Celebrity Eclipse is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful big ships we've ever sailed. Its interiors blend sophistication with a bit of whimsy -- akin to a trendy W Hotel but with softer edges.
It's a food-lovers paradise, with many options onboard from the complimentary Moonlight Sonata, which will satisfy almost any tastes, to the upscale but extra-cost French bistro Murano and the fun, animated experience at Qsine. Music fans will also appreciate the diversity of bands, duos and soloists that perform in various venues from early evening until late at night.
We love that 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 activities, the entertainment is high quality and cabins are bigger than the industry average.
On the downside, the rampant upselling and fee surcharges are a bit of a turnoff. Service is sometimes overwhelmed, and on warm sea days, the pool deck can feel crowded, especially when the ship is at its maximum capacity of 3,148.
But none of the negatives is enough to deter us from taking another cruise on this lovely ship.
Daytime: Casual throughout, with bathing suits and cover-ups common on the pool deck.
Evening: Two evening chic nights take place per seven-night cruise. The rest of the time, it's smart-casual, with sport shirts and slacks 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 favour of a sport coat and collared shirt, with nice pants or even designer jeans. Women can wear cocktail dresses, sundresses, designer jeans or nice pants.
Not permitted: Swimwear, spa robes and bare feet are not permitted in the buffet, while T-shirts, tank tops and flip-flops are not allowed in the main dining room at any time; shorts are not allowed at dinner (although this rule isn't always enforced).
The Eclipse Theater hosts cooking demonstrations and talks from guest lecturers during the day and then each night (at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.) sees a different production, from a Cirque du Soleil-inspired circus show to performances by aerialists, dancers, guest singers, comics and magicians.
From early morning, Celebrity Eclipse has nonstop activities, such as gym and dance classes, trivia, bingo, game shows, lectures and workshops including tips for using iPhones and iPads, arts and crafts, and learning foreign languages through the line's Rosetta Stone partnership.
Team Earth (Deck 7) is an environmental awareness experience and photography exhibition. Celebrity Tastings, an annex to the art auction's main gallery, hosts samplings of wine and other libations, such as Irish whiskies. There is also a dedicated wine-tasting venue on Deck 4 called Cellar Masters. A fee is charged for both of these tasting activities.
At the Hot Glass Show on the top deck, passengers can watch a master practising his or her art, with a second artist providing commentary. The adjacent Lawn Club itself is used for various games, such as croquet and golf putting (weather permitting).
Celebrity Eclipse features lots of live music in the evening -- on deck, in lounges and in the main foyer -- including a classical string quartet, a jazz orchestra, solo pianists and singer/guitarists. You'll also find evening entertainment up at The Lawn Club when the weather permits. 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.
Other entertainment at night includes blackjack at the casino, karaoke in Quasar nightclub and a DJ in Sky Lounge, with a silent disco proving the most popular event for all ages.
Eclipse offers a diverse mix of drinking destinations, from relaxed bars with spectacular views to excellent cocktail options to energetic places to dance.
Passport Bar (Deck 3): The Passport Bar is meant to be a gastro bar, but it is really just two fridges full of international craft beers from all over the U.S., Canada and Europe. Located off the atrium, near the main dining room and on the way to the theatre, it's in a great spot for passing traffic and watching dance classes.
Martini Bar & Crush (Deck 4): The most popular spot on any Celebrity ship, the Martini Bar attracts fun-loving people from late afternoon until late at night. The ice-topped bar features more than 100 different varieties of vodka and a long list of flavoured martinis. Order a martini flight; it comes with a free show of the fabulous bartenders' creative talents.
Cellar Masters (Deck 4): During the day, there are extra-fee wine tasting sessions, but at night the crowds seem to dry up -- perhaps because the lack of bartenders gives it a soulless feel. Instead of interacting with a friendly crew, passengers access and pay for drinks via automatic wine dispensers.
Quasar (Deck 4): The ship's late-night disco is a small space with a bar, dance floor, DJ booth and limited seating. It's either dead or buzzing, with no in-between.
World Class Bar (Deck 5): Manned by bow-tied mixologists, World-Class Bar is named after a bartender competition sponsored by one of the world's biggest drinks company, Diageo. Craft cocktails include Bulleit Infusion, a blend of tropical fruits infused with Bulleit Bourbon, and Ketel One Strawberry Fields, composed of vodka, Cocchi Americano (dessert wine) and grapefruit juice. Look out for the extra-fee cocktail-making masterclasses.
Ensemble Lounge (Deck 5): This busy space, on the way to the eateries, has plenty of seating around the bar so it's good for socializing before or after dinner. Live music is played here throughout the evening.
Michael's Club (Deck 5): This civilized haven away from the bustling ship is only open to suite passengers 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. A buffet-style breakfast is served in Michael's Club in the morning, and there is a cocktail hour most evenings.
Slush (Deck 12): Nestled in a small stand on the Pool Deck, it's more of a serving station, which only sells frozen cocktails.
Sky Observation Lounge (Deck 14): This is one of the most stunning public bars at sea, with huge windows all around, 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, while a DJ plays different themes of the music.
