It’s not every day you walk onto a ship and straight past a collection of Picasso ceramics, but then it’s not every day you walk onto Celebrity Edge, the new billion-dollar behemoth from Celebrity Cruises and the first in the company’s brand-new and groundbreaking ‘Edge’ class fleet.
The 129,500-tonne stunner has all the gargantuan presence of the classic cruise liners you may have spotted gliding into harbours or ploughing through the ocean before, but that’s where the similarities begin and end – this is a ship that’s been designed to do things a little differently.
First, you need to forget everything you think you know about cruising. I thought I knew things about cruising – I thought it ‘wasn’t for me’.
Turns out that it very much is. This is not merely a ship that you sleep on, it’s an all-out adult playground with boundary-pushing design and dimensions, and wow factor by the bucketload. It’s out with bingo and in with full-body workout; goodbye boring buffets, hello burrata. It’s hitting the high seas in high style, and it’s a hell of a lot of fun.
Take those ceramics – they’re part of an art collection of modern pieces that you’ll find not only in the designated gallery space but also dotted around the vessel, curated by an in-house expert. They’re an early indicator of just how important all that’s aesthetically pleasing is to Edge – high-end design runs throughout the boat, with a team of world-class experts brought on board (sorry) to make sure it’s as good looking as it is groundbreaking.
Queen of Good Taste Kelly Hoppen has conceived interior schemes for bedrooms and communal spaces that are chic and calming, while Tom Wright, designer of the Burj al Arab, is responsible for one of the ship’s most innovative aspects – the Magic Carpet, an exterior platform that glides up and down the side of the boat to be used as anything from an embarkation station to an outdoor bar, depending on where it stops. It’s a total mind-bender and something you won’t find on any other cruise liner.
This is a ship that definitely feels like it’s been designed for non-cruisers, or at least those who didn’t realise they were cruisers. There are nods to the Insta generation everywhere: butterfly wings to pose in front of, the beautiful ‘Eden’ – a lush, multi-level lounge with a living wall and 70s-style seating providing innumerable photo opps – and cabanas on the top deck where you can lounge with your crew, order bottles of whatever you fancy and embrace your inner Kylie (Minogue or Kardashian, depending on your generation). Crucially, however, there’s also tons of space where you can just chill.
‘This is a ship that definitely feels like it’s been designed for non-cruisers, or at least those who didn’t realise they were cruisers’
The notion of this kind of holiday equating to constantly being in the presence of others has been turned on its head by swathes of space given over to relaxation (no mean feat on a ship that carries 4,000 people), most notably The Retreat, a tranquil top-deck hideaway for those staying in suite class. The concept is similar to that of an airport lounge – hang out here grazing on canapes and pouring your own drinks – but instead of waiting for a flight, you’re gazing at the glistening horizon.
Clever design touches providing the opportunity for peace and quiet aren’t limited to the exclusive confines of The Retreat though – cabins are beautifully designed hideaways where you won’t hear much more than the gentle waves or passing birds. We stayed in a Sky Suite, and it would give any five-star hotel room a run for its money, with a huge sunken bath, enormous bed and balcony big enough to accommodate two sun loungers and a table and chairs.
Other spots for relaxation include the 22,000 ft spa (offering 124 different treatments), a gym with a range of classes including yoga, and a top-deck garden running track where early morning jogs come with views of the sun gently rising over the sparkling sea. It’s not just a dreamy start to the day, it’s a wise one, because when you’re on a boat with 29 restaurants and bars, getting up and active is a pretty good idea.
‘There’s even a top-deck garden running track where early morning jogs come with views of the sun gently rising over the sparkling sea’
Eating and drinking are big news on board, and not all cruise ship stereotypes are bucked here – there is the mega-buffet that you expect on a liner like this, but it’s no lacklustre effort, it’s an edible tour of the world, with everything from paella to paneer, seafood to steak, and a huge amount in between.
This, however, is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to dining – there are so many places to eat, you’d be hard-pressed to get through them all on a two-week cruise. From spankingly fresh seafood at Raw and high-end Italian fare at Tuscan to Le Petit Chef – the only outpost of this immersive, interactive dining experience on a ship anywhere – it’s safe to say you won’t go hungry. Or thirsty.
Obviously, with so much eating and drinking on board, wastage is a concern, but Celebrity Cruises is mindful of this, with practices in place to reduce where possible.
Indeed, sustainability is considered in all areas, and a key part of all the company’s plans going forward: the ship’s Parabolic UltraBow creates increased fuel efficiency, lighting is LED, bottled water comes in aluminium packaging, there’s solar power technology on board, plastic straws have been phased out entirely, and they have partnered with the World Wildlife Fund to continue the effort to conserve the oceans.
It’s a new era for cruising all round, and set to open up this kind of break to a whole new wave of holidaymakers. From design to dining, ethics to experience, Celebrity Edge is dazzling, dizzying, and will take your breath away. Oh, and did we mention the huge elevated jacuzzis shaped like martini glasses? If this is what living on the Edge means, you can count us in.
Celebrity Edge cruises all around the world. See celebritycruises.co.uk