When the first Solstice-class ship debuted in 2008 (Eclipse is the third, launched in 2010), the phrase "game changer" was used to describe it. With a real grass lawn, a living tree suspended in the atrium, stunning cabins with character, quirky art, a glass-blowing studio, an achingly hip Apple store and a restaurant so innovative that land-based establishments took notice, the reviewers had a point: Ships in the Solstice Class blew all other mainstream vessels out of the water.
However, fast forward almost 10 years and some of these features are looking, well, a little worn. For example, Qsine, which really did set the bar high in terms of quirky cuisine, is now looking a bit gimmicky (sister brand Royal Caribbean's Wonderland restaurant has taken on the Qsine concept successfully).
That living tree? -- No-one gets quite what it's for. And the glass-blowing? -- was long ago removed from sister ships, to be replaced by a restaurant. We even heard people say the iLounge seems a bit dated.
Celebrity Eclipse regularly pulls in high marks for passenger satisfaction, and it has won Cruise Critic awards for the Best Mainstream Ship for several years in a row. Plus, Celebrity gave it a significant refurbishment in May 2015 (the first since its launch), introducing a number of new features that spoke to what cruisers want. These included a craft cocktail bar, World Class Bar; a craft beer bar, Gastrobar; and a dedicated restaurant for passengers traveling in suites, Luminae.
Eclipse is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful big cruise ships we've ever sailed. Its interiors blend sophistication with a bit of whimsy -- akin to a trendy W Hotel, but with softer edges.
And, perhaps most importantly, the ship positions itself perfectly for the first timer -- not so big that it's overwhelming, but not so small that you get bored. It's got a good selection of restaurants, the real-grass lawn is still a great spot to just hang out, the entertainment is still of a high quality and generous-sized cabins are bigger than the industry average.
It's also got that all-important celebrity (with a small c) link up with the the U.K. TV show, The Wine Show; and rugged Brit adventure expert Ben Fogle, who gives talks onboard and helps design some of the line's more adventurous excursions.
On the downside, the rampant upselling and fee surcharges are a bit of a turnoff, and on sea days, the pool deck, beautiful as it is, can feel crowded and chaotic. Service is often overwhelmed, not just on the pool deck, but at all bars; and the Oceanview Cafe often feels like a motorway service station.
But none of the negatives is enough to deter us from taking another cruise on this fine ship.
Celebrity Eclipse juxtaposes bright sunlit colors, windows and skylights above with warm browns, tans, golds and reds in the carpets, furniture and wood trim below to warm up what might have otherwise been a stark decor. This stylistic stamp is most evident in the ship's cabins, which are characterized by little touches not evident on the majority of modern cruise ships. Solstice-class cabins are, on average, 15 percent larger than the rest of the Celebrity fleet, with correspondingly generous balconies. Of the 1,279 cabins with ocean views (including suites), 1,205 have balconies -- a whopping 85 percent of all cabins.
All cabins come with the following amenities: tea- and coffee-making facilities (only in the U.K.), robes ("waffle" robes for standard cabins and plush robes for suite passengers), safes, refrigerators/minibars and hair dryers. A large interactive flat-screen TV in every cabin interfaces with a Mac mini-computer, through which passengers can book reservations, services and excursions; examine their accounts; check menus; and watch on-demand entertainment.
Bathrooms have also been well thought out, with curved acrylic shower doors (in lieu of the oft-maligned shower curtains), while the design reflects the contemporary styling of the cabin. Toiletries include shampoo, conditioner and lotion.
We give Eclipse high marks for storage space: All cabins come with many nooks, crannies and cubbies to store stuff, in addition to the normal closet shelves and hanger bars. We're also impressed with the sheer number of family and accessible cabins. Real thought has gone into both, with a wide variety of styles and designs.
Interior: Inside cabins measure from 174 to 200 square feet apiece and represent 10 percent of inventory. They each feature two beds (which can convert to one queen), a sofa bed, cupboard, desk with chair and wardrobe.
Oceanview: Outside cabins feature large picture windows and the same furniture as the inside cabins. They measure 175 square feet.
Balcony: The standard balcony cabins make up the bulk of the inventory (719 staterooms). They are all 192 square feet, with 53-square-foot balconies. Inside, furniture is the same as what's found in the oceanview rooms, with the extra square footage given over to wardrobe space.
Balcony cabins break down into three further subcategories: Sunset Balcony (73), Concierge Class (273) and Aqua Class (130), all of which have the same square footage as a standard balcony, but they enjoy privileged spots and various perks detailed below.
The 24 Sunset Balcony Cabins are located at the back of the ship. These cabins are carpeted in red and gold, with blond teak and walnut paneling and furniture. The couch and chairs are upholstered in cream leather, and the desk-cum-makeup table is topped with beige speckled marble. Between the two spaces is a teak-topped pedestal table.
