Having just disembarked Celebrity’s Century, the ship which will be coming Down Under for next wave season, it was with great anticipation that I queued up to board the lines newest ship, Eclipse. My reason for being there was the formal media launch which was postponed from April this year, when the sudden eruption of THAT Icelandic volcano threw the travel plans of hundreds of thousands into disarray – including media heading to Europe for Eclipse’s launch from around the globe.
After a lengthy check-in and boarding process, thanks to the extremely late clearance of the ship by customs and immigration, I finally got into my stateroom to begin my two-day adventure on a cruise to nowhere.
My verandah stateroom was on deck 11, and narrow, reasonably spacious with a sitting area and a good sized bathroom. My first observations of things to come later was the design; very contemporary and stylish, reminiscent of a Four Seasons or W Hotel. The walls are a combination of a cream fabric and blonde wood with good use of mirrors. The furniture is also blonde wood topped with marble, and accents of dark wood, the generously sized sofa and vanity chair are butter coloured leather, and the furnishings are brown and deep red with good use of luxury fabrics.
The room also has everything you could want – an interactive flat screen TV (powered by Apple), a hairdryer, a lighted vanity mirror, mini bar, and a large safe. The storage space is a bit limited – one wardrobe with sliding doors, and a row of small drawers beneath the TV – but the bathroom is a great size with a proper shower (even if the vanity is a bit on the narrow side.
As for the rest of ship, I haven’t seen such innovation in design and such an elegant, contemporary feel since cruising on Seabourn’s Odyssey. Use of colours, artwork, lighting, mirrors and so on make you feel like you in a boutique hotel, not a cruise ship. It’s pleasing on the eye, trendy and likely to attract a younger crowd of cruisers.
As for facilities, Eclipse is a big ship and has pretty much everything a sophisticated traveller expects while on vacation. At double occupancy she carries 2,850 guests in 1,426 staterooms, 85 per cent of which have verandas, and 90 per cent of which have ocean views. There is wide variety of choice in stateroom types, from standard to large suites, and there are 65 AquaClass staterooms boasting a variety of perks including unlimited access to the AquaSpa relaxation room and Persian Garden.
Public facilities include the spa (which offers medispa treatments) and a fitness centre, 18 retail shops (one selling Chanel cosmetics and skin care), a live glass-blowing show, a top deck lawn made of real grass (the Lawn Club), a pool deck, and an adults-only solarium pool. There’s also a wide variety of bars and lounges including a Martini bar complete with Tom Cruise style performance antics, and a Sky Bar on deck for cocktails under the stars.
Dining on Eclipse hasn’t been ignored either; design aside, there’s a tempting array of choice, and some innovations which are likely to set trends for future big ship cruising. Of the 10 venues on board, Qsine is my top pick for its eclectic twist on nostalgic and contemporary favourites, and where presentation, sharing and fun are of prime importance. In this restaurant you order and mix your own cocktails using a person iPad, and choose dessert using a gadget influenced by a Rubik’s cube. And there’s the Tuscan Grille, a glamorous steakhouse with definitive Italian flair.
My two days on board have gone by in a flash, and I’ve hardly had time to truly experience this beautiful ship as a real guest good. No lounging by the gorgeous pool in the Solarium, no spa treatment (although the facility looks amazing and you can’t go wrong with Elemis products), and there are a few eateries which will have to wait until next time to be sampled. What I can say is that in spite of all the hype about Eclipse, she is setting a new standard for stylish, big ship cruising, both in terms of her design and her offerings. Forget traditional cruising, this is a brave new world – and it looks great!
For those of you interested in seeing a sneak peak of Eclipse, visit the gallery on our Facebook page by clicking here.
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