I will try and pass on a little of my experience with our recent cruise aboard the Eclipse. Our previous cruising experiences with Celebrity have all been on the Century, so this cruise was going to be a different feel for us. We usually cruise as a couple but this time we brought our 17 year old daughter with us. What I noticed first upon boarding is that the ship has a modern sophisticated look and feel to it as compared to the classic elegance feel of the Century. The Eclipse is bright and airy and although there were 3300 passengers aboard, I did not feel crowded.
We got aboard at about 12:30pm and were welcomed aboard with a sparkling wine or orange juice. We went to the library and selected some books for the week. We then headed up to the Oceanview cafe on deck 14 for some food. The buffet was not too crowded and we got our food and found a seat easily. Usually on a sea day, the Buffet was crowded at 12:00 but if you went a little before or after this time, you were usually OK. We went and touched base with the Captains Club host Chandru, as we had sailed with him on the Century. We also took the afternoon to try and familiarize ourselves with the ship layout. I got an Aspen coffee at the Cafe de Biaco on deck 5 and we wandered around. We took a spa and fitness facility tour and checked out the MDR on deck 4 to find out table location. The Muster drill was performed and we went up to our room to do the sail-away from the balcony. I picked up a Frozen Mudslide to enjoy on the balcony during the sailing. Our bags were all up in the room by 4:00 and we unpacked and prepared for dinner. The stateroom layout did not provide as much storage space as we had on the Century but we were able to make do. One thing I did notice was that the foot of the bed was curved rather than straight across. I am 6'2" tall and I found that my feet hung off the end of the bed unless I lay in the centre of the bed, then I had to deal with the crack.
We had a fantastic waiter and assistant waiter in the Moonlight Sonata dining room. Same and Garcia were both very attentive and made out evening dining a truly memorable experience.
On our San Juan evening, we chose to dine in Qsine. This is one of the specialty restaurants on board and this was a great experience that I would recommend to anyone who is adventurous when it comes to dining. You can chose from foods from all over the world and they are brought to you one at a time. They recommend that you order 7 courses to start but you can always order more if you are still hungry (you wont be). We had sushi, spring rolls, Kobe beef sliders, Indian food Taj Mahal, and a couple of others that I cant remember. If it is busy when you are there, it may take a little extra time between courses but the experience makes up for it.
The shows on board were very good. We went to all of them but one and enjoyed them thoroughly. The two that stuck out in my mind were Edge and the Eclipse. Edge was a musical rock and roll themes show with lots of lights and music. Very well done.
We took in several seminars with regards to the ship. They were on navigation, propulsion and recycling. The content was good and gave you a glimpse into the inner workings of a cruise ship.
The comedian on board, Troy Thirdgill was funny and we saw a few of his shows.
My wife and daughter participated in the on-board fashion show as models and they got to dress up in clothes and accessories from the ships boutiques, which they really enjoyed.
We did not have a problem getting a deck chair on sea days but we did not spend a lot of time sitting by the pool. It was harder to get a seat in the Solarium when the pool deck was loud though. the Solarium is a nice feature when the pool music and games make it loud outside but it seems that a lot of people have the same idea.
We played Boccie ball on the lawn on deck 15 and took in the Hot Glass blowing shows put on by the Corning Museum of Glass. They have ovens up on deck 15 and blow glass 2 times a day for the shows. I participated in the golf putting challenges that they had 3 times during the cruise and that was well attended.
The Xteen club program for our daughter was very good and she would disappear each day and we would not see her until dinner on sea days. The program and the staff was very good according to her. We were not allowed in as we are over 17.
We attended the Galley tour as well as the backstage tour of the theater and enjoyed them both. The galley tour also included a demonstration by a number of the chefs to showcase their expertise. There was a demonstrations on meat carving, sushi making, fruit sculpturing, etc, which were very interesting.
I had the premium alcohol beverage package and found that to be a good deal for me. I was able to try different wines by the glass each night at dinner without having to buy the entire bottle. It allowed me to sample more wines than if I had bought a wine package. I was able to get martinis at night and drinks in the shows as well as a few :-) frozen drinks by the pool during the day. We had room service two mornings for breakfast and you order it through the TV. It showed up on time both days and was hot when it arrived.
We stopped at 3 ports and did not have to tender at any of them. St. Maarten was crowded with 7 ships in port that day bit San Juan and St. Kitts were both just us in port. We took a 6 hour Catamaran trip on St. Kitts with snorkeling and lunch on the beach. We had a good time and really really enjoyed the rum punch. They grated fresh Nutmeg on the top of the drink when they served it. There were no lines getting off the ship or back on when we did our shore excursions. The frozen facecloths to wipe your face with when you got back on was a nice touch that I appreciate from Celebrity.
I find that the staff and crew go out of their way to say hi to you and truly want to make your cruising experience a good one. It pains me to see the way some people treat them. We have done several back to back cruises and have been able to watch the staff and crew work between cruises. They come out of all the secret doors and staff areas and start cleaning everything and getting it ready for the next cruise. We walked around and thanks a lot of them for their hard work. even during the cruise, they are always there wiping down the ship to ensure it stays clean and tidy. They do not get enough appreciation for what they do for all of us.
The captain and his officers were very nice and would stop and say hi if you met them on the ship and wanted to talk to them.
I like the fact that there are not very many public announcements during the day. There is one at 10:00am each day with the captain giving us a report on where we are, how far we travelled, how far to the next stop etc, followed by a message from Mike Gibbons, the cruise director on what was happening that day.
I enjoyed the Cellar Masters wine tasting where you could select a large number of wines by the glass. There were round machines with bottles in them that you could insert your sea-pass card into and select which wine you wanted and it would dispense a glass for you. They had a very good selection of wines to try and it is a great way to try and find your new favorite wine.
I would encourage each of you to ensure that you fill out the guest questionnaire at the end of your cruise to let the cruise line know what they did right and wrong. Celebrity also gives you a form halfway through the cruise to allow you an opportunity to let them know if there is anything that they can do better to make your cruise a memorable experience. They want to know and fix it before you fill out the form at the end of the cruise. Use the opportunity to give them a chance to correct what is wrong. They take it seriously.
One last thing before I close is with regards to the dining room. They will bend over backwards to ensure you are happy with your meal. If you want something special, just ask and they will do their best to provide it. They have a section of the kitchen that just deals with special request meals. They will add or remove things from your plate that you don't want. If you want extra steamed veggies instead of potatoes, they will do that. If you want fresh berries for dessert even though it is not on the menu, just ask. You can even order two entrees if you cant decide. All the meals were wonderful and cooked to perfection. We had a great table for 8 and we all had an excellent time at each meal.
I hope you enjoy your next cruise as much as I enjoyed mine. I truly feel that a cruise is a great way to vacation and to see other parts of the world on a "sampler" basis. You get a little bit of each port and get to see three islands instead of just one.