HI, We are from Jacksonville, FL, married 21 years, in our 40's and have been on 4 cruises together, previously all Royal Caribbean: Mariner, 06, Freedom 09, and Oasis '10. ( I have also been on Disney 2x, Dolphin 2x and Emerald Seas back in the 70's when I was 5!) We wanted a nice getaway this April to celebrate my husband's military retirement and came across a last minute deal on this Celebrity Eclipse Western Caribbean Cruise. We like to snorkel and the ports would be great for that, plus 2 new ports we have never been to: Costa Maya and Roatan. We LOVED Roatan! Best snorkeling we have ever experienced. I would love to do this cruise again.
Drive to Miami from Jacksonville is 5 and 1/2 hours so we went down on Friday and spent the night at a hotel near the airport. There is a 94th Aero Squadron restaurant there overlooking the runway and we wanted to go there. We had been to the one in Orlando before it closed and San Diego. Great food, and love the atmosphere!! Try it out the next time you are in MIA. We parked at the Cruise Terminal around 12:30 pm on Saturday ($140, ouch) but nice to be close and know your car will be safe. Check in was not too bad, but the security check line was kind of crowded. Upon checking in we proceeded to our room which was ready, dropped off our day bags and went to lunch at the buffet. Normally I do not like buffets but this was the best one I've ever eaten at. The food was really good - We ate Breakfast here every morning except for one when we did room service. Their freshly made Belgian waffles with blueberry or strawberry topping are AWESOME! We took a tour around this ship after lunch and realized how different it felt than our previous cruises. Just seemed "classier" and more elegant. It is a beautiful ship and I was pleasantly surprised.
CABIN: We had a concierge class cabin on deck 9 with veranda. Very nice. Really comfy bed!! Loved the decor in the room and ship except for the strange artwork. Even in the room the art was Trees with fall colors...IMO just doesn't go with a nautical or beach theme I think it should have. The safe is in a big section of the cabinet under the TV which takes up valuable storage room, I think they could have placed it in the closet like Oasis cabins have. Our cabin was almost Identical to Oasis in the set up and size. Bathroom seemed a bit larger on Eclipse though and was very nice. I liked the vessel type sink. We had fresh flowers every day! Nice touch. Closet was good size and the big cabinets over the top of the bed were great storage. Are there any ships out there that have alarm clocks in the room??? My little portable one would not work and I hate not having a clock in the room. Our cabin steward was really great also. The big flat screen tv's are really nice. Nice to be able to check your account from your TV also. Lots of Free On Demand movies to choose from, but who has time to watch movies on a cruise? Not us.
SMOKING...I love the celebrity policy of no smoking on verandas and inside the ship. What a difference! However it was a bad spot for smoking area right before going into the adult pool area/health spa ironically...You had to hold your breath when going between main pool and this area on the starboard side.
We really enjoyed the adult pool area, very quiet and relaxing but difficult to get chair sometimes, and the chairs were not very comfortable in there. I like that it was air conditioned also.
FOOD: The food on this ship was the best of any we have had on any ship before with the exception of Chops Grille on R/C. The appetizers and salads were awesome and most of the main entrees were OK, but not exceptional. I loved the lobster bisque. It was the best I ever had and you can get it every night. One night they had a shrimp and scallop risotto that was amazing. We splurged to try Murano's one night and neither one of us liked it. The service is way over the top and sort of made us uncomfortable. I had the lobster murano where they cook it in front of you and I didn't care for the sauce at all, it was a Dijon cream sauce..yuck. Hubby had venison steak and he enjoyed it. I would not go back there. Deserts in the MDR were just OK. I opted for the apple pie most nights and it was very good but I had a craving for a thick 3 layer chocolate cake and never got it because it was never on the menu. They did have it at Bistro 5 but I never got around to eating there. I will next time! :) We really enjoyed the dinners in MDR. Our servers were great also, Richard and Ava.
Beverages: I opted for the soda package and it was only $5 per day plus tip which was $40 total for the week. Not bad, considering R/C is $6-$7 per day plus tip. They give you a nice thermos too.
We went to the show on night 2 and 4 with the main singers/dancers and they were very good. EDGE show was really good as well as the Broadway Hits show. Of the two, EDGE was the best. I enjoyed the A Cappella group "sound decision" who were part of the show and sang around the pool also. They are very good.
Not a lot to do at night on this ship but that was fine with us since we were tired at night anyway after sun/beach/snorkeling. They had a few pool late night parties, motown night,etc that I would have enjoyed but they didn't start until really late.
Cruise Director: His name is Que and he has a British accent. Seemed OK but for some reason his voice annoyed my hubby. We preferred Richard Spacey from our past 2 R/C cruises...that guy is awesome! I have to admit I missed some of the entertainment that R/C ships offer! The activities director, Espinoza really got on my last nerve. Her voice is brassy and LOUD. On the last day we were trying to enjoy pool time around 12:00 they had this obnoxious volleyball contest in the main pool between the ship's officers and other crew members. Espinoza screamed into the mic for over an hour and even blew her whistle into the mic which came out over all the speakers on the pool deck. How very annoying! I wanted to take the mic from her and throw it in the pool. Everyone was covering their ears and many left trying to find a more quiet spot. What a terrible way to ruin part of the last "relaxing" day at sea!! I wrote this up on my comment card so maybe if more people did they will listen to us! I would expect this on a R/C ship but not Celebrity.
LAWN CLUB: Hubby and I really did not "get" this area/concept. Seems like a waste of space to us. We never used that area and thought it would be better utilized with another pool area since the others are small! We did not watch the glass blowing show. I didn't "get" that either. They did have a concert up there one night with wine/cheese that I would have liked to have gone too but it conflicted with the show time.
PORT CALLS: See below Port Call Section
This was a very classy, elegant ship and we really enjoyed this cruise! Very clean and beautiful! If you have kids, they will enjoy a Royal Caribbean ship more probably. We don't have kids but I just observed more activities on the R/C ships for kids.