Celebrity Eclipse Cruise Review by skelligman
- Sail Date: October 2017
- Destination: British Isles & Western Europe
- Cabin Type: Concierge Class
After a smooth vehicle drop off dockside with AB Parking we were checked in and on board with impressive speed, enjoying a lunch in the Moonlight Sonata restaurant. Luggage was also swiftly on board and we were able to access our Stateroom by 1400. We like the space, amenities and layout of Solstice Class cabins - we find there is plenty of drawer and hanging space with ample room for suitcases under the bed. The bathrooms are the best we have encountered with solid shower doors and decent toiletries. We were in a Concierge Class C2 Cabin 1075 on the forward hump of the ship, chosen for a bit of extra balcony space which we really enjoyed. The cabin was well located - we had a great view and were close to the forward lifts and stairs but things were very quiet. As part of our Concierge Class extras we were left a tray of tapas and snacks each afternoon but these were almost uniformly forgettable.
Our first two days were at sea which gave us plenty of time to get our bearings again, although little had changed in terms of layout and facilities. A couple of overall observations - the ship was generally extremely clean throughout with staff being visibly deployed keeping public areas including stairs and banisters spotless. And I can't think of any occasion where we were not greeted politely by any member of staff who we met in corridors or generally passing around the ship.
Our breakfast and lunch experiences in the OceanView restaurant were generally acceptable - there is always a good variety of food on offer. However the restaurant does get extremely busy at peak times and seating then becomes extremely hard to find. We also found that some hot food could become somewhat dry and overcooked - this was especially so with some carvery items - and many of the desserts looked fantastic but turned out to be more stylish than tasty.
We dined most evenings in the Moonlight Sonata restaurant - we opted for Select Dining as we wanted the freedom to choose our own timings, and generally went for an early sitting in order to be able to go straight to the first show in the theatre at 7pm (the 9pm repeat was generally busier). We were mainly served by waiter Owenn and assistant Hazel who were polite, attentive and informative. It seemed to us that the range and number of options had diminished since our last cruise and the food, whilst generally very well presented could be of varying quality and lacking in flavour. However we found fish and chicken dishes to be generally the pick of the bunch. We stuck with the Classic drinks package and found that this gave us a more than adequate selection of good wines.
We had also booked a three dinner package for the Speciality Restaurants and ate once in each. We found Murano to be by far the best of the three - lobster prepared beautifully at the table and a sensational Grand Marnier souffle stood out. We had fond memories of QSine from our previous cruise but this time it felt less quirky and a couple of the dishes were a little disappointing, although the service was outstanding. My ribeye steak in Tuscan Grille was also a let down - it had little texture as though it had been frozen for too long although the grilled branzino my wife had was very good indeed.
Our biggest disappointment on board was undoubtedly Cafe al Bacio where we had been used to spending a good deal of time. It is very evident that the space available is simply insufficient for the size of the ship and the number of passengers - much of the time it was impossible to get a seat and the lines for drinks to go could get lengthy. Most of the time the Sushi restaurant across from the Cafe was virtually empty - Celebrity this is not a good use of space! However the real issue for us was the variable quality of the coffee and the inability of the staff to remember what had been ordered. I had several cappuccinos which were effectively lattes which a little extra froth. I was served a latte when I had ordered a cappuccino, on several occasions given whole milk when I had asked for skimmed and once having asked for a caramel macchiato was served a caramel latte. When I pointed this out I was given the same drink with more milk added and some more caramel squirted on top. Table service was generally very slow - the staff were doing their best but at least one additional waiter was needed.
Overall the quality of the entertainment was pretty good. We are massive fans of the Corning Hot Glass show on deck 15 and attended every session to see what masterpieces Helen, Logan and Eli would come up with - we've been so inspired by the show that we even made the long journey to the Corning Museum of Glass in Upper New York State. We particularly enjoyed the session where the three glassblowers worked together on a piece,accompanied by musicians Gilly and The Girl. They were a great act and we loved their take on Southern Rock classics and the James Taylor tribute session when they joined up with solo guitarist Michael Redden.
Acts in the theatre were pretty good also. Our favourites were the Motown tribute act the Flyrights on the first evening, but the resident team of singers, dancers and acrobats were also very good with well staged productions which after a slightly bizarre Mozart inspired starter got better through the cruise. It was nice to catch up with comedian Steve Womack again and to hear that he has got some new jokes!
