Ourselves – When reading this cruise review, bear in mind that I'm 62 and reasonably fit, and my wife is a few years younger and is also fit. I've tried to give a balanced view, but of course tastes vary. Overall we very much enjoyed our cruise, although would be unlikely to go with Celebrity again.
The ship – The Celebrity Eclipse (122,000t) is a modern design of ship that rides smoothly, even when the sea gets rough, and it is kept immaculately clean. Both embarkation and disembarkation were carried out efficiently with little waiting.
However, we had two main dislikes – the first being that it is almost impossible to find anywhere quiet, as live or piped music could be heard everywhere except on the Solstice Deck and deck 5 where the lifeboats are stored. Most of the music was brash with a large proportion being jazz, and in some areas it was even possible to hear two clashing sources of music. The other dislike is that smoking is allowed on many inside and outside public areas, including the Sky Lounge and pool areas, which probably reflects American rather than British attitudes towards smoking in public places.
For such a large ship there is no single public area that has the wow factor, such as the atrium on the Sea Princess/Oceana. The only large public areas are primarily functional, such as the forward lift shaft, which looks somewhat industrial, and the magnificent show theatre (see below).
The largish casino is a total waste of space, as I never saw more than about 10% of the one armed bandits in use at any one time. The roulette tables too, manned by hopeful looking croupiers, were hardly used.
Not all was negative though, as we loved the lawn area and happily played croquet a number of times there, which seemed quite novel. We also played table tennis in one of the conference rooms near the Sky Lounge, which we enjoyed.
Food – Overall this was excellent, particularly in the Moonlight Sonata restaurant, where we enjoyed Celebrity Select dining. In the Ocean View Café it was mostly very good with a wide choice of foods, although the steak & kidney pie was poor. However, the cookies and scones served for Afternoon Tea were absolutely delicious.
Drinks – These are unreasonably overpriced – here are some examples (the equivalent prices in sterling are based on current exchange rates): Bottled water $4.00 (£2.47) for 500ml, a glass of wine (about 125ml) $7.50 (£4.63), cocktails from abut $8.00 and beer (500ml) about $8.00 (£4.63) which is about £5.26 a pint!
Entertainment – This was mostly of a high standard, although we found the 'Edge' show unremittingly brash and loud. However, by contrast the 'Eclipse' show was really clever and imaginative. We had two very funny comedians too, and a couple of pianists, but again they played mostly jazz or boogie, which didn't appeal to our tastes. The ample sized theatre itself is outstanding, with a large stage and a lot of modern technology for sound, lighting and other effects.
Excursions – We went on two and they were both disappointing. Generally we prefer to do our own thing (see port advice below). The problem with the arranged excursions is that you end up listening to your guide, rather than seeing the sights. For example, in Rome when our time was limited our guide talked to us for a total of about 45 minutes! We feel that it is better to see as much as possible in the limited time, then read about it later (if you're interested).
Staff – We found these courteous, helpful and respectful at all times, top marks here.
Shops – Those on level 4 were not too bad, although little to appeal to male customers, but the boutiques on level 5 were expensive and seemed to attract few customers.
Port Advice – Generally speaking, the Celebrity supplied shuttle buses are expensive, so if you can use local transport (which is generally good) you can save a lot of money.
* Gibraltar – Here we walked from the ship to the cable car (about 30 minutes). We bought a one-way ticket up which included access to the main attractions on the top of the rock. We visited St Michael's Cave (well worth seeing), the Apes' Den, the Siege Tunnels (interesting) and the Moorish Castle (only the tower remains). From here it is only about a 20 minute downhill walk back to the ship, Total cost €17.50 each.
* Toulon – As the ship docked in La Seyne Sur Mer, which is about 25 minutes drive from the old town, you have to use the shuttle ($13.50 each).
* Livorno – Here you have to use the shuttle ($6.00 each) as the port authority prohibits pedestrians in the dock area. After taking the shuttle to town, we took the nearby number 1 bus to the station, then caught a train to Pisa, the combined cost of the bus and train was less than €8 each return (£7.06), and we had plenty of time in Pisa to go up to the top of the tower. From Pisa Centrale station allow about 25 minutes walk to the Field of Miracles where the tower and cathedral are.
* Civitavecchia (Rome) - Our first excursion was to Rome, and in retrospect we would have preferred to have simply been dropped off and left to find our own way round.
* Cagliari – From the port it is easy to walk into town. It is one of the nicer ports and a walk to the terrace at Bastione San Remy is well worth it for the fine views over the town with the sea beyond. The Roman Amphitheatre though can only be seen properly with a guided tour, and much of it is covered with scaffolding and seats as it is still used as a theatre. The Botanical Gardens are pleasant, but close at 1:30 on a Sunday.
* Cadiz – Don't buy a ticket for the HOHO bus (€11) as the cathedral is only about 15 minutes walk from the ship, and the market and botanical gardens can also be reached on foot. We went up to the top of the right hand tower of the cathedral (€4 each) which was well worth it.
* Lisbon – Use the number 28 bus to go into town or to the Belem area, which from the port costs €1.50 each way. From the port go past where the coaches wait, and through a tree lined square, to a cream building on the far right hand side. Here you will find a pedestrian underpass which takes you under the dual carriageway and railway lines to the bus stops on the Av. de India.
* Vigo – Our second organised excursion was from Vigo, to Pontevedra & Combarro. Combarro was an interesting and pretty fishing village, but Pontevedra was a mostly unattractive, graffiti ridden large town.
Other – Sea day activities were plentiful and varied. My wife enjoyed the craft sessions and I enjoyed the Beyond the Podium lectures about astronomy given by Professor David Hughes.