Sometimes the journey is the destination – on a seven-night Alaska Hubbard Glacier cruise aboard Celebrity Eclipse, it’s both.
Launched in 2010 as part of the Celebrity Cruises' Solstice Class fleet and set for a refresh with brand-new Edge Class enhancements ahead of being homeported in Melbourne in 2020, Celebrity Eclipse is an amazing cruise experience.
On an Alaska cruise, it’s all about the shore excursions and Celebrity Eclipse does not disappoint. On a round-trip voyage from Vancouver, Canada via the Inside Passage, the highlights are many.
The Icy Strait Point excursion on day three offered up an abundance of wildlife and spectacular scenery. We spent the first half of the tour looking for bears, and were lucky to spot one cross the road in front of us and disappear into the bushes. (Tip: Bear sightings are more plentiful between July and August when the salmon are running).
The remainder of the excursion was spent on a whale-watching cruise, spying whale tails and breaching whales as well as sea otters, sea lions and bald eagles. A definite highlight for me!
The Juneau shore excursion on day five combined a trip to see the Mendenhall Glacier via walking trails followed by a traditional salmon bake over hot coals, which gives a delicious smoky flavour.
Back on the ship, Celebrity Eclipse has a stunning interior with well-considered spaces, meaning you don’t feel as if you’re on a ship with other 2,849 passengers. There’s lots of nooks to sit and watch the wildlife (I spotted whales and dolphins from the bar at the front of the ship) or curl up and read a good book.
My spacious Concierge Class cabin came with lots of perks, including priority embarkation and disembarkation and daily canapes. The balcony was the perfect spot to have a glass of wine while watching the ice calving off Hubbard Glacier – simply breathtaking.
The in-room TV kept me abreast of what was happening daily as well as access to restaurant menus so you can plan where to dine that day. Tip: Pre-book the specialty dining package so you can enjoy the amazing food on board Celebrity Eclipse – definitely a highlight.
And food was absolutely a standout on my cruise. Moonlight Sonata Restaurant, Oceanview Cafe and the Spa Cafe are some of the dining venue options included in the cost of your cabin.
Moonlight Sonata is the main dining room and has a relaxed atmosphere (think smart-casual) but there’s also two ‘chic’ nights where dressing up for dinner is encouraged. Breakfast, lunch and dinner is available with a different lunch and dinner menu daily plus an extensive wine list. The abundant food was amazing and the fantastic dining staff were attentive, learning our favourite foods in order to make excellent dinner recommendations.
Buffet-style dining is available at Oceanview Cafe with everything you could imagine on offer. It was a great option for port days when you need to grab a quick lunch before disembarking the ship. The Oceanview Cafe serves fresh, hot meals – I had my favourite onboard breakfast there! It’s also open all day so you can opt for a snack before bed, too.
The Spa Cafe is one of the first spa restaurants at sea – a great concept with lots of small taster plates (my favourite was the tomato and mozzarella salad – yum!) and delicious, healthy fare, such as salads and wraps as well as freshly squeezed juices and smoothies. Located on Deck 12 at the front of the ship, you can laze in the solarium before wandering over the cafe for a light lunch.
There’s also a raft of specialty restaurants available for an additional cost – your tastebuds will thank you later (see my tip above) – such as Le Petit Chef at Qsine, Murano and Tuscan Grille.
Le Petit Chef at Qsine is an outstanding dining experience. I don’t want to give too much away as this venue elevates food to an artform with theatrical flair. It’s an intimate venue for a limited number of guests with amazing dishes prepared in front of you – a must-do.
The European-inspired Murano is an elegant dining venue. Located at the ship, I enjoyed magnificent vistas of the Inside Passage and wildlife viewing, while being served an delectable five-course meal. The impeccable silver service is cruise dining at its most classic with crepes and lobster flambeed at the table, and chateaubriand, lobster bisque and souffles on the rotating menu. Murano is well worth the extra price for the elevated dining experience.
For traditional Italian, Tuscan Grille is a specialty restaurant specialising in pastas and steak. Situated at the back of the shop on Deck 5, the venue can’t be beaten for stunning views. Tip: Book for lunch on the day you sail to Hubbard Glacier.
Along with the specialty dining, thrilling scenery and wildlife viewing, some of the most enjoyable parts of the cruise were really interacting with the amazing staff, who went out of their way to make sure you have the best holiday ever – not just at sea.
Main image: Celebrity Cruises