It took four years of planning and construction, brought together a world-class team of designers and architects and cost an estimated US$1 billion (AU$1.4m). Big things were expected of Celebrity Edge - one critic called it the “most anticipated ship in a generation” - and it’s fair to say the result is spectacular. This “rule-breaking" and “game-changing” vessel spent its inaugural season in the Caribbean after a naming ceremony by its godmother, Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, and the ship is now in the Mediterranean until November when it'll head back across the Atlantic for another sun-kissed winter. So what can you expect if you take a cruise on Celebrity Edge?
The Magic Carpet
Edge is a contender for the world’s most Instagrammable cruise ship and it's thanks to features like “The Magic Carpet” - an engineering marvel masterminded by Tom Wright, designer of Dubai's sail-shaped Burj Al Arab hotel. A tennis court-sized platform, the "carpet" is cantilevered over the starboard side of the ship and “floats” between 14 decks, fulfilling a number of functions, from a groovy spot for sailaway cocktails to an exclusive restaurant as the sun sinks into the sea. It can also morph into a tendering station for launches into small, hard-to-dock-in ports.
Arguably the most stunning of Edge’s alluring public spaces, Eden spans three levels, has a “living library of plants” on its walls and changes character by the hour. It’s good for chilling out in with a coffee or a book in the mornings and afternoons, as sunlight floods in through the large windows. At night, Eden morphs into a quirky entertainment and speciality dining spot, enlivened by the “Edenists”. These performance artists grab the attention with their acrobatic moves, eccentric antics and rustic costumes that bring to mind Adam and Eve.
Most ships have one or two main a la carte restaurants included in the cruise fare. But Eden has four. There’s French affair Normandie, Italian offering Tuscan, Mediterranean-flavoured Cyprus and Cosmopolitan, which promises “new American with global influences”. There’s also the Oceanview Cafe, with its gigantic buffet and dishes inspired by Edge’s ports of call. Speciality for-fee restaurants include Fine Cut Steakhouse and seafood specialist Raw on Five, which both overlook the Grand Plaza, the ship’s glossy three-storey centre-piece, where guests like to mingle and live guitarists and pianists play by the Martini Bar.
If you'd like to catch some rays, make a beeline for the upper decks. There’s a rooftop garden dotted with plants, loungers and sculptures, a swimming pool where you could do a few lengths and hot tubs shaped like martini glasses. A jogging track slopes across two levels, with one lane for walkers, the other for runners. Inside, you’ll find an adults-only pool and solarium, a fitness hub with everything from treadmills to yoga classes and a 2000-square metre spa that offers heaps of pampering possibilities, including massages and aromatic steam rooms.
Edge can carry 2908 passengers at double occupancy, with more than 20 sleeping options targeting a range of "affluent vacationers". Choices include snug inside staterooms, duplex villas and enormous suites with personal butlers. All suite guests have complimentary access to The Retreat, a private sanctuary on the 15th and 16th decks with a sundeck, pool, lounge and the Luminae restaurant, which serves signature dishes by Daniel Boulud (who helms Manhattan's two-Michelin star restaurant, Daniel). Most of Edge’s staterooms have an “Infinite Veranda”, an innovative feature that lets you shape the room as you desire. Press a button and it'll open up the top half of your outer floor-to-ceiling window. Shut the glass doors near the window to create a standard cabin and balcony - or open them to extend the room. Edge's veranda rooms are 23 per cent larger than those on Celebrity’s older, Solstice-class ships, with 10 per cent more bathroom space.
Though Edge does cater for families - there’s a children’s “camp” with books, toys, games and Xbox - the majority of the on-board entertainment is geared towards big kids. As well as the quirky, aforementioned Eden, there’s a theatre with productions like A Hot Summer Night’s Dream, an offbeat twist on Shakespeare. Interactive laser mazes, open-air cinema and silent discos may also take your fancy and there’s stand-up comedy, a nightclub, casino, art auctions and high-end shops. Then there are the ports of call. In Europe, places like Barcelona, Rome and the Greek islands are your oyster. And when Edge returns to the Caribbean, exotic ports such as Key West, the Caymans and San Juan (Puerto Rico) will be on the itineraries.