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EMBARKATION / DISEMBARKATION: Embarkation at the Port of Miami went very smoothly. However, we were not happy to receive multiple e-mails the prior week, instructing us not to arrive at the pier until after 2:00 pm. According to these e-mails, the only people who could board at any time other than what was “assigned” to their deck, were the suite guests, along with Elite-Plus and Zenith passengers. Our hotel check-out was 12:00 noon, and it’s earlier than that in some of the area’s hotels. I’m not sure exactly what we (and all of our luggage) were supposed to do, for that two hour time period! So, we simply proceeded to the pier a little before noon, as we usually do. We found no problems with the Elite check-in line, and were onboard by 12:30 – with rooms ready shortly afterwards. Getting off the ship was a lot easier at the Port of Miami than it has been the last couple of times we disembarked in Port Everglades. For one thing, finding a porter is much easier at POM. Also, the luggage comes out on an airport-style conveyer belt, rather than just being piled up in the terminal. The night before, we did have to make a trip to the GR desk, to get luggage tags for earlier disembarkation. We never received the usual questionnaire in our cabin, re: our travel / flight times. Consequently, we received tags for the latest disembarkation group – which would not have worked with our flight time out of MIA. SHIP: The ship is lovely, and was beautifully decorated for the holidays. The ship was constantly being cleaned, and appeared to be well-maintained. Although the ship sailed full, the public areas never seem crowded. The Solstice Class ships have a nicely designed passenger flow. CABIN: We loved the balcony, but found our cabin to be very narrow – with poorly designed storage space. The closet had no shelf, and the narrow cupboards over the bed were nearly impossible for me to reach. There was clearly wasted space in the cabin that could have been used for storage. Maintenance had to be called on the first day for a leaky bathroom faucet, and a shrieking (no mere squeak) closet door. The shower was roomy, with shower doors – instead of a clingy curtain. However, we missed the retractable clothesline that can be found on other ships. There were few places to properly hang a wet bathing suit (or anything else), in the cabin. We were quite disappointed to find that the traditional ice bucket has been replaced with a large “for fee” snack basket. Along with the “for fee” bottle of water, it took up a lot of room on the tiny countertop. At our request, our room steward removed the “for fee” items, as well as the contents of the minibar. He also brought us an ice bucket, and provided regular ice service throughout the cruise. Our room steward and his assistant delivered very good service during the entire cruise, and kept our room and balcony in immaculate condition. MDR (SELECT DINING): This was our first time trying Select Dining. We really liked our wait-staff, and requested them each evening. I am on a salt-restricted diet, and my waiter brought me the next day’s menu every evening, with appropriate suggestions and advice. She also checked regularly to make sure everything was prepared properly. Our assistant waiter was very efficient and attentive. The wine steward was one of the best we’ve encountered on any X ship. We did encounter some problems with the Select Dining Reservation system. When we called the phone number they gave us, we could not make reservations a day ahead of time -- and if we called the same day, we were always told that the time we wished was not available. However, the Select Dining Hostess was wonderful, and always managed to get us a table in the area we were requesting. We never had to wait more than a couple of minutes to be seated. As it worked out, we often found ourselves seated near the same two delightful couples. So, we didn’t miss traditional dining nearly as much as we thought we would. The food quality was “hit-or-miss. Unfortunately, Celebrity seems to be buying noticeably cheaper cuts of meat, in the last few years. Some of the “steaks” are very thin and tough. The preparation of the food was quite good, though. The beef served in the MDR was always cooked to the done-ness we ordered (rare). Unlike some other X ships, we did not generally find the MDR food to be over-salted. However, some dishes clearly had too much salt added (for me, anyway) and had to be sent back. Here again, our wait-staff was wonderfully accommodating. OTHER RESTAURANTS: Although we did not try Qsine or Bistro on Five, we did dine at Murano and Tuscan Grille. Murano was outstanding – fabulous Chateaubriand, with Balsamic Strawberries for dessert! Tuscan, on the other hand, turned out to be a total disaster. The food overall was very salty – there was very little that I could eat. My DH did have a nice filet of beef, but I could not manage to get a decent veal chop. After sending back two attempts (one was tough and the other over-cooked) I just gave up. When we talked to the Maitre’d, he apologized and took my meal charge off the bill. Although we saw the Head Chef making the rounds to chat with some of the diners, he never came over to our table to inquire about the problem. The Aqua Spa Cafe’s offerings seem to have become quite limited. Gone are the days when freshly grilled salmon, tuna, and chicken were available upon request. Now, the