We were on the Jan 7, 2012 Eclipse Caribbean Cruise. This was our 13th cruise overall, and our 7th on Celebrity, 5 of the previous being on Millennium class ships, and 1 on the Century. We were very excited to be going a Solstice Class! Something new!
We arrived a day early into Miami and stayed at the JW Marriott Marquis, very close to the port. Beautiful hotel, I would highly recommend, got a great price through Last Minute Travel.
Embarkation- We arrived probably at peak time, about 12:30. This was by far the longest it ever took for us to get on a ship. It was very crowded with long lines. All in all took a little over an hour.
Bistro on Five -- LOVED IT!
Since it was so crowded during the check in, I imagined the Ocean View would be packed as well, so we decided to give the Bistro on Five a try first thing. We liked it so much we ate there 3-4 days for lunch and once for breakfast. I always had crepes; my husband tried a couple of panninis. Everything we had there was excellent. My favorites were the Sweet and Sour Crepe and the Mediterranean Crepe. Unfortunately the Bistro was always almost empty, the times we were there, only 1 or 2 other tables were occupied. . Guess people don't want to pay $5.00 for lunch ~ SO worth it! Give it a try!
Afterwards we went to check out the Specialty Restaurants, that were all having an open house. We booked Qsine for that night and Tuscan for night 2.
Qsine- LOVED IT!
We have never been to a tapas type restaurant. Ordering off the I-pads was fun; we had such a hard time narrowing our choices down! Everything we tried (except the filet- more on that later) was excellent, with the Lava Crab being both of our favorites. We ordered too much and didn't get to the Kobe sliders.. We had hoped to go back a 2nd night, I think we could have done a better job ordering.
We ate here our 2nd night. Beautiful restaurant with nice lighting and had a table in the back by the window at the rear of the ship. Since this was an Italian Steakhouse, I ordered the filet and my husband ordered the Spaghetti Bolognese. I am a steak lover, but being from the Chicago area, the beef on the cruise ships just can't compare with the quality we get near home. The steak in Tuscan, as well as Qsine the night before and later in the Moonlight Sonata, were all OK, but nothing special. In my opinion, with so many other choices, in the future I'm going to skip the steaks and give something else a try.
I think the overall quality of the standard restaurants has been declining with the increase of the Specialty Restaurants. The presentation and service are excellent, but the quality of food maybe slightly above average.
Ocean View Cafe- Usual Buffet Fare
We really only had breakfast here, and one day a late lunch. The lines for omelets and eggs were long. It always seemed crowded and the food was nothing special.
Rooms: Good enough -- we had a balcony on the 8th deck. It was very similar to the Millennium Class, but more modern. I definitely preferred the storage on Millennium class better, with the shelves and drawers in the closet. There was lots of storage over the bed, not very convenient to access if your short!
Entertainment: Mostly the usual. I enjoy the Broadway show. The one standout on this cruise was Tony Daro. I have NEVER laughed so hard! He was the funniest in the smaller venue, where he interacted with the audience-very quick witted and hilarious!!! I also really enjoyed the cruise director, Mike Gibbons, he did his own show and was very talented.
Ports: We had been to all before numerous times. In San Juan we just stayed on the boat, except for a brief trip to Senor Frogs. Worst Margherita I have ever had! In St. Thomas we decided to go over to St. John. I wanted to do a tour, but the ship tour was booked, so we booked the 'on your own' tour, which provided a ferry over to St. John, then used a local for brief tour of the island. We had previously done a catamaran excursion in St. Maartin, as well as gone to the beaches and shopping so opted for an island tour as well. They have a tour desk right at the end of the pier that will group you with others or on your own. They use nice newer vans, and our Tour guide was excellent. Saw both sides of the islands, had shopping time in MArigot and a little beach time as well.
This itinerary had 3 at sea days, and it was almost impossible to get a deck chair on those days, unless you were an early riser or staked out seats. I really think they need to follow up on their claims to remove items from empty chairs!
Disembarkation- Unlike getting on, getting off we chose the Express and we were in a cab less than 15 minutes after leaving our room at 6:52 on Saturday morning. It was awesome! We in the terminal at MIA before 7:30!
Overall, the Eclipse is a beautiful ship, and very clean, but I felt a little crowded. Starting at embarkation, again always in the ocean view, as well as on deck to get sun. Also, the 3 nights I went to the Martini Bar we had to wait quite a while to get a drink. The fitness was usually full as well.
I think in the future we will stick to the now mid size ships of 2000 or so passengers, maybe just our personal preference after experiencing both.