Keith Sanford has a challish for life on the open seas in a balcony stateroom
Sixteen days at sea sounds like a punishment for some, but to seasoned cruisers it’s music to the ears. Trust me once you embrace your inner sailor the sight of Celebrity’s ‘Eclipse’ – all 122,000 tonnes of her parked at the dockside – is thrilling. And once on board in our comfortable and well-appointed balcony stateroom, we are itching to set sail.
Miami was our ultimate destination, calling at Boston, New York, Bermuda and Port Canaveral en route, (with overnighters in New York and Bermuda on the ship) and with Eclipse having recently enjoyed a multi-million pound refit, we were glad for the time to explore.
Most ships’ layouts are pretty similar and tend to revolve around a grand central atrium with a number of flowing staircases. The theatre is located at the front, the main dining room at the rear, and a vast gym to help burn off extra calories provides amazing views over the front of the ship .
You’ll find the swimming pools, Jacuzzis, a rock-climbing wall and in Eclipse’s case, the only glass blowing factory at sea on the upper decks with bars, eateries pastry shops, etc., spread throughout the ship. The selection of speciality restaurants, (which attract a modest surcharge), will differ depending on what vessel you’re on. Eclipse has the Tuscan Grille for great steaks, pastas and salads ; Murano which leans towards a French palette,with numerous dishes flambéed tableside and Qsine, which I can only describe as ‘fine dining, made fun’ as you order from an iPad menu .
Relaxing during the initial seven days crossing the Atlantic can be tiring, (especially after eating so much), but they’re never boring, with activities for every age throughout the day. These range from a variety of educational classes, tours of the ships, enrichment lectures with guest speakers, to various classes in cookery and painting.
If you do find yourself with free time, you can always pamper yourself and head for the Canyon Ranch Spa which hasr facilities and a range of services and treatments that are mind-blowing.
My wife could happily visit on a daily basis, with different facials, hot stone treatments, body wraps, massages, etc., all available and I won’t pretend to understand what everything on offer is, but I did particularly enjoy visiting the Persian Garden, a serene adult-only area of the spa, that has piped music, heated stone beds to relax on, a choice of water-jet showers to choose from and different steam rooms, (wet and dry), that provide sanctuary from the rest of the ship.
The reason my wife and I are hooked on cruising, is because service levels are faultless, amenities and facilities rival those of any five-star hotel and you only ever need to unpack once.
In return, we get to visit different countries and cities, whilst bathing in a wide range of varying cultures and all the while enjoying breath taking scenery, as the ship sails around the world and we eat our way round it.