We are frequent Celebrity cruisers who booked this cruise during a well timed Special for New England residents which appeared during one of our frequent snow storms. The idea of a 14 night cruise to warm places appealed even though we would be in our first inside cabin. The cabin was fine, more spacious than many, and convenient to the solarium which was my usual destination.
We flew from providence and, fortunately, had no weather delays. We arrived on Friday night and stayed at the Marriott Ft. Lauderdale North which was very nice. Saturday morning I set out to visit family prior to heading to the pier. We usually board quite early and never paid much attention to when the cut off was. We started to wonder when we showed up around 3 and found no baggage drop off, no lines to checkin, no photographer and the last of the sparkling wine when we boarded. We had to do a quick turnaround before muster at 3:45. Taking our bags on was fine since our stateroom was ready and we were spared the suspense of whether or not the bags would arrive.
After a quick stop at the grill, we joined our active roll call for sail away. The ship was beautiful and sparkling clean. We never found it crowded which may be a reflection of our choices. I prefer the solarium to the main pool and the aqua spa cafe ( which has great specials) or grill to the buffet. We did Select dining at 7:15 and never had to wait for a table for 2 (had made reservations online). The one place that was crowded was the theater for the 9 PM show. We actually had to stand in back or sit on the stairs a couple of times.
It was a port intensive itinerary so we only did a few of the myriad activities offered. The CD, Sue, was ubiquitous from morning to night. We had some roll call and captains club activities which were enjoyable. I particularly liked the Elegant Tea which used to be held for everyone. We hadn't realized that there would not be the brunch buffet which we had been to on previous cruises. We went to the galley tour,hot glass show, wine and cheese on the lawn, and several shows. Anything with Perry Grant or Lindsay Holiday is not to be missed. We appreciated that Eclipse had new production shows which we hadn't seen on other ships.
There was plenty of music around the ship.
Service was a friendly as ever. Staff always extended a greeting. Service in the MDR was excellent but I couldn't help noticing how the servers were racing from table to table. I was sorry to see them spread so thin. The food was the best we have had in recent years and the menus included all of our favorites. There were so many enticing offerings that I seldom went to my everyday standbys. The only service glitch was the bartenders who felt that drink vouchers could not be used for lemonade or nonalcoholic punch because they weren't listed on the Captains Club drink menu; others were more accommodating.
We also had dinner one night at the buffet ( where my husband went daily for waffles and I went for sushi) and there were plenty of choices. We ate at Qsine and I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the food. I knew I would enjoy the novelty and presentation, but the food was delicious as well.
We did private excursions in most ports, often with roll call members. We did take the Celebrity excursion from St. Thomas to St. John which provided both value and convenience.
We knew that disembarkation on a Saturday in Ft. lauderdale would take awhile. Fortunately, we used Luggage Valet so we stayed on the ship until 10 and then spent an hour from ship to cab unencumbered by our luggage. I don't think there is much the cruise line can do once you disembark and enter customs.
We have been sailing Celebrity since 1999 and are glad to see they still deliver an excellent product.