December 2013 - Celebrity Eclipse to Caribbean - Southern
Never been to the Caribbean before so we thought that we'd treat ourselves, now that we have the time.
The ship is almost identical to the Reflection that we cruised on back in September (as 'cruise virgins'), so it was all very familiar.
We had an inside cabin this time - if you are out all day and the sun sets at about 5.30pm, why bother with a balcony? (However, we felt that a fake curtain hiding a Caribbean picture may have been a nice touch). Our room 'butler' was excellent and, as we were at the very front of the ship, all of the other room stewards that we passed on our numerous to-ing and fro-ing were exceptionally courteous. Servers at our dining tables, both at breakfast and evening meal, were always keen to please. Even when we received our below-par Christmas dinner they bent over backwards to listen to and act upon our comments and to our make amends to re-dress the situation by offering our whole table a free speciality meal with wine included the next evening. Christmas itself, though, around the ship, was all a bit 'under-whelming'.
Most of the theatre's performers were world class and were breath-takingly awesome. Especially the acrobats and stand-up comedians. I'm not a gambler but the casino was a hive of activity and incredibly busy every evening. Unfortunately, on our cruise, too many people don't take advantage of the night life. After the theatre, we always made our way to the various bars/venues around the ship for a late evening dance and 'happy hour' drink or two (or three!!). Often, later on, we were the only ones in them with a band playing to us alone - such a shame.
The itinery was perfect....on each island we just did our own thing, the ramshackled, rasta-disco, windowless buses and the local service mini buses are an absolute HOOT! We had a great time exploring. Every island is subly different because of its own heritage but I have to say that St. Lucia did disappoint, though. Tip: DON'T walk into the main town, Castries, on a Sunday - it's dirty, derelict, quite intimidating, closed and absolutely awful....so we went back to the ship and booked an island tour using the (very pricey) Celebrity excursion mini bus.
Antigua... head into town from the port/dock, turn right on the main street, walk 100 metres/yards to the bus station (via a little supermarket to make up a little picnic), and get the bus to Nelson's Dockyard. It's simply wonderful. What is even more wonderful is the (very poorly signposted) Pigeon Bay (pictured)
around the back of it, about a mile walk away. Just ask anyone for directions. It is the perfect, quintessential location that oozes the Caribbean with ocean-side palm trees and a fabulous bar tucked into one end of the beach the serves the best 'Painkiller' cocktail in the world!! (IMHO). Swimming is good too.
St Maarten....get the local mini bus to MAHO beach for an experience of a lifetime!!
Haiti ( Labadee ) I had reservations but I had to ask the waitress who was serving drinks on the beach to 'pinch' me because I truly thought I'd died and gone to heaven. I even managed to pull down a coconut of the tree above me (it looked precarious anyway!!), slam it against the trunk and drink the coconut water from it. MWAH. Buy a bargain in the market as you leave the beach to head back to the ship...... what had been $150 dollars at lunchtime suddenly became $20 for a beautiful, local oil painting. We got on the ship with 10 minutes to spare so we stalled and listened to another of the local bands.
I could go on forever.....but I'll not. One last tip - you only need USD, Eastern Caribbean dollars were only useful on two of the islands visited, where they also took USD anyway.