Here is finally (sorry for the delay…) the review of our March 2016 cruise aboard the Eclipse, the 4th on a Celebrity Solstice class ship (after Silhouette, Reflection and Equinox). Since the Caribbean is a well-known destination, I'll try to limit myself to what might encourage one to choose this particular cruise or not... I hope this review
March 6 – Miami – Embarkation.
As always, the Celebrity boarding procedures are efficient and hospitality on board the ship remains friendly with a little drink by hand. We will have our luggage shortly after having access to the cabins, but before, one suddenly munchies begs us to the Oceanview coffee buffet for dinner, full of food as fresh and varied as always. Other passengers are already at the pool or nearby, enjoying right now a much more comfortable climate than in our latitudes... We find incentives to buy drinks and specialty restaurants packages a bit too present, so they will be sometimes throughout the cruise.
Please allow me a small thought... By professional deformation, I am sometimes picky... I was amazed to see that even if the ship is constantly maintained, clean and still superb, around 6 years of repeated usage by thousands of passengers eventually shows on furniture and cause the ageing of some details to facilities such as sealing joints, recalcitrant wardrobe or shower doors, etc. We've been on the Silhouette in 2012 at the age of less than a year, the Equinox in 2013 at the age of 4 years, the Reflection in 2014, then 2 years old... We did not sail the Solstice, aged 2008... and supposed to enter dry dock around October 2016….
Our stateroom 7306 (balcony cat. 2B): the lifeboats being at level 5, no obstruction unless looking downward. A suggestion: If you have a choice, opt for a stateroom where the deviation of the sidewall for the bed is near the bathroom and not at the bottom. the cabin is not larger but the layout is more convenient for walking around.
As always we had opted for the "Select Dining", dinner at free time in the range from 17:45 to 21:00. The hostess of the main dining area is familiar to us, as she had been on the Reflection 2 years ago... Quickly, this friendly young woman has understood our preferences and tried out a few words in French.
We buy an Internet package of 90 minutes at 25% off thanks to our status "Select..." Just for quick emails checks… Minutes are going very fast, the Internet is very slow.
For the evening, always announced 'Celebrity Showtime', will be two performances, 7 pm and 9 pm, except on 10 March (8:30 and 10:30 pm). It would seem that the 9PM shows had more assistance than the 7PM, our choice, the theatre was an average filled about two-thirds. I'll give some details of these shows because in a cruise we don't know anything in advance on entertainment. That first night, yet talented artists delivery, has not really hooked us... Matter of taste, maybe, or because we had been up since 2AM... Besides, the comfortable bed called us early! Subsequently, some interesting musical activities will take place late in the evening, to which we will not attend because we are earlybirds.
March 7 – 1st day at sea
Dinner in room dining remains faithful to what we are used on Celebrity: food quality, usually in ample supply, with courteous service, which will become gradually more "friendly". In short, almost complete satisfaction.
As for the evening show, 'Rock City', even obviously well-crafted, turns out to be an extravagance of thunderous music and awful costumes... But hey, it's still our opinion. A word on the dress code, the 'Evening Chic' now replaces the "Formal attire"; we see a slight difference with the past.. Over the two weeks, there is finally only two more "formal" evenings, others will simply be 'Smart Casual '.
March 8 – 2nd day at sea
Guided tour in kitchens at 10.30, in French (one of the chefs was French) planned by our accompanist. For dinner, she had negotiated a special price at the restaurant Q-Sine, with service in French. We were ten. Personally, we are just happy to have experienced it… It was enough, we found this kitchen just a little too "experimental"; for great appetites, however, there is really plenty of food (worth the price).
March 9th - Aruba - arrival at 8AM, all aboard 7:30PM
Guided tour in french (not a Celebrity tour) with Stéphane, a resident formerly from France, a little messy in its approach but nevertheless friendly and efficient; we have seen and learned many things, including a funny little course of Papiamento (Bon bini, Bon dia, etc.)
Evening show: a certain Ryan Joyce, interesting illusionist, beautiful performance.
March 10th - Curaçao - arrival at 7:00AM
9:00AM – 1:00PM: Celebrity tour (in English) "Curaçao Highlights and Beach Fun”. beautiful visits and stop at Mambo Beach, a place well laid out with shops and restaurants, bars, beach sand somewhat coarsely 'crisp', with shady places available; grab 2 deckchairs for US $ 3.50 each including a bottle of water. The guide also amuses us with his colorful Papiamento … Masha danki!
5:30PM – 8:00PM: Celebrity tour (in English) "City Lights Walking Tour and Maritime History". The friendly guide (German origin) is very knowledgeable, and she gives much more detailed information than really wanted…
Evening show: a British singer, Nicola Ward, which we miss the beginning of the service. Dinner taken at the buffet, instead of the dining room. Passengers’ sleep will not be disturbed by the movements of the ship since we stay docked!
March 11th - Curaçao - all aboard 4:30PM
Evening show: "Tribute to Billy Joel" with David James Guidice, unknown to us, as most of the other "performers" by the way... Overall it was a good performance.
