9 Southampton Spa Cruise Reviews

We booked the 8/30/2014 cruise to the Fjords of Norway, and arrived in London a few days early. We had a pleasant stay at the Ampersand Hotel in South Kensington. We arranged for an International Friends bus to get us to Southampton, ... Read More
We booked the 8/30/2014 cruise to the Fjords of Norway, and arrived in London a few days early. We had a pleasant stay at the Ampersand Hotel in South Kensington. We arranged for an International Friends bus to get us to Southampton, stopping in Stonehenge. Stonehenge was a bit crowded. There’s a path and short fence circling Stonehenge. We can’t go into the stones, only around them. And so we did. Arriving in Southampton, there was some confusion on which line to join…An officious, squinting lady studied our ticket for a long minute, then resolutely pointed us the wrong way. We corrected that, going under some ropes to the proper line, and then through security, registered quickly and boarded without incident Celebrity provided a complimentary bottle of sparkling wine provided in the cabin, nestled in an ice bucket. The bottle was wet and slippery and, when the cork popped prematurely, the bottle escaped my grip, and there was champagne everywhere. We flung towels out and, to add to the sense of mayhem, the doorbell rang. As luck would have it, it’s the blond assistant manager of room attendants. I lauded her timely arrival, and pointed out the mess we had just made. She beckoned the room attendant who undid the damage I had done. After our first dinner, we stopped in the ship’s theater. A Chinese magician was doing Magic 101 rope-cutting tricks, seen a thousand times before. While he had reasonable English skills, he had no stage charisma. That was the last show we attended. During the cruise, we made ample use of the Aqua Spa, as documented by Celebrity’s accountants in our final room statement. Service in the spa was good, with a bit less hard sell on the goos and ointments than we experienced on an earlier cruise. At times, they can seem like snake-oil peddlers. Breakfasts and lunches in Deck 14’s the Oceanview café on 14 can be an ordeal. Time it wrong, especially on sea days, and you’re coping with the entire ship’s contingent of passengers scavenging for food. You should check out alternate available venues for breakfast and lunch (e.g, the MDR, the Aqua Café in the solarium and, of course, the Mast Grill.) On our cruise, one of the ship’s at-sea diversions was a lecture in the theater about the WWII invasion of Norway. The lecture started at 13:00. We arrived twenty minutes late, and people were already leaving. Once in the theater, we understood why. The lecturer had lost his PowerPoint slides, mid-presentation, and was slowly searching through his laptop’s directories, trying to fine the right .ppt file. We watched him struggle quietly for about five minutes, and left. I sensed a brewing rebellion in the remaining crowd. Later, on the ship’s TV, we caught up with some if the ship’s recorded lectures on Norway. These on-board performances were head-and-shoulders above the PowerPoint hell that 1941 invasion of Norway was. We learned about glaciation and the formation of the fjords. There was a new drill for the Captain’s Club happy hour. On the Equinox last year, it was held in a cordoned-off area of the Sky Lounge on 14. On this cruise, the Eclipse did it differently. Captain’s Club Elite members could swill their drinks at any of a number of bars on board. To support that, they provided sheets of drink coupons. We were allocated three drinks per person per day. This was reasonable, but the coupons added a cheesy note. Meals in the MDR were good. The Tuscan Grill and Murano were head and shoulders better. The ship’s first stop was in Bergen, where we quickly espied a TGI Fridays, Burger King, Subway, Starbucks and so on. (Why do we even travel?). After that, Flåm, a tiny town surrounded by mountains at the end of a fjord. With only 300 or so inhabitants in Flåm, the Eclipse’s passenger population was tenfold larger. Had we been organized, we could have taken over the town before the Norwegians knew what was happening. Instead, everyone was either sleeping in, noshing on breakfast, or preparing for their organized excursions into greater Flåm. There was no unity of purpose. In Flåm, up on a hill, there was a farmer on the hill who had posted a large sign “No Cruise Ships.”…one of the disgruntled 300. While in the fjords, we would often discover there was no internet. In fact, there was no satellite TV, as well. The towering mountains deprived the ship of a bead on the southern sky for its satellite signal. In spite of this hardship, we continued to project an outward sense of calm. The next stop, the cruise’s northernmost port, was Geiranger. As the ship approached the port, the boat slowed and executed a tight 180° turn, aligning with two big docking buoys, fore and aft. I was impressed. On the shore, nearby, was the floating walkway that replaced the need for tenders. It worked well. Geiranger is larger than Flåm, populated with more shops and restaurants, a hotel, houses, farms, and an RV campground. Like Flåm, it’s completely surrounded by mountains. Midday is the time to hit it, since the mountain sunrise came about 10:00 a.m., and the mountain sunset was probably around 14:30. Alesund followed Geiranger and, after that, Stavanger. Both Alesund and Stavanger are proper cities, with ample opportunity for walking and exploring. (We’re not keen on organized excursions.) At some point during the cruise, we had gotten a call From Fabian, inviting us to check out the exclusive Michael’s Club on deck 5. So, one day, at 17:00, we did. We walked in and sat down. It was so exclusive that no one was there. No passengers. No wait staff. A minute passed, and another couple wandered in, beckoned, as we were, by a phone call from Fabian. The couple accurately assessed that drinks weren’t flowing, backed out of the place quickly. After a couple of beats, we followed. During the cruise, my wife had one bout of gastrointestinal discomfort. The ship’s nurse was professional and helpful. Lacking any abdominal cramps, the nurse doubted that my wife had norovirus, so euthanasia was ruled out. She got a shot, some medications, and a day of quarantine. That afforded us the opportunity to try out the Eclipse’s room service. We over-ordered food. A bit later, Alex, our suite butler, staggered in carrying a tray that was stacked improbably high with covered dishes. The food was good. We ate on our balcony, where it was warm and sunny, facing the setting sun. As we ate, the ship pulled out of port. Seagulls were dodging and weaving alongside, putting on an aerial show. We learned this wasn’t a spontaneous show of avian affection. Someone on a balcony forward of us was putting food on the railing, attracting the gulls. Disembarkation in Southampton was a breeze. We had been told to muster in the Tuscan Grill at 7:30 to await our turn. We had luggage tags #10. When we got there a few minutes early, Bruce, the terrific concierge from the Sky Lounge was there, directing traffic. He reported that luggage numbers 1-15 had already been called and, undoing our leg chains, advised that we were free to disembark. . A flash of our key cards, and we were fleeing down ramps that zig-zagged down to street level. There was already a sea of luggage there, awaiting their travelers. In short order, we found our bags and our transfer bus and were off to Heathrow. It was Sunday, with light traffic. We arrived at Heathrow Terminal 4 early, at 9:05 a.m.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
