In this post, we share everything you need to know about taking an Alaska cruise on the Celebrity Eclipse cruise ship.
There’s a lot to consider when booking an Alaska cruise vacation. The cruise ship you choose can make or break your vacation, so it’s wise to do your research. We could not find up-to-date content about the Celebrity Eclipse cruise ship, so this post will address the questions we had prior to booking.
The cruise departs from Vancouver and sails north to the magnificent Hubbard Glacier in Alaska (pictured above), said to be the largest tidewater glacier in North America. It’s a 7 night cruise that includes land visits to Icy Strait Point, Juneau and Ketchikan before returning to Vancouver.
This is a long post with several photos from our time aboard the Celebrity Eclipse cruise ship. Use the table of contents below to skip ahead to a specific topic of interest.
Alaska Cruise on the Celebrity Eclipse
Before we get started, we feel its important to let you know that we did not work with Celebrity Cruises and we did not receive any perks. Not even free wifi.
Celebrity Eclipse Veranda Stateroom
Before we take you a tour of the Celebrity Eclipse, let’s begin with an overview of our veranda stateroom (veranda means covered balcony). Our stateroom was located on the 6th floor of the ship, starboard side near the stern. The room number is 6242, for those who are researching the Celebrity Eclipse deck plan.
Our balcony stateroom was cozy and comfortable. It came with a queen sized bed and a couch that converts to a single bed. The couch in the stateroom has a trundle bed underneath (see photos below).
Some staterooms have a bunk bed set-up, where the top bunk folds up during the day. We prefer the trundle bed over the bunk bed system. We were nervous about our boys falling from the top bunk if the ship ran into a big swell. The trundle bed worked well for us.
The bathroom in the veranda stateroom is quite spacious.
We’ve been on a few cruise ships and this bathroom was the biggest. The shower is quite large and roomy, and hot water is always available. Standard toiletries are included and replenished every day (soap, shampoo and lotion). A hair dryer is also included in the bathroom.
Staterooms come equipped with a mini-fridge.
The mini fridge was stocked with typical mini-bar items, like beer, spirits and soda. These items have an additional charge that is automatically added to your stateroom bill.
It was nice having a mini-fridge in our room. Our youngest boy has a dairy allergy, so we brought his rice milk and vegan butter. We also stored bottled water in the fridge.
Housekeeping service occurs twice per day.
Rooms are cleaned and replenished in the morning, typically when you go for breakfast, and in the evening, typically when you’re at dinner. If you have special requirements, let your housekeeper know on your first day. They can’t help you if they don’t know what you need.
The television in your stateroom is interactive.
You can view room charges and order room service directly on the television. It also has on-demand movies and shows which is a nice feature. We’ve been on cruises where the television channels are not available while at sea, which doesn’t really help. In the evenings, our boys would watch a movie while we sat on the balcony with a glass of wine. It’s a nice way to end the day.
We stayed in room 6242. We circled the room in red on the deck plan image above.
Above is the bathroom in the veranda stateroom on the Celebrity Eclipse cruise ship.
Travel tips for first time cruisers to Alaska
- Use packing cubes for your clothes. If you’re not already using packing cubes, you should consider getting a set, especially if you’re traveling with kids. We use these packing cubes – see photo above. These inexpensive packing cubes keep your clothes organized and store easily in the overhead storage compartments.
- Bring a multi-plug USB charger – like this one. The room has a few power outlets, including a European outlet, but no USB ports. We always bring this wall charger when we travel because we have several devices that need charging at the same time.
- Don’t forget to switch your cellphone to airplane mode. The ship will cross international boundaries while at sea. To prevent unexpected data roaming charges, make sure you switch your mobile phone to airplane mode.
- Bring clothes that do not wrinkle easily. Staterooms do NOT come with an iron and ironing board. If you want your clothes pressed, you will need to use laundry service for an additional fee.
- You can bring wine with you. Guests are allowed to bring 2 bottles of wine per stateroom. We packed one bottle of wine in our carry on bag. You have to claim this after you pass through security.
- Don’t double tip – check your bill before signing. Gratuities are often automatically added to your bill when purchasing alcohol. Don’t tip twice! Look at your bill and/or ask the bartender if gratuities are built into the price you are being charged.
- Ask for the high quality bathrobes. Staterooms come with two bathrobes that are small and thin. Ask your housekeeper for the better quality robes. You’ll be glad you did because they are much softer and warmer. They are ideal for walking to and from the pools and hot tubs. Remember, you’re in Alaska, not the Caribbean.
- Room service is available – use it! Staterooms do NOT come with coffee or tea. If you like coffee or tea in the morning, and you don’t want to wander around the ship before your morning shower, we recommend you take advantage of this included service (no additional charge for room service).
Is it worth getting the balcony on a cruise?
Yes. The balcony on a cruise ship is a must, in our opinion. It’s nice to have the additional space and fresh air, especially when sharing a room with two young boys.
We enjoyed spending our mornings on the private balcony, watching the beautiful landscapes pass by while breathing the fresh sea breeze.
There’s a high probability you will see whales and dolphins on an Alaskan cruise. We witnessed at least a dozen whales and dolphins from our stateroom veranda. Scroll down to see some of the photos.
Before having kids, we went on a cruise where we stayed in an inside cabin with no window or balcony. While we did save money on the room (inside cabins are often less expensive), it was not ideal. I cannot imagine sharing an inside stateroom with kids, it would feel far too claustrophobic for my liking.
In the evening, the trundle bed is pulled out from under the couch, so each boy has their own single bed.
Obstructed views in Celebrity Eclipse Cabins
Our veranda stateroom is classified as having an obstructed view. We paid less for this room, so we were concerned about how much of our view would actually be obstructed. Sometimes cruise lines will call these rooms with restricted views.
We did not mind the obstructed views from our stateroom on the Celebrity Eclipse.
I can see why Celebrity Cruises reduces the cost for these staterooms. You do have a bright orange safety boat in front of your room, which is a bit of an eye sore.
However, we were able to clearly see the passing landscapes. Most of our time on the cabin balcony was spent either reading or leaning on the railings, watching the scenery. When you stand up and lean on the railings, you no longer have the orange safety boats in view.
