I MUST ADMIT that I am an unabashed Celebrity Cruises fan. I’ve always felt this way about this premium cruise company but never more so than since the launch of their fantastic Edge series in 2018. These ships are simply glorious in every way and if you’re considering sailing again, read on. Here’s the inside scoop on the Edge herself and her sister ships, the new Celebrity Apex, now cruising the Med and then the Caribbean, and the Celebrity Beyond, coming in 2022.
On my second sailing on the Edge, we enjoyed the incomparable experience of The Retreat, an area on the ship dedicated completely to Suite guests and offering such fabulous inclusions as the ultra-glam Luminae Restaurant, the expansive sundeck and the Retreat Lounge, open 24/7. The Retreat experience enhanced our cruise immeasurably and is more than worth the additional cost. The concierge services and many extra touches were also an excellent addition.
The ship is a study in impeccable design, offering a wide range of dining choices, varied cuisines, gorgeous lounges and bars, and chic, contemporary spaces both indoors and out. It is a veritable feast for the eyes – a design that is thoughtful, beautiful and open to the sun, sea and sky. With nary a wrong note, the Edge and her sister ships will delight and entertain. We sailed in the Greek Isles and the Med and loved the varied ports of call, including must-see Malta, Taormina and a few other lesser-known ports we really enjoyed.
The food is delicious, and options are plentiful, ranging from the hip and colourful Magic Carpet to the quirky Le Petit Chef – perfect for a fun dinner experience – to gorgeous Blu for both Suite and Aqua Class guests. If you enjoy casual al fresco dining, go to the Rooftop Grill or the Oceanview Café. For specialty dining try some seafood at Raw on 5 or fine dining at the Fine Cut Steakhouse.
There are four “main” restaurants, each of which has a different theme, décor and specialty dishes to enhance the regular menu. Choose from Cyprus for Mediterranean food, Tuscan for Italian specialties, French favourites in The Normandie and New American cuisine at the Cosmopolitan. Each venue seats about 350 guests and no reservations are required.
We often dined in Luminae and its stunning design, intimate jewel-box feel, terrific, thoughtful menu and superb cuisine soon made it our favourite spot. The service was impeccable, engaging and charming – as it was throughout the ship. In Luminae, in particular, that special attention made us feel very spoiled. The menu always offers classic dishes such as a steak and Caesar salad, or chicken breast and prawn cocktail to name just a few, as well as three signature dishes, created by the renowned Chef Daniel Boulud, who has partnered with Celebrity. When the new ship, Celebrity Beyond, launches Chef Boulud will have a restaurant onboard.
The Magic Carpet
Dining on the tangerine-coloured Magic Carpet, usually positioned on Deck 5, is very popular so be sure to book in advance. This 90-ton moveable marvel changes position depending on the time of day, the location of the ship and how it’s being employed. We loved having a glass of bubbly outside on a sunny day, others enjoyed it for a quiet coffee, but that truly Magic Carpet also serves as a Destination Gateway when it’s time to disembark in port and board one of the spiffy tenders to go ashore.
Only two or three dinners and one brunch are offered on the trendy Magic Carpet during a 7-10 day cruise (possibly more often in the future), and each is weather dependent. It can be windy, but it is an unforgettable experience as one sails away from port, as we did from Malta’s Valletta Harbour one beautiful September evening. Although there is an additional cost for Magic Carpet dining, and for the other specialty restaurants, we felt it was worthwhile.
The Retreat sundeck cabanas
The Retreat is a luxury oasis – think of it as a sanctuary from the world with lots of space both indoors and on deck to relax, read, enjoy lunch and drinks, have a dip in the pool and be treated to the attentive services of staff throughout the day. Light meals, snacks, and treats are available all day, and the accommodating staff is ready to assist with shore excursions, dinner reservations, other appointments and any questions you’d like to pose!
We found ourselves returning to the Retreat constantly to luxuriate in its peaceful atmosphere. We sat by the pool and sunbathed, sipped glasses of Rosé in the afternoon, chatted with other guests, listened to live music some nights, and enjoyed a pre-dinner aperitif or a late-night digestif before heading back to our other sanctuary – our fabulous and cleverly designed room. All the accommodations are fantastic with a soothing colour palette – spacious and easy to navigate, but with all the bells and whistles one needs. The bathrooms are terrific, and there’s lots of storage space.
The Rooftop Garden
There is so much to see and do on Celebrity’s Edge-class vessels that if you so choose, you can be assured of active days and nights with myriad choices at your fingertips. If, on the other hand, you’re looking for peace and quiet, you’ll find it at the Solarium and Spa. You might choose to relax and watch a show on the big screen at the Rooftop Garden, or enjoy a sail-away concoction at the Sunset Bar – watching, what else – another stunning sunset! The fabulous, multi-level Eden, a unique space at the ship’s aft, has been redesigned and will emerge slightly differently. Offering entertainment, food and interesting herbal-oriented cocktails, it has much appeal, and no doubt will be even more popular as Celebrity makes some changes.
Celebrity Beyond - taking the Edge series to new, luxurious heights
AND NOW, on to Celebrity Apex and the third ship, Celebrity Beyond. The Apex has already set sail in the Med and will cruise in the Caribbean in Fall 2021, as will the Edge. It is the Beyond that will look a little different – 20 meters longer and one deck higher, with more expansive spaces created by famed architect Tom Wright whose talent has been evident on all three vessels. The Resort Deck has been reimagined with even more boundless views and a 25-yard lap pool; and the Martini Bar – an iconic Celebrity space – will now be circular, with more room to watch the talented bartenders twirl, spin and juggle those martini glasses!
The Retreat Lounge on Beyond
Expect a larger Retreat Lounge, with several decks and even more of a Zen space for the suite guests and a much-enlarged Rooftop Garden. The popular Sunset Bar has also been expanded, terraced and enhanced with banquettes and conversation areas, a Moroccan (think Casablanca) design by famed designer Nate Berkus. And Daniel Boulud, Celebrity’s Global Culinary Ambassador, will present his new restaurant, Le Voyage on the Beyond. A high-end, sophisticated space for just 50 clients, it will “push design and innovation” be bathed in light and, of course, offer fabulous Boulud cuisine.
Celebrity Edge is a revolutionary ship, and her sisters are following in that vein. Celebrity Beyond will exceed expectations by offering more space while still maintaining a deep connection to the oceans and seas on which she will sail. All are extraordinary, and those who sail on any of the three will have the cruise of a lifetime.
Note: Celebrity has also introduced an “Always Included” program for every guest. Now your cruise includes drinks, Wi-Fi and tips, in every room, every time. Guests can also upgrade their amenities by purchasing an Elevate or Indulge Package to obtain even more value. These offers are dependent on availability and stateroom category chosen and may be restricted to certain voyages. See your travel professional or check out the Celebrity website at www.celebritycruises.com
Written by Vanessa Lee for Cruise & Travel Lifestyles (summer 2021). Photos courtesy of Celebrity Cruises.