Celebrity Moves Up Eclipse's Inaugural Cruise Season

September 8, 2009
Eiffel Tower Paris (5:21 p.m. EDT) -- Celebrity Cruises has announced that its newest ship -- the 122,000-ton, 2,850-passenger Celebrity Eclipse, the third ship in the innovative Solstice class -- will launch ahead of schedule. This is the third time in a row Celebrity's moved up the launch of a new-build; Eclipse's sister ships, Celebrity Solstice and Celebrity Equinox, both debuted earlier than originally announced.

As a result, the line has slotted in a new pre-inaugural sailing for the ship on 26 April 2010, a three-night "Paris Short Break" voyage sailing roundtrip Southampton with a stop in Le Havre. (We were unable to determine the duration of the stop in Le Havre, important information since it's a two-and-a-half hour drive from Le Havre to Paris.) The "official" maiden voyage, a four-night sailing with a stop in Cork, will embark on 29 April as originally planned. Celebrity was unavailable for comment -- but according to members on the Cruise Critic message boards, the line is offering the option to swap to the earlier cruise or combine the three- and four-night cruises. (We suggest you call your travel agent if you're affected.)

The ship, which is currently under construction, will be based in Southampton for summer 2010, sailing a variety of Mediterranean and Holy Land cruises. As a sister ship to Celebrity Solstice, Eclipse will boast all of the same interesting onboard features. These include The Lawn Club, a dedicated area on the top deck of the ship featuring real, growing grass, where passengers can play croquet or golf; the Hot Glass Show, the first glass blowing studio at sea; large standard staterooms, 85 percent of which will be outfitted with verandahs; Quasar, a mod-futuristic disco; and a selection of 10 restaurants onboard, covering all genres including French, steaks and chops, and Asian-fusion.

Eclipse is one of the most highly anticipated ships for U.K. cruisers, who have seen an increasing number of innovative ships homeporting on their side of the pond, such as Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas. Norwegian Cruise Line will debut Norwegian Epic, its largest and most innovative new-build ever, in the United Kingdom in spring 2010 with a series of pre-inaugural cruises.

--by Dan Askin, Associate Editor