We started our month long vacation from Virginia on December 19, 2012. We drove to Florida and spend a week at a time share resort with family in Orlando, FL. We drove to Fort Lauderdale the day before sailing and stayed at a Holiday Inn hotel that provided 14 nights of parking free. We took the shuttle to the ship and boarded the fastest we have ever been able to board. Since we had already sailed on Solstice and Silhouette we were able to recognize most of the ships venues immediately. This was a bump out veranda and was located mid ship which we prefer. The two weeks flew by and was over all too soon. Thank goodness we had booked a 7 day cruise on the new sister ship Reflection that was leaving Miami just hours after the Eclipse cruise was over in Fort Lauderdale.
I must say that the reviews that been posted by Eclipse guests are NOT indicative of the cruise experience we had. Compared to the other 29 cruises we have taken Eclipse food, crew, entertainment was as good as and in some ways better than any other ship. It was so good that we decided to book the same ship for the same islands for the 2013 New Years 14 day sailing. We would NOT do this unless we were happy with the overall 2 weeks we sailed this time. Was the cruise perfect?? NO! Did the crew listen to any concerns with food or excursions and do whatever they could to address our concerns in a timely manner and with genuine effort? YES!
A small example would be the fact that trying to book the horseback ride at the excursion desk they indicated that the Aruba company offering this excursion had an age limit of 65. They could have just told us they could NOT help us. Instead, the excursion manager was called in and seeing that we are very fit at 66 and 69 and have ridden horses all our lives he took it upon himself to contact the company by email to discuss getting a waiver. A day later we were informed the waiver had been approved. After the ride we went back to the excursion desk and the young women who helped us had also gone horseback riding on a previous cruise and had ridden the same horse my wife rode.
Our wait staff in the MDR also made sure to ask if we had any special requests. We like to use olive oil instead of butter on our bread and the olive oil was at our table every night after that. We I made a point about how good the goat cheese cigar tasted I found 3 goat cheese cigars on my plate the following night even though it was NOT on the menu. Why do I point out all the things that the crew did for us?? Because it was obvious they DID care and DID want to make our cruise experience as good as possible. When the cruise critic organizer had to cancel this cruise I wound up becoming the MC because I had co organized the gift exchange. The names tags my co organizer prepared had the country flag of each person at the cruise critic Connections party. Even the senior staff officer Patti who was the cruise director commented on never seeing better name tags at a cruise critic meeting. I implored all cruise critic guests at the party to seek out ALL crew during the cruise and if they saw them without a smile they were to give them one of theirs.
I will be active on next years boards with hints on things to do to have a wonderful two week vacation. Some of the highlights for us included the wonderful holiday decorations the crew had worked hard to put up. The 2 hour glass show at night was wonderful and did not seem near that long. Yes the seats are NOT cushioned so you want to drag a beach towel from your room to make a cushion! Yes the ships today are trying to squeeze every dime by offering things that used to be included at an additional charge. We spent the extra money for Tuscan and Murano and felt it was worth every dollar. Murano was requested to make a dish NOT on the menu (Steak Diane flambe at the table). This was for our 41st anniversary. It was over the top good. As good or better than any Washington DC restaurant that charges double the price. By being the fill in MC for cruise critic we wound up getting invited to the Penthouse Suite for the 40th anniversary party of one or British cruise critic couples. This was another over the top experience during this two weeks. The cabin storage space seems to be an issue that we get around by requesting 2 dozen wire coat hangers so we can hang up as much as possible. I also turned one of our suitcases into an extra wardrobe drawer under the bed. We learned to utilize the overhead bins for things we did NOT use every day and to use the easy access drawers for our everyday items. I hope this review balances out some of the reviews where everything seemed to be going wrong. Terry