This was my 9th ever cruise, my first on Celebrity. I had previously cruised Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Princess, and Holland America. I was searching for a cruise line to stay loyal to, and I believe I found the winner.
I booked this cruise only about two months ahead of embarkation day, without doing any research on the Eclipse. The reason I selected this cruise was because of the itinerary. I wanted a longer cruise, and I wanted to visit some ports that I'd never been to before. Because of the longer itinerary, we were able to visit some of the southern-most islands in the Caribbean. And in my mind, the best way to start a cruise is with a sea day (or two), and the best way to end a cruise is with a sea day (or two). This itinerary starts with two sea days, then four port days, then a well-deserved sea day to recover, then four more port days, then it ends with two glorious sea days to wind down. It was one of the most perfect itineraries I've experienced.
Having not researched the Eclipse ahead of cruising, I was pleasantly surprised to find an elegantly decorated, clean, and well kept vessel. I really liked the non-smoking casino. What a breath of fresh air - literally! - to not have to smell the smoke when above, below, or next to the casino. At one point I had to walk right next to the casino and I held my breath for a while. When I had to breathe, I couldn't believe it - NO SMOKE! It was the first non-smoking casino I had ever seen. Nicely done, Celebrity. The smokers had to smoke somewhere, and I did encounter them when walking on the track daily, and on the pool deck area. I was disappointed that one of the smoking areas was right next to the walking track. I thought that was not well thought-out.
My cabin was 1208 in the rear of the ship, Deck 10. It was the first time I had a room overlooking the ship's wake. I really enjoyed it. The only downfall of a room at the back is the occasional soot from the smoke-stack that falls on your balcony. Well, maybe another downfall is the LOOOONG walk from the elevators/stairwell to the room, but that didn't bother me too much. Otherwise, loved the view, loved the room. My room steward was fantastic, always had what I needed. I was in Concierge class, so I enjoyed the little extras, like a pillow menu, afternoon snack, and a special embarkation lunch in the main dining room.
The number one thing that makes a good cruise for me is the food. And this cruise did not disappoint. The food in the main dining room was spectacular. Everything I ate was delicious and gourmet. The portions were perfect. Some would say maybe a little small, but I can eat A LOT and I was more than full after every meal. The amazing thing was, this is the first ever cruise that I don't go to bed with an over-full stomach and heartburn. By the time bed-time rolled around each night, I felt well-digested. Not hungry, but not full. I hate going to bed full and uncomfortable, and it never happened on this cruise.
I ate in the Main Dining Room almost every night. I only ate at the buffet a few times for lunch and breakfast. I am not a fan of the buffets, typically, but the food here was good and the selection was varied. Loved the ice cream - real scoops as well as soft serve, on cones or in cups, with a selection of toppings! From the best of my memory this was available every day. The flavors rotated and there was great variety. The pizza was not impressive. The burgers at the grill were delicious. I did eat at the three main specialty restaurants: Qsine, Murano, and Tuscano (I think those are the names). Qsine was a fun dinner, but I think this would be best experienced with a group of 4 or more. The food was delicious and the presentations were fun and creative. There was just way too much food for two people to appreciate it all. Tuscano was just so-so, in my opinion. I did not eat pasta there, so I can't comment on that. I ordered a steak and was disappointed. The breads and salads were delicious, however. And Murano was amazing. Loved my experience here and the filet mignon was DIVINE.
I did not attend any of the theater shows so I cannot comment. That's just not my thing. I didn't see a comedian or a magic show or anything like that. But I did experience the bands and small musical groups that would perform in the common areas throughout the ship and I was super-impressed. Very talented musicians and tasteful music.
I spent quite a bit of time in the spa, mostly because after my first massage with Karen from Zimbabwe, I couldn't stop coming back for more. She was amazing. I received three hot-stone massages from Karen on this cruise and can't recommend her enough. I can't comment on anyone else's experience, but Karen never once tried to upsell me on anything or tried to sell me a product. Just gave me the world's best hot-stone massage and only talked when I engaged her in conversation. But I enjoyed her so much that we visited quite a bit. But when I went quite, she did, too. It was perfect.
The service by all staff members was exceptional. Didn't have a bad customer-service experience at all. Room stewards I passed in the hall would always greet me with a smile and some nice words.
I booked shore excursions through Celebrity at almost every stop. I felt the price for these excursions, in most cases, was fair and not too far off of what you would pay if booking independently. In St. Maarten I took an excursion to St. Barts. The ferry ride was VERY bumpy and not for people who experience motion-sickness. If that's you, take Dramamine ahead of time and follow the instructions of the crew members to help avoid getting sick. St. Barts was a lovely island. Warning, beaches are topless (optional), and some even fully nude-optional.
I booked a driving island tour in Antigua. Enjoyed it, but can't think of anything exceptional about it.
I went to a "Beach Club" beach day at Carlisle Bay. Received a mediocre lunch, a free drink, and a beach chair with an umbrella. Lots of vendors walking by trying to get you to buy jet-ski time and dresses, etc. But I just loved hanging out in the water here. NOT a snorkeling spot.
Booked a driving tour in St. Lucia. LOVED the island of St. Lucia. Lush and gorgeous. But the drive to the Pitons was kind of long and on very winding roads. I think next time I would choose to visit the Pitons via a catamaran excursion. But I can't really complain about my tour. I enjoyed it. It was sad for me to see many stray dogs on St. Lucia. I'm such a dog-lover, it pains me to see sad, hungry, mangey, limping dogs.
Booked a land and sea excursion in Bonaire. Driving part was interesting, but loved the time on the sailboat. We put of the sails and turned of the motor and did some true sailing. The snorkeling in Bonaire was fantastic.
In Curacao I booked excursions independent of the cruise line because what I wanted to do was either not available or sold out. The first things we did was an ATV tour. It was a long, dusty, dirty day, but it was memorable and a ton of fun. The second day I chose a shorter tour: Jet-skiing and snorkeling. The snorkeling on this tour was fantastic. They took us to a shipwreck and there were tons of fish. Lots of fun. Jet-skiing on the ocean was bumpy and rough, but FUN.
And finally, in Aruba, I booked a helmet dive thing on a private resort/waterpark island. Had a great time.
So if you made it this far, I hope I have been able to adequately describe my cruise experience. I loved almost everything about it. Celebrity felt like a higher class of cruising and I enjoyed it so much. I even booked my next cruise while on board - a first for me! This cruise is highly recommended. Do it!!
My cabin was 1208 in the rear of the ship, Deck 10. It was the first time I had a room overlooking the ship's wake. I really enjoyed it. The only downfall of a room at the back is the occasional soot from the smoke-stack that falls on your balcony. Well, maybe another downfall is the LOOOONG walk from the elevators/stairwell to the room, but that didn't bother me too much. Otherwise, loved the view, loved the room. My room steward was fantastic, always had what I needed. I was in Concierge class, so I enjoyed the little extras, like a pillow menu, afternoon snack, and a special embarkation lunch in the main dining room. The bathroom was nice, plenty of room in the shower. And the cruise line provided shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and bar soaps.