We were looking for an Australian Cruise when we stumbled on the Antarctica cruise on the Celebrity Eclipse, with a 4 perk deal that we couldn’t refuse. This was our second South American cruise, with our first being two years prior on ... Read More
We were looking for an Australian Cruise when we stumbled on the Antarctica cruise on the Celebrity Eclipse, with a 4 perk deal that we couldn’t refuse. This was our second South American cruise, with our first being two years prior on the Emerald Princess with an Around the Horn. As vacation days are still limited for me, we booked a direct flight from Atlanta to Buenos Aires and skipped overnighting. We opted for the Celebrity Airport meet and greet transportation with our luggage collection at the airport. It was waiting in our cabin when we got there. Celebrity had advised us there would be staggered check-in times and for our deck it would be 2:00 and limited waiting room. We arrived about 11:30 and were assigned a boarding group number. By noon our number was called, and we were quickly on board. After a quick lunch at the Ocean View, we were able to go to our cabins for a quick nap. Everything ran smooth with no surprises.
We chose 9278 as a cabin as it was near the center of the ship, and the elevators. There is a glass door from the game room to the hallway that shuts out nearly all the noise from the central atrium and the game room. It also has little traffic to or from the elevators. The cabin is not much different than the other verandas with the exception this has a drop down bunk above the sofa. I find the Celebrity cabins to be a bit more functional and spacious feeling than those on Princess, due to the bump out in the wall for the beds.
The ship was clean as was the rooms. With the layout much like the Silhouette in that same class. One of the major differences is the lawn club grill on the Eclipse was replaced with the Hollywood Hot Glass studio. For our first Sea Day we went and made some paperweights with some of our On Board Credits. This was a lot of fun where they individually help you create your own glass work of art. The instruction lasts about 20 minutes, but makes for a great sea day activity. My wife later in the cruise created a penguin as a souvenir of our cruise. They also have many demonstrations and raffle off a few free classes. The instructors are great, and it was something I never thought you’d find on a cruise ship. I believe they are on two other ships also, the Solstice and the Equinox. Our first glass blowing experience was in Skagway, and the prices are quite reasonable in comparison.
The sea days had several lecturers including a Naturalist (Celia Garland), Historian/Geologist (Ken Williams), and a Criminologist (Ron Boward). They were all good. In addition there were many other activities including an indoor archery in the Grand Foyer that was a lot of fun. The Cruise Director staff did a wonderful job of keeping us entertained, and Alejandro had a marvelous Argentinian schtick that was adorable. Because of the mixed audience, many of the traditional game show type events were moved to matinee because of the large non english speaking population. This was a brilliant move! The other brilliant move the Entertainment staff accomplished was when a port was closed, they immediately reworked the days activities to give the passengers some entertainment on what should have been a port day. They got it worked out, published and distributed in record time, and didn’t leave for a whole bunch of bored passengers. I’ve seen ports cancelled, but I’d NEVER seen a schedule reworked like that before. Hats off to the staff!
We were traveling with another couple we met from our very first Transatlantic. They typically don’t care to spend the time in the dinning room when there are so many good shows to see (which there were), so we more frequently dined in the Oceanview Café than the dining room. Our first night out, we did went our own way and we did the main dining room (select dining), and were seated with two Australian couples and a woman from Ireland. As it turned out, one of the Australian couples had the balcony next door. I’m a fan of their French onion soup, and had a wonderful NY Strip from the everyday selection. Simply wonderful! We previously were sailing frequently with Princess, but the last two cruises, Princess eliminated the steak option, and replaced with a hamburger de jour. The food option is what brought us back to Celebrity.
One of the other dining options we did was the Tuscan Grille. This was simply marvelous, and one of the finest filets I can remember.
As mentioned before the bulk of our dining was in the Oceanview Café, where they kept a variety of themes interesting. The staff in the Oceanview were so friendly, and made you feel so welcome. From Aline at the front door with the squirter, to Treshawna in the back with the coffee wagon (Ferrari as she calls it), and Dora in the middle, the Oceanview staff was wonderful. The bar servers were quick to learn your preferences, especially Erick, and ready to please. Early on in the cruise I discovered Evan working the grill, and he cooked up some wonderful sirloins cooked and seasoned to perfection available every night. Several nights saw crepes that were to die for! Desserts were good, but the best of all is the home(ship)made Ice cream available everyday with new and different flavors to tempt the palate.
One of my other favorite places on board was the Coffee Shop on Deck 5, where Victoria served up our morning cappuccino. Thank goodness for the beverage plan!
