The European summer is over and the hype of the launch has long faded as the new Celebrity Eclipse has sailed from British waters for a maiden season in the Caribbean.
So how did Cruise Critic’s mainly British reviewers rate the third Solstice-class ship, which was launched in Southampton, based in Southampton and tweaked for a UK audience, with kettles and teabags in the cabins and bacon and curry on the buffet?
Generally speaking, most of our members’ 81 reviews are very positive, praising the service, the cleanliness of the cabins and the beauty of the ship. Reviewer Lesley Wheeler’s comment is typical: “The staff on the Customer Relations desk were first class. Nothing was too much trouble and their patience in dealing with fractious (not us) passengers was endless. There was always a smile for each passenger who approached the desk, enough pleasantries to make you feel valued, and a swift resolution of your enquiry.”
But as ever, there were glitches.
- First, those ‘British’ touches. A bit of refinement needed here, maybe! “I ordered ‘English Bacon’, but that was only available in the café upstairs,” says member Cublet of the main dining room. “I was offered mint jelly to accompany my lamb. What was put on my plate looked like something that had come from Sellafield. Or a prop from Doctor Who. One of my friends passed it as fit for a supermarket mouthwash.” You can’t please everybody with the tea tray, either. “The tray took up the whole dressing/make up area and had to be moved, it also blocked the power points. I would rather call room service for my coffee and juice,” says Jan from Norfolk.
- Some dodgy planning: member Boltonboys splashed out on an AquaSpa cabin but complains: “What we didn’t realise was that the Spa reception had been moved to the middle of the ship and the Gym treadmills were now directly over our cabin.” Noise is a recurring theme, not just in the cabins but in the atrium. “The main reception area was also used as a music venue and whilst this allowed the music to waft up through the centre of the ship to the upper decks, whoever thought of placing the open plan library in the same area was obviously not a book lover or had any need of a quiet space,” says Lesley Wheeler.
- The entertainment gets mixed reviews. “Hit and miss,” claims SailorUK. PeterRich thinks that’s too kind: “By far the worst we have ever seen, with no named acts at all. Here are some examples. A guy blowing through a shower hose and through a zimmer frame.”
- Qsine, the innovative new restaurant, gets the thumbs-up from those who tried it, although a surprising number of reviewers stuck to the main dining room. “WOW, what a concept,” raves Jascat. “This was probably the best thing about the Eclipse. It is a really unique dining experience and was truly memorable. From main course and wine choices to select from on the new iPAD, to finding your dessert choice on a rubic’s cube puzzle style menu. The staff were brilliant and the food was presented so beautifully.” Beardedladies agrees: “Good fun, amazing service and wonderful food, plus got to play with new iPads.”
- Some of our reviewers have sailed with Celebrity’s sister line, Royal Caribbean, and there are inevitably comparisons. “What we both really missed was the promenade on RCL ships, (the central focal point) I love grabbing a coffee and people watching, having a good natter with fellow cruisers and hearing their experiences,” continues Beardedladies.
- But there are compensations. How’s this for top use of the ship’s half-acre lawn? “I decided in advance that it must be enjoyed properly. I brought a proper blanket and picnic basket and we had an afternoon picnic with champagne, sandwiches, tea and cakes,” says member Cublet. “Quite a few people passed and said they wished they had thought of it.”
- But overall, is Eclipse more style than substance? Make no mistake, a great deal of our members have given the ship five stars plus, but some die-hard Celebrity fans claim to see through the hype. “I think that those who had sailed with Celebrity before, and there were loads, were disappointed. It seemed to us that the “beautiful Celebrity Eclipse” was built for the masses and the connoisseurs turned up!” says Jayne Green, who gave the ship four stars. Jascat, who could only scrape up two stars for the ship, concludes: “This is an over-hyped ship and having sailed on Holland America before, I felt Celebrity did not match them in service standard, food standards or public room layouts.”
Have you sailed on Eclipse? What did you like – or not like?