Please let me preface this post by stating that these are my personal views and I hope that I will not be shot down for some of what I am going to write - however perception is reality!!!!
We had a good time on this cruise - after all it is difficult not to enjoy a cruise!
About me - this is my 13th cruise, I am in my early 60s and am British. I travel a great deal for my job all over the world and am lucky enough to have stayed at some of the best hotels and eaten at some seriously good restaurants.
Embarkation in Southampton was not a great start. The Celebrity website had not allowed me to print out our cruise documents and the dragon on the checkin desk was grim and humourless, requiring me to fill in all the information again despite it being on the screen in front of her. Even a smile might have helped matters!
However, we were soon on board and found our cabin 1667 which is an S2 on deck 11 overlooking the stern. The cabin was spacious and well laid out and we found the bed supremely comfortable. The bathroom, whilst compact was well designed and very user friendly. The decor was perhaps a bit sober but was tasteful.
A word of advice - being high up and right on the stern, this cabin does experience a considerable amount of movement in heavy seas. On this trip there were 4 'roughish' days where there was quite a bit of wobble and roll in the cabin. I think that these ships are quite lightly constructed and there was quite a bit of 'jerky' movement in heavy seas. For us this was outweighed by the pleasure of the large balcony and the views over the wake. Breakfast outside in the warmer weather was a delight. However if you are not a good sailor or the weather is likely to be rough, I would suggest avoiding these cabins
Our Butler, Alex, was simply outstanding. He could not do enough for us as well as being discreet and personally charming. He was a huge asset on this cruise. He has,I'm sure, a great future in the hotel world.
The ship is very attractive, well laid out and tastefully decorated. It is easy to find your way around. In the main the crew are charming, friendly and eager to please. They obviously work very hard but they smile and are cheerful.
I was disappointed with the food in the Moonlight Sonata dining room. Our waiter Marjon was excellent but since our last Celebrity cruise some 6 years ago, I thought that there had been a marked deterioration in the choice and quality of the food. The food served at dinner was generally rather bland and inconsistent in its quality - a serving of Turkey was so dry as to have been inedible. I realise that they are feeding 2000 people per night but other lines manage to be more consistent.
The Oceanview cafe was well laid out with separate serving areas and the salads were fresh and appetising, however the food was not varied much over the 13 day cruise and became a bit repetitive. The burgers from the Mast Grill were superb!
The extra tariff restaurants were generally good. The food in Murano was perhaps a bit rich and the service perhaps a bit over elaborate, but we found Qsine a refreshing new take on tapas type dining. The enthusiasm of the staff for their products in Qsine was infectious. Tuscan Grill produced a first class steak but was lacking in atmosphere.
The 3 stage shows were excellent and made all the better by an excellent 7 piece band. How much better than the ubiquitous prerecorded tracks. However the other solo acts failed to excite.
The arrival in St Thomas led to an immigration fiasco. All the 1500 or so non US passengers were called for passport/green card/ESTA inspection at the same time. The fact that we had to queue for 3 hours is simply unacceptable for a premium line. Celebrity were either caught on the hop ( surprising as they mainly cruise out of US ports) or someone clearly had not done their homework. Also be told by the cruise director after queuing for nearly 3 hours that she too has 'sore feet luvvy' did not fill me with sympathy for her. Particularly as on the dock in Nassau she said she did not know whether we would have to do it all again in Ft Lauderdale!!! - in the event we did but it was better organised and only took an hour.
A cruise is always a delightful and relaxing experience - in this case we found Celebrity Eclipse a bit like the curate's egg - good in parts!