CELEBRITY ECLIPSE REVIEW
We just returned from the Eclipse-our 9th cruise with Celebrity- and 37th overall. We had been away from Celebrity for the past 8 years and were anxious to try the Solstice class ships.
Let me give you a little background on us-- we are retired seniors living in South Florida just a bit north of W Palm in Martin county -- we started cruising in 1986 while still living in the Chicago area. We moved to Florida in 1994 and cruising became more accessible and we take advantage of that. We have cruise the most with Princess and Celebrity, but have experienced NCL, RCCL, Premier, Commodore, HAL, Carnival, and MSC. We love Princess and Celebrity for different reasons and keep HAL as an alternative. We booked this cruise last minute-about 2 weeks out. We cruise for relaxation and the enjoyment of being at sea --
We hate to fly so mostly cruise the Caribbean -- all areas.
We take the Cruise Connection bus to all our cruises -- the boarding point is very close to our home and it is a relaxing way for us to get to and from the ports. No wear and tear on our car and no hassle with traffic and congestion.
This cruise sailed from the Port of Miami. We hadn't been out of that port in many years. The bus dropped off passengers at Port Everglades and then continued on to Miami -- dropping us off last around 2:30pm. A great time to board -- we just walked in, presented our documents and were on the ship with a welcoming Mimosa. This would be a new experience for us as we were totally unfamiliar with the ship, although I had been reading up on it, as to where things were. We found our cabin (9260-inside on Deck 9) were pleasantly surprised at its spaciousness -- dropped our hand luggage and headed to Bistro on 5 for a quick lunch before the Muster Drill. The crepes we ordered were great as well as the soup -- we just finished when they called for the Muster Drill -- thankfully we were on the correct deck and we gathered at our station and were shown a film and listened to announcements pertaining to safety. Life jackets are not to be taken to this drill.
The Eclipse is the third of the Solstice class ships, launched in 2010 and is beautiful. Very contemporary in design and well laid out. There are a total of 16 decks (no deck 13). Public decks are 3, 4, 5, 12, 14, 15, & 16. The Grand Foyer is 3 decks high and very impressive. Everything was spotless. Some areas are more traditional in design -- some more contemporary -- mostly it flowed well. There were areas that appeared dark because of the dark wood used -- the Library has been made an architectural focal point and is beautiful -- lots of glass and big window areas in some parts of the ship -- a welcoming ship. There are two pools mid ships for all and the solarium pool forward that is adults only with lounges all around. It is enclosed however and can become noisy. There are hot tubs there as well. Lots of outdoor places to sit -- including deck chairs outside on deck 5. Very enjoyable. Great people watching!
We always book an inside guarantee cabin. We are Select members of the Captains Club and when we were assigned a category 10 cabin, I called and asked for the one category upgrade which they gave us. We were in 9260 which is midships on the starboard side of the vessel. It was excellently located to both the elevators and stairs. We take the stairs down and elevators up these days and the elevators were very efficient and ran quickly. Once acclimated to the ship, it was easy to get around. The cabin was very spacious -- one of the largest inside cabins we have ever had and the bathroom was spacious as well -- doors on the shower are a real plus as is a foot bar for shaving legs in the shower. The television was interactive and also had free movies on demand -- they could be paused until one returned if you wanted to do so. You can also check your bill, reserve dinner, shore excursions etc on it. A nice feature. Furnishings were very contemporary -- Bed was very comfortable and large. Choice of pillows was nice also.
The only thing of note was the lack of shelving to lay things - and hooks to hang things. There is a bureau with 4 drawers and drawers (tiny) in the bathroom. Closets have sliding doors which stuck a bit -- but had plenty of space for hanging clothes for a 7-10 day cruise. Our cabin steward -Efram- was excellent-seeing to our every need.
We signed up for late seating fixed dining at 8:30 in the Moonlight Sonata dining room. We requested a table for two and got just that -- table 431 on the upper level of the dining room and our waiter was Tamiji -- his assistant was Leonard -- and they were excellent in seeing to whatever we wanted at dinner. The food in the dining room was very good -- but lacked seasoning in some dishes -- more bland than we would have liked. There are items at dinner that are available every day -- some Celebrity favorites like Lobster Bisque and CrÃ¨me Brule and Cesar salad as well as Escargot -- and there was always plenty to choose from on the daily menu -- the rolls and bread sticks were excellent . After the first night, our drink preferences were always remembered and we were always greeted by name.
We ate in the dining room for breakfast as much as possible as well as lunch. On port days the hours for breakfast are shorter and we missed it the first port day and had to eat in the Oceanview Cafe -- chaos -- more about that area later. Both breakfast and lunch in the dining room were great -- my husband especially loved the Belgian Waffles -- I love the way they poach eggs -- service was great and we enjoyed it very much -- Lunch as well -- good choices and well served.
On Thursday there was no breakfast or lunch in the dining room -- instead it was billed as a Grand Brunch in the main dining room --from 10am to 1:00pm- well it wasn't grand-- utter chaos -- people everywhere -- no idea of what stations had what food -- we were NOT impressed -- dining room cleanup was very lax -- a lot of work for not a good result in our opinion. Yes, the food was good -- but just try to maneuver the room-it certainly wasn't up to Celebrity standards of old.