Though there is no onboard concierge, passengers in Concierge Class staterooms may avail themselves of concierge-type services (such as restaurant and private car reservations ashore) from Guest Services. This category has other perks, as well: a full breakfast room service menu, nightly canapes and complimentary welcome aboard Champagne. Other Concierge Class upgrades include Egyptian cotton oversized bath towels, a Hansgrohe massaging showerhead and Frette robes. Shoeshine service is complimentary, as is the use of a golf umbrella and binoculars. Priority treatment takes the form of priority check-in, luggage delivery, embarkation and debarkation. Concierge Class passengers also get the use of an exclusive pre-departure lounge with free coffee and juices.
Eclipse's 130 AquaClass staterooms are located on Deck 11 near the AquaSpa, and they include an expanded assemblage of spa-oriented cosmetics, gels and bath amenities; upgraded linens, including a selection from the "pillow menu"; Frette robes and slippers; a daily carafe of flavor-infused iced tea; canapes; and access to an exclusive room service menu of salads, whole grains and healthy dining choices.
The bathroom features a five-head Hansgrohe invigorating "shower tower." AquaClass passengers have their own specialty restaurant, Blu, as well as complimentary use of the AquaSpa Relaxation Room and Persian Garden thermal suite, a value of about $100 per passenger based on a seven-night cruise. Lastly, a "spa concierge" is available to book treatments, provide spa product information and offer recommendations from the wellness library, which includes books with tips on healthy eating and lifestyle.
Minisuite: The 44 Sky Suites each measure 300 square feet with a 77-square-foot verandah accessed through floor-to-ceiling sliding-glass doors. These cabins have two beds convertible to one queen-size bed. The living room area has a sofa queen sleeper, vanity and 40-inch LCD TV. Bathrooms come with a shower/tub combination and sink.
Suite: There are 22 suite cabins, split into three categories: Celebrity (12), Royal (8) and Penthouse (2). All suite passengers get butler service and -- following the May 2015 refit -- a range of other perks, which include exclusive use of suite passenger-only, Luminae. Celebrity Suite passengers and above also enjoy a free minibar and exclusive use of Michael's Club. Bathroom amenities are by Bulgari.
The Celebrity Suites each measure 394 square feet with a 105-square-foot balcony. They come with an entrance hall and two separate rooms. The bedroom is almost entirely filled by a large double bed. The living room area is expansive, with an L-shaped sofa, coffee table and chair, sideboard, flat-screen TV and double doors leading out to the balcony. The bathroom is the same as in a Sky Suite.
The Royal Suites are each 590 square feet with a 153-square-foot balcony. They have a master bedroom with a large bathroom that has a separate shower and tub; a second half bathroom; and a large living room with an L-shaped sofa, coffee table, a wet bar and a dining area that can seat six.
The two Penthouse Suites, measuring 1,291 square feet with 389-square-foot balconies, are, quite simply, breathtaking. These cabins offer floor-to-ceiling sliding-glass doors leading out to the balconies, separate living and dining rooms, baby grand pianos, full bars, sofa queen sleepers, two 52-inch LCD TVs (with surround sound in each living room), two bedrooms with full baths, and master baths with whirlpool tubs, shower stalls with dual shower heads, double washbasins and even 26-inch LCD TVs. Each balcony has a second whirlpool and lounge seating.
Family: Families can take advantage of 121 connecting staterooms and four Family Ocean View Staterooms with two bedrooms each. These rooms measure a massive 575 square feet with one master bedroom, plus a second bedroom (with a single twin bed) and sitting area with a sofa (convertible to trundle bed). They can sleep five.
Accessible: Eclipse has 30 state-of-the-art wheelchair-accessible staterooms, covering a wide range of categories from inside to Sky Suite. Eighty percent (24) are outside, and 20 of the 30 accessible cabins have balconies. All accessible staterooms have additional square footage over their non-accessible counterparts and have 32-inch-wide automatic doors with sitting-level keycard slots. Most accessible staterooms feature a five-foot turning radius. Bathrooms have roll-in showers, ramped thresholds and lowered fixtures. A service animal relief box is available on request.
Celebrity places a high emphasis on food and the quality of the food onboard is generally of a high standard. It also has a stand at Taste, the food show which takes place in London every year. Guest chefs showcase meals onboard, and "The Wine Show" experts Joe Fattorini and Amelia Singer, pair the wines. Celebrity's partnership with "The Wine Show" means regular wine-themed cruises and tasting experiences onboard.
Unlike on many ships, if you choose to only eat in the ship's main dining room -- Moonlight Sonata -- you will not be disappointed. The quality of cuisine is so high and the choice so extensive that it feels as if you're eating in a different restaurant every night. The other main free dining option is the Ocean Cafe buffet, which has two main pluses: a wide variety of cuisine and a well-thought-out layout, with different sized tables, lots of smaller spaces and banquette seating for larger groups. It also includes outside seating on the aft deck.
Suite and AquaClass passengers have their own restaurants -- Luminae and Blu -- but can also eat in the main dining room.
Celebrity offers fixed-time dining at 6:45 p.m. or 8:15 p.m., or Celebrity Select dining, which gives passengers the opportunity to dine at any time between 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. You can make advance reservations or simply show up.