We have been cruising on and off for 12 years and most of it has been done with RCI or Celebrity, though this cruise was the first Royal trip since 2005. I'd read a lot before booking and was a bit concerned that the emphasis with the ... Read More
We have been cruising on and off for 12 years and most of it has been done with RCI or Celebrity, though this cruise was the first Royal trip since 2005. I'd read a lot before booking and was a bit concerned that the emphasis with the line had changed and I wasnt sure that it was going to still suit us, but the dates were good for the half term holiday in the UK so we booked anyway. With 6 of us in total we booked interconnecting Superior Ocean View staterooms (online, which you can no longer do which is a pain, multiple staterooms can now only be booked by phone or a TA) on Deck 9 mid ships. Our party was us, our two kids aged 2 and 6 and my wifes parents who are retired. Imention this only as it gaves us a wide age range and an experience of most services. Embarkation: Very quick and very easy. Despite getting to southampton very early our C&A membership level meant we could get on board as soon as the gates opened. We actually boarded sooner which we thought was a boon but be warned - though you can get on at 11.00am, you cant access your cabin at all until 13.30pm so you have to lug any carry on luggage with you for two and a half hours! That aside, no real complaints and the staff were all efficient and friendly. Cabin: How best to describe the cabin. Tired i think sums it up. Generally it was a good size, with plenty of room for our stuff plus the travelling effects of a fashion concious 6 year old. The furniture, despite a recent refit was looking a bit tired though but the worst thing was the bed. The matresses need replacing but they have just added a foam topper. It all looks like a bad 1970's seaside B&B with the sheets off. Not really impressed at all. Balcony is nice and an ok size and the bathroom is a big improvement - mainly because there is no cold, dank curtain but a proper sliding door screen. About time too. Position was good, quiet and not much passing traffic. Food: MDR: on the whole OK, but not as good as I remember it. And when did Lobster become a $35 suppliment? Thats more than the price on shore and do I not get a discount for not eating the comp main course? This is penny pinching too far in my book. Service was generally good, but the waiter rang the cabin late on the last night since we skipped dinner to insist we scored him well on the post cruise survey. Ive never had that before and it earnt him a zero score and a reduced tip. RCI need to let their staff know they have to give good service for good marks, not bother the guests directly. MDR is the place to eat breakfast and for me. lunch. Problem is they only open for lunch on sea days which means in port you are stuck with the food fight that is the Wind Jammer (see below) Giovanni's Table: Excellent. Worth every penny of the supplement and more. In fact, had it just been the two of us we may well have eaten here every night. It was the one time that I felt the old RCI had been maintained. I was sad to see Portofino go but this is an excellent replacement. Our dinner here was the stand out evening of the cruise but in many ways that is to RCI's detrement, as it highlighted just how down market the rest of the services had gone. Windjammer: OK, time to try and stay objective. The food was generally good. The buffets were kept well stocked and *most* of the time we got a seat fairly easily. They didnt have any American Bacon out for breakfast though (perhaps because of an English centic cruise) but some arrived when asked. The worst thing about the WJ is the other guests. Im sure they are on the whole lovely people but I really dont know what comes over some guests when they walk through the doors of the buffet. By day two we'd had enough and only set foot in the place well outside of 'popular' time. 'Feeding time at the zoo' is about right. sadly. Im not sure I managed the objective thing there... Johnny Rockets: Proper cherry coke! For those that dont know what i mean by this try it. As good as it always was but now a $5 dollar cover just makes RCI seem mean. nice burger, great fries and a good atmosphere but hidden away and full of teens during the day as its right next to their hang out. Others: Sorrentos made for a nice late night snack, with pizza to a good standard and some interesting Quesedia's. The coffee shop did some nice sandwhiches and the coffee was to a very good standard. Cupcake cupboard is a waste of space for me, but if you like cakes they looked nice. Shame they dont do the pub grub in the pub any more - I used to like that a quiet venue but I guess thats why they stopped it - too quiet. Bars and Drinks: Usual selection of drinkeries. Apparently free pooring is going to end soon, or so a couple of the bar chaps told me. Viking Crown Lounge is nice and always head plenty of space. Schooner Bar is a bit cramped and on indy and acts a bit like a thoroughfair rather than a cosy bar it should be. Had a piano, but no-one ever played it. Only thing that ever happened in the nigh club was an art auction. Drink prices havent really changed in 6-7 years, so I suppose thats a plus. We had the non-alcholic drinks package which, if you like coffee, is worth it. A couple of premium coffees a day and your up. The cigar and brandy room is still underused and my favourite little hide away but one waonders how long that will be retained. Kids: Have to say the kids club was excellent and the nursery for our 2 year old was a boon. No.1 Daughter was trrested ti the Barbie at Sea package which, now they have droped the price to a much more palatable $149 is actually pretty good value. Lots of stuff to keep and a dedicated activity every day. Entertainment: Saw one show - Queen tribute act. Was entertaining. The rest of it is a bit like a 1960s holiday camp. Maybe other people like shouty in your face cruise directors but I swear we were one conga line away from a knobbly knees competition at the pool side hotly followed by the glamerous granny show. Honestly, they still try to convince you its a luxury holiday and then drag individuals out who wouldnt be allowed in the average butlins. I find all of the above best avoided. Fun (for some) it might be but uxury it isnt. General: For me RCI has lost its shine and its way. OK, so the cruise prices are the same as they were 10 years ago and that real money cost saving has to come from somewhere but they have cut too deep. Too much charging for extras that on a 'luxury' holiday (or just a holiday that costs over £5k for a week) should be standard. Im fine paying for Giovanni's etc, but extras in the MDR, or just a burger for lunch? I am also sad to say that perhaps sailing out of Southampton during English school holidays was a mistake. RCI have definitly shifted their target demographic. It really isnt a lucury holiday. Its more akin to a floating Costa Brava (Spanisj resort, not Italian cruise line) or an upscale holiday park. the service has gone and as has the feeling of being special, or looked after. Should we care? If it was a couple of thousand pounds then perhaps not, but for £5-6K for 6 nights I want a bit more. And you can get it, just not with RCI. Which is a shame. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