entrees mostly consist of cooked grain dishes and canned tuna/chicken salad. The fruit plates and salad bar were fresh, and quite good. The pasta salad was very good, but not offered very often. The Mast Grill had very tasty hamburgers and hot dogs. Their fries were always crisp and hot. Aside from picking up some fruit, yogurt, pastries, and coffee for breakfast, we did not eat in the Ocean View Café. GUEST RELATIONS: Sadly, we spent more time at Guest Relations, trying to get various issues resolved, than on any other recent cruise. However, we found the Guest Relations Manager and her staff to be very courteous, professional, and helpful. They were able to resolve most, if not all, of the problems we encountered during our two weeks onboard. One thing that surprised us was that, unlike other X ships, “Attention to Detail” cards were not available at the GR desk. We had to ask our Room Steward for them, and it took him a while to find more than two cards for us. On other ships, we’ve picked up several ATD cards at the GR desk, to keep in our room. We use them, not only to report problems, but to praise exceptionally good service that we receive from various crew members. On the positive side, we did receive prompt responses to the ATD cards that we turned in to the GR desk. SHORE EXCURSIONS: As experienced cruisers, we often plan our own shore activities. However, this time we did book two excursions through the ShoreEx Desk onboard. The staff members were always polite knowledgeable, and very helpful. We thoroughly enjoyed our St. Lucia Canopy Tour, and our St. Kitts’ Day Trip to Nevis. BARS & LOUNGES: We had upgraded to the Premium Drink Package – which turned out to be a very good decision. We looked forward our pre-dinner cocktails in the Martini and Molecular Bar. We also enjoyed an occasional after-dinner cognac and jazz in the Ensemble Lounge. We never had a problem getting friendly and prompt bar service, at any of the venues we visited. It did, however, take a while to find a place where we could consistently get larger bottles of cold water (Evian & San Pellegrino) to take back to our room. After my DH spoke to the Food and Beverage Manager, that problem was resolved. SHOWS & ENTERTAINERS: First of all, this was the first X ship we have been on in years where all of the music was volume and venue appropriate. Of course, we did avoid areas where the DJ was featured. This was the first time I could actually hear the person sitting next to me, in the Martini Bar. I did hear others saying that the volume in the Theater was excessive. The only show we attended there was the Christmas Eve Show – and, we did not find the music to be too loud at that time. We found the live entertainment to be a mixed bag. We loved the Jazz Quartet and the String Duo. Neither one of us cared for the “house” band, or the solo guitarist/singer. We enjoyed the Christmas Eve show in the Theater, and Perry Grant’s late show, afterwards. The Theater Performers conducted a fascinating “backstage” tour, for Captain’s Club members. One of our favorite attractions on the early Solstice-Class ships is the Hot Glass Show. The artisans from the Corning Museum of Glass never fail to amaze and delight. The auction they held at the end of the cruise was almost as entertaining as their glass-blowing demonstrations. We really hope that X will continue to feature these wonderful artists and their craft, on these three ships in the future. HITS: The New Year’s Eve fireworks show. Thank you, Captain Manetas, for getting us to St. Martin, in time to see their fabulous fireworks display! We also appreciated the invitation to the helipad for the New Year’s Day sail-away from St. Martin. These were just a couple of the “little touches” that made the Holiday Cruise such a special experience. Another big hit-- our fellow passengers, on this Holiday Cruise. Most people we encountered were incredibly well-dressed, polite, and in good spirits. Although there were many big family groups, and a large number of children onboard, it was not really a problem for us. We did witness a few episodes of hall-running, stairwell-sitting, and elevator button-pushing by unsupervised minors – but those appeared to be the exception, rather than the rule. MISSES: Aside from the issues mentioned above, there were not many problems – but, one trend concerns me. In years past, the crew was quick to point out how important the Attention to Detail Cards and the Final Cruise Survey were to them. Now, you have to search for an ATD card, and the final survey is sent to you on-line after the cruise. We hardly even heard it mentioned by the staff, while we were onboard. I find it disingenuous for X to claim that they are doing this out of some environmental concern. If that is the case, why are our staterooms constantly bombarded with paper advertisements for things like the Art Auctions, the Spa, and the high-end shops? More importantly, it seems that X has recently been so busy marketing to a younger, “hipper” demographic, that they have ceased to know (or care) what their loyal base of repeat customers really wants. I sincerely hope that the new head of the company (Ms. Lisa Lutoff-Perlo) will be willing and able to turn things around, in this area. For us, at least, higher prices and lower quality do not equal “modern luxury”. We currently have two more cruises booked on X, so we plan to wait and see what changes take place between now and then.  

