Just returned from our cruise on the Eclipse. This was our first time sailing Solstice class ships. We were in category 2C, partially obstructed balcony, which was less expensive than the oceanview cabins without balcony. I would highly recommend this category. The obstruction was only if you looked down, not out and we felt that the cabin was a great bargain. Since the category 2C and 2D cabins were the lowest balcony category, I would probably book a balcony guarantee next time. Many people that we met received wonderful upgrades by doing that.
Check-in was super quick and easy. We were on the ship around 11:30 with few lines. As usual, the buffet lunch was very crowded. We sat in the open air Oceanview Bar, but were very lucky to get a seat. We went up there around 12:15 and it was quite crowded. It got worse as the day went on.
The ship is very long. We booked midship and were very happy that we did. We could quickly get to the forward or center elevators. We never had a need to use the aft elevators. The ship is very logically laid out and easy to navigate. As far as the decorating and general esthetic - simply gorgeous. Modern decorating that encouraged relaxation and didn't distract the eye. The room was extremely spacious. Every passenger we met raved about the bathroom. We had plenty of room for our toiletries and everything else we packed, which was a good amount because we live in S. Fla so we don't have to fly. We loved that we didn't smell smoke all week and the non-smoking casino was especially appreciated.
Our cabin stewards were not great, but I think that was just by chance, not indicative of the ship. They had a habit of cleaning the rooms in stages rather than one room at a time. So, even if we left the room for a couple hours, they would need to come back into our room to do some last minute item (usually deliver ice) after we returned. In addition to that, they had a nasty habit of walking into our room without knocking if we didn't put our do not disturb sign up. A few times, we came back to our room to change, found the room clean and then were surprised by the steward coming into the room without knocking. Very strange.
As far as the food goes, it was ok. Definitely the one part of the cruise that wasn't a step above Carnival, Princess and RCCL. The breakfast menu was a same everyday and most often the food arrived cold. Cold hashbrowns, soggy eggs benedict, runny omelets. You got the feeling that they were going up to the buffet in the Oceanview Cafe to pick it up or something. We chose anytime dining for dinner and really enjoyed that. We had wonderful conversations each night with our tablemates. Our favorite entrees were the beef short rib (Wednesday), lobster (Thursday) and tenderloin Brochette (Friday). Most other nights the food and the menu didn't impress us. We enjoyed the lunch in the AquaSpa Cafe in the solarium pool area. Smaller menu but much better quality food.
We ordered a five bottle premium wine package for $200 and felt it was a good bargain. We ate in Qsine one night and found it exceptional and well worth the upcharge. Next time we sail on Celebrity, we will purchase the 5 restaurant package for $400. It included five dinners in the premium restaurants PLUS five bottles of premium level wine. Since the wine package cost us $200 alone, that meant that we would have gotten five nights in the restaurants for only $100 each. Well worth it considering the poor quality of the dining room food. I would eat in the dining room on Wednesday and Thursday nights.
My husband ate something from the buffet (we think it was salad dressing because he only had a small salad) that upset his stomach and we met a few people who also had gotten sick. Fortunately, it was only one night. It seems that some people must have eaten more because they were sick longer.
We saw the Cirque-type show on Wednesday night and enjoyed it. My husband said that the comedian had his funny moments (I didn't go). We really enjoyed the hot glass show and the jazz on the lawn (get there early to get a blanket and chair). As far as late night night entertainment, this cruise was definitely geared toward those that like to be in bed around midnight. The bands that were listed on the program as playing "until late" would take a very long break after one set and the crowds would disperse. It was difficult to get a the attention of the bar waiters in the late evening. To me, it was obvious, that they figured if the music stopped and they didn't approach you, it was more likely that you would go back to your cabin and they could retire for the evening.
We didn't take any shore excursions. In San Juan, we got off the ship, turned right and walked to a bus station (number 14) across from the CVS. There, we were picked up by a National Park Service bus that drove us up to the fort, which we really enjoyed. The views are spectacular and it was very informative. It was an easy (and beautiful) downhill walk through old town to the ship. We had dinner $12 at a great restaurant (Punto De Vista) right across from the port. Fantastic food and friendly American owner. We were so happy that we ate there rather than on the ship. We didn't get off the ship in St. Thomas because we had been there many times before and weren't in the mood to fight the crowds. In St Martin, we took the water taxi ($6pp round trip) to the downtown area and had lunch. Many restaurants have free wifi, so take your laptop and save some $.
I hope this review doesn't sound negative because we really did enjoy this cruise and plan to sail this class of ship again. We especially enjoyed the rooms, bathrooms, interior design and the other passengers that we met.