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Our score: 4.6/5.0

Celebrity Eclipse

Celebrity Cruises

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Grant Holmes Avatar for Grant Holmes

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  • Detailed Review
  • Facts & Amenities
  • Deck Plans
Grant Holmes Avatar for Grant Holmes

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The words ‘large-ship cruising’ can strike the fear of God into most luxury travellers, myself included. But don’t judge too quickly – while Celebrity Cruises doesn’t pretend to be an ultra-luxury cruise product, it’s nevertheless very deserving of its 5.5-star Berlitz cruise rating. Many hotels (and the odd ultra-luxury cruise line) could learn much from the talented folk at Celebrity.

You may wonder why LuxuryBARED has strayed from reviewing only six-star-rated cruise ships. The reason is simple – we believe the gap in terms of the overall experience and inclusions between 5.5-star and six-star-rated ships is becoming ever smaller. Celebrity deserves your consideration.

I admit I am not a fan of large ships (the Eclipse holds 2,850 guests), and I was somewhat reluctant to join my friend on a 12-day cruise, but I am very pleased I did. Celebrity is the ‘city slicker’ sibling of the Royal Caribbean Cruise lines family. Think of a stylish (floating) Park Hyatt with exceptional service and food, lots of things to do, Broadway-calibre entertainment and perfect ocean views.

What Celebrity does deliver on its Solstice-class ships (the Eclipse is one) is an exceptional value-for-money experience that will both surprise and delight.

Interiors are contemporary and chic; staterooms are large and wonderfully comfortable. The pool deck is cleverly and tasteful divided, so you don’t feel you’re in a sun-lounger factory, and entire spaces of real lawn (named The Lawn Club) provide many seating areas and a great outdoor experience.

It’s in things such as entertainment that the large ships tend to win out, and it’s clear Celebrity invests vast amounts of money in providing exceptional shows – no medley of dreary musical theatre tunes here.

But in my experience, the true standout is the excellent, almost faultless service onboard, combined with some of the best food I have ever eaten at sea – rather unexpected.

Baring All
  • Exceptional service and incredible food
  • It’s a big ship, so at peak times there will be lines, but they disappear quickly – have another cocktail
  • Splash out for a suite – great value and many extras included
  • Avoid the shore excursions: overpriced and mostly uninspiring
Why we like it
Why we like it

Contemporary, elegant ships, incredible service, exceptional food throughout the ship (not just in the speciality restaurants), all wrapped up in one ultra-slick and professional operation.

Nothing is left to chance – you regularly see operational managers casting a watchful eye over every aspect of the day-to-day operations. The ship’s officers are constantly out and about speaking to guests. Not once on a 12-day cruise did a single crew member pass me by without a cheery greeting. Overall service levels were nothing short of excellent.

The thought of larger ships may unnerve some (long lines, slow service, desperate rushes to the cocktail bars) but fear not. Even at the busiest times, I did not wait longer than a few minutes to be served a cocktail or to be seated in a restaurant. Of course, when arriving in port there are lines to disembark, but if you relax with a coffee and wait 30 minutes, the lines will disappear. The Eclipse is one very slick operation: you will be impressed.

Accommodation
Accommodation

I opted for a Concierge Class Veranda Stateroom, which I enjoyed. It has a cruise-ship-sized bathroom, compact albeit well laid out. There is also a good-sized walk-in shower but no bathtub. There is a single basin vanity and loads of storage space.

Within the room, there is a spacious double wardrobe (with plenty of hangers), a small desk area with multiple plug sockets, a large built-in cabinet housing a mini-bar, safe and five drawers for clothes storage. Over this unit sits a large flat-screen TV with multiple satellite channels as well as free and pay-for-view movies. On the other side of the room is a large, three-person couch and an oval coffee table. A large double bed overlooks the good-sized veranda.

All in all, these are excellent, roomy and well-designed staterooms that work perfectly for two guests.

