We have just returned from a 14 night cruise to the Azores and Canary Islands on board the Celebrity Eclipse. This is not our first time with Celebrity, having previously cruised on Zenith and Summit. Overall it was a good cruise, but we do have some reservations about sailing on this class of ship in the future.
Stateroom: Excellent "sky suite" level stateroom (no. 7356) on the aft starboard corning of the ship, with wrap around balcony. Everything very clean, light and very well maintained and serviced by our cabin attendants and butler. We had everything we needed for a relaxing 2 week holiday and could not have asked for anything more. There were sliding patio doors onto the balcony and additional, large porthole window to the side near the sofa. Two poles as described by previous reviewers, but these didn't cause us any problem. We found no evidence of soot on the balcony, as described by previous reviewers. The stateroom was spotlessly clean and well equipped and the bathroom had both bathtub and over bath rain head shower (plus shower wand which is always useful). Good lighting and mirrors but no magnifying mirror. Great nightlight feature in the bathroom, which we found really useful. Plenty of hanging and drawer storage in the room for a 2 week cruise. Hairdryer provided, which although noisy, worked fine (and you didn't have to hold the button down!). Only downside we can think of is the walk to the nearest stairs/escalator, which could be a bit tiring for those with mobility limitations, but didn't bother us. We ate breakfast in the room on a few days and our butler delivered it on time every time. However, we did find it difficult to complete the breakfast request form when each of us wanted something slightly different, as the form doesn't really lend itself to this, but all in all it was preferable to the "rugby scrum" that was often in evidence in the Oceanview Café at peak times (more of that later).
Food and Dining: The standard of the food was, by and large, very good. The Oceanview Café serves a variety of food over a very long time period of the day and manages to do it very well, considering the number of passengers who must use it. There was always something tasty to choose from, whether it was breakfast, lunch or snacks. The Murano speciality restaurant was superb and we chose to eat there twice. We also ate at the Tuscan Grill speciality restaurant once and enjoyed our meal, although the Murano was more to our taste in terms of ambiance, food and service. On other evenings, we ate in the Moonlight Sonata restaurant, on the early sitting. The food was nearly always excellent, with just one or two nights where we felt the main course dishes weren't up to the usual standard. However, we enjoyed our evenings there and our table companions were good company. We were lucky to get a free Classic Drinks Package with our cruise booking and found that this worked well for us. We tend to drink wine rather than beers or spirits and although you can only order it by the glass, not bottle, it was never a problem for us. Our sommelier at dinner (table 238) was a frequent visitor to the table, topping up our glasses and we never ran short.
Tours, Activities and Entertainment: We tend to lead a fairly independent life on holiday and so cannot comment on the tours or much of the daytime entertainment or activities on board. However we did go to several of the evening shows after dinner and found them all to be excellent, with varied and entertaining acts ranging from the very hard working and talented Celebrity dancers and singers (how the male dancer managed to lift and hold his partner aloft and firm in the iconic "Dirty Dancing" pose, on a rolling ship, I will never know), through to a talented violinist and a very entertaining magician.
Public Areas: We found that the public areas (lounges, sun decks, library etc) were not really large enough to cope with the number of passengers on sea days. It was difficult to find anywhere quiet to read or relax, as there was either some other activity going on (e.g. dance practice, cookery demos etc) or the piped music was intrusive. Some of the lounges e.g. Ensemble Lounge, were so dark in the day that they could not be used for reading, which is a real waste of valuable lounge space - it sat empty all day until the bar opened. The sun decks had their sunbeds jammed so close to each other that the only way to get on and off was to climb up from the foot, rather than the side, which is neither easy, nor elegant! So on sea days, we often found ourselves returning to our cabin, for lack of anywhere else quiet to go. That was not too bad for us, as we had space, sofa and lovely balcony. But perhaps not so attractive for those in smaller accommodation? The problem of lack of space was also evident in the Oceanview Cafe on sea days. Trying to find a table was often very difficult and getting to many of the bench seats involved a delicate sideways manoeuvre between tightly placed tables. One false move and one's derriere could come uncomfortably close to another diner's dinner! Clearing of tables here was also slow at times. On several occasions, we experienced the waiters coming to the table and removing one or two used items, leaving several others behind, which were still there when we left. The restaurant also seemed to have trouble keeping up with the demand for spoons, mugs etc, which were often missing. It is a shame that an otherwise very good self service restaurant, with a wide and tasty selection of food, is being let down by lack of seating and an almost languid waiting style.
Overall: A spotlessly clean ship, with mostly excellent service, good standards of food in all restaurants and enjoyable entertainment. However, the lack of public spaces and quiet areas were disappointing. Given the choice, we would prefer a ship with more public space and probably fewer guests per square foot, as the Eclipse does appear to have sacrificed public areas for more staterooms. So we probably would not choose to sail on another Solstice class ship unless the itinerary was very port intensive (which means that the ship is much quieter during the day). However, the Celebrity brand remains competitive in our eyes and we would sail with them again on another class of ship.