My wife and I chose the Celebrity Eclipse after having sailed on most other lines, including Carnival (frat party), Princess (nice party) , HAL (old party), NCL (bad party), and RCL (big party). Celebrity is now our favorite! We booked the Aqua class for just a few dollars more than a standard balcony. We are glad that we did!! Previous reviewers raved about the Aqua class and the Blu restaurant which we thought was just some marketing hype but we were wrong! Aqua class is simply designed for cruisers who want a more personalized approach without the feeling of a cattle drive seen on most mega ships.
Embarkation was quick and easy as we arrived at the terminal at 11:15 and were aboard within 15 minutes. We went to the Oceanview Cafe buffet until our rooms were ready and that is where we first experienced the pleasant, ever smiling employees doing their best to please us and the rest of the horse stampede. Because of the island buffet setup, it never felt crowded and seats were easily available without having to play musical chairs or fend off the seat vultures who lurk in ship buffet areas. The food was fairly good quality with enough variation to satisfy Henry the VIII. Of course, the ship "encourages" drink purchases but the drinks were most enjoyable sitting in the outside porch area while awaiting our sail from port.
Our room in Aqua class on Deck 11 was near the Aqua Spa and fairly quiet, well-designed and comfortable. Our room steward, Luis, was very polite and accomodating. The balcony was roomy with nice furniture. Bathrooms were great. The true miracle is a shower that you can actually move your arms enough to reach the more sensitive areas. In fact, the shower was at times felt even less crowded than some of the ship's pools!!! The beds were very comfortable but we never saw the advertised pillow menu, aroma menu or other special menus that enhance or confuse? the Aqua class. But we did see the Blu restaurant menu.
We thought the Blu restaurant was some marketing gimmick but instead we were pleasantly surprised to receive personalized service from all the staff there. The MaitreDs, Erkhan and Jorge do everything possible to provide a setting reminiscent of fine restaurants in a casual setting. This is the true essence of Aqua service providing an enclave away form the maddening crowd. The food was excellent and slightly healthier than the MDR but by no means qualifying for Weight Watchers. Besides if you lose weight on a cruise then you are on a bad ship!!! We went to the MDR once just to try it out. The food was good but the service was not on the same level as Blu. Tough to individualize service to 3000 people every night all wanting 8 servings of lobster and filet mignon. We ate at Qsine which is a funky tapas restaurant which was interesting but the strobe light shrimp cocktail set off my migraines. It is interesting to do once but get the Kobe beef sliders first as that was the best dish.
The shows were ok with a featured singer one night from London's West End, comedians and the ship's cast of 4 singers and 8 dancers. We were a little turned off by the overproduced costumes straight out of Star Trek and circus trapeze artists as gimmicks with limited talent but most people seemed to enjoy the entertainment. Personally, we were more entertained by the Karaoke contests in the sky lounge which made me thankful for my hearing loss.
The ship is beautiful and well laid out. The biggest problem is the small central pools with a kiddie pool packed like midtown Manhattan and slightly less dense Adult pool (think Tokyo). The indoor adult pool was rarely crowded but on warm sea days felt like a sauna. Celebrity should think about providing some sliding windows for ventilation or else some soap for bathing. It is a beautiful area and should be put to better use. The lawn club on the top deck was interesting but rarely used by most and I felt like they wanted us to keep off the grass anyway. My dog would have loved it. My wife loved the hot glass show and was able to win a prize glass vase. Better that than the expensive Bulgari jewelry in the ship shops. Yes, we shop at Costco!
Activities were plentiful without being intrusive for a relaxing vacation. The crew interacted well with the guests and everyone seemed to have a good time. Unfortunately, as with all ships, chair hogs tend to be discourteous in trying to reserve chairs with towels alone for 2 hours or more. There needs to be a better policing policy. Even better, maybe all of should just be more respectful of others. Workout areas in the fitness center were nice although sometimes crowded. Timed limits on treadmills ensured everyone a chance. However, the running track amongst the beach chairs on Deck 14 constitutes more of a Navy SEALS obstacle course than a practical exercise area.
The ports were San Juan, St. Martin, and St. Kitts. Other than the beautiful beaches on St. Martin, not much to write home about. But remember, you should choose this cruise for the ship and not so much the destinations.
Disembarkation was easy and well organized. No problem there.
Overall, this was a great cruise and Celebrity has become our favorite line. We will definitely book our next trip with them. This cruise is primarily for couples without children as I think there were less facilities for kids versus other lines. Aqua class caters to groups wanting a little extra without the sky high prices of the luxury cruise lines. Thank you Celebrity for spoiling us.