Celebrity Eclipse 5 Night Charter Cruise

On Monday 25 May I joined Celebrity Eclipse at Southampton for a 5 night ‘short’ cruise to France and Belgium.

This was really a very ‘last minute’ booking and I managed to achieve a balcony cabin on 6 Deck, for solo occupancy, at the same per person rate as for double i.e. there was NO Single Supplement.

No Solent Barbara? Nope, my good Lady is cruised out at the moment so this was to be my third ‘solo’ cruise, my fourth cruise with Celebrity and the second time on Eclipse.

The attraction of this cruise, apart from a mischievous desire to be on it, was the opportunity to see what changes had been made to Eclipse following her recent refit.  I had been led to believe a number of changes had been made, the biggest one being the introduction of a ‘Cunard Grills’ style restaurant for  the exclusive use of Eclipse suite guests.

I arrived at Southampton’s City Cruise Terminal minutes before 11.00 am and was soon whisked through security and check-in. Worth mentioning here is the fact that personal and hand luggage security at the City Terminal happens prior to actually approaching the check-in desks, as opposed to after at the Ocean Terminal.

Celebrity Cruises offer a glass of champagne on arrival onboard. This is not something that I place much store in,  however neither anm I one to  decline a little drink.  Amazingly, at 11.15, and before I had finished my welcome refreshment, an announcement was made that cabins were now ready for occupation.

So I headed for 6 Deck and cabin number 6192…

 

…which had an obstructed view balcony…

and a shower only ensuite…

Once my booking had been confirmed I had completed Celebrity’s Cruise Personaliser, printed my Sea Pass and purchased a Premium Drinks package…

 

A little research indicated that there was a saving to be made on pre-purchasing this package, as opposed to waiting till onboard. How right that was, here are the onboard prices at the arrivals desk on embarkation day…

 

That’s a whopping $19.00 a day difference, so well worth considering. It should also be of interest that the package includes non-alcoholic drinks, mineral water, coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice at breakfast.

Having settled in to my cabin it was now time to explore and make some use of that package. Where better to start than at the top of the ship near the lawn…

 (that’s the Glass Blowing Studio in the centre above)

 …and at that rather fun bar at the rear of the ship, The Sunset Bar…

*****

Lunch was now an option. You can always rely on Celebrity  for a good carvery joint in their Ocean View Cafe at lunchtime…

Simple really, a few rare slices, collect a slice of baguette, add chips and a DIY lunch on the patio deck of the Ocean View Cafe…

Next up was a walk around the public areas and what better  place to start than at the centre of the ship, The Atrium, which extends upwards from the grand Foyer on Deck 3, all the way to the Library on Deck 11…

Not even the wide angled lens can squeeze it all in, so here are some of the levels…

Cellar Masters and the Martini Bar on Deck 4

Celebrity iLounge on Deck 6

Team Earth on Deck 7

The Card Room on Deck 9

The Library sharing Decks 10 and 11

 

Any higher and one finds oneself on the Pool Deck…

…with its wrap around promenade jogging and walking track: a good spot to catch the night time illuminations…

 

Celebrity Eclipse offers an excellent choice of dining options ranging from the buffet style Ocean View cafe to the gourmet end speciality restaurant, Murano...

…while guests accommodated in Aqua Class staterooms have exclusive use of the Blu Restaurant

Celebrity also have an excellent reputation for the quality of their food, but more about that later.

Entertainment is another area where Celebrity does shine, certainly when it comes to their production shows.

The Eclipse has an excellent theatre capable of holding 1,300 passengers…

 

 

While onboard I went to see two shows, one called ‘Edge’ and the other ‘Ovations’…

 

For me however the most consistent entertainment was to be found in two of Eclipse’s Bars, The Martini Bar…

Fancy a ‘Sunset Martini?…

 

Now on to the recently re-vamped ‘World Class Bar’…

 

Making its debut on Celebrity Eclipse, The World Class Bar supposedly brings the high standards of “fine dining” to the ‘spirited world of cocktails’.  Welcome to the “fine drinking” experience where the rituals of making your cocktail are just as exciting as drinking them.

Artfully crafted creations will introduce you to flavours so unexpectedly delicious, your palate will sing for more…

“Julio get the stretch’ should be played while tasting this gem…

Using  fresh ingredients, and the finest  spirits, mixologists  find exciting ways to satisfy both the curious newcomer and the connoisseur. It’s a stylish and fun destination to enjoy that cocktail with a difference. A Strawberry Fields anyone?…

Cheers…

My favourite venue after dinner and when I attended a show was the Ensemble Lounge…

…where I thoroughly enjoyed the classical music played by the resident Hungarian string duo…

Dancing and game type shows are  staged at a number of venues including the Grand Foyer, Celebrity Central Entertainment Court..

and the Sky Lounge

I had chosen ‘Freedom’ dining for this short break. The venue for this  is the upper level of the Moonlight Sonata Restaurant…

 

The lower level is now split into two restaurants, the main area being for ‘club’ (two sitting) dining while an area around a quarter of the old space has been completely sectioned off as Luminae, an exclusive restaurant for celebrity’s Suite guests…

Travelling solo and being on ‘Freedom’ dining never presented a problem at dinner. I had different company every evening and everyone proved excellent company…

One particular evening I sat with one of the most amazing characters I have had the occasion to meet…

Edwin, who is 95, had come on this cruise for the purpose of laying a poppy wreath in the WWII civilian victims Garden of Remembrance in Cherbourg. Major Edwin Hunt MVO had been the officer in charge of a detachment of landing craft at ‘Gold Beach’ on D-Day and he had some amazing stories to tell.  He had also served in more recent times as the Bargemaster to the Queen between 1978 and 1990.

