Duncan Writes

Adventures of a part-time traveller.

Norwegian Fjords

Sailing on Celebrity Eclipse, May 2013

Preparing for the Fjords

28 April 2013

We’re only 5 days away from our next cruise on Celebrity Eclipse to the beautiful Norwegian Fjords.  You can follow along over the next couple of weeks on here, assuming I can get posting by e-mail to work properly!  If you want to be notified of new posts, just click the ‘follow’ button at the bottom of the page and pop in your e-mail address.

One review I read of a Celebrity Eclipse cruise from Southampton mentioned of arriving at the dock and then eating lunch on the ship just 20 minutes later.  This does not sound possible based on my experience with Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 last year where we spent an age waiting to be called, checking in, queuing for security and finally boarding.  It may be that Celebrity manage this check-in process much more effectively than Cunard, and based on the pre-cruise experience on the My Celebrity website, it seems that they start early.

My Celebrity is your portal for preparing for your cruise.  You can do all of the usual things, like pre-book dining, excursion, and drinks packages (which we managed without any issue) but you can also check in online.  This is something that Cunard didn’t offer, and I wonder if it’s the key to the boarding process being faster.  Celebrity ask you for the details of all members in your party, including passport numbers, dates of birth, and payment card for your onboard account.  This is all printed on a ‘boarding pass’ which you are to present along with your identification and credit card for verification when boarding.

I also discovered that Celebrity don’t seem to have allocated a specific time to arrive at the pier (unlike Cunard) – our boarding pass simply asks us to arrive any time after 11am, but no later than 30 minutes prior to sailing.  Based on recommendations elsewhere, we plan to arrive early and give ourselves a tour of the ship while it’s still relatively empty.

Whether all this speeds up the process or not remains to be seen – I’ll let you know how we get on!

For those who don’t know, we leave Southampton on the 3rd of May and are on board for 8 nights, visiting Molde, Ålesund, Flåm, Bergen, and Stavanger, before returning to Southampton for our trip home.  We’ll also be staying in three different Premier Inn hotels during our break to help us break up the journey.  When on board we’ll have the chance to try all of the speciality dining venues that Eclipse has to offer, one of the official tours (on the Flåm railway), and experience the ‘Modern Luxury’ that Celebrity promise.

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Arrival in Southampton

02 May 2013

Alex and I have finally arrived in Southampton after our 450 mile journey over two days. We’ve been welcomed by 20º heat which is in stark contrast to the weather that we left in Central Scotland.

We decided to spread the journey over two days because we felt that 450 miles in one day was a little much. That said, splitting the journey up means spending only 3.5 to 4 hours driving each day, so it feels a bit unnecessary. Here’s a run down of our journey so far.

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Celebrity Eclipse: First Thoughts

03 May 2013

After months of waiting, we’ve finally boarded Celebrity Eclipse for our cruise to the Norwegian Fjords. Southampton is glorious again, so we’ve got a beautiful day for our sail away.

I’ve managed to take some quick photos which will be attached to the post as a gallery. I did mange to walk to the dock again and got a picture of Eclipse from Mayflower Park, adjacent to the City Cruise Terminal.


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A Busy Day at Sea

04 May 2013

I’m writing this after an exhausting second day (a sea day) on the ship. I feel like we’re finally getting familiar with Celebrity Eclipse and are beginning to settle in. Here’s what happened last night and today.

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Molde, Norway

06 May 2013

We had a late arrival in to Molde today, arriving at 13:30. A couple of hours earlier an announcement from the cruise director informed us that the Captain had decided to stray from the original plan, and take a more scenic route.


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Ålesund, Norway

07 May 2013

Yesterday we were scheduled to dock in Ålesund, Norway. Some other firsts yesterday included breakfast in Moonlight Sonata and dinner in Oceanview Cafe (the buffet restaurant). We also enjoyed one of the guest performers that Celebrity had booked, a comedy magician called Neal Austin. Read all about it in today’s post!


