Where do I start? First this is about my 18th cruise. I started on the older ships that kept the old style class voyages. I do miss that; however Celebrity appears to be getting away from that, and beginning a new era of "modern cruising" with Eclipse. Even other modern cruise ships still have subliminal reminders of old style voyages across the atlantic. This is not the case with Eclipse, and I welcome the change.
I recently returned from a cruise of the western Caribbean aboard the Celebrity Eclipse. I arrived and met my party at the airport in Miami at about 9am. We figured we needed to blow some time before boarding; however we spoke with a celebrity representative and was informed that they would allow us to board as early at 10:30 am; thus we got a taxi ($25) to the cruise port.
Many had arrived early, so there was more of a line. I usually arrive around 1pm and walk right on. This may be something to consider when making your travel arrangements. I had ordered and received our luggage tags weeks before and had placed them on our luggage. The porter took them right from the taxi, and assured us they would arrive at our cabin. After "checking in," we boarded the ship. After 17 cruises, I was actually in awe of how wonderful the ship looked. We walked around for an hour or so to get our "bearings." EVERY detail was considered by celebrity. The public areas were incredible and modern. The lawn club is a must see. There's just something unique about your bare feet on a lawn while at sea. The specialty dining rooms were unique in their appearance to their "style" of dining. After exploring, we went up to the buffet. Celebrity has definitely listened to their customer's suggestions. The buffet was set up in stations (i.e. salads, pasta, sushi, Asian, pizza). It made for less congestion during peak hours. The food was absolutely incredible! On my last few cruises, the food quality has declined. I have actually lost weight. Needless to say, I gained quite a few pounds on this cruise. By 1pm, an announcement was made that all guest may now proceed to their staterooms.
We had an outside cabin with a balcony, on the starboard side of the ship forward. Again, when I walked in I was blown away. The cabins appear larger. The bathrooms are huge in comparison to any other ship I have been on. I am not a "slim" guy and always have trouble in the shower with the curtain touching me when bathing. First, there is no curtain. The Eclipse has plastic sliding doors and so much room to move about. The shower head is attached, and has a strong "flow." There is also more storage than on any other ship I have sailed; no problem storing clothes, and there were three of us in the cabin! The cabin steward was very attentive and got us anything we asked for. Our luggage arrived at about 2pm, and we were again out and exploring by 3pm.
We went to the pool and solarium area. Again, second to none; the lounge chairs were very comfortable, and there was never a problem getting a chair during the days at sea. Even though there is a "no saving" policy in effect, I never saw one instance where it had to be enforced. There were plenty of chairs and space. I personally enjoyed the solarium pool area. It was quiet, relaxing, and very comfortable.
We had the late seating for dinner. I simply cannot say enough about the food quality and service. The service rivals that of cunard, and cunard has a very high standard. There was not one food item I ordered or tasted that I didn't enjoy. I eat out a lot, and this food could have been served in any five star restaurant in NYC. I later attended a briefing from the master chef, and understood why the food was so excellent. While each cruise line has an executive chef that prepares the menus throughout the fleet, the master chefs can add their own "touch" to the menu items. I never understood why the food could be so good on one ship, and so bad on another; both of the same cruise line. I actually told the master chef that I would ensure he is the master chef on my next cruise, whatever the ship. We also went to the Qusine specialty restaurant one evening. You must not miss the opportunity to experience the different style of dining! First there is more food than you care to eat. My recommendation would be to not eat at all the day you will be dining at Qusine. It's a little confusing however, and celebrity really should take more time to explain how the process works. Just know that there is really no appetizer, no main course, but you will have dessert. All items are seemingly meant to be shared by all at the table. Reservations are required, and the cost is $30 per person. Reserve early, preferably online before you depart!
The shows were also better than any other as a whole than on any other ship I have cruised. The guest performers were excellent; however I have seen better "celebrity singers and dancers" on other ships. There were also some obstructed views due to weight bearing columns situated throughout the theater. Other than that, excellent shows and we didn't miss one of them. Performers in the lounges were also excellent. Every evening you could easily find a style of music you desire in one of the public lounges.
If you have been to the western Caribbean ports, you already know what they are like; however I strongly recommend visiting Roahtan. We went there back in the mid 90's on one of the first ships to visit. We wanted to see how much it had changed. It was "built up;" however tabyana bay beach was just as we remembered it. It is still a terrific beach with great snorkeling. We took an excursion which included transportation, lunch, snorkeling equipment, and chairs. The excursion desk was very helpful and honest by not allowing us to book the excursion due to the potential of bad weather. They suggested we wait until the morning of arrival before booking the excursion. Great suggestion and we obviously booked.
If I have one complaint, it would have to be information provided for arrival day for disembarkation. We booked an 11:55 flight out of Miami, and thought we would be cutting it close. We were wrong. The ship arrived at approx. 4 am, and guests were disembarking at 6:00 am. I would like to see the cruise lines provide a more exact time that passengers will be allowed to disembark, AND embark. We could have booked an earlier flight. We ended up at the airport by 8:30 am, was checked in and through security by 9 am.
Overall, this is without question the best ship I have sailed! My overall assessment of the ship would be "modernized." This is what cruisers have been asking for, and celebrity has hit the jackpot. I will definitely cruise Eclipse again, and have concluded celebrity is my line of choice for cruising.