As you can see in the above photo, the obstructed views on our balcony was limited. We could clearly see the Hubbard Glacier from our balcony, but the top of the safety boats were visible.
The below photo was also captured from our balcony. We were in room 6242 on the 6th floor.
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Is there room service on the cruise ship?
Yes. Room service on the cruise is included.
Staterooms on the Celebrity Eclipse do not come with individual coffee makers or kettles. Because of this, you cannot make coffee or tea in your stateroom. This is common on most cruise ships.
We like to have lazy mornings and let our boys sleep in when we’re on vacation. They typically stay up later, so we prefer to take it slow and let the morning dictate our pace. Because of this, we order room service every morning while on a cruise.
Room service is complimentary on the Celebrity Eclipse from 6:00 AM to 11:00 PM. Room service is available 24 hours a day, however late night room service has an additional charge.
No tipping or gratuities are required at the time of ordering or receiving your room service. However, if you’d like to leave a tip, you can either give a cash tip or add gratuity to room service staff. You do not need to sign anything when the food arrives. It’s a very easy process.
There are 3 ways to order room service on the cruise ship:
- order items directly on the interactive television in your stateroom
- complete the room service card that is in your room and hang it on your door before you go to sleep
- call room service from your stateroom
Every morning we would order a large pot of coffee (see photo above), orange juice, fresh pastries, cereal for our boys (Frosted Flakes, Special K and Corn Flakes), bacon and scrambled eggs, fresh fruit and milk. Almond milk was also available, which was great for us because our youngest boy has a dairy allergy.
The time of delivery varied but we typically had our order arrive around 7:30 AM.
Celebrity Eclipse Amenities on the cruise ship
The Celebrity Eclipse cruise ship has a lot of amenities and activities to keep guests entertained while at sea. The ship has multiple outdoor pools, an adult only pool, hot tubs, spa, fitness center, arcade and games room, teen club, kids club, outdoor basketball court, several bars and lounges, grand theatre, retail shops, casino and a grass lawn on the rooftop observation deck.
Public areas on the main decks of Celebrity Eclipse:
- Deck 3 – Moonlight Sonata Restaurant, Passport Bar, Eclipse Theatre, Grand Foyer, and Luminae.
- Main Deck 4 – Moonlight Sonata Restaurant (upper section), Cellar Masters, Quasar (Night Club), Fortunes Casino, Martini Bar & Crush, Eclipse Theatre, and Shops on the Boulevard.
- Main Deck 5 – Specialty restaurants – Blu, Murano, Tuscan Grille, Le Petit Chef at Qsine, Sushi on Five, Café al Bacio and Gelateria, as well as Ensemble Lounge, Michael’s Club, Art Gallery and Eclipse Theatre (upper section).
- Deck 12 – Outdoor pools and hot tubs, Canyon Ranch Spa, Canyon Ranch Fitness, Spa Café, Persian Garden and Solarium.
- Deck 14 – Sky Observation Lounge, Mast Grill, Oceanview Café, and Pool & Mast Bars.
- Outdoor / Deck 15 – Fun Factory (kids club), XClub (teenagers club), ShipMates (children aged 3 to 5), The Lawn Club, Hot Glass Class, Sunset Bar, and Outdoor basketball court.
See the Celebrity Eclipse Deck Plan here.
Our boys enjoyed playing soccer and basketball on the outdoor basketball court on deck 15
The above photo gives you an idea of the different levels on the cruise ship. Glass elevators offer views of each floor as it travels up and down the ship. It’s amazing how big this ship is.
Interior photos of the Celebrity Eclipse. This is the Grand Foyer of the cruise ship.
This is the Eclipse Sky Lounge. We enjoyed this space and spent quite a bit of time here.
Related – 25 FREE Things to do in Vancouver
Hot tubs and pools on the Celebrity Eclipse
In total, the Celebrity Eclipse has six hot tubs and three pools.
The outdoor section, pictured below, has two outdoor pools and four hot tubs. The cruise ship also has an enclosed section with a large pool and two additional hot tubs (pictured above). This area is for adults only, but families are allowed to use it between 4:00 to 6:00 PM each day.
The pools use fresh water, not salt water. We’ve been on cruise ships that use salt water in the pools, which was a shock to the system the first time you jump in.
Towels are provided at each pool, so you don’t need to pack a towel. Do not use the towels provided in your stateroom for the pool.
Outdoor hot tubs and pools on the cruise ship
The outdoor pools on the Celebrity Eclipse were mostly used by kids. Most adults, including ourselves, preferred to use the outdoor hot tubs.
On the days when the ship was at sea these hot tubs were very busy. During peak hours, some of the hot tubs had up to 12 people in them.
There are plenty of lounger chairs available at the outdoor pools. Even though we had great weather on our Alaska cruise, it’s not very warm outside. Because of this, the outdoor spaces were mostly empty. It’s breezy when the ship is out at sea, so the pool was not the main attraction.
The above photo was taken in the morning, which is why the pools and loungers are empty.
If you time it right, you can get the outdoor hot tub all to yourself. Braydon approves.
The outdoor pools are quite refreshing. That’s my positive spin on the pools being quite cold.
The hot tubs are a nice temperature for kids. Not too hot.
Life jackets are available at the pools.
The ship provides life jackets for people who are not great swimmers. This is a nice feature. We wish we had known this prior to boarding the ship because our youngest boy, Connor, is still learning to swim.
We always bring his life jacket vest so he can enjoy the pool, but it’s quite bulky and takes up a lot of room. Knowing that the ship provides life jackets, we would have left his life jacket at home.
Adult pool on the Celebrity Eclipse
The cruise ship has an enclosed pool and lounge area, which is a nice feature for an Alaskan cruise. Even in the summer, Alaska weather is cooler and it rains often. Having a space that is heated and protected from the rain is very nice. We spent time in this Solarium every day.
Although this space is Adults Only for most of the day, families are allowed to use the pool between 4:00 and 6:00 PM. This is the biggest and nicest pool on the cruise ship, so our boys enjoyed swimming here.
