We just returned yesterday from an eight night trip on the CELEBRITY ECLIPSE. The ship is touted as a 5.5 star vessel with excellent service and food. Sadly, this was not the case at all. My wife and I are experienced cruisers, having been on more than 20 different ships many times. This is our first negative review.
Check-in and boarding were fine, though we had to find our own way to our cabin with almost no ship people to guide us, and it is a very big ship. Elevator service was bad at the start and got worse as the days went on. The waits were interminable. We took the steps many times rather than wait, but since that is a bit difficult for us at times, we were forced to wait. The system for controlling the elevators seemed to be out of order since the wait time was much more than we have ever experienced on any ship.
Our cabin was fine with a small but adequate balcony, and a cramped, but acceptable bathroom with a shower. There was decent shelf space in the bathroom, and the closet was small but acceptable for a short cruise. It would be difficult to go for longer than eight days with the closets and drawers in the room. The bed was comfortable. The cabin staff was pleasant, and did their work very well.
We went up to the self-service cafeteria for a quick lunch after boarding, and it was mass confusion, poorly arranged, a very poor selection of food, none of the hot foods were really hot. It was a bad start.
We had been told that the food on board was great. It was not. We NEVER had a great meal in the dining room. At best, we can describe all the food as adequate. The descriptions of the food took a lot of poetic license on the part of the menu writer, since nothing ever lived up to the written descriptions which sounded delicious. We wondered if we were on the wrong ship. Not once did we have a meal at the proper warm temperature. The food was frequently cold when it should have been served hot, and the cold soups were often lukewarm as were the "cold" appetizers. Service was erratic to poor. Meals took endless amounts of time with waits up to 20 minutes between courses. We are not demanding people, so I guess we should have spoken up. We did mention this to our head waiter, but nothing improved. Everyone at our table felt the same way. All the meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) taken in the dining room were poor and so disappointing.
We tried the extra charge restaurants twice. The MURANO was very good. It was our only good meal on the entire trip for an extra $40 per person. The TUSCAN Grill, at $30 extra PP was not good and poor service too.
The few times we went to the cafeteria were chaotic, with mediocre food, poor service -- we asked for help once in carrying some food, and were ignored. We were amazed at the same items over and over again. The pizza looked like it had been on the steam table for hours. The only selections that looked good were at tea-time. If you wanted a snack after dinner, the choices were meager and awful. We did try room service a couple of times, and it was worse with a long wait, cold food and a poor selection to choose from.
All in all, we rate the food and food service a D minus!
The ship is good looking, but is designed to sell you things. It's hard to get around during the evening because of all the photographers having set up their backgrounds and cameras throughout the ship. They over-push the photography. All the lounges (or most) are centered on bars where they are pushing rather small sized drinks and high prices. There are very few places on board where they are not trying to sell you something.
In general we found the staff, with the exception of our room attendants, to be cold, aloof and unfriendly.
The final straw for us was disembarkation. As we mentioned, we are experienced cruisers. We have never experienced such a chaotic mess as leaving the ship. There were huge lines; we got stuck in a crowd on the staircase for 15 minutes. Finally we left the ship, had to walk about half mile (not an exaggeration) to a crowded, hectic baggage scene with everyone pushing and shoving in a very confined space. You had to fight to find your luggage with no one available from the ship to help. The customs lines were totally disorganized with lots of pushing and shoving. When we finally got through, it was another half mile to the taxi, car pick-up area. It was truly unbelievable.
We had expected great things from CELEBRITY. This cruise was a major disappointment.