Celebrity Eclipse Review
- Pro: Private club and restaurant for suite cruisers; craft cocktail and beer bars for everyone else
- Con: Passengers not traveling in suites (the vast majority) are excluded from certain bars and restaurants
- Bottom Line: One of the most sophisticated, stylish and contemporary mainstream cruise experiences
Celebrity Eclipse Overview
When the first Solstice-class ship debuted in 2008 (Eclipse is the third, launched in 2010), the phrase "game changer" was used to describe it. With a real grass lawn, a living tree suspended in the atrium, stunning cabins with character, quirky art, a glass-blowing studio and an achingly hip Apple store and a restaurant so innovative that land-based establishments took notice, the reviewers had a point: Ships in the Solstice Class blew all other mainstream vessels out of the water.
However, gast forward almost 10 years and some of these features are looking, well, a little worn. For example, Qsine, which really did set the bar high in terms of quirky cuisine, is now looking a bit gimmicky (sister brand Royal Caribbean's Wonderland restaurant has taken on the Qsine concept successfully).
That living tree? -- No-one gets quite what that's for. And the glass-blowing? -- that's been removed from sister ships, to be replaced by a restaurant. We even heard people say the iLounge seems a bit dated.
Celebrity Eclipse regularly pulls in high marks for passenger satisfaction, and it has won Cruise Critic awards for the Best Mainstream Ship for several years in a row.
And Celebrity gave it a significant refurbishment in May 2015 (the first since its launch), introducing a number of new features that spoke to what cruisers want. These include a craft cocktail bar, World Class Bar; a craft beer bar, Gastrobar; and a dedicated restaurant for passengers traveling in suites, Luminae.
However, Eclipse is currently sailing its final season from the U.K., and from next year will homeport in Dublin, to be replaced by sister ship -- the more modern (2011) Celebrity Silhouette.
Eclipse is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful big cruise ships we've ever sailed. Its interiors blend sophistication with a bit of whimsy -- akin to a trendy W Hotel, but with softer edges.
And, perhaps most importantly, the ship positions itself perfectly for the first timer -- not so big that it's overwhelming, but not so small that you get bored. It's got a good selection of restaurants, the real-grass lawn is still a great spot to just hang out, the entertainment is still fo a high quality and generous-sized cabins are bigger than the industry average.
It's also got that all-important celebrity (with a small c) link up with the the U.K. show, The Wine Show; and rugged Brit adventure expert Ben Fogle, who gives talks onboard and helps design some of the line's more adventurous excursions.
On the downside, the rampant upselling and fee surcharges are a bit of a turnoff, and on sea days, the pool deck, beautiful as it is, can feel crowded and chaotic. Service is often overwhelmed, not just on the pool deck, but at all bars; and the Oceanview Café often feels like a motorway service station.
But none of the negatives is enough to deter us from taking another cruise on this fine ship.
Celebrity Eclipse Fellow Passengers
The average age onboard Eclipse is younger than on many Southampton-based ships, as Celebrity has done a good job at positioning itself to couples and families. On short cruises to France, the ship often attracts hen (bachelorette) parties, as well as large groups celebrating significant birthdays.
When homeported in Miami, Eclipse attracts a similar passenger demographic -- just with a greater percentage of Americans. During school holiday periods, you will find a lot of families onboard.
Celebrity Eclipse Dress Code
The two levels of dress on Eclipse are smart casual and evening chic. Two evening chic nights take place per seven-night cruise. On smart casual nights, sport shirts and slacks are appropriate for men, while women will be comfortable in skirts or pants and blouses, or casual dresses. On "evening chic" evenings, men can ditch the full suit and tie in favor of a sport coat and collared shirt, with designer jeans. Women can wear cocktail dresses, sundresses or designer jeans or nice pants. n the buffet, almost any form of dress is allowed except swimwear, flip-flops, spa robes and bare feet.
Celebrity Eclipse Gratuity
Onboard currency is the U.S. dollar. Tips aren't included in the cruise fares, but suggested gratuities are automatically added to your onboard account at a rate of $13.50 per person, per day, if you're in a standard cabin; $14 per person, per day, if you're in a Concierge Class or AquaClass cabin; and $17 per person, per day, for passengers in suites. If you would like to adjust the gratuities, you can do so through the Guest Relations desk. An 18 percent charge is added automatically to all beverage and minibar purchases, as well as spa and salon purchases. You can't remove these gratuities but can add to them.