Moonlight Sonata (Decks 3 and 4): The towering, airy Moonlight Sonata is the ship's main dining room, spanning two decks at the aft end of the ship; it's open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The room is bright and light in tone and makes ample use of the ship's signature design element, glass. The showstopper element is a two-story glass wine tower, replete with tall ladders to reach the bottles at the highest levels.
Surprisingly for a ship with 2,800 passengers, this single restaurant feels spacious and uncrowded. There's ample room to navigate between tables, and the room's openness, combined with extensive carpeting on the floors, results in a tolerable noise level.
Service is prompt, attentive and friendly. The dinner menu is not overloaded with choices, offering a total of seven entrees, including a salad entree. Although no separate spa, vegetarian or heart-healthy menus are added on, at least one choice per course qualifies for each category. In addition, the chef suggests his favorite from the available options, and several "classic favorite" options are available nightly, including Caesar salad, salmon, New York strip steak and creme brulee.
We found the cuisine to be a mix of French, Italian and "New American" styles, with contemporary popular ingredients -- phyllo, Yukon Gold potatoes, feta cheese, fresh fennel, etc. -- conspicuously present.
We'd also like to give kudos to the entree salads. We're generally not fans of main-course salads at dinner, but these are hearty concoctions, such as an arugula salad with sliced grilled "Gaucho" steak, fresh marjoram and bacon ranch dressing. Lunch salads in Moonlight Sonata also shined and were one of the only midday menu items that could lure us away from Oceanview Cafe or the Bistro on Five creperie.
Moonlight Sonata is open 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. for breakfast, noon to 1:30 p.m. for lunch and 6:45 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. for set-seating dinner or 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. for Celebrity Select dinner.
Luminae (Deck 4): This 92-person restaurant is free -- but only to those people booked in suites. It's open for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day.
Luminae has been carved out of the main dining room, but it's hard to tell where, and you enter and leave by a different entrance. Inside, it has a contemporary look and feel: lots of light, chrome and glass, as well as white and yellow furnishings to reflect the meaning of its name (light). It's split into two separate spaces, which gives the feeling of intimacy and exclusivity Celebrity is trying to create.
Luminae has its own galley, separate from the main dining room. Menus change daily (as in they are never repeated) and are freshly prepared -- often with produce sourced from the port visited that day. The menu is limited intentionally, apparently, to ensure the selections are always fresh. It features just four appetizers, five mains and three desserts. Less is more, apparently, as the food there is outstanding. Service and ambience are, too.
For example, for one dinner on our sailing, we had the following choices to start: Maine Lobster salad, beef tartar, Jerusalem artichoke soup and roasted squab. We opted for the salad, which was superb. What was noticeable was how knowledgeable the waiters were, describing in detail what each dish contained and suggesting wine pairings. They also made a point at the start of the meal to advise anyone with food allergies that off-menu dishes could be prepared.
The mains consisted of: venison ragout, Alaskan halibut, veal loin, cote de boeuf and cauliflower steak with curried yogurt. The cote de boeuf was outstanding, so too was the halibut. The delectable desserts included chocolate palet, mascarpone cheesecake and buttermilk panna cotta.
Breakfast includes omelets, pancakes and waffles; lunch might be hamburgers, a pasta dish and a soup, among other items. The sea-day brunch offers a mix of breakfast and lunch dishes, such as grilled salmon and a crab cake burgers.
Luminae is open 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. for breakfast, 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. for sea-day brunch, 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. for port-day lunch and 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. for dinner.
Blu (Deck 5): Another private dining room reserved for passengers booked in Celebrity's AquaClass category, Blu has a menu similar in course structure to that of the Moonlight Sonata (appetizers, soups and salads, salad entrees, main entrees, Everyday Classics and Sommelier Recommendations). It differs in both the number of offerings (one or two fewer in most categories) and the style of cuisine, relying less on rich sauces and sauteeing and more on natural reductions, ragouts and herbs. And you can never escape from the calorie count, which is printed next to each dish. We found the food rather soulless and uninspiring, and the atmosphere was quite cold. AquaClass passengers do not have to pay extra to dine there, but suite passengers may book tables on a space-available basis, for free. The restaurant is otherwise off limits to regular passengers. It's open for dinner only from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Oceanview Cafe (Deck 14): Nine decks directly above Moonlight Sonata is the Oceanview Cafe, an expansive multi-station buffet for breakfast, lunch and casual dinner. Outside of regular mealtimes, ice cream, pizza, pasta, sushi, afternoon tea and late-night snacks (from 9:30 p.m. to 1 a.m.) are on offer, all without additional charge. A juice bar serves up particularly delicious freshly squeezed OJ, but it will set you back a few bucks.
The buffet layout is excellent, with many serving and prep stations situated as islands in the middle of the room, rather than stretched along the walls. The result is a dependably uncrowded, spacious operation offering an extensive number of choices.