We chose this cruise as we had not been to any of the Canary Islands before or to Lisbon. We had also not sailed from Southampton. We chose this cruise in preference to the April sailing because it also visited Lisbon in addition to the ... Read More
We chose this cruise as we had not been to any of the Canary Islands before or to Lisbon. We had also not sailed from Southampton. We chose this cruise in preference to the April sailing because it also visited Lisbon in addition to the Canary Islands. Our transport to the Grand Princess, using Eavesway Travel, albeit at our own expense, was flawless and efficient. We can highly recommend this method of transport to Southampton The embarkation was not efficient. We were given lettered cards on our arrival and had to wait until our "letter" group was called. This waiting did not apply to Elite and Suite passengers. It was noticed that, most of the time, staff were sitting chatting, without guests to process. The waiting could have been reduced by better management of the queue to available processing desks. As it was, it took us a hour and a quarter to reach our stateroom and we had only 15 minutes before the muster. We were certainly not the last on board so a second muster had to be arranged before sailing. On the second day we noticed an intermittent knocking noise in our stateroom near or around the bathroom/ bedroom wall panelling. By the end of the holiday this had become severe, heavy, metal to metal clanging which on investigation,turned out to be a large dislodged pipe. This was acknowledged by Grand Princess staff but could not be resolved during our cruise. We endured restless and eventually, sleepless nights as a result. The noise also disrupted our enjoyment of an otherwise comfortable balcony stateroom. During the cruise, on our corridor on Baja deck starboard side, we noticed buckets and other containers catching drips of water from the ceiling and each day a maintenance worker was up a stepladder, removing ceiling panels or other panels to repair something or other...there seemed an awful lot of duck/gaffer tape around pipes when you looked into the exposed areas. It was not unusual to hear banging and knocking, in addition to our own stateroom's "personal noise", as something was continually being repaired or replaced. We were told by another passenger that their neighbour's stateroom was flooded when water seeped in under the balcony sliding door during the initial passage through The Bay of Biscay. In gerneral the whole ship creaked, especially near stairwells. This was more pronounced than on the newer ships we have been on in eqally rough seas. Despite the recent expensive major refit of this ship, it is still an older ship, launched in 1998. Although the Atrium is new and attractive, the staterooms don't appear to have been updated. The bottom seal and frame on the outside of our sliding door to the balcony was severely corroded and I could imagine that it was just a matter of time before most balcony staterooms had a water seepage problem. There was no matting on the balcony floor to raise you up from any rainwater. The blue painted stateroom balcony floor could be very slippy and very wet. We found the shower bigger with more shoulder space than in the Ruby or Emerald however this was at the expense of wardrobe hanging space. Under bed storage of suitcases was welcome but more storage space should be provided in the bathrooms. The under sink area could be better utilised....this applies to the Ruby and Emerald too. The staff we encountered in Michelangelo dining rooms in the evening, and Da vinci in the mornings were mostly excellent. The cheerful staff in the Piazza Bar were welcoming, hard working and entertaining. Our stateroom steward was excellent. Some meals were very good, some mediocre. Our first cruise with Princess was 4 years ago and we are still experiencing the same dishes...some good, some to be avoided. We had one visit to The Crown Grill and the service and food was excellent. We did book for a second night near the end of the cruise but due to the almost total lack of sleep on the previous night we cancelled as we felt too tired to enjoy the experience. Both the outgoing and return trips throught the Bay of Biscay were fairly choppy and windy. No worse than cruising through the Gulf of Lion or the Skagerrak, just more prolonged. This might not be a cruise for first timers! Lisbon was interesting, dampness in the morning gave way to a sunny afternoon. A trip on the No 28 tram is to be recommended. We took the ship's shuttle bus $8 each way and explored on our own. Gran Canaria was so-so. Not a good impression from the ship. Our trip to the Botanical Gardens and Teror was interesting and the weather was warm and sunny. Tenerife was warm and very humid. Our trip to Puerto de la Cruz and the Orotava Valley was pleasant and very scenic. Lanzarote surprised us. First impressions from the ship were not good but our trip to Timanfaya National Park (volcanic landscape)followed by a camel ride (don't be put off, this is excellent fun) and wine tasting, gave us a good idea of what the island was all about. It was very warm again but this time a dry heat. Great care has been taken to make this island unique and different but you need to go on a trip away from the port to find this out. Madeira...can't comment as, on the morning we arrived, it was shrouded in fog and it was too rough/windy to dock. The Madeiran port authorities closed the port to local ferry sailings as well as not allowing us to dock. I managed to get some good videos of the tugs and the pilot boat being tossed about in the waves! An extra day at sea was not welcomed but although disappointed we fully appreciated that it was impossible to dock. The days at sea, 5 planned, which turned into 6 days have to be considered. This is half of the cruise. The ship organised plenty of things to do and there was something for most people. It also gave Princess chance to open the on board shops more often and arrange "sales" in one of the dining rooms on at least 2 mornings. We had plenty of retail opportunities! Vigo was a disaster. The whole ship was more than ready for a day on shore after the extra day at sea, however, November 1st is All Saints Day, a public and religious holiday in Spain. There is a large shopping mall at the port but this and all but a handful of gift shops were closed. Churches were either closed to visitors or busy with religious services. Fortunately we had been warned of this a few days earlier by the cruise director on the "Wake Show". We chose to cancel our trip to Santiago de Compostela, which was an "on your own" trip with the ship providing the transport. We did not want to spend 3 to 4 hours wandering around aimlessly and take an hour and a quarter each way to do this. It was a rainy day anyway apart from a couple of hours around lunchtime. Given the religious holiday,it would have been better if Princess had arranged to visit Vigo on the way out and Lisbon on October 31st, on the way back. As you will gather, this was not our best cruise. If you want to visit the Canaries, try a June sailing which I believe is available from 2013. The Grand Princess will not be doing the trip as it is off to the Caribbean and then on to Alaska (Alaska cruisers be warned!) Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
