Great Cruise Experience: Celebrity Eclipse Cruise Review by JWYBLF
Overall Member Rating
Great Cruise Experience
Destination: Southern Caribbean
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
While the So. Caribbean caters to sun lovers, water lovers and shoppers, we also had plenty of opportunity to get some history, culture and education as well as terrific entertainers. We were never bored and usually had more opportunities for activities than we had time. You are in your cabin only as much as you would like.
We are dancers. One down-side to Celebrity as a whole More and the Eclipse as an example is the lack of dance space appropriate for the number of people desiring to dance. The Company appears to have decided to eliminate dance floors in favor of bars and gambling venues that make them more money. The 'Grand Foyer' is very small stable mid-ship dance surface. The night club is near the front of the ship and caters to very loud contemporary music. The largest dance floor is in the Sky Lounge at the top of the ship - very unstable when the ship is rolling.
The entertainment is 'Top Notch' on Eclipse and it's family of ships. Got to know the entertainers and they were as open to meeting folks and interacting as all the other staff members.
All the cruise companies have 'missed the boat' regarding embarkation and disembarkation, the two most significant periods that cruisers remember about their experience. Celebrity does a great job in embarkation -- as close to a walk-on as I've every seen. Ft. Lauderdale and the Eclipse made it very easy to embark and were very welcoming. Disembarkation is still a challenge. Long waits and long lines to get baggage and get clear of the dock is still difficult and the answer (we learned) is to leave several numbers after yours has been called. Then there is no mad rush to get bags and you will find yours very prominently left for you in the terminal. Eclipse also has great services to move your bags directly to the airport for your pick-up. The time will come that you give your bags to the Ship and pick them up at your home airport when your flight arrives, but that time is not yet here...
Summary: I encourage all new and experienced cruisers to enjoy Eclipse. They get it right (for the most part)!!! Less
Good to have a balcony on a Caribbean cruise. plenty of space under bed for luggage and easy to get around.
Port and Shore Excursions
A Taste of Local Antigua - a waste of time. 3.5 hrs of a pottery in someone's back yard (very rudimentary), a small pineapple farm where you just drive in and drive out, a beach that didn't give you enough time to swim, a herbalist regalling you about a plant that is supposed to cure cancer (de-bunked when researched on line) and directed shopping.... the herbalist at least was enthusiastic and knew her herbs.... dropped off, of course, at more shopping....
perfunctory tour leading to the tour guide's favorite shops. skip this in favor of private tours where the guide is more interested in giving you a history and geography lesson about their island.
We were taken to a newer rum factory (not the oldest one that still operates) with an informative tour ending in their sales room (of course). We went to a plantation house filled with furnishings and set up the way the house was while it was still a plantation. Neat in that a wedding was being conducted while we were there. Cursory guide explanation followed by us wandering through the two floors and basement. Then we went to a craft shop where the owner makes original mahogany carvings and sells them. Only $39/pp and you get what you pay for....
The specialty guide at the cave took over and was informative
Jewish Heritage Tour
went to the oldest Jewish Synagogue in the Western Hemisphere on our own. Cost $10/pp and was well worth it -- great museum and beautiful location still in operation.
guide was very informative. learned a lot about the island
went to Annandale Waterfall and watched locals dive, a spice shop, throught the Grand Etang Rain Forest to the volcano lake, Fr. Frederick overlooking the ocean and the Grand Anse Beach. a packed 3 hr tour dropping us off back at the ship. Great tour, very friendly and informative guide. Well worth the money ($50) and much cheaper than the 'canned' tour off the ship that directed you only to their desired shopping.
Sulphur Springs Mud Bath
Best guided tour we every had --- bar none. We had Cosol, himself, the guide company owner, guide our tour. Everyone on the island seems to know COSOL, (his nickname). We got so much more than we paid for that we recommend this to anyone visiting St. Lucia. Included b'fast (very large spread) and lunch (fresh hot baked bread -- even on a holiday (the baker knows COSOL), with melted cheese. Went through 2 fishing villages, all around the island, visited the waterfall (was able to stand under it), the volcano (was able to walk right up to the caldera), mud baths (from volcanic flow), a banana farm for sampling local bananas, the famous Pitons and an hour at a great snorkeling beach. All entries were paid for and we had all the rum punch, beer, water or soft drinks we wanted during the entire day. GREAT TOUR.
The only place more a waste of excursion time than Antigua was St. Maarten/St. Martin where after an interesting catamaran cruise (1 hr) that explained some of the island highlights the rest of the day was spent in a giant traffic jam between the Dutch side and the French side, going to the the French capital for shopping (directed to a certain store that, we found, was partially owned by the guide) and the same huge traffic jam going back to the ship in the Dutch port (for more shopping).
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