are charged to your cruise Sea Pass. For those that have a drink package no charge for those that don't same cost and process as on the ship. In addition you get access to a private lunch area reserved for suite holders (on Barefoot Beach) as well as many floating mats as you need. For moms and dads the cabana was a great place for mom to feed the little one privately, change the baby and give them a little rest from the sun. Heck it was a nice place for us all to get a break from the sun. A final note on the cabanas would be upon booking ask for one that has stairs directly into the water as some have stairs than a ladder. Without baby I would have been fine with this but with baby a ladder would have been tough. All in all I would rate Labadee at 10/10 and say that the $250 spent on the cabana was well worth it for all the benefits outlined above and because the beach fills up quickly. Can't wait to do Labadee again and would book the cabana at the same time as booking the cruise (they fill up quick).
General Comments and Observations (applicable to all)
Because we were travelling with the little one we didn't get to take advantage of some of the amenities and entertainment we ordinarily would have as we do like to partake. Never saw a show and as mentioned never did any of the specialty restaurants. That said, entertainers are positioned around the ship and play or perform throughout the day. All were fantastic especially the group of young singers (two females and one male) who usually played near the main staircase on deck 3. The casino area is nice and provided a good variety of slots and table games. The odds are still stacked against you so go in with the mindset of having fun and not making money. The shops are all quite nice and prices appeared to be reasonable. My wife enjoyed the cafe on deck 4 where she got specialty coffees every day. Those cost extra if you don't have a bev package but the snacks such as cookies and brownies are free to anyone. Gelato was available at a bar right across from the cafe and was reasonably priced at $3 for two healthy sized scopes. After my wife and little one had gone to bed I frequented Michael's Club which is located on deck 6. For anyone looking for a bar that isn't playing loud music, is a good place to chat with family or new friends and catch some sports highlights this is your place. They offer over 60 beers from around the world and a number of scotches, rums and cognacs. Andrei and Ramona were the bartenders who were amazingly personable and always kept a cold beer in my hand. As mentioned I usually was there after my wife and little one went to bed so I ended up chatting with them both quite a bit and always enjoyed the conversation. Michael's Club has a cool program where you can 'Sip Around the World' whereby you try 10 different types of beers they offer from ales, vinatages, limbacs, cidars etc. I participated and scored myself a certificate at the end with my name on it for my accomplishments however it is worth noting that some of the beers are beyond what is covered by the Premium Alcohol package so you do end up paying a bit extra for some beers. I paid anywhere between $2 and $13 extra for a total of $24 to go 'Around the World'. The limbic was the hardest for me.
DO's and DON'TS (applicable to moms and dads)
DO bring an inflatable bath. Not just for bath time but also so baby has somewhere to play while on the pool deck as all kids must be toilet trained to enter pool. We put our little ones feet in and got a few dirty looks. We filled up the bath with some water from the pool deck showers and baby had a great time.
DO bring an inflatable swim toy with a shade if you intend to go to the beach and swim for a period of time longer than 10 minutes. I bought one from a company called Swimways which was priced reasonable and packs extremely well.
DON'T bother buying a sun tent if you're considering. There is plenty of shade on the pool deck if that's where you hang out and also a lack of space to put it up even if you wanted too.
DO bring your own baby food just in case you run into the same issues we did.
DO request a play yard/crib in advance. The ship has them and will have one waiting in your room when you arrive. As a side note if you can afford a one bedroom suite do it so your baby has a quiet place to nap/sleep and you can have some drinks and chat and not have to go to bed. The balcony works but the view into darkness at night gets old fast. Plus its really hard to sneak out and get more drinks when you need a refill. Alternatively if you are travelling with family or friends request adjoining rooms so you can create a two room suite.
DO bring your baby monitors. We debated this and decided not to which was a mistake. Our sea days were somewhat rough and leaving the balcony door open to hear baby wasn't possible because the wind with the door open created a vibration that work up baby.
DON'T be afraid to take your baby out of their comfort zone or their routine. This is just my personal opinion based upon advice I was given before the little one arrived. 'Integrate your baby into your life. If you want to go camping go camping with baby'. I think this rule applies to anything including cruising.
This is all I have for now but if anyone has any specific questions please leave a comment and send me a question and I'll be happy to get back you.
All and all we had a fantastic cruise. Our little one exceeded our expectations across the board as we pushed her to her limits and took her completely out of her comfort zone and routine. As far as the ship itself is concerned we will definitely cruise with Celebrity again and wouldn't hesitate to jump on the Silhouette again either.