Dining
Dining

In this market segment, wonderful ships with an array of amenities, excellent entertainment and a wide choice of accommodation are commonplace, but where Celebrity stands out is in food and service standards.

The Eclipse has a wide variety of dining options. However, I will restrict my comments to the main dining room, the Moonlight Sonata Restaurant, and the speciality restaurants.

The Moonlight Sonata is an impressive set-up by any measure. This double-height, ultra-contemporary space is decorated in lots of white, creams and sea-blue shades combined with chrome, steel and huge glass wine towers. The restaurant serves a la carte breakfast, lunch and dinner. Evening meals are divided into early and late seating times, although there is also a ‘dine anytime’ option. While not a gourmet or a cutting-edge establishment (there are other restaurants on board for this), it offers excellent, polished comfort food, served by a friendly and capable service team. Think chic gastropub meets your favourite neighbourhood restaurant – just on a slightly more industrial scale.

The Eclipse has three speciality restaurants: Murano (classic French), Tuscan Grille (Italian) and Quisine, where trendy presentation seems to take priority over taste. Murano and Tuscan Grille, however, are great restaurants with delicious food and excellent service. In the case of Murano, my entree of sole Veronique was quite simply the best I have ever eaten.

The speciality restaurants come at an additional charge of $45 per person (buy a speciality dining package, which averages out at around $29 per person) and are worth every cent.

Just so you know
Just so you know

The Veranda Stateroom categories can be confusing as they are divided into stock standard, Concierge Class and Aqua Class. The stateroom itself is the same, but with Concierge Class and Aqua Class, there are additional benefits and services provided. In the case of Aqua, you will also get access to the BLU restaurant, which is only for Aqua guests.

It’s worth considering a suite on this ship as aside from an array of extra services (including access to the gorgeous Luminae restaurant, only for suite- class guests) the actual suites themselves are very spacious and they also come with a dedicated butler service.

Unlike small luxury ships, which tend to be all-inclusive, Celebrity charges for drinks, but you can make life easy by buying a Premium beverage package as you board the ship, or upgrade any time on-board. This covers pretty much everything you could wish for, including top-shelf spirits, cocktails, wines by the glass and all non-alcoholic beverages, tea, coffee, etc. It’s outstanding value.

Wines from the extensive and very impressive wine lists are not included in this package but will tempt you nonetheless.

Best suited for
Best suited for

Celebrity’s marketing line is ‘the home of modern luxury’, and that is what’s provided: a relaxed and contemporary approach to luxury – well, their version anyway. And, frankly, it’s pretty close to perfect as it appeals to a wide cross-section (and age group) of guests. It dispels the entirely old-fashioned view of cruising. Gone are the days of the newly wed and nearly dead.

Whether you want to enhance your vacation by staying in a suite, dining in a speciality restaurant every night or cocktailing your way from one port to the next, you won’t be alone. If you are looking to have a more casual and less flashy experience, you will be right at home here too. If great entertainment, innovative shows and more activities than you can poke a stick at are your thing, you’ve come to the right place.

On top of all that, you get large servings of Celebrity’s exceptional service, incredible food and a cruise experience that is stylish, contemporary and delivered with panache.

The ‘home of modern luxury’? For once, the marketing hype appears to be right on the mark.

General information

  • Year built 2009
  • Last refurbished 2015
  • Tonnage 122,000
  • Registry Malta
  • Length 1,041 feet
  • Beam 121 feet
  • Passenger capacity 2,850
  • Crew size 1,271
  • Total inside cabins 140
  • Total outside cabins 1,286
  • Cabins and suites with verandahs 1216
  • Suites 66
  • Table seatings 2,4,6,8
  • Seating assignments in main dining room Assigned
  • Dining hours 6:45pm & 8:15pm
  • Onboard currency US Dollar

Amenities

  • Gym

    Gym

  • Spa

    Spa

  • Swimming pool

    Swimming pool

  • 11 Dining venues

    11 Dining venues

  • 8 Lounges

    8 Lounges

  • Kids club

    Kids club

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