This was our 32 Cruise overall and our 10th on Celebrity, most of these in the last few years. We had done this same Itinerary twice before, first on the Constellation in 2012 and then on the Eclipse last year where we booked this Cruise for the low deposit and added Onboard Credits. This was also our third time booking a Cabin in Aqua Class and getting to enjoy our dinners in Blu which we thoroughly enjoy. My wife is Gluten Free and even though the MDR does much better now in adapting food for allergies and intolerances, Blu does a far better job of adapting dishes to fit food issues. Prices for moving up to AQ have gone up steadily and are beginning to sometimes be higher than we may want to go though.
We sailed on the Constellation for five days prior to crossing the Port to board the Eclipse. We arrived at the Eclipse about 10:30 and were onboard the Ship by 11:00, a record I think in looking back. This gave us about two hours to reacquaint ourselves with the Ship before the cabins were available shortly after 1:00. We took care of a couple errands on board and then got a light lunch and my customary first Cocktail of each Cruise – a Yellowbird. Some traditions are just too good to stop repeating ;-) We were in cabin 1545 which we had liked when we did a TA on the Equinox in the Fall of 2012. We dropped off our carry-ons shortly after 1:00 and put on swimsuits to head for the pool for the afternoon.
Our Cruise Critic Group was pretty large with 87 Screen names and over 200 people signed up on the Roll Call. We had numerous Tours prearranged within the group as well as onboard events such as a Daily Happy Hour at the Sunset Bar, a Sail Away gathering at the same location, a Meet and Greet Connections Party, Poker Run, Slot Pull, two Pub Crawls, and a Farewell Luncheon. Many of us also were regulars at the Martini Bar each evening. We met a lot of great, fun people and look forward to sailing with many of them again in the future.
The weather on this trip was just about perfect with temps in the 80’s the whole trip and some of the calmest seas we had seen throughout a Cruise. We had two Sea Days on the way to our first two stops in Aruba and Curacao. We went to Eagle Beach in Aruba, to the Amsterdam Hotel which we had been to a few times prior. They seem less friendly toward Cruise passengers then before and even the restrooms were locked. Will have to move down the beach or find a new spot next time. In Curacao, a small group of us pre-arranged a Taxi to Cas Abao which ran $30 RT per couple with eight people. Chairs there were only $3 each and they had a nice restroom and bar for snacks and beverages. Would suggest water shoes here as there is a bit of washed up coral along the beach front.
We then had a Sea Day on the way to Grenada which started the series of six Islands in six days. In Grenada we just took the Water Taxi over to Grand Anse Beach which is close and very easy to get to. In Barbados we went to Carlisle Bay which is close to the Port and was a very nice Beach. Chairs and umbrella were $15 and there were very few venders bothering anyone along the beach. St Lucia we treated as a “Sea Day” and only went ashore briefly to shop a bit. Next stop was Antigua and Valley Church Beach which we love. Word had got out and the Beach was pretty busy with a lot of fellow Cruise Critics and others but is still a beautiful beach.
In St Maarten we again just took the water taxi over to the Beach and enjoyed another hot, sunny day. The last Port of Call was St Thomas and there were five other Ships in port although the Oasis OS arrived late and that helped keep the crowds down for sure. We docked at Crown Bay across the harbor, some said because we had a number of Harley Davidson riders on board and was a better facility for loading and unloading the 20+ bikes here. No matter the reason, it made it easier for us to go to Emerald Beach about two miles away. Jitney Taxi ride was only $4pp each way and the Beach is usually much less crowded then Magen’s Bay and other popular spots when there are that many Ships in Port. We finished the Cruise with two Sea Days back to FLL.
Disembarkation was very smooth, a vast improvement over the prior years when the lines were extremely long. We did use their Luggage Valet Program again which saved us from having to find our bags and move them through customs. It is well worth the $20pp charge and has worked very well for us four or five time previously. Also, it helps at FLL airport on the weekend in that you can’t check in your bags until two hours prior to your flight. We always see the outer lobby packed with folks sitting on the floor waiting for the time they can check in. With the Valet Program we went right on to the TSA Security line.
I should mention that starting in Grenada on Day 7 the Ship and Crew started serving all the food and extensive cleaning and hand sanitizer distribution took place the remainder of the Cruise. Not sure what the count of Norovirus cases was and we never met anyone the whole cruise who had been ill, but think they were being very cautious after the recent bad breakouts on a couple of other Ships that made the news. Have to commend them for the excellent job of keeping everything under control. The boarding of folks for the next Cruise was delayed until 2:00 while the entire Crew did a complete sanitation of the Ship.
We decided to not do this Itinerary next year but did book the Equinox for a 10 Day Cruise in March of next year, and also purchased an Open Passage for a TA on Reflection in the Fall of 2015. We have a Regular Balcony Cabin on the EQ as the AQ price had jumped dramatically. Will likely go back to AQ for the Reflection though. Most likely we will do this Itinerary again though in a couple years as it has a great mix of Sea Days and Ports.