Refurbishments in 2015 brought style updates to cabins and most facilities
Various spacious cabin choices with stylish interiors; most have balconies
Four free dining options, including a buffet and spa cafe for healthy fare
Excellent fare at specialty restaurants ranges from sushi to a steakhouse
Several bars and lounges, including a martini bar and craft beers
Large pool deck for families includes a wet zone and entertainment
Tranquil adults-only solarium pool and hot tubs surrounded by loungers
High-end Canyon Ranch Spa and Persian Garden thermal suite
Eclipse Theatre presents acrobatic shows, cooking demos, and magicians
Fun Factory provides supervised entertainment for kids; The X-Club hosts teens
Half-acres of grass at The Lawn Club (a signature feature for Celebrity)
VIP perks and restaurants for select cabins
Persistent upselling can be an issue
Persian Garden thermal suite isn’t free
Casino and pool deck get crowded
Some facilities can look dated
For those looking for an elegant, intimate cruise experience at a doable price point, the 2,850-passenger Celebrity Eclipse is almost impossible to beat. Throughout, it emphasizes the good life in its architecture, art, food, wine, and entertainment. The ship offers a premium cruise experience with standout features like four free dining options, the relaxing Canyon Ranch SpaClub, and a half-acre of actual grass (a signature feature of Celebrity's) at The Lawn Club. There are (slightly crowded) outdoor pools for families and adults, plus an excellent kids' club with a slumber party option. Spacious staterooms are decorated to mimic a boutique hotel, and the vast majority of cabins have balconies and ocean views. But not everything is included in the base rate. Cruisers pay extra for specialty restaurants, drinks, internet access, spa access, and tips (as is typical for mainstream lines).
What's Included (and What's Not)
Celebrity’s base cruise fare includes the basics: shipboard accommodations (with twice-daily housekeeping); meals in several free dining venues including the main dining room, the buffet, pool grill, and Spa Cafe; beverages like filtered water, lemonade, fruit punch, coffee and tea; onboard activities and entertainment; and supervised kids’ club programs.
Cruisers pay extra for most beverages (non-alcoholic and alcoholic), premium coffee, ice cream, meals in specialty restaurants, internet access, spa treatments, access to the spa’s thermal suite, and shore excursions. Depending on the selected cabin category (think Concierge Class, AquaClass, or a suite) and the for-fee packages purchased, cruisers can pay extra for a more luxurious experience. VIP treatment and exclusive venues like Michael’s Lounge and Luminae restaurant are reserved for passengers booked in suites. Likewise, AquaClass passengers have their own restaurant.
The line does offer a robust list of packages to bundle with cruise fare to make the experience feel more inclusive and personalized. In addition to beverage and specialty dining packages (described below), there are internet and photo packages. Internet packages consist of an unlimited option that can be purchased pre-cruise or onboard. Once onboard cruisers can buy an internet package of 60 minutes or 24 hours for a set fee.
There are 11 dining venues aboard Celebrity Eclipse: four of them -- the main dining room Moonlight Sonata, Oceanview Cafe buffet, Spa Cafe for healthy fare, and the poolside Mast Grill & Bar -- are free to everyone. For those that plan to eat several meals at the ship’s specialty dining venues -- Murano, Qsine, Tuscan Grille, and Sushi on Five -- it might make sense to buy a specialty dining package. Cruisers can book the package prior to sailing or on days one or two of their cruise, but, according to Celebrity, packages might not be available for all voyages. Select how many specialty dinners you want to pre-purchase (from three to eight) and save money by buying the package. The line says cruisers save between 19 and 33 percent in comparison to paying onboard surcharges. The more meals you pre-purchase, the higher your savings. Room service is free, though some cabins pay a small service charge for late night orders, and some menu items (like steak and seafood) cost extra.
The Premium Nonalcoholic package includes all canned and fountain sodas, plus premium bottled water like Evian, San Pellegrino, and Vitamin Water. Juices, non-alcoholic frozen drinks, and smoothies are included as are Lavazza coffee and specialty teas. The other option is the classic nonalcoholic package, and it includes fountain Coke sodas, bottled juices, coffee and tea, and bottled water.