Our crossing on the Queen Mary 2 proved to be one of the loveliest travel experiences my partner and I have had - and we travel a lot, to destinations both traditional and off the beaten path. Critics (and Cunard seems to attract a very ... Read More
Our crossing on the Queen Mary 2 proved to be one of the loveliest travel experiences my partner and I have had - and we travel a lot, to destinations both traditional and off the beaten path. Critics (and Cunard seems to attract a very steady stream of customers who are both repeat visitors and fiercely critical!) may carp, but in our seven days, we had consistently good to excellent service, food that regularly met or exceeded our high expectations, and activities that were on the whole highly enjoyable. We traveled Britannia Club and will plan to do so again. The dining plan is the main attraction - open seating at the same table for all three meals, additional a la carte choices on the menu, and the same servers throughout. We lucked into a very congenial table for eight, and we really enjoyed the cosier atmosphere and more personal service in BC (we ate a couple of meals in the main Britannia room as well - fine, but not as polished). The additional menu choices (especially the excellent scallops) were much appreciated, as were the dramatic tableside dessert flambes. Highlights of the food included first-rate fish and seafood, and very good and unusual starters (in portions small enough one needn't feel guilty about have two - or more!). Soups were a disappointment, generally, and only once was there something we had to send back (tough, dry calve's liver). We also really enjoyed our AA cabin up on Deck Twelve - we were directly adjacent to the Pavilion Pool and loved being able to slip out for a late-night swim (and, to allay a fear I'd had based on the deck plan - there was no additional noise that we noticed for being so close the pool). Cabin service was flawless - we made good use of the excellent quality (and not wildly expensive by hotel standards) laundry, dry cleaning, and pressing services, facilitated by our cheerful steward, and we were amused by our daily towel animals. Heck, we even enjoyed our embarkation bottle of the much-maligned Pol Acker bubbly. Our crossing was smooth but foggy and so not all that conducive to deck time - still, it was wonderful to take a long daily constitutional on the Promenade Deck. Indoors, we found the Canyon Ranch spa both a haven and, with daily passes for the duration of the trip, rather a bargain. Only a morning or two were crowded, and we loved the thalassotherapy pool and the beautiful and supremely comfortable relaxation lounge. We each had an excellent massage from a first-rate therapist. Given shoreside Canyon Ranch prices, this feature on QM2 is an amazing value. We took advantage of only a few organized activities, but greatly enjoyed the wine tasting (excellent choices, and very interesting to hear from the sommeliers), trivia quizzes in the Golden Lion, and watching the dancing nightly (and some afternoons - tea dances were enormous fun) in the Queens Room. Since I don't want to give the impression that I'm without a single criticism, I will say that one of the two productions shows, "Hit Me with a Hot Note," was tired and seemed out of place (loud, paceless, and generally pointless). The other, "Apassionata," was better, but neither were as good as the welcome and farewell shows. The former, especially, which featured the best dancing and costumes we saw, set our expectations rather too high. Specialty entertainers were variable - soprano Annette Wardell rather too pleased with herself (and iffy on her high notes), all-around entertainer David Copperfield (NOT the magician!) actually great, if highly cheesy, fun, and a good piano/cello duo ruined, for me, by poor miking. I'll close with a couple of thoughts for first-time crossers, based on things that enlivened our trip: - Embark early. We got to S'ton at 11:00 and were on board by just past noon, embarking just after the Grills passengers. Getting there before the crowds was a great choice, although the staff otside the terminal were surprisingly unaware of even the basics of the procedures involved (especially in dropping luggage to be x-rayed). The stateroom was ready, and we dropped our things and immediately started exploring. We avoided the Kings Court and had a very good lunch in the Golden Lion - quiet, cosy, and a nice start to the week. - As noted, if it's to your taste, take full advantage of the spa. - Some features, such as the Commodore Club with its excellent cocktails and peerless views, are notably quieter at the start of the trip, before they're "discovered". Make yourself a regular early on for best service! - If you want to avoid crowds (which personally we rarely found an issue), take advantage of popular features at off hours. We had the Pavilion Pool to ourselves late at night, and even the Kings Court can be a serene place to enjoy a pre-breakfast coffee at 6:30 a.m. The Winter Garden is often a pleasant getaway, and the Chart Room - packed pre-dinner - is a great spot for a mid-afternoon cocktail. - If you're disembarking in New York, don't worry about transport - we grabbed a cab immediately on exit and paid far less than for a car service to our midtown hotel. Also, if lines at immigration seem long, grab a porter - they were taking their passengers to an expedited line that moved quickly and efficiently. Worth it for the tip! Most of all - make the trip your own. Ignore the moaners and occasional bores (especially of the "well, it's not the QE2/last year the lobster tails were bigger/my steward doesn't scrub the bathroom on his knees" sort!). Explore the ship, meet some of your fellow travelers, and, above all, enjoy the too-rare opportunity to have seven days of time entirely at your own disposal. 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Sail Date June 2012
We booked our cruise through Thomas Cook on the Internet . The salesperson was efficient and was able to inform us of the various cabins and facilities available. We opted for the Aqua Class rooms and facilities and we were not ... Read More
