Entertainment severely lacking

Celebrity Eclipse Cruise Review to South America

Cruises: 7+ cruises
Reviews: 2
Helpful Votes: 8

Overall rating:

3.4 out of 5
Celebrity Eclipse

14 Night Antarctica (Buenos Aires Roundtrip)

Sail date: February 02, 2020

Ship: Celebrity Eclipse

Cabin type: Balcony

Cabin number: 7141

Traveled as: Singles/Friends

Reviewed: 4 months ago

Review summary

14 night cruise to Antarctica, Argentina, Falkland Islands and Uruguay. We were blessed with some of the best weather I've encountered on a vacation of this length and extremely smooth seas through-out. The itinerary was also wonderful - would highly recommend. I found the ship's crew and staff to professional and genuine. The ship is in need of a bit of a renovation/dry dock (noticeable rust, ripped/worn linens and soft decor, etc.) and has one scheduled in April 2020. Overall this is a comfortable mid-sized ship but beware that entertainment is severely lacking which is especially an issue on a longer cruise such as this with lots of time at sea.

Embarkation

2 out of 5
We embarked and disembarked in Buenos Aires. The ship was embarking guests from the pier directly to the 5th deck. The process was absolutely horrific and a terrible 'welcome aboard'. They should have embarked onto Deck 2. The port also requires check-in in a building that is far from the ship and requires a shuttle bus to get to/from the ship.

Ship experiences

Food and Dining

3 out of 5
The staff worked very hard to please but the food was just "ok". This was my first Celebrity cruise and I have always heard that Celebrity is a step above competitors like NCL and Royal in terms of food - I found them to be largely the same. You occasionally saw duck and lamb on the menu and perhaps more seafood than is typical with the competitors, but otherwise it was just a 'meh' experience.

Onboard Activities

1 out of 5
Very poor. Celebrity offers 'Behind the Podium' series but everything is at 9 or 10 am. So much for relaxing and enjoying your vacation. You have to rush to get up and ready if you want to participate in those. Other on board activities were very limited...trivia maybe 5 times a day and lots of music in the evenings but that's about it. Very disappointing.

Entertainment

1 out of 5
The evening shows were limited to 3 production shows and all music on a 14 night cruise. No comedians, no magicians, no variety. The cruise director did host a couple 'comedy' shows which were funny but the lack of variety in the entertainment was extremely disappointing. Even the 3 production shows were basically the same thing just to different types of music.

Service and Staff

5 out of 5
With the exception of the casino staff, all of the crew were friendly, engaging, genuine and warm. I found the casino staff to be cold and guarded but professional. Though the lack of interest in a conversation made gaming less interesting and saved me some money I would've otherwise gambled away so perhaps that's a positive?

Ship Quality

4 out of 5
Eclipse is a Meyer Werft 2010 build. I noticed some of the features I appreciate in the NCL Breakaway Plus class (smaller venues, tucked away and good bow to stern flow of foot traffic without random dead-ends as well as a grand atrium) in terms of the ships flow as well as some of the Royal Caribbean traditional build features (Grand Promenade) that I don't appreciate as much. The Lawn Club is by far my favorite feature with the option for aft facing outdoor dining in the aft area of the buffet being my second favorite feature. One major design flaw is that the forward bank of elevators (the bank immediately outside the main dining and theater venues) had only one bank of elevators where as the mid/aft elevator area had two banks. At peak dinner and showtimes the backup was very noticeable and inconvenient.

Cabin / Stateroom

2 out of 5
Accessible Balcony with plenty of physical space and standard accessible balcony layout. Storage seemed very limited. There was a bank of drawers but most of them were not deep enough to provide any meaningful storage. Other than the drawers and closet there wasn't any other storage in the cabin (e.g., on the wall around the bed). Furnishings and decor were dated. There was a coffee table in front of the couch that just seemed in the way all the time. No bedside USBs in the wall sconces. Only one plug near the bed but a bit of a distance away (located near the floor about two feet from the bed). No plug for a scooter/power wheelchair near the door. Only other outlets were two at the desk and one shaver outlet in the bathroom. Bathroom had excellent storage with two upper cabinets and two very shallow banks of drawers.

Ship tip

Take advantage of the Lawn Club, truly a unique and relaxing venue to have aboard ship. Be prepared to the BORED due to lack of variety in entertainment program.

Ports of call

Buenos Aires, Argentina

2 out of 5
Beautiful city with friendly people. Upon disembarkation I participated in the Best of Buenos Aires excursion. Excursion included a brief city tour (about 1 hour) with stops at Recoleta Cemetary, a photo stop (you do not get out of the bus) in a few key spots around the city and then a stop for shopping (about 1 hour) near the soccer stadium. Following this we drove about 45 mins to an Estancia where we had a traditional Argentinian BBQ dinner and enjoyed Tango and Gaucho shows. The tour was a typical, large bus/large crowd cattle call. Too much time spent at stops, too many people at the places we visited. Quality of the lunch was good but the Estancia was overrun with at least 500 people all there for the same meal/shows at the same time and very minimal air conditioning in the large venue. If seated at any of the tables in the second row (seats were assigned by group) you could not see the tango show at all (though you could easily hear the music). There also was not enough seating at the gaucho show so people were having to stand and crowd for what little shade was available on a very hot (90 degree F) day. I would not recommend the tour at all. Also be aware following the tour you are returned to the airport at approx. 4:30 pm. For airlines in the EZE airport, you cannot check-in until about 3 hours before your flight so you essentially just have to sit with all your luggage in the lobby's very uncomfortable chairs waiting. There are some restaurants available and shops (pharmacy, convenience store, tourist junk/trinkets) but the seating is limited so you are taking your chance leaving your seat.