That said, it’s not advertised that family time is between 4:00-6:00 PM each day, so we still got a few stink eyes from uninformed guests who thought we were breaking the rules.
It would be nice for staff to inform guests with signage, that way families don’t feel awkward.
Pool inside the Solarium on the Celebrity Eclipse.
Our boys enjoyed the family swim time in the Solarium.
Outdoor seating on the Alaska cruise
The Eclipse has a lot of outdoor seating for guests to enjoy the passing landscapes. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot a few humpback whales breaching in the distance.
It can get chilly and windy on the upper decks, especially in the evenings. It’s best to bring sweaters and jackets with you. Blankets are also provided.
Many of the outdoor seating areas have glass walls to protect you from the wind.
Views of the upper deck on the cruise ship. This was captured in the evening when we passed through the Alaska Inside Passage on the way to Juneau, Alaska.
Comfortable chairs on a lower deck. The city in the backdrop is Ketchikan, Alaska.
Outdoor grass field on the cruise ship
One of the unique features on the Celebrity Eclipse is the grass field on the 15th floor observation deck. They call it the Lawn Club. Our boys loved running and rolling on this well groomed grass field.
Guests are provided complimentary bocce balls to play on the grass field. It’s not every day you get to play bocce ball on top of a cruise ship while it sails between icebergs and fjords.
Notice what we’re wearing in the above photo. Even though we took this Alaska cruise in the middle August, it can get quite chilly on the outdoor decks. Pack accordingly.
Fortune Casino on the Celebrity Eclipse
Like most mega-cruise ships, the Celerity Eclipse has a full casino on-board. Fortunes Casino has all of the standard games and tables one would expect, including craps, roulette, blackjack, poker and a lot of loud, bright slot machines.
We’re not big gamblers but we did play some roulette one evening. It only took us about 20 minutes to burn through our $50 budget. The house always wins when we play!
Fortunes Casino hours of operation will vary. Generally, casinos open when the cruise ship enters international waters. The casino closes when the cruise ship is in port.
For Alaska cruises, the age limit to play in the casino is 21+ years old. Kids are not allowed in the casino but it’s fine to walk through the casino. You are not allowed to play games with kids sitting beside you.
Read the Celebrity Cruises Casino FAQ’s page here.
There are lots of slot machines at Fortunes Casino on the Celebrity Eclipse.
Eclipse Theatre on the cruise ship
Every evening there is live entertainment and performances on the cruise ship. These shows are included, so you do not need to pay extra to attend.
Performances are different each night. Acts range from acrobats to comedians to magicians.
Shows are about an hour long. There are two shows each night. The first one typically starts around 7:00 PM, for guests who are dining at the early seating. The later show typically starts around 9:00 PM.
Seating is on a first come, first serve basis. The Eclipse Theatre is three stories tall, so it’s quite big and there are plenty of seats available. That said, some shows were completely full, so it’s best to arrive 15 minutes before showtime.
It’s recommended that guests follow the Smart Casual or Evening Chic dress code in the Eclipse Theater for evening performances. Read dress code recommendations here.
Above – a live acrobat performance at the Eclipse Theatre.
Celebrity Eclipse Restaurants
There are several restaurants on the Celebrity Eclipse. The main dining area, pictured above, is the Moonlight Sonata Restaurant. It’s a two floor restaurant located on floors 3 and 4. We dined at the Moonlight Sonata every evening and found the food, service and atmosphere quite enjoyable.
The options for the main dining room are ‘Open Seating’ or ‘Set Seating’.
The upper section is for guests who have Open Seating (It may also be called ‘Select Dining’). The lower section is for guests who have Set Seating. There are two set dining times – 6:00 PM and 8:30 PM.
The seating times coincide with the nightly entertainment in the Eclipse Theatre. If you dine at 6:00 PM you can watch the 9:00 PM show. If you dine at 8:30 PM you can watch the 7:00 PM show before going to the dining room.
We chose the flexible Open Seating option.
This meant we could arrive at the restaurant at any time. With kids, it’s sometimes difficult to make a set time, so we preferred to have the flexible option.
The downside to Open Seating is that it’s first come, first serve. So, you may have to wait a while to get a table. To avoid long wait times, you can make a reservation each day by calling the maître d.
We arrived at the restaurant around 6:30 PM each night. We rarely waited more then 10 minutes. In fact, most times we were seated right away. However, when we left the restaurant, at around 8:00 PM, there was always a long line. It’s a gamble.
The advantage to Set Seating is that you don’t have to wait for your table. You’re seated right away and you get the same table and same wait staff each night. This gives you familiarity with your dining experience.
Note – you may be required to chose your seating option when you book your Alaska cruise.
Menu for the main dining restaurant
The menu for the main dining restaurant rotates every day. However, there are a few items that remain consistent – see the timeless entrees on the sample menu above.
The menu has gluten free, vegetarian, no sugar added, and lactose free options.
Dining on the cruise ship is all inclusive, except for alcoholic beverages. This means you can order whatever you want off the menu. Typically you would order one appetizer, entree and desert.
However, if you’re having a hard time deciding, you can order multiple items. We typically ordered 2 or 3 appetizers each at dinner. And, if you’re feeling bold, you can also order multiple entrees.
Scroll down to see photos of the food served in the main dining room. As you’ll see, the restaurant has a wide variety of cuisine, ranging from grilled salmon to prime rib to lobster, and everything in between.
We were impressed with the food in the main restaurant. It’s not easy serving hundreds of people at the same the time, yet the food was consistently good.
Note – guests can also visit the main dining restaurant for breakfast and lunch.
Fun facts about Celebrity Cruises
Below are some stats from a typical 7 to 10 day cruise:
- Pounds of beef = 25,545
- Pounds of chicken = 10,242
- Liters of milk = 96,540
- Fresh eggs = 15,200
- Pounds of fish = 22,652
- Pounds of fresh vegetables = 58,659
- Bottles of wine = 18,450
- Liters of beer = 35,000
- Chefs, Cooks and Cleaning staff = 250+ people
- Total Staff working in Dining and Food = 600+ people
- Average number of dishes served PER DAY = 16,000
We went on a kitchen tour of the Moonlight Sonata Restaurant and witnessed the well oiled machine that delivers over 2,800 meals between 6:00 PM and 10:00 PM every evening.
