Caribbean Review for Celebrity Eclipse Jan 28 -- Feb 4 7 night out of Miami, FL
Thanks to the staff of Eclipse for a wonderful time away, taking us to exciting places, and your outstanding service.
I will try to structure my review into the following:
1. Daily schedule and activities
2. Overall review of areas of Eclipse and Celebrity
3. A couple of odd things
4. The One BIG Disappointment
Wednesday, Jan 25 - We drive to Milwaukee, WI and stayed at the Wyndham Airport Hotel. We booked the night on Hotwire and had a nice room, right next to the airport and lots of space to leave the car for 10 nights (cheap).
Thursday, Jan 26 and Fri 27 -- We were up early and took the 3 minute shuttle from the Wyndham to the airport. We flew from Milwaukee to Ft Lauderdale on Southwest Airlines. The flight was fine and on time. After picking up a rental car we drove FL 1 (too many stoplights) toward the Florida Keys. Next we checked into the Dove Creek Lodge in Islamorada, FL. We had booked Dove Creek as a Travelocity "top secret" hotel. Like Hotwire this is a bit of a gamble, but a gamble that paid off big. We loved this hotel/lodge. It was right on the ocean with free kayaks for use to explore the nearby coves, a nice pool, beach/garden area, a great room, and a pretty good restaurant right next to it with live music nightly. We would stay there again.
Saturday, Jan 28 -- We were up early (but not rushed) and after breakfast at the Lodge, we drove to the Miami Airport, returned the car, then the shuttle to the Port of Miami. We arrived at the port about noon and our time from the curb, to check in, to stepping on the ship was 20 minutes....... no lines and easy. Upon going through the metal detectors and X-ray for carry on luggage we did notice the table for naughty people. I am not sure what time boarding began, but there were at least 50 bottles of alcohol, "large" wine bottles, and boxes each neatly tagged to be returned at the end of the cruise. We ate lunch at a jammed ocean view cafÃ©. We should have listed to others on Cruise Critic and gone to Bistro on 5. Staterooms were ready about 1:00pm with an announcement from above. We were in Aqua Class room 1523. Everything in the room was beautiful, with the bed near the bath, and the Persian Garden above. The room had enough hangers for us, plenty of storage space, especially making use of the cabinets above the bed and the area under the bed to store luggage and dirty clothes. Throughout the cruise we were always impressed with the stateroom, balcony, and our attendants who work hard and provide excellent service. My only suggestion for Celebrity is to provide some choice in sparkling wine ..... maybe a choice of red/white wine or even 2 beers. Our stateroom attendant said later that about a third of the rooms do not use/drink their champagne.
Sunday, Jan 29 -- Day at Sea
My only comment for the day was our "guest speakers". One spoke about Alfred Hitchcock, which seemed to me to be interesting to only a limited audience, the other spoke on comedy, its history, and how to use comedy when speaking.
Monday, Jan 30 -- Puerto Rico
We arrived early (2:00pm) to San Juan, waked to the fort and through historic San Juan. We ate dinner at the Parrott Club and had a great evening/night in Old town San Juan. I thought it was good to have a port where you arrive in the afternoon and stay until 10:00pm.
Tuesday, Jan 31 -- St Maartin
My wife had her shore excursion cancelled for lack of participation so we walked through the town, did a little shopping, and visited the Buddha Bar. The area around the port and Philipsburg were JAMMED as Eclipse was one of 7 ships docked in port.
Wednesday, Feb 1 -- St Kitts
The opposite of St Maartin. We were the ONLY ship in port. We took the Eco Hike and Rainforest tour. I am glad we did. We also walked around town. Our guide said they built the peer in 1995 and have been trying to lure cruise companies and ships to stop and spend the say in St Kitts. They have not been successful. I can honestly say, I don't know why. The town seemed nice, there were a diversity of tours offered, and friendly people.