There are three alcohol packages: the standard, classic, and premium. The cheapest package is the standard, which includes fountain soda, bottled water, select beers, house spirits and wines, and cocktails. The classic option includes soda and bottled water, wine by the glass, beers, spirits, cocktails, and frozen drinks. The highest-priced option, the premium package, includes Evian water, Lavazza specialty coffee and assorted teas plus premium spirits, craft cocktails, fine liquors, craft and artisanal beers, and wines by the glass.
Wine lovers can opt to purchase bottles (three, five, or seven) through the classic wine or premium wine packages, or build their own custom package. The list of custom wines includes a selection of Italian Super Tuscan, French Grand Cru, and California varietals.
The onboard currency is the U.S. dollar, and tips are extra. Tips are charged to onboard accounts on a per-person, per-day basis. Entry-level cabins have one suggested rate while those in Concierge Class, AquaClass, or suites pay higher tip rates. Guest Relations can adjust the tip amount up or down. An 18-percent service charge is automatically added to all bar bills, minibar purchases, and spa services. That’s a fixed fee that can’t be decreased but can, of course, be increased if the service has been super.
Note that Celebrity may update its prices or policies at any time, so it’s a good idea to confirm extra fees before your sailing.
A just-the-right-size ship for all the fun and minimal crowding
Equal parts fun and sophisticated, Celebrity Eclipse was the third in the line’s Solstice class. It made its debut in 2010 and was refurbished in 2015. As a result, the ship is a beauty both inside and out. There's an emphasis on nature, starting with the main atrium and its signature tree of life at the elevator bank. But its even more apparent with the ship’s outdoor features, particularly the signature Lawn Club, which makes it possible to feel real grass on your feet as you sunbathe or read a book. Many of the decks look like a chic art gallery as you pass a series of sculptures, photographs, and canvases moving from one space to another.
With fewer than 3,000 guests onboard, there’s minimal crowding (with the exception of the pool deck and casino), and it’s usually not a madhouse at embarkation or debarkation either. Thanks to its size, the Eclipse can visit some smaller ports that the mega-ships can’t get close to, and that means more interesting itineraries from which to choose. Another big draw is the crew itself that number nearly 1,300. (The ship can accommodate 2,850 people total.) Plus, you get the sense that staff members really enjoy what they do.
Thanks to all of these virtues, Celebrity's stellar reputation, and its convivial atmosphere, the ship draws well-traveled couples and groups year-round. Families also come aboard during summer break and holiday vacations. (The kids’ club programming is kicked up a notch during those periods.) On our seven-night cruise we met twentysomething honeymooners along with middle-aged couples, although the crowd does tend to skew older on longer voyages. We also saw plenty of repeat cruisers, a sure sign that Eclipse, and Celebrity as a whole, is doing something right.
There is a dress code onboard, but it’s not archaic. On a seven-night cruise there are two Evening Chic nights where men are asked to wear dress pants or designer jeans with a button-down shirt or sweater (or optional sport coat) and women are asked to wear a cocktail dress, pantsuit, skirt and blouse, or jeans with an elegant top. Cruisers can, of course, wear fancier clothes, and we did see a few people in tuxedos and evening gowns. While cruisers need to adhere to the dress code at the theater, bars, and most restaurants on Evening Chic nights, they can dress casually for the rest of the cruise and in the buffet restaurant (just steer clear of bathing suits and flip-flops).
Something for everyone from families to spa-goers to those who seek VIP treatment.
A lot of thought went into the design of Eclipse’s cabins, which are about 15-percent bigger than staterooms in the fleet’s non-Solstice-class ships. That extra space means you won’t trip over your cabin mate, and there’s plenty of storage for suitcases and toiletry bags or dopp kits. Also, 80-percent of the ship’s cabins have a balcony. That’s a nice bonus considering Eclipse sails to some of the most beautiful ports in the world.
