My husband and I, both in our mid-sixties, sailed on the Celebrity Eclipse on February 23, 2013 from Fort Lauderdale. This was our third cruise on Celebrity. For the most part, it was an older crowd. That is what we expected for a 14-night cruise!
Embarkation was very smooth. We arrived around 11 a.m., handed our bags over to the baggage collectors, and walked straight in to the registration area. We had already checked in online so we picked up our sea passes, and then proceeded to our home for the next 14 days. Champagne was waiting for us when we embarked around 11:20. An announcement was made that cabins would be ready by 1:30. The time spent waiting was ideal for exploring the ship and grabbing a bite to eat in the Oceanview on Deck 14.
True to their word, our cabin (9157) was ready at 1:15 and our bags were delivered within the next hour. Everything was spotless and we were pleasantly surprised to see that the balcony was larger than normal. We had reserved a guaranteed verandah and didnt get our cabin assignment until two weeks before our departure.
We enjoy having breakfast on the verandah, so most mornings we ordered room service. They always delivered at the requested time, coffee was good, and order was accurate. Great way to start the day!
We would usually have late lunch at the Oceanview Buffet or Grill. There was a wide variety to choose from and an opportunity to try ethnic foods that we wouldn't otherwise have.
We had traditional second seating in the Moonlight Sonata. Our waiters, Francisco and Israel, were fun and very attentive. Francisco recommendations were spot-on and we were never disappointed. We have always done the traditional dining at 8:30 but I think I would like to try the Select Dining next time. Three people never showed up at our table for 9, and another couple came one night but then went to the specialty restaurants for the rest of the cruise. We ate at the Tuscan Grill one night and had a wonderful meal.
Although we had debated about it, we did not get a drink package, and it was the right choice for us. When we got on the ship, one of the bartenders said the package would be worth it if we each ordered 7 drinks a day. It seemed like a lot of drinks, but its surprising how the coffee, Diet Coke, occasional drink by the pool or in the theater, wine with dinner, and drinks at the Sky Lounge can add up. We drank as much as we wanted, and I had a specialty coffee every morning, and we still didn't spend what the package would have cost.
After a day in our first port, St. Thomas, my husband had a medical issue and saw the doctor on the ship. The doctor advised us to cancel our planned 10-day post-cruise Florida vacation and see his physician at home. Guest Relations couldnt have been more helpful. We had to reschedule our flights, car rental, and hotels and Maia and Anna (concierge) guided us through the process. Its when things like this happen that you appreciate and value the customer service and kindness that a company like Celebrity provides.
Sue Denning was a fabulous cruise director. She was always very engaging when we saw her around the ship. Shes also a very talented lady! I could go on and on about the entertainment on the ship. We enjoyed top Shelf the a cappella group as well as the other groups entertaining in the lounges. Entertainer Perry Grant had a huge following on this cruise. We hadnt heard of him before, but did catch a couple of his shows in the Skyview Lounge. Dont miss the Celebrity Production and Cirque shows. Im always amazed at how Celebrity can find talent to entertain such a diverse group for 14 nights! On the first night, the show included a wide variety of performers on the ship. We found that we enjoyed some of them more when they were entertaining in the smaller lounge venues...so give them all a chance!
We had a new activity on this cruise: a choir! Sara Story, who is the vocal captain for the musical production company on the ship, was our director. We had so much fun! There were about 20 people involved. We even got to perform on the final formal night! Saras husband, Ramiro, is the musical director who arranged the songs. If you like to sing, check it out. If youre lucky, youll have Sara for a director. She has such talent and patience!
I did the slot pull which was organized by one of the Cruise Critic members. It was a great group and we even won a few bucks. Later in the cruise, I actually got lucky on the penny slots and managed to come home $800 richer! I had two $400 wins while betting 30 cents! Its usually the person on either side of me who wins!
We did three excursions, all Celebrity: Champagne Catamaran in St. Thomas; 4x4 Island Safari and Harrisons Cave Expedition in Barbados; and Best of Antigua. Catamaran was lots of fun and the early-twenty-somethings who were our crew (Theresa, Kim and Grady) were superb at their jobs.
The only negative was the lengthy debarkation. It was through no fault of Celebrity but the shortage of Customs officers. We made the best of it and made new friends while waiting in line. I felt sorry for people who were rushing to make flights, but other passengers let them go ahead. If you cant book a flight for later in the day, I would suggest booking it for the following morning. It will be a lot less stressful if your schedule and pocketbook allow it.
We have booked our next cruise for March 2014 on the Celebrity Equinox! Can't wait!