Sunset Bar (Deck 15): Just above the Oceanview Bar and exposed to the elements, the Sunset Bar is a great spot to watch the sunset. There are chairs and tables just beside it, as well as rows of chairs and small tables on both sides of the grass lawn, so you can grab a drink and park yourself there for the jazz concerts.
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 (16+) Solarium, a gorgeous spot that is flooded in light. Facilities include a small pool (complete with a waterfall) and two whirlpools on each 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. It's also perfect for picnics or just napping on the grass.
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.
The Canyon Ranch-branded spa offers a dizzying array of body treatments, facials, medi-spa and hair services, including full-body wraps, scrubs, various types of massages and facials, couples treatments, teeth whitening services, acupuncture, reflexology and cosmetic injections. A 50-minute massage starts at $109 (on a port day; $145 on a sea day). Facials start at $140 for 50 minutes.
At the hair salon and barbershop, 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 thermal suite is coed, with a sauna, 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 staffed gym sports lots of modern fitness machines. Yoga, Pilates and light aerobics classes cost $11; morning stretch classes are complimentary. A serpentine jogging track (eight laps equals a mile) is on Deck 14.
Celebrity places a high emphasis on food, and the quality of the food onboard is generally of a high standard. If you choose to only eat in the ship's complimentary main dining room, Moonlight Sonata, you will not be disappointed.
Unfortunately, unless you're staying in an AquaClass cabin or a suite, there's only one other main free dining option, the Oceanview Cafe buffet.
Cruisers with special dietary needs might want to stick with the main dining room, where vegetarian, gluten-free, lactose-free and no-sugar items are clearly marked on the menu.
Room service is free, except for orders between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Moonlight Sonata Dining Room (Decks 3 & 4)
Meals: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L) on sea days, Dinner (D):
The towering, airy Moonlight Sonata is the ship's main dining room, spanning two decks at the aft end of the ship. The room is bright and light in tone and makes ample use of the ship's signature design element, glass. The two-story glass wine tower is a showstopper.
Surprisingly for a ship with 2,800 passengers, this single restaurant feels spacious and uncrowded. 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 seven always changing entrees each night, 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 favourite from the available options, and there are also several "classic favourite" options available nightly. We found the cuisine to be a mix of French, Italian and "New American" styles, with good, hearty salads.
Deck 3 of Moonlight Sonata is reserved for those who want traditional assigned time dining; choices are either 6 p.m. or 8 p.m. Deck 4 is for people who opt to dine anytime between opening hours.
Oceanview Cafe (Deck 14)
Meals: B, L, D
Nine decks directly above Moonlight Sonata is the Oceanview Cafe, an expansive multistation buffet for breakfast, lunch and casual dinner. Outside of regular mealtimes, ice cream, pizza, pasta, sushi, afternoon tea and late-night snacks are on offer, all without additional charge. A juice bar serves up particularly delicious freshly squeezed O.J., 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. We found the breads superb, especially the housemade English muffins.
Lunch features one changing "Chef's Choice" station (primarily a carving station) in addition to tacos, pastas, stir-fry, sandwiches, soups, salads and other speciality stops. There is plenty of elbow room between tables, and attentive waiters are available for assistance for those who require it.
Mast Grill (Deck 14)
Outside and forward of the main swimming pool, the Mast Grill serves burgers, hot dogs and fries.
Luminae (Deck 3)
Meals: B, L, D
This 92-person restaurant is free -- but only to those people booked in suites. Luminae has a contemporary look and feel: lots of light, chrome and glass to reflect the meaning of its name (light). It's split into two separate spaces, which gives the feeling of intimacy and exclusivity that Celebrity is trying to create.
Lunch and dinner menus change daily (as in they are never repeated) and are freshly prepared -- often with produce sourced from the port visited that day. The dinner menu is limited intentionally, apparently, to ensure the selections are always fresh. It features just four appetizers, five mains and three desserts. The food, service and ambience are outstanding.
Blu (Deck 5)
Meals: B, D
A private dining room reserved for passengers booked in Celebrity's AquaClass category, Blu has a similar multicourse menu to Moonlight Sonata but with fewer offerings. The cuisine style relies less on rich sauces and sauteeing and more on natural reductions, ragouts and herbs. The calorie count is printed next to each dish. We found the food rather uninspiring, and the atmosphere cold. AquaClass passengers do not have to pay extra to dine here; suite passengers may book tables on a space-available basis, also for free. The restaurant is otherwise off limits to regular passengers.
AquaSpa Cafe (Deck 12)
Meals: B, L
AquaSpa Cafe, in the adults-only Solarium, serves healthier fare (think small salads and wraps) for breakfast and lunch. The cafe also offers Greek yogurt parfaits, juices and smoothies, although these cost extra. It's usually quiet and relaxing in the early morning, with only the trickling sound of the nearby water feature. Solo travellers often dine here alone.
Pricing was accurate at time of review but may have changed since.
