Our day started by packing the suitcases at 8 o'clock the morning we were leaving and then a two hour drive to Southampton to join the cruise.
We have always travelled with Celebrity Cruises on Millennium class ships but were uncertain if the Eclipse was going to be too large when compared to our usual size of ship. We needn't have worried. The ship is very impressive when viewed at the dock and doesn't disappoint once on board. The whole layout is very contemporary and is definitely a wow on first entry.
Embarkation is very easy. Cars are lined up in rows and called forward for the luggage to be off loaded into the custody of porters. You then proceed to a secure parking area. Once parked you proceed on foot to the terminal and join the queue for the mandatory entry procedures. Once into the booking terminal Captain's Club members are directed into a dedicated line and dealt with very quickly. Then through the access door and along a corridor/ramp up to the entry port of the ship.
The usual photograph and entry procedure is followed by a welcome glass of Champagne or Orange Juice and then off to find your cabin.
We always travel on the back so it's a fairly long walk to the cabin to be greated by our steward who immediately brought the first of our suitcases.
The cabin is of a similar size to other Celebrity ships but draw storage is a little limited and the overhead lockers need to be used if the cabin is to remain tidy. The hanging wardrobe is sufficient but access is limited to one side of the bed. The bathroom is a great improvement on previous ships with a dedicated shower cubicle and small cupboards adjacent to the mirror for all necessary ablution items needed for the holiday. Much better than trying to use a hanging wash bag.
The veranda access is good although the size is limited for two people to use the lounger chairs and footstools simultaneously. The veranda door sealed very well and minimised any external noise from entering the cabin.
The usual safety brief was far more civilised on Eclipse and essentially life jackets were not required. Groups were gathered at various locations on the ship and the lifeboat drill was tannoyed and displayed in text format on screens for all languages used on the safety brief. Mealtimes on the older Celebrity ships could become a bit problematic with long queues to each servery but on the Eclipse this has been resolved by having dedicated food islands accessible on all sides. The system works very well and is a vast improvement over conventional serveries.
Entertainment is very good with shows on most nights. Some are single performers but there were full review shows on both formal nights.
It is essential when on Celebrity Cruises to use the cruise schedule delivered each night for the following day entertainment as there are very few announcements to tell guests what is happening that day. It works very well and people rarely miss attending venues of choice.
Dining is always a pleasure on Celebrity with an exceptional menu every night plus the usual standards of steak, chicken and fish in a simple form.
Alcoholic drinks are reasonably expensive but provided one does not drink to excess the overall cost is acceptable.
The speciality restaurants are grouped together on deck 5. We used Qsine and Bistro on 5. Qsine is very different but highly recommended. To explain exactly what happens would spoil the experience but suffice to say it is not to be missed and will stay in the memory for a very long time.
Bistro on 5 is a crepery and is excellent both for a change of venue and lunchtime experience.
Disembarkation was ver efficient and problem free. Groups are called using a coloured tag and number system. Exit is via the gangway and down to the luggage collection area where luggage is arranged in number order for quick identification. Collect a free barrow, identify your luggage and leave via the customs room to reclaim your vehicle at the carpark.