What I loved and didn't love about our Eclipse cruise Feb. 4-11
Background -- Sailed with my husband, and my sister and daughter in adjoining cabins. DH and I are 68, sister is 64, and daughter is 41. This was our 4th cruise, all with Celebrity. We have enjoyed sailing with Celebrity so much we haven't as yet been tempted to try another cruise line.
What I Loved:
Getting There -- Our Delta flights from Detroit to Atlanta to Miami couldn't have been better. Left on time, arrived early, short layover in Atlanta. Flew down the day before and stayed at the Marriott just south of the airport -- very convenient.
Embarkation -- unbelievably smooth and easy. Arrived at the port by taxi at about 10:45 and dropped our luggage with the Porter. Nobody in the Concierge Class line so we went right to the counter and had our SeaPasses in about 5 minutes and were on board with a glass of champagne in our hands by 11:10. We went directly to the Oceanview Cafe, got a table outside and just sat in the sun for a few minutes, enjoying the warmth and toasting the beginning of what we hoped would be a great cruise.
Ship -- The Eclipse is just a really beautiful ship. The decor throughout seems coordinated and well thought out. It is classic and elegant, but still feels comfortable and welcoming. We really enjoyed the art work all over the ship. The ship is very clean and well maintained-- public restrooms are beautiful, spotless, and even have cloth hand towels. Crew members are continuously cleaning and polishing all over the ship. I am also amazed that even with the nearly maximum number of passengers on this cruise, the Eclipse never seemed crowded (ok, maybe at the buffet or the pool at times), but there are always quiet areas to slip into to read a bit or just relax.
Cabin and Cabin Location -- We were Concierge Class 2 on the Sky Deck (Deck 10) near the mid ship elevators. This is the second time we have picked this location. It's convenient to the elevators and to most areas of the ship. Even though we were near the elevators, we never heard any noise from them. We also had cabins above and below us, so there was no noise from above or below.
The adjoining cabins are really convenient if you are traveling with others. The cabin attendant closed the outer doors for us on the first day and also opened our balcony divider and both remained that way for the entire cruise. We could go back and forth between cabins without having to go out into the hallway. We found that the cabin had adequate storage and found a place for everything. We used the storage units over the bed for things we didn't use often -- beach bag, extra shoes, hats, etc. The closet had plenty of hangers and we were able to put our luggage under the bed. Unless you bring an enormous amount of things, there is plenty of room for everything. Also really loved the bathroom -- lots of storage, great shower, nice toiletries and towels, perfect night light. The only extra things we bring with us for the cabin are a clock so we can easily tell the time night or day, and sticky notes to leave requests or comments for the cabin attendants. Loved, loved, loved the balcony -- really wonderful to sit out there at night and look at the stars and listen to the ocean. I know a balcony isn't important to some, but it is a major part of the cruise experience for me. I'd hate to do without it.
Cabin Attendants -- our attendants, Luis and Jack, were wonderful. They quickly and quietly supplied whatever we needed, but they stayed in the background and never were intrusive. Even though we had Select Dining and had prepaid our gratuities, we left an extra tip for both of them.
Select Dining -- Loved this option. As it turned out, we did eat at about the same time each evening,(6:30 to 7:00) but loved not having to be on a strict schedule. We did not make any reservations. There was only one line for a table each night and we never had to wait, so I'm not sure if a reservation would have made any difference, at least at that time period. We did finish eating around 8 -- 8:15 each night and there was a considerably longer line at that time. I think maybe that was around the time that the first theatre show got out, so that could account for the backup. Enjoyed sitting in different locations and having different waiters -- all were pleasant and helpful. MDR food was good to excellent -- had salmon twice, once from the everyday menu and once from the day's specials. Both were quite good. Had beef kabobs one night, a little tough, but flavorful. Appetizers and desserts were good.
Thought the variety and quality in the Oceanview Cafe was also good. All in all, I thought the food in all of the included venues was quite good considering they are feeding 2800+ passengers -- I am quite impressed at how well they do it. It's not 5 star -- but what 5 star restaurant serves 2800 people for dinner?
Tuscan Grille -- Ate there one night and did have the perfect meal. Excellent beef and seafood, great wine, and terrific service. Our table for four was near the windows and we could see the beautiful wake lighted by the full moon. Was a highlight of the cruise.
Formal Nights -- The four of us love getting dressed up for formal nights. DH brings his tux and we girls like to sparkle a little. Noticed only one or two people not following the dress code, most got into the spirit of things. One thing I did notice were several couples where the lady was wearing a nice cocktail dress or long dress and the man a much more casual outfit, ie. olive green sport coat, plaid shirt, and stripped tie. Does meet the dress code, just looks a little odd. Does not in any way spoil my enjoyment of the evening. Formal Nights also made for a mixed audience in the Celebrity Theatre. Just seemed funny to see a couple in formal attire sitting next to a couple in shorts and flip flops.