We booked our cruise through Thomas Cook on the Internet . The salesperson was efficient and was able to inform us of the various cabins and facilities available. We opted for the Aqua Class rooms and facilities and we were not disappointed. There was champagne and fresh fruit on arrival. Fresh fruit , complimentary bottled water and canapes each day. We used the aqua spa daily and enjoyed the heated mosaic beds with the breathtaking vista of the fjords as we cruised by. Access to the Persian Garden was free for Aqua Class guests. We had priority seating in the Blu Restaurant for both breakfast and dinner. The restaurant is managed efficiently by the Maitre d Jorges. The food was delicious and beautifully presented. We were waited on like kings and queens. Staff in all areas were polite, attentive and helpful with all aspects of our needs during the cruise. We also enjoyed dinning in the Ocean View restaurant, which was buffet style. the array of food was astounding and prepped and delivered in a clean and comfortable environment. We enjoyed the days in port, but could have done with less time in Bergen and more time in Oslo in order to see the sights on offer. We opted to arrange our own transport to see the sights in Bergen and Oslo using the cities sightseeing tour buses. You will find that this is the cheapest option at '£15 per person. Our cabin was beautiful and the stewards very attentive. We enjoyed the balcony. The ship is luxuriously appointed throughout and our favourite bar was the cocktail bar serving exceptional cocktails by the Liquid Chef, Junior. We enjoyed speciality coffees at Al Baccio's as well as the delicious ice creams. They cater for diabetics like myself with a selection of sugar free options. Thank you to all the staff who made our holiday very memorable. We hope to return in the not so distant future. Thank You to the Captain who made the cruise a very pleasurable experience. To us it was a floating palace. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
INDEPENDENCE OF THE SEAS OCT 9TH- OCT 20TH 2011 This was our first cruise and also our first holiday for over 5 years, so a perfect holiday was well needed. RCI have ticked every box, I cannot complain or give a negative feedback on ... Read More
INDEPENDENCE OF THE SEAS OCT 9TH- OCT 20TH 2011 This was our first cruise and also our first holiday for over 5 years, so a perfect holiday was well needed. RCI have ticked every box, I cannot complain or give a negative feedback on anything. It was PERFECT! I booked this cruise over 18mths ago direct with RCI. I pre-registered online for 2011 before the dates of the cruises were released. In March 2010 RCI phoned and asked if we were still serious about a cruise as they had now got the dates for October 2011. I told them yes and was offered an unbelievable cruise package, which consisted of a suite for the 5 of us, onboard spend, free parking for 2 cars plus other benefits that you get when you book a suite. As the months passed and the cruise date finally arrived we all left for Southampton, directions are easy and the parking a doddle. (Word of advice make sure your luggage labels are attached before you leave and get to Southampton as the porters unload your car as soon as you get through the gates, and don't take suite/dress bags as you have to carry these on. We had put all our evening wear into the specialist bags but ended up having to carry them onboard ourselves as the coat hangers won't go through the scanning machine. This was not really a problem as we boarded at 12.45pm and we were allowed into the suite at 1pm. If we had of boarded earlier which you can, we would of had to of carried them around until 1pm which would of been a pain) Boarding was stress free and very easy, then it hits you just how huge this ship really is. You cannot comprehend the magnitude of the sheer size and how spectacular she looks; she really does give you the WOW factor. We went straight to our deck and waited until 1pm then an announcement was made that all passengers could go to their staterooms. Again we had the WOW factor; the suite was beautiful and very spacious for the 5 of us. We had ordered a fruit, cheese and wine basket to be delivered for the start of the cruise for an incredible £28. The sparkling wine cheese and fruit were delicious. I had also ordered for my husband a Romance Package, which consisted of Sparkling Wine, Breakfast in Bed (or on the balcony), a silver frame for a photo taken on a formal night and pre dinner nibbles this cost £63. I think both of these items were value for money. Our suit cases were delivered, in my opinion quite quickly, the first one arrived within 15 mins of us being in the suite, the last one to arrive, which was mine, arrived an hour and half later. This did not cause us a problem, but when we were walking down the corridor to go to Muster Station, at 4pm some passengers were complaining that they had not yet had their luggage. RCI do inform you that it can sometimes take up to 9pm until you get your luggage and to carry on a small bag with a change of clothes and medication. My son and I had taken out the soda package on line. The queue for the soda package when you boarded was very busy, with fraught parents and kids wanted drinks right away. My advice, do it on line it saves so much hassle and your soda cups will be waiting for you in your stateroom. That way you have more time to explore and find were things are. We also took out the wine package which you can do at the table on the first evening your waiter will sort this out for you. We chose the "My Time" Dining option; we found this really worked for us. We found the food to be wonderful and plenty of choice, my mother in law as food allergies but was catered for without any problems at all. The one thing that was worrying both my husband and I were the beds. I have M.E. and I need a comfortable bed. I don't like staying away from home as I can never get comfortable in any other bed. I have to say the beds were fabulous. There was no need to worry. The bedding was soft and there was a memory foam topper on the mattress. I never had any trouble sleeping. On our first morning we all went to breakfast, you have several choices, Windjammer, Al le carte on deck 4, buffet in the restaurant on deck 3 and then the promenade cafe which serves drinks and freshly baked pastries or room service. Over the cruise we tried all the options, and we found the self service on deck 3 the best option for us. The Windjammer is brilliant and as mountains of choice (more than the restaurant on deck 3) but if you are not a morning person and you don't like crowds stay away, it gets very crowded and can be difficult to find a table. There is less choice on deck 3, but you are shown to a table and juice, tea and coffee are served to you. The first day is a sea day and it can be quite cold and rough on deck in October so make sure you pack a fleece or something warm. The kids on board don't seem to feel the cold and were in and out of the pools for most of the day. I booked myself a