We booked this cruise a year ago or so to celebrate my parents' Golden wedding anniversary. We booked adjacent balcony cabins with my parents in the cabin next door to my son (age 15) and myself. Both balcony cabins were on deck 9 on the straight part of "the hump". Embarkation at Southampton was fairly painless having filled in the necessary documents online (although grumbling all the time about lack of pre-cruise documents arriving in the post, something I really miss). The check-in procedure was definitely smooth at the port as passport and credit card etc. details had already been supplied.
Our cabins were ready for us upon boarding at around 2pm. Our stewardess Marites introduced herself almost immediately and both her and her assistant Michael proved to be absolutely wonderful keeping the cabins spotless. They were both so warm and friendly, always greeting us with lovely smiles. Storage in the cabin proved a little disjointed with cupboards over the bed and a smallish wardrobe. Perhaps we have just become used to the so much more user friendly "walk in" wardrobes of the standard balcony cabins which we enjoyed the on P & O Azura and the Princess ships of recent sailings. The bathroom however was the best I've had. I just loved the spacious shower and very practical bar for leg shaving. Everything was of a high quality except, strangely the toilet paper which disintegrated upon use. An extendable washing line in the shower for smalls etc. would have been useful. On the subject of washing however, there is no laundry room provided and even to get something ironed it had to be sent in. Of course most of us are unpacking a suitcase full of clothes that need just a quick press so an ironing room at least was much appreciated. These thoughts were echoed by many fellow passengers.
A big reason why we have chosen Celebrity Cruises is that they do not allow smoking in the cabins and on the balconies. A real treat to be able to sit outside and enjoy the sea air without the whiff of a neighbours' smoke. Well done Celebrity!
We had booked first sitting traditional dining, a bit of a rush at 6.15 each evening. We had a table for 8 towards the centre on the bottom level of the Moonlight Sonata dining room. Unfortunately the noise level in the dining room meant it was a struggle to hear our companions across the table, which proved a big disappointment to my hard of hearing father who could not participate in any banter. Having sailed on Celebrity Summit last year with a table in a similar position of our table of 8 we did not experience this problem so it must just be the acoustics of the Moonlight Sonata Dining Room. We would certainly book Select Dining on Eclipse in future where the smaller sized tables are on the upper level and it was not as noisy. For the most part the food was wonderful. Poor Dad however was forced to send his main course back on a couple of occasions. A lover of fish, the fish dishes proved a bit fussy and unappetising. I enjoyed everything apart from a couple of disappointing soups. The service from Bresley and his assistant "Panasonic" was superb, even remembering each night that I liked lemon served with my water.
We ate at all the speciality restaurants. Dad and I went to the Tuscan grill which was absolutely fantastic. We celebrated my parents' Golden Wedding Anniversary evening in Murano, which was indeed excellent (although the Dover sole was not quite as good as on Azura) but the service proved just a little intrusive. We ended up in fits of giggles when the waiter timed his arrival of the anniversary cake with Dad handing over of Mums' pendant (complete with elastic band) and hovered a little too long. Poor Dad, never the most romantic, his moment was ruined. On the second last night my son and I (almost as an afterthought) dined at Qsine and have never had so much fun at a meal. Everything is such a surprise and I am still fantasing about the delicious "Sushi lollipops". We absolutely loved it and it is certainly a must do for kids of all ages and I wish we had discovered it sooner. "Mr Spice" is honestly the most enthusiastic waiter we have ever had.
"The Trough" (Oceanview cafe) had a lot of variety on offer with stations you can nip in and out of. The drinks station was awkwardly organised though and people were always bumping into each other resulting in a constant wet patch on the floor. Never my favourite eating venue on any ship as they are always so cafeteria like, I usually tried to avoid it and discovered instead the Aqua spa cafe at the solarium. All the produce is organic and it was the perfect spot for a light breakfast and lunch. Only having nine tables it was quieter than "The Trough" although it did become a lot busier the second half of the cruise once people discovered it. Disappointingly the smoking area was just the other side of the glass doors so the odd whiff of smoke drifted through to the eating area particularly on inclement days when the smokers were taking cover.
I treated myself and paid $99 to use the Persian Garden (thermal suite) for the duration of the cruise. This proved a wonderful "bolt hole" with its aromatic suite, steam room and heated stone loungers with a glorious sea view. The ship seemed to have a shortage of outdoor loungers and of course being as Eclipse caters primarily to a British market and as the British do enjoy sunning themselves there was always the potential for a deckchair bunfight. It was almost impossible to find a lounger on sea days at the outside pool but there was usually one to be found around the indoor adult's only solarium.
The entertainment was good with a particularly memorable Capello group called "Sound Decision". These boys were fabulous and really made me smile popping up with little short shows all over the ship. The production shows were good but older folk were a little disappointed as they were focusing more on "modern day" West End shows like "Wicked" and "We will Rock You". They also complained that they were loud. There was an Acrobatic team called Alex and Sally who were fabulous. The hypnotist, a chap by the name of Christopher Caress was honestly the best show I have seen on a cruise ship, fantastic. There was also a very funny Irish comedian and some good cabaret singers to please the older folk. The Hot Glass show is also very interesting and worth seeing at some point during a cruise. Disappointingly many of the "lectures" were really about "nickel and diming" the passengers but this seems to be a reality in cruising today. My father was disappointed that there was no organised Bridge in the card and games room.
We only booked a couple of the ships' shore excursions. It was easy enough in most of the ports to catch the ships shuttle (at a fee) and walk around the Mediterranean ports at leisure.
All in all it was a lovely cruise on a beautiful ship. As lovely as a ship is, it can only be as good as the staff onboard. The staff on Eclipse offer a wonderful warm and friendly service. We found them very approachable. We generally always get chatting to staff and they really are such genuine people. Marites, our stewardess was genuinely concerned when Dad caught a dreadful chest and cold bug delivering piles of extra pillows to the cabin to help during the night. The service was spontaneous and from the heart. We would definitely sail on Celebrity Eclipse again.