March 12th - 3rd day at sea
Floor games offered by our accompanist (Pocket game, pétanque with plastic balls because we play on the lawn...). Presentation of glass blowing (Hot Glass Show); must see, these guys are talented and produce some impressive work, thanks to their ovens heating up to about 2500 degrees Celsius! We had also seen on the Equinox, I think. Evening show: we have a certain Zoë Tyler, British singer I think. I must highlight the talent and versatility of the ship musicians, participating in the majority of the shows.
March 13th - Barbados - arrival 8:00AM, all aboard 11:30PM
1:00PM – 4:30PM: Celebrity tour (in English) "4 x 4 Adventure & Green Monkey Encounter": quite expensive (CAD $111.65 pp) went to jeep safari of 10 passengers, a little rain but we will have among others the opportunity to observe the monkeys. At this price our guide got us a fairly good rum punch…
The evening's entertainment: here it's a good thing, for having already seen him, Doug Cameron gets out of his beautiful green violin a vast and varied repertoire, combined with an unusual stage presence. Much appreciated.
March 14th St. Lucia - arrival 8:00AM, all aboard 4:30PM
8:30 AM - 3:00 PM: Excursion guided in french with Sophie, formerly from Quebec! We will make decisions sometimes immersive and interesting, a buffet dinner at a local restaurant with a view of the Pitons. Visit of the Soufrière, a smoking volcano whose exhalations are anything but charming... This dripping gray water would have therapeutic virtues to bathe... Thanks anyway...
Evening show: Karen Grainger, a Toronto-based Canadian who makes song imitation, recalling Véronic Dicaire, better known, I think. It offers a good show, changing wig or costume, his imitation of Céline Dion was well enough, others too. Full of energy, she pleased a lot.
March 15th - Antigua - arrival 9:00AM, all aboard 5.30PM
9:30AM -12:30PM : Celebrity tour (in English): "Catamaran Sail, Snorkel & Beach Cruise": we all piled in this catamaran to get to the place on the "high seas" for snorkeling... For those used to snorkeling it was wonderful... Us? As it was the first time, I consider that it was our fault a monumental failure (another couple lived similar disappointment): so I would highly recommend to newcomers to practice a little in the pool before... Later, on the catamaran, rum punch and a few sandwiches were served, a stop at the beach (Deep Bay beach), nice place. In return, local music and animation by staff, dance with the passengers, limbo, etc. Lovely morning anyway! Would recommend.
Evening show: 'The candle', wanting to "large-scale", with singers, dancers and acrobats. Beautiful scenery and costumes this time, pre-recorded music but well-chosen.
March 16th -St Kitts - arrival 8:00AM, all aboard 4:30PM
Our first visit to this island. 9: 00AM – 3:00PM: a private tour booked by Internet with Grey's Island Tours (Grand Tour of St-Kitts), well rated and appreciated on TA. We are greeted by the boss, Thenford Grey, and we climb aboard a 12-passenger minibus, but we will only be eight, we are the only French speaking guys in the group and this is OK... The guide/driver, Thenford’S brother, is very friendly and knowledgeable, he speaks slowly, simply and is easy to understand English; so this is allright and we make interesting stops... But he was not able to or not wanted to manage the 2 unruly and laggards couples of the group… by far too flexible to our liking; so we lost much time waiting for them and subsequently he had to bend to the route, a source of frustration. In short, a very questionable professionalism.
Evening show: two already seen artists share the stage.
March 17th - St-Maarten/St-Martin - arrival 8:00AM, all aboard 4:30PM
There are several ships at the port, including the Allure of the Seas, beautifully huge! 8:30 AM - 12:30 PM: Excursion guided in french with Sylvie, a Luxembourg origin for which Dutch and French cultural realities have no more secrets. We had already come twice before, this time we leave with more memories in mind, among others a brief stop at the famous aircraft encounter Maho Beach, a bit of 'shopping' at Marigot market and Orient Beach, beautiful place. Evening show: Liam Ryder: singer and pianist, a beautiful early evening.
March 18th - 4th day at sea
Visit the back stage of the theatre, it's worth to see, at least once. Lunch with our group in the main dining room (Moonlight Sonata), toast with sparkling wine. In the afternoon, little private bowls tournament on lawn (deck 15), near the Sunset Bar, where our “performances” and French verbal exchanges entertained and amused many foreign passengers while sipping their cocktails… At no cover charge!
Evening show "Topper": another good time with the Eclipse band, music, performance and costumes, all well appreciated.
March 19th - 5th day at sea
A bit of sadness, though, must prepare our luggage to deposit in the hallway before 11:00PM. As already mentioned in previous messages, no more brunch in the main dining room, it is replaced by the 'Buffet lunch Extravaganza" on deck 14, much more modest, without food sculptures, etc., but more elaborated menu than in the usual buffet lunch and, needless to say, with way less waste of food...
Talking about shows, this time Celebrity gave a big blow to that last day of cruise: at 2:30PM in the theater, we had Jordan Peterson, singer and pianist, for a tribute to Sir Elton John, well-done and very pleasant in his interpretations of hits. In the evening, the band 'Hard Days Night' climbed the stage for a tribute to the Beatles, with many costume changes and finally made the show a very good musical and visual reminder of some of the Beatles greatest hits. An end of cruise all in beauty, with participation of the audience, even the elderly, like me! Great moments!
March 20th – Miami - Disembarkation
The morning of disembarkation days always have somewhat unknown and deadlines, but everything went without major problem.
Nice future cruises to all! Read Less