Thoughts on the Eclipse…
Just a reminder… these are my thoughts and opinions, and may or may not agree with those who were on the same cruise. We decided to book an absolute last minute cruise on the Eclipse for a number of reasons, but the 2 main reasons were to thaw out (we live north of Chicago) and relax. We booked the cruise through Celebrity on Wednesday, and sailed on the ship on Saturday. We had initially only seen inside rooms available, and had decided that if that was what there was, we would enjoy the outdoor areas on the ship even more. My husband found ONE ocean view guarantee room later that night, with a Senior Citizen's rate, no less, grabbed it and put a hold on it while we decided whether or not we could work out the details for the other parts of the trip: flights, dog sitters, etc. We used frequent flyer miles for the airfare, and our daughter agreed to come and dog sit for us. We called Celebrity and went through the booking process with them, and much to our surprise and delight, were upgraded to a 1A balcony room on the hump! We flew out early on Saturday (having checked the forecast thoroughly before we even booked the trip) and landed in Miami about noon. We grabbed our bags, headed straight to the pier, and waited in a short line outside, then moved quickly through the check in process and were on the ship by 1 or so. This was our second time on an S class ship; our first was a TA on the Equinox in November of 2009.
We found the ship to be gorgeous, spotless, with a great crew and staff and lots of different venues to explore, different activities to try, delicious food to eat and excellent martinis and wine to enjoy. Our cabin was in a very convenient location; very close to the central bank of elevators, and just one flight up from the specialty restaurants, Café al Bacio, Bistro on Five, the higher end shops, and only another flight down to the Martini bar, more shops, the upper half of the main dining room and the Molecular Bar (which we didn’t try but saw other people doing so). Our balcony was right above the lifeboats, which I am sure many guests would not care to overlook, but we were just happy to be in a balcony room! The cabin felt spacious and bright. There were some changes in storage from what we had seen on the Equinox. The drawers in the cabinet next to the desk were deeper; the closet itself seemed deeper (on the Equinox, clothes slanted sideways when the door was closed!) and the couch wasn’t in the way of the closet as it had been on the Equinox; our bed was next to the closet and the couch (still uncomfortable, but, as we sat outside most of the time anyway, it didn’t matter to us) was by the veranda door. The fridge kept things nicely chilled; the chairs on the balcony reclined several degrees, but we did wish there were footstools to use. The table outside was small, but fine for coffee on the balcony in the mornings. We brought our coffee press as the coffee on previous cruises wasn’t to our tastes; the hot water delivered from room service was more than hot enough for the press to work well. The bathroom in the cabin was great; I wish all the ships could have the sliding doors in the showers instead of those awful shower curtains. The drawers under the sink area were still so small as to be useless, but the tall cabinet next to the sink was more than adequate for our needs.
We had select dining, but we only ate in the main dining room twice; once on our own at table for two and once at the Hotel Director’s Table on the last formal night. This was the first time we’d eaten so many meals outside the main dining room. We had two wonderful, outstanding meals at Muranos; our meal at Qsine was fun, different, and delicious (I loved playing with the iPad!); and the Tuscan Grille was fantastic… just the focaccia bread and the antipasto platter (which came before we’d ordered anything other than wine) would have been plenty to enjoy. We sat by the windows there and enjoyed a fabulous moonlit view of the sea as we ate. We also had dinner at Bistro on Five one night when we didn’t get to the main dining room and decided that a light meal would be great, and it was… I had a panini and my husband had a Tuscan crepe, thoroughly enjoyable and not too heavy.
Because it was just the two of us on this trip (we usually travel with friends, and conversation with a larger group is more enjoyable when sitting around a table area) we enjoyed a martini sitting right at the Martini Bar on many evenings. We knew two of the bartenders from other trips, and it made for a wonderful way to start the evening, chatting with them, sipping a perfectly chilled martini and watching their juggling performance with the martini shakers and bottles of vodka. One night, Putu and Ocha poured at least a dozen martinis all at once… what fun! It was usually crowded there, especially from 7 o’clock on; formal nights were especially busy.
We enjoyed seeing three of the shows in the theater: a Broadway revue that I thought was quite good; a show called the Edge, which involved some pretty complicated lighting displays and rock music (although, I have to admit, the rock music didn’t “rock” all that much), and the Eclipse, which was the last formal night and had some amazing Cirque style performances… very well done. As far as the other entertainment went: the a capella group sounded wonderful; the trio played very well and the guitarist was good. The party band, D Revelation, was one of the best we have ever heard… we just wish that there had been some sailaway/sunset music out at the Sunset Bar to enjoy… seemed odd that there wasn’t any, except for the steel drum player one night. The cruise director, Paul Baya, was all over the ship and very approachable; he performed with the party band in the Grand Foyer one night; he sang great and really got guests to head out on the dance floor and dance the night away!
We visited four ports; we got off the ship for a little bit in the middle ports: Cozumel and Costa Maya, as we had been there many times, and wanted to relax more around the ship those days. Our first stop was in Grand Cayman; we tendered ashore around 10:30 (after the worst of the crowds had already gone) and walked over to the Eden Rock Dive shop (turn right coming out of the tender area, and it is about 5-10 minutes or so to get there), and snorkeled for a couple of hours there. We were thrilled with the water conditions that day: bright blue skies, smooth water, and about as clear as we have ever seen it there. It’s a great place to see lots of fish and reef areas as long as it isn’t too wavy and cloudy, as it has been other times. We talked to several staff from Honduras, which was our last stop, before we went there, and many recommended West Bay Beach, and my husband had also read about that, so we hopped in a cab (shared with another couple from the NCL Spirit) and got there about 25-30 minutes later; it was about $17 per person; you paid a two dollar pp fee before you got in the cab, and then made arrangements with the driver to pick you up, and paid the remainder once you were back at the ship. It was a very pretty beach; we had opted (not on purpose) to be dropped off from the cab at the wrong end for the best snorkeling, but took a boat ride over to the other end of the beach where the best snorkeling was. (It was $15 pp for a trip of about an hour or so, there and back) Unfortunately, there were (in my mind, at any rate) too many small jellyfish for me to stay in the water… I got out immediately when I saw them. Everyone else (there were 6 other people who had also gone) stayed in the water, and no one got stung, but one other young lady got out soon after I did, saying she couldn’t relax and enjoy herself at all. It’s too bad that I didn’t stay in, as the snorkeling there was really good otherwise, but I just couldn’t do it. We did swim and float in the water back at the spot where we were dropped off by the cab when we were done with the snorkeling… no jellyfish there! We had a great lunch at Foster’s; coconut shrimp and freshly grilled snapper sandwiches… can’t beat that, in my opinion!
This was our 16th Celebrity cruise; we enjoyed many of the Elite perks, but didn’t get to the Elite Cocktail hour more than twice; the second time we went in but left soon after we entered; it was held in the Sky Lounge and there were plenty of smokers on the smoking side, and the smell was noticeable, which was too bad. The hours for this event were changed on a trial basis to 5-7p.m.; on previous trips the hours were always 4-6. I think it is a nice perk, and having it offered at either of those times is fine with us. It will be interesting to see if it gets changed on all ships eventually. We really enjoyed having a light breakfast in Michael’s Club most mornings; we had some interesting conversations with other guests and the lattes were great. That’s another perk we really do appreciate.
7 days on a cruise is never long enough, but we made the most of those seven days and had a great time. The Eclipse is a wonderful ship, and hopefully we’ll be back on her again soon.