We are Elite members with Celebrity in our fifties and retired so suffice it to say we feel this cruise line is the best match for our interests and demographic. But this cruise left us wondering if perhaps Celebrity missed the mark.
This was our first T/A, and we had high expectations given we had also not been on an S-class ship before. Yes, she is beautiful ship but we never got that feeling that she was "ours" for the 13 days. We didn't care for the flow of the ship, especially around the elevators which we had to wait for many minutes no matter when we used them. Why a large ship would only have 2 elevator areas was poor planning. The flow was also a factor on all the upper decks. We really like to be able to go to the buffet on the same deck as the pools as on the M-class ships. Having to go up a deck was a pain. The Aqua Spa cafe is great but it is very poorly placed. There is little room for people to eat and there are constantly people trying to get through that area on the way to the spa -- again poor planning. We gave up eating there. Instead we went to the Bistro on Five which we loved -- great food, lots of space, quiet and lovely views so it was well worth the $5 upcharge to us. Be sure to go on embarkation day -- a real sanctuary away from the masses at the buffet.
Stateroom and its Perks -- As many have said, the staterooms are fabulous. The bathroom is roomy with plenty of storage space -- really lovely. We upgraded to an Aqua Spa room for very little, but would not do that again for many reasons. Yes, the shower head is nice but after all it is just a showerhead. Yes the towels and robes are better, and you get 2 bottles of water daily. But the drawback for us was the placement of these spa rooms. They are right under the pool deck so we had furniture being dragged overhead that started at 7AM every morning and high heels late at night. An easy fix would be to switch deck 11 and 12 but no one has done that yet. We were looking forward to dining in Blu, but that turned out to be a huge disappointment. The atmosphere is lovely and the assistant matre d' does a fine job. But the food choices are very odd. Many times, the 4 of us found nothing we wanted on the menu. So we succumb to going to the 4 Specialty restaurants, which were absolutely amazing, but added more than $100 to each account. Breakfast in Blu was wonderful. We also went to the main dining room 3 times to avoid going to Blu and had a good meal, although the service was mediocre -- maybe because we hadn't made a connection with a waiter. It was also very loud and crowded in the MDR on the lower level. We were also looking forward to using the spa without a fee, but that proved to be much more easily said than done. Because the weather was poor, the outdoor decks were almost empty and everyone came inside. The spa was packed every day. Some who had bought the spa package were understandably angry that they could never get one of the amazing heated chairs; 9 for 3000 passengers are not enough. The spa staff didn't enforce the quiet zone in the spa and some staff members even came in to talk to clients, ruining the spa experience. It was certainly not a reason to get a Spa stateroom again for us. The stateroom has little drawer space and so I had to climb up onto the bed to get golf shirts etc from the large space above the bed. I can't imagine older passengers doing that. It would have been simple to have the closet like the M-class closets that work -- half hanging and half bank of drawers. The balcony was large with chaise loungers but we never got a chance to use them because it was too cold or windy or raining with spray from large waves that kept the chairs soaked. Staterooms -- 4, because of the lack of drawers as well as noise from above.
Public Areas -- Again, a series of hits and misses. We are dancers and there is a great dance floor upstairs on Deck 14 but was almost never used. Instead the live entertainment was shoved into the space at the bottom of the grand staircase where pillars caused dancing to be difficult and where people continually walked through to get to guest relations. People who came down the staircase walked into folks dancing; just a plain bad decision. Then there was the glass blowing which was awesome as were the glass blower guys. It was too bad the weather was bad. We froze up there trying to enjoy it. The lawn area is nice I guess, and we did play bocce ball once but again with bad weather this entire deck was lost space. The flow on this deck is poor as well, going upstairs and down to get to elevators. The pool area is beautiful and on a hot day (we didn't get any) it would have been great. The theatre is a wonderful space and I was so glad to see the tables gone and replaced by clever cup holders so you can actually walk down the aisle. The ceiling is horribly painted and again is such an easy fix. The Internet Cafe was so crowded one often had to wait 30 minutes to get a computer. Yet, the space called "Earth" was never used and could have housed a second Internet area. You would have thought that Celebrity would have realized years ago the need for much larger Internet space. The Spa Relaxation room under it is a very nice area which we used every day. I was glad many guests didn't find it. The gym was very crowded and wait time for machines was up to 30 minutes. Perhaps that was also because of the weather. The martini bar was a big hit and you must go just to see the bartender do his multi pour tricks. Public Areas -- a 3, because the beauty and variety was there but the functionality was missing.
