We sailed on the March 9th sailing of the Celebrity Eclipse. I'd rate the ship and staff as excellent. However, the cruise was quite eventful. So, we have the rare opportunity of rating the Medical staff.
On March 7th, we took Southwest Airlines nonstop from Denver to FLL. We were running about 18 hours ahead of an incoming snow storm. The storm arrived on March 8th. By then, we were checked into the Hyatt Place at Dania Beach. That hotel is just off of Stirling Road. We found the rooms, staff and breakfast at the Hyatt Place to be close to four star. We had used Priceline and booked the hotel for $100.00 each for two nights. That turned into quite a bargain. We would easily stay there again.
The morning of March 8th was clear and sunny. The entire day remained perfect. We took the Carrie B tourist boat on its home and Harbor tour. We then caught the water taxi for transport to the wonderful Dockside Cafe (15th Street Fisheries). If you can get a table on the patio, it's a perfect place to eat and have a drink or two while watching the pleasure craft go by. We later met other CC members at Duffy's. Duffy's was very loud. It was necessary to yell to be heard. But, it was time well spent.
EMBARKATION: The boarding process was flawless. But, I wish they would do a better job advising guests that the ships photographers are preparing to take the usual embarkation pictures before you enter the waiting room. It's hard to look "non-rushed" under boarding conditions. Typically, we look like deer in the headlights. It's like taking someone's photo just after they come out of the TSA inspection at the airport. Personally, I wish they'd take voluntary boarding pictures on board the ship.
We almost missed the welcoming champagne as it was just opposite the mid-ship elevators. Champagne is always good, free champagne is even better. We headed up to the Mast Grill for hamburgers. The next stop was the bar at the back of the lawn club. Colin served up wine and soda expertly. We waited there until our room was ready.
ROOM 7127 is the tenth veranda room aft from the front bulkhead on the port side. It's two decks above the "CL" in Eclipse. We found the room to be clean and very comfortable. Haroldo and Everett kept our room up perfectly throughout the cruise. Everett was the assistant cabin attendant on the Connie in 2012. We took care of them well during the cruise. Cabin 7127 has an unobstructed view out. However, the view forward and down is partially obstructed by an overhang. To a photographer, it's a big deal. The ride at the front of the ship seemed smooth. The cabin was very quiet as compared to the cabin on the Constellation. No creaking or squeaking. I actually missed that. The safe was very big. We had an IPAD, three cell phones and two cameras in the safe. Storage in the bathroom was generous. Storage in the cabin was quite adequate. We had a berth and roll out bed available if we had brought kids.
FOOD is always of interest. We had Select Dining and frequently showed up around 5:30 PM. We always asked for table 556. Eduardo and Augustus serviced that table. Daisy was the wine Steward and expert Sommelier. All three provided perfect service. On the last day, we added a little extra to the mandatory tips for select dining. We saw our three servers all over the ship performing different roles depending on the time of day. We dined at the Tuscan Grill three times. It was fabulous each time. But, the servings are massive. Try the beef ravioli appetizer... yummy!!! The Tuscan Grill Sommelier and wait staff were every bit as good as that on the Constellation.
Hamburgers at the MAST GRILL were always very good. Finally, we found the buffet to offer a large variety of selections. Some of the ethnic foods were well worth trying. The buffet had a Moroccan lamb stew. It was one of the most memorable meals that I had on the ship. Well, I had filet Mignon so many times that I became jaded...smile.
Our only disappointment was the area around the Gelato stand, Coffee bar and smaller specialty restaurants. The people on the Connie were very outgoing. Especially a vibrant Romanian lady at the Gelato stand. We frequented the area on the Connie a lot for wine and / or Gelato. We only had Gelato twice on the Eclipse. There were friendlier places to hang out on the Eclipse. That did save thousands of calories.... :-)
My favorite semi-private "den" was the sumptuous atmosphere of "Cellar Masters". Whether you have a can of coke, a glass of wine or just drink in the view; I found it to be a relaxing escape.
The Crew was always friendly and outgoing. They would often wave from other glass elevators in the mid ship atrium. We knew every Cabin attendant between 7127 and the mid ships elevators by the end of the cruise.
BREAKFAST ROOM SERVICE -- becomes boring quickly in standard Veranda Class. After three tries, we returned to the buffet. They forgot my coffee once. (No big deal as Haroldo addressed the mistake). We had looked forward to breakfast on the verandah as the ship docked at all eight of our ports. Instead, we sat outside at the aft bar with a buffet breakfast. The mini-waffles were very good on the Eclipse.
