Celebrity Eclipse – Classic Mediterannean Cruise

My wife and I joined the Celebrity Eclipse at Southampton for a 16 night cruise  to the Western Mediterranean and Adriatic coast.

This was our first cruise experience with Celebrity Cruises.

The Eclipse is a 2,850 passenger modern ‘Solstice’ class cruise ship which entered service earlier that year.

Celebrity Eclipse offers a considerable wide  choice  of accommodation, ranging from Sky Suites with balconies

to Ocean View cabins…

to inside cabins…

For this cruise we had booked a Sky Suite on Deck 12 which, including the balcony, was approximately 379 sq ft in size and  which came with a Butler.

For those who love the spa life, Eclipse offers contemporary accommodation  in their AquaClass staterooms. In addition to complimentary access to the ship’s spa amenities, passengers in AquaClass staterooms also have exclusive dining in the speciality restaurant, Blu

Other dining facilities onboard Eclipse include the Main Dining Room, The Moonlight Sonata

This restaurant has a sparkling ambiance where open seating breakfast and lunch are served,  and a two sitting Dinner service in the evenings. Passengers can expect excellent service and meals to a good standard…

Wine service can tend to be a little frantic though the nurturing of your wine waiter/ waitress will result in improved service a s the cruise progresses.

There is also a self service buffet restaurant, The Oceanview Café, on Deck 14…

with probably the best laid out food stations and serveries on a ship of this size…

There are 3 speciality restaurants on Celebrity Eclipse. The Tuscan Grille is a steakhouse with an Italian accent and features a strongly robust Italian wine list…

The Tuscan Grille turned out to be our favourite restaurant on Celebrity Eclipse and was well worth the $35.00 per person cover charge…

…and opened…

Cooked as ordered.

The second of the speciality restaurants is Qsine

is a new restaurant concept that when we sailed was new to  Celebrity. It’s about  a culinary journey that delivers both surprise and delight and certainly makes dining fun. The menu is presented on an ipad and initially appears quirky,  with unexpected twists on familiar favourites, different textures, tastes and presentations:  all exciting and a novel culinary journey.

Examples range from Sushi Lollipops to Lava Crab, Lobster Escargot  to Disco Shrimp: it’s fun and its good. Here is but one example, called the Taj Mahal

The cover charge for Qsine is again $35.00 per person.

The third speciality restaurant on board Eclipse is Murano

Supposedly serving classic and modern interpretations of Europe’s finest cuisine both my wife and I were somewhat disappointed with this over pretentious dining venue. Physically  attractive and appealing neither the service nor the end product matched that of the Tuscan Grille. Having said that and to be fair to the restaurant, there was one dish, over our two visits, that did impress: the innovative  Potato Laced French Turbot

The cover charge for Murano was $45.00 per person.

Entertainment

Celebrity Eclipse has some excellent entertainment and social activity venues. First mention must go to the Eclipse Theatre

A state of the art oceangoing theatre occupying three levels and which really came into its own with Celebrities lavish production shows featuring cirque du Soleil routines. As can be seen from the photograph though, it does have a number of view interfering pillars.

The Sky Observation Lounge is a particularly spacious lounge/ entertainment venue…

One major complaint here, smoking was allowed on the port side of this excellent facility while one ‘minor’ one was that  with such a sizeable dance floor, best use was never made of the facility.

In terms of favourite venues there was never going to be any competition for us, it had to be the Martini Bar

Sit back in the plush high backed chairs around the totally cool ice topped bar and watch the lively and talented bartenders put on a high-energy show preparing your favourite Martinis from a classic and contemporary Martini menu at this liveliest of venues…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gfBsMKp8uag

(stay till the end)

Next on our favourite list was the Molecular Bar

…where an amazing array of Cocktails were mixed before your very eyes…

Taste the art at this one-of-a-kind bar, serving handcrafted cocktails such as ‘Coming Up Roses’, all created by The Liquid Chef.  This is a place to engage the senses and experience the unforgettable art of Molecular Mixology.

