We are a couple in our early thirties, first time cruisers back from the Dec 24th Eastern Caribbean sailing on the Eclipse ( San Juan, St Thomas, St Maarten).
Just to give you our travel profile, both my fiance and I have travelled extensively to over 30 countries, traditionally off the beaten track, however as we've matured, we are spending our time with more upscale vacations.
Here is our review, hopefully this helps people that are similar to us and curious to whether a cruise and Celebrity is right for them.
Embarkation was a breeze as was disembarkment, we arrived at the port at noon and were on the ship twenty minutes later. After quickly checking out the spa and booking our treatments, the gym and pool we went straight up to the Sunset Bar and purchased our drink packages. ( More on that later). If you are interested in getting spa treatments it is better to book sooner than later as by the second day most of the good appointment times were booked up. Used the gym twice which was a gorgeous space and our spa treatments were excellent. I got a shellac manicure and my fiance a hair cut/shave.
Our cabin, 7291 was wonderful. Beautiful balcony cabin two decks up from the life boats. We found the bed to be extremely comfortable, the room to have adequate storage and the bathroom was quite spacious with beautiful modern fictures.
The buffet on the ship was about average as far as buffets go. There was Italian, Sushi, Indian, Mexican, salad bar etc but I would have liked to have seen healthier options or more variety for the salad bar. Breakfast in the main dining room was great and better than the buffet and we also ordered in room service a couple of times which was good. We ate in the main dining room all evenings except for once at Bistro on Five and when we were at port in San Juan. The dinners got better as the week went on but we still never felt like the food was that fantastic and comparable to a three star restaurant back home. We had big expectations for the food after reading all the reviews on Celebrity and were disapointed. The food wasn't bad but we had our best meals at the ports. Fresh grilled Mahi Mahi in St Maarten, Fish and chips in St John and a Seafood Paella in San Juan.
One thing we expected during our dining experiences as per our travel agent, is that we would be paired up with couples our age. As we were cruising over the holiday week, the ship was full of large families/groups that they tended to cater to and stuck the single couples like us wherever there was room with no thought of pairing us all together. Our first night our table was squished next to the bussing station and when we went to discuss this with the Maitre de, we encoutered about four other couples with the same concerns. We ended up forming a large table with them and all was resolved.
Chair hogging was a huge problem at the pool. A lot of chairs with towels on them with no one to be found. As we were not interested in getting up at 7 to claim our chairs we spent most of our sea days at the Sunset bar or the Solstice deck which we really enjoyed. As our initial preferance would have been to sit by the pool,we actually found the Sunset bar and Solstice deck to be much more mellower and relaxing for us. Especially the Sunset bar, we loved the bartenders and saw many of the same couples there day after day.
Entertainment on the ship varried from terrible to excellent. We thought the show Edge was cheezy and about the quality you'd see at a highschool play. The Cirque du Soleil show was fantastic and we also loved Paul Tanner the impressionist who we got to know very well in the afternoons at the Sunset Bar. The pool band was pretty good, we didn't care so much for the Rip Tides but if you are into accapella music you would probably like it. A highlight for us was the hillarious late night Newlywed show and the late night comedian. We were a little disapointed as we would have loved to have seen more late night after dinner entertainment as we found the hot spot Martini bar was pretty quiet after 11 as such was the nightclub Quasar. There wasn't much going on after 11 besides the casino which was always busy till late.
We really loved the port stops. Our good friends were vacationing in Puerto Rico so we spent the afternoon/evening with them in San Juan. Unfortunately as we spent the time catching up over drinks and dinner we weren't able to see the sites but did get a good flavour for San Juan and are planning on returning to see more one day. Next was St Thomas. Highly recommend taking the ferry over from St Thomas to St John which was our favourite island on the trip. We took a cab to the ferry dock and once on St John spent some time at Cinnamon Bay just up from Trunk Bay and hired a local cabbie to take us on a tour of the island for $50. It was the most gorgeous unspoiled island and we will be back! Last stop St Maarten. We headed to Orient Beach, rented a couple of chairs for the day, ate lunch and had a massage.
Back to the drink packages. We ended up both purchasing the premium drink package on the first day. Although we ended up coming ahead, we found that the drink package encouraged you to drink more than you normally would. We liked the convenience of having the card and not having to sign the bill with every purchase, however we probably drank more than we would have if we just paid per glass. We tended to buy a few bottles of water ever day, a premium coffee, a few drinks by the pool, a martini pre dinner, wine with dinner and a drink or two after dinner. With that, I think you would come out about even if you were paying per drink. Because we had the premium package, we felt as though we had to get our monies worth and drank much more on many of the days. There were days we didn't feel like drinking much but felt compelled to because of the package.I don't think we would purchase the package again.
We were originally concerned about the age range of the cruise passengers but found that there were enough others our age for us to be comfortable. There also weren't many toddlers, mostly teens with their parents, many twenty and thirty year olds, many in their forties and fifties but not many people over sixty five. All the kids were well behaved and although the ship was sailing at full capacity it never felt crowded. The passengers we met were all professional, the ship attracts an upscale professional crowd as we mingled with doctors, bankers, CFO'S etc..
The ship is absolutely beautiful, the decor is modern and classy and felt like floating luxury hotel. Service was also excellent, especially five star in the main dining room. We enjoyed Mike the cruise director and all the stafff were extremely friendly. Our only complaints overall were the lack of evening entertainment and the quality of food at times, but its about give or take. Cruise with another cruise line that caters to better evening entertainment, then you may not get such a classy beautiful ship. All and all we had a fabulous time and have come back raving about our first cruise experience to all our friends and family. We will definitely sail Celebrity again but are excited to try another cruise line as well...probably Royal Caribbean