Besides the conventional dinner choices, which tend to mirror what's served each evening in Moonlight Sonata, British (bangers, English bacon, baked beans, Marmite, Alpen -- but only when in Southampton) and Asian (miso soup with mix-ins, tofu, rice) stations, as well as vegetarian and carved meat stations, round out the mix. The standard breakfast selections don't change (omelet station, Canadian and American bacon, turkey and pork sausage, potatoes, fruit, pastries and breads). We found the breads superb, especially the house-made English muffins.
Lunch features one changing "Chef's Choice" station (primarily a carving station for ham, leg of lamb, beef, etc.) in addition to tacos, pastas, stir-fry, sandwiches, soups, salads and other specialty stops. Sandwich choices include hot (corned beef) or cold (turkey, chicken salad) options. Diners can customize their pasta choices with sauce selection (marinara, alfredo, garlic/butter) or select meats, spices and veggie mix-ins for their stir-fries. There is plenty of elbow room between tables, and attentive waiters are available for assistance for those who require it.
It's open 6 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. for breakfast (9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. for late breakfast), noon to 2:30 p.m. for lunch, 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. for afternoon tea and 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. for dinner.
Mast Grill (Deck 14): On the same level as the Oceanview Cafe, but forward of the main swimming pool, the Mast Grill serves burgers, hot dogs, fries and the like. It's open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
AquaSpa Cafe (Deck 15): The in-spa cafe offers healthy breakfast and lunch options, including Birchermuesli, fat free yogurts, granola bars, light breads and omelets for breakfast. Lunch might consist of poached salmon or tuna and grilled or seared chicken breast. Smoothies will cost you $4.50. The cafe serves tea, coffee and juices throughout the day. Open 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. for breakfast and noon to 2:30 p.m. for lunch.
Room Service: Room service is available 24 hours a day from a limited menu of sandwiches, pizzas, salads and desserts. There are upcharges for certain items, and between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., there's a $3.95 charge for passengers in interior, oceanview and balcony staterooms. Full or Continental breakfast is also served. Breakfast is available from 6:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Celebrity Eclipse's for-fee dining options are of a high quality, in particular the high-end French-themed Murano and Tuscan Grille, one of the best steak restaurants at sea. They are superb, both in terms of cuisine and setting, though service can be erratic. They fill up quickly, and reservations are essential. If you fancy less "fancy," then Eclipse offers a recent addition -- Sushi on 5, as well as Qsine. (All specialty restaurants are on Deck 5.)
Qsine (Deck 5); $45: Qsine (pronounced "cuisine") has been a massive hit since its debut on Eclipse. The decor is intriguing -- upside-down chairs and chandeliers -- and the food is an interesting blend of tapas-style tastes with gourmet interpretations of ethnic comfort food. The menu, presented on an iPad (also used to make your order), includes delicious dishes like Kobe beef sliders, sushi lollipops, lobster fritters, "chintinis" (Chinese dishes served in martini glasses), "disco" shrimp (poached tiger shrimp) and, for dessert, beignets, cupcakes and cheesecake bites. It's not for everyone, and some people may find it all a bit too whimsical if they're craving a "proper meal." It also lasts for hours, so be prepared to settle in for the night. But if you're on for a week, it's definitely worth a try -- even if it's just for a completely different dining experience. Open 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Tuscan Grille (Deck 5); $35 pre-cruise, $45 onboard: The ambience of Tuscan Grille, Eclipse's Italian steakhouse restaurant, is described by Celebrity as "Napa meets Old World Italy." We agreed with this description as we entered through a "wine cave"-like archway into a genteel room with ornate furniture and place settings. Tuscan Grille also has the best view of any restaurant aboard the ship, being situated all the way aft. A meal in Tuscan Grille, in our estimation, is best enjoyed on the early side, before the sun goes down and while there are still seats right up against the wall of glass facing the trailing wake of the ship. The grilled meats and seafood can't be beat, although we were mildly disappointed in the pasta choices -- only four, and the sauces are conventional: Alfredo, Bolognese, Toscana (meatballs and tomato sauce) and Parmiggiana. Other signature touches are an antipasti bar and Caesar salad prepared tableside. We enjoyed a perfectly grilled veal chop, preceded by the excellent preparation and presentation of a Caesar salad for two. There is also the opportunity to pay for upcharge items (steaks) like $15 for a bone-in New York Strip, which was the largest steak we've seen on a ship. Open: 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Murano (Deck 5); a la carte or $45 pre-cruise/$50 onboard: Celebrity is renowned for its high-quality French alternative restaurants. On Eclipse, the restaurant is called Murano, and the theme is Continental with a tilt toward new French. The centerpiece is a six-course tasting menu, featuring an appetizer, soup and salad, fish course, palate cleanser (sorbet), meat course and dessert; all of the dishes except the sorbet come from the a la carte menu. There are two choices for each course on the tasting menu, and there's an option of a wine paired with each (which raises the surcharge to $89).
