January 2014 - Celebrity Eclipse to Caribbean - Southern
We had sailed on mostly higher end lines the past few years (Oceania and Silversea), but took a Celebrity Cruise because people recommended it. We were amazed at how good it was. We don't know if we just got lucky on the Eclipse or if all of the Soltice class ships are this good. Not surprisingly, overall the food could not compare with Oceania or Silversea, but we had what I considered to be the best meal we have ever had at sea in the Murano restaurant. Once again, I don't know if we just got lucky. We had the lobster and the Mediterranean bass and my wife said that the chocolate dessert she had (I don't know the name) was the best dessert that she had ever had at sea.
For the most part, the invited acts were similar in quality to what we see on other lines. Much better than average was Doug Cameron (extraordary violionist). However, the production shows were superior to every other line, with the exception of what we saw on the Allure of the Seas, where millions have been spent developing the shows. We have not been on Disney for awhile, so can't really compare those shows.
What blew us away was the quality of the musicians, instrumental and vocal, who played in the various locales around the ship and the intelligent design of spaces where they performed. For the most part, these musicians could be seen, heard, and appreciated. We were amazed at the acoustics that the ship designers had managed to tweak out of the third floor atrium so that the music could be heard a dozen floors higher. (I assume that there were well placed speakers.) Unlike many ships where the musicians are put in the equivalent of hallways, there were dedicated rooms and alcoves on the Eclipse.
It is likely that we will be returning to a Soltice class ship. They might have gotten us to sign up while we were on board, but the deals were not quite as good as what we expect from the lines we usally travel on for on board sign ups, so we didn't feel sufficiently motivated. We will do more research first in order to find out if we were just lucky with regard to the live music on the Eclipse or if we can expect it on the sister ships as well.
Note: Esprit de corps of the ship's crew and staff was strong. We had noticed on our most recent trips on Holland America (now more than four years ago) that it was flagging. This influenced us to try Celebrity rather than book another Holland America cruise, although we do like Holland America.