manicure as a treat, also this is the first formal night as well. The manicure was very pleasant and the young lady, Natalie, soon put me at ease. I booked to have a massage further into the week which was not a pleasant experience; it was a Swedish massage which is a very deep manipulation of the muscle tissue. I was advised by one of the girls on the desk to have this treatment and it was totally the wrong treatment for me. It was extremely painful. However this did not put me off as I had 2 different treatments which were very relaxing and most enjoyable. Do not book on the internet before you leave, the Spa runs some deals on certain days at a fraction of the cost that's advertised on the webpage. Look out in your cruise Compass leaflet that your cabin attendant leaves for you every evening. Word of warning all the spa treatments have a 15% surcharge and you do get subjected to some hard sell after your treatment. Be polite but firm, and then you don't get pestered after that. Before we booked our cruise we had spoken to several people that had cruised before, and every one of them had advised us that if you don't feel like getting off the ship Don't! Enjoy the ship and its facilities. So with that in mind we had already decided that we would not get off at every port. The first port of call was Vigo which to my surprise was a very nice city. The shops etc are a 5 min walk from the ship, there is a lovely square as you walk through the town and we stopped at a cafe/bistro for a beer. Vigo was very easy to get to and very clean. We did a bit of window shopping then went back onboard. We did not book any trips from the ship for any port of call. Next port was Lisbon. We had already decided not to get off the ship here. Where the ship docks (just under the bridge) it's not a very nice place and there is a 35min transfer into the city from the ship. We enjoyed the sundeck and pools as it was 31c and the ship was very quiet. We later found out that several passengers had been victims of pick-pockets and had several items stolen. So if you do decide to get off the ship, do not take any valuables with you and be extremely careful. Gran Can aria was next on the agenda; we got off the ship here and spent an hour at the beach. There is a beach which you can see from the ship, but we walked for approx 10mins into town and found a much nicer beach. There are sun beds you can hire for a fee, or take a towel with you and lie on the beach. Worth seeing are the sand sculptures they are quite remarkable. Tenerife was next, and on the day we went the local market was on. It's quite a walk so if you are going it alone and not doing the organised trips get a taxi or bus, we regret not doing this. Madeira for me was the highlight of all the ports of call. It's a beautiful place to visit. Again we did not do the organised trips, we paid 6 dollars return for a coach to take you into the town then we got a yellow taxi. What a bargain this trip was. We paid 20euro each to go where the organised trips were going which were $89 each on ship. The taxi driver was very informative and spoke excellent English. The taxi trip lasted approx 3hrs. This was by far the best way to see Madeira. The sledge ride was an extra 15euro each, which when you got to the bottom they had your photo waiting for you which they had taken at the start. To purchase this it was 10euro which if did not want to you did not have to buy. Final destination before Southampton was La Coruna. Easy place to get to shopping centre next port to do your final present buying. This is a nice town with some beautiful old buildings. The organised trips are expensive, and if you don't mind sitting on a hot coach for a few hrs and you like to be shown around, then organised trips are your best option. We went on this cruise to relax and to enjoy the ship and what it had to offer. The ports of call to us were not important. The ship is just a fantastic place to be and to be honest I would of spent all my time onboard. The food is to die for, the crew treat you like royalty, they are always smiling and nothing is too much trouble. Every minute of the day the ship is being cleaned and maintained. Our suite attendant Edwin was so helpful and obliging nothing was too much trouble. Our waiters Leoncia and Alan made our dining experience so enjoyable; to the extent we actually cancelled our booking at Portofino's. We did not attend any shows as we enjoyed the entertainment that was being offered in the Pyramid Lounge and again the staff in there were very attentive. I think value for money you will not beat this cruise, get the soda packages, wine packages etc and you won't go wrong. The duty free shop is cheaper than the ports. Royal Caribbean International have got this format perfect, I don't see how they can perfect it any further. Enjoy your experience. We did, we are hooked and can't wait for the next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Have just arrived back on the Celebrity Eclipse 4th Sept 2010 I have seen other reviews from people on the same voyage so will try to limit this to our experience of Aqua Class. Booking late we had a choice of an unknown balcony or paying ... Read More
Have just arrived back on the Celebrity Eclipse 4th Sept 2010 I have seen other reviews from people on the same voyage so will try to limit this to our experience of Aqua Class. Booking late we had a choice of an unknown balcony or paying more and being allocated an Aqua Class cabin. As we were traveling with another couple decided that we did not want to be opposite ends of the ship, so elected to pay the extra and go Aqua. We originally made the booking directly through Celebrity and the salesperson advised us to take ajoining cabins 1552/1554 (there were two others together at the very front). Having made the booking and checking on the review and critic sights, we found that 1554 had a metal structure directly in line with the balcony (the rep never mentioned this, she also put us down for Anytime dining). We had previously spoken to Caroline a cruise specialist with travel councellors, and after further discussions switched our booking to her. (A very good move). She came back to us and advised that the view was very restricted from 1554 and this should have been discussed on our original booking - she therefore changed that cabin for one just down the hall - she also discovered that if you select Anytime dining in Aqua Class you get re assigned to the MDR! Anyway the point is make sure you have a very good agent or your holiday could be ruined. Aqua Class - everything I read about this was true - the food was exellent, well presented and varied all cooked in its own kitchen. Our waiter Danni said the chef checked every meal as it left the kitchen, and it didn't get served unless he was 100% happy. The staff in this restaurant couldn't do enough for us and we will find it very hard to go back to the MDR on future cruises. The restaurant was small and intimate, we never felt rushed- every meal was an experience in fact I even took photo's of the food (never felt the need before) it was a work of art and