Having previously cruised on the Eclipse we decided to go on her again to celebrate our 30th Wedding Anniversary.
We have previously stayed in the Sky Suites, normal balcony and decided to do Aqua Class this time for a change as it included the Blu Restaurant.
On arrival at Southampton, check in was painless and being Aqua Class we had VIP treatment and therefore didn't have to wait in the long check in lines and we were on the ship in 20 mins. We did have one initial inkling that something wasn't quite right when at the Port they were pushing the speciality dining restaurants and offering them at 50% off - on previous cruises you weren't able to get into the restaurants and had to book at least three days in advance....
Once on board we headed straight for the Bistro on Five, a lovely lunch although it was a little annoying to be brought the wrong meal three times........but we went with the flow we were on holiday.
An announcement was made at 1pm that Cabins were ready, we proceeded to our cabin which was 1506, fabulous location, just a little way back from the relaxation room, from the balcony we could see straight into the bridge, and often throughout the voyage, the Captain would give us a wave. This did not distract from the view, although I wouldn't want to be any nearer and I think our neighbours in 1504 maybe would have been a little close.
The Cabin was clean, the same as the normal balcony cabins, but with added extras such as a speciality shower, with added body jets - quite cool. There was also water and iced tea. Although we did question the iced tea as we were informed that this was complimentary, yet it had a little card on the tray saying that if we drank this $4.95 would be automatically charged to our account. We did ring the purser office who told us to ignore the notice, but if that was the case why put it on the tray!!!!
Unfortunately we didn't get any fizz in the room, but being on the Premium Drink package this didn't really bother us, but we mentioned it and it eventually appeared.
We ate in Blu which Jorge (Maitre D) was fabulous and ran a tight ship.......the only problem being the Sommelier. There were two in Blu and unfortunately we had the gentleman who seemed way more interested in the European passengers who ordered wines by the bottle rather than ourselves on the package. When we sat in the lady's side, she was amazing and helped hubby pair his meal with various wines - so we found this a little offputting and one night the gentleman sommelier completely forgot to come to us at all.....I think this is something Celebrity has to address as they are pushing the drinks packages, but it is something that obviously some of the sommeliers don't like. We never found it to be a problem at any of the bars only in the restaurants.
The drinks package for us was ideal, no signing of bills, we could have fizzy water, speciality coffees, anything basically it was so easy and definitely worth the money, I don't drink but I do like fizzy water and this can be expensive on the ships.
The menu in Blu is limited, and although billed as healthy options, they tasted fabulous........there wasn't the same choice as the main dining room, which I sometimes struggled with and had pasta nearly every night, but if there was something you really wanted they would do their best to get it for you.
Ports of Call
they were all really good and we did the ship excursions as found them to be reasonable in choice and price
Again we did the ships excursions, Grand St Petersburg and a walking tour the next day to the Church of spilled blood.
The first tour was fabulous we had a knowledgeable guide the second day the tour was dismal. We spent 45 mins in a shop, we didn't do anything it said on the itinerary and then only 30 mins in the church - then another 30 mins at a dodgy street market notorious for pickpockets, it was supposed to be a 3 hour tour - when we go back on ship we immediately complained as it was really poor. The girl at the Excursion Desk didn't seem to want to note the problem but eventually said somebody would contact us - 5 days later we returned to the desk to be told that they though we were giving them feedback!!!! really - Eventually we and a lot of the other people on the excursion got a refund - but their customer service is shocking.....they want your money for the tours but that's as far as it goes........which is a shame,
Some neighbours used a company called SDP in Russia and had a fabulous two day excursion at a fraction of the cost - I would definitely use this option in future.
Overall we had a fabulous holiday there were lots of niggling issues with the Cabin Attendant, the air conditioning, little things which we noticed have changed since we were last on Eclipse - year ago - and maybe this is due to the financial restrictions that we are all facing - but good customer service is essential and this is something which ~Eclipse cannot afford to let slip.
Just a quick mention that Mike Gibbons (Cruise Director) and Maria Kelly (Activity Manager) - and Nigel - entertainment staff - were amazing - we heard Mike sing on the last night and he was unbelievable.......
These three people are an absolute credit to Celebrity....they worked extremely hard and were truly really nice people
We would go on Eclipse again, she is a wow ship and there is so much to do, but please Celebrity keep standards up don't let them slip any more.......