Sample menu of the starters. The menu changes every day, except the Timeless Starters.
Food photos from the Moonlight Sonata restaurant
We took photos of most of the dishes served in the Moonlight Sonata Restaurant.
As you can see, the restaurant offers a variety of appetizers, entrees and desserts. We were impressed by the selection and quality of the food on the cruise ship. It exceeded our expectations.
Unfortunately, we did not take a photo of the menu each day, so I don’t have the formal names and ingredients of each of these dishes. I’ll let the photos do the talking.
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Hooray for dairy free ice cream! The ship provides a decent amount of dairy free options for Connor.
What is the dress code on a Cruise?
The expectation for the Moonlight Sonata main dining restaurant is Smart Casual. Women should feel comfortable wearing a skirt, pants or jeans with a casual top. Men should feel comfortable wearing pants or jeans with a short sleeve sport shirt.
Basically, the expectation for Smart Casual is that you make an effort.
There are two nights when the dress code in the dining restaurant is Evening Chic, which is Celebrity Cruises’ term for Formal Night. This is when guests are encouraged to wear a tuxedo or formal gown.
On formal evenings, women should feel comfortable wearing a cocktail dress, or skirt, pants or designer jeans with an elegant top. Men should feel comfortable wearing dress pants or designer jeans with a dress shirt, button-down shirt or sweater. Sport coat or blazer is optional.
It’s important to note that T-shirts, swimsuits, robes, bare feet, tank tops, baseball caps and pool wear are not allowed in the main restaurant or specialty restaurants. Shorts and flip-flops are not allowed in the evening hours.
Kids are fine wearing a collared shirt and jeans on the evening chic nights.
Is there a kids menu in the main dining restaurant?
Yes. The main restaurant has a kids menu.
The menu offers standard kids menu items, including mini margarita pizza, mac and cheese, grilled cheese sandwich, spaghetti bolognese (or plain), cheeseburger with fries, and/or filet mignon with mashed potatoes.
Kids have a few options for appetizers, too. Our boys typically ordered the raw veggies with hummus (pictured above). Braydon also loved the escargots and ordered them a few times.
For dessert, kids can choose between PB&J sundae, ice cream, chocolate mousse, chocolate chip cookies and milk, and fruit. Kids can also order from the adult’s menu.
Do you need to tip on a cruise ship?
Yes, the expectation is that you will tip the wait staff. However, you do NOT need to leave a gratuity each time you dine in the restaurant or grab a drink from the bar.
Every guest is charged a service fee per day. This service fee is meant to cover gratuities for all service staff, including dining staff, sommelier, bartenders, hosts, kitchen staff and housekeeping.
There is a suggested minimum charge of $14.50 per day, per passenger, however, you can increase the gratuity if you enjoyed the service. You would do this when you settle your bill at the conclusion of the cruise (this would typically happen on the final night, before disembarkation).
If you wish to leave a cash gratuity with your server(s), it’s recommended you do this at the end of the cruise. Typically this would happen at your final dining experience. It’s wise to bring $US currency with you. Bring small bills because you likely will not find change.
We enjoyed the service in the Moonlight Sonata Restaurant, so we gave an additional gratuity to our head waiter, assistant waiter and sommelier. We put an additional $30 USD in an envelope and handed it directly to each of them (3 people in total). This is not required, but it’s much appreciated.
Note – Gratuities are automatically added to your bill when purchasing alcohol at the bar. Don’t tip twice! Look at your bill and/or ask the bartender if gratuities are built into the price.
Can you change the minimum gratuity charge?
Yes, you can change the minimum charge for gratuities. To change the amount, you need to go to Customer Service / Guest Relations on the ship and request the change.
It’s recommended to do this at the beginning of your cruise. Lines will get long during the day, so it’s best to do this early morning or late at night.
We decided to remove our kids from the daily minimum charge for gratuities. We only paid for two adults, which amounted to $29.00 USD per day in gratuities (total of $203 USD).
At the end of the cruise, we gave an additional $30 USD to our housekeeper. We handed him cash when we said goodbye on the morning disembarkation.
Specialty restaurants on the Celebrity Eclipse
The Eclipse has specialty restaurants that offer unique dining experiences. These restaurants have an additional charge. Rates vary depending on the restaurant.
The specialty restaurants on the Celebrity Eclipse are:
- Le Petit Chef At Qsine – experience the fusion of entertainment and French cuisine.
- Sushi on Five – modern luxury take on traditional Japanese fare.
- Tuscan Gille – Italian ristorante and enoteca with a contemporary twist.
- Murano – Classic French dishes with a contemporary twist.
- Blu – inventive cuisine with an extensive list of sustainable and biodynamic wines.
We received one complimentary specialty dining experience. I’m not sure if this is the standard, though. We were offered this specialty dining experience for the last night on the ship.
We may have been offered this specialty dinner because our parents were celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary (staff were aware of this milestone). Or, it may have been because the specialty restaurants had available seating that was unsold and they wanted to fill the room. I’m not sure why, but it was a nice gesture and we enjoyed the experience. It was a fun change of pace from the main dining restaurant.
Note – we did not work with Celebrity Cruises, so this complimentary specialty dinner had nothing to do with our travel blog (in fact, Celebrity Cruises wouldn’t even provide us with free wifi).
Le Petit Chef At Qsine – 3D Dining
We decided to dine at Le Petit Chef At Qsine because it’s a unique dining experience. Celebrity Cruises describes it as ‘an immersive fusion of entertainment and dining like nothing you’ve ever experienced’.
Celebrity Cruises was correct. We’ve never experienced a dining experience quite like this.
What makes Le Petit Chef different is that an animated 3D character appears on your plate and prepares each course before the real dish is served. It’s funny and entertaining.
The four course meal is created by Celebrity’s Michelin Star Chef. The menu rotates, so you can enjoy this evening multiple times during your sailing.
In total, the dinning experience takes about 2.5 hours. Guests can choose between two seating times. We chose the early seating at 5:45 PM. The second seating is at 8:30 PM.
