This is our first Celebrity cruise after previously sailing with other cruise lines, including Princess. Apart from the fact that Princess has self-serve laundry facilities, everything on the Celebrity Eclipse is far superior to our past Princess cruise experiences!
Because we were with the Concierge Class (CC), we had a separate line for embarkation, which had a shorter wait. With CC, we were supposed to get priority luggage delivery; but somehow we never got our luggage delivered until the ship actually set sail.
Room (Concierge Class)
We had a CC room on the back "hump" of the ship, and the size of our balcony was HUGE! We loved the high-back lounge chairs and the foot rest, and there was still room to dance around if we wanted to. Storage space in our stateroom was limited, although the overhead storage above our bed was a bonus. One small complaint is that the safe was right above the mini-fridge, and the heat could be felt in the safe, which may not be ideal for storing electronics (e.g. netbooks). From reading reviews, we were expecting tea/coffee service with kettle and mugs in our room, but it was non-existent. The shower stall is far superior to the typical "phone booths" on other ships. The bed was extremely comfortable. We absolutely LOVED the interactive flat-screen TV where we can watch TV on demand, order our photos and room service, keep track of our shipboard account, and go online. The decor of the room was beautiful - very bright and clean. Overall we enjoyed the extra amenities that came with CC (e.g. extra tote bags, expanded breakfast room service menu, daily hors d'oerves), and felt that this service was worth the extra charge.
The ship was new and beautiful! You never had to wait too long for an elevator. The colours are soft. The decor was modern, clean, and restful. Everyone loved the library.
We were on the ship a week before Christmas week, so the ship was beautifully decorated with wreaths, trees, and other Christmas decorations. We really loved the Christmas village in the middle of the ship, but unfortunately the train stopped working halfway through our cruise.
The top deck of the ship had a lawn with real grass, and passengers played lawn bowling and mini-putt golf every day. The jogging track is perfectly placed right outside the Oceanview Cafe.
Overall, the ship is very upscale!
We ate in the dining room (Moonlight Sonata) almost every night, and we liked the fact that there was always a different variety of vegetarian, meat and seafood to choose from. The portions weren't too big so you can enjoy every course without being too full. We reserved different times each night, and never had to wait to get a table. The bar service was excellent - our bartender recommended different drinks every night. The Maitre-d also came around each night to ensure that we enjoyed our meal.
The oceanview cafe had different varieties of food every day ranging from Indian curries to Mexican and Italian cuisine. Afternoon tea was available every day with finger foods, followed by a sushi selection. Different juices were available throughout the day, and the coffee, hot chocolate, and tea tasted great! We also really enjoyed the different variety of ice cream, sorbet, and frozen yogurt. We liked the fact that the cafe also had travel cups and sleeves so you can take your hot beverages "to go". We never encountered any problems finding a table except for lunch on embarkation day (this is typical of all cruise ships on embarkation day though).
We tried Qsine one evening and found their different dining concept to be interesting. You view and order your food via the Apple iPad, and you get to taste cuisines from all around the world. The food was good, although it was too salty for our taste. Beware of over-ordering!
We dined in Bistro on Five one afternoon, and we really enjoyed the dessert crepes. Unfortunately service was a bit slower than usual, but the food was well worth the wait, and the waiter did acknowledge and apologize for the wait.
Since this was the Caribbean, we consider the shore excursions to be "typical" of island tours. The beaches were beautiful. Beware of being greeted by photographers with snakes hanging around their necks in Mexico. There were never any bottlenecks at the gangway for disembarking for shore excursions, which was a plus!
The selection/variety of shops onboard was amazing. There were 18 shops that sold alcohol, sundries, Celebrity souvenirs, clothing, and jewellery. The "boulevard" made it feel like you were shopping in an upscale place.
Service could not get any better! From the time you embark the ship to the time you disembark, you are treated like a true celebrity, and it seemed as though the staff couldn't do enough for you. The staff at the Passenger Services and Shore Excursion desks was polite and efficient. Our room steward did an excellent job with keeping our room immaculate, including the balcony (and lounge chairs!), and he was never intrusive.
During the cruise, we never once encountered rude or arrogant staff. The ship was extremely clean, and everywhere we went, there was always some washing the walls or windows.
Disembarkation process was very organized, and the staff was still very polite as we left the ship and pier.
Another bonus with cruising on Celebrity is the fact that smoking is not allowed inside the stateroom or on the balconies. We would definitely sail with Celebrity again! We absolutely love the Solstice-class ships!