My wife and I celebrated our 50th birthdays by going on the Silhouette for a week cruise to the eastern carribean. This was our 3rd cruise ever with the first two being on RCCL Freedom of the Seas - one with teenage children and one without. We did not bring our children with us on this trip.
Embarkation - Getting on the ship went very smoothly. We stayed one night at the Westin Diplomat in Hollywood Beach the night before and had a great stay there. The cab ride to the port was about 15 minutes and we were on the ship in less than 20 minutes from arriving.
Stateroom - We loved our stateroom and thought the layout was very nice including the bathroom and shower which were a little nicer than on RCCL. The only complaint, if its worth calling it that, was that the veranda view down to the water was a little obstructed by a platform at our room level that extended out about 3 feet. Not a big deal and everything else was great.
Food - we enjoyed eating in the main dining room most of the evenings. We moved tables after the first night as we were tucked behind some stairs with no atmosphere whatsoever. The food was very good and the service as outstanding. We also ate two dinners in specialty restaurants. In Qsine, we thought the food and presentation was great but we ate way too much. The portion sizes of the various menu items vary greatly and we ended up with too much food. However, it was very good and the atmosphere was fun. We also ate at the Lawn Club grill and it was terrific. The food was very good (filet, lamb chops, veal chop), the service was very good and the atmosphere was very refreshing with fresh air flowing through the space all evening. We knew we were in the right dining spot when we noticed several parties of the senior staff arriving to eat there including the captain (more on him in a moment). We also at breakfast one day at Bistro on Five for lunch and loved the crepes and my wife ate lunch at the Porch and enjoyed it. We also ordered breakfast in the room most days (basic stuff but fine). By the pool, we took advantage of the Mast Grill for burgers, ice cream, etc. and enjoyed it. Lastly, we ate at the Oceanview Cafe buffet on numerous occasions and thought it was a step above RCCL overall.
Entertainment - If there was anything that left us a little underwhelmed, it was the on board entertainment. The comedy show was very good but the others were average. Our experience on RCCL was much better including a broader offering of shows, game shows, etc. I guess Celebrity is aiming toward an older crowd and most of the entertainment reflected that. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't as good as what we've experienced before.
I mentioned the captain earlier and wanted to mention how impressed we were with him on several occasions. First, as part of one show, the captain participated and was hilarious. While it may say something about the rest of the entertainers on board, we found the captain to be the most captivating and hilarious of everyone we went to see. We also went to a captain's discussion in the main theater which we found to be the best event we attended that week. On our last night, we happened to be on an elevator with him and he was very engaging and pleasant as the on-stage events. Normally I could care less about the cruise ship captain and never even noticed the on RCCL. But this guy was the real deal and helped make the cruise more enjoyable believe it or not.
Disembarkation - Getting off the ship took a little longer than normal but was not a big deal. We used the valet service that tagged our bags for our flights home (FLL to ATL) the night before and it went very well. Basically we check our bags on the ship the last night at 11:00 and they were waiting on us in ATL. It made our trip home much easier and was worth the $20 pp charge. Kudos for this service!
Overall, we loved our cruise and will consider Celebrity again. The ship was lovely and in pristine condition. The food and service was oustanding. We enjoyed not being harassed all the time by drink waiters at the pool or others wanting to sell us stuff all the time like we experienced on RCCL. But the crowd was a little older than what we are used to and the activities were a little weak. In summary, we loved the experience and had a great, relaxing week.
We did a self guided walking tour of Old San Juan. Charming old city with colorful buildings and gardens. We loved touring El Morro - the old spanish fort. Much more history there than we expected.
Took a cab directly to South Friars Beach and had a lovely, relaxing day at Carambola Beach Club. There was not much snorkeling to speak of but we rented a large loveseat under a palm tree on the beach for $20 and walked down the beach to the Shipwreck Bar for lunch. Great time!
This was our 3rd visit to St Maarten but our first where we didn't rent a car and drive all over. We took a cab to Orient Beach and spent the whole day relaxing there. It was spectacular. It gets pretty busy with people from the cruise ships and the island but we loved it. Club Kaokao was the perfect location. We had a great beachfront lunch there though it was pricey. Well worth it.