Each cabin is more reminiscent of something you’d find in a boutique hotel than a cruise ship. Cabins are decorated in peaceful tones with beige, brown, gold, and cream being the predominate colors. Each stateroom is outfitted with amenities like robes (waffleweave in lower-level accommodations and plush terrycloth in suites), a minibar, hairdryer, and a flat-screen TV with on-demand movies. Passengers can also book restaurant reservations, spa services, and shore excursions through the TV. Bathrooms provide custom-blended bath products in the Inside, Ocean View, and Veranda Staterooms and designer products in Concierge Class accommodations and above. Each shower is outfitted with doors that keep water from splashing all over the place.
What’s especially nice about Eclipse is the variety of cabin categories. Those on a budget can opt for a 170-square-foot Interior Stateroom, or book Ocean View (175 square feet) and Veranda Cabins (194 square feet plus a 54-square-foot balcony) for a few dollars more per person per night. There are connecting cabins as well as Family Veranda Staterooms (574 square feet plus a veranda) for families and friends traveling together. Wheelchair-accessible staterooms and suites have wider doors, roll-in showers, and grab bars.
Cruisers that want extra pampering are drawn to one of three classes of accommodations: Concierge Class (204 square feet plus a 42-square-foot balcony), AquaClass (194 square feet plus a 54-square-foot balcony), or Suite Class (square footage varies). Concierge Class cabins get some extra perks like the assistance of a concierge from Guest Services to assist with plans on the ship and ashore. There’s a VIP pre-departure lounge before boarding as well as priority check-in, luggage handling, embarkation day luncheon, and special attention at embarkation and debarkation. The cabins are kicked up a notch as well with items like welcome aboard Champagne, a more robust room service breakfast menu, evening canapes, large Egyptian cotton bath towels, Frette robes, and free shoeshine service. Guests also love the Hansgrohe massaging showerhead.
For avid spa-goers, the best bet is an AquaClass cabin. There are only 130 of them, so you’ll need to book early if you’re traveling during a peak time like Thanksgiving or Christmas week. Located on Deck 11 near the AquaSpa, these accommodations are decked out with upgraded linens, a terrific pillow menu and an aromatherapy diffuser, a comfortable Reverie Dream Lite mattress, and an array of spa-style toiletries and a five-head Hansgrohe showerhead in the bathroom. These cabins get access to a room service menu devoted to healthy choices and the room steward provides flavored tea daily. The real standout perks in AquaClass is access to Blu, a restaurant exclusively available to those booking these cabins (see the Food section below for more details), and free access to the ship’s Persian Garden spa lounge.
The pinnacle of accommodations aboard Eclipse, however, are the range of suites that come with perks that the line calls, The Suite Life. You’ll enjoy priority embarkation and debarkation, rush luggage delivery, priority tender service, a butler, plush robes and Bulgari bath amenities, free room service 24 hours a day, ensuite espresso and cappuccino, reserved theater seating on Evening Chic Nights, and access to two VIP-only venues: Michael’s Club lounge and Luminae restaurant, which is open to suite guests for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Book a Royal Suite or higher and you’ll get even more special treatment, including a welcome bottle of Perrier Jouet Champagne, bottled water daily, unlimited Xcelerate high-speed internet, free laundry twice per cruise, a free Premium Beverage Package, afternoon canapes, unlimited reservations for lunch and dinner in all the specialty restaurants, two free bottles of premium spirits, and a minibar filled with beer, soda, and water that’s stocked daily.
We had a blissful night’s sleep each night of our voyage in our AquaClass stateroom, thanks to both the room and hallway being so quiet and the sheer comfort of our bed. Most cruisers we spoke with reported a good night’s sleep in their cabin of choice, too.
Excellent free dining options plus specialty venues that rival Michelin-starred fare on land
There are 11 dining venues aboard Celebrity Eclipse: four of them-- the main dining room Moonlight Sonata, Oceanview Cafe buffet, Spa Cafe for healthy fare, and the poolside Mast Grill & Bar serving -- are free to everyone. Celebrity offers fixed-time dining at two sittings, or Celebrity Select dining, which gives cruisers the option to dine at any time between 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. with either advanced reservations or walk-in dining.
