Celebrity Eclipse -Transatlantic 21st April 2012, Miami to Southampton 13 nights
My wife & I had a wonderful time on this cruise. We are 38 & 33 years of age & this was our first TA & first cruise with Celebrity. We have cruised 7 times before on other lines & on a mix of ships, mostly large ones including the biggest of them all, RCI's Allure of the Seas.
We knew beforehand that our ages would be fairly young on this cruise but we chose this cruise for the ship, the itinerary & the dates. We had big expectations & most were met or exceeded.
We spent the night before the cruise at the Albion Hotel in South Beach Miami. We love South Beach & this was a great central recently renovated hotel at a decent price.
Embarkation day was a bit wet & unfortunately this sort of weather stayed with us for most of the cruise. We breezed onto the ship in Miami very quickly around 12.45pm ish & were pleasantly surprised that our room was already ready to check into. First impressions of the ship were great. Lovely high ceilings in many of the public areas, great modern decor, nice artworks, etc. The ship is huge & that is one of the reasons we chose this cruise. We love the big ships & the extra facilities/venues they offer. Our cabin was a 1A on the hump which meant we had one of the largest balconies. It was a pity we could not use it as much as we would have liked due to the poor weather. The cabin itself was very nice with a very comfy bed & plenty of storage space throughout including the bathroom. The layout/style of the cabin was very similar to what we had seen before on the Allure.
I will break up the rest of this review in good points & bad points, mostly good:
- The layout of the ship. It was very easy to get from one end of the ship to the other across most decks. There were many beautiful rooms, bars, lounges, atrium, etc.
- The high ceilings in some of the lift areas, shopping area & lounges, especially the Sky lounge was really impressive & gave the ship an even larger feel.
- The crew. The bartenders, especially the ones at the Martini Bar & Molecular bar not only knew their jobs well but they did it with a smile & were a lot of fun. Our room steward was also great. My wife especially loved the towel animals he would create for her each night. At one stage we hadn't actually crossed paths for two days & he called me to check if everything was ok & up to standard. I thought this was a nice professional touch. We had select dining which really suits our style of cruising however we did mostly get a table that featured our favourite group of waiters. They were very funny, did their job well & the Sommelier was the best I have ever come across on land or sea. In fact all of the MDR staff we dealt with were great.
- The food overall was fantastic. We ate at Qsine twice & this is an experience not to be missed. We also had a dinner at the Tuscan Grill & a lunch at Murano's, both were also great. The MDR was a beautiful room & the food was great especially when you consider how many people they are cooking for!
-The Hot Glass Blowing show proved to be a real treat. We saw two shows, one at night, & it really was something different to experience at sea.
-The ports visited were all quite interesting. In the Azores we hired a private taxi to give us a tour around to most of the landmarks. It was a very scenic place & food & souvenirs were fairly good & cheap. Our second stop was meant to be Cobh Ireland but this was cancelled due to rough seas so the ship sailed for La Coruna in Spain instead. We did a ships tour to the Holy city of Santiago da Compastella & this was a wonderful old town full of grand old churches & buildings, etc. The last Port was Le Havre in France & once again we really enjoyed the ships tour which took us to Honfluer & Dauville.
-The Premium Alcohol package. Our cruise involved a lot of sea days so we knew it would make sense to purchase the package. We figured we got our moneys worth by about the 10th day so the last 3 days were gratis from Celebrity. The really good thing about the package is the ability to order more expensive drinks that you may not normally order, & you never have to sign for anything. We also used it many times each day to order nice coffees & bottles of sparkling water, etc.
- The guest entertainers were very good, especially the comedian & four guys singing various harmony's throughout the ship. The house band in the lounges- Da revalation were also great.
-The artworks, especially the photographs scattered throughout the ship.
-The buffet was very good. Large selection of food for all tastes & never any long lines.
-The library was a beautifully designed space looking over the ships atrium filled with natural daylight.
-The Weather. Obviously this is out of anyone's control, but the many times it did rain meant it did limit the amount of time we could spend out on deck especially on the first few days. Some of the ships lounges were closed a couple of times due to minor flooding from the sideways rain coming in through the doors or faulty drains. A large shade sail up on the top level was also ripped by the winds towards the end of the cruise which meant most of the grass area & glass blowing areas were closed off for safety reasons.
-The ships Theatre/show productions. Maybe we have been spoilt by some of the amazing shows we have seen on other ships but we were a little disappointed on this cruise. I think the main production cast put on about 3 or 4 productions throughout the cruise & if you had not cruised before or visited a theatre much you would have thought they were fantastic but we just thought they were ok. First of all I hated the ugly painted ceiling in the theatre. It is a lovely large venue but the ceiling looks really cheap & ugly compared to the rest of the ship. Getting back to the show productions, it is fair to say that the dancers could dance well & the singers could sing well, but the shows just lacked the little bit of extra oomph & excitement, & after a couple of songs it just started to look a little boring and repetitive. Each show seemed to have the same fixed set/background throughout the show. There were no set changes throughout the shows, only costume changes & the two female singers & one of the male singers were sometimes wearing odd costumes which really didn't do much for their body shape, & I really think this visually detracted from their great voices.
-The Ships Captain & Cruise Director. In 13 nights on board I only came across the captain once. Maybe this was just a case of bad timing & I do also realise he would have been busy with the bad weather we were having. However on all previous cruises I have seen the captain spend much more time walking around the ship & engaging with the guests. Even on one of the formal nights he only spent a very short, limited amount of time meeting & taking photos with guests. As for the Cruise Director, she was great as an MC at all of the main events held throughout the ship, but once again you just did not really see her around the ship in general. I never really saw her spend any great amount of time mingling with us cruisers. She just came across as a bit cold away from the microphone & her activity staff were far more active around the ship than she was!
-The elevators. A ship of this size could have done with at least a couple more elevators. At peak times of the day we often found ourselves waiting for a second lift to arrive as the first one was already full. However we were never in a rush so it was no great drama.
-We celebrated our wedding anniversary while on board & prior to the cruise I had organised a cake to be delivered to our room on the specified date as a surprise to my wife. Well it never arrived, the person I dealt with at Guest Relations was very understanding about the matter & promptly refunded the cost, however it would have been nice & professional to receive a further sorry or small gift from the relevant department that failed to deliver it.
Disembarkation was also very quick & easy. We just walked off with our own bags around 7.30am. We then caught a taxi to our nearby hotel opposite the docks -- Ibis Southampton. Clean, cheap & efficient hotel only a few minutes walk from the central shopping area.
Overall, we did have a fabulous time & we loved the ship & crew & yes we would sail again on this beautiful ship.