Celebrity is a family-minded line, though not as much as big sister Royal Caribbean. Eclipse does have an excellent program of kid-focused activities, as well as family-friendly dining, shore excursions and onboard sports. The ship also has a good selection of family friendly accommodations, including Family Ocean View Staterooms and plenty of interconnecting rooms.
The forward area, including the basketball court, on Deck 15 is ground-zero for kids aboard Eclipse. The court is sandwiched between the two dedicated kids areas: X-Club (for kids ages 12 to 17) on the port side and Fun Factory (for 3- to 11-year-olds) on the starboard side. The two kids areas are of roughly equal size and stocked to the rafters with age-appropriate gear, including a huge collection of Xbox consoles. Also clustered with the kids clubs is the video arcade.
Celebrity Cruises has achieved the Autism Friendly Cruise Line status, having completed Autism Friendly Certification with Autism on the Seas. Eclipse offers movies, games and activities that are suitable for kids with autism, as well as toys that can be borrowed for in-cabin use.
The Fun Factory is open from 9 a.m. each morning or half an hour before arriving in port for children with parents on shore excursions departing prior to 9 a.m. All parents must register their children at the start of the cruise and sign kids ages 3 to 8 out of the Fun Factory.
The well-staffed youth program includes organized activities for four age groups, as follows:
Shipmates (3- to 5-year-olds): Activities include lots of arts and crafts, plus dinosaur hunts and face painting. Children must be toilet trained and diaper-free to enter youth program facilities or participate in their activities unless accompanied by a parent.
Cadets (6- to 8-year-olds): The Cadet schedule features dress-up time, games, "become a spy" activities and limited time on age-appropriate video games.
Ensigns (9- to 11-year-olds): This age group is engaged in scavenger hunts, pool games, bingo, basketball and game shows. Ensigns also have Wii consoles, foosball and air hockey tables. Ensigns can sign themselves into and out of programs until 10 p.m., unless otherwise indicated on their Parental Consent Form. After 10 p.m., Ensigns require an adult to sign them out of activities.
Youth Staff will also take your kids to lunch and dinner, but this is charged at $6 per hour. (Dinner is free when at sea, or if sailing at or prior to 5 p.m.)
Lunch is available on Port days only from noon to 2 p.m. Children will dine with their youth staff on the Lido Deck, then carry on into afternoon activities. Pre-registration is required before 11:45 a.m.
Dinner is available every evening from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Children start out in the Fun Factory from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., then dine with their youth staff at 6 p.m. on the Lido Deck, then carry on into evening activities. Pre-registration is required before 5:45 p.m.
From 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. a "Slumber Party" is on offer. Children from ages 3 to 11 can slumber or party, depending on needs and choices.
There are no fees for any child who signs up for the VIP Program.
Babies and Toddlers (6 months to 3 years old): Designated "Toddler Time" sessions are organized for the youngest kids onboard. Toddlers are permitted in the Fun Factory only with parental supervision; you cannot drop your child off and leave. Children do not need to be potty trained to participate.
Baby-sitting is available, either in the Fun Factory or in your cabin, but children must be at least 12 months of age. In-cabin baby-sitting is available for up to three children in the same family and includes two baby-sitters. Bookings must be made 24 hours in advance, and one parent or guardian must stay onboard during baby-sitting time. Note: this is a first-come, first-served program. The fee is $19 per hour.
If you are going to use group baby-sitting services on multiple days, consider getting your kids a VIP Pass. It gives your child unlimited access to all extra-fee program activities. The one-time fee varies by cruise length, and it covers all meals and slumber parties, as well as behind-the-scenes tours. Kids also receive a gift bag.
The X-Club features the newest gaming consoles and titles and a soft drink "bar" with a popcorn machine.
Teens are split into two groups. Those in the 12-to-14 age bracket participate in "tweens" activities like pool Olympics, game shows and karaoke; those in the 15 to 17 group, which has less structured schedules, have a prom party and a "Dancing with the Stars" event. All activities are hosted and supervised by youth counselors.
Celebrity also has an interactive and immersive video project called iTake (which will keep your teen gainfully occupied for four hours). The program involves brainstorming a storyboard, then, armed with GoPro Hero 3 high-definition, wide-angle video cameras (used to film extreme sports and other cool events), they'll head out to get the shots they planned. After the filming is through, they'll learn how to edit their videos in the iLounge.