Yet another favourite of ours, particularly for pre-lunch drinks on sea days, was Cellar Masters

Generating an atmosphere reminiscent of some of the Napa Valley’s finer tasting rooms,  this inviting and ‘almost’  ostentatious ‘wine Bar’ often proved a peaceful haven – offering both familiar and unfamiliar wines from around the world,  and featuring a  state-of-the-art Enomatic wine-by-the-glass dispensing system.  Sommeliers are on hand for when the auto dispense system does not hold a passengers particular tipple.

The Ensemble Lounge is an elegant gateway to many of the ship’s  restaurants. It made an ideal setting for an aperitif en route to the  specialty dining restaurants and  the live musical  entertainment was always appropriate to the occasion…

We preferred the more intimate atmosphere of Michael’s Club later in the evening…

…relaxing in the deep  leather chairs, good post dinner conversation and a little live piano or guitar music. Michael’s Club boasts  an extensive collection of fine whiskeys, scotches, and cognacs.

Decks and Outside Areas

With an October sailing we were never going to have high hopes of spending balmy sun drenched days on  lounging on the upper decks.  Celebrity Eclipse is well endowed with upper deck spaces and has two designated pool areas. The Main Pool Deck area…

…and for us, what proved the occasional better option,  The Solarium

…which offered a higher degree of serenity and peace: its thickly padded loungers  and an adults-only policy certainly appealed to us.

Less than impressive were the tightly aligned upper deck sun beds, aka Celebrity Sardine

To be fair to Celebrity, there were one or two, albeit smaller areas, where sardines were not observed, like Solstice Deck…

One innovation on this ‘Solstice’ class ship is The Lawn Club

…with its quite unique Glass Blowing Studio…

Where the Corning Hot Glass Show includes interesting demonstrations of glass blowing on an almost daily basis.

The rear of the Lawn Club is the Sunset Bar: a great venue for the sail- away experience.

Celebrity Eclipse also has an excellent state of the art  Spa and Fitness centre…

The Itinerary

Our first port of call after our Southampton departure and two full days at sea was Cadiz. This was a first visit to Cadiz for us and we took one of the ship’s excursions to Seville…

Plaza de Espana, Seville

 

One further sea day and we were berthing in the port of Cagliari, Sardinia…

 

Yet another sea day before our arrival at Split, Croatia…

Split was a tender port as ships the size of Celebrity Eclipse cannot get alongside…

 

The following day we arrived in Venice

 

Barbara at the Rialto Bridge, Venice

 

and a day later at Dubrovnik, Croatia…

 

View over Dubrovnik from Fort Imperial.

A further day was spent at sea as we cruised towards Sicily where we would berth at the port of Palermo. Here we again opted for the ship’s organised excursion, this time to the fortified hill town or Erice

 

Pepoli Castle, Erice.

 

The view from the rear of Pepoli Castle, Erice

 

After one more sea day our last port of call was Malaga, Spain…

 

Malaga Cathedral Organ

 

Our final two days before arrival home in Southampton were sea days and included a very pleasant crossing of the Bay of Biscay.

 

Summary.

 

We thoroughly enjoyed our first cruise with Celebrity. We found it a good brand with very good levels of food and service. Though not lovers of buffets on board cruise ships it was obvious to see that the Ocean View Café was a cut above the bulk of cruise ships. The entertainment, though not always to our liking, was plentiful and we often exercised a miss of programmed entertainment in preference to  the many excellent bars and lounges. The production shows were most memorable.

Though not affected (we had priority tender tickets) we did witness a poor tender routine that contributed to many passengers having a considerably shorter period of time ashore in Split and long queues of passengers for the return journey to the ship…

Tender queue at Split, Croatia.

 

We were also a little disappointed with the overall position of the  Sky Suite deck, in particular the overhang…

…though this did not interfere with the view from the balcony.

 

Overall though an excellent cruise and we were well pleased with our Celebrity Experience.

 

Will we sail with celebrity again?  We already have and have plans for  another in 2014.

 

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