Celebrity Eclipse has long been one of the U.K.'s most popular ships, but in March 2018, Celebrity Silhouette will take over its Southampton berth.
So what can U.K. cruisers expect when Eclipse's younger sister arrives in Southampton? The truth is the ships are near-identical, with just one or two areas of significant difference. If you're familiar with Celebrity Eclipse and love the larger-than-industry-average cabins, the quirky decor, the hip vibe (yes there's an iLounge onboard) and the strong emphasis on food and drink, then you'll love Celebrity Silhouette, too.
The two ships are nearly but not entirely identical. Celebrity Eclipse is the second of the Solstice Class of ships, and launched in 2010. The 122,000-ton ship carries 2,850 passengers across 15 decks and is 1,041-feet in length.
Celebrity Silhouette launched a year later, in July 2011, and is slightly bigger, coming in at 400 tons more, and longer -- by six feet. It carries 2,886 passengers across 15 decks, with 17 additional cabins across different categories.
Celebrity makes great store of dining onboard and you'll find all the old favourites -- Murano, QSine and Tuscan Grille, as well as a suites-passengers-only restaurant Luminae and Sushi on 5 (which replaces the original Bistro on 5) -- onboard both ships.
However, there are two extra dining spots on Silhouette vs Eclipse, both of which can be found on the top deck:
The Lawn Club Grill replaces the Corning Glass Show's demo space. The 58-seat, for-fee venue is in a beautiful spot overlooking the lawn, with sliding glass doors. The restaurant combines a cooking class, an open grill and pizzeria, where passengers -- under guidance from a Celebrity chef -- choose the meat, prepare it and cook it. (If you don't want to do your own grilling, the chefs will cook for you.) You can even learn how to make a pizza. It's not cheap at $45 per person, but on a warm evening it can't be beaten.
Nearby you'll find The Porch, which is modelled after a private deck in the Hamptons and also overlooks the Lawn. It's open for lunch and dinner only and offers an exclusively seafood menu for a fee of $30 per person. The signature Seafood Tower carries an additional $5 fee.
Entertainment and Bars
All the bars and drinking venues are the same, except one -- Gastro Bar, on Eclipse. Blink and you'll miss it; Gastro Bar forms part of the Passport Bar, found on both ships, and in reality is a well-stocked fridge of craft beers. You'll also find a beer menu, and a sommelier. The Gastro Bar also offers food, such as small plates of cold cuts ($8) and larger plates of items like beer-battered cod and chips ($10) which you can wash down with one of the 45 different beers.
On Eclipse, the central area of the top deck real grass lawn is a public space, beloved by sun worshippers, families with small children and croquet players. It's also home to the Corning Glass Show, which allows passengers to watch a glass blowing demonstration by an expert artist from a semi-circular seating area, while commentary is provided by a second expert. It's fascinating to watch the artists shape molten glass (and it's always popular with kids).
On Silhouette, this section has been given over to the Lawn Club Grill (see above), and the public area in front has been turned into a for-fee exclusive spot, with eight expensive "alcoves" (private cabana rentals), which passengers hire for the day. Although there are still two strips of lawn either side of the ship that have not been cordoned off, this area significantly reduces the lawn space available for everyone else. The cabanas also break up the space, making the area feel less like a park and more like two strips of grass.