Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Celebrity Eclipse - Transatlantic Broadway and Boardwalks - Day 16 arrive Miami

Sat Nov 13th (day 15) Miami, FL, USA


Miami - end of the line -culmination -the last port; I prefer finale, it has a slight sense of grandeur that befits crossing the Atlantic Ocean at  an average speed of 21mph.


We arrive early morning and admire the billion dollar yatchs & watch the coastguard boats cruising up & down. In Europe, we tend to go for the walk off with our bags, self service style, but as our flights don't leave till late this afternoon we decide to spend the morning on the ship bag free - we are among the last group to leave.


Its hot, it's too hot - if that wasn't bad enough its also horribly sticky. We have spent many a Christmas in Orlando at WDW and had nice warm days and cool evenings but this is just a little uncomfortable. Does one month and a few degrees south really make so much difference.  The irony is the last time we were in Miami we strolled along the beach on a  grey cloudy day in July whilst being battered by a sharp breeze and all I could think  was "Jesus.. its just like Morecambe"

 If the heat wasn't bad enough Miami Port's curbside chaos is enough to put you off embarking/disembark here ever again. We have a car booked to drive us to the airport but our finding it or him finding us takes at least 30 minutes of patience, a hefty phone bill and descriptions of what we are wearing before a black sedan finally pulls up.

Safely bundled inside and with bottles of cold water we are on our way to the airport. The driver asks what time our flight is due (little does he or we know at this point) but on discovering it's in the evening he makes the suggestion we should dump our bags at the terminal and take  a local cab to a seafood restaurant a mile from the airport. 


A flight of local beers and glasses of Sauvignon, we tuck in to some lovely spiced shrimp and fish. Catch of the Day is a great find, full of locals and very tasty. We have ' Cuban' coffee to finish. Woo, now I'm awake!


 Reluctantly, we take a taxi back to the airport and check in. Having only ever flown with Thomas Cook once before on a long haul, I remember it being late and non existent for customer service. This time we didn't choose TC,  the flights were included with the cruise. Well the planes here but needs a tyre replacing. It takes another 36 hours until that tyre is replaced - we spend the night and the following day in the nearby Sheraton.. and 2 days in Miami airport! What a fiasco TC. We will never willingly book you again.
Good to be home anyway - we can finally start watching that Breaking Bad box set.

In Summary apart from the useless airline full marks to Celebrity. An unforgettable trip in lots of ways.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Celebrity Eclipse - Transatlantic Broadway and Boardwalks - Day 15 arrive Nassau

Fri Nov 12th (day 15) Nassau , New Providence, Bahamas


Clocks back again or was it forward this morning (I'm starting to get as confused as the poor lady on day 2) so we are up and on the balcony at 6.30am watching the sun rise slowly over the Island of New Providence whose name I didn't even know (Excuse my ignorance but  I just thought the island was called Nassau). We slip in through the narrow harbour entrance, spin around gracefully 180 degrees and back slowly into the pier. We are followed by 3 other ships a couple more old Carnivals - Elation & Victory - and Disneys Dream which at the moment sounds more like a Tim Burton Nightmare than a peaceful Dream as it seems to be 90% screaming children ;) on board.



Gemma brings us our final breakfast this morning so we thank her and tip her a little extra for what has been a truly delightful service every morning. By 9.00am its already passing 80c so we decide to head out before it gets even hotter and have a little exploration of the more historic areas of Nassau.



Once free of what seems like a million taxi drivers touting for business we have a  look at the Cathedral and the cloister gardens, the Governor's House before then circling back to Parliament square. These areas are quite  pretty compared to the frankly grotty high street and the light is superb this early in the morning.

Governor's Mansion, Nassau, Bahamas.
 
It is now just a little too hot for my pale English skin, we are back on board by 11:30 and sitting round the pool slowly frying. Splendour of the Seas - which I think  wins the ugliest boat in todays selection (hey lets just drop a rock wall on the top) - has arrived and is now doing the 180 degree spin in the harbour bringing the total here today to 5 ships. Glad we got out and about nice and early.

