We’re a couple ages mid-40s to mid 50s with 4 prior cruises on Norwegian, Royal Caribbean and P&O. Taking a 4 night sail to Cork provided a nice mix of sea days, port time, with a bonus overnight stay in Cobh was in ideal chance to get a feel for Celebrity. Our room on deck 11 AQ#1545 close to the front elevators was chosen thinking this would be conveniently located, which it proved to be.
We were on the ship within 30 minutes after arrival at around 12:15 to a welcome sparkling wine. A quick stroll around and we headed to have a relaxing lunch in Bistro on Five rather than the buffet. Over a nice crepe and dessert, with wine we started our trip in the best and most relaxed manner possible. The staff were unhurried and so were happy to highlight their suggestions for this short cruise. Many people walked by the entrance. I assume they had been to the buffet or were discouraged by the $5 pp charge as it remained tranquil.
We stopped by the room by which time our luggage arrived. Storage is adequate but for a really long trip could be a worry. Then off to explore the ship and enjoy a drink in the unexpected sunshine. After the safety drill we stopped for a drink at the Sunset bar were we met up with a few people from our roll call. The sun shone and we started to chat and enjoy the departure.
Our normal preference is to eat late. We received a invite to eat in Blu between 8:30-9:30 on the first night. Unpacked, changed there was time for a stroll around, pre-dinner drinks and we sat down at 9:15 for dinner feeling relaxed. In Blu tables are mostly for 2 with a small number of 4/6/8 for larger groups. The tables are comfortably spaced but close enough to chat with neighbours.
Our wine steward was able to suggest wines by the glass from our drinks package which he repeated each night. All great choices and a few varieties that I might not have tried left to my own limited knowledge. I suspect there is some flexibility with the cost where wine is a good match for the food and possibly strictly beyond the package limits.
We enjoyed the food and atmosphere in Blu, and quickly abandoned plans to dine elsewhere as this was only a short trip. The portions are nicely sized so that you can enjoy a full meal without being too full afterwards. A couple of nights we were hungry so ordered a vegetable main to share as a extra dish. I’m a choc and coffee lover, and my dessert highlight - Blue Mountain Coffee Chocolate Creme Brulee. Gorgeous.
Following a late night, we were woken by noise from the Aqua Spa Cafe but were rather too delicate to move very fast. We skipped breakfast and retreated to some large beds on Solstice deck and a livening stroll around the ship. Following the suggestion our Blu Maitre’d we tried the MDR brunch. Very nice choice, busy and we joined a table of 6 spending quite some time chatting.
As we apporached Cobh, the Sky bar proved to be a fantastic place to observe the coastline and the ‘spin’ into Cobh.
Cobh is a nice little place to stroll around and enjoy a pint or two which we did. The bars in Cobh were getting good trade from the passengers. Nice little place to spend a few hours. A downside to the drinks package was that it quelled temptation to spend the evening eating/drinking in Cobh during the overnight stay. Inclusive food/drinks just within sight on Eclipse we finished our tour and returned to Eclipse. If the weather been nicer we may have still been tempted to head out that evening, but heavy rain discouraged us. The Ensemble lounge hosted a local guest band who were very good and had the bar so full they really needed a bigger venue.
The next day started with heavy rain and we watched the downpour from Blu over breakfast. In a break from the deluge we took the train to Cork for a around 7 Euro per person return. The station is almost on the quayside. Cork Station to Cork city centre is approx 15 minute walk.
Whilst in Cork, rain turned to a pleasant afternoon for some exploring. Enjoyed the English Market for coffee upstairs, nipped into some shops and later gave Crawford Gallery a try as suggested by our guide book. The gallery was a shortish diversion, not really to our taste, but there were some interesting displays. Free to look around so nothing to lose.
We enjoyed some more time to get a thirst for some Murphy’s and a snack at a pub. In the pub we had a nice chat with some fellow passengers and late afternoon we took the train back to ship. Nice hot drinks at Cafe Al Bacio listening to an excellent guitarist was a nice treat on our return.
We then went to explore the AQ facilities to assess their value to us. 4 other people were in the Persian Garden where we spent just under 1 hr. The warm beds are nice but the novelty wore off fairly quickly for me. My wife has a back problem and liked the warm heat. The sauna/steam room were OK, but the sauna just didn’t seem hot enough or have anything else to offer. The steam room was better but I would be happy with the standard sauna facilities available elsewhere on the ship. Spent a little time in the relaxation lounge where we enjoyed a hot drink on the comfy chairs. A nice place to return to and read but in the end we just didn’t have enough time on board to fully appreciate this perk.
Later we saw the glass blowing demo before departure which was interesting, but not something you would watch over and over. Sail-away was nice with a quayside band to wish us well.
This trip involved some very late nights into the early hours chatting with people we met on board. Really enjoyed meeting the fellow passengers, every one was happy, ready to chat and seemed happy with their cruise. Only the weather could have been kinder.
Our favourite places were Bistro on 5 for a nice lunch, Solstice deck for some quiet on the large chairs. Cellar Masters had some nice wines within the package price range.
Late night entertainment for us was music/dancing in the Sky bar where the band played some great covers whilst many danced into the night.
Our only visit to the theatre was for the ‘Eclipse’ show which was impressive and was well appreciated. Personally I think didn’t flow very well and some of the vocals were repetitive, but mine was an isolated view.
Everyone was packing a lot into a short time on ship with some very very late nights and the nightclub was busy each night. Only the casino was quiet-ish, perhaps showing a lack of appeal to many British passengers, or maybe very few people bring $US with them and so it was not convenient enough to tempt many.
On sailings from Southampton the 15% is now included/hidden in the prices, so the prices are higher than other sailings on first inspection, although it makes no difference to what you pay.
The drinks package limits have also been upped for the UK sailings to match the increased drink prices. The range of drinks is therefore identical so the molecular bar cocktails which were $12 are now $13.75 which is the upper limit of the drinks package.
Our Premium Alcoholic package (£279.50 for 2 ~ approx $420) proved to be a good move as our room charges listed 67 drinks (average £4.17 ~approx $6.25 per drink including tip). I think there are also a few items that didn’t appear so maybe we did better than I calculate. These scores would be pretty hard to match on pay as you drink unless you are happy to stick with just standard beers. On a longer cruise we would not had quite the same level of consumption. In future it will be a cruise by cruise decision depending upon the time on board and number of sea days.
A side effect of the drinks packages is that it involves bar staff in less waiting for signatures so probably improves the speed of service.
AQ#1545 is under the Aqua Spa Cafe and from 5:30-6:00 AM each morning there is noise as furniture is moved and there is a frequent banging of doors. We complained, but could not be moved. We were offered a bottle of wine in apology, but the noise did not stop the next day.
I would avoid this room unless you are a really early riser. We had some really late nights so this woke us much too early, but on a port intensive route this might have been less inconvenient.
We bought an ‘Open passage’ certificate for a future cruise on the final day, knowing that we would return to Celebrity some time. Within a few weeks of our return we took advantage of our Open Passage voucher for a Mediterranean 12 night in July. Probably the best evidence that I can offer of how much we enjoyed the ship, despite room noise, we have found something that matches our taste.