My husband and I have cruised over a dozen times onboard Celebrity ships. This was our first time on Eclipse. We were in Concierge class and selected the cruise because of the unusual itinerary from Los Angeles along the west coast of ... Read More
My husband and I have cruised over a dozen times onboard Celebrity ships. This was our first time on Eclipse. We were in Concierge class and selected the cruise because of the unusual itinerary from Los Angeles along the west coast of Central and South America.
To get my primary complaint out of the way . . . from embarkation through the entire cruise, queue management was a problem. I do not know what department is in charge of that, but they were hopelessly befuddled. At embarkation concierge class is supposed to have priority boarding. We boarded after people who rode in the bus with us from our hotel. Most people gave up trying to go to Cabo because the queues for tenders were hours long. When we had to turn in our passports prior to arriving in Guatemala, they called everyone to turn them in at the same time. Ridiculous! The queue for shore excursion to Guatemala was the length of the ship and then some. The passengers were frustrated and so were the crew. I've never seen anything like it. It was as though Eclipse had never done this before.
Prior to embarkation: We arrived in Los Angeles about 1am and slept in a cheap motel until it was time to go to the ship. Drop-off at the ship was uneventful.
Common Areas: The ship appears well-worn. It is clean, but is definitely ready for refurbishment. Furniture in the common areas needs re-upholstery. I didn't see anything torn or broken, just worn.
Cabin: I do like all the storage space on Celebrity ships. We participated in the Cruise Critic organized cabin crawl and that was really a lot of fun. Our cabin steward was very helpful and friendly.
Dining: We had dinner in the main dining room, late seating. The food is wonderful and plentiful. We were well cared for by our waiter. The sommelier left a little to be desired. I wish I understood how they assign duties because it seems like on all our cruises we are served last on late seating, well into the dinner. So, I'm not sure how that works, maybe just bad luck. There was inconsistency at our table of eight, too, with the somm. Some were served before others on a regular basis. It was just weird. Perhaps the time has come for a Guide to Fine Dining. The bar man wants your cocktail order, the somm wants your wine order, the waiter wants your dinner order, the assistant wants the food accompaniment orders. If you don't want one of those things, wait for the proper person, don't ask the bar man for wine, etc. That may be where our table mates went awry. We had dinner one night at Murano and it was fabulous.
Entertainment: We really enjoyed the Beatles cover band. Most of the other acts, we left before they were over. The Buddy Holly show should have been great, but it was lackluster at best. Overall, really disappointing shows. We did not go to the lectures. Dog-sledding in Greenland seemed a poor topic choice for a cruise to South America. We were the only ones to show up for the scavenger hunt. We used the spa pool a few times and took a day in the Persian Garden. Very nice. We spent a little time in the casino. That's another place some lessons would come in handy. I would probably lose more money in the casino if I understood how to play or what to do. That was the extent of our activities participation.
Service: The service was top-notch as always. Couldn't ask for better. Guest services interactions were better than we've had on previous cruises.
Ports: This itinerary was awesome! We basically were ashore and then asea every other day. Cabo I was planning to skip anyway, my husband tried to catch a tender, but people in the queue had been waiting 2 hours. Nope, not doing it. Puerto Vallarta we went to the beach on our own. Huatulco we went to the beach on our own. Guatemala we took the ship shore excursion to Antigua. Again, queue management was the primary problem. They said Yes to too many people and it was not fun. We arrived back at the ship after dinner and the ship left late, I think because they were waiting for people to return from that shore excursion. It was just badly managed. Manta, Ecuador we walked around the port area on our own. Interesting. Lima, Peru we took an independent tour with ten Cruise Critics. Fabulous time. I would go to Lima again. Arica, Chile we walked around on our own. That was our first glimpse of the civil unrest plaguing Chile right now. Graffiti on all building and statues, everything. On the first sea day following Arica, Celebrity canceled all their shore excursions in our final destination of San Antonio, except for transfers to the airport in Santiago. We were booked on a transfer tour to our hotel in Santiago independently with other Cruise Critic members. Of that I am very grateful. We had no issues with our transfer tour. I understand now what Celebrity's issue was in canceling, but I think they could have done this much earlier. Their concern was traffic and getting people stuck in traffic on tours to or from the airport or in Santiago. Several of the metro stations had been damaged in the riots, so the roads had an overabundance of traffic on them. Street signs and signals had been torn down in the riots, also. The ship arrived in San Antonio on a Friday which is when demonstrators came into central Santiago for the demonstrations over the weekend. It was just a bad combination of timing and infrastructure for the cruiseline. A little more than two days notice would have gone a long way, though. Plus they were offering to let people stay on the ship until late in the day to catch their transfers to the airport, for an additional fee. Really poor optics, that. Cancel the tours and then charge people to stay on the ship. Most flights depart Santiago for the US and Canada at 10:00 pm. I'm so, so glad we didn't get involved in that. Our transfer tour was delightful and we used the same company to take a tour into the Andes from our hotel a couple days later. Our hotel in Santiago was simple, but it was far enough away from the troubled area, but close enough to walk to historical sites. Our room was on ground level so no stairs, and we had air conditioning! The owner/operators were salt of the earth people who we could not help but love. We had a lot of fun in Santiago over the four days we were there. Our taxi to the airport had to be arranged in advance and took about an hour to get there from the hotel. I think it's normally a 30-40 minute trip, but again traffic, because of the metro stations damage, was considerable.
We would do this trip again, but I'm not too keen on sailing on Eclipse again. It felt like a shakedown cruise instead of a repositioning cruise. Read Less