Very Nice 14-Night Cruise
Celebrity Eclipse Cruise Review to Caribbean - Southern
We’re a couple in our mid-sixties and this was our 36th cruise and our 12th on Celebrity. The past two winters, we were on the “Equinox” in the Caribbean and enjoyed both cruises. We decided to do it again this March and selected this cruise as it was fourteen days with interesting ports. Also, we hoped that length would limit the number of “Spring Breakers” onboard. Since there were only a few children and college-age passengers, our plan worked well.
Overall, we found the “Eclipse” to be in very good shape. There were only a few places that we noticed even the normal “wear and tear” of a ship that’s six years old. The hard-working crew is very visible as they keep the public areas clean and neat. They even opened bathroom doors to limit what the guests would touch. The staff in the Oceanview buffet were much quicker in clearing tables and wiping them down than we’ve seen on other ships.
We didn’t do the casino, spa or the gym. We did the hot tub and the inside pool a few times, but didn’t use the outside pool at all. It was very crowded with sunbathers and noisy so it wasn’t very inviting for us. We’ve got light skin that easily burns so we deliberately avoid the sun so it’s not a problem for us. We did notice that more options for sun and shade were available on the forward upper decks away from the pool.
We had a 2D obstructed view balcony (Cabin #6204) mid-ship on the starboard side near the atrium elevators. In that category, the larger lifeboats block the view directly down to the water, but you can see the ocean and shore beyond them. At that location, we didn’t smell any smoke as that area was on Deck 5 on the port side.
The cabin was comfortable and well designed. There aren’t many drawers, but there’s enough storage in the closet and in the hinged bins above the bed. There were lots of channels on the flat-screen TV including MSNBC, CNBC, TBS, TNT, BBC, Skynews, etc.
Our cabin was extremely quiet. We hardly ever heard our neighbors unless they were talking on their adjacent balcony. We were in the cabin many times when we left a port or arrived in the next one and we never knew the ship was moving or stopped. On the final morning, I woke up at about 6:00 am to see an orange glow so I got my camera to take a picture of the sunrise. When I opened the curtain, it was coming from a halogen light stand where we were docked at the Port of Miami!
Our cabin attendant, Blasido, did an excellent job figuring out when he could refresh our cabin since our hours varied over the course of the cruise. He was available when needed, but also almost invisible which is what we like. Our cabin was always perfectly clean and made up without us having to request that anything be done.
We opted for "Select Dining" on Deck 5 in the Moonlight Sonata dining room and were seated the first couple of nights at Table 553 overlooking the lower level. Jesus, Benito and Yezani were our servers and they turned out to be the best trio of all of our cruises. As we couldn't make our normal 5:45 dinner time on two of the evenings, we were seated in different sections and were very disappointed with the service there. So, we made reservations for the rest of the cruise at Table 553 and had our great servers for 12 of the 14 nights. Jesus and Benito were always professional and attentive without being intrusive and made our dining experience a pleasure each night. Yezani was especially helpful in selecting the wines to go with the various courses. He's a very personable sommelier with his solid expertise and friendly approach.
We’d read other reviews which said that the food quality had gone down in the MDR. We found it to still be very good with many tasty options. The appetizers were especially interesting so sometimes, we’d order four of them and skip the entrée. We particularly like the Ahi Tuna app and several mains like the Chicken Chiquita and Beef Wellington. Granted, the steaks on that menu are not the same thick cuts that you’d get in the Murano alternative restaurant, but they were OK. We also enjoyed the sushi, pizza and Indian food at the Ocean View buffet and the cheeseburgers at the Mast Grille.
Among the entertainers, pianist Jordan Peterson was outstanding. He's extremely talented, but he is really down to earth and easy to talk to. Jordan genuinely seems to love what he does as he encourages the guests to request songs they'd like to hear (and then can do almost all of them). Since many people saw him in the lounges, his “Elton John” matinee show with the orchestra at the end of the cruise was well attended and he got a well-deserved standing ovation. We loved Elliot Finkel when we saw him on the Equinox, but Jordan is our new favorite pianist so we hope to see him again on one of our future Celebrity cruises. He’s very different from Perry Grant when he was with Celebrity, but we think that Jordan will develop the same sort of loyal fans following him to the various venues.
