Eastern Caribbean Cruise
December 10–17, 2011
Mary & Vincent Finelli
'Twas the week before Christmas and
all through the house there was hustle and bustle, so this review
did not get done! 'Twas the week after Christmas and all through the
house there was hustle and bustle, so this review did not get done.
'Twas Jan. 1, 2012 and a New Year, so with resolution we now attack
the job; it will get done.
The Celebrity Eclipse
is a wonderful art experience. Since she is a sister ship to
Solstice, she is exact in every way except in her decorations. The
art collection has been described like her name: Eclipse—”rare
and unexpected” as the book on Eclipse art says. The pieces of art
have been selected to make the passengers look “stop and ponder.”
Featured is the art community of Miami; showcasing two artists per
deck, one on port side and one on starboard. With each display there
are unique points being made, for example, Miller's photos of what
seems to be an eclipse are actually camera less shapes made directly
onto photographic paper. Using this as a stepping off point will set
passengers up for a unique and surprising art experience. Be careful
what you think you are seeing may not be what you are seeing at all!
sails out of the Port of Miami, although it's about a one hour ride
from Boca Raton, FL, security is much less time consuming than Ft.
Lauderdale. Thus a similar amount of time is required. We arrived at
12:45pm, baggage drop off was rapid. Vincent used his walker and not
his scooter. Even though 1:00pm was listed as boarding time, we were
boarded immediately. We have Elite status; therefore, there was no
waiting. Our stateroom 1524 Deck 11 was ready; we left our carry on
luggage in the room and were off to the buffet of Roast Beef and Popovers in the Oceanview Cafe (deck 14 aft).
remember, all the captains of the Celebrity ships we have met have
been Greeks, so is this one on the Eclipse, Captain Panagiotis
Skylogiannis, who was born in Athens, Greece. The ship was
beautifully decorated for Christmas. The Grand Foyer on Deck 3 had a
wonderful gingerbread Church and winter scene. The church had three
separate sections and two bell towers. The scent of gingerbread
brought Mother's kitchen to mind. It was artfully adorned with lots
of frosting and “snow”; the foreground had a miniature train and it
was surrounded by miniature Christmas trees with many twinkling
white lights. There were several mini house scenes and even a red
mail box with Snoopy sleeping on top of it. The Atrium balconies on
Decks 4 & 5 were festooned with green balsam garlands and clusters
of gold and maroon balls. Everywhere were real red poinsettia plants
and some areas were all white poinsettia plants—just
To travel on these fantastic cruise
ships anytime is great, but at holiday time it's spectacular. Hotel
Director Bernhard Stacher (Austria) and his staff set the tone on
the Eclipse with very high standards. The sea is good to Bernhard
and he gets younger looking every cruise.
Even though we wrote a
thorough description of her sister ship,
Solstice, here we will concisely review the Decks:
-- Deck 2 houses the medical facility.
-- Deck 3 has the lower level of the Moonlight Sonata
Dining Room with its fantastic ceiling of crystal balls and ship
evoking shapes. Here are also Guest Relations, Shore excursions and
the Passport Bar.
-- Deck 4 has Celebrity Central, Entertainment Court and
the Eclipse Theater. Here are also Cellar Masters Wine Room and
three Bars: the Quasar, Martini Bar, and Crush. It also houses the
Fortunes Casino, the shops on the Boulevard and the upper level of
the Moonlight Sonata Dining Room.
-- Deck 5 has the upper
level of the Eclipse Theater, the Art Gallery, Galleria Boutiques
and the Photo Gallery. There are four lounges: Cafe al Bacio
(coffee), Ensemble, Galleria Tastings, and Michael's Club. There are
five restaurants: Bistro on Five (Creperie), Blu (Aqua Class
reserved restaurant), Murano (specialty restaurant, French cuisine),
Qsine (specialty restaurant, around the world cuisine), and the
Tuscan Grille (specialty restaurant, Italian steakhouse).
-- Deck 6 has the iLounge (Internet) and staterooms.
