Eclipsing the Competition
The first thing I noticed about the Celebrity Eclipse was how put-together it was. It’s like that friend who’s always immaculately accessorized, or that vodka ad with its mathematically-arranged condensation beads. It’s an ensemble of sweeping glass balconies, high ceilings, and low-lit lounges, each room flowing into the next like an unbroken wave. At the same time, each space is marvelously self-contained–marked out with signatures ranging from the space-age to the Victorian age.
If I had to choose one space that epitomized this air of careful arrangement, the Moonlight Sonata dining room would be it. Looking down from the top floor’s curving balcony you can see dozens of spotless white tables set for the dinner service, wine glasses and silverware mirroring the sparkle of the chandeliers above. The sleek two-story wine tower toward the back recalls Vegas’ Aureole, and everything is a conversation between crystal and cloth. It’s like dining in Cinderella’s carriage.
Don’t worry–I won’t spend this whole post gushing over pretty interiors. We have to move on to the Lawn Club!
Yes, that’s real grass. And yes, it feels just as fantastically springy as it looks. This feature was first introduced on the Celebrity Solstice in 2008, charming passengers with croquet, bocce ball, and other Country Club-style games. It’s perfectly acceptable to make Lawn Angels as well. I don’t have a photo of me doing this.
The Celebrity Eclipse introduces a couple of new features as well. The Internet Café has been upgraded to the Celebrity iLounge–a rather swanky computer lab stocked with shiny Apple® laptops. You can sit down and connect to the Internet at any open machine, sign up for computer learning classes, or even set up an account for WiFi access in your room. The iLounge also functions as a limited Apple retailer.
The other big addition on this ship is Qsine, a brand-new restaurant with a “uniquely unordinary approach to dining.” I think that what they’re really talking about here is taking a more playful approach to food; entrees with names like “Sushi Lollipops” and “Disco Shrimp” give the menu a playground appeal. What I really loved here though was (once again) the design. The second I stepped into the restaurant a part of my brain started insisting that I purchase a study and fill it with upside-down lamps.
The onboard nightlife is worth mentioning here as well. Quasar is the main attraction, although its retro sci-fi style seemed at odds with its Top 40 dance beats. The soundtrack to Barbarella might have been a better fit:
Other venues of note include Cellar Masters, crafted to resemble a Napa wine cellar; Crush, in which cocktails are served on an iced sub-zero bar; and Michael’s Club, a rich, smoking room-style lounge with live piano music.
For those who like to relax sans cocktail, AquaSpa® is loaded with ways to unwind. There’s the Persian Garden–full of heated stone daybeds curved to match the natural contours of the body–while further in lie tropical rain showers, a luxurious Solarium, and cozy private treatment rooms. My favorite piece of the spa was the secluded “relaxation deck” in back, reserved for quiet reading, lounging, and ocean-gazing. Did I mention that there’s a gorgeous two-story library onboard? Perfect combination.
And for the kid in you (or at least, the total dork in me)–the video arcade. Don’t miss it. They have racing games!
The Celebrity Eclipse will be serving a number of itineraries in 2011, including tours of Europe, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, and even several Transatlantic crossings.
Photo Credits: “IMG_0421” by Captain Martini; “Celebrity Equinox the Lawn Club” by Celebrity Cruises; “Eclipse iLounge” by DMc D50; “IMG_0433” by Captain Martini; “Celebrity Equinox Quasar Nightclub” by Celebrity Cruises; “Celebrity Solstice. Library. Books.” by Tom Mascardo 1.
My name: Kate Beall
How I earn my keep: Writing for Travelocity.
Best meal I've ever had: There are three: the mofongo at Jimmy'z Kitchen in South Beach, the lomito completo at Fuente Alemana in Santiago, and (for the sheer novelty factor) the cuy chactado in Arequipa, Peru.
First thing I do in a new place: Hit the shower. Anything more than an hour in transit gets me fantasizing about soap.
View that took my breath away: Seeing the endless stretch of the Sierras as I flew in to Reno/Tahoe for the first time. In the winter, it's an aching field of white all the way to the horizon, like a world wiped clean. Looking out at it gives you this unmatched feeling of eternity.
Most challenging travel moment: Sharing a pull-out couch in a cramped New York apartment. The heat wave of 2010 was in full, humid swing and the air conditioning was D.O.A. There was nothing to do but soak your clothes in the sink and hope to pass out before they dried. ...then wake up in an hour and do it all again.
Favorite way to get around: On foot. I'm still working on the motorcycle license.