We enjoyed the cast of productions shows (especially Nicola Ward who did her own solo performance). There’s a new set of three shows: “Rock City”, “Chandelier” and “Topper”. They have a mix of songs that you’d know plus original scores. These shows are high energy and loud which was fine for us, but they might be little much for others. I did the Backstage Tour which I do on most cruises. Since most of the singers are from the UK, it's amazing to hear their accents when they speak which are entirely unnoticeable when they are singing. I'm always astonished at how young the singers and dancers are as they are in their early twenties. They are so poised and professional at such an early.
Ryan Joyce is a terrific illusionist (even though we've figured out most of his tricks after seeing him before). When he does his hypnotism show, he does a great job picking out the most suggestible people and then makes them do some hilarious things. Why someone would get on stage knowing what's likely to happen is beyond me, but I'm glad that there's no shortage of volunteers! Also, we’re pleased to report that there is still a live orchestra as it really makes all of the shows more professional and sophisticated. Most of the other performers were very good although a few that weren’t our style.
As usual, we had a beverage package which really makes our cruises more inclusive. It's great to have a drink before dinner, wine with the meal and afterwards at the show without thinking about the cost or signing a tab. We also took advantage of the specialty coffees and teas at Al Bacio as well as the bottled waters, cans of soda and fresh squeezed orange juice.
For the last four nights of the cruise, we upgraded to the Premium Beverage Package for $10 per day plus the 18% gratuity. We were then able to get beers, wine and liquors up to $13 which allowed us to get Guinness, Boddington and Sam Adams as well as many more wines, top-shelf liquors and full-size martinis at the Martini Bar.
Since we had it, we only went to the daily Captain's Club gathering twice, but we hope that Celebrity continues to host them in a specific venue so that the guests would have an opportunity to meet and get to know each other. It's disappointing that Michael's Club is still exclusively reserved for passengers in suites, but we know that it's a lost cause to hope Celebrity changes this.
One thing that was unusual was the public appearances (or lack thereof) of our Cruise Director Damian and Activities Manager Jane. Damian introduced the performers and did his other duties, but he wasn't particularly friendly. When we boarded the first day, we noticed a man standing to our right sort of staring into space. He didn't say anything to us or any of the other cruisers who were boarding so we were very surprised to find out later that he was the Cruise Director! At the end of the cruise, I was alone taking pictures of the cast singers/dancers on the TV near the theater and he walked right by me without saying hello. The only times I saw Jane were on the daily updates on the cabin TV. On other Celebrity cruises, the CD and AM were much more visible and personable as they interacted more with the guests. Maybe they were getting some "down time" or in some other venue that we missed. Anyway, not a big deal, but a little odd for Celebrity.
The seven ports of Aruba, Curacao, Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua, St. Kitts and St. Maarten were just fine with a good mix of five days at sea. The stop in Curacao included an overnight there rather than a visit to Bonaire which we would have preferred, but maybe it worked for others. We did six Celebrity excursions and five included snorkeling which unfortunately isn't as good as it used to be. The ones in Curacao and St. Kitts/Nevis were the best but on other islands, we were taken to different locations from what was listed, ostensibly due to rough seas. More often than not, there were only a few fish to be seen in murky waters with sand covering some of the reefs. We know that this is due to hurricanes, global warming and pollution, but it's still disappointing. The non-snorkeling excursion to Harrison Caves in Barbados was very interesting and was easy for all guests as it used a tram. The commentary on the bus when we were traveling to and from the caves was very informative (including hearing about Tiger Woods' wedding there). We’d been to St. Maarten before so we took a day off and stayed on the ship.
Overall, we had a great cruise and have booked 8 more with Celebrity in the next 12 months. We're looking forward to seeing the Mediterranean and Adriatic on the "Constellation", Asia on the "Millennium" and Australia, New Zealand and the South Seas on the "Solstice". So, we hope that Celebrity keeps up the good work.
Food and Dining
Service and Staff
Cabin / Stateroom
Book a cabin near mid-ship and on a lower deck if you are prone to seasickness.