Travel to port: We took a train from London's Waterloo Station to Southampton (31 pounds per person)and shared a large taxi in the rain to the ship.
Stateroom info: We booked a Concierge Class stateroom all the way aft facing the stern on Deck 10 with a verandah, and especially enjoyed the peace and sun in the mornings, reading and just watching the ship's wake. The stateroom (same size and layout for all verandah rooms)was excellent - plenty of room, nice sitting area, small dressing table, minibar/fridge, large flatscreen TV, very comfortable bed, roomy bathroom with many drawers & cupboards, and a curved, glass shower - best shower I've seen on a ship. The steward and his assistant were tops and our room was always made up well before midday.
Dining: We opted for early fixed seating dining, table for four with our travel companions. Had outstanding and professional service from waiters and wine steward - never a wait, never a problem. We have traveled a great deal and lived in a major city for decades, and you could not find better service than this in the best restaurant anywhere in the world. The food was terrific, always with numerous tempting choices. Celebrity has the portion sizes just right, and the presentation was quite attractive. We had breakfast and lunch most days in the ocean view buffet and found typical cruise line offerings, with additions like baked beans and bangers at breakfast for the many British passengers.
We sampled Qsine one evening but I wouldn't go again - it was a bit trendy and gimmicky by design, and the service was so-so ... for the helfty surcharge, I'd choose the elegant experience we had in Murano on a previous Celebrity cruise or would try the Tuscan Grill if I felt the urge to branch out from the wonderful dining room choices.
Entertainment: Celebrity's core entertainment is top notch - three huge production shows with acrobats, excellent singers & dancers. A British woman who has performed at London's West End theatres was great as well. Some of the other performances were average, but there was a great variety. The huge theater was always packed and the ship was lively all evening - people dancing in the main atrium area or watching the bartenders put on a show in the Martini Bar.
Lectures: The surprise hit was a 3 part series on the Titanic that kept the full theater spellbound - the 45 minutes flew by each time. It was so popular that Carl, the speaker, added a Q&A on the last day. Carl is on the cruise staff and is, in my opinion, a great candidate for a future cruise director.
Port information: For the two Normandy ports we booked tours, Le Havre (tour to Honfleur and Deauville) and Cherbourg (tour to WW sites including Omaha Beach, cemetary at Coleville and St Mere Eglise) and they were fine, not outstanding. No tour in Vigo, Spain in favor of strolling around which we regretted since the entire town seemed to be under construction with blocked streets, noise, dirt, etc everywhere. No tour in Ponta Delgada, Azores and we enjoyed exploring on foot (easy access right off the ship), visiting the market and relaxing in a sunny square near the cathedral - a lovely port of call.
Disembarkation: Long line to get off (people apparently ignoring the scheduled departure time) plus a 45 minute wait at the luggage carousels which seems to be our usual fate in Miami - Ft. Lauderdale is so much simpler with the luggage grouped by tag number in a big area. Next time, we'll do the walk off option.
Summary: I've been a Holland America fan for quite a while and took this sailing due to the itinerary. I have to admit I am a convert to Celebrity for most future cruises based on the top quality of the food, service and entertainment we experienced. The ship is modern European in style with beautiful decor and a dramatic atrium, though I do miss the complete promenade and clipper bow of classic style ships. I also think HAL has an ideal formula for the library/internet/coffee cafe where I like to spend mornings at sea. However, we have come to realize that Celebrity's Captain's Club repeater benefits are outstanding with discounts for internet and laundry - our friends who are Elite members had even more goodies. We will no doubt book HAL again some time in the future but Celebrity certainly has a winner in their new Eclipse - if they deliver this level throughout their fleet, they'll be hard to resist as our number #1 choice.