By Gerry Barker
In 2018, Celebrity Cruises took the industry by storm by introducing a revolutionary and innovative new ship, Celebrity Edge, the first of what will be five Edge-class ships in total.
Built at a cost of $1 billion, the next-level ship was both high-tech and high-touch, offering upscale accommodations and dining options, spectacular spaces and one of the most extensive collections of art at sea. The Edge ships have since garnered dozens of industry accolades and awards.
After the launch of Edge and her sister ship, Apex in 2020, Celebrity has raised the bar with the debut of the third Edge ship, Celebrity Beyond, which made its U.S. debut with an official naming ceremony at Port Everglades November 4.
How do you make a great thing better? Make it bigger, of course.
At 1,023 feet, Beyond is 65 feet longer as well as one deck taller (17 decks) vs. previous Edge ships. That new space translates into 179 new staterooms, an expanded Grand Plaza and sundeck at The Retreat, while the popular Sunset Bar almost doubled in size. There’s also a new specialty restaurant, Le Voyage, from Michelin-starred chef Daniel Boulud, his first at sea.
What’s not changed are the iconic features that have helped Celebrity stand apart from the competition. Such as:
— Eden. Call it a garden of earthly delights, a feast for the senses or just a haven to chill and relax, this three-story, glass-walled wonder is truly unique. Covering 12,000 square feet at the ship’s aft, it houses a specialty restaurant, cafe and bar as well as host an ever-changing lineup of entertainment, events and shows. Featuring whimsical decor and a virtual forest of living plants, it’s our go-to place to enjoy interactive performance art and spectacular views.
— The Magic Carpet. How about a moving platform, attached to the side of the ship, that serves as both a launch area for tenders and an open-air bar/dining experience as it moves up and down the decks? That’s the Magic Carpet. Painted bright orange, no other cruise ship has anything like it.
— The Retreat. Call it a private resort for guests in the suites. It has its own amenities and a multi-level sundeck that is 40 percent larger than on previous Edge ships. Another aspect of the Retreat is Luminae restaurant, also for the private use of passengers in the suites. We have found the food and service there to be among the best on the ship.
— Virtual Balconies. If you stay in one of the veranda staterooms, you’ll notice how Celebrity has incorporated the balcony space into the room. Guests can activate a sliding glass panel down when they want to enjoy the open ocean. When you want privacy, a screen can be lowered over the window, and folding doors closed as well.
For those who have money to spend, there is a wide range of accommodations, from the almost 2,000-square-foot Iconic suites to the two-story Edge suites, complete with private plunge pools and terraces. If you are a wellness enthusiast, there’s AquaClass, where the focus is on living your best life. Aqua suite guests also have their own restaurant — Blu.
Celebrity is famous for the multi-million dollar artworks that are featured throughout the ship. No doubt the oversize sculpture of a man holding up an elephant by the main pool will garner lots of social media posts. Also impressive is the immersive, multi-sensory mirror, light and video walk-through art created by artist Fredrikson Stallard.
There are places to eat and drink around every corner, including four main dining rooms, each offering a different genre of food: Cyprus (Mediterranean), Tuscan (Italian), Normandie (French) and Cosmopolitan (American). The specialty restaurant, Le Grand Bistro, also features “Le Petit Chef,” which adds an animation experience that delights both young and old.
When it comes to the shows, they are equally impressive, incorporating aerialists and acrobatics into dazzling, hi-tech productions.
At the naming ceremony, the spotlight was on the ship’s Godmother, Olympic and world champion gymnast Simone Biles. Celebrating women of achievement has been a mainstay at Celebrity, which is headed by CEO and President Lisa Lutoff-Perlo. In fact, the captain of Beyond is Kate McCue, the first woman at the helm of a megaship. They also have a partnership with Gwyneth Paltrow’s goop product line.
At the press conference, Royal Caribbean — Celebrity’s parent company — CEO and President Jason Liberty provided a hint of what to expect with the fifth Edge ship, due in 2025. Liberty said it would feature tri-fuel engines as the line continues toward its carbon-neutral goal. The fourth Edge ship, Ascent, is due in late 2023 and will be the sister ship to Beyond.
Beyond has just kicked off its Caribbean season. For more information, check out their website at www.celebritycruises.com.
Photos by Gerry Barker