Entertainment: So we all know Celebrity isn't NCL and expect less than stellar Entertainment. I felt badly for the ship's singers and dancers who were very good -- better than almost all other troupes we've come across but the material they had to perform was cheesy, old, an uninspiring. We are booked on 3 more cruises this year so we simply won't bother going to the theatre for them. The comedian was awesome but all the rest very ho hum. The Brits seemed to like the singer but she was self-serving and relied more on song choice than her actual talent. The ventriloquist -- what can I say -- a ventriloquist on a cruise ship -- definitely a miss. We were not wowed once. Even the "strength act" was just OK, yet the two were very talented. It was the material they were given that was of poor quality. Of the 13 days, only the comedian was worth going to.
Elite Member: This was our first cruise as Elite members and we were very glad we had worked hard at becoming "Elites." The perks were fabulous! We really appreciated the free Internet minutes and used all. We were able to take smaller luggage with us knowing that laundry would be done for free. Priority embarkation and disembarkation at ports was super and did make a difference especially in Le Havre when we got off the ship within 5 minutes of its being cleared allowing us to have a 12 hour private tour of the D Day beaches. The free cocktail hours from 5 -- 7 was wonderful. The staff worked very hard at making sure drinks flowed non-stop and the serving of appetizers never stopped. It was a highlight of the cruise for us. The only poor part was the Captain's Club hostess was overwhelmed by the number of Elite members and she coped very poorly. She never knew anyone's names. Yes there were lots of us but she did have almost 2 weeks. The line up to get into the Cocktail Party was very long and unnecessary. All they had to do was open the far doors and have 2 lines -- such a simple fix. With over 700 CC Elite members why there was no live entertainment there was odd -- to me it was an obvious choice. Elite Member Status -- a big 5.
Cruise Director/Passengers: Is it the cruise director who decides where things are located? If so, she missed the mark. She was never visible except at the shows. Why did she feel she had to reread and retell the exact same information as was in the Daily bulletin on the announcements? Yes the captain's part was somewhat interesting, but it sounded as if she just needed to appear useful. Her staff was marvelous especially Maria who could get chilled, wind-blown passengers to participate. The game shows were good, but the British fellow running them was very condescending. The mix of passengers on the ship was one we will try to avoid. It was just too formal and "entitiled" for us. There were several people who wouldn't move to the back of the elevator. Even after the excuse me they wouldn't move and with a little nudge and gentle push they got indignant. Was it the T/A cruise phenomenon, was it the arriving at Southampton part? We couldn't figure that out and may do another T/A that ends in Miami just to try it again although a T/A will certainly not be high on our cruise list. This aspect was a low 3. (Sorry Maria -- you were awesome!)
Ports: One reason we chose this cruise was going to Ireland -- so this was a real let down. Then to replace Ireland with the sad city of Coruna, Spain on a holiday with protesters parading down the main street -- well -- bad choice. BTW The Azores are beautiful and we would go back there. Le Havre -- horrible place -- make sure you plan not to tour around it. Honfleur, Deauville, Arromanches -- anything but Le Havre. We got to the Canadian and British beaches and cemetaries so that was fantastic and for that reason alone we give the Ports a 4.
Embarkation/Disembarkation: Celebrity seems to have perfected these processes and again this proved to be the case. Both were so smooth. In fact, we had a transfer bus arranged for us in Southampton. Allowing for customs, lines, etc, it was to arrive for an 8AM pick up. Then a couple of days before Southampton, Immigration had passengers come to get their passports stamped on board but never explained what that would mean at the pier. What it meant was unbeknownst to any passenger, we were simply able to walk off -- no stopping -- no checks nothing. So we had to wait outside for almost an hour because we were that early. Again, it was such an easy fix to just communicate with passengers what disembarkation would look like and we could have easily called the bus company for an earlier pick up. So what should have been a hit turned into a miss. Too bad, but I guess we should still give this one a 5.
Food: We didn't have a bad meal and the experiences at QSine and the Tuscan Grill were wonderful and delicious. We asked for a cheese plate with crackers to be brought to our stateroom daily at 4:30 and got 4 tiny slices of cheddar and 2 packages of soda biscuits -- memorable but for the wrong reasons. The dessert menu features far too many cheap ice cream choices that you can get upstairs anyway and the other miss was salads. Other than the Specialty restaurants, including the wonderful Bistro on Five, we didn't have a memorable meal ever but everything was good. I guess that means a 4.
It was a cruise of hits and misses that we won't be promoting to others. But the Eclipse is a lovely ship that we may go on again. We seem to prefer the M class ships and cruises that are more port intensive with a friendlier passenger mix. We were sure the brand new Eclipse and S class ship would surpass our expectations but the Constellation still ranks first with us. We are looking forward to our 2 weeks on the refurbished Summit in November.