Background Information We are a family of four with two boys aged 11 and 13 (my husband and I are in our late 40's) travelling over March Break on the March 10th sailing with a two day stop in Miami afterwards. We have cruised once before aboard the Disney Dream.
We stayed at the Hampton Inn Suites Miami Brickell before our sailing and for two days afterwards. This fairly new hotel is in a good location for restaurants. It was clean with a basic breakfast included. The rooms however were very noisy with lots of sound coming in from the hallway through the doors. We chose to fly in and out of Miami because airport taxes were much cheaper and we wanted to explore Miami. We booked a car to take us to Port Everglades at a cost of $90.
Embarkation was smooth and efficient. The Port was extremely crowded with 8 cruise ships in the harbour. Once inside the gates of Port Everglades, it took us over 20 minutes to get to our ship due to traffic congestion.
This ship is truly lovely, even more so than we expected. The decor is contemporary with so much to see everywhere you look and interesting art installations all over the ship. She is spotlessly clean and well maintained. We never felt crowded while on board, even by the pool where we were always able to find loungers, despite the usual annoyance of people saving spots. There were many quiet spaces aboard such as the Library and the Hideaway if you wanted solitude. We also loved the concept of the Card/Games Room.
We opted for adjoining two Balcony Suites. Rooms 8323/8321, port side/near aft. This is a fantastic option for families since we got two full bathrooms and lots of space to move around. Adjoining rooms 'lock off' by closing an exterior door and locking back the original entrances to the rooms creating a small hallway between the two rooms. We also had our steward open the balconies by folding back the afterwardsss panel. We arranged to have the bed in the boys' bedroom made into twin beds. The rooms were very quiet. We didn't hear any noise in the hallway (likely because of the additional door) nor did we hear any noise inside the room from adjoining cabins. Rooms were well appointed and maintained by our stewards. Our only complaint was that there was very little storage space in the room. Only three medium sized drawers. Thank goodness we didn't opt to stay in one room...not sure where we would have put all our things.
Food in the Main Dining Room was very good, but not excellent. Sometimes we really enjoyed our meals and other times not. Desserts were hit and miss with some being near awful. We found our dinner service to be extremely slow. Sometimes two hours long, but at least 1 1/2 hours each night. It was painful sitting there with two boys and sometimes they opted to skip dessert just to get out of the dining room. It took us to the end of the cruise to realize that it was our serving team, since it seemed everyone around our section would be done before our dinner plates were removed. This was unfortunate, and I wish we had asked to be moved. We didn't go to any of the speciality restaurants because one of our sons was under 12.
The offerings for Breakfast and Lunch were good and varied. We were quite happy with the overall quality of the food.
The Children's Clubs were the biggest disappointment of our cruise. I was concerned about booking with Celebrity since it doesn't really cater to kids, but I thought since it was March Break that there would be lots of kids on board the ship. There were, but the activities for my 11 (35 kids in 9-11 group) and 13 (110 kids in 12-17 group) year old's were better suited to younger kids. My boys spent most of their time playing basketball. They were excited one day about a ping pong tournament, only to find that it was adult only. Very few kids in their age group showed up at the Clubs. Probably because the activities didn't interest them. I would love to book Celebrity again, but won't because my kids would be bored. It appeared that programs for younger children were better.
They were a few family activities that we participated in such as Bingo and Disney Trivia. We wish there had been more.
Our Family enjoyed the Cirque-type show, the Magician and the show on the final evening that 'sampled' a bit of all the performances. Chris adjoiningas good, but not our style. The remaining shows were lacklustre and it seemed like the performers were doing the shows for the first time. Timing was off frequently and lots of off-key singing. Disney's shows in contrast were Broadway quality, even if the subject matter was geared to a younger audience. The Silhouette's shows seemed amateurish in comparison. The performances around the ship were mixed. Some were very good and others not so much.
Port and Shore Excursions
We booked two of these privately and one through the cruise line. In Cozumel we booked Chi-Chi Charters (snorkeling) and in Grand Cayman we booked Seven Seas Charters (Sting-Ray City and snorkeling). Both were excellent experiences and were the highlights of our cruise. We would highly recommend booking these as they cost about the same as the cruise line, but offer a privately charted tour where the guides swim with you and tell you about your surroundings. We watched as Catamarans arrived loaded with people from the cruise ships who were given no instruction and only a short amount of time in the water.
In Jamaica we booked zip lining through the cruise line. It was however, cancelled due to too much rain in the area (according to the cruise line). We later discovered that no substantial rain had fallen in the area in over two months. We opted instead to do rafting on the Martha Brae river with a Jamaican lunch which we enjoyed very much. It was however grossly over priced and much cheaper if booked privately. Do your research and use Trip advisor to find local companies.
We also learned that several excursions had been cancelled by the cruise line in the Grand Cayman with weather cited as the issue. It was however, an absolutely perfect day.
Disembarkation was a nightmare. We asked to have a late time since we didn't have a flight to catch. We were given a 9:30am time slot. At 10:15 our number hadn't yet been called so we decided not to wait and go ahead. We waited over 1 1/2 hours to get through customs. There were only 3 customs agents for 2700 passengers! Once outside the terminal with 8 ships unloading and loading passengers it was a zoo! Not a good experience.
Overall, we loved the Celebrity Silhouette. Our only wish is that the youth programs were better. We were expecting more families and younger adults on board. I had read that Celebrity gears it's cruise to the 40-50 crowd, but found this group to be quite a bit older even during March Break which was surprising. As a result, we won't cruise with Celebrity again