Taster Cruise onboard Celebrity Eclipse
Have you thought about taking a mini or taster cruise before? Maybe you are short of time or just want to get a feel for cruising before booking a longer cruise? My idea of a taster cruise was completely different to the actual experience I had onboard. I wanted to share my experience to help decide if a taster cruise is for you.
The first difference I noticed, was the atmosphere in the cruise terminal at check in. It was a much younger age group and some were enjoying elevenses as they waited in line. Not the tea and pastry type elevenses, but the swigging alcohol from a can type. If you are picturing a lager lout right now then you couldn’t be further from the truth. The particular lady that caught my eye was definitely dressed for the occasion and ready for a party weekend. That said, most guests had a drinks package included in the price, so I was interested to see that she couldn’t wait until she was onboard to start drinking.
It wasn’t long to wait for our first celebratory drink. Boarding the elegant Celebrity Eclipse in Southampton, we were welcomed onboard with a glass of champagne. That’s why you need the pushchair (buggy), because it’s hard not to spill your drink when you are chasing a small child around a busy ship.
As we walked towards the atrium to get our bearings, we spotted the speciality restaurant staff, taking reservations. We had not able to get dining times that worked with the nursery, I took the opportunity to get our dining times rearranged.
With that done, we headed for the pool deck.
The dancing fountain display was beautiful and had a very calming effect on me. We found a nice little spot to set up camp and distracted Josh with an extra large chocolate chip cookie, while we flagged down a poolside waiter.
After a few glasses of Prosecco (all included in the drinks package), and the mandatory dip in the pool, followed swiftly by a warm up in the hot tub, we headed to our rooms to prepare for the compulsory muster drill.
Please note this was pre-covid and things may have changed in regards to muster drill.
Celebrity Cruises have adopted a different approach to the muster drill, which caused some controversy between passengers. It was presented as a kind of James Bond spoof, where one of the agents was on a mission and in order to complete it, they were put through a series of emergency procedures. Personally, I thought this was a refreshing change to the usual safety video.
We took a stroll to the Sunset Bar at the aft of the ship for sail away, passing the stunning lawn club. If you ever cruise with Celebrity, you really must do this, it was absolutely breathtaking. People were sitting on blankets on the lawn and chatting and taking in the view.
You can sit on the grass and look straight down to the water as you start to move away from the dock. Cafe del Mar style upbeat jazz tunes play through speakers located around the lawn, and there is a kind of cool, sophisticated, buzz in the air. The diversity of people was refreshing and ranged from my 3 year old running around on the lawn, to romantic couples of all ages. There was a group of same sex couples chilling out together and ladies letting their hair down for a well deserved weekend away. Some of which had never cruised before, and others who were almost part of the furniture.
After sail away, I dropped Josh off at the X-Club and excitedly headed to one of Celebrity’s speciality restaurant I have always wanted to try, Qsine.
I think the Celebrity Cruises trainer, Leon Hand, aptly describes the experience as Heston Blumenthal meets Willy Wonka. That’s probably as close as you can get to an insight into this crazy, fun, delicious, quirky experience.
We docked in Le Havre but chose to stay onboard and enjoy the ship. So did most others and the Solarium was quite full. I didn’t mind it too much until a lady opposite me decided to FaceTime someone, only they didn’t answer the first three times she called them. I politely GLARED at her when she first started calling, but I think that just made her more insistent that she would proceed with the call.
That is the one downside of a taster cruise, you do get a higher proportion of inconsiderate passengers. I don’t know why that is, maybe they are just not used to cruise etiquette.
Benefits Of A Taster Cruise
One of the big benefits of a taster cruise, means you can book your next cruise whilst onboard and benefit from a lower deposit, extra on board credit and cheaper prices (because you are booking earlier). We booked balcony cabins for a 10 night Canary Island Cruise in October. It cost us around £1300pp. I checked the prices yesterday and although the cruise is almost sold out, what balconies are left are starting at £1900pp. So there is a good booking tip for you. Make sure to give the name of your travel agent so that they can manage the booking and they may even be able to give you a loyalty discount for booking with them.
So, after wandering around the ship and bumping into some familiar faces, we found the lawn club was once again the place to be. It was tranquil and spacious. The grass has a surprisingly calming effect on people for some reason. The pool area with the hot tub was more of a party atmosphere, but the lawn club was a real retreat from it all. We bumped into my friend and customer Kat, and her friend, and sat on the grass having a good old chat. It threatened to rain for a moment, but fortunately it passed.
That evening we had a meal in the fine dining restaurant, Murano. We opted for the wine pairing menu which was magnificent. The food, the staff, the service and the ambience were all exceptional. We raised a glass to the next cruise and enjoyed the rest of our evening.
The after dinner plan was to visit the Martini Bar where we would meet other people we knew onboard. After bumping into a couple of familiar faces, Captain Greybeard and Jo Rzymowska, we headed to the shops to spend our remaining on board credit. With cap in hand and a bag of goodies we were still left with some change. So we payed what was supposed to be a quick visit to the Roulette table. It seemed it was my lucky night, because I kept winning. Eventually we had to go because the kids club was closing. It was 1am!!
It was no Martini bar for us on this occasion. However, we spent a couple of great days onboard this stunning ship with two (and a half) very excited people to be hopping back on board for 10 days in October.