As always the food on Eclipse was very good. The Prime Rib…

 

…and seared Ahi Tuna…

…being two superb examples of the fare on offer.

With only one ‘sea day’ I took most breakfasts in the Ocean View cafe in order to facilitate an early getaway shoreside. On the sea day I reverted to my favourite leisurely morning routine and took breakfast in the Moonlight Sonata restaurant, always more civilised,  and an excellent ‘Eggs Benedict’…

And so to the Itinerary.

Our first port of call was Cherbourg. My target visit here was the WWII Liberation Museum. The museum itself is situated in Fort Roule which commands a hill overlooking Cherbourg: as seen from the ship…

Unfortunately there is no direct route so I climbed the zig-zag road which almost circles the hill: it took maybe 45 minutes walking but was well worth it and cleared the hangover. The museum was most interesting with many inter-active displays. The views from the fortifications are outstanding…

Well worth the visit and for those not very mobile worth taking a taxi: as I discovered others had done.

I had a good walk back into Cherbourg and walked many miles. I also managed to circumnavigate the Marina and, on my return to the Cruise Terminal, captured this photograph of the Eclipse and the French nuclear submarine Le Redoubtable…

Next day was Le Havre. I have lost track of the number of times I have passed through Le Havre coming off a ferry but have never actually explored the town. There is certainly lots on offer for the day tourist.

 

One of the highlights for me was St Joseph’s Church…

Built between 1951 and 1958 as part of the reconstruction of the town of Le Havre, which was almost entirely destroyed during World War II, this Roman Catholic Church  and its 107 metre tower dominates the landscape of Le Havre. The tower is designed as an octagonal lantern and contains 12,768 pieces of coloured glass which, when lit at night, is an awesome spectacle. It certainly has a spectacular effect when viewed from inside with sunlight pouring in…

Our final port of call was Zeebrugge which is the port for those wishing to visit Bruges, Ghent or the seaside town of Blankenberge.

On this occasion I headed for Bruges, having only recently visited Ghent

https://solentrichardscruiseblog.com/2013/05/21/one-way-to-do-zeebrugge-ghent-edition/

There are numerous ways of getting to Bruges and Ghent however the best is via the 15 minute train ride from Blankenberge. Depending on which cruise line one visits with, there are also a number of options for getting into Blankenberge. (See reference in my final paragraph regarding future reviews)

The two highlights of my visit to Bruges was being the first tourist of the day to enter and climb to the top of the Belfort

…which offered spectacular views over the Belgium city and square below, surrounded by cafes and restaurants…

 

…and only a short distance to visit to the Basilica of the Holy Blood

 

Entrance to the Basilica Chapel is free but there is a small charge, €2.00,  to visit the Treasury Museum which is a most worthwhile experience.

Summary

All things considered this was an excellent cruise. It was a great price for a single occupancy balcony cabin. From what I witnessed the majority of passengers were well up for having a good time.

I realise that I was lucky most nights with good table companions on the ‘freedom’ dining:  but also recognise that this would carry  a risk on a longer cruise where a return to ‘club’ would maybe be more advantageous for the solo traveller.

Celebrity continues to offer a very  high standard of cuisine and some very good entertainment, particularly their production shows. Guest entertainers are usually a matter of personal preference and those on for this short cruise did not float my boat. I cannot for the life of me say that I experienced any hint of any cut-backs since my last cruise on Eclipse.

Certainly taking the Premium drinks package is a good move for anyone who is going to be a regular socialiser at the bars. Better still aim for a deal where one is included in the price and then upgrade.

Embarkation and disembarkation are both slick and efficient and the staff continue to exude friendliness. Celebrity Eclipse sits well between the mass market budget level of cruising and the more limited luxurious levels. It does come at a price but certainly on this cruise there were plenty of passengers more than willing to pay for the additional quality offered.

 

 

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12 responses to “Celebrity Eclipse 5 Night Charter Cruise

  1. Pingback: Cruising Mates | Solent Richard's Cruise Blog·

  2. Pingback: Cruises.co.uk | Solent Richard's Cruise Blog·

  3. Another great review Richard we have been thinking about revisiting Celebrity again, your review has certainly whet our appetite many thanks Marie.

  4. Thanks Richard, having only cruised with P and O it is great to read another of your very informative reviews on another cruise line.

  5. Enjoyed this as I do with all your blogs Richard . It is a ship we will certainly be using in the near future .

  6. Did the lifeboats spoil the view from your balcony, we are on The Eclipse shortly and have cabin 6261. Been on The Eclipse several times in suites and balcony cabins but never had an obstructed balcony before.

    • Hi Colin. Not really. about the only important thing that was not visible was the position of the gangways when looking directly down. Otherwise the overall view was fine. I’ve seen a lot worse. Hope that helps.

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