I think we must be more city tourist people as to be honest, I'm not sure what on earth I would do on a Caribbean cruise if the Bahamas is anything to go by (Nassau in particular)  Then again I suppose I'll have answered my own question when I'm digging the lane to the Barn out from under a snow drift this winter!



We leave at 5.00pm pulling out with horns blazing to tempt the Disney Dream to respond. Of course she cant resist and gives us a send off with several of her tunes.


Great dinner tonight and a final show featuring Christina from The Trends band as Adele, just fantastic & the Jersey Boys tribute band December 63 also do a short set, great entertainment all round.

Click for day 16

Friday, 9 December 2016

Celebrity Eclipse - Transatlantic Broadway and Boardwalks - Day 14 Bermuda > Nassau

Thu Nov 11th (day 14) Sea day to Nassau


After a real E ticket rollercoaster of a night; when at times it felt like the front of the ship was in mid air before dropping back into the sea, we awake to a hot, slightly more humid, sunny and calm morning. In fact it's too hot; our balcony faces south and without a breeze by 8.30am we have have retired  back into the air conditioning of the room.


Its a nice and easy -though sadly the last - full sea day today, we should arrive at the Bahamian capital Nassau tomorrow morning. We spend the day on sun lounges on the top deck or picnicking on the lawns . There is a quite a strong breeze up on the top decks which does disguise the heat from the sun today - so I'm predicting  a lot of lobster tans before the day is over.


We take lunch outside  - The Hotel Officers take on the Maritime Officers at a game of water polo (The maritime side of the crew like the captain is mainly Greek). Maritime wins as they seem to have a plan and tactic. They then take on a group of poor guests who sadly have no plan or tactics but hey at least they had a go.


Chic night again today and we have a reservation at the Tuscan restaurant. We're served by Zaza from Turkey who informs us that this is his 10th TA and this has actually been the roughest he has experienced. I'm quite surprised as I think we both  expected it to be a lot worse than it has been. There are bags of crystal ginger sweets and travel medication unpacked and unopened somewhere in the cabin. For starters Jack has the beautiful calamari that I had last time and I have the beef carpaccio. We share one of the super thin flatbreads (the garlic and onion one is much superior as the cheese  of the other makes the bread a little soggy - I hate floppy pizza bread) and then I have the Tuna and Jack the Snapper. We both finish with the tiramisu and more limoncello and coffee.

Tonight's show is Rock City. Again really well done with great singers the superb ship's orchestra and a couple of Guns n Roses songs to open so you cant go wrong.

Click here for day 15 

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Celebrity Eclipse - Transatlantic Broadway and Boardwalks - Day 13 - Bermuda day 2

Thu Nov 10th (day 13) leaving Bermuda > Nassau

Celebrity Eclipse Bermuda
Overnight here in Bermuda on the ship, our stateroom is directly opposite the fort in Kings Wharf, Naval Dockyards. The colour of the sea is so intense its reflects on the white ceiling of the balcony turning it turquoise. It is starting to cloud over a little this morning but its still nice and warm. We open up the doors and curtains after Gemma brings the breakfast and have a very English tea and muffins in front of the fort.

Celebrity Eclipse

Bermuda

We venture out into the harbour - initially this was to have a closer look at the US Team Oracle's Americas Cup yacht that we caught a glimpse of yesterday as we drove out from Kings Wharf; however this morning it seems to have already set off on a training sail (or flight depending on your view of what these yachts are now capable of) . ps Good luck to the UKs Landrover BAR.


The clouds as I mentioned are moving in quickly though this morning bringing a little misty rain with them and the odd downpour that has us running back to the ship.

Tug

At 12 noon we are pushing away from the harbour watched over by our tug who sits to protect us from drifting towards the reef. It thn takes a further hour to slowly  navigate our way out of the Bermuda passage shallows (tracked by dolphins) before we are back into the open sea to start a 805nm journey south to Nassau.


Weather update from Captain Mikael is a light-mid swell with some winds and the odd shower until this evening becoming warmer and sunnier as we move south. He got the first part right though the evening swell was a bit of a suprise.