tasted even better. One of our party was poorly one morning and the assistant Maitre De Akar arranged for something to be sent to the cabin. One thing that surprised me for the whole ship, was how many people dressed up for the 'formal' nights it was good to see even young lads with dinner jackets - it wasn't over the top, but really added to the experience As for the ship - it felt small, however we could always find somewhere to relax and never crowded. I think the cruise director has just changed to John Grantham, an ex stuntman from Hollywood, he was very low key and likeble, his talk about his experiences was very good. I can't remember a cruise where all the performers around the ship were so good - the standard was terrific and we even made a point of going to the lounges just to hear them - Les Merle who played with some of the greats and took over from Buddy Rich fronted a jazz group, the accapelo group had a large following. The stage shows were good in the main, however I found the show ECLIPSE over indulgent and the singing had no real words (unless you were an Inca) I Have been interested by the comments regarding the level of sound in the theatre - it didn't seem to be any more than normal Eclipse is a brilliant ship, and Celebrity seem to keep their staff for many years and they all appear to be very proud of their ship. The ports of call were good we really loved Cadiz and Toulon in fact the only dissapointment was Gibraltar where we only had half a day. Venturer followed us in and it was a very rushed and crowded experience. I can highly recommend this ship, and as you can guess especially Aqua Class   Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
We booked this cruise a year ago or so to celebrate my parents' Golden wedding anniversary. We booked adjacent balcony cabins with my parents in the cabin next door to my son (age 15) and myself. Both balcony cabins were on deck 9 on ... Read More
We booked this cruise a year ago or so to celebrate my parents' Golden wedding anniversary. We booked adjacent balcony cabins with my parents in the cabin next door to my son (age 15) and myself. Both balcony cabins were on deck 9 on the straight part of "the hump". Embarkation at Southampton was fairly painless having filled in the necessary documents online (although grumbling all the time about lack of pre-cruise documents arriving in the post, something I really miss). The check-in procedure was definitely smooth at the port as passport and credit card etc. details had already been supplied. Our cabins were ready for us upon boarding at around 2pm. Our stewardess Marites introduced herself almost immediately and both her and her assistant Michael proved to be absolutely wonderful keeping the cabins spotless. They were both so warm and friendly, always greeting us with lovely smiles. Storage in the cabin proved a little disjointed with cupboards over the bed and a smallish wardrobe. Perhaps we have just become used to the so much more user friendly "walk in" wardrobes of the standard balcony cabins which we enjoyed the on P & O Azura and the Princess ships of recent sailings. The bathroom however was the best I've had. I just loved the spacious shower and very practical bar for leg shaving. Everything was of a high quality except, strangely the toilet paper which disintegrated upon use. An extendable washing line in the shower for smalls etc. would have been useful. On the subject of washing however, there is no laundry room provided and even to get something ironed it had to be sent in. Of course most of us are unpacking a suitcase full of clothes that need just a quick press so an ironing room at least was much appreciated. These thoughts were echoed by many fellow passengers. A big reason why we have chosen Celebrity Cruises is that they do not allow smoking in the cabins and on the balconies. A real treat to be able to sit outside and enjoy the sea air without the whiff of a neighbours' smoke. Well done Celebrity! We had booked first sitting traditional dining, a bit of a rush at 6.15 each evening. We had a table for 8 towards the centre on the bottom level of the Moonlight Sonata dining room. Unfortunately the noise level in the dining room meant it was a struggle to hear our companions across the table, which proved a big disappointment to my hard of hearing father who could not participate in any banter. Having sailed on Celebrity Summit last year with a table in a similar position of our table of 8 we did not experience this problem so it must just be the acoustics of the Moonlight Sonata Dining Room. We would certainly book Select Dining on Eclipse in future where the smaller sized tables are on the upper level and it was not as noisy. For the most part the food was wonderful. Poor Dad however was forced to send his main course back on a couple of occasions. A lover of fish, the fish dishes proved a bit fussy and unappetising. I enjoyed everything apart from a couple of disappointing soups. The service from Bresley and his assistant "Panasonic" was superb, even remembering each night that I liked lemon served with my water. We ate at all the speciality restaurants. Dad and I went to the Tuscan grill which was absolutely fantastic. We celebrated my parents' Golden Wedding Anniversary evening in Murano, which was indeed excellent (although the Dover sole was not quite as good as on Azura) but the service proved just a little intrusive. We ended up in fits of giggles when the waiter timed his arrival of the anniversary cake with Dad handing over of Mums' pendant (complete with elastic band) and hovered a little too long. Poor Dad, never the most romantic, his moment was ruined. On the second last night my son and I (almost as an afterthought) dined at Qsine and have never had so much fun at a meal. Everything is such a surprise and I am still fantasing about the delicious "Sushi lollipops". We absolutely loved it and it is certainly a must do for kids of all ages and I wish we had discovered it sooner. "Mr Spice" is honestly the most enthusiastic waiter we have ever had. "The Trough" (Oceanview cafe) had a lot of variety on offer with stations you can nip in and out of. The drinks station was awkwardly organised though and people were always bumping into each other resulting in a constant wet patch on the floor. Never my favourite eating venue on any ship as they are always so cafeteria like, I usually tried to avoid it and discovered instead the Aqua spa cafe at the solarium. All the produce is organic and it was the perfect spot for a light breakfast and lunch. Only having nine tables it was quieter than "The Trough" although it did become a lot busier the second half of the cruise once people discovered it. Disappointingly the smoking area was just the other side of the glass doors so the odd whiff of smoke drifted through to the eating area particularly on inclement days when the smokers were taking cover. I treated myself and paid $99 to use the Persian Garden (thermal suite) for the duration of the cruise. This proved a wonderful "bolt hole" with its aromatic suite, steam room and heated stone loungers with a