Our boys loved the experience. They even had a few LOL moments. There is a kids menu available, though the animated characters only create dishes that are included in the standard four course menu.;
Here’s a video that explains the animated dining experience.
The first course was a delicious tomato, arugula, prosciutto and shaved Parmesan cheese salad. You’ll notice the yellow and pink lines on the plate. It’s difficult to capture photos of this dining experience because the camera picks up the flickering animation.
The second course was a fantastic cheese ravioli dish. This was our favourite dish in the four course meal. At the end of the show, guests vote on their favourite dish. This dish was the winner.
The third course was steak and frites with a hollandaise sauce. This dish was okay, but not great. It was my least favourite. You can substitute steak for chicken – see the first photo above. The chicken dish was better than the steak dish, in my opinion.
The fourth course was an interesting matcha-wasabi-white-chocolate-cake. I don’t remember the exact name. In the above photo, you can see the animation of the chef preparing this unique dessert.
It’s hard to see him, but the chef is on the boat, wearing a blue suit. Can you spot him?
Above is the dessert served at Le Petit Chef. It was good, but not great. I’m not sure wasabi and matcha should be in a cake, but that might just be me. What do you think?
All Inclusive Buffet on the Celebrity Eclipse
The Oceanview Cafe is where the all inclusive buffet is located. It’s open around the clock, however there are certain times when items are limited due to switching menus from breakfast to lunch, or lunch to dinner.
The buffet gets crazy busy at peak hours. It was difficult to find a table that fit our family of six. In fact, it was difficult to find a table for two people during peak hours.
The food at the buffet was decent. However, the food in the main dining restaurant was much better. We only ate at the buffet for lunch or afternoon snacks (we ordered room service for breakfast).
The buffet in the Oceanview Cafe offers a wide variety of food, including a carving station, salad bar, variety of sandwiches, fresh pizza, international cuisine (which included Asian, Mexican and Indian cuisine), fresh pasta bar, cheese and fruit platters, ice cream and all kinds of sweet desserts.
Here’s a list of restaurants and cafes on Celebrity Eclipse.
Above is a rare moment when the buffet lines were empty. This is not the norm. The buffet restaurant is consistently crowded, making it difficult to find a table during peak hours. We preferred to eat from the menu at the main dining restaurant.
Above – Salmon Wellington served at the carving station in the Oceanview Cafe.
Cakes and pastries on display at the Oceanview Cafe.
Is the cruise alcohol package worth it?
Yes, we believe the alcohol package on the Celebrity Eclipse is worth the additional expense. Obviously, if you’re not a big drinker, skip the alcohol package.
Having the alcohol package allowed us to drink what we wanted, when we wanted. It was nice to have unlimited wine included at dinner, too. Instead of ordering single glasses of wine, our sommalier gave us full bottles of wine to enjoy. We preferred this.
What is the alcohol package all about?
Alcohol is NOT included in the cruise price. The price per drink on the ship is not cheap (a bottle of Stella is $10 USD). If you plan to have a few drinks in the afternoon and wine with dinner, you should consider purchasing an alcohol package.
Basically, you pay one price to enjoy a variety of beverages on the cruise ship. Choices include wines-by-the-glass, beers, cocktails, spirits, premium coffees, bottled water, and soda. You can order beverages in the main dining restaurant, specialty restaurants, casual dining restaurants, and all bars and lounges.
Celebrity Cruises has a Standard Package, Classic Beverage Package or Premium Package.
We went with the Classic Package and felt it was good value for our needs. If you like top shelf liquor and/or wines, you may prefer the Premium Package.
The Classic Beverage Package starts at $59 per day
The Classic package allows you to choose from from a selection of beers, spirits, cocktails, liqueurs, frozen drinks and wines by the glass up to $9 per serving.
The images below show the wine and beer that’s included in the Classic Package.
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The Premium Package starts from $69 p/night
The Premium Package allows you to choose from all the classic package items PLUS specialty coffees & teas, craft & artisan beers, spirits, cocktails, frozen drinks, Coca Cola products, premium bottled water and wines by the glass up to $15 per serving.
Here’s the full list of alcohol beverages on the Celebrity Eclipse.
Bars and Night Clubs on the Celebrity Eclipse
The cruise ship has a lot of variety when it comes to bars, lounges and night clubs.
We spent most of our adult time in the Sky Lounge. The views from the Sky Lounge are fantastic and it has fun trivia games happening throughout the day.
Below are a few photos of the various bars and lounges on the Celebrity Eclipse.
Above is the Ensemble Lounge. It has live music in the evenings.
Above is the Cellar Masters wine bar on the 4th floor.
This is one of the seating areas inside the Quasar nightclub.
More seats and the bar inside Quasar nightclub.
The futuristic entrance and DJ booth at Quasar nightclub, located on the 4th Floor of the ship.
Above is the ‘World Class Bar’, specializing in diverse cocktails and fancy drinks.
This is the bar inside the Sky Lounge.
Comfy chairs with a view. Inside the Sky Lounge.
A different section in the Sky Lounge. This is where the trivia games are played each day.
The above scene happened every day while on this Alaska cruise. We spotted several whales and dolphins from those comfy lounge chairs in the Sky Lounge.
Celebrity Eclipse Kids Club
The Celebrity kids club is a great opportunity for your kids to meet new friends and have some parent-free fun on the ship. Our boys really enjoyed the kids club on the Celebrity Eclipse. Each morning we would drop them off at 9:30 AM and pick them up at 12:00 PM.
The Kids Club has three groups, based on age:
- Shipmates – for kids aged 3 to 5 years old
- Cadets – for kids aged 6 to 9 years old
- Captains – for kids aged 10 to 12 years old
It’s suggested that on the first day of the cruise, you visit the kids club to sign waivers and register your kids. For this particular Alaska cruise, the open house was from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM on the first day. It does not take long to complete the paperwork.
This is also a good time speak with staff to ask questions about the kids programs.
Can you move your child to a different kids group?
During the time of this Alaska cruise, our boys were aged 5 and 7 years old. Our youngest boy, Connor, was only one month away from turning 6 years old, which is the cut off for the Cadets group. He really wanted to be with his big brother and join the Cadets group.
