Where to start!
We booked a Sky Suite (S1) on the Eclipse after a personal recommendation and we wanted to go to the Baltic. It’s worth saying that we like to spend time in our stateroom, don’t like crowded restaurants, and have little interest in entertainments etc (we’re not that boring really, just aren’t keen on dancing etc). We like a nice bar for pre & post dinner drinks but are happy to spend our sea days on the balcony if the weather is good. We paid $LOTS for the cruise – I think we can do what we want for that money, which is why we always book suites. Anyway:
Embarkation: generally good at Southampton, however the focus on booking additional cost dining at the ‘specialty’ restaurants was a little OTT. Our cases took a long time to arrive, the last one some 4 hours after embarkation and after we had sailed. Disembarkation was well organised & timely.
Stateroom: Excellent, well appointed, superb fittings and spotlessly clean, with a large balcony at the rear portside corner of the ship with lots of space.
Stateroom service: We had a ‘butler’ service which was OK, not a patch on the Cunard butler service, but reasonable. Stateroom cleaning etc was very good and the staff friendly etc. By the end of the cruise the ‘butler’ had got complacent and things we had asked him to do each day (e.g. making sure we had enough ice) were missed and we had to insist they were done. Not good.
Ship: Excellent, modern, some superb rooms and public areas. Very smooth sailing.
Food & restaurants: For the money – dreadful. We took one look at the main restaurant (with Select Dining) and decided not to bother (Tables too close, very noisy etc). We could eat off the same menu in our stateroom so did that most of the time. The food was either overcooked (meat etc) or undercooked (vegetables) and was without exception cold. We kept asking for hot plates etc to no avail. This also applied to the Oceanview self service restaurant where there are no trays, cold plates and little service from the waiting staff. Particularly disgusting was the pasta which was always cold.
Speciality restaurants: The Tuscan Grille was poor. The sea bass I ordered was overcooked (I can do it better, honestly!). The Murano provided some excellent food, but the staff were pretentious, and overbearing. For example, one waiter came and read the menu out to us, and another came and explained what an amuse bouche is. As for the wine... more later.
Ports of call: As described really. We prefer to be independent, not least as more than a couple of hours sitting on a bus (or aeroplane) causes back problems. The charge for shuttle buses of $15 each is just a rip-off. Highlight was the sail out of Stockholm. When booked the itinerary showed transit through the Kiel canal – didn’t happen.
Premium alcohol package: This is anything but Premium. There are so many rules and regulations (i.e. can only buy one drink at a time with a 10 minute delay) and only wine by the glass which means if I order a bottle of wine for the stateroom it’s not covered, neither is anything other than 2 choices of red wine by the glass in the specialty restaurants. I asked our butler for a glass of wine in our stateroom and he said ‘you’ll have to fetch it yourself, or I’ll charge!’ The bar and restaurant staff sneer at you with the package as they have no opportunity to ask for another tip. Eventually after much discussion with Guest Relations the Head Bartender had our package cancelled for 9 of the 14 days and we paid as we went. The whole thing is a disgrace.