IT WAS SHAKESPEARE’S JULIET who asked “What’s in a name?”
She would never have asked that question had she been aboard Celebrity Beyond, a ship whose name describes her guests’ experiences perfectly.
Take for example, her magic carpet. Until Celebrity introduced their own version, only Aladdin could lay claim to having such a magical device. Now, guests aboard Celebrity’s three Edge Class ships can soar from deck to deck on a glorious orange creation that is both an elegant lounge and restaurant and an ultra-convenient means of moving to and from the tendering level of the ship.
Disembarking for shore excursions has never been so easily and elegantly achieved, nor could you find a more beautiful lounge option, cantilevered over the sea.
Infinite Veranda stateroom
And that’s just the beginning. Celebrity Beyond pushes the boundaries in every way, beginning with that most important element of all cruises – cuisine. With 32 food and beverage venues, including the Rooftop Garden Grill, Fine Cut Steakhouse, Raw on Five, Le Grand Bistro, Cosmopolitan, the main dining room and specialty restaurants including Cyprus, Tuscan, and Normandie, as well as the chic and intimate Le Voyage the first fine-dining restaurant at sea by famed chef, Daniel Boulud. Breakfast at the Market Garden was a pleasure as we basked in the sunshine at an outdoor table.
Every bite on Beyond was a joy, but it was the clever blending of food and fantasy at the innovative Le Petite Chef that truly captivated us. Our beautifully appointed table featured white dinner plates glowing with rings of light that quickly burst into life as a tiny chef appeared. As we watched, amazed, the table became an animated stage on which the little chef and a host of other characters introduced the history and culture of each course. The animation was stellar – look out Disney! – but produced with an adult audience in mind.
Animated dining is only the beginning of the surprises on Beyond, a ship that vibrates with entertainment, music, and art. In the Grand Plaza, a stunning glass chandelier above the Martini Bar regularly shimmers to life with sound and light – and that’s not all. Keeping time with the lights and music, a troupe of talented bar tenders transform into a juggling show. Tossing cocktail shakers high in the air, balancing sparkling martini glasses on their foreheads, they still manage to serve drinks to the dazzled crowd gathered at the bar. The energy is electric and the venue is one of the most popular on the ship.
The whimsical tone is threaded throughout the ship. Artists suddenly appear in unexpected spaces, set up easels, produce gorgeously costumed models and begin furious assaults on their canvases. Paint brushes flash, a crowd quickly gathers, and a portrait appears – sometimes painted upside down, just for fun! A piece of original art has been created in minutes, ready to be showcased. Not that there are many empty spaces – every area on Celebrity Beyond has original art, from arresting sculptures like the massive elephant balanced so delicately by the pool, to the vivid photography of people, birds, animals, fish and more that fill the walls of the ship.
Celebrity Beyond has also injected enormous energy into performance entertainment. Clever, award-winning main theatre shows incorporate a 20-foot-tall 4K LED screen comprised of 17 million pixels that curves 110 feet around the stage, integrating with floor projection technology to completely immerse audiences in sound, light and movement. In Wonder at Eden, a three-storey, multi-media venue that magically morphs from dining area to performance space, another live performance cast boggles your mind with everything from tap dancing to super-human feats of strength, all in a theatre-in-the-round style that culminates in an everyone-out-of-your-seat dance party.
The Jazz Joint is yet another live performance area that draws you into the fun of a 1920’s style speakeasy, while all around the ship, live musicians entertain in the lounges.
If evenings are electrifying on Beyond, days are fun and blissfully relaxing, whether you choose a shore excursion or stay aboard to enjoy a luxurious treatment at The Spa. Some will find comfy lounge chairs amongst the lush greenery on the park-like upper deck or loll by the sparkling outdoor pool or in the equally beautiful Solarium, which offers its own pool, completely sheltered from the elements.
We loved the newly imagined Sunset Bar with its stunning décor by celebrated designer Nate Berkus. This bar on the Beyond is a new version of an old favourite and it is twice as large now. With its Moroccan-inspired design, cascading terraces, and conversation niches it offers a fabulous Beach Club ambiance and spectacular views from its aft location. It’s the place to be!
Our stateroom on Celebrity Beyond was well-appointed, comfortable, and sleekly minimalist, in a palette of soft greys with an enormous electric window that slid down to open to the winds and the sun, negating the need for a balcony. Guests interested in more privacy and an added level of luxury chose ultra-elegant suites and villas in The Retreat, where they enjoyed not only premium dining at Blu and the exquisite Luminae at The Retreat but also their private sundeck, pool, and lounge with services of a Retreat concierge and drinks and wine included through the day and evening.
For my part, I was most impressed by the friendly staff and crew and the forward-looking attitude Celebrity takes towards women in its organization. Not only is the cruise line led by president and CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, but the ship herself, their newest and most innovative, is captained by Kate McCue, an accomplished mariner who embodies the barrier-breaking spirit of Celebrity Beyond. And she was christened by Olympian, Simone Biles – one of the greatest gymnasts of all time.
Written by Liz Fleming (Cruise & Travel Lifestyles Winter/Spring 2023)