The two-deck Moonlight Sonata dining room consistently delivers wonderful meals at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If you have kids in tow or are looking for a quick and simple meal, Oceanview Cafe on Deck 14 -- Eclipse’s buffet venue -- is a solid choice for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, and late-night snacks. Ice cream flavors change daily at the buffet. Head there instead of paying for gelato at Cafe al Bacio & Gelateria.
The for-fee venues can make for special dining memories. For rich French recipes and traditional continental cuisine, cruisers love Murano. Diners can opt for the delectable multi-course tasting menu that includes an appetizer, salad or soup, fish course, sorbet palate cleanser, meat course, and dessert, or order a la carte. There is a per person surcharge for the meal and an additional fee if you opt for a wine paired with each course. Favorites on the menu included chateaubriand steak for two, Murano lobster (flambéed with cognac), and Dover sole. If you bristle at the surcharge for dinner at Murano, consider visiting for Champagne afternoon tea instead, when the fee is just about half.
The Italian steakhouse Tuscan Grille was our second-favorite specialty restaurant aboard Eclipse. Located aft, the views of the wake are spectacular -- especially at sunset. This is the place to satiate cravings for pasta and beef. Diners can try pasta with sauces like bolognese, alfredo, or primavera, paired with a tray of antipasta or a delicious Caesar salad prepared tableside. Main dishes include grilled veal chop, filet mignon, New York strip steak, and ribeye.
When Qsine first launched, with its iPad menu and tapas, it was truly inventive -- but now it’s feeling a bit tired. Still, the food is excellent and is especially fun if dining with a crowd. Sushi on Five charges a la carte prices for both lunch and dinner. Cafe al Bacio & Gelateria is the place to go to buy premium coffee drinks and gelato. The sandwiches and pastries at this venue are free.
Blu is reserved exclusively for passengers booked in AquaClass cabins (and suite passengers based on availability). Its focus is on delicious but healthy fare, but be forewarned -- the calorie count of every item is printed directly on the menu.
The 92-seat Luminae is a VIP dining room for suite passengers. Gourmands may find it worthwhile to book a suite just to dine at Luminae, which is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It offers entrees ranging from cote de boeuf to venison to Alaskan halibut to Maine lobster. Desserts like mascarpone cheesecake are fabulous.
Room service is available for all cabins 24/7 but anyone in an Interior, Ocean View, or Balcony Stateroom will pay a few dollars for a service charge for late night orders.
See the What's Included (And What's Not) section for more details on dining packages and pricing.
A plethora of bars serving everything from fine wine to craft cocktails and artisanal beer
The ship offers six bars in addition to the pool bar on the lido deck. Between the main atrium and the theater is a mini-atrium by Deck 4's Entertainment Court, the hot spot for nighttime entertainment. You'll find the majority of bars and lounges around here, and the remaining choices high up on the top decks. Whether you’re looking for a quiet place to sip a cordial and watch the panorama unfold (Sky Observation Lounge), a spot to indulge in some craft beers (Gastro Bar), or a more energetic setting with a boisterous crowd (the ice-topped Martini Bar), you’ll find it aboard Eclipse. Sunset Bar is a cozy spot to watch the sun set with a cocktail.
See the What's Included (And What's Not) section for more details on drink packages and pricing.
Excellent musicians, high-end theater productions, and an artistic hot-glass show
The Eclipse provides a solid lineup of entertainment that appeals to families and couples. As the sun sets, live and recorded music is played throughout the ship on The Lawn Club and in the lounges where cruisers head for pre-dinner cocktails. On our voyage, there was a particularly talented guitarist that had graduated from Berklee College of Music. Passengers will find everything from classical string quartets to jazz ensembles to solo pianists.
The Eclipse Theater is home to stage shows spanning Decks 4 and 5. Don’t worry about where you sit; each seat has terrific sightlines to the stage. The theater hosts both welcome and farewell entertainment, plus three different shows that are presented during an average seven-night voyage. One show is always a takeoff of Cirque du Soleil. The other options feature Broadway-style revues with dancers and aerialists. In addition, watch the daily program for announcements of guest performances by magicians, musicians, and comics. Quasar, the ship’s nightclub, hosts karaoke on most nights.
