Recently I've mainly cruised Princess because they sail from L.A. so often, so I don't have to fly as I live nearby, and Princess is more "upscale" than the other choices from L.A. I chose Celebrity because I had heard and read positive things about them and they had a rare round trip sailing from L.A. available. I was very impressed overall. The Eclipse is a beautiful ship. I didn't much care for the cabin layout but loved the elevator design and operation, especially the glass at the back for great views of the various decks. The shows were high quality and there was always a seat available, unlike Princess where for production shows especially you need to get a seat 30-45 minutes ahead. Also Princess shows are now 30 minutes while Celebrity is 45-55 minutes and all were great except for one comedian I didn't care for. The food and service are definitely a cut above Princess. I was never served a bad dish though some of my tablemates were not always happy. I loved the two-story dining room and enjoyed dining on the upper story, which felt more intimate as it was open to the main area below. The public restrooms are spacious and well-designed with real mini-towels. The crew were all very friendly and helpful. Embarkation was VERY slow and it was very hot in line. Princess does a better job there. I always use bottled water but on Celebrity you can only get small bottles from the bars, which was an ongoing annoyance for me. On Princess you can order large bottles from room service and the steward brings it to your room. Another annoyance on Celebrity was the slow bar service and the fact that I could only order my favorite martini from the Martini Bar, which was always too crowded. I don't understand that restriction at all. The coffee bar was far superior to Princess. They didn't have enough treadmills in the gym while the stairsteppers went mostly unused but at least the music wasn't blasting like on Princess. The covered pool was beautiful and a great place for chilly weather. The spa ladies were low key, unlike Princess where they "assault" you in every public elevator area. The Eclipse had intimate two-person sitting areas on each stateroom deck, which I thought was a great idea. The internet cafe was great, as was the most gorgeous, two-story library I've seen on a ship. The shore excursions were fine as was the tender service. There were plenty of activities and I loved the ballroom dancing in the atrium. There were a fair number of children on board but they caused no problems. Disembarkation went well. With the exception of embarkation, bar service and my stateroom (see cabin review) my complaints were minor. Overall I liked Celebrity enough to cancel two Princess bookings and book two Celebrity cruises even though I will have to fly.
I did not care for the cabin layout, with the bed by the balcony door. I liked the teak balcony floor and the balcony size and furniture. It was also nice to have a full size couch. There was not enough storage space. The bedside tables were narrow and had no drawers. The coffee table was beat up and small. The TV did not show current temp and weather forecast. The lighting was confusing and I could never get the lights set the way I wanted. The bathroom door was always in the way as it was close to the stateroom door and one had to "slither" around it to access the bathroom. The shower was large and had nice rounded glass doors but had no shower wand, which I greatly missed. It also had no laundry line which I really need. The bathroom storage was limited and the only electric outlet was in an awkward location up high. There were no paper and pen provided, which I also missed. The in room frig had a variety of alcohol, water and soda but none of it was covered under my premium beverage package, which I thought was cheap on their part. The closet design was awful, with awkward access and no top shelf. It was also very small. They could take a lesson from Princess on closet design. There were two electric outlets by the desk, which I appreciated but none near the bed so I could plug in my CPAP machine. The room steward was friendly and did a good job keeping the cabin clean. He cleaned the balcony daily and gave me special towels to sit on and to cover the table because there is always soot on those aft balconies.
I live near Santa Barbara and think it is a wonderful port! I met friends for lunch and a visit to the Maritime Museum. Standing in line to board the tender back to the ship the comments I heard all around me were very positive on Santa Barbara.