We sailed the Constellation on this exact itinerary in February 2012 and had such a fantastic time being in the Caribbean again that we booked this cruise with the Eclipse for April 6, 2013. Unfortunately this cruise did not even come close to the fun we had on the Constellation, and it was not the ports (they were the same) it was....the Eclipse and the ship experience. I must say we love the Millenium class of ships, having sailed on all of them several times each. I won't bother talking about getting on or off the ship for this cruise...all of that was fine as usual.
I will mention the Pro's of the Eclipse first. Our deluxe veranda (1A) cabin was very spacious and we loved the extra storage in the bathroom, as well as extra room in the main cabin. The veranda is larger in the Solstice class and very nice table and chairs as well. The bed was super comfy and no complaints about our room attendant or service. The ship is brilliant and modern and welcoming. Sue Denning was a great Cruise Director (we also had Sue on the Constellation last year) and the staff at Guest Relations are to me, the best at sea, very attentive and helpful. We enjoyed eating several times at the Bistro on Five ($5 pp each time) and the goodies at Cafe el Bacio were delicious. I had the non alcohol premium package and it really paid for itself this cruise. We ate at the Tuscan Grille twice and enjoyed it. It cannot however compare to restaurants like the Normandy (on the Summit) either in service, menu and food quality, or overall dining experience.
Now for the Cons of our Eclipse experience. First there was no Caribbean steel band onboard (as we have had every other time on a Caribbean itinerary with Celebrity) A real loss!!! We travel the Caribbean for a reason and this is one of them. We did not care for the party band and their repeated playing on Deck Three, with a small dance floor with a stairway going upwards from it. the Sky Lounge was underused....saved mostly for Perry Grant which was okay, but repetitive. Every show was pretty much the same, Judy Garland and show tunes and old time music with scores of adoring Perry Grant fanatics in attendance. The nightly entertainment in the theater was also lacking. Too many single acts. And some not very good. A female comedian that was sadly over the hill as one example. The dancers and singers as an ensemble on this cruise were far below what we are used to with Celebrity. And music wise, Celebrity must think most passengers are deaf as the music on the pool deck and in the theater was FAR TOO LOUD and this seemed to be a general consensus with lots of passengers we met. The saving grace in the music department was Ray Brown Jr. and his jazz ensemble. Unbelievable and professional and so high class.
For the first time ever as well, we did not enjoy the Main Dining Room. We ate there 5 nights and had a decent meal on 1 night only. Bad steaks, poor menu choice (we do not eat seafood or truffles). So outside of the specialty dining we had, it was the Oceanview Cafe. The food there was so-so. Too many sauces, lamb was tough (mutton?) and not enough selection. The salad station never had clean salad dressing containers, always dripping and never full. The breakfasts were better in the Oceanview than the lunches or dinners.Fresh fruit and oatmeal daily was nice. Yet we arrived many days to find dirty, uncleared tables. At any time of day. Seems like Celebrity has cut the number of buffet staff as well as bartenders in all bars and the pool deck. The AquaSpa Cafe is a joke on the Eclipse (compared to Millenium Class) stuck in a dark corner near the Solarium pool, no lemon ice water, no cold bottled water and a stark selection compared to other ships we've sailed. Plus grumpy staff.I ate in Aquaspa every day on the Constellation, not once on the Eclipse. The Persian Garden on the Eclipse cannot compare to the gardens in Millenium Class.
And neither can the AquaSpa Salon. After getting haircolor service, my stylist added a $38 hair masque to my bag, with a shampoo I requested. I was so aggravated II cancelled the other appointments I had made. What a lot of nerve to assume I would buy a hair masque I had not asked for!
Okay, we did love all the ports. Aruba, Barbados and St. Maarten are our faves. We enjoy water activities and love to shop for a bargain and the Caribbean is great for both. The perks of Elite Status were good as usual, with free laundry, internet minutes and drink tickets nightly. One last note: my DH used the Tuxedo Rental that Celebrity offers. For the 3rd time in a row, it disappointed. On the Rhapsody of the Seas he got a shirt with 2 left sleeves. On the Constellation, the pants were 6 inches too long. On the Eclipse his "premium" tuxedo was so bad he looked like a Marx Brother, and he never wore it and received a full refund. Learn form experience! This cruise cost us a bundle when the airfare from the west coast of Canada and hotels are figured in. For what we got on this ship it was way too much money. Another first, we did not book another cruise while onboard, something we have always done in the past. Who knows we might go to Vegas this fall for a change.