July 2015 - 14 Night Scandinavia & Russia (Southampton Roundtrip) Cruise on Celebrity Eclipse
We have recently returned from 2 weeks cruising the Baltic Sea on Celebrity Eclipse (departed Southampton 25.07.2015). Ports of call: Zebrugge, Warnemunde, Tallinn, St Petersburg, Helsinki, Stockholm, Copenhagen.
This was a wonderful cruise - the ship was recently out of dry dock for a refurbishment, and we noted some marked improvements compared to last year (when we cruised the Western Med on this ship).
Celebrity certainly seem to have been listening to their customers - so those little things that had disappeared last year, but which make a difference to that sense of modern luxury were back. Things like chocs on pillows, towel animals etc. We think this might be because the new CEO has taken action (having spoken to the cruise director on board).
For the first time we went Concierge Class (instead of balcony stateroom). We were up in Cabin 2142 at the back of deck 12. Our stateroom attendant was great. But in our opinion, Concierge class isnt worth it. The canapes each day were nothing special and we stopped them. Yes, you get a bottle of fizzy wine in your stateroom on embarkation, but we had a drinks package and so really didnt need this. Cabin 2142 is under the Oceanview Cafe, and at times the cabin was noisy.
We noted that this year the food was consistently very good in all restaurants. We did have a ropey meal in QSine on the first night, but this was resolved to our satisfaction (we were allowed to change our second QSine night on our 5-night specialty dining package to Murano - very happy with that!!). The food in Murano and Tuscan Grill is superb. Recommend the Chateaubriand and Sole Veronique in Murano and the Steak Tartare, Tuscan Onion Soup and Fillet mignon in Tuscan. Avoid the scallop en croute in Murano (you either get a perfect scallop in soggy pastry or a hockey puck in perfect pastry). Our only (minor) criticism of these restaurants now would be that the menus havent changed in 3 years. Come on - give us something new to try!
We had a free classic drinks package, and upgraded that to the premium package for $11.80/day each. Very happy with that - we like the martini bar.
We were pleased to see a change in the way the drinks package works. In previous years if you wanted a drink that cost more than the limit on your drinks package you had to pay the full price. This has now changed to you only pay the difference. So two of the specialty martinis ($16.50 ea) only cost us $3. (And they are lovely)
The changes to the casino are also great - now there are european as well as US roulette tables. I won!
As ever, we met some fantastic people.
Cellarmasters has changed, with the removal of the enomatic machines. It has now become a social hub and was in regular use (it was generally empty last year). We liked that there was cheese available as well to go with the wines.
This was a cruise where, perhaps unusually, we had no particular desire to see any of the places we stopped at. And yet it was superb. We did the Bruges on your own tour and that was great - Bruges is lovely. We wandered around Warnemunde and Tallinn on our own - both are an easy short walk from the ship. We did two half-day tours in St Petersburg (a walking tour and a riverboat tour) and both were good. We used the hop-on hop-off buses in Helsinki and Copenhagen. We did a tour in Stockholm that took in the Vasa museum, which was excellent.
We were extremely impressed by the level of service, which was without fail superb, friendly and prompt.
Embarkation took 10 minutes from walking into the terminal in Southampton. Disembarkation similarly very easy (we didnt bother going to our special disembarkation lounge).
This was our third cruise and our third with Celebrity. We recommend. We will be cruising with them again next year to see the Norwegian Fjords - but back to Balcony stateroom on Deck 9.