We have taken several cruises with our kids (age 10 and 5) on Disney, Royal Caribbean and Princess. Our last cruise was on the Disney Dream. It was a good cruise but pretty intense given the sheer number of kids and the mania. We wanted a different and more balanced experience so we decided to try Celebrity for Spring Break. I will focus the review on a few areas. I will not be covering embarkation, ports as these have been covered well in past reviews.
The Celebrity Eclipse definitely hit the mark. The ship is beautiful with a variety of places and lounges. We had two connected balcony cabins. There was plenty of space and they were well appointed. We also enjoyed a little more room in the bathrooms. The bedding and linens were also a step-up from past ships. We particularly liked the outdoor spaces -- the sunset bar was great spot in the back of the ship. We thought the Lawn Club might be a little gimicky but found we really enjoyed it. We did enjoy the glass show with the kids. The kids program actually had a special show for them. Celebrity has also made good use of the space by adding evening events -- outdoor jazz with wine/cheese and a star-gazing. The pool scene is pretty standard these type of ships. It feels up by 10:00am with people trying to save seats by flinging towels on chairs. Celebrity did have people monitoring this but should have started it earlier in the morning. We chose to swim early and bail as the crowds hit. There is one kid pool with a depth of 2-4 feet which was good for us. Don't expect any waterparks or slides.
Entertainment and Dining
There was plenty to do from an entertainment standpoint -- we particularly enjoyed the live music (orchestra, string, acapella) options which seemed to be more than other cruise lines. The two broadway shows were pretty standard for this class of ship and cruise line. The singing was a little inconsistent but we enjoyed the shows for what they were. We didn't make the variety shows but did see the Cirque du Soleil like show. People have different expectations for these type of shows. It's not top notch but it was entertaining. Our kids actually liked the show.
The Oceanview Cafe (casual dining) was a good space compared to other ships. It didn't feel overly crowded. The food was pretty standard and served its purpose. The salad bar was pretty good. The ice cream and gelato was a big all afternoon and evening. The lunches seemed better than the breakfasts. We ate in the dining room for breakfast a couple of times and also had their brunch (done once a week) with what seemed like most of the people on the ship. It was pretty popular and a cool experience.
We had great service in the dining room from the waiter, assistant waiter to the sommelier. It's a pretty minimalist room from a design standpont but serves its purpose. The food was good to very good. It compares favorable to other lines but may not be comparable to top land based options. We were still very satisfed with it. We tend to look at cruises from an overall experience. We tried Bistro on 5 one afternoon. The Crepes were delicious and a nice break from the normal fare. We did go to QSine (without the Kids)one night. It's been heavily promoted on the boards and on board. There were some really interested dishes there but we found the service and food inconsistent. It also seemed like the food concept (and gimicky-ness of it) sometimes got in the way of its quality. We would probably try the specialty restaurant on the back of the ship next time. It had a great environment and we heard people talking favorably.
I did want to comment on the Kids program given there hasn't been that much feedback in this area. We registered both our kids in the program. We don't tend to leave them in their for long stretches but for small breaks during the day or after dinner. We were very pleased with the kids program. The counselors were very invested and engaged with our kids. Celebrity does not have the waterparks, surf riders or Mickey Mouse runnning around but there were plenty of activities to keep the kids busy. There were lots of arts/crafts, pirate stuff as well as deck sports time for the younger kids. The older kids had scavenger hunts and a game patterned after Amazing Race. There were also movies and Wii stuff as well. Celebrity also had some activities where the whole family participated -- bingo, talent show and scavenger hunts. We did all three with the kids. Overall -- it was a good experience for the whole family.
We will definitely sell Celebrity again.