Celebrity Eclipse 2014
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New York By Night:
The Empire State Building & One World Trade Center

Revised Itinerary Show Map
Sunday 9th November-Southampton, UK
Monday-at sea
Tuesday-at sea
Wednesday-Funchal, Madeira
Thursday-at sea
Friday-at sea
Saturday-at sea
Sunday-at sea
Monday-at sea
Tuesday-New York, USA
Wednesday-New York, USA
Thursday-at sea
Friday-at sea
Saturday-Port Canaveral, Florida
Sunday 23rd November-Miami, Florida
Disembark Celebrity Eclipse
Fly to UK overnight

See the Original Celebrity Eclipse 2014 Itinerary >>

There's no doubting that we were all extremely disappopinted that we would no longer be calling at Bermuda - one of the prime reasons for choosing this cruise - but we had also booked tickets for the "Top-of-the-Rock" at the Rockefeller Center, as well as theatre tickets to see the famous Rockettes in the 2014 Christmas Show at Radio City Music Hall; these were all now useless. I had allowed for the possibility that we might be late arriving in New York but not two days late!

The photos of Celebrity Eclipse & all ports visited on this cruise can be found on my account at Captain Martini >>

Click this link to follow our adventures as posted live on-line....

Sunday 9th November 2014
Embarkation in Southampton
"Transatlantic Detour - Bermuda Blown Away!
However, at check-in, it was only Andrew & I that learned of this re-routing and it was from us that the others found out. The decision had clearly only just been made and there hadn't been time to brief all the check-in staff but one has to wonder why they bothered telling us at all because at no time did they tell us that we could cancel the cruise and have a refund!

But once aboard, our group discussed the situation in the crowded Oceanview Café and decided to accept that our disappointment was down to the weather, for which we could not blame Celebrity, so the right thing to do was to try to make the best of the cruise we were now on.
(right) The vast servery of the Oceanview Café on Deck 12 - but without the people!
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Our Accommodation
Once again, Andrew, Gerry & I shared an S1-grade Suite. Similar in size to our "Junior Suite" on Independence of the Seas in May, the layout was different, most notably in its wardrobe facilities, but being on the corner, it enjoyed the benefit of a large "Porthole" as well as sliding balcony doors.

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S1-grade Sky Suite #1403
Sky Deck (10)
& Afternoon Tea
Suite #1403 from the other end
(before the beds were seperated)
Champagne Sailaway!

Surprisingly, wardrobe space was not generous for 3 adults, but it worked out OK and the benefits included complimentary champagne, hors d'oevres every evening and a delightful Butler "Lorenzo" who, besides being a gem, delivered a trolley-service Afternoon Tea every day!
(right) Departure from Southampton - Isle of Wight ferry Red Eagle passing us.
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Meanwhile, Sally & Frank were along the corridor in a "Concierge-class" cabin while Lesley & Peter also had an S1-suite identical to ours but higher-up on Resort Deck(12).

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Our large table for 7 was in a splendid position at the head of the Restaurant below the stairs, while our waiters, Jesus (Castro) and Yashvin, proved equally splendid throughout the cruise.

No surprises with the menus though, apart from the appearance of some rather mundane "British" items
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on the "Favorites Menu", such as Fish & Chips, Irish Stew & Chicken Tikka Masala! I'm not sure these are what I would expect for a 4-star plus dinner! Favorites Menu >>, First Night's Menu >>, Dessert Menu >>

While the quality of the food was excellent and its presentation had the finesse that was lacking aboard Independence of the Seas, having travelled Celebrity 6 times in 4 years, the menus are now a bit predictable; even without collecting them, Lesley said she was starting to remember them! Even so, Dinner was extremely good! See also the Complete set of Menus >> collected on this cruise.

Monday 10th - Tuesday 11th November 2014
2 Days at Sea
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If this was avoiding the bad weather, then it’s a good job we didn’t follow the original itinerary!

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Morning Swim
A Challenge!
Grey, wet & windy crossing the Bay of Biscay
and old-fshioned steamer-rugs for the fresh-air enthusiasts!

