We have previously done three cruises with Royal Caribbean and one with P&O, both of which were classed as 4 Star lines. We expected that Celebrity, being 5 star, would be noticably more luxurious, but this was not the case in our experience.
Unfortunately the weather let us down so we did not get the full benefit of the wonderful landscapes and scenery in Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Norway. However we did get a flavour of the places we visited.
Regarding the ship, our stateroom was well appointed and the attendant kept it immaculate and fulfilled all our requests. We could have done with more drawer space, and there was only one chair to sit on (which seems a bit strange in a two-person room!) However the bathroom was larger than on other ships and there was enough storage space. The furnishings throughout the ship were generally larger and more comfortable than on our previous cruises, so from this aspect it did deserve the 5 star claim.
Most off the Activities staff were very good, running the quizzes, Countdown and other activities extremely well. Michael in particular had real empathy with the guests, a great sense of humour (which never failed) and would make a brilliant Cruise Director in our opinion.
However there were several things we are unhappy about:
Dinners in the Moonlight Sonata Restaurant were never served hot, and the service was often very slow ' so bad that on some occasions we gave up waiting for the desert / coffee and left. We were on Select dining, but this should not have affected the level of service. The breakfasts and lunches were so bad that we only tried them once.
The Ocean View Cafe was a disapointment also. The food again was not very hot (although the plates were usually too hot to touch) and some of the trays of food looked as if they had been on the counters for hours. At times the tables were not cleared, there was no cutlery and the bins were overflowing at the beverage stations.
2. CRUISE DIRECTOR
Ian Cresswell, in our opinion and that of every fellow cruiser that we spoke to, seemed totally out of his depth and unsuited to the position. One person described him to us as "a complete a**e"! He was incapable of remembering the names of the entertainers (which spoilt the act of the hypnotist) and could not tell a joke. We never saw him around the ship at any other time. The entertainment overall was no better than on any other ship and the theatre was never full.
3. DESIGN OF THE SHIP
The so-called Grand Foyer was really no more than the bottom of a rather bland lift shaft, also with a staircase leading up from it to the deck above. There was a band performing here every evening at a very loud volume. Most of the bars available for general seating and drinking (and the library and card room further up) were grouped around this well so the music reached everywhere, competing with the piped music which varied from bar to bar. This cacophany meant that there was nowhere peaceful to go during the evenings.
4. DISEMBARKATION AT REYKJAVIK
This was at 13.00 hours so everyone wanted to get off at once and was a complete shambles. All the people on excursions and privately booked tours were expected to disembark via one gangway which led to massive queues (some people missed their tours), lost tempers and ensuing arguments. I thought a line like Celebrity would be better organized than this.
5. BRAZILIAN CONGRESS
A conference had been booked onto the cruise for some 400 Brazilian people. We were not notified of this beforehand as some others had been. They took over certain areas of the ship for their conferences, which made us feel that they were more important than the normal guests. Speaking to our fellow passengers, the general opinion was that they were rude and noisy. Had we been informed before sailing (as some people were) we would have taken the option to rebook.
6. CAPTAIN'S CLUB
We are Select members because of our history with RCL and visited the Captain's Club representative to ascertain how many points we had but he was too busy to see us and told us to use the company website. Having checked this on our return it does not give us that information.
7. PHOTOGRAPH WITH CAPTAIN
On all the other cruise we have done we have had our photograph taken with the captain on the first formal night. The photographs were printed with the Captain's name and the details of the cruise so we like to collect these. On this cruise, however, it was not until the very last day that the captain was available for photographs, which were taken in t-shirt and shorts on the lawn deck. The photo we bought did not have any of the details superimposed on it. Not a great memento of a 5 star cruise.
Basically we were disappointed with our first Celebrity cruise, especially as Eclipse was so highly rated on CC surveys we had seen. Fellow guests who had cruised on the ship previously felt that standards had dropped generally. We have booked a further cruise with Celebrity because of the itinerary offered and are hoping that the Millenium will prove to be a better experience. If not we will not be cruising with Celebrity again.