From Russia with Love

Celebrity Cruises | Celebrity Eclipse

By I Fretwell on 21 August 2017

Excellent cruise from both itinerary and standard of service. From having a priority embarkation (AquaClass stateroom) at 10.30am, the holiday started immediately with a glass of welcome champagne, time to peruse the layout of the ship, book a select restaurant (Murano) for birthday/retirement celebration and upgrade from classic beverage package to premium (well worth the extra as this increased your allowance from $9.00 to $15.5 per drink, which included all wines and cocktails), and the Martini bar ia a must. We dined in the Blu restaurant for AquaClass passengers, and this was first class with the slightly healthy food option, but also the friendly waiters, and sommeliers, who constantly topped up our wine, allowing a glass of white with a starter, then a red with main followed by a dessert wine if you wished. Breakfast is also excellent, but sadly some ridiculous food hygiene body has stopped the table side museli! Murano on this cruise was not as good as previous visits on other Celebrity ships. Sea days were relaxing, with plenty of things to do especially the glass blowing demonstration, the talks and presentations (especially the very young Greek captain. Ports of call included Bruges, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Tallin, St Petersburg and Rostock (Germany). All great places to visit, the weather was mixed with a few heavy showers, and a mini micro storm causing a call from the bridge “Echo, echo, echo”.
The highlight of the cruise was our 3 day full excursion of St Petersburg with our tour guide Paulina (Brilliant young confident, assertive typical Russian, knowledgable guide). Each of the 3 days started early (07.45 – 08.15), allowing for immigration (not as bad as expected). Unless you have a Russian Visa the only way to see St Petersburg is on a shore excursion package. Although a little expensive, 2 of the 3 days did include lunch (3 x course with champagne and vodka), and we did not repeat any of the programme, visiting palace after palace and getting to know the history of the Russian Royalty, and a bit of Rasputin. The Hermitage (Winter palace) is mesmerising and equally both Catherine Palace and Peterhof Palace are stunning overwhelming places to visit. Gold leaf everywhere, mixed with the sad history and the destruction and devastation caused by several conflicts and wars. No real mention of present day Russia or recent history of communism (Leningrad times). The KGB building still in use. The river cruise and visits to the Church of Spoiled blood and the cathedral of St Peter and St Paul also incredible places.
The cruise ship was faultless, the bars and coffee areas, the Eclipse theatre (High standard of productions and artistes), the indoor pool (Solarium), towels and beds freely available, with attentive pool butlers. The grass on top deck had facilities where we played boules. The choice of bottled beers in the passport bar, and the martinis from the martinin bar, all inclusive in the premium package.
Photos still a bit pricy, but we did buy one. Formal nights are named as elegant chic, which allows smart suit with or without tie, and a more relaxed approach, but a few still had full bow ties with dinner jackets.
The Oceanview buffet is far superior to P&O and RCI ships, with every style and type of cuisine available, clean presentation, plenty of seating, and again attentive sommeliers to top up your wine.
We did a couple of the wine tasting sessions (extra cost), but a bit disappointed with these, which we reported to guest relations who, passed on our comments to the head sommeliers, who then arrived at our table in Blu restaurant with a bottle of blush Tattinger champagne.

Very impressed with Celebrity Cruises (our 4th cruise) and we took advantage of the onboard booking ($150.00 on board spend added to our account immediately), plus on board spend for the next one, classic drinks package and a summer saving of £600.00 on our next cruise (September 2018, trying Jet Set Sail).
In comparison to P&O, RCI and Cunard, Celebrity for us has the edge, with its modern style, friendly crew, and AquaClass staterooms (real showers and no curtain). Daily room service for early morning wake up call with fresh coffee beats a kettle and UHT milk.
An amazing cruise, most enjoyable itinerary and first class service.

By on 21 August 2017

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