“We felt like were walking into an chic, upscale resort hotel,” Brenda Lynne Yeomans, strategic market manager for Canada at Celebrity Cruises tells PAX.
Last week, Celebrity Cruises’ highly-anticipated Celebrity Edge ship arrived at its new home – Port Everglades’ gorgeously-new Terminal 25 (T25) in Fort Lauderdale, FL. – following its first-ever, 15-day, 4,000-mile transatlantic crossing.
The 2,918-passenger, 1,004-foot-long vessel – which industry insiders have called a game-changer – is the first of four Edge Class ships that Celebrity has ordered for delivery by 2022.
Visuals of the new Celebrity Edge, for years, have been limited to pre-construction graphics and slick computer renderings.
Last week, from Nov. 21-23, the Celebrity Cruises Canada team had an opportunity to experience the Celebrity Edge first-hand as part of an invite-only, U.S. Thanksgiving “shakedown cruise” – when staff and crew test everything – before the ship’s official Maiden voyage next month.
The exclusive experience from Port Everglades to Nassau, Bahamas and back was a feast for the senses…and PAX has the pictures to prove it.
In this PAX exclusive, Yeomans and her team share the pictures they took on board the Celebrity Edge, as well as their first impressions.
Seeing Celebrity Edge for the first time
“It was more beautiful than I’d ever imagined,” Yeomans told PAX, recounting the moment she walked into the Celebrity Edge’s Grand Plaza for the first time and marvelled at its chandelier light installation. “It was built to perfection.”
The Celebrity Edge is, notably, the first ship to be completely designed using 3D technology, which Yeomans believes was “instrumental in being able to create this perfect ship, just the way we wanted it.”
The artfully-designed, Nate Berkus-endorsed vessel weighs 130,818 gross tonnes and measures 16 decks high.
However: “The spaces are so intimate that you really don’t feel like you’re on a large ship,” Yeomans said, citing Edge’s intimate main dining areas as an example, noting how they look and feel like “high-end speciality restaurants.”
Celebrity Edge features the world’s first “Magic Carpet,” a floating platform that moves up and down the side of the ship, transforming levels into different venue styles, from a tender boarding platform on Deck Two to restaurant, bar and live music venues at levels further up.
“The Magic Carpet is the place to be,” Yeomans said, noting how the platform makes the tendering process (which is typically not so fun) a chill and luxurious experience.
The tenders themselves were also wow-worthy, boasting flat-screen TVs, air conditioning and seating that “felt like theatre seats,” Yeomans said.
More of Yeomans’ favourite elements from the Celebrity Edge included:
- The ship’s pool Resort Deck (“The night lighting is magical.”)
- The two-storey high, martini glass-shaped hot tubs with views extending “miles and miles out to sea.”
- The guitarists “playing in the trees” on the ship’s Rooftop Garden (which has its own resident horticulturist).
- Her AquaClass stateroom with the new Infinite Veranda, a revolutionary feature with bi-fold doors that let guests fill their stateroom with sea air and step effortlessly to the railing of their balcony. “It blurs the lines between inside and outside, with the push of a button,” Yeomans said.
Celebrity’s app, in addition to outlining the ship’s programming, also allows guests to control what’s happening in their room, such as the temperature level, directly from their smart device.
Experts everywhere were summoned to develop unique on-board experiences: Michelin-starred Chef Cornelius Gallagher oversaw dining; the ship's public spaces were designed by world-famous architects and designers, such as Patricia Urquiola and Kelly Hoppen.
“The ship is art,” Yeomans told PAX. “The incredible detail is breathtaking, from the fabrics, to room designs, furniture, lighting….Everything is an art installation, but functional at the same time.”
Taking modern luxury to the Edge
Ben Kaufman, marketing manager for North America at Norwegian Air, was another one of the select few who got to experience the Celebrity Edge last week.
In a message sent to PAX over Facebook, Kaufman said the Celebrity Edge is “a unique ship that realizes the cruise line’s ambitious effort toward advancing modern luxury.”
“Even with the understated elegance of the décor, the elevation of the ship’s dining and beverage programs, and the upgrading of cosmetic, retail, and spa brands, nothing feels out of reach. It’s a ship that intrinsically makes you feel spoiled and at ease – without being stuffy, arrogant, or impersonal,” Kaufman wrote.
Kaufman applauded the ship’s “sophisticated sense of playfulness – a ship whose mood, demeanour, and offerings change seemingly, effortlessly with the time of day, or perhaps just based on what you, the passenger, wants to experience.”
One element that stood out for Kaufman was the ship's Eden venue, a three-storey, bright and airy space with an 18-foot-tall wall of plants (situated over a bar that uses ingredients from the plants in drinks).
“In broad daylight, an inviting space abundant with fauna and shades of green feels like the perfect place to have a quiet chat, take in a card game, or just enjoy the view from the ship’s stunning panoramic glass,” Kaufman wrote. “Come the evening hours, though, and Eden becomes a true walk through the garden of good and evil with an inventive, nature-accented cocktail menu and live interactive theatre that can be the featured attraction or subdued in the background: it’s really your choice.”
Don't forget that $100 million dollar terminal
For Maxine Gundermann, Celebrity Cruises’ market sales manager for Eastern Ontario, the experience started the moment she arrived at the Celebrity Edge’s luxurious new home at Port Everglades’ T25, which recently completed a multimillion-dollar renovation.
“It’s a fabulous facility with big grand foyer, an escalator and massive windows that had to be 50-feet high,” Gundermann told PAX.
Celebrity has streamlined the embarkation process thanks to its app. “I didn’t have to print any paperwork,” Gundermann said. “They were able to scan my document straight from my phone. I was through the terminal without pausing once.”
Guests are no longer given their keys in the terminal either. “They’re left in a special pouch in front of your stateroom,” Gundermann said.
One of Gundermann’s favourite spots on Celebrity Edge was the Oceanview Café, a dining space on Deck 14 with soaring floor-to-ceiling glass windows that wraps around the ship.
The eatery “has a station for everything,” Gundermann said, including one island strictly dedicated to serving gluten-free options.
“How accurately they delivered [the Celebrity Edge] from the initial renderings is really cool. It’s almost like you could put them side by side,” Gundermann told PAX. “It takes cruising to a whole new level.”
Cruising on the Edge
Celebrity Edge begins her inaugural season sailing alternating seven-night eastern and western Caribbean cruise itineraries, with her Maiden Western Caribbean voyage departing on December 9th, 2018, and her Maiden Eastern Caribbean voyage departing on December 16th, 2018.
After that, in spring of 2019, the ship crosses the Atlantic again to the Mediterranean with a range of seven- to 11-night sailings visiting cities such as Barcelona and Rome.
Celebrity Edge will be joined by her sister ship, Celebrity Apex, in 2020, and two additional ships in the Edge Series will follow in 2021 and 2022.
“It’s not just what you see on board the ship that’s breathtaking, it’s how the ship makes you feel,” Yeomans told PAX. “You really feel like a movie star walking around.”
All images courtesy of Brenda Lynne Yeomans, Maxine Gundermann and Sandra Pennington.