Cruisers: Myself and DH - mid 40's from the UK.
Cabin: Aft C1 cabin 2157 on deck 12. This is a great cabin, I can imagine that the walk to some of the lower aft cabins would be quite long, but due to the sloping nature of the aft of the Eclipse, deck 12's walk to the back was not too long at all. We liked the overhang, when there was sun I enjoyed seeing it, but wanted shade. There was slight noise from the outside part of the buffet. Nothing too noticeable. The view from this cabin was wonderful, and we enjoyed a lot of time out on the balcony. Our cabin attendant was Francis and he was the star staff member of our cruise. Service was faultless and friendly. We tipped him $20 each Saturday we were on board as well as having prepaid gratuities.
The Good:Overall the cruise was great, and DH and I had a very nice time. This was our second cruise, second time with Celebrity and second cruise on Eclipse. Embarkation in Southampton was fast, efficient and the staff at the port run a very slick operation.
Activities staff were very good, bingo was very well attended, and the staff there obviously enjoyed working with the guests.
Bar staff were friendly and worked hard to accommodate requests. I think I was the only person on the ship drinking Root Beer, and the places I frequented regularly were always happy to make sure they had some on hand for me (Sunset Bar on 15, Buffet Bar).
Buffet was definitely improving, they appear to be trying new things. There was a Scottish Chef in the buffet who appeared to be somewhat of a new broom, and his actions appeared to be having an effect.
Norovirus pro/reaction:There did appear to be an outbreak towards the latter part of the second week, we heard talk of some ridiculously high numbers of those affected, but have heard it was under 100 since then. The staff went to code red, and there was a noticeable upscaling of hand sanitising. The buffet went to staff service, which was good. We didn't get sick, I didn't talk to many people, but no-one who I spoke to had any experience of being ill.
Speciality Restaurants: We ate in Qsine and Tuscan Grille. Both were exemplary, and we enjoyed very good service and food in both locations.
The Not So Good:
This is a toughie, there was a noticeable downturn in service that both of us noticed from the moment we set foot on the Eclipse. Embarkation day was somewhat akin to arriving in a shop 10 minutes before it is due to open. Nothing felt ready, and the staff were flustered. It didn't feel the same as it did to us last year.
Whilst over the moon that The FA Cup was shown on the TV (hubby was very pleased), cutting the satellite feed just as Wigan were about to lift the cup was a little cruel. It also showed little thought for the customer.
I felt that the Entertainment Department missed a trick by not showing the Eurovision Song Contest - what an excuse for a cheesy disco party! They had had the Abba party a few days before...
Cafe Al Bacio now seems to be staffed by belligerent or unprofessional staff. There is a male member of staff who doesn't wait tables and works early mornings and late evenings in the Cafe that is to be avoided as he is curt and rude. Twice we waited for over 30 minutes while the waitstaff managed to take orders from tables around us that had arrived after us. In the end hubby was so upset about it I got him to fill out a comment card just so he could vent. This did elicit a call from the bar manager apologising and asking us what happened. It didn't really make any difference to the service.
This probably all sounds a little vacuous and moany...there were several situations where customer service was relegated to a lesser position than getting a task done. If this is down to pressure from management to staff to complete tasks, or lack of staff I am not sure. Celebrity are in danger of allowing it's staff to become focused on ticking off completed tasks rather than serving the customer. This is a dangerous position. A case in point was the Scottish Chef asking the chap behind the counter at the pasta station if anyone ever ate the pasta bake. He was told no, they didn't but that's what we make..The Scottish chef then said .. well I am not surprised no-one eats it.. it looks horrible. The lesson here is an important one..just because you always have done it..does it serve the customer? The blank looks I received from staff when asking for something simple but out of their line of duty was telling. It in most cases, was simply not possible. I was told no a lot on this cruise, and sometimes all I was asking for was a Root Beer.
Hubby got his steak cremated at the buffet when he was asked how he wanted it cooked, he did say rare - again, if people are going to discourse with customers by rote (as in - this is what I say now), what's the point if they have no intention/the necessary level of skill to perform the task.
Perry Grant. I'm a bawdy chick, I like to have a laugh. I wanted to go and see him to see what all the fuss was about. We stayed for 20 minutes, while he berated the crowd for being like statues, and then threatened to walk out if people didn't start to move about. "You are on an American Cruise Line now, not an English Cruise Line" and "If you don't start to show some life, I am going to walk out, and don't think I am joking". Wasn't impressed, didn't stay as I prefer my entertainment without threats or toy throwing from the entertainer.
I loved my cruise. I loved my stateroom. I had a fantastic relaxing time. I do however think that Celebrity need to realign their marketing aims with the reality of their customer service as it stands.
Will I cruise with Celebrity again? Only if I get a really good deal.
Will I cruise again? Hubby and I are looking at a more customer service oriented lines, and may well check out Regent, Seabourn, SeaDream, Crystal etc. Hubby works hard, long hours. I want his holiday to not induce stress to the point that he has to write out an angry comment card in order to calm down.
Sorry if any of this offends the ardent fans of Celebrity - it is my opinion, and I felt rather sad at some of the issues we had, as I am a Celebrity fan. I hope that someone in the HO reads this, and it helps them to regain their level of usual quality.