The staff was firm with keeping kids in their proper age groups, but they did make an exception for him. He had to spend the first day with the Shipmates group to make sure the Cadets group was an appropriate fit for him and the other Cadets. On day two, after the staff was able to assess him, Connor was able to join the Cadets group.
Most of the activities in the Kids Club are free.
The activities with extra charges are during lunch (12:00 PM to 2:00 PM) and dinner (5:00 PM to 7:00 PM). They also offer a slumber party from 10:00 PM to 1:00 AM.
One question I had before joining this Alaska cruise was – will there be other kids on the ship? Or is this Celebrity Cruise more geared towards adults? The answer is Yes. There were a lot of kids and families on this cruise. And there are a lot of family friendly activities available on the ship.
Below is a photo of the kid activities on Celebrity Eclipse.
Braydon loved playing Xbox games in the Cadets kids room. We do not have a gaming console at home, so he was pretty stoked to play ‘big kid video games’.
He wanted to visit this kids room every day. It’s highly probable that he enjoyed playing in this room more than seeing the Hubbard Glacier!
Above is a photo of the Shipmates play area for children aged 3 to 5 years old.
Family Bingo on the cruise ship was a fun way to kill an hour. There was always something to keep the kids entertained while the ship was out at sea.
Arcade and Games room on the cruise ship
The arcade on the Celebrity Eclipse is small but effective. There’s about a dozen games in the room, including air hockey and race car video games. Our boys enjoyed visiting this arcade in the evenings.
There is an additional fee for each game. It costs about $1 USD per game, so it starts to add up. Games do not take coins or cash. You must use your room card to pay for each game.
If you look at the image below, you will see the Recharge Station. To pay for the games, you will need to add money to your room card via this machine.
Note – we were double charged multiple times. The machines are unpredictable. It’s annoying because these games are not cheap. We wasted at least 30 minutes trying to rectify the overcharges with Guest Services.
Search for the best Celebrity Cruises deals here.
Connor loved this motorcycle game. It took him to a whole new level in video game play.
More cruise ship fun in the games room.
Whale watching on the Alaska Cruise
When we booked our Alaska cruise we weren’t sure if we’d see whales from the cruise ship deck. We contemplated a whale watching tour as a shore excursion, but, with a family of four, it wasn’t a budget friendly option.
Fortunately, we had plenty of opportunity to see humpback whales from the cruise ship.
The weather was perfect during our cruise, which made it much easier for whale spotting. The Pacific Ocean was so calm that we could see humpback whales miles away in the distance. We also witnessed several dolphins and porpoises from our cabin balcony.
If you want to get up close to the whales, booking a whale watching tour is a good idea. You can book shore excursions directly on the cruise ship or you can book ahead of time with local tour operators.
Here are a few Alaska whale watching tours:
- Juneau Wildlife Whale Watching & Mendenhall Glacier
- Whale Watching, Mendenhall Glacier and Tracy’s King Crab Shack Combo Tour
- Whale Watching & Wildlife Viewing Excursion
- Misty Fjords Seaplane Tour from Ketchikan
- Bering Sea Crab Fisherman’s Tour from Ketchikan
Travel tip – bring a pair of binoculars with you (here’s a recommended model). We contemplated purchasing binoculars at the cruise ship terminal in Vancouver but decided not to. In hindsight, we should have bought the binoculars. Our neighbour let us borrow her binoculars and we were able to clearly see the humpbacks breaching. It was amazing.
This humpback whale surfaced right beside the cruise ship. It was incredible!
A humpback whale waves goodbye as it descends under water. See more photos here.
Professional photos on the cruise ship
Every evening professional photographers will have makeshift studios set up around the ship. Usually they are located near the restaurant and lounges. This is a great opportunity to take a family photo while every one is dressed nice.
You don’t have to pay to get your photos taken, so there’s no harm in striking a pose.
We had our photos taken 2 or 3 times every evening, with different backdrops (see photos below). The backdrops change each day, as does your clothing, so it gives you a variety of photos to choose from.
Purchasing a cruise photo package
One way to remember your Alaska cruise is to buy a photo package. You can purchase the package before you board the ship or while you’re on the ship.
When we purchased our cruise, Celebrity Cruises had a special where on-board credits were given to us. We opted to pre-purchase a photo package using these on-board credits.
We used $187 CAD of our cruise credits for the photo package. That gave us 12 professional images, which equals about $15 CAD for each image. To purchase photos on the ship it costs $25 USD per image. Purchasing your photos ahead of time will save you money.
There are two options for a photo package – digital copies or printed copies. We opted for the digital copies because we wanted the ability to print unlimited photos in different sizes. If you chose the original prints you would take the actual photos that are given to you on the ship.
How does the digital photo package work?
On the final day of our Alaska cruise, we sat down with someone who works in the photo gallery (pictured above). We looked at all the pictures and selected our favourite 12.
About 2 weeks after returning from the cruise we received an email to download our photos. We also have the option to purchase other photos, too.
Compare prices for Alaska Cruises here.
The backdrops are a little cheesy, but it’s still fun to get family portraits.
Search for the best Alaska Cruise deals here.
Packing list for Alaska Cruise
Confused about what to pack for an Alaska cruise? There’s a lot to consider. Even though you are cruising to Alaska in the summer months, it can still get quite cold and windy. It also rains a lot in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, so you want to prepare for the worst weather and hope for the best.
Below is our recommended Alaska cruise packing list.