The casino on Deck 4 can get a bit cramped, but you’ll find a variety of gaming tables and slot machines. The Hot Glass Show, hosted by the Corning Museum of Glass, offers a demonstration by a seasoned artist that creates works of art from glass.
Fun pool games, romantic hot tubs, an adult-only oasis, and a real grass lawn
One of the most compelling aspects of the Eclipse is The Lawn Club. Located aft on Deck 15, this open-air deck is planted with more than a half-acre of real grass so cruisers can enjoy lounging, picnics, and traditional outdoor games like bocce, lawn bowling, and golf putting. At the center of the lawn you’ll find the Hot Glass Show hosted by the Corning Museum of Glass.
If you prefer poolside fun, Eclipse has got you covered with a few options. Deck 12 is home to the pool complex that includes four hot tubs plus a Sports Pool for games such as volleyball. There's a shallow Family Pool, and the Wet Zone consists of randomly firing fountain jets. Single and double cushioned loungers ring the deck. But note that this space can get hectic and crowded.
If the family area is a bit too busy for you (if was for us), then opt for the blissful adult-only Solarium at the front of the ship. The pool is a bit small, but it’s got a lovely waterfall that provides the space with the relaxing, natural sound of running water. There are two whirlpools in the Solarium as well.
Check the daily planner for other daytime fun like bingo, team trivia, or the game show-inspired Battle of the Sexes. Cruisers can almost always find an enrichment lecture or foreign language classes hosted by Rosetta Stone. There are also dance classes, cooking demos, art showings and auctions, and wine tastings led by the in-house sommeliers.
Spa complex includes the Persian Garden, Canyon Ranch treatments, and a spacious gym.
The spa complex spans the forward section of Deck 12 and is one of the best spas at sea. It combines the Canyon Ranch SpaClub with the Persian Garden, a hair and beauty salon, and a fitness center. First things first, there's a broad array of spa treatments on the menu, and they are priced similarly to what you’d pay at a resort spa on land. Treatments include everything from facials and teeth whitening treatments to scrubs and body wraps to acupuncture and reflexology. Couples treatments are available. The salon offers the usual list of haircuts, beard trims, manicures, and waxing, too.
For extra relaxation, spend an hour or more in the Persian Garden and emerge rejuvenated by the New Age music paired with a tropical rain shower, coed sauna and steam room, and fabulous heated relaxation chairs that face directly out onto the ocean. Note that if you're not booked in an AquaClass cabin, you’ll need to buy a pass to enter this part of the spa.
For fitness, the spacious gym has modern TechnoGym fitness machines like stationery bikes, ellipticals, and treadmills. A jogging track rings Deck 14 (eight laps is one mile). Paid fitness classes like yoga and aerobics are on offer, as are personal training sessions.
Fun Factory kids’ club, X-Club for teens, and late-night babysitting options
The Eclipse offers solid amenities for children and teens, but it doesn’t have the same type of partnerships with children’s brands that other cruise lines have (i.e. character meet-and-greets). The minimum age to sail ranges from 6 to 12 months and is itinerary dependent.
Most of the fun for kids is found on Deck 15 forward. The Fun Factory is on the starboard side of the ship for those 3 to 11. X-Club for kids aged 12 to 17 is port side. A basketball court is placed in between both venues and there’s also a nearby video arcade.
Trained youth counselors man the free kids’ program, which is split into four groups: Shipmates, including 3- to 5-year-olds, are treated to treasure hunts and arts and crafts sessions, movies and dancing, and ice cream and pizza parties; Cadets, ages 6 to 8, enjoy many of those same activities plus things like trivia, relay races, and fitness activities; Ensigns, 9- to 11-year-olds, focus on things like team challenges, talent shows, karaoke, and pool time; the Admiral T’s, ages 12 to 17, are treated to late-night dancing, theme parties, scavenger hunts, sports tournaments, and more. In addition, Xbox consoles and an immersive video project called iTake, are readily available.
Eclipse also offers a slumber party from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m., so parents can enjoy nightlife on the ship. There is usually a per child fee to participate in this event. Paid babysitting services, at the kids’ clubs or in cabins, are also available.