APRIL TRANSATLANTIC 2017
Step aboard my favorite CRUISE ship. Key word, CRUISE. Queen Mary 2 reigns supreme but she's an ocean liner - significantly different in ship design, construction, and purpose.
Eclipse is one of five sisters in Celebrity's Solstice class launched in the following order: Solstice, Equinox, Eclipse, Silhouette and Reflection. Total cost for the bunch: $3.7 Billion. Thanks to Martin Francis of Francis Design, Solstice class ships are unique in design starting with the "knuckle" in their bow design and twin functional stacks, unusual for a modern-day ship. The twin funnel aspect is reminiscent of a by-gone era (albeit Disney) from the 50's. The "X" on just one of the ship's stacks, is a carry over from the Chandris Line's flag, a Greek, family-owned shipping line which Celebrity evolved from. The Geek "X" is the Greek letter chi, or "C".
At 139,000 tons, The Eclipse is about the largest ship I am comfortable sailing on. Anything bigger gets busy, big, and less intimate. Almost a perfect size at 139,000 tons, and a good passenger-to-space ratio (36) she provides a superb flow, amenities, and features inside and out. Take for example, the wonderful solarium on Deck 12 (Resort Deck) with it's two story glass enclosure. The lighting, by day and night - it's water-scaped features, and dual, over-sized, Jacuzzi's create a world-class, weather proof, resort for adults only. The Lawn Club on Deck 15, was a breakthrough in ship innovation when Solstice Class was introduced in 2008. The grass is real but has a tough time with salt air. This living, breathing, "club" includes contemporary outdoor seating areas with wonderful sea views which flank the lawn, and a massive, deck-wide tented awning that delivers more of am abscract design feature than anything functional - very cool at night when lit. Walk through the Lawn Club at night and listen carefully - there are crickets chirping. An automated, random recording of chirps that brings the area to life. I got very curious the first time I heard this creative concept. Head aft and the the Sunset Bar is revealed and also accessible by a stairway up from Ocean View, the outdoor dining area adjacent to the buffet. Some of the best views on any ship of the ship's wash can be found here.
Mid-ship are two pools, just aft of the Solarium. A most innovative execution of canvas for this type of outdoor venue (considering the beating from the winds it can withstand) offers a respite from the sun depending on the time of day.
Eclipse's interior features a gorgeous twelve story atrium. A massive tree is the centerpiece and embedded in a ten foot diameter metal ball. The feature is a solid display of the ships execution in innovative design. Riding the glass atrium elevators vertically can become a fun way to pass some time. The view is addictive as is the library - a big feature and integral part of the atrium. The entire space defines what an atrium should be, and is used as a center stage for many of the ship's events and functions - in essence its own venue. I've seen some rather risqué events spark up here, including undergarments being flung into the air by the cruise director engaging a massive sling-shot (and many of the passengers Creative to say the least.
If you can imagine a ship with a timeless affect, strong attention to detail, some uncanny artwork, and a cheery, inviting, yet unobtrusive atmosphere, Eclipse too will be your ship.
In my opinion, Solstice Class embodies one of the most brilliantly designed and cosmetically appealing main dining rooms afloat. Moonlight Sonata, Eclipses MDR was conceived by Tihany Design who went all out. The firm also played a leading role in the much of the interior space design of Holland America's Koningsdam and Niew Statendam. The combination of chrome, bright white, and one of the the most accurately and strategically lit spaces renders a museum-like effect. Make sure you check out the automated, two-story wine complex embedded in columns of chrome tubing. Meals times are busy, but relaxed. Celebrity's food, while not close to what it was when the line launched itself, is still above average, most of the time. Optional dining includes: Qsine, a very eclectic venue; Murano, the lines French inspired fine restaurant; Tuscan Grille, the ship's steak house, and Blu, the private dining venue for Aqua Class guests. I experienced BLU for ten days. While not totally sold on its philosophy of "Clean" cuisine, the service and ambiance were sterling. The buffet, Ocean View, is a highly efficient and vast operation. I appreciate the aft deck with outdoor seating over the stern featuring that great view of the ship's wash.
Celebrity's "REVOLUTION" will aim to set a new industry standard with the unveiling of the brand’s new initiative – a complete modernization of its current fleet, beginning in 2019. Let's hope they keep what's great about this ship and her sisters. Evidently the changes "will include a sleek, modern, revitalized stateroom redesign, with additional staterooms and suites being added to some ships; technology enhancements; new culinary concepts; refreshed public spaces and dining venues; and a sweeter suite-class experience.
With Celebrity's introduction of "EDGE" and her sister "FLORA", Celebrity is delivering yet another breakthrough in industry design, innovation, features and amenities. I appreciate, rather than building bigger ships, the company is delivering a smarter, more contemporary product that will continue to keep the Celebrity ahead of the mark with an above average, definable product you recognize the moment you step aboard.