Cruise packing list for men:
- Warm, windproof and/or rainproof jacket
- Sweater or hoodie
- Hat or toque
- 2 x pairs of jeans
- 1 x dress pants for dinner and shows
- Belt for dress pants (ideally a reversible belt with two colours)
- 4 x collared shirts for dinners (2 x short sleeves)
- Nice sweater for dinners (in case it’s cold)
- Dress shoes for dinner and shows
- Blazer or sport coat (optional)
- 2 x shorts
- 5 x comfortable T-shirts
- 1 x sweat pants for shore excursions
- Running shoes for the fitness center
- 2 x workout clothing (shorts and t-shirts)
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Flip flops for the pool and hot tubs
- 7 x underwear and socks
- Swim suit for the hot tubs and pool
- Backpack for when you get off the ship and explore
Cruise packing list for women:
- Warm, windproof and/or rainproof jacket
- 2 or 3 warm sweaters
- 1 pair of jeans
- 2 pairs of leggings
- 2 wrinkle free dresses
- 4 x blouses or nice shirts for dinners
- Dress shoes/heels for dinner and shows
- 2 x shorts or skirts
- 5 x shirts for day wear
- Running shoes for the fitness center
- 2 x workout clothing (shorts and shirts)
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Flip flops for the pool and hot tubs
- 7 x underwear and socks
- Swim suit for the hot tubs and pool
Cruise packing list for kids:
- Warm robe to wear at the outdoor pools (see photo above – this one is similar)
- 2 x swim suits each
- 2 x jeans / pants for dinners
- 4 x collared shirts for dinners
- Nice pair of shoes for dinners
- Running shoes
- Crocs or flip flops for the pool
- 4 x sweat pants / comfortable pants
- 5 x t-shirts each
- 2 x sweaters each
- 8 x underwear and socks each (1 per day with one back-up)
- Windproof, rainproof jacket
- Touque / warm hat for when you reach the glacier (it’s cold outside)
- Carry on luggage (get a sturdy one with 4 wheels, like this one)
Misc travel items we recommend:
- Travel first aid kit (we have this one)
- Sunglasses and hats
- Sun block or sunscreen
- Binoculars for whale watching from the cruise ship
- Children’s tylenol and ibuprofen
- Night light or flash light (the rooms get very dark when blinds are closed)
- See sickness patches and/or wristbands (good to have in case of bad weather)
- Packing cubes to keep your clothes organized
- Dry bag for shore excursions (this came in handy for our sea kayaking excursion)
- Multi-plug USB charger
- Waterproof action Camera (we use GoPro Hero 6)
- Camera with telephoto lens for wildlife watching (we currently use this camera)
- Tablets for kids entertainment (our boys use this model because it’s inexpensive)
- Charging cables for your devices
- Extra memory cards for your camera (you will take lots of photos!)
A few cruise packing hacks:
- Don’t use an over-sized luggage. You need to slide the empty luggage under your bed.
- Leave your hair dryer at home (staterooms come with a hair dryer)
- Umbrellas are provided in each stateroom
- Shampoo, soap and lotion are provided, no need to bring with you
- Robes and slippers are provide in each stateroom
- Life jackets are available at the pool – leave your kid’s life jacket/water wings at home
- Stay organized – use Packing cubes
- Rooms have limited power outlets and no USB – bring a multi-plug USB charger
- You can bring two bottles of wine with you
Don’t forget the most important travel items!
- Drivers license
- Credit cards
- Travel insurance
- Government documents or visas (if applicable)
- $US currency
- Don’t forget your medication
Boarding the Cruise ship in Vancouver
The boarding process is organized and easy. The Vancouver cruise ship terminal can get quite busy, especially on the weekends, so it’s best to arrive early.
There will be long lines for the embarkation process. Most of the cruise ships that port in Vancouver hold 2,000+ passengers. If two or three ships are departing the same evening, that’s a lot of congestion.
Now, long lines doesn’t always mean long wait times. The process moves at a good pace. It took us about 60 minutes from start to finish.
Cruise ships usually start boarding 4 or 5 hours before the scheduled departure time, typically around 12:oo PM. We started the check-in process at around 1:00 PM and were drinking a Corona on the ship by 2:00 PM.
Reminder – even though you depart from Vancouver, Canada you will enter the United States in Alaska. Depending on where you are from, you may need to have at least 6 months left on your passport before it expires. Learn about passport requirements here.
Celebrity Cruises Check in Process
First – drop off your luggage. There are signs and cruise staff that will point in the right direction.
Then proceed to the Celebrity Cruise check-in counter. You must have your travel documents, credit card, driver’s license and passports with you. You will have your photo taken. A personalized photo id card is created for each person.
This is your boarding card and it is the most important item on the cruise. This boarding card is your room key and it is required to get on and off the cruise ship at the various ports.
Once you have checked in and you have your boarding card, head to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. This is the part of the process with the longest wait time. Make sure you enter the correct line. US and Canadian citizens are typically grouped together. International passports will have a different line. When in doubt, ask for help.
Once your passports and travel documents have been cleared, follow the signs to passenger screening. Similar to airport security, you and your luggage pass through a screening gate.
Follow the signs for your cruise line and make your way to the ship. Depending on when you arrive, your stateroom may not be ready yet. We arrived around 2:00 PM and our room was ready.
It’s best to check your room first. If your room is not ready, head to a restaurant or lounge and check back about 30-60 minutes later.
Here’s an overview of the boarding process at the Vancouver cruise ship terminal.
How does baggage work on Celebrity Cruises?
Prior to your cruise, you need to register all passengers online with Celebrity Cruises.
You will be asked for your passport information and, once registered, Celebrity Cruises will provide you with check in documents and baggage tags. You need to print these documents at home and bring them with you when you check in at the cruise ship terminal.
Your baggage tags will be a specific colour. They will also have your room number on them. You print off (in colour) as many copies as you need and attach them to your luggage with either tape or staples (see photo above – we stayed on the 6th floor at the back of the boat).
When you arrive at the cruise ship terminal, the first thing you will do is drop off your luggage. There will be signs and cruise staff to point you in the right direction.
Your luggage will be checked (just like air travel) and porters will deliver it to your cabin. It may take a few hours for your luggage to arrive, so it’s wise to pack a day bag with important items.
When we arrived at our room later in the afternoon, we found our luggage sitting outside our stateroom. On previous cruises, our luggage was left inside the cabin, so I’m not sure if this is the norm for Celebrity Cruises. It may have been that the porter did not have access to our room and our housekeeper did not have time to put the luggage inside the room before we arrived.
Getting off the ship at Alaska ports
Getting off the cruise ship at Alaska ports is very easy. You must bring your boarding card and a piece of identification (driver’s license is fine).
You don’t need to bring your passport with you. It can be left in the safe in your stateroom.
