Dates: Holiday Cruise: Dec. 26, 2010- Jan 2, 2010
2 Adult Passengers, Balcony Stateroom, Eight Floor
Ports of Call: Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Roatan, Costa Maya
Our expectations were high prior to boarding the Eclipse. I had looked into different cruise options for more than 20 hours online and the Eclipse met the bill for a sleek, sophisticated vessel.
Boarding: The process went fairly smoothly.
Initial Impression: A large, very good looking vessel that shows upscale lines. Champagne was provided on initial boarding.
Drink Package: We decided to purchase the beverage packages, which was a good decision, as soon as we boarded. After deliberating for a couple of weeks prior to the departure as to whether the price was worth it ($50.00 a day for the premium alcohol package and $40.00 for the classic alcohol package for my girlfriend), we determined it was indeed. These are rates per person. Classic included all wines and mixed drinks to $8.00 and the premium up to $12.00. Beer is up to $5.00 in the classic and unlimited in premium. Good selection of imported beer, including Guinness. Bottom line here: If you plan on buying alcohol onboard, get the package. I suggest the premium package as it allows the 10.00 martinis in the martini bar and the $12.00 martini creations in the Molecular Bar (featuring organic martinis, including those with liquid nitrogen). All bottled water, soda, coffees, wine, champagne, after diner drinks are included in the alcohol packages. A 15% surcharge is applied at the front so no tipping is required, although the better staff bartenders deserve more. We tipped the sommelier quite a bit more because he was professional, knowledgeable, and was quick with refills at dinner. It also eliminated needing to sign every time one wanted a drink. Very cost effective and flexible, especially on New Year' Eve. However, we were not able to get a bottle of water from 0230am-0700am. My girlfriend was told at 0630 by a waiter in the Oceanview cafe that she could purchase a bottle at 0700am at the bar; and this was after he consulted his supervisor. I feel that guests that purchase beverage packages should have access to water 24 hours a day. There is water in each room available for an additional fee.
Dinner: We had the assigned 6PM time. Dinner was prompt and professional with 2 sides of the menu. One listed classic dishes available every night; the other side provided a Chef's selection which changed daily. One may mix and match and ordering multiple courses is not a problem. After dinner Remy Martin Cognac, either at dinner or in Michael's Lounge was relaxing. We liked the bartender Mila in Michael's because she was personable and knowledgeable. Jesus in the Ensemble lounge kept the drinks coming and was a blast. The music varies in each of the lounges. Dinner varied and the formal night included lobster. Impeccable service in the dining room. We could not get a reservation so late in the process for the specialty restaurants, although others raved about them. Nightly room service was quick and excellent. The pool bar is great for chicken and burgers. The 14th floor has the Oceanside grille which has great variety if one chooses a casual option. The sushi was disappointing as there were 3 options and they were not very tasty. Celebrity select dining seemed to be unnecessary for the extra cost as seating was flexible by 15-20 minutes or goes casual. Caffe Bacci- great international coffees and drinks. Gelato bar- costs $3.00 a serving which was surprising as everything else was included. Some of the guests were rude to staff and complained about minor issues, such as the size of the chicken pieces in the pasta! To the women who were acting as nannies for two children during breakfast on Deck 14, PLEASE change the kids soiled diapers in the restroom and NOT at the dining room table.
Entertainment: Saw the magic show and variety shows. Both good. Martini Bar has its own show on the cold, ice bar with one enthusiastic staff member who was going wild on NY Eve.
There was only one DJ available on NY Eve and was removed from the club that we were in and reassigned to the top deck where many young guests were partying. The activities director did not offer us another option and stated it was not her fault. Additionally, she added it was her boss decision and we need to voice our concerns.
Balcony Stateroom- Well apportioned and excellent design. Beautiful bathroom and spacious balcony. In room entertainment is awesome and the bed was relaxing. We had an outstanding attendant, Eric, who was there as soon we departed the room and had it reassembled immediately thereafter. Bravo!
Ports: Grand Cayman- We almost missed this port of call as we were one of 2 ships to make it because of the weather. No jewelry deals in ANY of the ports. It is all hype. As a matter of fact, some of the items are pricier than in the USA.
Roatan: Filthy port with little to offer. This is a place for shore excursions sponsored by the trip. We took a private taxi tour and after $40.00 and 1 ½ hour later, were ready to get back to the ship.
Cozumel: Good port but be safe. Many opportunities for foolish tourist to drink too much tequila and wind up in jail with high bail. We went to an all inclusive at Uvas and it was a blast. Just know the area is a tourist trap.
Costa Maya: Do not leave the sheltered shopping district without a cruise sponsored tour. Care to pet the dolphins for 100 bucks a person for 10 minutes in a small cage about 30 feet long. We passed on it.
Best part of the trip? Horseback riding on the beach and in the ocean at Pampered Ponies in Caymans. Good price and a good staff. They cater to all styles.
My girlfriend and I noticed an eclectic combination of personas. The cruise ship is luxury and upscale. Providing an ice cold towel on return from each of the ships ports distinguished the ship amongst others in port.
If you want to be treated like royalty in a new ship, which crew is still getting used to the intricacies of the vessel, sail the Eclipse. Only gripe here is that some of the staff's limited English proficiency resulted in confused orders in some bars... something easy to overlook.
The bartenders in the Molecular bar were distant and disengaged. The male bartender handed us a drink menu and did not offer us any suggestions. A female bartender spoke only to the male bartender in perfect English. Again, no suggestions were made to help guide us on our drink selection. One of the other guests guided us. The drinks were fresh and spectacular. The Molecular bar was something we looked forward to and my girlfriend refused to go and be treated poorly by the bartenders. The male bartender did interact with a specific group of male guests. Both failed to make us feel comfortable.
Awesome cruise lines, decent price, first class service. GREAT job and we will return.