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Flåm, Norway

08 May 2013

It was an early start yesterday as we were on the only Celebrity tour we’d booked: The Flåm Railway.

We woke up early to the most stunning part of our cruise so far: sailing through the Aurlandsfjord arm of the Sognefjord. At the end of this arm lies Flåm, a tiny port completely enclosed by the terrain.


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Bergen, Norway

09 May 2013

Arriving in Bergen was quite different from our previous port in tranquil Flåm. Bergen is a huge city, both in comparison and objectively. We were very lucky with the weather in Bergen, as we arrived in glorious 17°C heat – definitely short sleeve weather, especially for a couple of guys used to the inclement Scottish weather. This was especially lucky given the fact that Bergen has rain for about 250 days per year!

On arrival in Bergen we were shuttled to a square in town that feature the most hilarious fountain I’ve ever seen.


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Stavanger, Norway

10 May 2013

Another early morning, we were keen to explore Stavanger despite having no real inclination of what we wanted to do. Also in today’s blog: fun in Moonlight Sonata and a west end medley!


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Final Day at Sea

12 May 2013

We knew that this day had to come – the last full day on Celebrity Eclipse. Nonetheless we were determined to enjoy ourselves and managed to have as relaxing and fun a day as we could, while finishing off our packing and getting ready for the next days disembarkation in Southampton.

Waking up on a sea day is fabulous; I love reaching out from bed and drawing the curtains to ease myself into the day with sea stretching endlessly into the distance.


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Celebrity Eclipse: Disembarkation

13 May 2013

I’ll keep this one brief, as I’m in the post-cruise blues: back to work on Monday to a nice full inbox is always good fun! I wanted to talk about Celebrity’s disembarkation process, which actually started a few days before the end of the cruise.

I think about 3-4 days before the end of the cruise Celebrity delivered a form to our stateroom asking us about our disembarkation preferences, and claiming that nobody will experience the typical disembarkation troubles on Celebrity. Because we were cruising for only 8 nights, it felt somewhat like we’d only just got on, and they were already trying to get rid of us. Not something I was particularly keen to think about half way through our cruise.

When we sailed with Cunard, we were given a disembarkation time, and told we could opt for self disembarkation to leave early but carry our own luggage off. This worked very well for us. This time, however, we thought it would be nice to relax with a bit of a lie in, and have a leisurely breakfast in the buffet before getting off. Celebrity allow you to select your preferred time, up to 09:00. So we chose the latest we could.

Our luggage tags arrived a couple of days later, and instructions to meet in the Eclipse Theatre at 09:15 to disembark. We could still use our room until that point (which I was surprised at) so we looked forward to a relaxed morning in the buffet.

Fast forward to final sea day, and our evening delivery of Celebrity Today, and we discovered that the Oceanview Cafe is only open for breakfast from 06:00 to 08:00, meaning we’d have more than an hour to kill before we could leave the ship. I really wish Celebrity had told us that, and we would have opted for much earlier disembarkation time. That, or have Oceanview Cafe open for longer.

The other issue with the limited opening times for Oceanview Cafe is that it was incredibly busy in the morning with everyone looking to enjoy their last meal on board, and fill up for their onward travel from Southampton.

Upon arrival at the theatre, we were told at almost exactly 09:15 that we could now disembark from the gangway on deck 5; the same deck that welcomed us on to Eclipse just 8 short days ago. It was certainly sad to be leaving Eclipse, and we look forward to returning to Celebrity, probably next year.

We eventually decided to abandon our Manchester Premier Inn booking, and drove straight home. It was good to get back, and we arrived back in Falkirk at 18:30, making fairly good time, and including a lunch stop at the Trafford Centre in Manchester.

Overall I think the Celebrity Disembarkation process was fairly smooth, although being able-bodied I would probably opt for self disembarkation in the future. There doesn’t seem to be anything stopping those passengers who opted for self-disembarkation from leaving at their leisure, as the gangway seems open to anyone who wants to leave.

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