Overall this was a fantastic cruise on the Celebrity Eclipse! There were four adults traveling together and we each had a balcony cabin on the vista deck. Our cabin was located in the middle on the hump and we had a larger than normal balcony. It was well worth the extra money to get the space. It was so relaxing to sip your wine on your private balcony and watch the sea slip by at sunset. Although our room was by an elevator, we never heard any noise outside our cabin.
We flew in on Southwest the night before the cruise departed. Southwest doesn't charge extra for two bags and when packing for a 14 day cruise that is something to take into consideration. We stayed at the Courtyard Marriott on Fort Lauderdale beach. The hotel was perfect for the night, we took a taxi from the airport for about $14.00. Our room overlooked the Ocean and the Intercoastal. We had a king suite that included a great buffet for breakfast. (It is good to get in the practice of overeating early on.) We walked the strip that evening, had dinner at Bubba Gumps, not particularly great, but okay. I'd check out a different restaurant next time I'm in the area. We didn't miss having a car and had a drink at the Elbo Room which is right down the street from the hotel. I had reserved a shuttle through the hotel to get to the cruise port. It was $25.00 for four.
It only took an hour from arrival at the port until we were on the ship. The ship is stunning, modern, yet elegant. Everything was spotless. The cabins are beautiful and the bathroom was the nicest I've seen on a cruise ship, there was enough space for everything. I heard prior complaints about the cabinets above the bed, but my husband and I are both tall and I found them very useful and convenient. The closet was also big enough for all of our clothing. There was enough room to store our suitcases under the king sized bed and I used one of my suitcases as a dirty hamper. The ship doesn't have laundry facilities you can use and their laundry is expensive and they don't run any specials throughout the 14 days.
The food was very good at all meals. We ate most breakfasts and lunches in the buffet and had the 8:30 seating at dinner. Our waiter and our assistant waiter were superb! They really couldn't do enough for us. Their service was outstanding. They were extremely knowledgeable about the menu and after one night had learned everyone's particular likes and dislikes at the table. The maitre d' was not uniform in how he addressed the clothing policy. Some people were sent out for not wearing appropriate clothing and others were allowed in with jeans on formal night. Males can't wear shorts, but females can wear very short short shorts. I'm not big on dressing up, but if they have a policy, it should be followed or not, just be consistent. More importantly, the food was consistently good and the dress code was just a minor thing. The beverage package seemed worth it if you drank 4 or 5 drinks a day and had specialty coffees. One member of our party purchased it and seemed glad they did.
The activities aboard ship were plentiful. I really enjoyed the hot glass show. I didn't think I would find it so interesting, but I ended up going back several times. It was amazing. They typically did a drawing for a piece at each show. The art auctions were okay, I actually liked previous cruise auctions better on both Celebrity and Princess lines. I enjoy learning about art and this auctioneer had a few favorites that he continuously tried to sell and it became rather boring. It was more like "Let's Make A Deal" than an auction. There was a cute game show like the Newlyweds one night, the cruise director did a great job and was very entertaining. I also liked the cooking shows a lot. The entertainment in the evening was okay, I didn't go to all the shows. Bob Arno was my favorite, he was a comedy pickpocket entertainer. But, he also pointed out how we make ourselves targets of theft. He was far more funny than the comedian on board. We all went to the the signature show and felt that it was okay, not great. The magician was not aboard this cruise.
Even without the extra activities, there is a lot to do. The pools would be crowded at peak times, but you would be able to get a chair. The gym was very crowded and we found we couldn't get a bike or treadmill at times. We started going down right before the first dinner seating and were able to use the equipment then. There was an extra charge for yoga classes, etc. The lawn seems underused and the track is always being used. I felt bad for the people trying to run laps, some people sauntered around eating ice cream talking to their companions and blocked the entire width of the track. That was the only place it seemed really crowded, it is amazing but you can always find a quiet spot somewhere on this ship. Occasionally the elevators would get crowded, but I was trying to take the stairs to burn off a calorie or two, since I was eating a couple thousand extra a day.
This was a very diverse cruise, there were many Europeans aboard and a wide age range, I'd guess most guests were from their mid 30s to 70s. There did not seem to be very many children. I've been on other Celebrity cruises that seemed to have an American majority. Overall, the people on board were pretty laid back, except on New Year's Eve. The captain anchored off Aruba and the crew did a great job serving drinks and champagne to ring in the New Year while overlooking the fantastic firework display over Aruba. The officers and crew of the ship were visible throughout the cruise and they all did above and beyond. You could tell this was a well managed ship.
We visited a lot of ports on this cruise. We did three excursions through the ship. Snuba in St. Lucia, which was enjoyable and a good family activity. In St. Maarten, we participated in the America's Cup Sailing Regatta, it was the best excursion we've been on, ever! The St. Thomas snorkeling excursion was enjoyable and the crew really made the trip. In the other ports we tried to find a beach in the morning and then see a little of the port in the afternoon. Aruba was easy to navigate and we went to Eagle Beach. When you get off the ship there are many people trying to get you to ride with them and it is easy to negotiate a good price. The beach was beautiful, had an outdoor shower and restroom facilities. It was New Year's Eve, so the town was busy lighting fire crackers on the streets. Most things in Curacao were closed, but you could walk across the bridge and be in the town. In Grenada we took a water taxi to Grand Anse beach. (The water taxi is right next to the ship, easy walk.) The beach is beautiful, but there are so many people there trying to sell you things, get you things, tell you things, that you just want to pay them to leave you alone. In Barbados, you can do that at the Boatyard. For $15 you get a chair, umbrella, use of their facilities and a few drinks and a ride back to the ship! They come by to ask if you want more drinks, but you don't feel like you are being watched constantly. I liked that arrangement much better. We also walked to the horse race in Barbados. I had wanted to see George Washington's house there, but it was closed. You can find something to do in most ports and get there fairly inexpensively. I have to say that if I had to chose between this cruise and Alaska, I'd do Alaska again first. I liked those ports better, but these ports were all interesting and the cruise gave us a chance to explore many different places. We also missed a lot of cold weather!
Disembarkation on the ship side was organized, but once you got off the ship, there was a huge line in a building with no working air conditioning and a thousand people. Customs had several lanes open, but for some reason, people who stand in those lines for over an hour don't think to get their passports out for customs, despite the yelling of the officials to "Get Your Passports Ready". Instead they wait until they get to the front of the line to fumble around through all their pockets and belongings to find their necessary documents. I'm not sure what can be done to fix stupid. It took us about 1 1/2 hours once we got off the ship to get to the taxi stand. It was easy to get a taxi and that part was organized as well.
In summary, this was a great cruise that I would recommend. If you like sun and sand, this port itinerary will be perfect for you. I loved the ship and will be looking for other places to go on the Eclipse.