Celebrity Edge is Launched-
Will “Modern Luxury” ever be the same?
By Monte Mathews
Celebrity Edge, likely one of the most eagerly awaited cruise ships of this or any other year, has taken the cruise world by storm. Its innovations start at its “parabolic ultra bow” –which is curved rather than pointed–to its stern which encloses a three-story room that’s the largest glass-walled room on any cruise ship ever launched. In between, passengers will find 29 eating and drinking options, a vast pool deck with both enclosed and outdoor pools, jacuzzies shaped like martini glasses and something called “The Magic Carpet”, an orange appendage the size of a tennis which moves up and down the sides of the ship acting as a launch pad for the ship’s tenders or as yet another opportunity for cocktails. And when they make their way to their staterooms, most passengers will marvel at their ‘Infinite Verandas’ – complete walls of glass that bring the sea and the sky right into their staterooms.
Edge is Celebrity’s first new ship in 6 years and represents an entirely new class of ship for the line which has built its business on the concept of “Modern Luxury”. And it delivers: Celebrity was just named Best Premium Cruise Line for the 10th year in a row. Celebrity offers a combination of superb cuisine, exquisite public spaces and a degree of personal service unmatched in any ships of their size. The 4 vessels in the fleet called “Millennium Class” carry 2100 passengers. They were followed into service by five “Solstice Class” ships carrying 2850 to 3000 passengers. Edge is the largest of them all at 129,500 tons with accommodations for 2950 passengers.
With the Edge, Celebrity has also introduced the “Ship within a Ship” concept for the first time. The Suites passengers are now cossetted in their own area of the ship. All the way forward, the space includes a private area called The Retreat which has a private pool deck, a lounge with 24-hour butler service. There’s also Suites Only Dining Room, Luminae, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner with expansive views of the sea. The suites themselves are serviced by butlers and fares include all drinks, specialty dining packages and unlimited internet access. Celebrity is now in line with 4 other cruise lines all of whom have established separate areas for their highest paying guests. The idea is that these much larger ships can offer the luxury, services and amenities once the province of much smaller luxury cruise lines like Silversea and Seaborne. It would be entirely possible to spend one’s entire cruise within the confines of this exclusive area and that’s the general idea.
Cunard can rightfully claim ownership of the “Ship within a Ship” concept. Their Queen’s and Princess Grill suite passengers have exclusive access to dedicated restaurants and lounges. This dates back to the original Queen Mary which, in 1936, offered guests an evening of dining and dancing in the Veranda Grill which was likely the first extra tariff restaurant on any ship. Today, you’ll find mass market cruise lines have adopted the idea to lure premium passengers on board. MSC has it’s “Yacht Club”. Norwegian has its “Haven”. Royal Caribbean (Celebrity’s corporate owner) has three classes of suites but only the top of the line Star Class has a dedicated suites-only restaurant, suite lounge and sun deck access. All that being said, Celebrity Edge has really raised the bar—not only with The Retreat itself but in the extraordinary suites themselves.
British designer, Kelly Hoppen MBE, was responsible for every inch of the design of the Infinite Veranda staterooms even though she had never stepped foot on a cruise ship before.
But it’s in the suites where Ms. Hoppen’s genius is most striking. She uses a palate of warm neutral colors with a decidedly East meets West design aesthetic. There’s a very subtle opulence at work here—a remarkable union of tones and textures and fabrics. And everywhere there is glass. Two story ‘Edge Villas’ have private dunk pools and decks all their own. A personal favorite was the one level Royal Suites with living rooms, dining area and floor to ceiling windows with stunning views of the sea. The Master Bedroom’s King-Sized Bed overlooks a private veranda with the sea just beyond. The bathrooms are exceptional too with both a soaking tub, glass-walled shower, and double sink vanity. They too open to the sea via a sliding glass panel.
The piece de resistance has to be Ms. Hoppen’s Iconic Suites. There are two of them. Mirror images of each other, they are built above the bridge of the ship offering the same view that the Captain sees. At 1892 square feet of interior space they are by far the largest suites in the entire Celebrity fleet. With two bedrooms, two full bathrooms, there’s even an in-suite butler’s pantry. The 1892 feet doesn’t include the private deck, complete with private hot tub, a covered double day bed. That adds another 689 square feet to the suite. Most impressive are the walls of glass that bring the sea as close as can be to a suite 16 stories above the water line.
Celebrity Edge has embarked on a series of Caribbean cruises this winter. In Spring she will sail the Atlantic to England and then begin a summer in the Mediterranean. At the moment, there is only one Celebrity Edge. There are three more Edge Class ships on the way. In the meantime, Celebrity is planning on making The Retreat a part of its entire fleet of vessels. So you may sample the pleasures of “Modern Luxury” on cruises sailing from Asia and Australia, from Abu Dhabi to Athens. For complete information, go to www.celebrity.com