Celebrity Cruises’ new Solstice-class ship the Eclipse is wowing passengers with all the touches the Solstice-class has brought to the cruise industry, including a few new touches like new services in the AquaSpa and an innovative and very fun dining venue called Qsine, complete with Apple iPad menus and the new Celebrity iLounge, an Apple retail outlet making Celebrity Cruises the industry’s first onboard “Authorized Apple Reseller.”
But like anything that’s working well, too much change is not a good idea and as a result, aside from the major changes mentioned above, most passengers aren’t going to see much of a change on this beautiful ship and believe us when we say, this is a good thing.
That’s not to say there aren’t some changes—the entrance to the gym, for example, has changed so gym-goers don’t have to walk through the spa reception area, and new shock absorbers have been installed under the gym floor to mute the noise from gym activities that AquaClass passengers down below complained about on the earlier Solstice ships. The popular Solstice-class “Team Earth” interactive and educational installation is still on the Eclipse, but it has a new partner now with the Smithsonian coming on board replacing National Geographic. But other than a few decor changes and some new artwork, that’s about it.
The cabins are roomy, with 90 percent of them offering ocean views and with the vast majority offering verandahs, with just 70 outside cabins lacking the pleasure of a spacious balcony. Even the inside cabins are spacious ranging from 183 to 200 sq. ft. The bathrooms are the best feature with plenty of storage area and, most importantly, large, roomy showers with the curved sliding door allowing more maneuvering room when you’re trying to take a shower without suffering from an attack of claustrophobia. Flat-screen TVs and an ample desk space for a laptop are all nice touches, as well.
The 130 AquaClass staterooms are back, of course, with pretty much the same amenities—spa-style selection gels and bath products, Frette robes and slippers and the ever-popular “pillow menu” as well as the five-head Hansgrohe invigorating “shower tower” with more controls on it than a nuclear submarine. And, because it is a spa stateroom, there’s always a daily delivery of complimentary healthy beverages and snacks, as well as an exclusive room service menu of salads and other healthy dining choices. And, last but not least, AquaClass passengers get the jump on the specialty restaurant Blu.
Of course, both of the two biggest changes on the Eclipse are truly unique. The first is the Celebrity iLounge, which also happens to be the first shipboard computer-enrichment and Internet hub to be sanctioned by Apple. It’s located on the same Deck 6 area as the Internet cafe on the previous two Solstice-class ships, but the similarities end there. Yes, passengers can still access the Internet there and Windows workstations are still available, but this is Nirvana for the Mac crowd. We’re talking 26 workstations facing a 56-inch flat-screen teaching monitor, where Apple-trained techs will teach classes in everything from helping passengers to put together photo books of their cruise or whatever else they want with Apple’s iPhoto, to editing their videos with iMovie, or even build their very own websites with iWeb, even social media sites. Don’t have a Mac? Not to worry, keep in mind this is also an Apple store at sea selling everything from MacBooks to iPods, iPads and all the accessories a newbie Mac person could need. Even better, the techs are also there to help passengers solve their hardware and software issues, a very nice perk when you are too far away from home to have your 12-year-old neighbor take care of your problem.
The second big change on the Eclipse is the new specialty restaurant Qsine and this is a very fun change indeed. The whole idea here is creativity and having fun with your meal. It starts off with the menu—forget the standard fold over affair, here you order from an interactive iPad that graphically tells you what’s in the drink selections. And that’s just a start. If you like popcorn fish, for example, you’ll get bite-sized battered and fried codfish served in a movie-theater popcorn box—get it? Spring rolls? Oh, they’ll show up at the table impaled on bouncy metal springs. Like a guacamole appetizer with your meal? You might want to do a little research first because it’s going to show up at the table as avocado chunks and you’re going to put it together yourself with a mortar and pestle. Sushi comes your way on a plate standing tall and formed into lollipops. It’s a fun way to dine, but it’s going to cost you $30 pp.