The a la carte menu choices are bold -- caviar, escargot, sweetbreads, foie gras, venison and the like -- but familiar faves abound, such as filet mignon, duck breast, lobster tail, and surf and turf. We had the sweetbreads, which came out delicate, light and crispy, followed by Dover Sole Veronique, sauteed with white wine and grapes. There is a "Market Price" surcharge for a caviar option. Open 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
A Champagne afternoon tea is served here on sea days, an expensive indulgence at $25, but it's worth it for the scones alone. (If you don't fancy all the trimmings, head to the Oceanview Cafe, where they serve tea and scones for free.)
Sushi on Five (Deck 5); a la carte: This replaced the creperie that was originally on Eclipse, for more on-trend sushi at a la carte prices. Rolls start at $9 and you can also get small plates such as kobe beef ramen sliders from $8 and BBQ pork ramen bowl from $9. Assorted sashimi is from $8. Open Port Days from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. and on Sea Days for lunch from Noon to 3 p.m. and dinner from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Cafe al Bacio (Deck 5); a la carte: Located across from Bistro on Five, this coffee bar was one of our favorite spots for a light snack. The food, from pastries to small sandwiches, is complimentary, but the overpriced beverages cost extra ($6 for a latte). A gelato bar (on the opposite side of the room) dishes out cold concoctions, also for a fee. Open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
The two levels of dress on Eclipse are smart casual and evening chic. Two evening chic nights take place per seven-night cruise. On smart casual nights, sport shirts and slacks are appropriate for men, while women will be comfortable in skirts or pants and blouses, or casual dresses. On "evening chic" evenings, men can ditch the full suit and tie in favor of a sport coat and collared shirt, with designer jeans. Women can wear cocktail dresses, sundresses or designer jeans or nice pants. n the buffet, almost any form of dress is allowed except swimwear, flip-flops, spa robes and bare feet.
The Celebrity Eclipse Theatre (decks 4 and 5), the ship's main show lounge, is a well-designed room with excellent sightlines and semicircular rows of comfortable theater seats. There are no tables, but drink holders have been added to the armrests. Normally three production shows take place on a seven-night cruise; one of the shows is a Cirque du Soleil-inspired circus show, while the other two are standard revues with the star aerialists used like featured dancers. Other main show lounge performances include guest singers, comics and magicians, along with welcome aboard and farewell shows.
During the day, Celebrity offers a number of choices for enrichment and entertainment. Those who can't bear the thought of disembarking without winning just one more luggage tag can compete in multiple games of trivia, game shows and the ever-popular Celebrity chestnut, "Battle of the Sexes."
The iLounge on Deck 6 has regular daily lectures on technology-related topics (similar to those you'll find in an Apple Store). Additional lectures are organized via partnerships with Rosetta Stone (for foreign language classes) and Smithsonian Journeys (for erudite speakers at Eclipse's "Beyond the Podium" series).
A floor above, you'll find Team Earth, a museum-like interactive environmental awareness experience, which, on our cruise, housed an exhibition of photographs from the line's Global Encounters competition with the World Photography Organisation.
The Eclipse Theater hosts cooking demos and talks from guest lecturers during the day.
Celebrity Tastings, an annex to the art auction's main gallery, hosts samplings of wine and other libations, such as single malt and Irish whiskies, Port wine and rums. There is also a dedicated wine-tasting venue on Deck 4 called Cellar Masters (see Bars and Lounges), which offers wine tasting with knowledgeable sommeliers.
Passengers are split over the Hot Glass Show on the top deck. Some would like to see the area turned into the Lawn Grill (found on Celebrity Silhouette and Reflection); others love it. Passengers sit surrounded by the grass of the Lawn Club and watch a master from the Corning Museum of Glass practicing his or her art, with a second artist providing commentary. This goes light years beyond the demonstrations we're all used to seeing at the Murano glass factories, but after you've seen the show once, there's no incentive to come back.
The lawn itself is also turned over to various lawn games, such as croquet (weather permitting).
Other regular daytime entertainment includes art auctions, bingo, dance lessons (in the Grand Foyer on Deck 3) and quizzes.
At night, Celebrity Eclipse features a wide range of entertainment offerings -- on deck, in lounges, sometimes in the main foyer -- that cover a variety of musical styles. These include a solo steel pan player, a classical string quartet, solo pianists and a jazz combo. You'll also find evening entertainment up at The Lawn Club. A jazz concert one night under a starry sky with wine and cheese (you pay for the wine, though not the cheese) was an absolute delight.
The casino (Deck 4) is entirely too small for a 2,850-passenger ship and could use more gaming tables. At most, four blackjack tables would be open at any given time, and only one of those had a $5minimum.
You'll find karaoke most nights in Quasar (Deck 4), the ship's dedicated disco.
Between the main atrium and the theater is a mini-atrium, anchored at Deck 4's "Entertainment Court," the nexus for nighttime entertainment. You'll find the majority of night spots around there, with the others high up on the top decks.
