In the past few years cruise ship design has veered away from being a triumph of style over substance. Architects have had it with overzealous décor and overly self-conscious interiors, reflecting passengers’ desire for something more approachable though no less stylish. No ship has encapsulated this new ethos better than Celebrity Eclipse since her launch in 2010.
Little short of ground-breaking in design, this 2,850-passenger vessel is situated somewhere in a curious dream-world between the golden age of European grand hotels and a hipster haven with serene notions of calm. Textile columns soar skyward from the Grand Lobby, while throughout decks four and five, sheer fabric drapes create a South Beach vibe. In other areas Californian-style elements encapsulate the realms of romance. The on-trend design concepts showcase a fusion of artsy and edgy and there are lots of both.
Where to eat
The double-height Moonlight Sonata Restaurant which spans the aft section of Decks 2 and 3 is described as ‘old Hollywood glamour meets stunning contemporary design’. The crisp simplicity allows well-attired guests to dress the room – especially on formal nights. Dinner is served in two assigned seatings, while passengers who prefer to keep their own schedule can opt for the more flexible ‘Celebrity Select Dining’.
Speciality dining options include Tuscan Grille, which offers a contemporary take on Italian culinary classics including succulent cuts of beef; healthy and flavoursome cuisine is the order of the day in Blu; Murano’s distinction is a sumptuous multi-course menu featuring a blend of classic and modern continental cuisine, many selections of which are prepared tableside; while Qsine is a rollercoaster of palate pleasers selected from an iPad menu, artfully presented on a variety of unique presentation plates. ‘Suite Class’ passengers can dine in the Luminae, where unique menus feature locally sourced regional and seasonal ingredients inspired by the destinations visited by Celebrity Eclipse.
Where to sleep
Opulent accommodation is all part of the heady mix passengers discover on-board Celebrity Eclipse. A massive 85% of staterooms have private verandas and come in a variety of grades. There are two 1,291-sq ft Penthouse Suites; eight 590 sq ft Royal Suites; twelve 394 sq ft Celebrity Suites; no fewer than 44 Sky Suites at 300 sq ft; and four Family Ocean View Suites which measure a generous 575 sq ft. Aqua Class, Concierge Class, as well as Sunset Veranda and Deluxe Ocean View categories all measure a respectable 192 sq ft, and have generous 53 sq ft verandas. Ocean View staterooms come in at 176 sq ft, while Interior staterooms measure between 183 and 200 sq ft. There are 30 wheelchair accessible staterooms across a multitude of grades.
The 130 Aqua Class staterooms on Deck 11 all have five-jet Hansgrohe ‘Pharo’ showers, Frette robes, additional toiletries, complimentary bottled water and a carafe of flavour-infused iced tea. Guests in this grade of accommodation have unlimited access to the AquaSpa relaxation room and Persian Garden; they also dine in Blu, where an exclusive continental breakfast is served each morning, and have an upgraded room service menu.
What to do
The main entertainment focus is the Equinox Theatre and Celebrity Central on Decks 3 and 4 forward. In a move away from slinky, syncopated manoeuvres and finger-snapping rhythms, entertainment includes ‘Elyria’ – an adult fairy-tale of fantasy, music and imagination including vocalists and breathtaking group acrobatic and aerial performances. A highly-accomplished a cappella group performs in the Entertainment Court as well as the Grand Foyer, where nightly Big Band music is also popular.
First showcased on Celebrity Solstice, the Lawn Club, high above the ocean on Deck 15, boasts a massive 22,927 sq ft of hardy Agrostis Stolonifera grass. This popular locale features lawn bowling, a three-hole putting course, Patio on the Lawn (where passengers can enjoy picnics) and Sunset Bar – an ideal hideaway for cocktails at any time of day, never more so than when the sun takes its leave over the western horizon. The nearby Hot Glass Show offers an open-air demonstration by master glassblowing artisans – or ‘gaffers’ – from the Corning Museum of Glass, but this has never taken off with British cruisers and quite frankly is a waste of space.
The modish Martini Bar with its ice countertop is a focal hub for the trendiest of tippler, while Cellar Masters is a great place to quaff some unusual wines. Celebrity Cruises recently launched the World Class Bar that mixes artisan spirits with uncommon ingredients to create its cocktails.
The AquaSpa by Elemis spans two decks and not only offers the usual line-up of revitalising and restorative treatments, but also an on-board medi-spa. Celebrity was the first cruise line to offer on-board acupuncture, and the gamut of therapies now boasts a 24-carat gold facial treatment which uses alchemy of medicinal plants, rose quartz and a pure 24-carat gold leaf mask.
Celebrity Cruises’ dictum boasts that the key principles of ‘modern luxury’ are built around exceeding the aspirations of guests. On-board Celebrity Eclipse, this is achieved in spades.