-- Decks 7, 8 & 9 have all staterooms.
-- Deck 10 has the Library with open stacks (24 hrs) and
-- Deck 11 has a Relaxation Lounge and staterooms: mostly
Suites, Concierge and Aqua Class staterooms.
-- Deck 12 has passenger areas: Aqua Spa, Beauty Salon, the
Persian Garden Pools, Solarium swimming Pools and Whirl Pools. Aft
there are the Sky Suites and the Concierge Staterooms
-- Deck 14 has two Bars, the Mast and the Oceanview, the
Sky Conference Center and the Sky Observation Lounge. Midship is the
Jogging Track and aft is the Oceanview Cafe.
-- Deck 15 has the Corning Hot Glass Show, the Lawn
Club and Bocce field, the Fun Factory. and the Video Arcade.
-- Deck 16 is the Sun Deck.
The ship is registered
in Valletta, Malta. She had her Inaugural Season 2010; she weighs
122,000 tons; her length is 1,033 ft., beam is 121 ft. with a draft
of 27 ft. and a cruising speed of 24 knots. Her occupancy is 2, 850
Wheelchair accessible cabin #1524 (Aqua
Class) is located forward on the starboard side. It has an automatic
door opener with an extra wide door and a foyer with a place to park
the wheelchair. When entering on the left is a huge bathroom with a
large 4X4 ft. shower with fold up seat. And safety rails all around.
Next is the queen size bed with flanking night stands: One drawer
and a shelf and reading lamps. Then, there is a small beige love
seat and a medium coffee table.
When entering on the right there is a
double wardrobe with ample room. Next, is a long desk/cabinet with
six drawers, a personal safe, a refrigerator, a lighted mirror, a
desk chair and a coffee table. The carpeting was Burberry, heavy on
the maroon and our Steward was Fevon Gracias, who was always ready
to help. The far wall is half window and sliding doors to the
balcony which has two recliners, two stools and a table. Vincent
uses the balcony frequently, he loves to relax, to contemplate and
sometimes naps lulled by the ship's motion and the sound of the
waves. He also enjoys star gazing and this time he was lucky to see
some of the most bright shooting stars on late Tuesday evening.
Later we learned that it was the peak of the annual Geminid meteor
FOOD & SERVICE
under Hotel Director Bernard is excellent. We travelled Aqua Class
with our own special Dining Room “Blu.” This restaurant is dedicated
to healthy, inventive offerings (reminiscent of chef Todd English).
The portions are medium to small; just the way we like them, since
we are more tasters than eaters. The Blu manager is Alex , whom we
met on the Solstice. Maitre D' is Marcel (Slovakia) and Asst. Maitre
is Viorel (Romania). The Sommelier is Krish (Mauritius). Our waiters
were Gede (Indonesia) and Renata (Macedonia). This friendly
International group made our week at table #855. Blu is decorated
exactly like the one on Solstice except the dominant color there was
cobalt blue and here it is ruby red. Not as stunning as the blue,
but still lovely.
The breads are excellent and hot:
crispy bread sticks, French bread, olive rolls, dark ryes and some
sweet ones too. Practically, there are just four courses:
appetizers, soups and salads, entrees, and desserts. Eating in Blu
was pleasant and quiet. On the second Formal Night Bernard invited
us to the Captain's table in the Moonlight Sonata and we were struck
by the fact that the main Dining Room was so active and high
spirited. It was fine for one night, but the next night we truly
appreciated the calm and relaxing atmosphere of Blu! I guess we are
starting to show our age.
We dined in the Tuscan Grill ($30 cover charge)
and enjoyed it. The menu is new, the Maitre d' Jorge is from
Portugal and his Asst is Erkan from Turkey. There is an offering of
eight or so appetizers. Mary tried the crab cake and a
carpaccio of mango
and octopus, and Vincent the prosciutto
and an arugula
salad with fried mozzarella. For entrees Vincent took the perfectly
cooked filet Mignon and Mary the Veal cutlet done Milanese style
with mushrooms and truffle sauce,
buonissimo. Our waiters were Peter
(Hungary) and Mehomet (Turkey) and the Sommelier was Maria (Serbia).