Gastrobar @ Passport Bar (Deck 3): The Passport Bar incorporates the "new" Gastrobar, which is really just two fridges full of different types of craft beers. It's in a great spot for passing traffic, off the main atrium, diagonally opposite Moonlight Sonata and on the way to the theater. It offers food, such as small plates of cold cuts ($8) and larger plates of items like beer-battered cod and chips ($10). There are also 45 different craft beers, which is very on trend right now. The extremely knowledgeable beer sommelier (yes, there is such a thing) takes time out from behind the bar to recommend some fine ales. The beers are from all over the U.S., Canada and Europe, and they include a Rogue Farms 7 Hop from Oregon that retails at -- deep breath -- $35.
Martini Bar (Deck 4): Probably the most popular spot on any Celebrity ship, the Martini Bar looks down into the main foyer and is the perfect place for a pre- or post-dinner cocktail ... or three. Bartenders are inventive and creative, bringing a Cirque du Soleil interpretation of cocktail mixing that's just fabulous. The bar features more than 100 different varieties of vodka.
Cellar Masters (Deck 4): During the day, there's always quite a buzz about this place, with regular wine tasting going on. At night, the crowds seem to dry up -- perhaps because the lack of bartenders gives Cellar Masters a chilly, soulless feel. Instead of interacting with friendly crew, passengers access drinks via automatic wine dispensers; you buy a "wine card," then insert it in an automatic dispenser for a particular type of wine, and it pours a measured portion of one, two or four ounces.
Quasar (Deck 4): The ship's late-night disco is a relatively small space with a bar, dance floor, DJ booth and limited seating. It's buzzing most nights and is open until late.
World Class Bar (Deck 5): The Molecular Bar is no more, to be replaced by the World Class Bar. It's named after the bartender competition of the same name and is sponsored by the world's biggest drinks company, Diageo. It's all about "craft cocktails," such as Bulleit Infusion, tropical fruits infused with Bulleit Bourbon, or Ketel One Strawberry Fields, which consists of vodka, Cocchi Americano (a dessert wine) and grapefruit juice. Look for cocktail-making masterclasses hosted by expert mixologists, including Diageo's roving World Class ambassador, Spike Marchant.
Ensemble Lounge (Deck 5): This is more of a "space" than a bar, situated outside Michael's Bar and on the way to the eateries. It consists of a large bar in the center, with plenty of seating all around, and is perpetually busy. The main downside is having to fight your way through it to get anywhere else on this deck.
Michael's Club (Deck 5): This quiet, civilized haven away from the bustling ship is only open to the top three categories of suite passengers (not even Sky Suite passengers can get in) and high-ranking (Elite and above) members of Celebrity's loyalty club, the Captain's Club. The personal greeting as you arrive, the hushed tones, the dark red and brown decor -- it's all redolent of a Gentlemen's Club (in the old-fashioned sense of the phrase). However, by making the once public bar so exclusive, Celebrity has also made it awfully quiet. A buffet-style breakfast is served in the morning, and there is a cocktail hour most evenings.
Pool Bar (Deck 12): This bar serves wine, beer and cocktails in a poolside setting.
Slush (Deck 12): Slush is another booze-themed addition to the ship, nestled in a small stand on the Pool Deck. It's not a bar (in as much as there are no tables or chairs); instead, it's more of a serving station like an ice cream station or pizza counter. It serves 11 drinks, displayed (where else?) on an iPad. Try a Mint Cookie, Sweet Tart or Golden Coconut for $13 ($8.50 for non-alcoholic versions).
Oceanview Bar (Deck 14): There are two bars at the aft of the ship -- the Oceanview Bar and the Sunset Bar -- that both afford great views. This one is at the back of the Oceanview Cafe and is partly covered.
Mast Bar (Deck 14): Attached to the Mast Grill, this bar serves wine, beer and cocktails, as well as soft drinks, and it gives great views over the Pool Deck.
Destination Bar (Deck 14): This tiny bar inside the Oceanview Cafe is open early (6 a.m. to midnight). It's a great place to get an early morning coffee fix.
Sunset Bar (Deck 15): Just above the Oceanview Bar and exposed to the elements, the Sunset Bar is a great spot to watch the sun set. There are chairs and tables just beside it, as well as rows of chairs and small tables on either side of the grass lawn, so you can grab a drink and park yourself there to watch the jazz concerts.
Sky Lounge (Deck 14): For our money, this is one of the most generous and stunning public bars at sea. Eclipse retains this vast space at the front of Deck 14. (Half of it was lost on sister ship Reflection to the addition of another suite.) The Sky Lounge has huge windows all around, and there's a large bar, ample seating and a dance floor. It's a gorgeous space during the day for just gazing out to sea or at night for watching the stars.
The main pool area on Deck 14 includes a family pool (shallow for youngsters), separated narrowly from the Sports Pool (for pool volleyball) on one side and the Wet Zone on the other. The Wet Zone is a flat area with vertical fountain jets that fire at random; it's great fun for kids to play in or for anyone wishing for a quick cool down. The main pool area also features four hot tubs.
Keep walking forward, and you'll pass into the stunning adults-only Solarium, a gorgeous spot that is flooded in light. Facilities include a small pool (complete with waterfall) and two whirlpools either side.