The Oceanview Cafe is on Deck 14 -- a very utilitarian looking place -- very contemporary and loud and noisy -- hard surfaces all around and the way the stations were positioned, people just walked everywhere at once. At peak hours it was difficult to maneuver. There were good choices there for every meal -- we just prefer a more formal setting for our meals. The sushi that was served starting at 4:30pm was well liked by many -- ourselves included -- and the pizza was good and the pasta bar good. There is an ice cream bar too -- also a grill forward by the pool and the Aqua Spa Cafe in the Solarium (adult pool). We ate breakfast at the Aqua Spa and it serves healthy choices -- is a nice atmosphere and we enjoyed that. My husband found the pastry too bland and no real taste for him. He has a sweet tooth and loves that kind of thing -- feels that Princess is much better in that area.
All in all we enjoyed the food - we are not fans of alternative restaurants -- they seem to say that if you want superior food, you have to eat in these restaurants -- the main dining room food isn't really good enough. There are four specialty restaurants on this ship with a surcharge -- Bistro on 5 ($5pp), Murano, Tuscan Grill, and Qsine ($30 or $40pp) -- for us they are not worth the cost -- we have tried one or two in past sailings -- always too much food for us too -- and frankly the food wasn't so great that we felt it a good value.
I should add that they were very careful about sanitation. Crew members with Purell dispensers were at the doors to the Oceanview Cafe and the Dining Room and dispensers were everywhere on the ship. The public restroom doors were opened and closed with push buttons and the restrooms were immaculate that I used. Cloth hand towels were available as well as paper and with the push buttons you didn't have to touch door handles and the water in the sinks was automatic.
The Cruise Directors staff got the ship rocking the first night with a Motown Theme Party in the Grand Foyer -- it was outstanding and people were dancing on all three floors and enjoying the music -- great way to start off a cruise -- there were shows in the Eclipse theater (we didn't see any of them) and on Wednesday there was a Masque Theme Party which also had the ship jumping!!! Both of these theme parties we truly enjoyed. We also enjoyed the bands and other music all over the ship -- there was an acapella group, a great band Southside, the Impreze Trio, Front Page was a Caribbean theme duo -- great music everywhere. The shows were at 7pm and 9pm in the theater and that wasn't good for us so we just didn't see any of them -- but I can say that the Cruise Director Mike Gibbons was very good and his staff worked very hard all over the ship.
Celebrity did a Cruise Critic get together for us with refreshments and some senior officers there -- it was very nice and we got to put names and faces together -- We also attended the Select and Elite Captains party in the Sky Lounge where we could visit with Captain Skylogiannis and all his staff -- very nice party.
The staff EVERYWHERE on this ship was so friendly and accommodating. Smiles, hellos, time to talk, just great -- we were very impressed. Officers were mingling with passengers -- always glad to answer questions -- We took the Galley tour -- and that was very interesting -- they do that well and there is no charge. Celebrity sure rates an A+++ on their people on the Eclipse.
This was an Eastern Caribbean cruise -- stopping in San Juan Puerto Rico, St. Thomas USVI, and St. Maarten. We have been to all these ports countless times and enjoy them all. We arrived early in San Juan -- had plenty of time to reacquaint ourselves with the Old City -- sailed away at 10:30 pm -- beautiful out on deck as we left. In St. Thomas we got off early afternoon and walked around Havensight -- there is also a new area close to the ship called Ships Haven -- upper end shopping there -- we no longer go into Charlotte Amalie. A great option in St. Thomas is going to St. John on the ferry. We sailed away at 4:30pm -- a beautiful sight. St. Maarten is our favorite on the eastern route -- Phillipsburg is fun to walk around and the dock area has been improved tremendously from the days when all ships had to tender into the island. The beach on the Boardwalk is lovely. We just like staying in Phillipsburg. We have been to the French side a number of times -- no need to go back for us.
We haven't taken excursions from the ships in a long time -- so I can't speak to that aspect of the trip -
Since this was the first time we had been out of the Port of Miami, we were unsure just how this process would work. We filled out the debarkation questionnaire and an envelope appeared in our cabin with luggage tags stating that we would be in a group off the ship at 7:00am -- I knew that the Cruise Connection bus groups were usually last off the ship, so I went to the Passenger Services Desk and sure enough, we had been given the wrong tags-so they corrected that. We were now in the group debarking at 9:40am. The dining room was open for breakfast until 8am on the last day -- so we just made it -- took our time -- then went back to the cabin, gathered our hand luggage and went to the library to wait-right about 9:30 our group was called. When we got to the terminal we found that, unlike Port Everglades with their big room of luggage grouped by color, there were luggage carousels like at the airport -- be sure that you ask the Celebrity Reps there WHICH carousel your luggage is on since we waited at the wrong one for a while -- only to find that our luggage was on the other -- once we got that and went through Customs, we found the bus representative, waited about 15 minutes and our bus was there. An easy way to end the cruise.
Our Impressions of the Cruise
We had a wonderful time. A cruise is made up of many parts and Celebrity hits a high on most of them -- however -- there certainly are areas in which they can improve the experience. The Solstice class ships are beautiful and enjoyable. The staff and officers and Captain of the Eclipse made it a great cruise for us. We will book Celebrity again very soon.
You can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you may have. Happy Cruising!