With rough seas and thunder-storms last night, the AquaSpa Pool had chucked half its contents across the deck by this morning and was only 3ft deep; as it slopped back and forth, I kept bumping my knees on the bottom! I managed to outlast 3 other swimmers but it was challenging!

While the Room-Service Breakfast Menu was a bit more extensive than in the lower cabin-grades, the toast was still like cardboard and the Granola-Berry Parfait I had become rather fond of on previous trips seemed somehow disappointing. Just as well we all eat well last night!

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Breakfast Menu Card
Breakfast "en-suite"!
Our first Formal Night
in the Sky Lounge and Moonlight Sonata Restaurant
Special Chocolates
at bedtime!

The rest of the day was a lazy one, with choppy seas and everyone indoors. With the Theatre closed for rehearsals, the talk by Chris West on Espionage was in the small lecture-theatre, Celebrity Central and as a consequence, was heavily over-attended.

The highlight of the day was our first Elite Captains Club 5pm Social in the Sky Lounge, with complimentary drinks (by way of a new system of vouchers) and hot canapés, followed by our first Formal Night Dinner (excellent) and big show (hence, the rehearsals earlier). Butler Lorenzo had arranged reserved seats for us (one of our "suite perks"), including tickets for Sally & Frank; it seems he had taken something of a liking to Sally when he was introduced to her yesterday!

Show Picture Full Size Our Cruise Director was Sue Denning from Birmingham; quite what the Americans thought of her accent is anyone's guess but she was efficient and witty, as well as being a classy dresser with a penchant for shoes!

Tonight's big show, Edge - The Show we had seen twice before although it may have been refreshed since 2012 when it wasn't that good. But with a fresh cast, this compilation show had its colour and energy restored with reasonable vocals and routines and some daring aerial work above the audience!

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The first big production show "Edge - The Show". A fresh cast, colourful, energetic and quite good!

There was a lot of movement in the night, with many creaks, rattles and bumps; even so, I slept quite well, considering I was in the less comfortable settee roll-out bed (it was my turn this cruise!)

Weather-wise, it was a repeat of yesterday. This being the first time we had experienced this ship in heavy seas, I was not particularly impressed; keeping the wrist-bands on and staying low-down in the ship certainly seemed like the best thing to do!
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Galley Tour
Visual Aids?
The Official Menu Guide
Happy Chefs!
Cost of Breakages
A Warning!

A welcome distraction was the morning Galley Tour, although it was slightly marred by so many people doing it and by a lot of delays and waffling in the restaurant, waiting for the various groups to be dispatched. Unfortunately, ours was the last group and I had to cut short the free tastings afterwards, in order to get to the lecture in time.

Show Picture Full Size The lecture was on "Famous Transatlantic Voyages of the Past" and was given by Ken Williams, an American. It was OK, I guess; but on this subject, I do set rather high standards!

Also in the Theatre that evening was Lindsay Hamilton, popular UK singer and cabaret artiste. She was pretty good really, although for me, she ruined one of Dusty's most famous hits, "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" by blasting it out as an opening number. Please have some respect for your betters next time, my Dear!

The Captains Club Celebration
The afternoon had seen the main Captains Club Celebration Party but whereas in the past I have said that "Celebrity certainly know how to throw a party", this time it was something of a disappointment. True, there was plenty to drink and true, canapés were in abundance (especially since the weather put a lot of people off climbing to deck-14 forward!) but there was little entertainment and the Captain's speech was a bit lacklustre. The atmosphere was rather "ordinary".

Wednesday 12th November 2014
Funchal, Madeira
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More Delays....
The revised itinerary had indicated that we would arrive in Madeira at 12noon, departing at 7pm. But at 10am, there was an announcement from Captain Manetas saying that, owing to the bad weather (which we had all been experiencing!), he had not been able to maintain the speed necessary to arrive on (revised) schedule. We would now arrive around 1.30pm.

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On the Helipad
An "Exclusive" Sail-in
on the Helipad
Reid's Palace Hotel
(the pink building, left)
& MS Thomson Majesty
MS Thomson Majesty (40,876grt - 1,460pass)
ex-Royal Majesty of 1992

Delays aside, the weather had improved and one of our Captains Club Elite Member perks was an "exclusive" invitation to a Champagne Sail-in to Funchal on the forward Helicopter Deck.