The nicest recreational area is the Lawn Club, and though Celebrity is careful to avoid excess wear and tear on the living grass, the ship's own backyard does feature a bocce court and a three-hole putting course.
At the forward end of the ship, on Deck 15, is a basketball court and Ping-Pong tables.
The main pool deck is surrounded by cushioned loungers, as well as the two-person poolside beds that are a signature of all Solstice-class ships. For additional sunbathing space, the sun deck at the front of Deck 16 rarely gets crowded. You can also grab a towel and relax on the Lawn Club's lawn at the other end of the ship.
You'll find the majority of services on decks 3 and 4, midship.
Guest Relations is off the main atrium on Deck 3, as is Shore Excursions. Future Cruise Sales is on Deck 4 forward.
You'll find shopping across two floors, overlooking the main atrium. The Shops on the Boulevard complex is on Deck 4 and includes stores selling duty-free good, essentials and logo items. One deck above are the high-end watch, jewelry, handbag and clothing stores. Brand names include new-to-the-ship Michael Kors, as well as Tag Heuer, Longines, John Hardy, Nautica, eco-friendly Mad Bags, Calvin Klein, Armani, Versace and D&G by Dolce & Gabbana.
The photo gallery and art gallery are both on Deck 5, midship.
In another cluster, various landings for the main atrium's elevators have been expanded to accommodate various public rooms. On Deck 6, the Celebrity iLounge is a multipurpose room operated in partnership with Apple -- a first at sea. It acts as the internet cafe. The computers are Macs, of course, and there are numerous (fee-free) talks on computer-related topics. There's also a retail store, which is beautifully presented, where you can buy Apple laptops and iPads.
On Deck 7, you'll find a museum-like interactive environmental awareness experience called "Team Earth."
The card room is on Deck 9. On Deck 10, the library is arguably the most visually stunning at sea, spanning two decks and featuring towering bookshelves extending the full height of the room.
The Art Studio (Deck 15) replaces the Corning Glass shop on The Lawn Club and is home to two master artists from ArtCenter/South Florida. They'll host interactive classes and demonstrations on topics like jewelry making, sketching and painting.
Eclipse is outfitted with Wi-Fi through, but it's pricey at 75 cents a minute. To save money, you can buy the following packages: 49 minutes for $24.95, 90 minutes for $49.95, 208 minutes for $99.95, 555 minutes for $199.95 or 1,666 minutes for $399.95.
Celebrity is a family-minded line, though not as much as big sister Royal Caribbean. Eclipse does have an excellent program of kid-focused activities, as well as family-friendly dining, shore excursions and onboard sports. The ship also has a good selection of family friendly accommodations, including Family Ocean View Staterooms and plenty of interconnecting rooms.
The forward area, including the basketball court, on Deck 15 is ground-zero for kids aboard Eclipse. The court is sandwiched between the two dedicated kids areas: X-Club (for kids ages 12 to 17) on the port side and Fun Factory (for 3- to 11-year-olds) on the starboard side. The two kids areas are of roughly equal size and stocked to the rafters with age-appropriate gear, including a huge collection of Xbox consoles. Also clustered with the kids clubs is the video arcade.
Celebrity Cruises has achieved the Autism Friendly Cruise Line status, having completed Autism Friendly Certification with Autism on the Seas. Eclipse offers movies, games and activities that are suitable for kids with autism, as well as toys that can be borrowed for in-cabin use.
The Fun Factory is open from 9 a.m. each morning or half an hour before arriving in port for children with parents on shore excursions departing prior to 9 a.m. All parents must register their children at the start of the cruise and sign kids ages 3 to 8 out of the Fun Factory.
The well-staffed youth program includes organized activities for four age groups, as follows:
Shipmates (3- to 5-year-olds): Activities include lots of arts and crafts, plus dinosaur hunts and face painting. Children must be toilet trained and diaper-free to enter youth program facilities or participate in their activities unless accompanied by a parent.
Cadets (6- to 8-year-olds): The Cadet schedule features dress-up time, games, "become a spy" activities and limited time on age-appropriate video games.
Ensigns (9- to 11-year-olds): This age group is engaged in scavenger hunts, pool games, bingo, basketball and game shows. Ensigns also have Wii consoles, foosball and air hockey tables. Ensigns can sign themselves into and out of programs until 10 p.m., unless otherwise indicated on their Parental Consent Form. After 10 p.m., Ensigns require an adult to sign them out of activities.
Youth Staff will also take your kids to lunch and dinner, but this is charged at $6 per hour. (Dinner is free when at sea, or if sailing at or prior to 5 p.m.)
Lunch is available on Port days only from noon to 2 p.m. Children will dine with their youth staff on the Lido Deck, then carry on into afternoon activities. Pre-registration is required before 11:45 a.m.
Dinner is available every evening from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Children start out in the Fun Factory from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., then dine with their youth staff at 6 p.m. on the Lido Deck, then carry on into evening activities. Pre-registration is required before 5:45 p.m.