ACTIVITIES: There are a large number of activities on board this ship. I reviewed the extensive art collection and participated in several wine tasting seminars. I found the Sommeliers to be true "Black Belts" in their trade and learned a lot from them. The Reidel wine glass comparison class was worth the $87.00 cost. Guess, I have to toss my DW's Waterford crystal out (Smile..just kidding). We did our share of shopping. My 14 year old Citizen eco-drive watch was getting tired. The capacitor would not hold a charge for more than a couple of days. So, I purchased a new Eco-drive on board the ship. I saved over $450.00 plus taxes.
One video Poker machine contributed about $900.00 dollars to me in multiple four of a kinds. That gravy train dried up on about the fifth day and I ended up giving much of it back as I tried to find another winning machine.
THE ECLIPSE was a very clean ship. Someone was always polishing or wiping off the walls, doors, exteriors, etc. But, It was obvious that there were small outbreaks of Noro as you would see people going to the elevators dressed in their robes and in wheelchairs. However, the outbreaks were well contained. I would prefer that medical did cabin visits rather than having noro patients wheeled down to deck two. The "Barf Bags", visible in the Medical Office, were a sign that they treated sea-sickness or Noro frequently.
HOW WE came to visit the Medical Department:
THE SHIP stopped at Aruba, Curacao, Grenada, Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua, St. Maarten and St. Thomas. However, we didn't have a lot of quality time on shore.... Here is that sub-plot. This trip was planned as a fortieth anniversary celebration since our first date. Our first date was April 12th, 1973. So, I had a sunset dinner booked at www.barefootaruba.com on the beach. There were other plans throughout the cruise.
My wife loves to spend Sea Days in the sun, especially after a cold Colorado winter. Even with a reminder to take a hat, sunglasses and use sun screen, my wife decided to power-tan on Sea Days one and two. The morning we were supposed to start the day by touring Aruba, I noticed that her face was badly swollen and her right eye was almost shut. Our first stop at 08:00 was not the tour bus. Rather, it was the Medical Office. They were shocked to see my DW's condition (as was I).
The Doctor, from Italy, was very disappointed with my wife. He gave her the option of getting treatment onshore or on the ship. We chose to let him treat her. He provided eye drops, aloe and a steroid solution. She had to use that for four days. He advised her to stay out of the sun for the rest of the cruise and to check in a 4PM for the next four days. If these instructions were not followed, we would be disembarked (kicked off the ship). That would allow my wife could get medical care onshore.
The sunburn and swelling impacted our plans for Aruba, Curacao, Sea Day three and Grenada. The first two formal nights were also toast. We were able to get refunds on our tour tickets. I searched for a hat for my wife in Curacao. But, I probably picked the wrong stores. I did keep the reservation for Steak&Rib in Rif Fort. So, I had a late lunch at the harbor entrance and looked at a wonderful view of the Eclipse. My wife finally found a hat in Barbados. However, the other shoe had dropped a few days before that.
My DW could not be more than an hour from a restroom because she left home with a growing "infection". I had noticed the beginning of the symptoms at home and requested she see her Doctor at least twice. Anyway, by the time we realized the severity, it was too late for the cranberry juice to do any good. Our joint plans for all the stops after Grenada were toast. I took tours of Barbados and St Thomas. However, my wife never made it beyond the shopping villages and decided not to leave the ship at St Maarten. I was going to charter a cab for the day. But, I could not as we were supposed to share this experience. The St Maarten port side shopping area is pretty nice. I returned to the ship at about 10:30 and took some wonderful photos of the Royal Clipper coming in the harbor under full sail.
This was an educational moment. Sitting in the medical office, it was easy to see that people sometimes left home with pre-existing conditions that could have been resolved before the cruise. If there is one piece of advice that could be shared from this cruise it's:
Please see your Doctor before a major vacation. Our multi - faceted vacation was quickly turned into just a long boat ride with wonderful food, music and drink.
THE NEXT CRUISE(S) -- My DW will pay for another circuit on the Eclipse and I will pick up a Panama Canal cruise.
Oh Yes!! The review of the medical office. Both incidents averaged about $140.00 each, The Doctors had significant accents. However, they were both personable and competent. The care was comparable to that in a local urgent care clinic. There was some kind of respiratory bug going around. A number of folks were having nebulizer treatments. It did seem that people were taken off the ship at every port in ambulances. Again, please get checked out before a major vacation.
All we will say is "Ditto". We agree fully with the comments of past Eclipse cruisers. That terminal complex needs to be rebuilt.
FINALLY, Fort Lauderdale Airport
We had a four hour wait in terminal one before our SW Denver flight. The terminal was a pig sty. The floors were not kept clean and garbage cans were continuously overflowing. That terminal is too small when Cruise season and Spring Break are in high gear. It did not speak well for Ft Lauderdale as incoming passengers saw the sloppy condition of the airport.