We started our cruise adventure by driving to Miami from Charleston,SC. We stayed at the Miami Hilton overlooking Biscayne Bay and the port. Due to extensive Hilton travel, we were upgraded to a two room suite with floor to ceiling windows in the living/dining room area and in the bedroom. Wonderful views of the ships coming into and leaving port.
This was our first cruise on Celebrity and first time in a smaller balcony cabin. On Carnival, NCL and Holland America we have had suite cabins. Our Eclipse 9296 Concierge was a bit small inside but the balcony (triple size the regular balconies) made this worth it.
We arrived at the port and parked at 10:45am. After check-in a brief wait and onboard at 11:15am. As recommended we visited the Bistro on 5 for lunch and were not disappointed. My husband's Beef Panini was fabulous and I loved my Spicy Crepe. We enjoyed so much that we visited again on the last sea day.
We purchased the much discussed Beverage Packaged (classic one)and made good use of it. Bottled water to take off in port, 2-3 espresso/latte's per day, small martinis (yes they make under $10 ones for those concerned), wines with dinner and my husband's Jim Beam were all enjoyed!
Our room steward ranged from efficient to lax. I had to call twice for towels for the beach and some other issues required follow-up. I didn't find his "concierge" level treatment worth the extra gratuity paid for this level. He was never rude...just robotic.
As discussed in other reviews, space for storage can be challenging as the drawer sizes are more for "hobbits" than humans. With only 2 of us, we managed to fill up the closet and spaces available. I thank some of the Cruise Critic posters who suggested taking folding cloth drawers with handles (from Amazon) for the over the bed hard to reach space. This was great advice.
Our dining room table (#435 for 8) had the best waiter (Gokhan), assistant team we've had in years and the wine steward was excellent. The latter stopped by as we perused the menus and asked what we planned to eat and suggested the wines appropriate for the entree and our package. The waiter explained each item with a smile, his assistant was friendly and efficient. We found ourselves looking forward to each night for the service and our new table friends.
We went to the Tuscan Grill on the night we were docked in San Juan. What a fabulous view including sunset! The food was delicious and portions huge. We especially enjoyed the Veal Chop parmesan and the Filet. Service from the Manager Vlaho and the team of Julius, Paola and Maco was not only efficient but so welcoming. We really enjoyed and wished we had a longer cruise to return again.
Our favorite bar for music and conversation was the Ensemble Lounge. Comfortable couches and chairs, good service and great music. The String Trio were wonderful. We also enjoyed the Martini Bar for people watching and lots of action from the entertaining bartenders. The Cellar Masters was dark and intimate which I loved. With the Beverage package we enjoyed Prosecco before dinner and they also had mixed drinks.
The only negative was the clueless mother who decided to play "tag you're it" with her 4 children running in circles around the Cellar Masters until receiving some dirty looks from me and others. You have an entire ship to play with them but you do that in a lovely wine bar. This was in the evening around 7pm by the way.
The Sky Observation Lounge was lovely but underused for dancing and live entertainment. On the first formal night, the DJ played Ballroom and music for slow dancing which was lovely. Only 6 couples were there. It was buried on the page with so many other things I wonder if it wasn't seen by many.
The ship directors preferred to crowd everything into the main atrium/lobby area so passengers either couldn't see or hung over the balconies surrounding the area. We didn't bother staying for those.
The Lawn Club port side allowed Cigars so after St. Thomas visit, we sat there with shoes off, drinks in hand from the Sunset Bar and enjoyed the fabulous view from Deck 15. My husband is a once a week smoker so this was a nice treat. I found the service at the Sunset Bar to be disinterested and sometimes surly. What a change from the Ensemble Lounge and Cellar Masters where the service was top notch. They seemed truly interested in providing great and friendly service.
The ports were ones we visited multiple times: San Juan weather was iffy so we stayed on the ship and enjoyed. St. Thomas we visited Morningstar Beach which was close. Not good service here. St. Martin was the best. We visited Orient Beach and tried the recommended Orange Fever for chairs and lunch. Umbrella, 2 chairs and 2 drinks for $14. We also had chair side lunch - delicious grouper sandwiches and fries. Excellent time had by all!
We love the end of ports and 2 days at sea. The ship is like a beautiful resort so we enjoyed our balcony, lunches at our leisure and didn't attend one show all week. Just not of interest to us anymore.
We love cruising for the water views and chance to see flying fish (lots to be seen) and sea birds we won't see at home (Masked Booby spent 2 hours following our side of the ship and diving for fish).
We would definitely cruise Celebrity and the Eclipse again!