From 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. a "Slumber Party" is on offer. Children from ages 3 to 11 can slumber or party, depending on needs and choices.
There are no fees for any child who signs up for the VIP Program.
Babies and Toddlers (6 months to 3 years old): Designated "Toddler Time" sessions are organized for the youngest kids onboard. Toddlers are permitted in the Fun Factory only with parental supervision; you cannot drop your child off and leave. Children do not need to be potty trained to participate.
Baby-sitting is available, either in the Fun Factory or in your cabin, but children must be at least 12 months of age. In-cabin baby-sitting is available for up to three children in the same family and includes two baby-sitters. Bookings must be made 24 hours in advance, and one parent or guardian must stay onboard during baby-sitting time. Note: this is a first-come, first-served program. The fee is $19 per hour.
If you are going to use group baby-sitting services on multiple days, consider getting your kids a VIP Pass. It gives your child unlimited access to all extra-fee program activities. The one-time fee varies by cruise length, and it covers all meals and slumber parties, as well as behind-the-scenes tours. Kids also receive a gift bag.
The X-Club features the newest gaming consoles and titles and a soft drink "bar" with a popcorn machine.
Teens are split into two groups. Those in the 12-to-14 age bracket participate in "tweens" activities like pool Olympics, game shows and karaoke; those in the 15 to 17 group, which has less structured schedules, have a prom party and a "Dancing with the Stars" event. All activities are hosted and supervised by youth counselors.
Celebrity also has an interactive and immersive video project called iTake (which will keep your teen gainfully occupied for four hours). The program involves brainstorming a storyboard, then, armed with GoPro Hero 3 high-definition, wide-angle video cameras (used to film extreme sports and other cool events), they'll head out to get the shots they planned. After the filming is through, they'll learn how to edit their videos in the iLounge.
The average age onboard Eclipse is younger than on many U.K.-based ships, as Celebrity has done a good job at positioning itself to couples and families. On short cruises to France, the ship often attracts hen (bachelorette) parties, as well as large groups celebrating significant birthdays.
When homeported in Miami, Eclipse attracts a similar passenger demographic -- just with a greater percentage of Americans. During school holiday periods, you will find a lot of families onboard.
Spa services include a dizzying array of spa treatments, including full body wraps and scrubs, a variety of massages from traditional to special sports massages, and couples treatments. A 50-minute massage starts at $109 (on a port day; $145 on a sea day). Facials start at $140 for 50 minutes. The spa also offers teeth-whitening services, acupuncture and reflexology.
Canyon Ranch operates a hair salon and a barber shop, too; a shampoo starts at $53, while a beard trim is $35. Note all prices are higher when the ship is at sea and do not include an obligatory 18 percent service charge.
The Persian Garden is a Millennium-class idea expanded to Eclipse and its siblings. It includes a coed sauna and steam room, tropical rain shower and heated relaxation chairs with ocean views, but oddly no spa pool. The facility is available for free to AquaClass passengers; for everyone else, passes cost $25 for one day, $50 for three days and $75 for six days.
A fully stocked and staffed gym sports all the newest fitness machines. Classes in yoga, aerobics and the like cost $11 per class (for 50 minutes). A personal training session starts at $49 for 25 minutes.
Deck 14 is where you'll find the serpentine jogging track (eight laps to the mile).
Onboard currency is the U.S. dollar. Tips aren't included in the cruise fares, but suggested gratuities are automatically added to your onboard account at a rate of $14.50 per person, per day, if you're in a standard cabin; $15 per person, per day, if you're in a Concierge Class or AquaClass cabin; and $18 per person, per day, for passengers in suites. If you would like to adjust the gratuities, you can do so through the Guest Relations desk. An 18 percent charge is added automatically to all beverage and minibar purchases, as well as spa and salon purchases. You can't remove these gratuities but can add to them.
Note: Australians and New Zealanders do not have the service charge added to their account; fares automatically include this gratuity as long as the cruise was booked in AU or NZ dollars.
Country of Registration: Malta
Regular Capacity: 2850
Maximum Capacity: 2850
Crew Nationality: International
Officer Nationality: International
Language(s) Spoken:< Multiple Languages
|Luxurious and upscale on every level, Celebrity Eclipse continues to set new standards in modern luxury vacations. Renowned for her contemporary décor and an extraordinary choice of dining options - you can also enjoy a wide selection of bars and lounges to suit every mood, almost endless entertainment from the impressive theater shows to the peace and quiet of the library, and variety of activities to keep mind, body, and soul in tune.|
Health and Beauty
No. of Dinner Sittings: 2
No. of Dinner Sittings: 6:00pm; 8:30pm
Special Diet: Contact Cruise line with advance notice
Dress Code: Evenings aboard Celebrity include two types of dress: "Smart Casual and Above" and "Formal."Gratuity Policies
Standard Accommodations $14.50 Per Person Per Day
Concierge Class and AquaClass Staterooms $15.00 Per Person Per Day
Suites $18.00 Per Person Per Day