We could not have been more happy with our Celebrity Silhouette cruise over Spring Break with the kids from March 17th to March 31st.
I have so many detailed items about which to write that I plan to write a few separate articles over the coming days detailing some of the highlights and the few areas for improvement of the cruise but here are a few most important items.
We enjoyed some of the best food on Celebrity that I can remember in several cruises. They have tweaked their menu slightly over the last few years and offer many tradition preparations of classic dishes like braised lamb shank, spaghetti Bolognaise and French onions soup. They also had innovative newer style cuisine like sesame Ahi tuna and jerk chicken. Everything was flavorful, not overly filling, fresh and delicious. The sauces and preparations were flavorful but not overwhelming. The buffet food was equally as good in the Ocean View cafe where they rotated dishes about every three days and featured a great variety of food including salad, chicken, curries, Mexican, middle eastern and other varieties of food.
Celebrity has some of the most energetic, gracious and eager to please crew and staff on their ships. We did “Select Dining”, the flexible seating option, for both weeks. The first week we had dinner at 7:30 every night, as requested at the same table and with same waiter. For the second week, when we had 5 in our party with the addition of my Mother-in-law, we moved dining from a 4 top to a 5 top and switched waiters to one we had met on a previous cruise. More details to come on Select Dining and the wonderful staff my more extensive post to come. All around, Celebrity staff, from the activities staff, to the housekeeping staff to the officers and managers, everyone went out of their way to make our cruise special.
Activities and Entertainment
We have always felt that with Celebrity we could do as little or as much as we wanted and with this cruise there was always something to do or a quiet place away from all the activity. They had wonderful music that ranged from a steel drum musician to a guitar player/vocalist, to a jazz ensemble, to a pop party cover band. The production shows included a Broadway review, celebration of international dance, and a cirque style show featuring juggling and acrobatics. The strengths in the production shows were definitely the strong vocalists and the amazing acrobatics, the weakness was is overly simple choreography that never challenged the talented dancers. Featured acts included a comedy musician the first week and a comedy juggler the second week. Both shows had strong voices male tenors who sang the obvious Broadway and Poperatic songs by artists like Josh Groban and Andrea Boccelli. If they didn’t sing these recognizable songs people would probably complain about that too, but I would like some variety as most of the tenors we’ve seen on Celebrity seem to sing the same 10 or so songs. Lisa, the cruise director also comes from an entertainment background, having played in a touring company of Mama Mia, and several nights, she treated us to her powerful vocals.
During the day there was plenty of free things to do on the schedule including ballroom dance lessons, pool Olympics, some fun trivia and brain teaser sessions, and at least two Zumba sessions, free of charge, every day. There was also a couple nights of lightly attended karaoke and generation Next Disco for 18-25 year-olds. Celebrity has also added comedy through a company called Sin City Comedy in association with the Hard Rock Cafe. The shows play in the smaller theater and the entertainers repeat the same show through out the cruise. Cruisers can go any time during the week that fits their schedule. We thought it might be the same performers for the second week, but they did have a new act for us to enjoy on the second week. In addition to the comedians, they also had a burlesque dancer who performed a traditional burlesque dance where she stripped to a bra and panties ensemble. Not really too risque at all, and the comedy included a few Lorena Bobbit and Viagra jokes which might not have been good for younger ones. The minimum age is 18 which is for the most part enforced by checking ID’s. The show was no more racy that what teens see on Comedy Central TV and YouTube, but I think that they wanted the adults to feel that it was a more mature entertainment option.
Both itineraries were fun, taking us to a variety of islands with lots of shore excursion options and plenty of activities to do on our own. Mostly we kept it simple and did stuff on our own with a walking tour of Old San Juan, near pier shopping in St. Thomas, and a beach day right in Philipsburg, Sint Maarten. On the Western leg we had planned to join the President on his complementary tour for Captains Club members in Cozumel, but it was very cold and rainy and was predicted to be for for most of the day, so we decided not to risk being miserable and stayed on board the ship. We did decide, when it looked like the weather might improve, to go into town a little later and do a bit of shopping and then grabbed fajitas and beer a a local beach pub. (I’ll have more about the President’s cruise in a future post.) In Grand Cayman we were supposed to tender into George Town, but the wind and weather were too strong, so we went to a bay that was more protected, tendered from their, and Celebrity provided us with free shuttles into George Town to shop. Due to the wind and weather most water related activities did have to be cancelled but they did allow people to book other tours that included things like the turtle Farm and “Hell”. In Jamaica, doing something other than shopping at the beautiful Royal Caribbean built pier and gift shopping area required either a taxi or an excursion so we elected just to buy our souvenirs and have lunch right back on the ship. Labadee, the Royal Caribbean owned peninsula on Haiti, was probably my favorite stop. We were able to walk right off the ship into the beach resort area with lots of activities payable with the Sea Pass Card. A lunch was provided from the ship, and with 4 or 5 different beaches from which to choose, we had no problem finding a spot to enjoy the sand and water. It was overcast all day, but that was actually a good thing for my son and daughter since they didn’t sun burn. Here, my daughter and I got to do a 1/2 hour of stand up paddle boarding, the one thing she really wanted to do the entire cruise, for just a little over $15 each. Celebrity’s staff came ashore to serve food and drinks. The facility also employs some local people and provides and opportunity for local artisans to sell their wares as well.
For the most party Celebrity attracts a very nice set of passengers, we enjoyed meeting many other couples and families. Usually, when we have cruised Celebrity there are very, very few kids, but with both of these weeks falling during Spring Break there were lots of kids and families to be found. The large amount of kids did not diminish the enjoyment of the cruise in any way. I think there were 250 kids on board the first week, and over 500 the second week. For the most part the kids were with their families are involved in a planned activity at the Fun Factory or X Club. The teens did hang out a bit on their own, but were not loud or in the way. They only time I ever noticed the ship feeling crowded was the very first sea day of the second cruise when it started raining around noon and nearly everyone filed into the Ocean View cafe for a bite. Other than that day, and the final sea day by the pool when there was actual sun, the ship did not feel crowded to me. If you are not into crowds there are plenty of places on the ship where you can relax and enjoy the quiet. I cruise with my kids all the time because I have a set of rules by which they must abide if they want a future cruise, and one of those rules is no running, ever on a cruise ship, unless you are jogging on the jogging track. Several of the kids who had rooms near us did not follow that rule, and you could hear them running down the hall ways. Running is a normal thing for kids, but it is the one thing that creates a noise loud enough to carry into the other staterooms. The rooms are sound proof enough that your don’t generally hear talking or even laughing, but the running, because it vibrates the whole floor really does carry noticeably into the rooms.
Overall, I feel that Celebrity still has one of the strongest cruise products on the market. With lots of activities, but not an over the top party atmosphere, it creates a nice vacation option for those looking for an affordable luxury experience. The food and service was outstanding. We’ll be back again on the Silhouette for our wine tasting group cruise with Wilhelm Family Vineyards next year, Feb 16th. We are also booked for a trip to Norway on the Celebrity Eclipse for either May or August on next year.