Already in port was the "new" Thomson Majesty, until recently with Louis Cruise Lines. However, we travelled on her in 2003 as NCL's Norwegian Majesty to Bermuda. By then she had been "stretched" but was launched as the smaller (and much nicer) Royal Majesty of 1992. Norwegian Majesty in 2003 >> and Royal Majesty in 1995 >>
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Rather than taking an organised ship's tour, we all took the port shuttle bus into the centre of town and walked to the Cable-car or Teleférico for the ride to Monte 1,840ft (560m) up the mountain.

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The centre of Funchal
& the Statue of João Gonçalves Zarco
The Portuguese discoverer of Madeira in 1419
The Funchal-Monte Teleférico
3,200m long (2 miles) & rising 560m (1,840ft) in 15 minutes

Apart from the view, which was beautifully clear today, we only went for the ride really but the Pilgrimage Church of Nossa Senhora do Monte is worth a visit, as are the Tropical Gardens of the 18th century Monte Palace Hotel, which include a collection of vintage Portuguese wall-tiles. Sally bought the "official" photo >> Show Picture Full Size

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View from Monte
Celebrity Eclipse & Thomson Majesty
Pilgrimage Church
Nossa Senhora do Monte
The Basket-Sled Toboggans
and their handlers!
Monte Palace Tropical Gardens

Initially, Lesley had notions to try the infamous Basket-sled Toboggan Ride, but when she saw the sleds, she wasn't impressed; even less so with their handlers, some of whom looked a bit of a rough bunch to be honest! Andrew & I had done it years ago in 1990 and found it somewhat "over-rated"! (see right - photo from 1990) Show Picture Full Size

On returning to Funchal by way of the Teleférico, we then went to find the rather lovely Art Deco Mercado dos Lavradores (Farmers' or Workers' Market) on the edge of the Old Town.

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The Art Deco
Market Hall
Mercado dos Lavradores
The Art Deco Farmers Market
(Gerry's photo)
Artistic Vegetables
(Gerry's photo)
The Old Town
(Gerry's photo)

Exploring more of the "Old Town" of Funchal, and in search of a Tapas Restaurant, we stumbled upon Rua de Santa Maria, where dozens of the doorways have been decorated by artists as part of one of the most brilliant and colourful public art concepts. (Photos below by Gerry)

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Rua de Santa Maria in the Old Town
Decorated doorways - a colourful example of individual, public art (photos by Gerry)

The modest little café we chose for our "Tapas-break" was small, dark and deserted when we first went in but we couldn't fault the hospitality of the proprietress; at one point, we even spotted the cook coming back from the market with all the ingredients! It was really nice!

Show Picture Full Size The others then walked back through town to the shuttle, while I went on foot via the Promenade, to get another view of our ship across the harbour. In hindsight, however, the walk back through the port to the ship proved rather longer than I realised!
(left) Funchal Cathedral from the Promenade
(right) Celebrity Eclipse (2010: 122,000grt - 2850pass)
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Thursday 13th - Monday 17th November 2014
5 Days at Sea - Crossing the Atlantic
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Day 1
Having left Madeira, we were at last heading for New York and although the weather was quite pleasant, the AquaSpa Pool was up to its tricks this morning and it was bruised knees again!

With the clocks back and an extra hour in bed, it was time for a cooked breakfast and when it comes to Eggs Benedict, health and economy have combined because whereas I used to joke that the chickens on board ships always lay eggs in twos, these days the dish comes in 6 styles but all with one poached egg. The problem today was that both Andrew's egg and mine were still cold in the middle! Andrew took his back first but when I returned mine, the Chef went off in a huff!

A Negative Day?
It was still warm and sunny on the balcony today but I was having difficulty seeing why we were here, now that Bermuda and our Rockettes Xmas Show had been "blown away" in return for just a pleasant afternoon in Madeira. I still had my wrist-bands on because the movement of the ship was quite pronounced at the stern where our suite was and privately, I was not looking forward to the prospect of 5 days in deteriorating weather, followed by two days in a cold and wet New York!

