Tranquil Transatlantic: Celebrity Eclipse Cruise Review by MagTravel
Overall Member Rating
This was our first experience with Celebrity and after encountering much difficulty with Customer Service representatives and Specialty Dining agents on the phone prior to the sailing date we flew to Miami expecting the worst. No one could book a reservation for us or give us a reasonable answer as to why they couldn't handle a simple request for a birthday celebration on Day Two when we furnished the names, cabin numbers, and booking numbers for the guests.
The April 16th sailing started with a quick shuttle to the Port of Miami and we immediately hit a long line outside the terminal. Inside was bedlam with lines going everywhere and rude people cutting in and then stopping the process while they More filled out paperwork. We paid a premium for Concierge Class and there was a 'special' line which moved so slowly that several members of our party booked in regular cabins checked in and were on the ship ahead of us. More about the so-called advantages of Concierge Class later. It took 45 minutes to get on board where we were handed a 1/3 of a glass of warm wine. We were pleased with the overall appearance of the ship. The Eclipse is really lovely and it was hard to believe that it was almost a year old. You had to have a keen eye to spot rust and I never saw dirt.
Our cabin was ready and we dropped off our carry on bags before exploring the ship. The cabin was very small with minimal storage especially for a two week voyage. The extra low ceiling made the space appear even smaller. The oddly shaped bed was unsettling. I am not tall but my feet hung off the end of the bed most nights. The bathroom was roomy but lacking a bathtub, magnifying mirror and decent hair dryer. There is no drying line for hand washables. The shower head was stationary but the foot rest for shaving legs was a nice touch. The towels and robes were very heavy. The lighting was inadequate for reading and make up but the bathroom nightlight was just right.
The balcony was small but had twp nice chairs, footstools and table. We had very considerate neighbors who spoke softly when they were outside. Our cabin attendants did an adequate job but one of them did not understand English very well and could not fill a simple request for a foam pillow. He became frustrated and would raise his voice when he didn't understand what I said. I think I saw him smile once in 13 days.
The dining experiences on board were a pleasant surprise. I read mixed reviews on the quality of food but I think the Eclipse did a superb job. Due to our problem with making reservations pre-cruise, we ate most meals in the main dining room. We had a fun table located in a small niche that was uncrowded and quiet. Our waiters were attentive and the wine steward, Nevis was outstanding. We tried Qsine and it was a fun experience. Ordering off the IPad was interesting for a technically challenged couple of super seniors. The buffet was crowded and confusing but after a few days we got the hang of it. The selections were varied. The coffee shop was nice and a good spot for tea in the afternoon. The extra charge Bistro was a quiet haven on Deck Five. That would be a good place to eat lunch on embarkation day and well worth the $5 charge for space and service. We tried breakfast in the room but without a call to alert us that the order was on the way it was just too hard to guess when they would show up. And the orders were usually double what we thought we had ordered. Be aware that room service is not available on disembarkation day. That is too bad because it really makes it easier to get ready to get off the ship quickly.
Beverage cards are available and if you like a drink or two before dinner and maybe something in the showroom later it can be a good deal. If you order a classic package you need to drink 5 or 6 drinks a day to come out ahead. But if you like specialty coffee drinks, fresh squeezed orange juice or bottled water you will be enjoy the packages. The classic package is $39 a day, and the premium is $49 a day. No sharing is allowed.
The weather was surprisingly cool even in Miami. The Atlantic was mostly calm with a few windy days. We had very little rain but there were not many opportunities for sunbathing. That was probably the reason that we didn't find the pool areas crowded and there were plenty of loungers available.
The cruise director, Que was much in evidence and put together a varied mix of entertainment. With six straight sea days there was lots of the usual cruising activity offered. The enrichment speakers were not the same caliber as some other lines. The entertainment was spotty. But there was something for everyone at one time or another. The movie theater had some great films but did not show anything early in the day. The 5:30 show interferred with dinner or cocktail hour. We did not watch movies in our cabin. It took us a week to figure out how to work the television. There was no written guide to any of the technical equipment in the cabin; lighting, heat, air, TV, etc.
The Guest Relations staff was absolutely the best I have ever encountered. They listened and really tried to find solutions to whatever issue you presented. Kudos to them and their supervisor. The officers of the ship were aloof and not engaged with the passengers. This was our first time on Celebrity and while we didn't expect any special treatment it would have been nice to at least felt welcomed and appreciated. Not one staff or crew member said welcome aboard and/or we are glad you choose to cruise with us.
The ports on a transatlantic crossing are not the primary reason for choosing this particular cruise. The ship excursion staff gave us wrong information on more than one occasion. Most of our port calls were around Easter weekend so the opportunities were more limited than usual.
A few comments about Concierge Class on Eclipse. Don't waste your money unless a fluffier robe, bigger towels and pitiful appetizers in the afternoon are essential to you. We didn't embark or disembark any earlier and the amenities offered are minimal. There is no dedicated Concierge staff or desk. The cabins and balconies are no larger but if location is critical you might want to pay the extra bucks. When you are choosing the location of a cabin remember there is no aft elevator or stairwell.
We had a pleasant cruise experience but a ship this large with 2850 younger passengers was not our cup of tea. We will return to our tried and true smaller and more boring ships. Less
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