Murano (Deck 5); $50 per person (dinner); $30 per person (lunch)
Meals: L, D
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 centrepiece is a six-course tasting menu, with two choices for each course and an option to have wine paired with each (raising the surcharge to $89). Diners can also order from the a la carte menu. There is a "Market Price" surcharge for caviar. Murano is the perfect choice for date night.
Tuscan Grille (Deck 5); $45 per person (dinner); $25 per person (lunch)
Meals: L, D
Tuscan Grille, Eclipse's Italian steakhouse restaurant, has the best view of any restaurant aboard the ship, being situated all the way aft. A meal in Tuscan Grille is best enjoyed 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. Other signature touches are an antipasti bar and Caesar salad prepared tableside. There is also the opportunity to pay for upcharge items (steaks), like $15 for a bone-in New York Strip.
Qsine (Deck 5); $55 per person (dinner)
Qsine (pronounced "cuisine") has replaced its former gimmick of quirky cuisine, moving the novelty to your plate, literally. A cute, animated show is screened on each diner's plate and across the table in between four courses of gourmet food. Known as Le Petit Chef, because the cartoon stars a little chef who mutters in French as he struggles to prepare your meal, this unique experience is endearing and amusing. Kids would enjoy it as much as adults. Each dish is simple and delicious, but it's a set menu so ask the maitre d' when booking if you would like to switch out one of the courses.
Sushi on Five (Deck 5); a la carte, $4–$13
Meals: L, D
Much more than a sushi joint, Sushi on Five offers sashimi, hot pots, noodle dishes and snacks, which can also be delivered to your cabin.
Cafe al Bacio & Gelateria (Deck 5); a la carte, $4–$10
Located across from Sushi on Five, this coffee place was one of our favourite spots for a light snack. The food, from pastries to small sandwiches, is complimentary, but the (overpriced) beverages cost extra. On the opposite side of the room, a gelato bar dishes out cold concoctions, also for a fee.
Celebrity Eclipse's cabins are relatively spacious, with good storage and amenities. Of the 1,279 cabins with ocean views (including suites), 1,205 have balconies -- a whopping 85 percent of all cabins. All cabin categories come in varieties that fit two to four people, giving families a range of cabin prices to choose from. There are also designated family cabins that can sleep up to five.
Accessible versions of all categories are available.
All cabins, regardless of category, come with robes, safes, hairdryers and stocked mini-bars. (Tea and coffee makers are available only when the ship sails in the U.K.) A large interactive flat-screen TV in every cabin allows passengers to book reservations, services and excursions; examine their accounts; check menus; and watch on-demand entertainment for an extra fee. There is also plenty of storage space, with many nooks and crannies in addition to the closet and drawers. Most cabins also feature two twin beds, which can convert to a queen; a sofa bed, a cabinet with shelving and desk with chair.
Bathrooms have also been well thought out, with curved acrylic shower doors and lots of shelves for your toiletries. Soap and small bottles of shampoo, conditioner and lotion are provided.
Suite privileges on Celebrity Eclipse are robust and include a private lounge and restaurant.
Interior: About 10 percent of the cabins onboard are inside cabins, each measuring from 174 to 200 square feet.
Oceanview: Outside cabins are 175 square feet and feature large picture windows.
Balcony: Making up the bulk of the rooms, standard balcony cabins are 192 square feet, with 53-square-foot balconies; the extra square footage goes mostly to bigger closets. Sunset balcony cabins are located at the back of the ship, but surprisingly, do not have bigger balconies.
Concierge Class: Also 192 square feet with 53-square-foot balconies, these staterooms come with concierge-type services (such as restaurant and private car reservations ashore), as well as a full breakfast room service menu, nightly canapes and complimentary welcome aboard Champagne. Other Concierge Class perks include Egyptian cotton oversized bath towels, a Hansgrohe massaging showerhead and upgraded 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.
AquaClass: Also the same size as a standard balcony, these staterooms are located on Deck 11 near the AquaSpa and include an expanded assemblage of spa-oriented cosmetics, gels and bath amenities; upgraded linens, including a pillow menu; upgraded robes and slippers; a daily carafe of flavour-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 shower tower.
AquaClass passengers have their own speciality 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 help with booking treatments.
Family Offerings: 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) have outside views, 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 5-foot turning radius. Bathrooms have roll-in showers, ramped thresholds and lowered fixtures. A service animal relief box is available on request.
Celebrity has four types of suites, each bigger than the next. All suite passengers get butler service and a range of other perks, which include exclusive use of the suite passenger-only, Luminae Restaurant. Celebrity's suite passengers also enjoy a free mini-bar and exclusive use of the Michael's Club lounge. Bathroom amenities are by Bulgari.
Sky Suite: Sky Suites measure 300 square feet with a 77-square-foot veranda accessed through floor-to-ceiling sliding-glass doors. Bathrooms come with a shower/tub combination.
Celebrity Suites: Each measures 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. Bathrooms have a combo shower/tub.
Royal Suite: Spanning 590 square feet with a 153-square-foot balcony, each Royal Suite has 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.
Penthouse Suites: The two Penthouse Suites, measuring 1,291 square feet with 389-square-foot balconies, are 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.