CELEBRITY ECLIPSE 4th- 20th October 2010
Sunday 3rd October, saw us loading the car in torrential rain and we left home @10.15. Eventually the rain stopped as we neared Oxford, but the traffic became heavy as the weather improved. We arrived in Southampton ton at 4.15.pm. We were booked into the Travel Lodge about 3 miles away from the port. The room was basic, but clean. We ate at Dock 'o the Bay in the evening ( £10.99 for a 2 course meal) which was across the road from TL( which looked like an office block) I woke in the morning to see Eclipse berthed, so the excitement began.
We ate breakfast at "Elizabeth House" which was just around the corner, The breakfast cost £7.50 p.p. We then drove in to Southampton & did some last minute shopping at the West Quay shopping centre. At 12.30pm we decided we would embark. There was a delay dropping off our baggage, as so many people had driven themselves to the port.
Another hold up was caused by the number of people who had to queue for luggage labels. We had some supplied by Celebrity, but they were the wrong colour! This is one area where they failed miserably- we could not order on line as we were a group booking. Let the Travel Agents issue as they did in the past. We breezed through embarkation , as we had already filled in the embarkation forms. Then the obligatory photo call.
We went to the cabin where the bed was wider than most that we have had before. The shower unit was the best that I have ever seen on a ship, However there was no unit for shower gel- only Aqua class get that! We were supplied with soap!
We then went to the dining room ( Moonlight Sonata) where a film was shown for the Muster drill (no lifebelts needed to be taken with us) Fortunately the sun came out for sail away, which we watched from the Sunset bar at the stern of the ship, so we could see where we had parked the car, near the flour mill. We then walked around the ship, taking note of the green grass which was being trimmed ( with the hot glass show arena in the background)
Not far into the 1st evening, it was evident that we were sailing into a storm. The night was apparently rough, but both Adrian & I felt no ill effects. The first we noticed was that there were fewer people than expected at the 1st C.C get together, which was held in the Sky Observation Lounge on Deck 14 forward. We definitely felt movement there. From there we went down to the Wine Tasting seminar in the restaurant, which was put on for Select & Elite members of the Captain's club. Later it was back up to the Sky Conference centre, which was the designated practice room for the 'Choir.'
Apparently any new Celebrity ship has the pick of the entertainment's staff in it's Inaugural Season, to get it off the ground. A Canadian, Carl Pucl, was one of the best in the company. He had asked to get a choir together- only dedicated singers need attend. Adrian(DH) was obviously interested, given his background. He attended all practices (14) and an admirable performance was put on during a concert on the last sea day. Later, we heard that the 1st 'Formal night' & the production show had already been postponed to the following day; it was too rough for the dancers to perform. When we later did a back stage tour I could see why. The stage is at the forward end of the ship, where all movement is exaggerated. I saw a door swing shut, and it was only the quick action of one of the staff, that prevented it smashing in to a couple who were leaving the Sky conference centre.
The following morning I woke up & suffered a nose bleed----was it another side effect of seasickness? I did hear of people loosing balance when they bent down, which apparently is also a side effect . After I had stopped my nose bleed, I put on a bath robe & made myself a cup of tea in one of the 'newly' designed glass , metal handelled cups. As I took a sip, the whole of the glass cup fell out of the holder. Very fortunately, all the tea went over the bath robe. WHATEVER HAPPENED TO HEALTH & SAFETY? I filled in the 'Tell us how we can help' card & took it to Guest Relations, asking for normal cups to be supplied & also for XL bath robes. I was told that they were all one size, but we did have them replaced with softer ones which were definitely larger. Obviously used for Aqua class guests! Thereafter, we were treated to gifts on alternate nights, a bottle of wine, flowers, chocolates, and fruit.
I also attended 2'Apple' lectures; one about i photos & the other on the i-phone, I pod touch & the i-pad. I also decided to buy the computer package; 20% extra minutes on the 1st Sea day + 25% off for being a "select" member.
Food & Drink
Mainly we ate in Moonlight Sonata!. One of the waiters told us that the dining room was exceptionally busy in a morning, as the ship sailed from Southampton. What I think he meant was that the English like being served their breakfast. We opted for it, as we tend to overeat- it is too tempting to pile your plate up! We opted for room service, for our arrival in Venice, as we thought we would miss' sail in.' However we were in early, so ate looking at the docks at dawn
We tended to go to the Ocean View Cafe at lunch time, as their hours were longer than the dining room's. We found that this was better, as Adrian went to lunch time choir practices, so it suited us better. However, I never found it over busy, but maybe it was because it was later than most people wanted to eat. I liked the way that everything was set out in bays- hot food, salads, carvery etc
Brunch was served over the weekend sea days. This was from 09.30 until 1pm. A much better idea that midnight feasts IMO. On the first Sunday we went late- an early lunch, as Adrian had a choir practice. We had woken early, so had had breakfast in the Ocean View Cafe. On the 2nd Saturday, we went for early Brunch & that was the only day when I had an afternoon tea- ( except for the elegant tea on the last afternoon) 09.30- 20.30 is a long,long time to go without food!!
Elegant Afternoon Tea
There was an elegant afternoon tea for Elite members of the Captain's Club, which we were not invited to. It was held during a sea day in the 1st week, but hidden in the listing for the last day's restaurant times , THERE IT WAS, for anyone to attend. We went in celebration of an excellent performance by the Celebrity Choir. Adrian was on cloud 9.
We ate all our evening meals in Moonlight Sonata, Deck 3. We had opted for a table of 6/8 on second sitting & were given a table for 2! Another mishap in Celebrity's organisation.
However, we got talking to a couple on the table adjacent to us & we got on very well. I thought that if we asked for a change, we might get some people that we didn't get on with, so we left things as they were
We didn't use any any of the speciality restaurants, as we were not prepared to pay the €35 cover charge( in Murano) We also declined the wine, as we considered the price to be excessive.
The only meal that I didn't like was veal on pasta. I swear the pasta kept growing as we ate it. Our fault, we read veal, but nothing else. I loved the French Onion soup & opted for it on at least 5 occasions. I also had Salmon & New York Steak twice. I am sure we had warm dinner rolls on a few occasions- maybe formal nights, but I can't be sure.
We attended the Eclipse Theatre ( which holds 1100 passengers) every evening.
2 of the production shows were held after the meal on Formal nights, so I fell asleep during the majority of the performances- 10.45pm is just too late for me. However, contrary to the opinion of the majority of passengers, I was pleased that most shows were on at 19.00 ( for 2nd sitting guests). There was a good mix of entertainment, comedians, singers & musicians.
We also had a "back stage tour" for Select & Elite Captain's club members, which was interesting. One thing we learnt was that if we choose to sail Eclipse again, we would see the same production shows for the next 5 years, as so many millions of $ have been invested in them. We also were at the end of the Inaugural season, so each show was well polished, as the pick of the companies' artists had been performing for at least 6 months. A new group of artists were embarking when we arrived in Southampton, to be taught by the departing company.
In conclusion, we had a great cruise. There were aspects that caused concern, mainly the money charged for excursions and wine. Celebrity should learn that they would sell more of both, if they reduced their prices. They get you on the ship with competitive prices, but try to overcharge once you are on. This just doesn't work with the majority of British passengers