As expected, we kept waking up through the night, but we still did manage to get some quality sleep, so we got up at 6.35am and I made a beeline for the large bathroom and enjoyed a long, hot shower and washed my hair. While I was getting ready, we made the most of the coffee percolator in our room and watched the breakfast time news. Opening our room curtains wide, we looked out across the road towards the airport where we could see aircraft taking off and landing.
We then went down to breakfast around 7.45am. The hotel restaurant was already quite busy, and we each paid the $22.95 (quite expensive, we thought) for the “all you can eat” breakfast buffet and unlimited tea and coffee refills.
I enjoyed home-made granola followed by a healthy selection of fresh fruits and a boiled egg, washed down with orange juice and two cups of hot, strong coffee. We didn’t need to check out of our room until 11.00am, but first of all we had to find the Celebrity Cruises rep and check ourselves in.
The Celebrity rep explained we needed to be in the lobby for 12.15pm for the shuttle bus to the cruise terminal. We returned to room 819, packed up all our stuff and brought our cases down to the lobby to put with the rest of the luggage to be taken to the Celebrity Eclipse.
We now had some time to kill, so we had a wander up the road to stretch our legs. There wasn’t a lot around here apart from hotels, car hire companies, long-term car parks and office buildings. Every few minutes a roar of jet engine preceded the sight of an aircraft taking to the skies, and we walked around the block before returning to the hotel.
We then went back to our room, had a final check around and collected our hand luggage before making our way back downstairs. We decided we’d sit out by the pool while we waited until it was time to get the shuttle bus to the pier.
When we got down to the lobby bar, we noticed a giant TV screen that was showing the Liverpool v Tottenham match which certainly kept Trevor happy; we watched the last 25 minutes of the game whilst enjoying a Budweiser each. Then we relaxed beside the pool before making our way back to the waiting area for the transfer to the pier. The weather was cloudy and was certainly cooler than we expected it to be for California.
The buses arrived and our group was called to board. It took about 30 minutes to reach San Pedro, where the cruise terminal was situated, and we caught our first glimpse of the Celebrity Eclipse. She looked huge (in fact, she is the second-largest ship we will have ever been on, next to the Queen Mary 2) but she looked a tiddler next to the massive Norwegian Bliss that was moored up beside her. This ship was a gigantic 168,000 tons and looked like a colossal, floating block of flats – quite hideous. We worked out that the Norwegian Bliss was the same tonnage as the Eclipse and the last ship we were on, the Balmoral, combined! The queues for the Bliss were absolutely horrific; she probably holds 5,000 passengers against the Eclipse’s 2,800.
Inside the terminal we were relieved to see that the queue was not as bad as expected, and was moving fairly swiftly. We used the time to do that most pleasant of pastimes, people-watching, as we surreptitiously looked around at our fellow passengers-to-be. There seemed to be quite a lot of different age groups as well as several children and teenagers. 2,800 passengers is certainly more than we usually feel comfortable with, and we hoped that the sheer number of people wouldn’t stop us from making friends which, to me, is part of the memorable experience of cruising. If you’ve read my August 2019 blog of our cruise on the Balmoral¸ you’ll know what I mean! 😊
Presently we found ourselves at the head of the queue, where check-in was fast and efficient. We received our shipboard passes and happily made our way along the skywalk into the interior of the Celebrity Eclipse.
We had been allocated stateroom 8166, a spacious, airy and comfortable balcony cabin on the starboard side. There was a large sofa and table, dressing table and chair, flat-screen TV mounted on the wall and a queen-size bed next to the floor-to-ceiling glass sliding balcony doors. The balcony contained two deckchairs and a table, and a glass front that allowed us an unimpeded view. The bathroom was also larger than that which you’d find on most cruise ships.
