We left the Fla Panhandle with our travel friends the morning of13 Jan. OK drive to Port St Lucie where we stayed at the Homewood Suites. Very nice BR with LR.lower cost than hotels in Miami/Ft Lauderdale and within an hr or so drive of the port. . Left the hotel at 0900 and arrived at Miami at 1115. Dropped everyone and luggage at the Celebrity pier G and parked right there. Free if you have Disabled Parking permit plus proof. We were Aqua Class so check in was quick. Sat in a lounge area until boarding, which started at 1200. Very efficient. Best I've had.
Was going to use Bistro On 5 because it is not crowded but since aboard so early, went to Oceanview and had excellent lunch. Great selections. Always surprised people complain it doesn't 'change' since there are 90+ selections. If someone says they can't find anything to eat or it doesn't change, I'm more than a bit skeptical.
Dropped our carryon in our SR (1604), and off to explore. SRs opened at 1300. Standard size but had angled veranda because it is angled into the hump. You get a bit of extra veranda at standard veranda or Aqua pricing. Bed was next to the veranda. I would choose the bed next to the closet because it allowed more movement around the sliding door to the veranda, but not a big deal. The S-Class standard BRs are nice. The shower stall is a bit larger and has a curved shower door instead of the curtain. Love that. The AQ shower has multiple sprayers and the 'rain' showerhead. Loved that. Storage was fine. Some complain about the over-the-bed bins but we found them fine -seemed to be more shallow then on Solstice but not sure. We traveled with friends and the had a SR on the opposite side of the ship instead of next to us. That way, we could enjoy either view in port.
As always, service was outstanding. This is the hallmark of Celebrity and the Eclipse continues that tradition. Our room steward was very attentive and not only met our needs, he anticipated them. Chilling our wines every evening, cleaning and keeping our room in great shape. The waitstaff in BLU provided exceptional overall service. One waiter didn't bring my wife the correct order and was slow, but overall, it was excellent. The bar staff provided excellent service and remembered our previous orders. All our contacts with service personnel and crew were very positive. The Hotel Director, Sue, was very attentive and when I mentioned my wife just loved the beds, she contacted us with the type of mattress topping they used. Outstanding.
Enjoyed BLU. Good service and food, but personally, I didn't think it was a big cut above the standard MDR. I would go with a standard SR and maybe go to a Specialty restaurant once or twice for a step up. AQ was fine, just not worth it to me. It was quieter than the MDR. And you had flexible dining times. Did have an issue with one entree - the crab risotto had no discernibly crab. Pointed that out and just got a 'sorry' response. Rest of meals were fine.
The Oceanview Buffet is great. I'm not a biggie on buffets, but the S-Class station organization and the many, many selections are great. Lots of options and well set up. Never had an issue with seating. Went up one evening to see what selections were avail. Celebrity usually has a limited buffet for dinner, but Eclipse had a very nice layout and options. Just fine for a quicker no-service dinner.
Didn't try any specialty restaurants except Bistro on 5. We love it - crepes, paninis, salads and soup. As much as you wish for $5each. Open 6am to 4am and great for a quick drop-in especially when onboard in port. The service was a bit slow, but once they got going, it was fine.
Usually I'm not a biggie on the big productions. I'll go, but the Broadway reviews are a bit boring to me. Did have one such show - OK, but they more than made up for it with the 'Eclipse' show. Very much of a Cirque type and very well done. I was bowled over by the Cruise Director, Mike Gibbons. He was not only a good MC and attentive to his customers, he has a fantastic voice. Had his own show at sea midday and it was fantastic. Great singing and he shared his life experience. Excellent. Was the 'hit' for us. His singing and personality more than made up for his very bad jokes....true groaners. Loved the Capella group and the band, as usual, was excellent. A number of Lines use canned music for the singers backup - that's called karaoke.
Ship layout/common areas.
As is on other Celebrity ships, I found the common areas to be well situated. Just didn't feel the 3000 people on board. Many areas to sit and relax. Did have problems in the evening with the band in the foyer, and the canned loud music in other areas, trying to find a quiet spot. The Card Rm was very noisy due to the band in the Foyer below Never had that problem on other Celebrity ships. More noisy than previous experiences.
We just wandered on our own in San Juan and San Marteen. At St Kitts,went to the Cooking Tour. Fantastic. Well worth it - one of the better island experiences. 8 of us were bused to the Fairview Inn. The driver gave us a mini tour on the way. Beautiful old building complex started in 1800's. Lots of history and beautiful grounds with trees and bushes all marked with full explanations. The cooking class was fantastic. Very open room and well organized kitchen with overhead mirrors for observing. Provided recipes. The servings were great. Pork, swordfish caught the day before, rice with local beans and spices. Very fresh and fun. Would do it again. Just started a few weeks ago and one of the best 'tours' ever.
For Elites (you need 10 Pts which isn't hard to get on Celebrity) had the continental breakfast in Michaels. Always enjoy the free Specialty coffees and fresh squeezed OJ. The evening social was 5-7pm in the Sky Lounge and had more than enough drinks. Heck, with the free drinks, our bill was very low! I personally think the Celebrity Capt's Club is the best afloat.
This was the weak part of this cruise. 7-day cruises don't have the best lecturers from my experience and this was true here. Pretty shallow and too much being 'cute' instead of interesting info. Have experienced excellent programs on longer cruises and cruises to more exotic itineraries.
This was the smoothest ever. Miami is fantastic. Being Elite, we had a special lounge location, but it didn't open in time for us to use it. We asked to leave at 7am. Got it. We walked into the lounge we were to meet at 7am and were told to go right on off. No crowd, no problems. The luggage was on carousels like an airport and all went well through security. we walked across the road to the garage and out of the area by 0740. Wow.