Celebrity Eclipse Entertainment
During the day, Celebrity offers a number of choices for enrichment and entertainment. Those who can't bear the thought of disembarking without winning just one more luggage tag can compete in multiple games of trivia, game shows and the ever-popular Celebrity chestnut, "Battle of the Sexes."
Passengers who would like to disembark with a bit more brain power than they came aboard with can attend educational programming that ranges from computer lessons in the Internet cafe to lectures on a range of subjects. These are organized via partnerships with Rosetta Stone (for foreign language classes), Smithsonian Journeys (for erudite speakers at Eclipse's "Beyond the Podium" series) and Apple. On our sailing, the two lecturers were a self-improvement specialist and a real-life crime scene investigator discussing forensic science.
Celebrity Tastings, an annex to the art auction's main gallery, hosted samplings of wine and other libations, such as single malt and Irish whiskies, Port wine and rums. A dedicated wine-tasting venue on Deck 4 called Cellar Masters offers wine-tasting with knowledgeable sommeliers. Also, passengers can conduct do-it-yourself wine tastings 24 hours a day in Cellar Masters by purchasing a "wine card," inserting it in an automatic dispenser for a particular type of wine, and dispensing a measured one, two or four ounces into their glasses. It may be that the lack of bartenders gives Cellar Masters a chilly, soulless feel. (We're not big fans of the automatic dispenser for wine.) But, it was never crowded; in fact, it was often empty.
If you like a convivial bar, the Martini Bar was so much fun that it was a regular stop on our travels, evenings and even afternoons on sea days. Bartenders are inventive and creative and bring a Cirque du Soleil interpretation of cocktail-mixing that's just fabulous.
Arguably, one of the most interesting enrichment experiences is the "Hot Glass Show," where passengers can sit surrounded by the grass of the Lawn Club and watch a master from the Corning Museum of Glass practicing his or her art, with a second artist providing commentary. This goes light-years beyond the demonstrations we're all used to seeing at the Murano glass factories.
Then there are the standbys we all expect: art auctions, bingo, dance lessons, wine appreciation and the like.
One disappointment -- and this comes from someone who doesn't spend a lot of time in casinos -- is that the casino on Eclipse is entirely too small for a 2,850-passenger ship and could use more gaming tables. At most, four blackjack tables would be open at any given time, and only one of those had a $5minimum.
At night, Celebrity Eclipse features a nice range of entertainment offerings -- on deck, in lounges or in the main showroom -- that cover a variety of musical styles. These include a solo steel pan player, a classical string quartet, solo pianists, a jazz combo and big-band stylings from the main show band. There's disco and dance music in Quasar, the ship's nightclub.
The Celebrity Eclipse Theatre, the ship's main show lounge, is a well-designed room with excellent sightlines and semicircular rows of comfortable theater seats, all with good views of the stage. There are no tables, but drink holders have been added to the armrests. Normally three production shows take place on a seven-night cruise; one of the shows is a Cirque du Soleil-inspired circus show, while the other two are standard revues with the star aerialists used like featured dancers. Other main show lounge performances include a singer, a comic and a magic show, along with welcome aboard and farewell shows.
One very pleasant surprise is that Celebrity's beginning to offer evening entertainment up at The Lawn Club; a jazz concert one night under a starry sky with wine and cheese (you pay for the wine, though not the cheese) was an absolute delight.
Shore excursions were handled efficiently and smoothly. We didn't find anything new or unique on our sailing, but we were, after all, on a Caribbean cruise.
Celebrity Eclipse Public Rooms
The Grand Foyer, which spans Decks 3, 4 and 5, is one of the most gorgeous atriums at sea.
The slogan for the ship is "food is at the aft end; entertainment is up front; money is in the middle." To that end, the restaurants are clustered aft of the atrium, and the Eclipse Theatre (main show lounge) is fully forward. Between the main atrium and the theater is a mini-atrium, anchored at Deck 4's "Entertainment Court," the nexus for nighttime entertainment. Amidships, in between the dining and entertainment venues, are the casino, reception and a mind-boggling 19 boutiques and shops that are part of the Shops on the Boulevard complex, covering every genre and price point. Show us the money!
In another cluster, various landings for the main atrium's elevators have been expanded to accommodate the card room, library, a museum-like interactive environmental awareness experience called "Team Earth," and a fantastic Internet cafe called Celebrity iLounge, which is a multipurpose room operated in partnership with Apple. The computers are Macs, of course, and there are numerous courses on computer-related topics. There's also a retail store which is beautifully presented (and quite helpful if you, like me, forgot to bring your Mac computer's power cord!).
The 24-hour library is spectacular, spanning two decks, with towering bookshelves extending the full height of the room.
Celebrity Eclipse Spa & Fitness
Spa services are conducted by Elemis, Ltd. (a division of Steiner) and include a dizzying array of spa treatments like a variety of massage offerings from sports to New Age and everything in between. A standard 50-minute massage is $110, excluding bells, whistles and hot stones. As with all of the cruise-ship spas operated by Elemis, quality and experience of therapists is a bit hit-and-miss; our Swedish massage was bone-crunchingly hard, and we had to tell the practitioner to lighten up a number of times. (She ultimately apologized, saying "I don't know my own strength," which seemed odd coming from a massage professional.)
Elemis also offers teeth-whitening and acupuncture. Beware of Steiner's traditional after-treatment product sales pitch. (Feel free to just say no.)
The Persian Garden, a Millennium-class idea expanded to Eclipse and its siblings, is central to Celebrity's AquaSpa concept. The area includes a coed sauna and steam room, tropical rain shower and heated oceanview relaxation chairs. The facility is available for free to AquaClass passengers and for $99 to all other passengers (based on a one-week cruise). AquaSpa pools include a circular spa pool, a swim pool and two whirlpools in the absolutely gorgeous Solarium.
Though the AquaSpa pools are closed to children, the main pool area does include a family pool (shallow for youngsters), separated narrowly from the "Sports Pool" on one side and the "Wet Zone" on the other. The Wet Zone is a flat area with vertical fountain jets that fire at random; it's great fun for kids to play in or for anyone wishing for a quick cooldown. Together these three form Eclipse's main pool area, accompanied by four hot tubs.
A fully stocked and staffed gym sports all the newest fitness machines, as well as a serpentine jogging track (eight laps to the mile). Classes in yoga, aerobics and the like cost $11 per class. The nicest recreational area is the Lawn Club, and though Celebrity is careful to avoid excess wear and tear on the living grass, the ship's own backyard does feature a bocce court and a three-hole putting course. At the forward end of the ship, on Deck 15, is a basketball court.