Sailed on the Celebrity Eclipse on the 7th June -Baltics.
Started in Preston and travelled to Southampton with Eavesway Coaches which we booked direct, they were excellent. Comfortable modern coaches, great drivers and made good time arriving at 2pm.
Check in was quick at this time but as "Select" members we moved through quite quickly. Had lunch as normal and bags arrived about 330pm. Balcony Cabin on the 9th Deck was excellent as usual.
In our package booked through Cruise.co.uk we had $350 onboard spend and a Classic Drinks package.The first time we have had onboard spend and a complimentary drinks package, which we have to say was amazing. When you get used to what drinks you can have in the package it saves you a fortune, its like all inclusive, we dont drink a lot, a bottle of wine with the meal and few other drinks but to have free drinks, pretty much anything was available, cocktails, anything, dont book without a complimentary drinks package. And the onboard spend covered trips, photos, specialtiy restaurants. You need to book trips onboard to use your Onboard spend, not pre cruise, we just went straight to the Shore Excursion desk and booked immediately we got on board.
We went "Select dining" so we have freedom to organise our evening, shows were generally on a 830 and 1030 so we could choose what time we ate. They tend to put you in the same area every night so you get used to the Waiters etc. The one downside of a drinks package is you only get a glass of wine not a bottle so at times we had to chase the wine waiter up, they seemed a little short of staff in the restaurant on this cruise but they all worked so hard. Food was excellent as per previous cruises.
Oceanview Buffet can be busy but not an issue, the food was excellent and so much choice at any time of day.
Previous reviews have slated the Shows but having cruised a number of times we have to say the majority were excellent. The onboard Eclipse dancers etc were excellent and the independent acts were also really good. Jayne Curry-Outstanding. Jon Courtenay-very good. Jonathon Stamp very good.
The majority of people on the Cruise were British and mostly over 50, very few children, but this is what we find with Celebrity, its not really for kids, it really is 5 star. The activities can be a bit sedate but its not a ship with Flowrider or climbing walls so if you want that choose a bigger ship. But if you look for it there are plenty of fun stuff to do for any age.
During our Cruise the World Cup was on, i watched an England game in Celebrity Central at 2am, 35 of us made the effort, difficult as we were up at 7 for day 2 of St,Petersburg but the second match at 9pm on the Thursday was shown on the the big screen in the Theatre to a packed room.
Speciality Retaurants. Having done these before we thought twice but watch for the reduction offers, some nights as much as 50% off, so negotiate when they try to sell it at the desks outside the Cafe. We did Tuscan and Qsine. Qsine is amazing, so many small courses, so much choice, so full at the end, but as a one off just do it.
Ports. Great choice of ports and the weather in most was outstanding which we didnt expect. Quick summary:-
Copenhagen. Did the 3 hour trip on arrival at 330pm. Ideal to get a taste of the Palaces, Museums, mermaid etc. It meant you can stroll around on the second day having already ticked off some of the sights. 20 mins on the shuttle to town, about 40 min walk although our ship was parked a long way from normal Cruise ships but apparently this is the new terminal.
Stockholm. Beautiful place. 20 min walk to old town. If you carry on walking through old Town to the newer part and main street shops then it can be a long way back but plenty to say. Quaint shops in the Old Town. TIP: always go to Guest relations for a Map, not the one in the daily news, Guest R. have coloured Maps on the Counter.
TALLIN. Quaint little town, needed the Shuttle which took 10 mins. It Rained hard so everything looks different but a nice place.
Amazing place. We actually booked direct with ALLA TOURS. Little cheaper than Celebrity and guarantee maximum 16 people on the mini bus and early access to Museums etc. They were very good indeed. You pay in Cash or card at the end of the first day. There is so much to see so the Grand Tour over 2 days is tiring but worth it. We loved PETERHOF gardens and wished we had more time there. Hermitage is ok if you want to see Art by the Masters but it is mostly paintings. Church of the Spilled Blood was amazing.
We had a Hydrofoil ride one day and a boat trip the next. They provide a packed lunch one day and the meal the next. meal was good but packed lunch poor. But overall a great guide and great service. Study the Web before going and choose what you want but if you dont book a trip you cant get off, you have to have some sort of trip on both days to get off.
We should have gone to Coronian Peninsula but my wife had a problem on the bus, long story but we didnt go so we took the shuttle to a shopping Mall about 15 mins away from the ship, It was like an American Mall so we wandered round there then went into the town, quite nice, some shops etc. The first time Eclipse has been in the so the locals came out in force to take photos. Apparently Coronian Peninsula was ok, nothing too special.
We took a trip at 730am , KA12. About an hour to Gdansk on the Coach, then about an hour walking tour then 2 hours on your own, Lovely place, lot of cobbled streets, quaint shops, nice waterfront, just a really nice place to wander round. Apparently Gdynia was nice as well but time didnt allow us to do both.
So overall some great places, great weather and a wonderful cruise.
One problem i did have though, i pre booked some Flowers for our Anniversary to be delivered to the room but they didnt appear, morning went by and then afternoon and still no flowers. Eventually i went to Guest Relations who apologised, when we went for a meal that night they delivered the Flowers, with Champagne and dressed up the room with all sorts of banners, and trimmings. So they made up for it but if you have ordered a surprise then check with Guest relations that it is in hand.