Ushuaia, Tierra Del Fuego, Argentina

5 out of 5
Beautiful city with friendly people. Prepare for a more rustic experience...restaurants and other venues/activities are casual. You can easily walk along the waterfront and there are some small cafes and shops along the way. If you want to venture further into town, be prepared for a steep 'hike' up the hill that makes up the town of Ushuaia. I would recommend the 4WD Off Road tour with Antar Tur/Tangol (booked independently, not through the ship): https://www.tripadvisor.com/AttractionProductReview-g312855-d11452418-4WD_Off_Road_Lakes_Tierra_del_Fuego_Adventure_From_Ushuaia-Ushuaia_Province_of_Tie.html

Cruise Cape Horn

5 out of 5
Cruise only, no excursion offered. Weather was perfect and seas very calm. Scenic and truly beautiful.

Cruise Schollart Channel, Antarctica

5 out of 5
Cruise only, no excursion offered. Weather was perfect and seas very calm. Scenic and truly beautiful.

Cruise Paradise Harbor, Antarctica

5 out of 5
Cruise only, no excursion offered. Weather was perfect and seas very calm. Scenic and truly beautiful.

Cruise Gerlache Strait

5 out of 5
Cruise only, no excursion offered. Weather was perfect and seas very calm. Scenic and truly beautiful.

Cruise Elephant Island, Shetland Islands

5 out of 5
Cruise only, no excursion offered. Weather was perfect and seas very calm. Scenic and truly beautiful.

Port Stanley, Falkland Islands

4 out of 5
Tendering process was a challenge in the morning as the ship did not provide a step to get out of the tender boat upon arrival at the port. By the time we returned in the afternoon they had one step they were moving back and forth between the two tender boats. Celebrity should probably acquire additional steps for the tender boats. Tender process ran smoothly and professionally. The people of the Falkland Islands were genuinely kind and nice. The islands are very quiet and sleepy and seemed positively overwhelmed with having two large cruise ships in port at once. It should be limited to only one. Activities are fairly limited and focus on wildlife viewing in one of three places or shopping (primarily aimed at tourists) along the 'main st.' located just along the tender pier. The main street area is flat and easily walkable but to explore further be prepared for a climb up a large hill or two hire taxi/rent car. I booked a tour privately with MAAZ tours (https://www.tripadvisor.com/AttractionProductReview-g294272-d19282520-Penguins_Elephant_Seals_and_City_Attractions_at_Falkland_Islands-Stanley_East_Falk.html) and the tour provider apparently left before my ship's tenders arrived. Tour was supposed to commence at 1000am, I arrived before that time and tour had already left. Hours later (~2:00 pm) the tour operator contacted me telling me the times had changed. The tour was cancelled and fully refunded but completely wasted my day in port. Would not recommend the tour provider at all.

Puerto Madryn, Argentina

5 out of 5
Puerto Madryn is a small, lovely waterfront city. The city was vibrant with many locals milling about enjoying the beautiful weather we had while in port. Many local artisans were selling their wares in a crafts market along the waterfront, performers dancing tango and many restaurants easily accessible from the port if you'd like to enjoy a local meal/snack. The city felt safe and locals seemed very friendly. Many of the tours take you on a long drive away from the port city. I participated in the Punta Tombo tour with a private vendor (not booked through the cruise ship): https://www.tripadvisor.com/AttractionProductReview-g312832-d19277694-Punta_Tombo_Tour_Walk_with_the_penguins-Puerto_Madryn_Province_of_Chubut_Patagonia.html. It followed the same exact itinerary with a slightly shorter time for transportation because it was a small vehicle and did not need to account for wasted time with a large group at bathroom stops and such. Punta Tombo is a beautiful nature reserve but isn't necessarily handicap accessible. A LONG walk up and navigating a steep hill is required. Some of the walk is along a boardwalk but after that it is along gravel with no walkway. Would not recommend for someone with mobility impairments.

Montevideo, Uruguay

5 out of 5
Beautiful city - lives up to it's 'Monaco of South America' moniker. Just outside the port is a pedestrian only market and restaurant area. The areas was filled with locals and tourists alike milling about, shopping, eating, enjoying. This is a city I would love to return to and explore further. If there for only the day, I would recommend simply enjoy the immediate area and skipping any excursions.

Disembarkation

2 out of 5
We disembarked in Buenos Aires. The ship was disembarking guests from deck 4 (via stair gangway) and deck 5 via ramp gangway directly to the pier. The process was terrible. They should have disembarked from Deck 2. The port also requires the use of a shuttle bus to get to/from the ship. The exception being if you sign-up for a ship excursion the buses are immediately outside the ship. This is probably the only port I would recommend signing up for the ship's excursion just to avoid the headache of busing to the terminal and getting transportation from there.
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