The evenings were spent at the Captains Club Hors Dourves hour where Fabio and Aroli were our hosts, and Nicholas (on his first voyage) kept us refreshed. They made it a point to try and spend a little time with everyone, and one evening Aroli came by to check on us. My wife told her she missed our dogs. Aroli said she couldn’t travel without hers and he was onboard. The next night she brought her dog (a stuffed toy) for my wife to visit with. Aroli says she travels everywhere with Enuito her dog and he has seen much of the world. As a whole the staff on board were so welcoming, and made it fun to travel with them.
Lastly I’d like to mention the cabin steward Yaadish. This is one of the best stewards we’ve ever had. I mentioned I needed something, and it would appear. We adopted a stuffed penguin from one of the shops on board. We found it tucked into bed one night with it’s own chocolate, the next night it was wearing glasses and the celebrity medal I had one from archery the day before. You never knew what to expect, and made for a really fun cruise.
Ushuaia -- We’d been here 2 years prior, and booked the catamaran tour, but canceled due to my wife not feeling up to it. Weather looked poor, and it started raining before we had a chance to get off. We did get pier space and did not have to tender in as was originally listed.
Port Stanley – The port was closed after 300 people tendered to shore. The Amsterdam arrived shortly after we did, dropped anchor, launched tenders, then hauled them back on board, raised anchor and sailed off. We waited for the seas to calm and reboarded the 300, and sailed away. Disappointing none the less, but the lifeboats were bobbing like corks as they waited.
Port Madryn – We walked off the ship after the rush, and ended up taking one of the local tours to Punta Tombo on the pier. Cost was $100 +$10 entrance fee. We had a wonderful state registered guide and translator for the trip. It’s rather long trip (180km 120miles) down the Patagonian plain. Our guide kept us busy telling us all about the penguins along the way. When you get there, you will find yourself surrounded by a million Magellanic penguins (old and young) as you walk along stone pathways. There was also llamas running about. You are not allowed to touch or approach the penguins, or leave the path, but you will frequently have the penguins walk past you. The guides are pretty good about keeping us tourists from bothering the penguins. Definitely something you must experience. It was definitely windy and just and temps around 70, so very pleasant.
Montevideo – Walked off the ship and took one of the City Tours on the pier. $26 and was actually cheaper than the hop-on-hop-off bus. Not a bad way to see the city. Great weather, glad for a little heat.
The Horn -- Great weather, faired off and had blue skies when we reached the Albatross Memorial. We had a starboard cabin, but the captain spun in place to give all a view.
Schollaert Channel & Paradise Bay – Heavy cloud blanket over the islands and made for a surreal effect. Simply breath taking. Saw many whales blow and flukes as they dived. We were the first cruise ship of this size to enter Paradise Bay. Be prepared for the cold. I didn’t bring gloves and while the temperature was around freezing, it was very penetrating. We watched from the balcony, and frequently warmed our hands in the bathroom sink. Perhaps a slight advantage on the starboard side…. Maybe. Not worth fretting over.
Elephant Island – Heavy fog as we arrived but burned off. Good views from the balcony, also went on deck to enjoy the panorama. Again we spun to give both sides a view. Many penguins were in the waters just right off the boat. We had a lone penguin just under our balcony that was fishing and swimming along that made for good video. Many rafts of penguins would swim abreast breaching in unison. No bias on cabin sides.
We were the last to get off the ship. We had a midnight flight, and arranged for a hotel stay to rest before the flight. Unfortunately the hotel was not informed or prepared for an early checkin/checkout and we ended up spending a fair amount of time in the lobby. We made the arrangements through Celebrity. I’m not sure who dropped the ball. The Celebrity Concierge in the hotel claimed no knowledge. The Intercontinental is a lovely hotel, with good security. The neighborhood I didn’t feel too comfortable walking alone. The pub in the hotel is quite reasonable and very good.
Other comments: Days get long past Ushuaia with only a couple of hours of darkness. This made for tough sleeping for us, as the body says its not time to go to bed/ and time to get up. I believe we were the first of two Antarctica cruises this season for Celebrity.
Overall comments. My wife and I agree this was one of the best cruises we’ve done. We were glad to have seen some of this already with our prior South American cruise, as it left for no real disappointments this time. Again, I have to say this was one of the best crews for which we’ve sailed. I think a lot of this credit goes to Captain Michaels, and Guest Relations Director Carolina Ramirez.
Our next cruise in May we’re heading to Ireland on the Reflection to see Iceland. This will be trips to both polar circles in the same year, does this make us Bipolar? Read Less