Just back from a wonderful week on the Eclipse. Here's my review.
Background: we are four sisters cruising together. Previously we have sailed twice on the NCL Pearl and loved it. This was our first Celebrity Cruise. We had adjoining cabins with aft balconies (9378 and 9380). '
Embarkation: A breeze. We arrived in Miami the day before and stayed at the Marriott Eden Roc. Caught a cab Saturday morning and arrived at the port right at 11:00. We left our bags with the porter and basically walked right on the ship. There were no lines to check in yet, and we were able to walk right up to the counter and check in, get our pictures taken and receive our sea pass card. We then walked on the ship and were handed a welcome aboard mimosa. Since we were early, the ship didn't feel crowded at all. We explored the ship and then had lunch at Bistro on 5. Rooms were ready at about 1:15pm and muster drill was promptly at 3:30.
Rooms: We had adjoining balcony cabins facing aft (9378 and 9380). They were very nice cabins and I loved the balconies! Loved having that aft view. Although the balconies aren't covered, I never felt a lack of privacy. When you looked down you could really only see people if they stood right at the rail. When you sat in the deck chairs, you couldn't be seen. Our cabin attendant was Marissa and she introduced herself to us right away. She fixed our doors so our cabins were adjoining, and did the same for the balcony. The balcony on 9378 was about 1.5 - 2 feet wider than on 9380, which surprised me. I thought they were all the same width. Both balconies had comfortable chairs that reclined, footstools, and a small table.
I thought the cabins had plenty of room and pretty good storage. We certainly were able to put everything away. I liked the cupboards over the beds (but I am tall and had no issues reaching them). Cabin 9378 had the beds by the balcony which I wasn't sure I liked at first...but then loved. We left the balcony door open all night and I loved being able to look out at the view. Also loved the sound of the waves which made perfect white noise for sleeping. No issues with loud neighbors. Never really heard anyone else at all.
Concierge Class: We chose this class of cabin mainly because we wanted the aft location and we wanted adjoining cabins. We had a fruit bowl waiting for us, a bottle of sparkling wine on ice in each cabin. I believe you get nicer robes in CC, they were big, thick and comfortable (I saw others that people were wearing around the pool and they were the thinner waffle-weave type of robe). I had heard the towels were a little bigger in CC and they were certainly nice. I did think the shower itself was great.
Dining: We chose the select dining as we don't like to have a set time to eat. We ate at the Tuscan the first night and really enjoyed it. The restaurant was pretty empty though. I wondered if most people don't do specialty restaurants the first night. The food was good and the Chocolate Fondue dessert was amazing! We ate at Qsine the next night and thought it was fun. I thought the food was better than expected...I thought it would be more about the novelty and less about the food so I was pleasantly surprised. But by the end you do get pretty full! We ate at Bistro on 5 several times: once for breakfast a couple of times for lunch and once for dinner. Very good food for a $5 surcharge. We ate in the main dining room twice for dinner and I would say it was superior to my previous NCL cruise. The service was very good and the food was good. Overall, I thought celebrity desserts and pastries were for the most part excellent. I remember thinking on NCL that things looked good but didn't have much taste. Loved the Creme Br'lee on the Eclipse and had it a couple of times.
The Oceanview cafe/buffet was fine. I'm not a huge buffet fan, but I do like them at times and I thought they had a pretty good selection. I was a personal fan of the taco bar. I never thought it was crowded, but I may not have been there at peak times. We never had issues finding tables or chairs. Usually we went out the back of the ship and sat at the outdoor area.
We did room service breakfast once and it was fine. Everything came except they forgot one coffee. I did think they had a nice selection on the room service menu, and loved that you can see and order it from the tv. Very cool.
Cocktails and wine: Each of the four of us purchased the Premium Alcohol Package (got it during the 10% off sale) and we all thought it was well worth it. We started each morning with coffee or tea at al Bacio and made our way through all of the different bars at one time or another. Don't miss the martini bar where the bartenders put on quite a show. I loved the 20 Year Martini and it was fun to sit there at the frozen bar and watch the bartenders juggle cocktail shakers and pour multiple martinis all at the same time. Numan and Ady (Ada?) knew how to play the crowd and it was a lot of fun.