Service was terrific and the entrance of walking under giant wine
casks sets an expectation for a special night, and it was.
On board activities are under the supervision
of Cruise Director Mike Gibbons whose interesting background in
music and performance makes him a hit! On this ship , in addition to
the usual cruising activities, such a dance parties, pool games,
trivia, bingo, casino gambling, etc, there is an interaction
between officers and passengers which includes challenges of
officers versus guests in Bocce games (Lawn Club, deck 15), Pool
Volleyball (deck 12), etc. Also there was a Star Gazing party on the
Lawn Club conducted by officer Andrew. The List of Activities
published in Celebrity Life is so extensive that you can be very
busy throughout the cruise, so we are very fussy in selecting some
interesting ones and dedicate the most of our time to relaxing and
enjoying “il dolce far niente”
(the sweet do nothing). We also enjoyed chatting with a few officers
at the Captain's Circle Party, the Environmental Officer Andrew Mott
(Worcester, Mass.), Financial Controller Fani Kechagia (Greece) and
Resources Officer Mario Valentino (Canada). All of them are
courteous, helpful and interesting people, easily interacting with
Showtime” in the Eclipse Theater has been on par with our
expectations, but the one show we enjoyed best was that of the
singer impressionist Paul Tanner: a great voice and terrific
impersonations of Tom Jones, Johnny Cash, Frank Sinatra, and Elvis
Presley. We heard that comedian Al Ducharme was really hilarious in
several performances throughout the cruise, unfortunately his shows
were so late at night that we missed them all.
PORTS OF CALL
Day 1. Miami, FL USA: Depart 4:30 pm
Day 2. At Sea
Day 3. San Juan, Puerto Rico: Arrive 3:00 pm, Depart 11:00 pm
Day 4. St. Thomas, USVI: Arrive 8:00 am, Depart 5:00 pm
Day 5. St. Maarten, Antilles: Arrive 8:00 am, Depart 5:00 pm
Day 6. At Sea
Day 7. At Sea
Day 8. Miami, FL USA: Arrive 7:00 am
We had an early
breakfast at Blu Restaurant and at eight o' clock we went to the
Bistro to get wheelchair assistance for debarkation. It was all so
very simple and expeditious that we were on our way home by nine
This was another great cruise. There
has been insinuations by some readers that our reviews are not
critical enough, since they contain only a few negative points and
bias for the special treatments we receive from officers and crew.
And this is somewhat true; how could we write a negative criticism
when we have had a great cruise, where everybody made us feel very
special, where everything we desired we received? Naturally, our
demands are reasonable and we know what to expect when we book a
cruise on a given ship. This was our 93rd
cruise and by now we know well many cruise lines and their ships.
Thus, we know what to expect from most of them and we can choose our
cruises accordingly to our desires and preferences. Furthermore,
since in the last few years we both have had to deal with limited
mobility and need a wheelchair accessible cabin, we cruise only with
those lines which do best to accommodate disabled passengers. In the
past we have raised issues about availability, location, and comfort
of accessible cabins with several cruise lines, but only some of
them have heard our plea by making their new ships more
wheelchair-friendly (i.e., Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Princess, and
Norwegian), while some others have ignore the problem (i.e., Costa,
Carnival, and Holland American). Actually, there is something that
can be improved even in this ship. The gangway at the entry point to
the ship on deck 5 is a bit too steep for Mary's wheelchair pedals
thus she had to be helped to access the ship.
Our next cruise is on one of our very favorite
ships, the Oasis of the Seas,
Jan. 21, 2012. We sailed on the Oasis in Dec. 2010 for the
inaugural cruise, thus we look forward to spend our wedding
anniversary on this fabulous giga-ship. We have also booked a cruise
on the MSC Poesia
for Feb. 18, and this is a new cruise line we want to experience.
Photo Courtesy of Celebrity Cruises
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