This was our first cruise and were celebrating a special birthday and wedding anniversary. We chose Celebrity on the strength of the solid reviews, so am aware of the importance of these where literally millions of pounds can be won or lost. Here's my account.
We travelled down the evening before the cruise and stayed in Winchester some eight miles away. This was due to the fear of us missing the ship due to any long hold ups on the motorways as there had been a spate of these in recent weeks.
On the day there was hardly any traffic in the docks area as the Eclipse was the only cruise ship to leave Southampton. We booked AB Parking and were directed easily to the parking area which was literally across the road from the ship.
We went into the terminal at the allocated time and joined the queue to start the embarkation process. This does take a bit of time, but is necessary capturing various important details at that time.
Onto the ship and straight to our rooms and they met our expectations. Then as our luggage would arrive sometime during the afternoon we went to the top deck and with our all inclusive passes had our first drinks as we gently slipped out of Southampton.
The first full day at sea and it wasn't good for a number of people. The Bay of Biscay swell was in full operation and me and my son suffered out of our party. Nothing the ship could do about this and just had to lie it out. The next day however the ocean was calmer as we headed to Lisbon, our first port of call. I'm not going to comment on Lisbon and other ports as feel my view on culture etc would be quite different to others (each to their own) and has no place in this part of the review reserved for the ship.
The ship met all our expectations, but the area I was pleasantly surprised was how we were treated by the crew. When we passed any room attendants in corridors, any of the toilet attendants, any of the waiters and in particular those who served us in Moonlight Sonata, they were so polite, friendly and put a smile on your face they seemed so happy. It was a big part of our holiday and one we will never forget and wonder if future cruises with anyone else will meet Celebrity standards. Certainly one we will be looking out for in reviews elsewhere before we choose our next cruise. Everywhere, we were made to feel welcome.
So many parts of the ship to comment on.
Food. Moonlight Sonata was great for dining and looked forward to our visits there. The food was very good and made special by attentive service from our waiters and sommelier. The Oceanview cafe was perhaps visited by most people serving breakfast, lunch, afternoon teas, dinner, midnight pizza. No complaints with the choices here. It got very busy at breakfast time but when you are sharing with just shy of 3,000 people you have to make allowances. On our anniversary we booked Qsine. I would say think about this one if you just want to be waited on. The modern idea of ordering on an ipad sounds different, but was too much for us. Food came up in sessions, with small but plenty of different portions, but we needed help to see us through the experience. We did leave feeling full however and pleased we had tried something different on our special day and won't forget it.
Theatre - very good layout comprising of two deck levels with various acts who were West End class.
Pools and loungers - The outdoor pool was small but assume is usual size for ships. I did not go into. The loungers were comfortable, but there were the few who created a bit of an atmosphere reserving beds and not using these until hours later. Still, expect this goes on everywhere unless there are strict controls by pool attendants. Me and my wife mainly used the indoor solarium pool which received some sunlight and was a better, quieter more calming atmosphere. There were few kids on the ship but this adult only area did make this a peaceful haven and the pool never got crowded. Away from the pools, there were many other loungers on other decks. Being a Canaries cruise, these were fully utilised but accommodated most.
The layout of the ship was well thought out. Our rooms were sunset veranda's and at the back of the ship. A straight corridor (must say the walk along this seemed short) led you to midship where 8 lifts were available to take you to all allowed decks. At the rear of the ship were more lifts of the same.
We were able to watch a few live football matches from the casino bar which went down well.
The gym was good. The cleanliness of the ship was exceptional.
We were a bit disappointed with the much rated Sky lounge where seats around the outside were lower than the middle area and you could not see what was going on in the central area.
On the emotional side, I was not happy on a couple of occasions by the cruise director. He usually came on at the end of a theatre performance and rightly praised the acts which was good. On one occasion however he informed that everyone's sea pass card (which acts as everything) had been credited with $5 to use in the Casino.
I found this to be very bad taste and attempt to part money from innocent people who may get caught up in the moment and gambling away much more than they should. Gambling can be an addiction and causes many many problems, breaks marriages etc. To invite people who would never normally go into this kind of arena with a small $5 carrot to dangle was ill thought out. I just hope people were not left with an unhappy experience.
The Cruise director also made me feel uncomfortable in the Mr & Mrs show in Central. Yes those participating did so of their own free will, but the manner they were exploited and used in the show was degrading and embarrassing, a bit over the top for me. The cruise director had the gift of the gab, but I actually felt for those people out there in a position they were totally unfamiliar with. The cd made me feel uncomfortable, a quick witted guy, but one you could never trust as far as I was concerned.
Enough about one guy. I can appreciate Celebrity is a business out to make money and while we were on the ship there were many occasions where they could display their wares and offers. You could take them or leave them and at least the choice was there.
My last negative (and sorry there are any after such a magnificent time on the whole) was around the pricing of photographs. We were snapped on many occasions from as soon as we boarded to soon before we departed finally. There was an area to view the photographs and there were a number we liked. When asked how much these were we were quoted prices between $15 and $25. If we chose 8 we could have these for $125. A two hour CD was available showing various moments around the ship and the ports of call for $34.99.
Even with all inclusive deals my sea pass tab had racked up to nearly a thousand pounds to pay off with my credit card. When faced with the high cost of photographs, I only bought 3 of these.
What an opportunity missed by Celebrity to price something much more reasonable and to leave a better taste in their clients mouths. $10 to $15 would have sold most of the pictures (what good are they to Celebrity), and the CD should have cost $10. Surely with many more pictures purchased by clients for them to show friends may attract further business for Celebrity later on.
Disembarkation was orderly, well managed and smooth.
Sorry about the negatives, it was mainly one individual and a pricing structure, but on the whole everything was great.
Cruising. Yes, it will be for us again and will definitely travel with Celebrity again.
Clean, looked like new still and just about big enough for 3 adults though some patience may be required as there is some adapting to do. My son brought along a hanger which opened into 6 compartments below and we stored more clothes in here. Very useful and a bit of a saviour.
Loved the shower with sliding doors. The balcony was a good size and ordered room service breakfast on two mornings, which was okay.
Room was made up twice a day and enjoyed reading the itinerary left on the bed for each following day.
We would book this type of room again, probably not. The view I will remember will be the propeller trail we left behind, not of much scenery. We had some late afternoons however where it was the best place on the ship for sun and no wind.
Hired a tuk tuk which cost 50 euros for five of us. Bit unfair for our comment as we are not culture people but was disappointed with what we saw. The driver took us through the city doing the tourist trail past churches which he offered to stop at for us. In all it looked quite dirty, beggars about, iffy markets. The view from the highest point wasn't that great. I certainly would not like to be out on any street we visited when it was dark.
Caught the shuttle outside $8 and then a city tour bus €14 which lasted 1.5 hours.
Of what we saw, Madeira is a very pretty place and would like to go back again for maybe a short break to 1 week.View All 28 City Tour Reviews