Peter Morrell joins Celebrity’s latest ship, Edge for the maiden voyage of its summer season in Europe, and enjoys almost unbelievable levels of innovation and refinement
I recently sailed on Celebrity Edge from Southampton for a short inaugural cruise which introduced this stunning ship to Europe. This new vessel is the very latest in innovative design both of in terms of systems, structure and décor.
The benefits of this start before boarding. A few days before sailing I had registered my passport and credit card details and uploaded a recent photo to the Celebrity app. This gave me the opportunity to print out a fast-track card. Once at the cruise terminal boarding became a frictionless breeze, and I was quickly making myself comfortable in my stateroom.
The accommodation on the ship was both stylish and highly inventive. The décor is by world renown designer Kelly Hoppen who has created a cool and calming environment, punctuated with dramatic artwork on the walls. A clever layout made the stateroom spacious, with separate sleeping and sitting areas. The balcony is incorporated into the main suite and the front enclosed with glass. With the push of a button, the top half of the window descends to create an al fresco space which can be separated from the sleeping area with bi-fold doors.
There are numerous further refinements. A touch screen controlled lighting, temperature and the blinds, there were power points and USB chargers both at a table and bedside. The bathroom was well-appointed with a monsoon, multi-level shower, a heated mirror, and luxury towels and toiletries.
Reluctantly I tore myself away from the comfort of my suite to start to explore the ship. It was around lunchtime and after passing a group of life-size human carvings by Xavier Vielhan came across an appetising display of fresh seafood outside the Raw on 5 restaurant. I was soon settled at a table eating the best sushi I’ve had outside of Japan, paired with a very agreeable glass of Spanish Alabarino white.
Raw on 5 is on one of the levels that look down into the Grand Plaza, a majestic three deck high space with the Martini Bar, a wealth of restaurants and a non-stop line-up of eclectic entertainment.
I had a sneak peek in the Spa, again designed by Kelly Hoppen. The reception desk is an intriguing half eggshell shape lit with a grand chandelier and behind it an imposing staircase. The Spa offers eight technologically advanced experiences and 124 unique treatments.
Going up to the top decks I found a range of opportunities to relax. A large 23-metre pool and two martini glass hot tubs. At one end of the pool was another lovely artwork, the butterfly-shaped Dream Machine by Brazilian Rubem Robierb. Stand between the wings and make a wish, for many being on Celebrity Edge was a wish come true.
On the top of the ship you will also find the rooftop garden with stylised sculpted trees, plants and bushes, along the way see the bronze statue of Arion, the immortal horse, by English artist Sophie Dickens. While at the top you can have a get away from it all experience in The Retreat, designed for relaxation.
At this upper level is the Oceanview Cafe where you can enjoy the best and most comprehensive breakfast afloat, indulge in a light lunch or graze throughout the day, with panoramic views of the sea as an inexhaustible side dish.
While on the upper decks I paid a visit it to the largest suite on the ship, The Iconic. Spread across an impressive 1800+ square feet of space, about double the size of the average UK house, it had a 600+ square foot terrace with hot tub, the pinnacle of luxury living.
Back on deck 5 was another unique experience at sea, Eden, This is a glass-encased three level wonderland for the body and the spirit. There’s the scent of the plant library, experimental cuisine, a bar, and in the evening dreamy entertainment.
The sheer size of Celebrity Edge and its number of attractions had made the afternoon fly by, so after a freshen up it was time to start the evening’s entertainment. I indulged in a very spicy bloody mary at The Club, my pre-dinner venue, as I watched Mirage, spectacular aerial acrobatics by a troupe of exotically dressed performers.
Dinner was called Le Petit Chef and Friends at Le Grand Bistro. On arrival I sat with people I knew at a plain white table with a plate, its rim illuminated from above. Our meal would be cooked by ‘Petit Chefs’ of different nationalities. Suddenly the table had a projected cloth and little cartoon chefs running around the table preparing food. The French chef cut chips, made a sauce and cooked steak. He put the cartoon food on the plate, it was great fun. When he finished the waiter arrived with the real food. There were four delicious courses, it was a real piece of highly inventive culinary theatre.
After dinner, I took a wander and the ship was buzzing. Everything from Hype, the high energy music show in the main theatre to Revelation, an immersive performance in Eden which I had visited earlier. It was then back to the Martini Bar for a nightcap.
After a lavish breakfast the following morning it was time to experience another unique design feature – The Magic Carpet.
This is a platform on the side of the ship that serves three purposes, and I was going to experience the first of these, boarding the tender for a shore excursion. Arriving at deck two this, like everything else on the ship, was an immersive and enjoyable activity. I gathered with others in the Departure Lounge, a comfortable space to wait, and if you are so inclined, have a drink. Walking down a short stairway I was onto the Magic Carpet complete with bar and comfortable seating.
Boarding the tender was easy, the boat was luxuriously appointed with large panoramic windows and plush leather seats. We sailed a couple of hundred yards away from Celebrity Edge and got an unparalleled view of the ship at sea.
During the day the Magic Carpet is raised to deck five where it becomes a bar and lounge area. In the evening it is elevated to deck 16 and is transformed into a restaurant, the ultimate ‘dining on the Edge’ experience.
Later in the day, I met with designer Kelly Hoppen and Tom Wright, architect for Burj Al Arab, who had conceived the idea of the Magic Carpet. They gave a fascinating insight into the teamwork needed to create an environment that blended into a harmonious whole. I learnt that there were more than 4000 original pieces of art on the ship in a massive array of different media.
With the meeting at an end and with someone who has two very energetic grandchildren aged 4 and 7, I’m always on the lookout for multi-generational holiday facilities. This made Camp at Sea, Edge’s kids’ club very interesting. The staff were highly committed and had devised games and activities for children of all ages. Apart from experiments with things like a heat sensitive camera I looked at a couple of the workbooks and was impressed with the educational and ecological messages that they promoted.
A later booking for dinner was the opportunity to catch some early evening entertainment. A Hot Summer’s Night Dream in the main theatre was a dazzling performance of singing, dancing aerial ballet and acrobats, with more than a nod to the Shakespeare original. It was then onto see stand up comedian Mike Doyle do a set in The Club before dinner.
Dinner would be at Blu restaurant and on the way over I passed through Avalon, an immersive art installation of lights, mirrors and bronze pillars by Fredrikson Stallard. Dinner was exceptional, Blu offers the best in modern European dishes with examples like, macadamia nut covered scallops, grilled octopus and English lamb chops. All beautifully prepared presented and served.
After a very enjoyable dinner, I could have joined in the silent disco, amusing as three different soundtracks are delivered to the earphones. Passing up the chance of demonstrating dad dancing meets flossing I headed for the Sunset bar for last drink.
The two days aboard had been a whirlwind of activity and I had only scratched the surface of the facilities onboard. There were many, many more restaurants, bars, performances and facilities to discover.
With the high levels of luxury, design, technology, service and cuisine Celebrity Edge has set a completely new cruise experience benchmark.
For more information and to book go to https://www.celebritycruises.co.uk/