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AquaSpa Pool
Bruised knees again!
Egg Benedict
Trouble for the Chef!
Tuscan Grille
The Revised Menus

The highlight today though was dinner in Tuscan Grille. Its "Mediterranean" style was reassuringly familiar, although the menu was less extensive than previously. "Accompaniments" were now listed separately, to give more felixibility of choice - and to make it look like there was more to choose from! Personally, I preferred the "old" menu but service was excellent and it came to the same thing in the end; we ate too much! However, the White Chocolate Mocha Coffee was a new discovery on my part! At $35 cover charge (unless you're in a suite) it's still good value.

Friday 14th November 2014
At Sea - Day 2
Play YouTube Video
There was a lot of rockin’ and rollin’ last night and, still with bruised knees, the AquaSpa Pool was too rough today see YouTube Video >>, so I did my 60 lengths in the outdoor pool, which is deeper and wasn’t sloshing about so badly. Even so, it was a bit brisk running across the deck afterwards!

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The Main Pool
Still doing 60 lengths!
Wine 101 - Wine Tastings with the Captain's Club
and getting well into it! (Gerry's photos)
Claire Vinkesteijn
Holland's Got Talent

But with all this Atlantic motion, Lesley was not too good this morning and even though the clocks went back another hour last night, Frank decided he wanted a lie-in, so the rest of us did what we do best; increased the alcohol intake! After coffees (special ones of course) there was a free wine-tasting, so we did that too!

Meanwhile, Andrew, Gerry & I were in and out on the balcony like the figures on a medieval town clock, as first the sun came out, then it showered, then the sun came out again, and so on all day.

We were not doing well at the Team Quizzes either; we couldn’t seem to compete with all the “hyper-competitive regulars” who have probably remembered the questions from last time!

After dinner, the Show was pianist/vocalist, Claire Vinkesteijn, a finalist (though not a winner!) on TV's Holland's Got Talent 2013. Apart from a predilection for short, almost ballet-style frocks, she gave a polished performance, including some creditable piano pieces evoking the great Liberace.

Saturday 15th November 2014
At Sea - Day 3
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Amazingly, the temperature reached 72°F today! It was hard to believe we were in mid-Atlantic in November, although the TV News was reporting Arctic weather conditions in the North-Eastern United States with heavy snow-falls and traffic chaos just north of New York!

This morning, Lesley, Sally & I attended a Cookery Demo in the small Lecture Theatre, given by the charismatic Executive Chef, Robert Sauer and his dishy Assistant! Between them, they prepared Murano Lobster with cream, brandy and herbs, as well as Dover Sole. I was really hungry after that!

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Group Photo
Formal Night No.2
Tonight's Dinner
Favorites & Main Menu
Show - "Ovations"
Not worth any!
Ready for Bed
Pyjamas laid out!

Tonight was our 2nd Formal Night of the cruise and time for another Group Photo before dinner. The Baked French Onion Soup and Wild Mushroom Vol-au-Vent were excellent but Frank & I both had the Herb Roasted Leg of Lamb and found it a little disappointing; perhaps a rare occasion when the Welsh or New Zealand Lamb from Sainsburys has proved better at home!

As for the 2nd Production Show of the cruise, "Ovations", it was dire! The title was the clue as to what they expected from the audience but it was just another compilation show with poor vocals and lacklustre scenery; just a lot of shouting and walking about on stage. We had seen this show twice before in 2010 & 2012, and it was bad then but this time was no better!

Sunday 16th November 2014
At Sea - Day 4
It was choppy again overnight and with another hour back on the clocks, it was suddenly 20°F colder than yesterday! Today, we should have been arriving in New York but instead, we were still two days away following course 280° from Madeira.

At last, the Captain announced that he had secured extra time in New York; after the big build-up of expectations on everyone’s part over the last few days, it now transpired that we would be departing at 8pm instead of 6pm! In my diary I wrote, "Gee, I can’t wait to take advantage of that!"

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Jaques & Aloysius
at sea (Gerry's photo)
& Afternoon Tea
the Sky Lounge
5pm Elite Club Social (Gerry's photo)

But that wasn't the end of it.....

