Once seemingly considered an afterthought by cruise lines — or merely a seasonal repositioning necessity — West Coast cruising has recently come into its own as a legitimate itinerary option. And one of the top ships offering multiple itineraries on the West Coast this year and next is Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Eclipse.
On a recent nine-day Pacific Coast voyage between San Diego and Vancouver, British Columbia, my wife, our teenage daughter and I rediscovered the oft-overlooked beauty, captivating history and close-to-home charm of the California coast and the Pacific Northwest.
Sailing north revealed wonders at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, Calif.; fascinating Lewis and Clark history in Astoria, Ore.; Seattle’s quirky, turn-of-the-century underground tunnels; and the stately, colonial charm of Victoria, British Columbia. But our itinerary highlight was the overnight call in San Francisco, which allowed time for in-depth city exploration via cable car; shopping for touristy kitsch at Fisherman’s Wharf; enjoying a dim sum lunch in Chinatown; savoring a signature hot fudge sundae in Ghirardelli Square; and leisurely biking around Golden Gate Park, one of the country’s great urban oases.
Onboard the Solstice-class Eclipse, amenities reflect the line’s inclination toward innovation and remain true to Celebrity’s “modern luxury” concept. Originally launched in 2010, the vessel saw a major refurbishment in 2015, and it will receive a more extreme makeover during its “Celebrity Revolution” treatment next May, when it will add some popular features and functionality available on new fleetmate Celebrity Edge. For now, though, the once-cutting-edge (and still impressive) design holds up well, despite the need for a refresh of some cabin decor and hallway treatments.
Meanwhile, the ship’s culinary options don’t disappoint, either. Highlights include an impressive, four-course dinner prepared by the animated “Le Petit Chef and Friends” at Qsine, where tabletop, 3D-projection technology and culinary prowess mesh perfectly in a rare example of successful “eatertainment.” Cuisine in the attractive, two-level Moonlight Sonata Restaurant is also solid, while the quality and presentation of the fare at the casual Oceanview Cafe buffet could use some updating.
Celebrity sets a high bar for itself when it comes to entertainment, and the four production shows on our sailing were all highlights — particularly the gorgeous and creative “Euphoria,” which combines daring acrobatic wonders, innovative staging and hauntingly beautiful music. Elsewhere around the ship, Celebrity’s commitment to live music is demonstrated admirably with quality lounge acts in multiple venues.
Eclipse will sail a combination of Pacific Coast, Pacific Northwest, Alaska and Hawaii itineraries to and from San Diego, Los Angeles and Vancouver this year through 2020.