CABIN AND VERANDA Celebrity Eclipse is a beautiful ship and our cruise to the Baltic Sea far exceeded our expectations. We had a forward stateroom with veranda on Deck 9, just next to the elevator. Initially we were worried that the elevator 'bell' would be a bother but the stateroom door was so soundproof that we were never disturbed by the elevator at all. The NO SMOKING policy in the stateroom and the veranda is WONDERFUL because we were able to enjoy extensive use of the veranda (including breakfast and dinner on the veranda) without having cigarette smoke drifting to our veranda. In a previous cruise where smoking was allowed in verandas, we unfortunately had a neighbouring stateroom with smokers and we did not enjoy the use our veranda at all. (All things being equal, for future cruises, we will definitely choose Celebrity cruise because of the NO SMOKING in the veranda policy.)
DINING We opted for Select Dining and had reservations for table for 2 for most nights. Select Dining was really a good option because we could vary our reservation timings based on when we return from our shore excursions. Even though we had made reservations prior to sailing, both the Main Dining Room staff and Speciality Restaurants were flexible in accommodating our changes in timing.
Menu selection in MDR was excellent and presentation of food was very good. The food always came out piping out. Dessert was really good - and Eclipse has a very good pastry chef.
The Oceanview Cafe, however, tended to be very crowded. Also, even though there was a big buffet spread, there was little variation in the buffet spread each day.
Moreover, there was way too much emphasis on Indian food in the buffet spread. There was a big Indian selection on the buffet selection every day of the fourteen day cruise. If the idea was to include an ethnic touch, what would have been more exciting was to substitute that with a selection featuring food from some of the ports visited.
MDR SERVICE The restaurant service the first few days was rather brusque and curt. On the first night, while explaining the menu, it was done in a very 'abrupt' style and tone. He gave me the impression that he had just come out from a military camp. Moreover, the waiter almost snatched the menu off my hand the second I finished giving my selection. However, the following week, the service was better and the waiters engaged in small chats.
The bar steward in the MDR was very attentive and by the second night knew us by name. When we did not have dinner at the MDR two nights consecutively, he noticed it and asked us how we were doing and said that he missed us the last few nights. That was really attentive service.
OCEANCAFE SERVICE The service staff at the Oceancafe did not appear trained or happy. There were times when they just cut in front of me when I was carrying my food and I actually had to stop to let them pass instead of them giving way to the guest.
STATEROOM ATTENDANT We had a wonderful stateroom attendant from the Philippines. Anne was especially good. She was around to welcome us into the room when we first arrived. While she had very little opportunity to go ashore, she was always positive and smiling when she saw us coming back from shore and always asked if we had a nice time.
PUBLIC AREAS What we really missed was having a wrap-around promenade the length of the ship for a good exercise walk. The jogging track in Eclipse was only half the length of the ship. What made it worse was smoking was allowed on one side of the jogging track, at the Mast Bar. So, we would be doing brisk walking, inhaling the fresh air of the sea and then go smack into a cloud of cigarette smoke as we turn the corner. It does not make sense at all putting a Smoking Area next to the jogging track!
ENTERTAINMENT The entertainment in the Eclipse Theatre was outstanding, especially the Cirques de Soleil style production. It was spectacular, albeit rather unnerving as there was no safety net. While it was indeed dazzling, we would have preferred more of the entertainment to be more light-hearted to add to the fun element of cruising.
We found the serving of drinks while the entertainment was on rather distracting. Given the theatre-style seating, those seating near the aisle had to stand up to let the stewards serve drinks to those sitting inside. Bar stewards should make sure that all orders and drinks be completed before the entertainment starts.
COFFEE CARD It would be great if there is a Coffee Card Package. It would take away the hassle of having to give the bar stewards the room card every time we order a coffee, especially in the theatre.
All in, it was a very enjoyable cruise on a beautiful ship and the itinerary was perfect, with enough sea days in between.