glorious sea view. The ship seemed to have a shortage of outdoor loungers and of course being as Eclipse caters primarily to a British market and as the British do enjoy sunning themselves there was always the potential for a deckchair bunfight. It was almost impossible to find a lounger on sea days at the outside pool but there was usually one to be found around the indoor adult's only solarium. The entertainment was good with a particularly memorable Capello group called "Sound Decision". These boys were fabulous and really made me smile popping up with little short shows all over the ship. The production shows were good but older folk were a little disappointed as they were focusing more on "modern day" West End shows like "Wicked" and "We will Rock You". They also complained that they were loud. There was an Acrobatic team called Alex and Sally who were fabulous. The hypnotist, a chap by the name of Christopher Caress was honestly the best show I have seen on a cruise ship, fantastic. There was also a very funny Irish comedian and some good cabaret singers to please the older folk. The Hot Glass show is also very interesting and worth seeing at some point during a cruise. Disappointingly many of the "lectures" were really about "nickel and diming" the passengers but this seems to be a reality in cruising today. My father was disappointed that there was no organised Bridge in the card and games room. We only booked a couple of the ships' shore excursions. It was easy enough in most of the ports to catch the ships shuttle (at a fee) and walk around the Mediterranean ports at leisure. All in all it was a lovely cruise on a beautiful ship. As lovely as a ship is, it can only be as good as the staff onboard. The staff on Eclipse offer a wonderful warm and friendly service. We found them very approachable. We generally always get chatting to staff and they really are such genuine people. Marites, our stewardess was genuinely concerned when Dad caught a dreadful chest and cold bug delivering piles of extra pillows to the cabin to help during the night. The service was spontaneous and from the heart. We would definitely sail on Celebrity Eclipse again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
This was our first cruise with Celebrity and we have returned very impressed. Everything seemed a couple of notches above our previous cruise experience with NCL and P & O. Don't get me wrong we have always had a wonderful time ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Celebrity and we have returned very impressed. Everything seemed a couple of notches above our previous cruise experience with NCL and P & O. Don't get me wrong we have always had a wonderful time but Eclipse has blown us away. The Eclipse is a modern, contemporary and stunning ship. I love the design and she enjoys airy open public spaces. Huge expanses of glass can be found that allow a fantastic view of the sea. She has two main groups of elevators that due to the tapered bow and stern allow easy access to most parts of the ship without having to walk to far. Celebrity have really got the 'Solstice' design spot on and its no surprise that the design as been so well received. The cruise was a short 4 day break just popping over to Cork. Celebrity have boarding fine tuned and we walked straight on and were soon enjoying lunch. Lesley was very impressed. We booked a Concierge Class Cabin last minute and you can imagine our joy when we were upgraded to Aqua Class. This meant lots of little extras in the cabin, which also enjoyed a premium location on Eclipse close to the Spa. The main benefit was being able to eat in Blu. More on that later. Most of the balcony cabins are very similar with enhancements based on grade. We had a fantastic spa shower, iced tea every day, robes, slippers and luxury bedding etc. I did sit out on the balcony but it was a little chilly. The cabins are deep but not particularly wide. Furniture was of a very good quality and the 32" TV on a swivel mount. The interactive services were spot on and powered by a mac mini. Storage space would be tight on a two week cruise but plenty of space under bed so some gear could be stowed here. We were on Deck 11 underneath the lido deck. No noise could be heard although due to weather the pool area was not that busy. Sebastian our Cabin Steward was fantastic. Due to the weather we did not spend to much time on open deck but i did enjoy a swim and I would imagine that the outside pools, bars and public spaces would be superb in a warmer climate. The sheer variety of chairs, loungers and sunbeams is amazing and all the soft furnishings are all of the highest quality. We found the food to be of the highest quality in all areas. The main Ocean View Cafe has a superb buffet selection and finding a seat was never a problem. The salad bar was incredible. We had one lunch in the main dining room which is a magnificent two deck space. Again food was wonderful. Aqua Class meant we were able to have breakfast and dinner in Blu. This is for Aqua Class guests only. The brochure does say that it offers a healthier choice but don't let this put you off. No set dining times just great food. The breakfast muesli was created at the table and was superb as were the omelettes. A full cooked breakfast can be chosen. The evening food was always hot and beautifully presented and the steak especially was cooked to perfection. A maximum of 260 guests are eligible to eat here so it never felt rushed, busy or cramped. We also tried Quisine and played with the magical iPad which the menu is presented on. Food with a presented with a twist that was delicious. The cover charge was about £19.50 per head. Well with the experience. Just make sure you are very hungry when you go as the food keeps flowing. The entertainment onboard was great fun and the theatre has state of the art production facilities. We really enjoyed 'Eclipse' which is a modern circus show, The cast worked very hard and the audience thoroughly appreciated their skills and efforts. iLounge was of course perfection as it features Apple hardware. Sensible place to buy a new Mac as prices in dollars and feature no tax. Visit to Cork was great although we only went ashore briefly for a stroll. I think the best part of the cruise were the staff themselves. Eclipse has upward of 65 different nationalities serving onboard and this shows in a very chilled, relaxed but upscale way. All staff seemed to work together very fluently and the service was never less than outstanding. Nothing was to much trouble. The Grand Buffet was a work of art and Lesley and I appreiciated the effort made to set this up. I could go on but bar the odd moaning guest that we overhead everything from our point of view was perfection. Celebrity seem to have it just right and do not appear to have made cutbacks to their quality product unlike other lines. We can't wait to travel again. Eclipse is a beautiful ship, manned and crewed by magnificent staff. Look after them Celebrity as they are worth it. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010

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