This was our third Celebrity cruise, following an Alaskan cruise on the Infinity and Western Caribbean on the Solstice. I can say that despite a few "speed bumps", the cruise was exceptional and a lovely way to celebrate my birthday.
Despite noting some apprehension from other travelers, following the recent Costa tragedy, we immediately felt we were in competent hands with Captain Skylogiannis and crew . We felt that every precaution was being taken to ensure a safe voyage.
We arrived in Miami after departing from Maine and a New Jersey connection with our dear traveling buddies. We utilized the taxi for transport to the cruise port without any issues. Check-in was smooth and efficient. We immediately set off for the Oceanview Cafe and encountered our first issue. My husband and I felt the food was not quite up to par with the Solstice although "Cruising Buddies" appeared to enjoy it. Some of the items had not been refreshed quickly enough and some hot items were just above room temperature. The biggest complain throughout the cruise was the coffee.......totally undrinkable unless you filled the cup a third full with hot water first. The coffee was so strong the spoon almost stood up straight in the cup! The exception was in Blu....great coffee, but I'll get to Blu later.
We were able to access our staterooms (1519 & 1521 in Aqua Class) shortly before 1 PM. The stateroom was very attractive and well appointed, though a tad small, with a spacious bathroom (relatively speaking) with an awesome shower.
Despite some reviews that some of the rooms had "noise from the gym", our rooms on Deck 11, were quiet and located in a excellent location near the relaxation room.
The bed and bedding were comfy and the amenities with Aqua Class, a nice touch. We did not care for, however, the afternoon canape's which were room temperature and not very appetizing. We had the same disappointment on Solstice and opted not to have them delivered.
The Eclipse a gorgeous ship and the public areas did not disappoint. Elegance juxtaposed with a touch of whimsy.
Dinner in Blu was unbelievable! Although portions are small, the quality of the food was exceptional and beautifully presented. The service was absolutely the best, with the staff being gracious and taking efficiency to the next level! Except for one evening, we dined at Blu every night. We had been confirmed for the late seating each night but chose to utilize the Select Seating option.
At this point I want to comment on the itinerary, which was disappointing. We visited only three ports and although I was aware of this when booking, I failed to realize we would be arriving at 3:00 PM in San Juan. There was very little time to explore. It would have been great to arrive early in the day, schedule an activity and explore Old San Juan before leaving the port. The tour we had hope for, Bioluminescent Bay kayak tour was sold out and we opted for the Old and New San Juan coach tour, which was horrible! Due to the poor sound system in the coach, the tour guide could not be understood and time did not permit use to tour the other fort as promised. The "New" San Juan portion of the tour was lackluster on the verge of downright boring. I had promised myself this time I would book tours prior to sailing to ensure "sell-outs" would not be an issue, but one always worries about inclement weather. Wouldn't you know the weather was splendid all week!
The entertainment on board was the best we have ever experienced. The comedian was so funny, we saw his show three times. The productions were fabulous and only got better each evening, if that's possible. Mike, the Cruise Director, was a hoot and boy can he sing!
As mentioned, Blu was wonderful, although one evening we opted to dine in the main dining room, Moonlight Sonata. What a mistake! As I had mentioned earlier, the food on the two previous cruises were wonderful, this dining experience was a disaster! Service was very slow; in fact, we thought they had forgotten about us. The food again was luke warm and our selection's were not very appealing.
As a side note, I found out later that the brand of coffee served, is the same in all locations. The difference in the quality, I was told, was in the brewer. Blu evidently has a different brewer than the Ocean View Cafe and even the Aqua Spa cafÃ©. Again, this is what was relayed to me by one of the servers, so I can't be for certain, but there was a substantial difference.
We enjoyed snorkeling in St. Thomas and "Snuba" in Sint Maarten, both memorable tours, with wonderful staff and the best rum punch this side of the equator!
Disembarking was fairly smooth although the wait for a taxi to return to the airport took forever. We might reconsider not sailing out of Miami again as it appears this is an ongoing issue with the port.
Celebrity never fails to provide a great sailing experience for us and will definitely be looking forward to sailing on another Solstice class ship in the future. This line provides the type of experience that fits our lifestyle. Although this ship was very large, it provided enough intimate locations to ensure total rest and relaxation while affording a abundance of activities for all age groups. Thank you Maria (Activities Director).