Eclipse Holiday Cruise to the Caribbean, 2014

Celebrity Eclipse Cruise Review by wwcruisers

Trip Details
EMBARKATION / DISEMBARKATION: Embarkation at the Port of Miami went very smoothly. However, we were not happy to receive multiple e-mails the prior week, instructing us not to arrive at the pier until after 2:00 pm. According to these e-mails, the only people who could board at any time other than what was “assigned” to their deck, were the suite guests, along with Elite-Plus and Zenith passengers. Our hotel check-out was 12:00 noon, and it’s earlier than that in some of the area’s hotels. I’m not sure exactly what we (and all of our luggage) were supposed to do, for that two hour time period! So, we simply proceeded to the pier a little before noon, as we usually do. We found no problems with the Elite check-in line, and were onboard by 12:30 – with rooms ready shortly afterwards.
Getting off the ship was a lot easier at the Port of Miami than it has been the last couple of times we disembarked in Port Everglades. For one thing, finding a porter is much easier at POM. Also, the luggage comes out on an airport-style conveyer belt, rather than just being piled up in the terminal. The night before, we did have to make a trip to the GR desk, to get luggage tags for earlier disembarkation. We never received the usual questionnaire in our cabin, re: our travel / flight times. Consequently, we received tags for the latest disembarkation group – which would not have worked with our flight time out of MIA.
SHIP: The ship is lovely, and was beautifully decorated for the holidays. The ship was constantly being cleaned, and appeared to be well-maintained. Although the ship sailed full, the public areas never seem crowded. The Solstice Class ships have a nicely designed passenger flow.
CABIN: We loved the balcony, but found our cabin to be very narrow – with poorly designed storage space. The closet had no shelf, and the narrow cupboards over the bed were nearly impossible for me to reach. There was clearly wasted space in the cabin that could have been used for storage. Maintenance had to be called on the first day for a leaky bathroom faucet, and a shrieking (no mere squeak) closet door. The shower was roomy, with shower doors – instead of a clingy curtain. However, we missed the retractable clothesline that can be found on other ships. There were few places to properly hang a wet bathing suit (or anything else), in the cabin.
We were quite disappointed to find that the traditional ice bucket has been replaced with a large “for fee” snack basket. Along with the “for fee” bottle of water, it took up a lot of room on the tiny countertop. At our request, our room steward removed the “for fee” items, as well as the contents of the minibar. He also brought us an ice bucket, and provided regular ice service throughout the cruise. Our room steward and his assistant delivered very good service during the entire cruise, and kept our room and balcony in immaculate condition.
MDR (SELECT DINING): This was our first time trying Select Dining. We really liked our wait-staff, and requested them each evening. I am on a salt-restricted diet, and my waiter brought me the next day’s menu every evening, with appropriate suggestions and advice. She also checked regularly to make sure everything was prepared properly. Our assistant waiter was very efficient and attentive. The wine steward was one of the best we’ve encountered on any X ship.
We did encounter some problems with the Select Dining Reservation system. When we called the phone number they gave us, we could not make reservations a day ahead of time -- and if we called the same day, we were always told that the time we wished was not available. However, the Select Dining Hostess was wonderful, and always managed to get us a table in the area we were requesting. We never had to wait more than a couple of minutes to be seated. As it worked out, we often found ourselves seated near the same two delightful couples. So, we didn’t miss traditional dining nearly as much as we thought we would.
The food quality was “hit-or-miss. Unfortunately, Celebrity seems to be buying noticeably cheaper cuts of meat, in the last few years. Some of the “steaks” are very thin and tough. The preparation of the food was quite good, though. The beef served in the MDR was always cooked to the done-ness we ordered (rare). Unlike some other X ships, we did not generally find the MDR food to be over-salted. However, some dishes clearly had too much salt added (for me, anyway) and had to be sent back. Here again, our wait-staff was wonderfully accommodating.
OTHER RESTAURANTS: Although we did not try Qsine or Bistro on Five, we did dine at Murano and Tuscan Grille. Murano was outstanding – fabulous Chateaubriand, with Balsamic Strawberries for dessert! Tuscan, on the other hand, turned out to be a total disaster. The food overall was very salty – there was very little that I could eat. My DH did have a nice filet of beef, but I could not manage to get a decent veal chop. After sending back two attempts (one was tough and the other over-cooked) I just gave up. When we talked to the Maitre’d, he apologized and took my meal charge off the bill. Although we saw the Head Chef making the rounds to chat with some of the diners, he never came over to our table to inquire about the problem.
The Aqua Spa Cafe’s offerings seem to have become quite limited. Gone are the days when freshly grilled salmon, tuna, and chicken were available upon request. Now, the entrees mostly consist of cooked grain dishes and canned tuna/chicken salad. The fruit plates and salad bar were fresh, and quite good. The pasta salad was very good, but not offered very often.
