Our previous cruise experience is with Princess (Sapphire P and Island P) and Costa (C Concordia and C Luminosa). The last Princess cruise, passing the Panama Canal, was less than a year ago and it´s tempting to compare our impressions of Celebrity and Princess. (Costa is a bit different – not bad, especially if you like Italian food, but different.)
It´s obvious that Celebrity and Princess are playing in the same league of price and quality. In fact, we think that the choice between the two can be based on itinerary: Both are generally good enough. A short comparison, though:
A bit better on Princess: Food and service in main dining room. Professional attention to my need of gluten free food with offers of specially prepared pasta etc. Several GF choices in buffet and the International Café. Variety and quality in entertainment and enrichment programs. Generally more roomy public spaces. A useable Promenade Deck (full walk-around on Sapphire P; reduced on Island P, hidden behind lifeboats on C Eclipse).
A bit better on Celebrity: Service and friendly atmosphere. Cleanliness and disease protection. Shover and amenities in stateroom. Buffet (Oceanview) better organized and mostly less crowded. Free room service which can deliver a full breakfast with egg and bacon. Fast debarkation process and luggage handling.
Equal on both or very close: Smooth and fast embarkation. Comfortable stateroom and beds. Security and passenger information systems. Constant overselling of drink packages and special dining. Good but expensive shore excursions.
All things considered we had a very nice cruise on the Eclipse with excellent weather conditions and seven interesting islands to see in two weeks. Our lasting impression is the hard working and ever friendly crew, with our stateroom attendant Irwan beeing outstanding. We were also impressed by the hygiene standard: Employees were actively serving hand sanitizers everytime we entered dining room or buffet. The public restrooms on the ship were constantly manned and cleaned which made them a realistic choice. Cloths towels in all public washrooms.
The high service level might have been inspired by the Captain´s (Leo) good example: He was more present all over the ship than any skipper we have seen so far, he even said goodbye personally at the gangway when we ended our cruise. Furthermore he showed good wit and entertaining talents, both in his daily announcements and on stage in ”The Liar´s Club”. Energetic and humorous Cruise Director Eddy was also frequently seen and heard on the ship.
Otherwise we found the entertainment and the enrichment lectures being so and so. A few shows – including the final ”Euphoria” – were great with very skilled dancers and acrobats. The music was generally very loud and singers a bit less attractive with high pitch and high volume. We could recognize very few of the songs performed, maybe due to a tight royalty budget.
We were however a bit surprised that the music on board, both on the stage and in the lounges, almost never had any connection with the itinerary. No calypso and no West Indies tunes, not even at the sailaway. The same observation goes for the food: Local specialities were rarely offered.
The main dining room generally offered good food and service. We encountered however a few misses: A French onion soup with hardly any traces of onion, some undercooked fish and a totally failed panacotta (also in the buffet). The noise level in this big MDR with two floors and hundreds of eating and chatting people was a bit disturbing. Furthermore the reclained chairs there were almost unusable for anyone with back problems, so we had about half of our dinners in the buffet.
Speaking of furniture, we noticed a prefence for huge armchairs and sofas in the lounges. Most of them were frankly to big to sit comfortably in for average sized people. These unnecessarily bulky pieces took a lot of space in popular areas, e.g. by the dance floor in the atrium outside the MDR, and made it almost impossible to find empty seating other than in the more obscure corners.
Without asking for or actually needing it, we were assigned an ”accessible” Veranda stateroom (#6135) with extra floor space for wheelchairs, automatic door etc. It was clean, fresh and had a excellent balcony with a large table. Maybe because of the accessability, however, we experienced a general lack of storage space. Not very much to put our things in, to be honest. The storage bins in the frame over the bed, often mentioned in the forums, probably weren´t there; at least we could not open them. The bathroom on the other hand was good and had adequate storage.
St. Maarten Island Tour (Celebrity). An OK all round tour covering both the Dutch and the French side of the island. The remaining damage from hurricane Irma in September was evident. Visit at the outdoor market i Marigot. A more peculiar stop was an old-fashioned carousel; they had however good restrooms and a small café.View All 437 Island Tour Reviews
Did an OK disembarkation tour with drop off at the airport. Short photo stop on Ocean Drive on Miami Beach and another stop in an interesting graffiti outdoor museum, Wynwood Walls. Finally a lunch at a cuban restaurant. However, we didn´t find the food – essentially a hot sandwich with chees and ham – very cuban with exception for a very small plastic cup of sugarfilled coffee.View All 169 City Tour Reviews
nteresting tour to Nelson´s Dockyards and Shirley Heights lookout. Ended with 90 minutes on a decent beach with lounges and a drink. (Umbrellas were extra.)View All undefined undefined Reviews
Bumpy ride in a small bus, mainly on the north part of the island. Beautiful view of the harbour and the ship from a colonial house.View All undefined undefined Reviews
Coach ride to a pleasant beach with bar and rental sun chairs under an umbrella for 3 hours. Close to the harbour. You could see the ship.View All 167 Beach Reviews
Interesting coach tour passing the 1 000 steps stair used by divers, a salt water lake with lots of flamingos, the old village Rincon and a lookout.View All 107 Island Tour Reviews
Only overnight stop on this cruise. In the evening we took a taxi to Willemstad center and had a nice dinner in sidewalk café at the harbour canal, enjoying a blue curacao at the right place and the interesting open and shut procedure of the Queen Emma Floating bridge just in the center of this beautiful town.
First day we took the tour Fascinating Curacao (Celebrity) with a coach tour over the high bridge with good views of the town and the harbour. First stop in the Dinah Veeris Herbal Garden where a knowledgable guide told us a lot about herbs and other plants. Second stop was in a liquor factory with a exhibition about how the Curacao is made and small testing of the product in three colours. On the second day a short walk to town center and back. Nice track and beautiful sights.View All undefined undefined Reviews