Eclipse is Celebrity’s third Solstice-class ship.// © 2011 Celebrity Cruises
Accessible staterooms: 30
three or four guests: 418
connecting doors: 121
Length: 1032.5 feet
Beam: 121 feet
Speed: 23 knots
Three years after the first SolsticE-class ship debuted to tremendous excitement from agents and consumers, the impact of the class has not diminished. I had thought we might be accustomed to the extreme elegance by now, with its stunning retail spaces, outstanding dining and lounges but, at a press conference at sea looking at the third and newest ship of the class, reporters and agents were still pronouncing themselves "knocked out" by the design on Celebrity Eclipse.
Although Eclipse is easily recognizable as a Solstice sister, she has some new features and has refined some of the earlier ones. The unusual and delightful Qsine replaces Silk Harvest, offering familiar food choices with a very playful twist. There's a distinct "Alice in Wonderland" flavor to this alternative restaurant where upside-down lamps hang from the ceiling and spring rolls are served on real springs. Passengers spend considerably more time in Qsine than in other venues, enjoying the fun-loving spirit that starts with the restaurant's iPad menus. It appears that Jacques Van Staden, Celebrity's vice president of culinary operations, has reversed the trend of shipboard restaurants taken from land-based models in this delightful venue, sure to be imitated ($30 fee).
Apart from the iPads in Qsine, Celebrity's relationship with Apple is evident all around the ship, from the iLounge to stateroom televisions. In addition to Internet and email access, the iLounge has a 56-inch teaching screen facing workstations, where Celebrity offers sessions in everything from video editing to Web design, all supported by Apple-trained staff. There is also a retail area selling Apple products.
Other changes include a redesign of the AquaSpa with a new entrance and the separation of the fitness room from the spa facilities. Shock absorbers have been added under the fitness area floor to ensure that the noise doesn't disturb guests in the AquaSpa Class accommodations underneath.
Apart from Qsine, dining options generally follow the design set by the first Solstice ship. The Oceanview Cafe's use of stations or islands, usually attended by chefs preparing fresh dishes or servers assisting guests, has solved buffet lines, and the multi-national cuisine specialties continue to please passengers. The large dishes have eliminated the use of trays, and the ample space between serving areas makes for a leisurely dining experience.
The Moonlight Sonata Restaurant (main dining room) has the same setup as previous ships' and the AquaSpa Cafe serves healthy breakfast and lunch. Deck 5 is a grazer's heaven, from the Cafe al Bacio & Gelateria to the Bistro on Five, which offers panini, crepes, salads and the trimmings for a $5 cover from morning to night.
The most sophisticated dining venues are grouped with beautiful aft views, including Murano, the elegant continental restaurant ($35 per person), the Italian Tuscan Grille ($30 per person) and Blu, the private dining room for passengers in AquaSpa accommodations.
Besides AquaSpa Class, Eclipse's accommodations range from the two, 1,291-square-foot Penthouse suites to inside staterooms at 183-200 square feet. Stateroom colors are bright and clear, usually with light leather furnishings, adding to the feeling of space and relaxation in the private areas.
Ninety percent of accommodations have ocean views, and all but 70 of these have balconies. The well-designed bathrooms with Elemis bath amenities are everywhere; the 130 AquaClass staterooms are structurally Deluxe Ocean View accommodations, with added amenities including spa-oriented products and bathroom features, special television programming, complimentary healthy snacks and drinks and a room-service menu of salads and healthy dishes.
Eclipse has 418 cabins that will accommodate three or four guests, including four Family Ocean View staterooms, and 121 cabins have connecting doors.
What have become signature features of the Solstice class -- the grass Lawn Club and The Hot Glass Show run by the Corning Glass Museum -- continue on Eclipse, although this will be the last of the Solstice-class vessels to house a Hot Glass feature.
The Solstice model has been so enormously successful for Celebrity that the line is systematically "Solsticizing" its previous ships to bring more conformity to the overall product, following Constellation last year and Infinity in December with Summit and Millenium in 2012.
In early May, Eclipse sails from the Caribbean to its homeport in Southampton, England, offering 14-day Northern Europe and Mediterranean itineraries.