This was my fourth Caribbean cruise with my husband and his family. We are 11 people, ranging in age from 28 to 94. Last year we were on the Solstice and loved it, and knew without a doubt we wanted this years to be on an S-Class ship, so we chose the 8 day holiday voyage on the brand new Eclipse. We were not disappointed in our choice.
Overall, the Eclipse is a stunning vessel, inside and out. It is extremely clean, and the staff seems to take pride in working on her. The ship also never, for a moment, felt crowded. I still can't believe that there were 2799 other guests on that ship with me.
Embarkation was easy. This was my first time out of Miami (we usually leave from Ft. Lauderdale) and it was a breeze. Champagne was waiting as we boarded the ship. The rooms are identical to the Solstice. They are very well-appointed. The bathrooms are large with plenty of storage. I do wish there was a bit more storage in the main room for our clothing, but we made do. We had a row of six cabins, and we immediately had our stewards open up all the balconies so we could all hang out together throughout the entire cruise.
The staff on this ship was wonderful. They were all so friendly and eager to help. On sea days, they were a constant presence on deck, offering cold towels, drinks, etc, always with a smile. The Cruise Director seemed to be everywhere, a constant presence.
I would rank our cabin steward as good, not great. He was friendly enough, but not very proactive. I honestly don't remember seeing him more than twice during our entire cruise. Our room was always clean, so I can't really complain. He just wasn't terrific at refilling empty items.
Our waiter, Vlatko from Croatia, was incredible, one of the best we've had. He figured out very early on our likes and had them waiting for us at our table every night. He was cheerful and positive, and seemed to truly want us to have the most positive experience possible. His assistant was a bit weak, but we chalked it up to a lack of experience and the fact that he and Vlatko had quite a few large tables to take care of.
I wish I had the same positive feeling about the food in the main dining room, which I will say was the most disappointing thing of all on this cruise. While we found the food on the Solstice last year to be top-notch, this year there was rarely a night that I found something appetizing on the menu. Everything on the menu is very elaborate. It's as if Celebrity is trying to make each dish sound fancy, but there are so many ingredients and flavors that all the dishes became mudied messes. For instance, there was lasagne on the menu one evening. Great! Unfortunately, it was made with shredded braised beef. Huh? One person in our group ordered it, and it was completely inedible. They really need to add more simple dishes to the menu.
The food in the Oceanview, however, was terrific. I loved the variety, and it's all actually good. The pizza is terrific, and we loved the stir fry. One of the best features on these ships is the design of the buffet, which allows for a steady flow of people and very few lines. I rarely, if ever, waited in line for any food. I know some people had trouble finding seating in the Oceanview; we never did. We loved eating outside on the patio at the rear of the ship, and there were always plenty of tables.
There was always plenty to do on the ship. We loved the glass show and my husband went to two lecture and found them interesting and informative. We also enjoyed the shows, especially the Eclipse show, the Cirque-du-Soleil style show. We never had a problem securing deck chairs on sea days, but we were up on deck by 9:30 to grab them.
The only other negative was disembarkation, which was a chaotic mess. We were to be the last group off the ship at 8:35, and we went down to the dining room at 7:45. It took FOREVER to get served. We went back to our staterooms around 8:45, planning to grab our things and get off the ship, but an announcement was made that they were holding people from leaving the ship. 30 minutes later, we were finally able to leave. We found out that they had to hold people back because the terminal can only hold 200 people and there were over 600 down there trying to get their luggage and get out. By the time we got there, it was still pretty chaotic, and it took us quite awhile to get through customs. There were six large ships that had come in that morning, making finding transportation a nightmare. We had reservations for a rental car, but my brother-in-law got to Avis only to find they had NO cars at all. An hour after we disembarked we FINALLY got a cab. What an absolute zoo - I never want to go out of Miami again after that experience!
But it still didn't sour our week. Yes, no vacation is perfect. But we go on these cruises to relax and be together and the perk is that we were on an incredibly beautiful ship. What a wonderful week!