The molecular bar was another favorite, with Milos behind the bar. It was a quieter atmosphere but the cocktails were amazing, especially the "Coming Up Roses" which was beautiful and delicious. I would not have known about the Molecular bar without Cruise Critic so thanks to all those folks who wrote about it. On the ship it is still referred to as "Galleria Tasting"...not sure why. The menu says Molecular and there are about 20 different unique drinks.
Cellarmasters was also very nice. The first time we visited we decided to try a glass of a more expensive wine. It was $20 but we knew that with the premium package we would only have to pay the different above $12. Unfortunately, the sommelier charged us the full price. I tried to explain that with the premium package you only paid the difference, but he said no, full price. We later went to guest relations to verify and there was some confusion there too. We just wanted to understand the policy for future reference. A supervisor ended up calling Celebrity Corporate where he found out that indeed you do only pay the difference with the Premium package. They refunded the difference and it showed up on our statement a couple of days later.
Cellarmasters had a number of good wines by the glass that fell within the $12 package as well. I really enjoyed having a glass of Late Harvest Riesling dessert wine in the evening. We ended up each purchasing a card to try the enomatic wine dispensers. You can put as much money on a card as you want and you can add more money as you use it, if you choose. It looks like a hotel key card with a microchip and you stick it in the machine. It tells you your balance and you can then select a "taste" (very small), a "half glass" or a "full glass of any of the wines in the machines. The machines show you the price for each amount. It gives you the ability to taste some expensive wines that I wouldn't want to pay for a full glass.
We did the Around the World wine tasting event (additional $15) which was very fun. They had 12 different wines...a red and a white from 6 different countries and you just went around to each country station and tried them. We also did the Reidel wine tasting ($15 for just the tasting, $87 if you want to get the glasses). That was also very fun and I was amazed at the difference the glass made! The wine events were really enjoyable and I thought worth the additional cost. The wine sommeliers were very knowledgable. We had Sheldon in the main dining room and he also conducted the Reidel tasting.
Pool areas: The pools were nice. They did get very crowded on sea days. We tended to swim in the morning when it was less crowded so never really had an issue with chairs, although we never tried to get one right next to the pool in the sun. I liked the solarium area too, although I wish the pool were a little deeper. The hot tubs were nice and I thought they were a good temperature. I wish they had a few tables and chairs in the pool area as I don't always like sitting in a lounger. on NCL they had lots of tables and chairs in the shade along the back windows of the pool area and that was nice. You could sit at a table and still see all the action and activity of the pool.
Casino: The casino was pretty good to us in general. Two of my sisters actually hit some nice jackpots and came out ahead for the week. I didn't come out ahead, but didn't lose as much as I brought...so that's kind of a win :roll eyes: Loved the fact that there was no smoking in the casino. Actually loved that about the whole ship. People who smoked all seemed to follow the code and smoke in the designated areas.
Ports: we stayed on the ship in San Juan. In St. Martaan we did the deluxe beach break which included shopping in Marigot and an afternoon at the Westin Dawn Beach. It was ok. If I went again I would just go to a beach on my own. The bus was pretty crowded and a little uncomfortable and there really wasn't much to do in Marigot (we were there for an hour). Our driver was very friendly and did point out a lot of sites along the drive. We got to the Westin around 1:00 only to find out that because they were full we could use the beach but couldn't use their pool area. This was disappointing because my one sister was recovering from recent ankle tendon surgery and can't walk on sand so we had picked that excursion because it also had a pool. She settled herself at the outdoor bar and we still had a nice few hours at the beach. In retrospect, I bet if we explained her situation they would have made an exception. The pool certainly didn't look crowded.
In St. Kitts we took a cab to the Marriott and just spent the day there using their beach and pool facilities. Very nice. Lovely resort with a nice sandy bottomed beach.
Misc: I thought service on the ship was great. Everyone was very friendly. I am amazed at their ability to remember people! In general there were a lot of little things that made this cruise feel a little more upscale than our previous cruises. I liked the abundance of towels by the pool and the fact that you didn't need to show your card or worry about losing one. I liked that the treats at the coffee bar were included with your cruise price instead of an extra charge. I liked that there were so few announcements over the loudspeaker, just a morning one from the captain and cruise director.
All in all a wonderful week of relaxation and pampering. Now back to reality!