To get off the ship, you will head to the disembarkation floor. The disembarkation floor will be different depending on the port. On the Celebrity Eclipse it was either Floor 2, 3 or 4.
Before you get off the ship, you will show your boarding card to cruise security. This lets cruise staff know who has left the ship. When you return to the ship, you present your boarding card again. Don’t lose your boarding card!
You will pass though a screening gate when your return to the ship. You cannot bring alcohol back on the ship. If you decide to purchase alcohol, you will need to check it with cruise staff and pick it up at the end of the cruise. It’s not worth the hassle.
Don’t forget to bring US currency and a credit card with you.
Disembarkation from the cruise ship
We prefer to walk off the ship with our luggage. It saves time and the hassle of having to find your baggage at the port. If you have an early flight, Celebrity suggests you keep your luggage with you.
The other option is to pack your bags the night before and put them outside your room. Celebrity wants your luggage placed outside your cabin door by 10:00 PM. During the night, porters will pick up your luggage and take it off the ship in the morning.
There are typically long lines to get off the ship early in the morning. If you don’t have a flight to catch, we suggest you enjoy one final breakfast at the buffet and then depart at your cabin’s normal debarkation time. This is typically between 9:00 and 10:00 AM.
Cruise staff need to prepare the ship for the next departure, so they want you out of your room by 8:30 AM and off the ship by 10:00 AM.
When is the best time for an Alaska Cruise?
Alaska Cruise season runs from May to September, when the weather is warm. The best time to take an Alaska cruise is July or August. This, of course, is also when you will pay the most money for your cruise.
Because July and August are the best time to cruise to Alaska it’s also the busiest. You will want to book several months in advance to ensure you will get the cabin you want. These cruises tend to sell out, so it’s not easy to find last minute deals on Alaska cruises.
Our Alaska cruise from Vancouver round trip departed on Sunday, August 11. We had very good weather and very calm seas. In fact, it was the calmest we’ve ever seen the Pacific Ocean.
We are happy we paid a little more for an August departure because the weather was perfect.
Shoulder season, the months of May and September, provide the best Alaska cruise deals but it also means you are likely to experience more rain and colder temperatures. It’s a gamble. Sometimes it pays off and the weather is great in May and September – but the odds are against you.
Regardless of when you decide to cruise Alaska, expect a few rainy days. Plan for cold evenings and windy afternoons on the outdoor observation decks.
Get your $45 credit for AirBnB accommodations here.
What is the best Alaska Cruise?
We took our time researching the different Alaska cruise options. There are several cruise lines that sail to Alaska from Vancouver, so you’ve got options.
The other big cruise lines that sail from Vancouver to Alaska are Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Lines and Disney Cruise Lines. Prices for Alaska cruises are generally the same, so what you want to research is the actual cruise ship and its amenities, as well as the Alaska ports you want to visit. Find the right ship and itinerary first, then start looking for deals.
We decided to cruise the Alaska Inside Passage because we wanted an opportunity to see wildlife and the beautiful Alaskan landscapes. Here’s the Alaska Inside Passage cruise map.
Inside passage cruises typically stop at Juneau, Ketchikan and either Icy Strait Point, Petersburg or Skagway. Most Alaska cruises will visit either the Hubbard Glacier, Glacier Bay National Park, Dawes Glacier and/or Endicott Arm Fjord Glacier.
Another option is to cruise from Vancouver to Anchorage one way. You would then fly back to Vancouver or Seattle. Or, you can fly up to Anchorage first, spend a few days exploring the region, then cruise south to Vancouver. Here’s a map of the one way Alaska Cruises from Anchorage.
You can also take an Alaska cruise from Seattle, Washington or Victoria, British Columbia.
Search and compare Alaska cruise prices here.
About the Celebrity Eclipse
The Celebrity Eclipse is a Solstice-class cruise ship, operated by Celebrity Cruises. She is the sister ship of Celebrity Solstice, Celebrity Equinox and Celebrity Silhouette.
The ship began cruising in April 2010. It has an occupancy of 2,850 passengers.
Read Celebrity Eclipse reviews here.
Search for Celebrity cruise deals here.
Things to do in Vancouver before your Alaska Cruise
Vancouver is a beautiful city with lots of amazing things to see and do. You’ll want to spend time exploring this vibrant waterfront city. Plan to arrive two days before your cruise departure. Or, add a few days after you return to Vancouver.
Here are a few posts about Vancouver
- 25 FREE Things to do in Vancouver
- 25 Awesome Day Trips from Vancouver, Canada
- The BEST road trip from Vancouver for first-timers
Vancouver travel tips and things to know
- Pick up & return car rentals at Vancouver airport. Save up to 35% on car rentals here.
- Save time and money by riding the Skytrain from Vancouver International Airport to downtown Vancouver. It only takes 25 minutes. Learn how to take the Vancouver Airport Skytrain.
- Here’s an interactive map of Vancouver attractions.
- Bike sharing is an inexpensive way to get around Vancouver. Learn about Vancouver’s public bike share system here.
- Check the Vancouver weather forecast before you start your day. The weather in Vancouver can be unpredictable. Plan for rain in the winter months.
- If you like hard copy travel guides, grab a copy of Lonely Planet Vancouver.
Where to stay in Vancouver
There are plenty of hotels in Vancouver to choose from, ranging from upscale five star hotels to backpacker hostels and everything in between.
- Search for Vancouver hotels here.
- If you’d like to stay near the cruise ship terminal, we recommend the Pan Pacific Vancouver, Fairmont Waterfront or Fairmont Pacific Rim. They are located within walking distance to the cruise ship.
- If you prefer apartment rentals, get up to $45 CAD off your first night here.
- Most of the popular Vancouver tourist attractions are located in the downtown area. Consider this when selecting where to stay in Vancouver.
Related posts about cruise ship travel
- Thinking about a European River Cruise? Here’s what you need to know.
- Taking a Caribbean Cruise? Here’s what you need to know
- VIDEO: 15 Reasons you should visit Portugal’s River of Gold
- Things to do in St Lucia while on a Caribbean Cruise
Do you have questions about an Alaska Cruise?
Leave us a comment below. We’ll do our best to answer your questions.
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