Thursday Feb 2 and Fri Feb 3 were days at Sea
Saturday Feb 4, were back in Miami. We took advantage of the self check out, carried our own bags off this ship and were in the Ft Lauderdale airport by 8:00am for our flight home.
II. Overall Impressions
1. BLU Restaurant -- As usual BLU was Outstanding! Blue has the best food at Sea, with superior service both at breakfast and dinner. Blu has an innovative and diverse menu while at the same time you are able to order anything from the main dining room and with notice you can order just about ANYTHING. I continue to be impressed with the quality of food and excellent service in BLU.
2. Specialty Restaurants -- We did not dine in any of them, but I did inquire about reservations. They were booked solid. They always seemed busy when we walked out of BLU at the end of dinner, and people we spoke to enjoyed them
3. Demographics -- The cruise seemed to have an older demographic when compared to our last cruise on Solstice. In my opinion 20% were under 55 years old, 40% between 55 and 70 and 40% over 70 years old.
4. Pools -- The outside pools were always busy without feeling jammed. The pool water was too warm (almost hot) for me. Yet I understand that the water bakes under the sun week after week. People seemed to be having fun and enjoying themselves. The solarium was another story. Quiet and adults only with comfortable lounge chairs in a beautiful relaxing atmosphere meant, the solarium was were I spent most of my pool time. Plus the pool water was not as hot -- much more pleasant.
5. The Persian Garden and Steam Room -- One of the great benefits of Aqua Class is the PG and while it is not Persian nor a Garden, it is a wonderful place to stay, relax and enjoy the heated tiled beds or the steam room.
6. The Relaxation room is a great quiet place to read and relax while looking out the front of the ship (right above the bridge).
7. The Bars -- I have always been impressed with Celebrity's diverse bars. Crush is beautiful with innovative drinks. My wife just loves the place. The wine cellar is a good concept with the ability to sample many wines in small amounts without spending big $$. The spent time at the Sunset bar and appreciated its great view of the sea, while being "on the lawn" and the bonus of not being as windy as I would have thought. Finally, the Ensemble Lounge is the perfect place to gather before dinner at a specialty restaurant or BLU, relaxing, live music and a good place for conversation.
8. Spa and Fitness -- I ran on the treadmills most days with little or no waiting. My wife appreciates Yoga on a cruise, yet this time, it was being taught by one of the member of the "fitness staff". She thought it was almost comical, imagine a Saturday night live skit were an aerobics instructor is shouting while trying to lead yoga "push yourself harder!!" "Feel the Burn" ...... she thought he was funny and took it in stride, but cancelled and crossed off yoga for the rest of the cruise.
9. Public areas -- I thought the glass show was entertaining and the lawn green and lush, which must be hard to do in the Caribbean. We used the library and thought the comedian on board (not the comedy "expert") was very funny.
III. A couple of ODD things
1. Michael's Club -- seemed VERY underused. While there is a piano in the Club there was almost never a piano player and while we walked by and looked in the club every night going and coming from BLU were never saw it crowded.
2. BLU -- the food is terrific and service is amazing, BUT it... is .... well........GREEN. I could not get over the green glasses, carpet, uniforms for staff, and artwork. Its odd.
IV. One BIG Disappointment
My only disappointment in our cruise was our fellow travelers. Never could I have imagined a bigger group of complainers and people with a bad attitude all gathered in one place supposedly on the cruise of a lifetime and relaxing. I will give 3 short examples; upon entering our cabin I heard screaming from down the hall. About a dozen cabins forward a 70 year old man was verbally abusing his wife and while one of his lines was clever (I thought I had heard everything) he was just plain abusive. I personally witness a Celebrity security person have great patience with him, but in the end inform him if he continued to abuse his wife or anyone else, the only part of San Juan he would see would be in inside of a jail cell. I wrote down her name, she should be commended. I witness many guests insult and demean staff. Again the staff generally showed great patience. Personally I offered to buy my fellow travelers a beer, glass of wine, or milk 4 different times if it would make their day better.
Thanks to Celebrity and their staff for a great cruise!