Overall, we thought the shipboard experience was excellent. This was our first time on Eclipse although we had sailed on its sister ship, Equinox two years ago. We love the spaciousness of this class - it seems like there are far fewer people on board than there really are. The activities available and quality/variety of shows seem to be directly related to the number of guests over which to amortize the cost. Since much has already been said about the ship and the Solstice class, here are a few comments particular to the November 17, 2012 sailing:
- We agreed with many onboard that six port days in a row was rather busy, but when the islands are 100-150 nm apart it is understood. We toured and snorkeled with operators ranked at the top in TripAdvisor and CC. However, one could stay onboard and enjoy the many shipboard amenities.
- Even though departure was Saturday with eight ships and over 22,000 people boarding after 22,000 had already disembarked traffic was not too bad and the boarding process was outstanding. On board in less than 30 minutes (11:15 to 11:45). Ate in Bistro on Five which provided a nice respite from the usual mix of rollaboards and people waiting for cabins to be available at 1:30.
- Sailaway was scheduled for 4:30, but we still were firmly attached to pier as the Eurodam and a Princess ship squeezed by us. The captain announced the we would be delayed until 6:30 due to provisioning. Not sure if it had anything to do with the installation of a new Ku-band satellite system.
- Host Andy hosted the Cruise Critic gathering in the Sky Lounge. It was really great to meet face-to-face all the wonderful people who had been posting for a year. All the senior officers including the master, staff captain, hotel director, cruise director were present and spent time talking with the members. The captain pulled the numbers for the many CC goodies that Andy brought with him.
- At the Captains Club gathering, the communications officer said that they had finished syncing the new satellite system and bandwidth had increased almost ten-fold.
- Arrival in St. Thomas was delayed as the harbormaster had scheduled us to berth at a dock that couldn't support our draft. So at the last minute tendering was laid on. Needless to say, it was not ideal but better than missing the port. OK, it was St. Thomas so maybe a sea day would have been better than shopping. (My opinion, not wife's.)
- Food is always subjective, but we believe the best perk in Aqua class is eating in Blu. We thought the food was excellent and quickly settled on Rosebud as our favorite waiter. Never went wrong following his suggestions.
- Cabin (1560) was a standard AQ with a large overhang which was welcomed on hot sunny days in port and at sea. Absolutely no noise. Brian Fernandez was an excellent steward who kept the cabin immaculate and always raced ahead to get our door open.
- This was the last cruise for the current production cast and their replacements were onboard polishing their routines. The production shows will remain the same and at a cost in the millions and large set designs, I can see why.
- Review of the visiting performers is subjective, like the food, but we thought most were very good, e.g., Mark Preston (singer and former Letterman) and Gary Arbuthnot (Scottish flutist) while two were mediocre at best.
- Cruise Director (Jason Ward) was visible throughout the ship and at the gangway on many port days. The Hotel Director (Julian Brackenbury) was equally visible and accessible walking around the ship daily and participating in many of the Celebrity Life events.
- Disembarkation. We had an 8:10 slot and left the ship at 8:20. Lengthy wall to luggage and customs. Very few porters to assist, but they were still unloading luggage. Took a taxi to the airport rental car area and were driving home by 9:15.
Master: Dimitrios Manetas (Greece)
Staff Captain: Pierre Caruana (Malta)
Chief Engineer: Evangelis Saliaris (Greece)
Hotel Director: Julian Brackenbury (UK)
Cruise Director: Jason Ward (UK)
F & B Manager: Simon Coley (UK)
GRM: Cameron Robertson (UK)
Exec Chef: Lee Goble (UK) First voyage with Celebrity
Corporate Exec Chef was also on board.