Thursday, 23 February 2012

Celebrity Eclipse Cruise 2012 - Part 1

Cruising has become a yearly event for us we love it so much!  We do also happen to get those trips for free so that sure helps too (from the CU MC points from Nathan's company - we get a $4,000 vacation for free every year and only have to pay a $25 booking fee, not even any taxes!).

So far we've done....
Western Caribbean cruise on Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas from Fort Lauderdale with stops in Key West., Cozumel, Grand Cayman and Jamaica in 2007
Western Caribbean cruise on the Carnival Legend from Tampa Bay with stops in Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Belize and Roatan in 2009
Eastern Caribbean cruise on Royal Caribbean's large ship Freedom of the Seas from Port Canaveral (close to Orlando) with stops in Coco Cay (that one got rained out), St. Thomas and St. Maarten in 2010
Eastern Caribbean cruise on Holland America's Eurodam from Fort Lauderdale with stops in Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos; San Juan, Puerto Rico, St. Thomas and Half Moon Cay (private island in the Bahamas) in 2011.

This year we chose the Celebrity Eclipse (their newest ship) from Miami with stops in Puerto Rico, St. Maarten and St. Kitts.

Our flight out of Winnipeg was scheduled to leave at 3pm Friday afternoon (the 10th) which was nice since I still got to send the girls off to school and then finish up last minute packing and tidying up before leaving for the trip.  Due to bad weather in Chicago (our one connecting flight), we were delayed about a 1/2 hr.    They had a ground stoppage order (which means they weren't landing any planes) in Chicago for awhile so we expecting a rough landing.  At first we could see the lights below us so we figured it couldn't be that bad.  But then, as we were descending, all we could see was driving snow flying past the windows and I started getting a bit nervous as it seemed we were really close to the ground and I couldn't see a thing!  But, it turned out we were just in some low lying clouds, and once we were below them we could see the ground again and it all turned out fine - the plane seemed to brake pretty hard, but we made it!  Our layover was long enough that we could eat supper at Chili's before boarding our connecting flight to Miami.  We had rented a couple movies from iTunes for Nathan's iPad and watched 127 hours on the flight from Chicago to Miami (it was really good, but I couldn't watch some parts!).  We arrived in Miami shortly after midnight, too late for the complimentary hotel shuttle.

We took a taxi to the Best Western Premiere Hotel and Suites - I had found a good deal at, and Best Western has an online price guarantee so they had to beat that price, so we stayed there for $113.  We slept in, ate breakfast at the buffet (slim pickings by the time we got there) and took the shuttle to the port.

Our ship was the last in line so we were the last ones dropped off by the shuttle, around 11:30.  It took us about 30 mins to go through the embarkation process and once on the ship we headed straight for the lunch buffet (OceanView Cafe - open all day, fantastic food, never had trouble finding a seat) located on Deck 14 as the staterooms would only be ready by 1.  After lunch we headed to our room (#8240 on Deck 8) - compared to last year's suite it felt small, but it was a typical size for a verandah stateroom - our balcony had super comfy chairs (which we rarely used anyway) and the bathroom had a fairly large shower for a cruise ship.  Our luggage hadn't arrived yet but, seasoned cruisers that we are, we had packed swimsuits in our carry-on so we quickly got changed and headed for the Solarium - an adults only glass enclosed pool.  The weather wasn't quite warm enough in Miami to be poolside outdoors, so the Solarium was a definite plus for that day, and any other day that would have less than ideal weather.

After lounging poolside and reading all afternoon (using our ereaders - perfect for trips - lightweight for packing, and the pages to flap around on windy days!).  At 5pm we went back to our room to watch the ship leave Miami, then we got dressed up and went to the main dining room, the Moonlight Sonata, for dinner.  The My Time Dining (come anytime for dinner) was on Deck 4 and that's what we signed up for.  The traditional set seating dining was on Deck 3 - same menu, but you have to come at the same time every day and sit at the same table.  We always choose flexible dining and always request to eat by ourselves. :)  We both had steak and it was delicious!  After dinner we did a little shopping (I bought DKNY polarized sunglasses for a great deal) and then went to the Welcome Aboard Variety Show at the Eclipse Theatre (Decks 3&4, om the opposite side of the Moonlight Sonata).

Sunday was an at sea day and we spent the entire day lounging, suntanning and reading by the main outdoor pool.  We had breakfast and lunch at the OceanView buffet.  For breakfast I usually had made to order omelettes or eggs and lots of watermelon.  For lunch I either had tacos (with chicken), pizza, subs or turkey burgers - and lots of watermelon. :)   Today was the first formal night at the Moonlight Sonata and we enjoyed another great dinner - I think I had lamb that night.  After dinner we did some more shopping (Nathan bought a Fossil watch and I bought a DKNY watch) and then we headed to the evening show, "Edge" performed by the ship's singers and dancers.

Monday was a port of call day but we were only scheduled to arrive in Puerto Rico at 3pm so we spent the first part of the day poolside once again!  Then we went ashore, walked the streets of Old San Juan, took the free trolley around the city, got off and walked some more, and I bought a purse at the Coach store for a pretty good deal, before heading back to the ship.  We had reservations at Murano's (one of 4 specialty dining restaurants on our ship) for 7.  Murano's is a fine French dining restaurant - Nathan had lobster which was prepared tableside, and I had the petit filet mignon trio - fantastic!  (Even with me being an extremely picky eater, there was always several choices of food I liked at all the restaurants - the food selection and quality on cruise ships is superb).  After dinner we did some more shopping (Nathan bought Oakley sunglasses) and then we headed to the evening show which featured the comedic juggling of Steve Rawlings.  He was pretty good, but a bit too hyper/weird for us.

Stay tuned for Part 2!

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