Last year, 28.5 million people took a cruise and, unfortunately, I was not one of them. As a self-proclaimed hodofile, I was never particularly attracted to the option of traveling by sea. Not for any specific reason, really, I just was always accustomed to air or road. However, after touring the Celebrity Eclipse, the first thing I said to my husband upon arriving home was, “We need to book a cruise!”
Boarding the Celebrity Eclipse feels like you’ve entered a contemporary, luxury hotel that is simultaneously homey, worldly and, pleasantly, unpretentious—definitely an environment you can endure no matter how long your journey at sea. As part of a fleet of Solstice-class cruise ships operated by the award-winning Celebrity Cruises, the Celebrity Eclipse holds 2,850 passengers in very luxurious accommodations.
Recognized for its industry-leading design; unique on-board activities and amenities; high-quality service; and outdoor Lawn Club—a quarter-acre of real grass roughly three times the size of New York’s Rockefeller Center skating rink—it’s their culinary and award-winning wine program that piqued my interest. Surprise, surprise!
With more than ten restaurants ranging from classic French cuisine to a thoughtful buffet that offers menu items reflecting the port of destination, there’s something for everyone. However, the most notable dining experience is at the restaurant Qsine. Here, passengers are immersed in a unique and very entertaining dining aventure: The Le Petit Chefô Experience.
Upon entering the slickly designed restaurant, you are greeted by stark white tablecloths, high-back dining chairs and a friendly service staff who—with clear excitement—inform you of the dining experience you are about to embark. After your chairs are pulled out for you and your wine pairing is served, the show begins.
The lights dim and your table is illuminated in vibrant colors that immediately immerse you. Make sure you look closely, though, you can easily overlook the tiny animated chef that appears on your plate to “prepare” each course.
Of the various Le Petit Chef simulations, I had the privilege of experiencing Le Petit Chef & Friends Cooking Competition. Each course was meticulously and authentically “prepared” by a chef from Spain, France and Japan, accompanied by animations reflecting scenarios specific to each country. The task is quite exhaustive for these chefs, so out of respect, make sure to pay close attention because you don’t want to miss a thing!
The bold colors and lively animations were breathtaking and engaging. Very soon after the start of the “competition” each person at the table had already identified the chef they were rooting for (the winner was determined by our applause at the end). Once each course was complete, the tiny chefs took their place at the edge of the plate, patiently waiting, while the waiter delivered the actual dish for us to devour. I must say, the animated version of the plate compared to the actual plate were very similar in their presentations. And, the flavors? Delicious, of course. It is Michelin-star dining, after all!
The Le Petit Chef is a 3D dining experience developed in Belgium by the artists of Skullmapping™ and is slated to be installed in every ship in the Celebrity fleet within the next year.
Whether or not you’re a cruise-goer, taking a trip on the award-winning Celebrity Eclipse should be an experience had at least once. If not for the catalog of desirable destinations and exceptional service, book it for the dining experiences alone. Bon Voyage!
The Celebrity Eclipse is among the group of Celebrity Cruise ships that will soon undergo a top-to-bottom redesign as part of the fleet-wide planned $500 million modernization. The Eclipse offers several sailings out of San Pedro, including its popular 7-day Coastal Cruise and a 15-day Hawaii sailing. For more information visit www.celebritycruises.com.