This was our first trip on Celebrity. We were attracted by the itinerary which Royal Caribbean also offered however we wanted to try an alternative cruise line having been with RCI and P&O previously.
We booked a guarantee Balcony 7 weeks before departure at a great price and were lucky to be allocated a category 1B cabin on the hump, number 9290. This proved to be a great location right next to the centrum lifts making it handy for just about everywhere. The cabin was really well laid out and had a modern stylish design. The bathroom was the biggest standard bathroom we have come across with loads of storage. The cabin was in great shape and was kept spotless. We liked the big flat screen TV and the interactive menus were easy to use. Nice to see plenty of free films too. If I had to say one critical point about the cabin it was that there was a lack of shelving for clothing.
We chose select dining for the flexibility it offered. This worked really well, much better than on P&O and RCI. We never had to wait for a table for two at all. Service was very good. As a meat eater the choices on the menus were varied and well thought out and portions were pretty big (apart from the appetisers which tended to be miniscule). My partner is a veggie and had once choice per day from the main menu plus a separate veggie menu which changed nightly. The veggie menu had 4 appetisers/soup/salads plus two entrEe to choose from. Have to say whilst many of these sounded great the portions were very small.
We are unsure why the entrees come with tiny amounts of vegetables. You can order veggies from the always available section however this is a bit tiresome. Why don't they serve a reasonable amount of vegetables with the entrEes?
We both thought however that the quality of the food in the MDR was the best we had encountered to date. The MDR is nicely designed, contemporary and bright.
We ate breakfast and lunches in the buffet. This is light and modern and we thought was well laid out. There are separate serving stations which spreads people around though there is a lot of movement between them and you need to be careful not to bump into people. No complaints about breakfast. There was a huge choice available and it was great to have eggs benedict always available to order. Lunch also had a wide choice but we were surprised the offerings didn't change throughout the cruise. Many moaned about the lack of seating at busy times but it really isn't any different to other cruise lines we've been on and we could usually find a table without too much issue.
We had room service several times and have to say the food was very good and promptly delivered.
We went to two production shows. One was a cirque type show that was excellent. The other a pop/rock dance medley which whilst professional had no theme and therefore didn't gel. We also saw a British comedienne/impressionist who was good. Overall the choice of performers seemed pretty similar to other cruises we have been on.
There was lots of music around the ship which was pretty good. On day three someone recommended that we go to Michael's club to see Perry Grant who plays twice each night. For those that don't know he is a piano entertainer but it's hard to sum him up. He won't be to everyone's taste but his mix of singing, piano playing and comedy was excellent and addictive. It was impossible not to come out smiling. Perry has a big following with some booking cruises just to see him. Go see him and be ready to join in the fun.
We saw three Hot Glass Shows. These were great and we won a vase in the raffle they have each day. I'm not sure of the draw here for repeat guests though.
There are some lovely bars on board, the Martini bar being our favourite meeting place. The Sky Lounge is vast and beautifully designed and offers great views. It was a shame however that there was a conference for a 400 strong group of Brazilians and these had their own band in the Sky Lounge each evening. Whilst the Cruise Director did repeatedly state on his TV program that all were welcome in the Sky Lounge the atmosphere in there was loud. On the final evening they closed off this lounge to anyone else. Many elite members were unhappy that they could not enjoy their drinks privileges in this lounge as normal. As well as being allocated the sky lounge many from the group would monopolise other entertainment such as dancing in the atrium. Now we have no issue cruising with any nationalities but when there is such a large group of people on board of one nationality who are travelling together for a conference this upsets the balance of the ship in my opinion. If Celebrity are going to pursue this line of attracting big conferences there should not give attendees an allocated bar, they should enjoy the whole ship like the rest of the passengers. Also, Brazilians appear to be pretty loud just about anywhere, including ruining the quietness in the solarium by hogging the Jacuzzis.
Cellar Masters was very underused despite being a lovely space. I didn't see anyone use the enomatic machines at all and I think Celebrity need to change this space as it seems to ward off anyone not into wine.
We loved the solarium and on this cruise where the weather was poor we valued it highly. We ate at the Aqua Spa Cafe in here several times as an alternative to the buffet and loved the cooked to order salmon or tuna. The outdoor pool area is attractive but on a warm weather cruise would struggle to accommodate sun worshippers. We loved the Lawn Club. It just makes you feel relaxed. We played lawn games as well as lying out on the blankets provided. The Sunset Bar at the back of the Lawn Club is a great spot and plays cool music.
Eclipse, to us, has a contemporary feel. It doesn't feel like a cruise ship, more like a 5 star Knightsbridge hotel. The furnishings and carpets are luxurious and the layout seems to spread its 2,800 passengers throughout the ship so it never felt crowded. In fact, its now our favourite ship and we are keen to try other Solstice Class ships as well.
The staff on-board are friendly and provide good service but the managers, especially in the buffet, seem to have only one way to manage staff and that is by disciplining them in front of passengers. In fact we got the feeling that staff were always trying not to make mistakes for fear of being reprimanded by their manager.
We are very glad we tried Celebrity. Its feels a notch above Royal Caribbean in terms of the food, furnishings and design. We would choose Celebrity over the other cruise lines we have been on if they are going where we want to travel.