The Last Straw....
That evening, I learned from Lesley (who had been speaking to Guest Relations about the disappointing service from their own Butler, a different one from ours) that Guest Relations had made satellite telephone services available to a number of passengers in order to re-arrange their theatre bookings in New York. We had never been told this and it was deeply annoying to realise that if we too had complained loudly enough on the first day, we might have enjoyed the same concession. As it was, it was now too late to do anything about it but when I confronted Guest Relations about this, I simply received a cold and unapologetic response.

On the plus side, Andrew's run of poor luck in the Casino came to an end with him winning $135!

Monday 17th November 2014
At Sea - Day 5
Another hour back on the clocks and the weather continued to deteriorate; grey, choppy and windy.

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Bleak Prospects
from the "Sunset Bar" aft
Deserted Decks
cold, wet and windy
The Library
the most stable position!

While the sea wasn't particularly rough, the ship was moving around a lot and passengers, if not still in their cabins, had found that the best place to be was low-down, near the centre of the ship. The shops were still busy but the lounges and bars were full of people sitting, reading and sleeping!

As a result, I didn't fancy the Sky Lounge for the evening's Senior Officers Cocktail Party and left the others to go on their own. I was looking forward to Dinner in the Murano Restaurant with Gerry, Lesley and Peter, while the others had dinner as usual in the main restaurant.

The Murano Restaurant - a disappointment
The menu was much as before but the fact that I did not keep a souvenir is indicative of the disappointing experience. Murano Menu >>

An initial "amuse-bouche" of a potato croquette in a rather scratched plastic upturned wine-bottle base did not impress any of us to start with but it was the poor service that proved more disappointing than my soggy Diver Scallops Wellington-style which followed.
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While the rest of our meal was quite good, service throughout was automaton, rehearsed and as if "performed". But the fact that the Maitre d' failed to respond to our initial problems and seemed altogether disengaged and preoccupied, left us all feeling slightly disappointed. Only 8/10 this time!

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Tuesday 18th November 2014
New York, USA
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The brilliant sunshine that greeted us next morning for our arrival in New York could not disguise the fact that it was bitterly cold! Like really cold!
(left) The Verrazano Narrows Bridge, at 4,260 ft, the longest in the world when opened in 1964

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Ready for the weather!
The new Quantum of the Seas
in Bayonne, New Jersey
Statue of Liberty
Welcome to America!
1 World Trade Center
Opened October 2014

Cold though it was, it was a spectacular arrival, passing the brand new Quantum of the Seas over in Bayonne, New Jersey, having herself arrived not long ago on her maiden crossing from Southampton, where I had photographed her 2 weeks ago. See my Quantum of the Seas photos on Flickr >>

Also just 3 weeks ago marked the official opening of One World Trade Center, 1,776 ft high and standing close to the site of the Twin Towers, which were so horrifyingly destroyed by terrorists September 2001. The main item on everyone's list of things to do today was to visit "Ground Zero".

But first, we had to get through US Customs & Immigration - which took nearly 2 hours of queueing in the freezing cold pier shed at Pier 88!

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Having booked the hop-on-hop-off Bus Tour through the ship, at least it started from the Pier. At Times Square, we stayed on the "Red Loop" to head downtown for the 9/11 Memorial. On the top deck of the bus, it was brilliantly sunny and we all had a great view but it was so bitterly cold that by the time we got off near the One World Trade Center Tower, I was shivering so badly that I couldn't hold the camera steady. Thank goodness for "Image Stabilisation"!

Officially opened 3 weeks ago, the new tower, once dubbed the "Freedom Tower", stands on the site of the old No.6 World Trade Center, an 8-storey building so badly damaged in the 2001 attacks it had to be demolished. At 1,368 ft, the 104-storey tower is exactly the same height as the old No.1 World Tade Center North Tower but with its structural steel tower on top, it rises to 1,776 ft, representing the 1776 Declaration of Independence. The Observation Deck will open in 2015.

