With so many cruise companies to choose from it was a personal recommendation that eventually helped us come to a decision. Our friends Rachel and Rich did a cruise with Celebrity for their Honeymoon and their enthusiasm easily convinced us. It's thanks to them that we now have so many brilliant stories and memories of our own.
Once we'd decided which company to go with there were so many itineraries to choose from and for a good while we thought we'd head to the Med. It was the promise of exploring somewhere new, guaranteed hot weather and ticking off some dream destinations that made us book an Exotic Southern Caribbean cruise on Celebrity Eclipse, the fact it left Miami on my birthday was the extra cherry on top.
All Aboard Celebrity Eclipse
As someone who can't help but stress a little when I'm travelling I'm pretty used to worrying about my documents, itineraries and luggage and will never relax until I reach my destination. Celebrity took away all of that, the check in process was so well organised and I've never experienced such a high level of organisation.
We were on the ship within moments of check in with a glass of fizz in our hands and headed straight to one of the upper decks to take in the views of Miami.
Cruising is a pretty expensive way to see the world, however costs can be dramatically reduced depending on the type of stateroom that you choose. Choosing an inside cabin with no window can knock a hefty chunk of money off your balance however as we were on Honeymoon we didn't want to worry about being thrifty.
We decided to book an Ocean View Stateroom with Veranda, a decision that we were so happy with as we had our own outside balcony complete with furniture. It was so fun waking up in the morning and pulling back the curtains to see where we were.
Our Stateroom was surprisingly roomy and the space was so well planned out that there was plenty of storage space for our luggage. So surprising when we both had four suitcases between us.
The bed was huge, the bathroom had ample space, we had loads of places to hang our clothes and even had a little lounge area to chill out in. Our Cabin was cleaned twice a day by our Stateroom attendant who kept our place spotless.
It really was a home away from home.
Being on board Celebrity Eclipse was like being in a luxury hotel on water. The ship was just the right size - huge with plenty of places to go without being too ridiculous.
Food on Celebrity Eclipse
It's no surprise that I put on a stone whilst we were away on Celebrity Eclipse, everyone had warned me that you eat a lot when you're cruising but I had no idea that it was possible to eat all day every day. If you wanted to indulge in 2 breakfasts, 3 lunches, dinner and a midnight snack you could!
We enjoyed most of our breakfasts and lunches at the Ocean View Bar Cafe, a buffet open all day with a constant supply of food. Lunch was a never ending choice of breads, meats, cheeses, salads, pizzas and pastas as well as daily changing specials that covered everything from Indian food to fish and chips.
It took us a few days to discover but we soon realised that with our package we could enjoy mugs of creamy coffees at Cafe al Bacio, a cosy coffee and cake shop on the Fifth deck. We ordered Caramel Macchiatos most days and when I could find the room in my tummy we enjoyed it with huge slabs of cake.
We ate most of our evening meals at the main restaurant Moonlight Sonata which was included in our package. We sat at the same table every night, in between two other small tables where we were always joined by other couples that we could chat to. We often got to eat with the same couples and met some fantastic people during our meals and loved exchanging life stories and travel tales. The menu changed each night and there was always a great variety of dishes.
There were three speciality restaurants on Celebrity Eclipse that you could pay extra to dine in. Our favourite was Qsine where we celebrated our six month wedding anniversary. The concept was like nothing else I'd ever experienced - food from around the world, ordered on an ipad and presented in a variety of creative ways. We were encouraged to order four to five dishes to share and enjoyed Sushi lollipops, popcorn fish and chips as well as sliders we built ourselves and tacos that saw Simon mixing up our own guacamole.
If all that wasn't enough there was also a speciality gelato shop, a poolside grill that served hot dogs and burgers and a sushi restaurant. It's no wonder we were struggling to fit into our clothes a few days in.
Neither Simon or I are big drinkers but we still managed to indulge in a mammoth amount of cocktails while we were away. There were a variety of drinks packages available on the cruise ship, we opted for the Classic Package which meant we could enjoy Prosecco, our favourite wines and most things off the cocktail menu.
It took us a few days to work out which drinks we loved the most and we soon realised that each bar made them a little differently. After a while we had fallen into a routine of ordering certain cocktails in certain bars to get the best drinks.
During the day we favoured Mudslides, Pina Coladas and Strawberry Daiquiris at the Ocean View Cafe bar. They were ice cold and so refreshing to enjoy out in the hot sunshine whilst we enjoyed staring out at the miles of blue sea behind us.
In the evening time Simon loved to indulge in an Old Fashioned. He tried them all over the ship before finding his favourite at the Grand Foyer where the barman took the time to teach him the perfect way to create an Old Fashioned.
My favourite evening tipple was a Pink Lady, I'd never tried one before but I think I'll be indulging in more back at home.
Our first few days on board we stumbled across the Photography Studio and signed up for a full package of photographs. As it was our Honeymoon we thought that we'd appreciate having plenty of photographs of the two of us to look back on. The full package cost us $250 and gave us a print out of every photograph we had taken as well as a disc containing all of the images.
Finding the photographers each day became a bit of a fun challenge and we got to know the whole team during our trip which was lovely.
Days on Board
We had four days at sea during our Caribbean cruise and quickly fell into a ship routine. Never setting an alarm we'd roll out of bed and head to the Ocean View Bar Cafe after breakfast for a peaceful few hours reading in the comfy chairs. We realised pretty early that being away from the swimming pools this was the quiet end of the ship and the perfect place to get lost in a book - I rediscovered my love of reading during our trip and worked my way through five books!
One day we were extremely lucky and managed to spot some whales swimming pretty close to the ship, those of us who were on deck got to enjoy some brilliant whale watching and seeing them jump about in the water is something we'll remember forever.
We booked all of our evening meals in advance and usually ate between 6:30 pm and 7:00 pm, we always made sure that we got changed for the evening and if we had enough time we'd try and make it up to one of the outside decks at the top of the ship to watch the sunset with a quick pre dinner cocktail.
The rest of our evening was usually spent watching the ship's house band who we grew to love during our time onboard. The Sound Stars were a young British band who did fantastic soul sets in the Grand Foyer as well as party tunes later in the evening - dancing to a fantastic live version of "Uptown Funk" underneath the stars on the pool deck is a memory I will cherish forever.
I hope this gives you a little taster of what life was like on board Celebrity Eclipse. If anyone is thinking of booking a cruise I'd highly recommend it. Your first experience of Cruising is exciting and rather overwhelming. There are so many things you learn as you go along and I'd highly recommend checking out Cruise Critic to get a good understanding of how things work.
Let me know if you've been cruising and what your experience was like!