The Mast Grill had very tasty hamburgers and hot dogs. Their fries were always crisp and hot.
Aside from picking up some fruit, yogurt, pastries, and coffee for breakfast, we did not eat in the Ocean View Café.
GUEST RELATIONS: Sadly, we spent more time at Guest Relations, trying to get various issues resolved, than on any other recent cruise. However, we found the Guest Relations Manager and her staff to be very courteous, professional, and helpful. They were able to resolve most, if not all, of the problems we encountered during our two weeks onboard.
One thing that surprised us was that, unlike other X ships, “Attention to Detail” cards were not available at the GR desk. We had to ask our Room Steward for them, and it took him a while to find more than two cards for us. On other ships, we’ve picked up several ATD cards at the GR desk, to keep in our room. We use them, not only to report problems, but to praise exceptionally good service that we receive from various crew members. On the positive side, we did receive prompt responses to the ATD cards that we turned in to the GR desk.
SHORE EXCURSIONS: As experienced cruisers, we often plan our own shore activities. However, this time we did book two excursions through the ShoreEx Desk onboard. The staff members were always polite knowledgeable, and very helpful. We thoroughly enjoyed our St. Lucia Canopy Tour, and our St. Kitts’ Day Trip to Nevis.
BARS & LOUNGES: We had upgraded to the Premium Drink Package – which turned out to be a very good decision. We looked forward our pre-dinner cocktails in the Martini and Molecular Bar. We also enjoyed an occasional after-dinner cognac and jazz in the Ensemble Lounge. We never had a problem getting friendly and prompt bar service, at any of the venues we visited.
It did, however, take a while to find a place where we could consistently get larger bottles of cold water (Evian & San Pellegrino) to take back to our room. After my DH spoke to the Food and Beverage Manager, that problem was resolved.
SHOWS & ENTERTAINERS: First of all, this was the first X ship we have been on in years where all of the music was volume and venue appropriate. Of course, we did avoid areas where the DJ was featured. This was the first time I could actually hear the person sitting next to me, in the Martini Bar. I did hear others saying that the volume in the Theater was excessive. The only show we attended there was the Christmas Eve Show – and, we did not find the music to be too loud at that time.
We found the live entertainment to be a mixed bag. We loved the Jazz Quartet and the String Duo. Neither one of us cared for the “house” band, or the solo guitarist/singer. We enjoyed the Christmas Eve show in the Theater, and Perry Grant’s late show, afterwards. The Theater Performers conducted a fascinating “backstage” tour, for Captain’s Club members.
One of our favorite attractions on the early Solstice-Class ships is the Hot Glass Show. The artisans from the Corning Museum of Glass never fail to amaze and delight. The auction they held at the end of the cruise was almost as entertaining as their glass-blowing demonstrations. We really hope that X will continue to feature these wonderful artists and their craft, on these three ships in the future.
HITS: The New Year’s Eve fireworks show. Thank you, Captain Manetas, for getting us to St. Martin, in time to see their fabulous fireworks display! We also appreciated the invitation to the helipad for the New Year’s Day sail-away from St. Martin. These were just a couple of the “little touches” that made the Holiday Cruise such a special experience.
Another big hit-- our fellow passengers, on this Holiday Cruise. Most people we encountered were incredibly well-dressed, polite, and in good spirits. Although there were many big family groups, and a large number of children onboard, it was not really a problem for us. We did witness a few episodes of hall-running, stairwell-sitting, and elevator button-pushing by unsupervised minors – but those appeared to be the exception, rather than the rule.
MISSES: Aside from the issues mentioned above, there were not many problems – but, one trend concerns me. In years past, the crew was quick to point out how important the Attention to Detail Cards and the Final Cruise Survey were to them. Now, you have to search for an ATD card, and the final survey is sent to you on-line after the cruise. We hardly even heard it mentioned by the staff, while we were onboard. I find it disingenuous for X to claim that they are doing this out of some environmental concern. If that is the case, why are our staterooms constantly bombarded with paper advertisements for things like the Art Auctions, the Spa, and the high-end shops?
More importantly, it seems that X has recently been so busy marketing to a younger, “hipper” demographic, that they have ceased to know (or care) what their loyal base of repeat customers really wants. I sincerely hope that the new head of the company (Ms. Lisa Lutoff-Perlo) will be willing and able to turn things around, in this area. For us, at least, higher prices and lower quality do not equal “modern luxury”. We currently have two more cruises booked on X, so we plan to wait and see what changes take place between now and then.
 
wwcruisers’s Full Rating Summary
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