We generally book our own tours with local companies rather than using Celebrity excursions and we enjoyed some memorably days out as part of small groups in all the ports we visited. A memorable meal and tasting at a small winery in Tenerife and a superb lunch in Madeira were the highlights and we had some great local guides and excellent company with our fellow travellers. See port reviews below.
We chose an early disembarkation time and were off the ship, reunited with our luggage and back in the car within 15 minutes. Overall we enjoyed our cruise and had a relaxing time on what is a super ship, although things got a little choppy on the return crossing the Bay of Biscay. We felt that the trip represented good value for money and that we had chosen a good itinerary. However after three trips on Solstice class ships perhaps we need to try something different next time so we'll continue to use Cruise Critic to see what opinions there are of other cruise lines.
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews
Mountain of FireWe booked an independent trip to the TImanfaya National Park with Lanzarote Experience Tours. The itinerary was very similar to the excursion offered by Celebrity from the ship but there were only 16 of us compared with 50+ on the other coach, and we probably paid less too.View All 39 Mountain of Fire Reviews
We had to be off bright and early and our excellent guide Angela was waiting for us. We stopped before the entrance to the National Park for a camel ride - very touristy experience and just a 20 minute trot around the block but good fun and at €12 for two whose complaining. Then it was on to the remarkable volcanic landscape in the park itself - the visitor centre is a bit formulaic but what they show you really explains the terrain and demonstrates how much heat lies just below the ground. I've never seen anything like it. We then travelled down to the coast at El Golfo and its green lagoon and the cliffs at Los Hervideros. Finally we had a brief stop at the winery at La Geria to sample and purchase the local wine before returning to the ship in good time.
It would have been nice to have a bit more time with Angela as she was an excellent, engaging and insightful guide, but our time in port was limited. The tour was excellent value for money and we would definitely book another trip with Lanzarote Experience Tours should we return to the island
Island TourBooked independently of cruise line. Just the four of us on the tour with our guide Reuben who was waiting for us quayside. We had booked a tour of the north east of the island but Reuben suggested that we vary the route as there was quite a lot of low cloud initially which would have restricted our views. So we headed off south east and after a few picture stops reached Santa Cruz where we had a superb lunch at Taberno do Petisco recommended by Reuben. Really tasty king prawns with tomato and garlic followed by scabbard fish cooked simply with garlic and lemonView All 50 Island Tour Reviews
After lunch we continued round the coast stopping at Machico and up to the viewpoint at Pico do Facho, then on to Ponta de São Lorenço for some great views of the north coast and the rugged cliffs. By this time the sun was out so we wound our way across to the north of Funchal and up to Cabo Girao the second highest sea cliff in the world. After one more stop in Funchal we were back at the cruise ship in good time. The tour was excellent value and Reuben was a knowledgable and engaging guide. The company has many other itineraries and we would use them again if returning to Madeira
Canadas del TeideThere were just four of us on this minivan tour of the northeast coast and the Mount Teide National Park booked with Feel Tenerife. The early part comprised an interesting tour of the small, family owned Monje winery at which we enjoyed a superb and authentic three course meal, with samples of the wine to accompany it. We then drove on up to the Mount Teide Park where we spent most of the day enjoying the spectacular landscape and views.View All 25 Canadas del Teide Reviews
Our guide Jaime was a delight - knowledgeable, engaging and passionate about the island. He gave us a wealth of information and adapted the route to reflect our interests. Overall a great day out
Culinary TourWe didn't have much time in port so elected to stay in the City Centre rather than attempt a long journey. Our guide Sean and his wife met us of the ship - we had a small group of 8 - and we set off for a walking tour of the city including the local market and the central shopping earlier. We then had two stops for local food and wine - there would have been a third but the owners were having to deal with the consequences of a forest fire near their home. The food was excellent and really gave us a taste of the area, and the accompanying wine was well chosen and delicious.View All 1 Culinary Tour Reviews
We had a very relaxing time and Sean was a lively and interesting guide who had settled in the city some years back. There was a light drizzle much of the time but we spent much of the time indoors. Given the time we had and the amount of food provided we felt the tour represented great value for money