This was my 3rd cruise - 2nd with Celebrity. I was with my parents and two sisters. I now realize my expectations were set too high from the start, so remember its only one opinion.
The Good :
• Had a great stateroom with balcony. Everything was very clean and the beds were comfortable. My attendant always had the room cleaned by 12:00 and bed turned down by 18:00. I saw my attendant maybe 3 times the whole trip, which was fine with me. • The Qsine specialty restaurant was the most fun dinner I have experienced in many years!! • The Captains Club special event in the Sky Lounge was great - met the captain - good bands and music. • The Hot Glass Show was very interesting to me - saw it 3 times. • The Chinese style Cirque de Sole show was very entertaining. • The wine pairing event was fun and educational. • The Lawn Club on deck 15 is really fun ! • The guest relations personnel were friendly and courteous. • And the best part for me was sitting on the balcony, just staring at the ocean!
The Not so Good :
Not enough public space!! - Pool area - Oceanview Cafe - Main dining room.
The weather was overcast for almost half the trip - but when it was sunny, the outdoor pool area is way too small for the amount of guests. Finding an open chair by the pool is your first challenge. And finding a chair in the sun is your second. The one place on the whole ship to sun by the pool, and they built two huge overhead tarps on both sides of the pools that block most of the sun ! Designed for older people ?? The 2 outdoor pools are very small - with over 2,000 passengers, more than 10 people in a pool felt crowded.
The Oceanview Cafe was always too crowded for a late breakfast at 9 or 10. Timing is everything and good luck finding a seat. The cafe food was good, not great, and became rather routine after the first few days.
The Main dining room tables and chairs were too close together as the waiters and staff kept bumping my chair because they could barely squeeze by. We sat on the lower floor in the middle at a round table. Our waiter appeared inattentive and many times acted like he was in a rush to take our orders - pen and pad in hand staring around the room. But they did make a good first impression. The first two days, we had very good dinners - I had great roast lamb and a very tasty, thick cut New York strip steak. But after a few days it died off - the steaks were noticeably smaller and the food started tasting the same. They always brought out our appetizers and soup/salad very quickly, and then we would wait 15-20 minutes for the main entrEe. We experienced better professionalism, quality of food, and dining service on the Celebrity Galaxy in 2008. One day, we chose breakfast in the main dining room and ordered omelets with cheese and green peppers. It may have been a mistake, but the green peppers were actually very hot jalapeños and it was inedible - we never went back.
• The public announcement speakers in my cabin stopped working after the 2nd day. • There is no coffee in your stateroom, only tea. I won't set a wakeup alarm for room service coffee. • The water temperature in the shower kept changing from warm to very hot every minute or so - a bit annoying. • The movies I tried to watch kept pausing for 5 seconds at random times- I finally gave up watching movies. • The I-Lounge Internet cafe stations only worked some of the time. • They do not warn you that they wash the windows above your balcony at random times and the water will run down and drench / ruin anything left on your table - including digital cameras. • The Fortunes Casino, to mingle and meet friends, was always empty - because of the new, non-smoking policy? • The Chef Cook-off show event in the theater was a failure. The show was never rehearsed and the audience had no idea what they were cooking. They forgot to bring salt, then the electricity failed on stage and the head chef could not complete his dish. That's when I walked out.
The DEcor :
The carpet design and color themes throughout the ship made it feel older. I had hoped to find an ultra modern, "Scandinavian" design and look for a new ship only 3 months old. The carpeting looked the same as they used on the Celebrity Galaxy many years ago, which has now been retired.
Value for the Money ??
I think the Eclipse has the potential to become a true 5 star experience, but it's not there yet. I realize it was only its 5th sailing and I was willing to deal with some of the "kinks" from the start. But now I feel that it will take at least another 6 months to iron out many of them.
It became clear early on, that Celebrity is out to make money. Few, if any items, are complimentary above and beyond the price you have already paid. I felt they were pushing wine sales at every lunch and dinner. We did not experience this on our previous cruises. I think the better strategy would have been to raise the base price of the cruise and reduce all the other surcharges to make it feel not so obvious!
I met one of the guest relations staff and she informed me that Celebrity is now targeting older, retired / senior citizens because they have "more money" - in her own words. I couldn't agree more as there were not many that could pass for under age 50 ! There were no "party" events or activities geared for younger people. As another poster commented, "It was lacking the fun experience".
I thought many items should have been included, or were overpriced for the value...
The bottle of water in your stateroom is $4.00 - not many noticed the little card with fine print.
The specialty restaurants charge an additional $ 30 - $35 per person above and beyond what you have already paid for the dinner that you will miss that night. Isn't "specialty food" what we purchased for the entire trip ??
The wine pairing tasting event was $15.00 per person - I just purchased a $15.00 glass of wine.
The least expensive alcoholic beverage was a 12 oz. beer for $5.18. They include an automatic 15% gratuity on all alcohol purchases. Some bars advertised buckets of beer - one promoted 6 for 5 - the other said 5 for 4 - which would you choose?
We played Bingo with a room of 30 others who paid $20.00 each to play. The 3 winners were paid about $250.00 between them. Not a bad profit.
The I-Lounge internet cafe is not free and charges by the minute (when it's working).
I read other posts about the Lisbon shuttle bus tickets "scam". They published you could only purchase the bus tickets on the ship the day before arriving in port, so I purchased 5 for $60.00. Sure enough, the next day they had free shuttles all day long to and from the pier and nobody was checking for tickets!!
In their daily brochure, most of the activities and events I wanted to attend had an asterisk next to it, meaning you had to pay a surcharge. I avoided them.
Unfortunately, many items I have listed may delay any travel considerations on the Eclipse in the near future.