Entertainment - Saw two of the shows -- the Cirque de Soleil type show and the Broadway review. Both were good, not New York or the West End, but certainly entertaining for a cruise ship. Also really enjoyed the live entertainment around the ship -- the South Side Party band was excellent and played at various locations. One night we played cards in the Card Room and listened to their music coming up through the atrium. Very pleasant. One thing we did notice -- their music early in the evenings tended to be stuff that the older demographic would like and the music later in the evening (after the old folks went to bed) was trendier and more current. Something for everyone. There also was a good a cappella group and a excellent jazz group that performed for a wine and cheese event under the stars on the lawn. Nice! We also really enjoyed the comedian -- Troy Thirdgill. His comedy was clean, mature, adult fun -- just on the verge of "naughty", but nothing offensive -- which is very hard to find these days!
Solarium -- A very pleasant place to spend a few hours. Fairly crowded on sea days, but quiet on port days. No children allowed.
Celebrity Life Program -- DH attended the lectures on opera. He knew nothing about opera going in, but thought it could be interesting to learn about it. The lecturer was knowledgeable and easy to listen to. However, even thought DH now knows a bit about opera, he still isn't a fan! There were a variety of programs -- something for everyone.
Cellar Masters -- My sister and I bought wine cards to use in the wine dispensers. You can buy them for any denomination, but a $50 card gets you an extra $5 of wine free, and a $100 gets you $15 free. It's a great way to try lots of different wines in 1 oz to a full glass portions priced accordingly. We liked being able to just drop in, put your card in the machine, get a glass of wine to drink on your balcony or wherever. There are whites, reds, and sparkling wines -- lots of varieties and price ranges. We would purchase a 1 oz portion of a wine and if we liked it, then buy a half or full glass. If we didn't like it, we'd try something else.
No Smoking -- This was wonderful! I only smelled smoke once the entire cruise and that was when I happened to pass just inside one of the outdoor smoking areas just as the automatic door opened. Other than that it truly was a smoke free cruise for me. Especially enjoyed the smoke free Sky Lounge. It's a great place for reading or relaxing in the afternoons -- spent quite a bit of time there now that there's no smoking. Thanks, Celebrity!
Muster Drill -- This usually isn't something I love, but after the Concordia disaster, I paid a bit more attention. Our muster station was the Murano restaurant. We were instructed to go there at 3:45 for the drill before we sailed at 4:30. There was an instructional video and then one of the crew showed us the door from the Murano that exits directly to the deck outside and is right across from our designated lifeboat. It was very reassuring to know exactly where to go and what to do in an emergency.
Disembarkation -- Very quick and easy. We were told to report to the Moonlight Sonata Dining Room, deck 4 at 7:40am. We got there just a bit early and were told to go directly to the gangway and off the ship. Went quickly through customs and were in a taxi on the way to the airport by 8:00. Couldn't have been easier. There were Celebrity and Customs staff at every turn directing us. It seemed very well organized and efficient. Our flights home were great too. We felt very lucky.
What I Didn't Love -
Rude Passengers -- I don't know if it is the times, or the economy, or what, but people just seem to be less considerate of others these days. If there was any downside to this cruise for me, it was people with the "what I want is way more important than what you want" attitude. This cruise had an older demographic, but there were also many younger people. Rudeness doesn't seem to have a demographic. And I just really hate to see passengers being rude to the crew -- they try so hard to be accommodating and helpful.
Super Bowl Party Food -- This is really a small thing. This cruise included Super Bowl Sunday. A party was held in the Celebrity Theatre to watch the game. The decorations were festive and they showed the game on a big screen and attempted a tailgate type of dinner. The food just wasn't very good. It was hot dogs with stale buns, overcooked hamburgers, some kind of odd nachos -- not at all up to Celebrity's standard. I guess since they only do this once a year, they just haven't figured out how to do tailgate food. They party was fun, but we felt bad we missed out on a nice MDR dinner!
Taxi to Magans Beach in St. Thomas -- We didn't do an excursion, just took one of the open air taxis to the beach. I understand the local's need to generate as much revenue as possible, but forcing 4 people into seats made for 3 makes a very hot and uncomfortable ride. It was a nice beach and we enjoyed the outing otherwise.
As you can see, what I loved way outweighed the very few things I didn't love. It was a wonderful cruise. We booked another cruise for next February while we were onboard. Going to try the Silhouette. I'm sure we will love her. Thanks for reading my review!