I am late posting as I have been in communication with RCCL regarding dietary issues but will keep this fair. My wife has a food allergy which means she cannot eat wheat. We have cruised several times before on P&O and this was our first and last cruise on Celebrity
So lets look at the ship first, very good , well it ought to be as it is not yet a year old. Room quite spacious for an inside but not enough storage, lack of drawers was a problem.
The bed was very comfortable. Our room attendant did not really greet us and introduce himself as other room attendants have done in the past. We did not really see him a lot until the last few days when he dropped off his envelope!!!!! He did turn the bed down every night though. After the first three days we had to prompt him to empty the bin in the bathroom.
Entertainment wise, distinctly average with a few exceptions. The Jazz quartet were excellent as were the acappella group of boys and the classical string quartet. Guest artists were ok but nothing exciting apart from Jamie Allen, a clean scouse comedian and the girl singer from Birmingham whose name I forget. Too much arial stuff in the shows and the male lead singers are past their sell-by-date. The contortionist was excellent but scary. The cruise direct John (American) tried his very best and I cannot fault his enthusiasm. The star of the show was Carl Pucl, a young Canadian guy who did a talk on the Titanic over three one hour presentations, arranged a passenger choir and loads of other things to many to mention. A future cruise director if ever I saw one.
No we come to the main issue, food and dietary requirements. Firstly let me say we are seasoned cruisers but only until 2010 with P & O. The cruise we wanted with P & O in 2010 was fully booked and this cruise was going to similar destinations so we gave it a go. Bearing in mind we have never had any problems with food for my wife on their cruises we were bitterly disappointed with Celebrity Eclipse. Let me say some of the negatives should not put you off but the dining experience is a major part of any cruise.
The buffet restaurant for breakfast and light lunches never posed a problem as my wife knows what she an and cannot eat. An order for wheat free toast was always provided relatively quickly.
The big issue was with the Moonlight Sonata main restaurant. On the first night we introduced ourselves and highlighted my wife's wheat intolerance and were initially pleased to find out that they were aware having had previous notice from us and our travel agent. Based on this you would think things were going to be ok, not the case.
Our waitress Boz was excellent and to be honest towards the end of the cruise she was distinctly embarrassed by the performance of the kitchen. To be told night after night by the Maitre'D that there were no alternatives to starters, main courses and desserts other than to remove sauces, bread products and various parts of desserts was totally unacceptable. Ice Cream every night is not a dining experience. Coq au vin was presented for my wife as two pieces of chicken with no sauce despite the Maitre'D stating a separate sauce would be prepared.
The speciality restaurants were a different kettle of fish and nothing was too much trouble.
The Tuscan Grill were able to provide superb wheat free foccacia bread, a change from the two pieces of cardboard bread in the Moonlight Sonata and wheat free versions of most desserts. When we queried why they were able to provide this type of bread the staff were astounded as it is all made in the same kitchen!!
Qsine exactly the same and truly unique dining experience, you must try it.
On a personal note I found the main dining room food to be quite bland. Tasteless prawns (Or shrimp as they call it) and most of the sauces tasted the same. The fish was good though but you don't want it every night. Same with the steaks, very tasty but you don't want it every night.
Despite complaints to the Maitre'D nothing happened so we had to raise it with Customer Relations who put us in touch with Simon? The Head of Catering who whilst he was apologetic did not have time to change anything until the last night when some wheat free foccacia bread miraculously appeared.
Now then tipping: Tips are automatically taken from your account unless you get them taken off. They are also added on to every drinks bill you get at 15%. So if you buy a bottle of wine for $50.00 your tip is $7.50 which I think is a little OTT. The whole experience onboard reflected this.
Some of the staff did not seem as motivated to provide good service as they are on P&O.
Drinks prices were ridiculously expensive on the whole but as we are not big drinkers it did not bother us.
Having read some other reviews I find that the special dietary requirements have proved to be an issue before.
Having registered a complaint with RCCL I had to e-mail the CEO in Florida as the UK side were taking too long and after 19 days responded by saying they had passed it to another department. Strangely enough after I e-mailed the CEO I had a phone call from Florida and a response the next day from the UK.
However, whilst being apologetic, they chose to hide behind their terms and conditions which basically state that they will endeavour to meet any dietary requirement but cannot guarantee to do so. They made what I saw as an empty gesture of offering money off any future cruise with the RCCL group. This wont be happening as we will be returning to
P & O in 2011 so I have asked if they would make a charitable donation in the same sum to a British Charity, I won't be holding my breath.