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Site Plan
World Trade Center
North Tower
Reflecting Pool

Transport Hub & Museum
World Financial Center
The original Winter Garden
& North Tower Pool
South Tower Reflecting Pool
Museum & One World Trade Centre

The National 9/11 Memorial
The site of the Twin Towers now comprises 2 deep reflecting pools surrounded by the names (in marble) of the people killed in the 2001 attacks. The Memorial Gardens & Museum were designed by Israeli architect Michael Arad, the museum building itself representing one of the fallen towers. The new Transport Hub building next to it was designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava; its breathtaking design proved controversial but is supposed to represent the wings of a dove, although I think it reminds me more of an America Eagle. See the World Trade Center in 1991 >>

I was close to hypothermia but determined to take some photos before we sought the sanctuary of a restaurant where we could all recover with some hot food! But while the rest of us were in multiple layers of warm clothing, Lesley had seriously underestimated the weather and just wasn't wearing enough. She was not at all happy! (Right) Is this really me? Show Picture Full Size

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Only partly recovered, we caught the "Red Loop" sightseeing bus back towards Times Square and the further sanctuary of the underground shops of the Rockefeller Center where, if we had been there 2 days earlier as planned, we should have been going to Radio City Music Hall to see The Rockettes Xmas Show!

Thankfully, our theatre tickets were insured and we would hopefully get our money back but not so our tickets for the Top of the Rock sightseeing tour.

Here is a taste of what we missed. An Art Deco masterpiece dating from 1932, Radio City Music Hall was part of an enormous regeneration project covering 22-acres between 48th & 51st Streets commissioned by millionaire tycoon J D Rockefeller Jr, hard on the heels of the Stock Market crash of 1929 and throughout the Depression.

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Main Lobby The Auditorium
Seating 6,000
The Stage
with 2 Wurlitzer consoles
The Christmas Show
featuring The Rockettes

When opened in 1932, Radio City Music Hall was the largest and most opulent theatre in the world, with seating for 6,000 and the most sophisticated stage system ever conceived. It was named after its neighbour, NBC Studios, which famously occupied the RCA Building (now the GE Building). Refurbished in 1999, the Theatre is today one of the greatest examples of Art Deco design and its "Mighty Wurlitzer" remains the largest ever constructed, with 4,400 pipes and two manuals, which can be played simultaneously, located on either side of the proscenium. Its Christmas Spectacular is a popular tradition and features the world-famous dancing troupe, "The Rockettes".

Cold and slightly dejected, no-one wanted to queue to try to get more theatre tickets now but, not to be completely thwarted, we decided to get more tickets for the Top of the Rock Tour instead.

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Christmas Decorations Rockefeller Plaza
The Ice Rink
The GA Building
Art Deco Main Lobby
Our Group
Looking a little happier!

While we waited for our 6.30pm time-slot, I took everyone to see the Art Deco lobby of the GA Building (until 1988, called the RCA Building), famous for its Trompe l'Oeuil ceiling, designed by artist Jose Maria Sert in 1933; its 3D concept has the effect that, from whichever side you look up, it still looks upright. Unfortunately, I don't think the others were as impressed by it as I was!

But everyone agreed that our Top of the Rock Tour was fabulous; so much so that we completely forgot that we had paid twice for it! Although it was still bitterly cold on the 67th Floor, we had by now had plenty of hot drinks to warm us up and with near-perfect visibility, the view was amazing!

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Viewing Levels
67th-70th Floors
The Daily Planet
1501 Broadway (1927)
The view Downtown
Empire State Building
& World Trade Center

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(left) Our souvenir version of the famous "Skyscraper Scaffolding Photo" from 1932.

Sally & Frank were still a bit "hyper" after that, so while they remained in town to do the "City Lights" sightseeing bus tour that was included in the price of our bus tickets, the rest of us took a taxi back to the ship for something to eat and TV in bed!
(right) Celebrity Eclipse at night at Pier 88 in New York
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For the 2nd day of our stay in New York and the rest of our cruise, Continue to Page 2 >>

See Detailed Mileage Log for this cruise >>

Cruise Mileage: 5,098 nautical miles
Total Mileage to date: 186,606 n miles

Return to top of page Visit the Eclipse Gallery >> Next Cruise >>