Entertainment this evening is from a Jersey Boys style group of 4 guys called Dec 63 who do a good job, again helped by the superb "Eclipse Orchestra". We then have our usual dance to the house band "The Trends" in the grand foyer. The ship is now starting to pitch again (its extremely noticeable in the Sky Lounge at the very top of the ship which is making for a rather difficult time for those taking part in the ballroom evening).

Quote of the day goes to an English lady in conversation regarding this North Atlantic cruise in November "I packed completely the wrong things as I didn't really think we would have any cooler days!!!!!" .  

Click here for day 14 

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Celebrity Eclipse - Transatlantic Broadway and Boardwalks - Day 12 arrive Bermuda

Wed Nov 9th (day 12) Arriving Bermuda


Awake to a morning of lovely sunshine and it feels very nice and warm. No sign of any land, though its only 7.30am when Gemma arrives with breakfast so we still have quite a distance to go as we are not  due in Kings Wharf until around 10.30am. Lie on the sunbeds on the top deck to pass the time - at around 9am the pilot boards and we slow down to a crawl.


Its easy to see now why Bermuda so often gets missed off itineraries at the last minute if the winds are just that fraction too high; as to approach it requires a slow crawl through a channel surrounded on all sides by reefs, very visible today in the turquoise waters. 


 
A Carnival ship (a rather tired looking "Ecstasy") is also in port. She's due to leave later today - we will be stopping overnight. We dock in Kings Wharf port next to the Royal Naval dockyards with its fort overlooking the harbour.


We have another private trip here with Winsome Transport organised by Pam from Nova Scotia, who put the whole thing together using the roll call feature from Cruise Critic. Debbie (or Socks) is our driver and guide and takes us on a pretty intensive full day excursion that covers what feels like every inch of the islands that make up Bermuda. 




The weather stays nice for us and we climb lighthouses, collect glass from beaches, visit historic towns (every inch of Bermuda has some historic site) and churches, wander around heaven like golf courses and wade through the crystal clear waters on hot pink sand beaches - though from Jacks reaction I'm guessing the water isn't as warm as it looks.


A  late lunch (2pm and we're all starving - if you take this tour have a big breakfast first) and a nice cool beer is taken in Swizzles Bar; after running through the menu we decide on  a lovely huge fish sandwich.


Bermuda has just been hit a few weeks ago by a hurricane so a lot of trees have lost their green flush  but even so it still looks as beautiful as you imagine and is certainly as expensive as you would expect.


After lunch we head to St Georges where we bump into the Mayoress (who Socks knows - then again I dont think theres a person on the island who doesn't know Socks) before paying a visit to the tiny town hall of this pretty UNESCO town.


Now time for a quick history lesson - If you remember what I said earlier about the reefs that suround the island they played a significant role in how St Georges came to be the first capital of Bermuda. In the 17th Century Admiral Sir George Somers was leading a fleet of settlers over to Virginia from England. They hit a storm and realizing they were about to loose total control of the ships took the decision to deliberately run them aground on the reefs around Bermuda so they could walk on to the Island and from here settled and created the capital here calling it New London.


A new statue has recently been erected showing Sir George ecstatic about what he has discovered. Its interesting to note the statue was a unveiled by the Mayor of Lyme Regis - Sir Georges home town. Now that must have been a slightly better Mayors day out than the usual cutting the ribbon at the opening of a new supermarket.


We return back to the ship at a pitch black 5.30pm, its been a full and enjoyable day. The "Ecstasy" has already left leaving just the "Eclipse" at the pier for tonight.

Tonight its the MDR again where Moses (possibly the coolest waiter known to man) informs us it will be 'Evening chic' night tomorrow. He has a wonderful deep Caribbean accent so chic is pronounced as 'chick night' and I'm half expecting a band of steel drummers to accompany him as he describes tonight's recommendations from the menu. There's a lot of beautiful ceviche style scallops and tuna that's just been shown the  griddle for a second or two on tonight's menu - its all fantastic.

Click here for day 13