As it was now about 2.00pm and we hadn’t eaten since breakfast, we were a bit peckish, so our first stop was to the Ocean View café for a light lunch and a drink. I enjoyed some fresh garden salad washed down with a glass of prosecco, while Trevor had a selection of some of the hot dishes on offer washed down with a Samuel Adams beer. In fact, the Ocean View was massive and there was a huge array of foods from all different nationalities; we were really spoilt for choice.
When we got back to stateroom 8166 afterwards, we found our cases had arrived, so we spent some time unpacking and hanging everything up. Our only complaint was that there was hardly any storage space. One fairly small wardrobe between us meant that hanging up 15 nights’ worth of clothes was a bit of a squeeze, and the only drawers around in the cabin were quite small, meaning clothing had to be folded up quite a lot to fit in.
Once our unpacking was done and the cases stowed under the bed, we decided to have a power nap before lifeboat drill at 4.15pm. However, there was absolutely no chance of snatching any sleep because the cruise director’s voice kept blaring out of the Tannoy with annoying regularity, and we had no means of turning it off (that we were aware of). In fact, her voice sounded weirdly like Alexa or Siri, and I was starting to wonder whether it was a real person or a robotic voice. 😊
Soon the signal sounded for us all to make our way to the lifeboat muster station; in our case that was the Eclipse Theatre on Deck 4. Inside, we had to check-in and were shown to our seat to watch a safety video, which was actually quite amusing. Then it was back to our cabin where our holiday could now start in earnest. 😊
We noticed we had been allocated table #350 in the Moonlight Sonata restaurant, or early sitting which is at 5.45pm; very early in fact, as we usually dine at 6.15-6.30pm on most cruises. We did manage to get our power nap, and then we pottered around for a bit before getting washed and smartened up for our dinner. At around five o’clock, the Celebrity Eclipse gave a blast of her foghorn and we started to move away from the dockside. We were on our way to Hawaii!
On Celebrity ships the dress code is a bit more relaxed than on other ships; there are no formal nights, instead they tend to be smart-casual or ‘evening chic’. I therefore put on a black dress with white polka dots and a neat little black shrug, and sling-back shoes decorated with rhinestones.
In the restaurant we were shown to a large table near the window, at which some couples were already seated. In fact, it was a table for 12. We were the only Brits on a table full of Americans. In fact, we’d never met any other Brits since leaving the aircraft.
The other couples on the table introduced themselves as Barb and Dick, Audrey and Grace, Randy and Donna, and Kurt and Sue, and they all seemed very pleasant. The conversation flowed, but for such a large table it meant that those seated at each end could barely hear the person at the other end.
At one point, we noticed that the Eclipse had come to a halt and we wondered what had happened; the voice coming over the Tannoy announced that a medical emergency had occurred and someone was going to be helicoptered off the ship! So that unfortunate person’s cruise was over before it had begun. ☹
The meal was delicious, and once again we were spoilt for choice as to what to have. In the end I settled for a Caesar salad to start, followed by a sirloin steak and finished off with crème brûlée. It was all washed down with water and rosé wine.
As the main entertainment didn’t start until 9.00pm, we went along to the Quasar lounge and took part in the quiz. However, it was all based around advertising slogans for mainly-American products, so we only scored an appalling 2/15. 😊
We then took our seats in the Eclipse Theatre for tonight’s show, a Buddy Holly tribute by a really talented, lively group of musicians and singers called the Rave-Ons. It was a great show, very entertaining, and we enjoyed it a lot.
Then it was time for us to take the limelight ourselves, as it was Karaoke Night in the Quasar lounge. Quite a few singers got up and gave it their best shot, and it was all good fun. I got up and did Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black, then later on I sang the Pet Shop Boys’ It’s a Sin. One lady who’d never heard that one before came over and asked what it was called, and said she enjoyed my singing.
As it was after 11.30pm now and we were still a little jet-lagged, we returned to 8166 and settled down for our first night on board. In fact, as we’re sailing west, we had to put our clocks back an hour so we’d gain an extra hour in bed. We slept soundly, with the soothing sounds of the sea lulling us through the slightly-open balcony doors. 😊