Celebrity Edge is the newest ship from Celebrity Cruises and it’s a game-changer in terms of design and onboard concepts. Here Cruise International Contributing Editor Julie Peasgood gives her verdict.
Huge petals of confetti are falling about my ears – thousands of them – tumbling from the domed ceiling of the theatre on board Celebrity Edge. Each petal bears a message from Malala Yousafzai – Edge’s esteemed Godmother, UN Messenger of Peace and the youngest ever Nobel Prize laureate. One reads “I am not a lone voice. I am many.” Another states “One child, one teacher, one pen, and one book can change the world.”
We are all on our feet, a standing ovation, applauding this life-changing young woman, and the surprisingly emotional launch of this game-changing ship. Four years in the making, and the first new ship from Celebrity Cruises in six years, it is a stunning debut.
I have never witnessed a naming ceremony on board before, and I’m overwhelmed by the sheer passion of it all, eagerly anticipating when the iconic bottle of champagne will christen the ship. But it’s an18-litre bottle of Badoit mineral water that finally breaks against the ships bow; true to form, Celebrity Edge does everything a little differently.
Tom Wright, one of Edge’s globally renowned designers, describes the ship as “a paradigm shift in cruise design” and my initial exploration of the ship doesn’t disappoint. First port of call is the Magic Carpet, all 90 tons of it, hanging off the side of Celebrity Edge as if suspended in the air, and rendering the ship instantly recognizable from miles away.
The size of a tennis court (and a mind-blowing feat of engineering) the Magic Carpet repositions itself on four different decks, transforming by turns into an extension of the pool deck, alfresco eateries or a luxury embarkation station for tenders to shore. It’s the ultimate showcase for Edge’s ethos; furnished with comfortable loungers, the focus is all on ‘outward-facing vision’ and a greater connection to the sea, and this vision is echoed all over the ship, particularly in the staterooms with their innovative Infinite Verandas.
Designed by Kelly Hoppen, MBE, the stateroom windows can be lowered at the touch of a button, giving the illusion of more space, as well as the promised better link to the great outdoors. They feel slightly more confined than a traditional veranda or balcony, but they do make the stateroom seem a lot longer. Windows, blinds, lights and temperature can also be controlled from your phone; there’s tons of clever storage, and thoughtful touches like USB ports on the cabin phone and by the bed. The colour scheme is easy on the eye too – earthy tones of muted greys and taupes, punctuated with geometric designs and must-have stripey cushions. It’s all very stylish and contemporary, and rather like being in an upmarket boutique hotel (think Scandi design meets Manhattan loft).
Kelly Hoppen is also responsible for the Spa, the Sea Thermal suite and the exclusive Retreat, a private sanctuary on board Edge, with its own exclusive restaurant, pool, sundeck and club for Suite Class guests. Retreat accommodation covers 176 suites, including the ultra-luxurious Penthouse or Iconic suites, or Ms Hoppen’s personal favourite, the new Edge Villas, complete with their own private plunge pool.
The design on board flows seamlessly from staterooms into public areas, despite the fact that these were a collaboration of five different designers. At the centre of the ship, and inspired by Italian piazzas, the Grand Plaza is a show-stopping hub of activity, crowned by a spectacular three-storey chandelier, and several of the 29 bars and restaurants onboard, including the famed Celebrity martini bar with its skilled, bottle-flipping bartenders.
Raw on 5 is here, presided over by a famed third generation sushi chef making his own home-made soy and wasabi sauces; the Fine Cut Steakhouse features prime USDA 28-day aged steak alongside glistening seafood, and le Grand Bistro is a world first, combining technology, fun and culinary expertise in the shape of animated 3D virtual chefs, who ‘prepare’ your meal at the table.
But my favourite restaurant on Celebrity Edge, in fact my favourite place overall is Eden, a unique, jaw-dropping venue created by Scott Butler and Patricia Urquiola. Lounge, restaurant, theatre and café, it is an architectural sensation spiralling three decks and with a constantly changing personality. In the morning it’s perfect for relaxing, cappuccino in hand, savouring the sunshine that floods in through the massive, 7,000 square feet of glass. The afternoon is busier, with cooking classes, wine tastings and artisan cocktails made with fresh ingredients picked from the herb wall (seriously).
But it’s at night when the real magic happens and Eden is transformed: extraordinary, exotic creatures parade around the aerial walkways, suddenly contorting themselves into immersive performance art or even serving the gastronomic visions dreamed up by Michelin-starred chef, Cornelius Gallagher. It’s sensual, edgy and decadent – and guaranteed to take you way out of your comfort zone.
The other aspect that is astonishing about Celebrity Edge is the artwork on board: from the Rooftop Garden with its treetop sculptures and magnificent horse statue, courtesy of Sophie Dickens (great, great granddaughter of Charles Dickens) to the oversized installations and curious cacti in Eden, it is an expertly curated collection, with a wide-ranging appeal.
My personal favourites were the tactile, floor-to-ceiling bronze ‘trees’ in Avalon, leading out to the vast Garden of Eden moving landscape, where plants grow, pollinate and seed as you gaze. I was also fascinated by the Chinese sailing junk, created by British artist Ann Carrington. Made with hundreds of pearls and jewellery findings, it sits upon a sea of tiaras, chokers and earrings, eliciting gasps and photographs from every passing passenger.
Celebrity Edge does have a kids’ club, Camp at Sea, but there isn’t a themed ride or water slide to be seen, and the whole ambience feels more adult-oriented. And a final word of praise for the first-rate crew, who are cheerful and supremely polite. Major brownie points too for the water bottles, no plastic here, they are made of aluminium and as stylish as everything else onboard.
Celebrity Cruises have set the bar high – very high – and it’s worked. They can say, in every sense, that they’ve got the Edge.
A seven-night Spain, France and Italy fly-cruise, departing 22 June 2019, starts at £2,599pp, based on two people sharing an ocean stateroom, and including flights. For more information visit Celebrity Cruises.