To Russia with Love: Celebrity Eclipse Cruise Review by Mark Waters

Celebrity Eclipse 5
Mark Waters

Overall Member Rating

To Russia with Love

Sail Date: August 2011
Destination: Baltic Sea
Embarkation: Southampton
Check in at Southampton

Parking was included and the whole process of parking up, luggage drop off and getting aboard was stress free and quick.

The Eclipse - first impressions

The ship was simply superb - the modern design was slick and fresh and we really appreciated the modern art aboard. The ship never seemed crowded and whenever you wanted access to all the bars and restaurants was easy.

We were in an Aqua class cabin and the shower and other little touches were well worth the extra. A special mention for the Blu restaurant which Aqua class has access to, the whole serving team were brilliant and the food was excellent both in terms of presentation and taste. Although the menu was limited anything off menu seemed to be no problem for this efficient and friendly team.

I had the full drinks package and more than had my money's worth with the frozen topped Martini Bar being my favourite watering hole The entertainment was first class More especially the hypnotist, the Musicals show, Sam Kane and the Circ du Soleil style show Equinox.

We tried the speciality restaurant Qsine and enjoyed it so much we went back for our last night. One piece of advice - don't over order with the I-pads as the portions are huge. The inventiveness and theatricality of the food experience here was unique. Again the service from the team was friendly and faultless.

The Ocean Grill Buffet was very good and less cramped than the ship last year with international food stations giving great variety and freshly cooked options.

One thing that was missing was the relentless selling pressure that we'd experienced on Princess last year. One thing I wish was missing was the relentless Musak all over the ship. Even the Spa suffered from Enya style wailing.

This is a very minor gripe on what was a thoroughly enjoyable and fun 2 week cruise Less

Published 09/09/11

Cabin review: A11599 AquaClass

The Aqua Class cabin was compact but was able to swallow all our luggage with space under the beds for the bags. Noise reduction was excellent and the cabin was peaceful. The balcony was under the overhang from deck 12 but this was not a problem for us as non-sun-worshippers.

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Port and Shore Excursions

Took a Celebrity excursion into Brugge with plenty of time on our own once the guide got us to the centre. Charming medieval town with all the Belgian cliche's readily available, Mussels and Fries, Chocolate and Beer. Do take a boat around the canals - only 5 euro and our guide was a scream - look out for the sleepy Labrador snoozing on one of the canal facing window sills. Watch the cost of snacks and drinks - 35 euro for a beer, coke and two cream cheese on toast. Half Moon brewery well worth a visit

Big city with a big city feel, the Stroget is the best walk to give an impression of the city as you walk from the posh end with its Louis Vuitton and Chanel boutiques through to the Macdonalds and Souvenir shops at the City hall end. Tivoli is good fun, a small city centre theme park with thrill rides but has managed to retain it's historical charm with Indian and Chinese Pavillions. I thought when in Denmark that I should try the herring. Mistake, they make their presence felt for many hours afterwards!!

We went independent in Helsinki and it it is an enjoyable destination. After spending a few hours wandering around the sea fortress of Suomolina - easy to get to by public ferry every 15 minutes from the main harbour next to Market Square, we mooched around the market - ate reindeer meatballs and salmon at one of the stalls and picked up a lovely original painting from a local artist.

The Russian orthodox cathedral is well worth a climb up to it's dazzling interior. The main shopping street has some great glass shops and if you're into Moomins this is your town.

Good shuttle service back to the ship

Read 611 Helsinki Reviews

Best surprise of all the stops - Warnemunde was lovely with sand dunes, white sand and cute little houses. The bars were reasonable and welcoming and the town was very relaxed in the Baltic sunshine. Rostock was a good example of what happens after severe bombing followed by Stalinist rule - not the prettiest of German cities. We saw the town as part of a trip to Karl's Strawberry farm the kitchest destination in all of Mecklinburg. Everything that can be made from Strawberries and quite a few things that shouldn't can be purchased here. You can also milk a plastic cow, take a ride on a tractor and get lost in the maize Maze. Good for kids but after the Strawberry cake and coffee it's charms began to flag. One thing - if coffee pots float your boat then do go there - they have the largest collection in the world nestled amongst the plastic sharks in the eaves of the huge wooden barns that make up the complex.

The 5+ is for the stunning city - I'd rate the service and attitude of it's inhabitants at 2 at best. Be prepared for a very frustrating session with the passport control, impressive modern terminal staffed by a stroppy unpleasant team that opened and closed channels when they chose and delayed disembarkation by as much as they could.

Once on your tour (the only way to go without a visa) the guides appeared to be keener to get you to the souvenir emporium of their choice than showing you the truly breathtaking city.

Highlights, The Church of the Spilled Blood, the interior of St Isaac's Cathedral, the view across the Neva River to the golden spire of St Peter and Paul and of course the Hermitage and the Winter Palace.

Lowlights - Street vendors - very pushy, don't try going off on your own in the Hermitage even if the guide says that's fine, a rather vicious babushka will have very different ideas. Also don't try asking for a second bottle of water with your lunch, you may well offer to pay but it is not authorised under any circumstances!!

Do visit the fantastic Singer Sewing machine building (now a bookshop) on the Nevsky Prospekt near the Church of the Spilled Blood. A Beautiful Art Nouveau building. Do go to a Folklaw evening - the costumes, singing and dancing is superb.

If we went again we'd do an independent tour out to Catherine's palace and Peterhof as the reports from fellow cruisers said this was great.

Gamla Stan - the old town was fascinating with little lanes and specialist shops. Very good for Art Glass and Antiques. It is possible to eat reasonably, open sandwiches and a drink at one of the small cafe's were good value

The Vasa museum despite it's daunting queue is well worth it. The place is large enough not to feel crowded and the ship that sank in 1628 is in superb condition,with more than enough to occupy you for several hours.

The hop on hop off boat around the harbour allows you to see all the main sights and stop where-ever you like - good value.

As I was with an ABBA freak a visit to a Stockholm record shop produced 4 previously unknown CDs.

Tallinn was gorgeous - lovely town and friendly proud people. The Song ground where independence moves first started was quite moving as was the forest burial grounds that the Estonians prefer, paganism still being a strong steak in the Estonian make up.

Great souvenir shopping and Photo opportunities at every turn.

Excellent tour here and the guide was great

Do have a drink at Old Hansa just off the Market Square - if you like garlic there's a restaurant where even the ice cream contains the vampire repelling bulb.

Locally produced linen is good value and the market at the dock is well worth a visit.

Top of my list of place to go back to.

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Mark Waters
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