I was beyond excited to get invited on board Celebrity Cruises’ new ship, Celebrity Edge, which launched at the end of 2018.
I was invited to review the ship for two nights as it sailed from Southampton – out to sea and back again, to get a feel for what the ship offered. And the great news was that I could take a friend!
As VIP was working – and with my mum offering to take the kids – I could think of no one better than my wonderful friend and business partner, Nicky. We’ve been working so hard on our new community magazine since December last year – and we both really needed a break – it was perfect timing.
Plus I was thrilled to hear that Nicky hadn’t cruised before so this would be a brand new adventure for her too.
From ‘car to bar’ in 10 mins!
Celebrity’s ultimate aim is to get its passengers ‘from car to bar’ in less than 10 minutes. It’s a great concept and, if it works, would make the whole checking in process seamless. Unheard of when it comes to travel usually!
Talking of my own experience, I was able to check-in in advance via the Celebrity Cruises’ app, meaning that the actual checking-in bit in person was very pleasurable, helped by the fact that there were no queues.
Once onboard we were guided towards a mini art gallery where we were encouraged to take in some of the pieces over a glass of Prosecco, if we so desired. This certainly felt like a VIP treatment that we could get used to.
There was no keycard to pick up prior to finding our cabin. When cruising, the keycards are left outside the room for passengers to access. After locating our cabin – and working out where we were on the ship (10th floor to the rear if you were interested), we entered what can only be described as a very fine cabin indeed.
It had all the mod-cons including a safe, a fridge, a wardrobe, hairdryer, ensuite and get this – a window that turned into a balcony!
The only thing that we (ideally) needed was to change our double cabin into a twin. A quick visit to guest relations revealed that we wouldn’t need to change cabins at all as our bed could transform into two single beds! We felt a little silly that we hadn’t spotted this, but agreed to let guest relations sort it out.
After putting in a half effort at unpacking, we simply had to get out there and explore Celebrity Edge! She was one big lady and we wanted to take in as much as we possibly could.
Walking around Celebrity Edge, neither Nicky nor I were aware which direction we were facing most of the time and whether or not we bow or stern (front or back of the vessel).
Fortunately, we had plenty of time to get our bearings before the first of our educational sessions – ‘Gaining The Technological Edge’ – now this was going to be exciting!
So here’s what I learned about the most technologically advanced ship in the world – and why it had been given that title.
- Carrying 2,600 passengers, Celebrity Edge was the first ship to be completely designed using 3D technology.
- She boasts a wealth of high-tech innovations – one of the most impressive of these being the latest in facial recognition software. This is offered as standard, meaning passengers no longer have to endure queues when they check-in for their sailing.
- Passengers can also bypass traditional document checks simply by uploading a ‘selfie’ via the Celebrity Cruises’ mobile app. The app allows passengers to automatically be checked in.
- The guest app is also great for keeping track of your daily planner and making reservations. Passengers can also engage in guest-to-guest messaging for free and also do group chats – great for families and larger groups.
- Looking ahead, ship to guest messaging (and vice versa) is in the pipeline, as is a virtual concierge. And if the intelligent chat bot can't answer a passenger’s query, it's directed straight to guest services.
- This one blew me away a little – but you can open your stateroom using your mobile phone (it becomes the digital key!) Celebrity wants to take this one step further so that the cabin door unlocks as your approach it (you won’t even have to reach into your pocket to get it out!) Plus, the mobile will be able to control automation services – turning cabin lights on/off, putting the heating up etc…
- And in another bold move (and I really like the sound of this), passengers will even be able to order food via their phone, as well as book things like shore excursions and onboard experiences.
- And finally, another plan in the pipeline is what's called the hotel experience, which allows guests to make requests directly from their phone. Want extra towels – they’ll be delivered at the touch of a button. The possibilities really are endless..
Celebrity Edge accommodation
Now we knew that we had one very special room – it simply oozed sophistication and luxury. But we also knew that we hadn’t seen everything yet. So, it made sense that we joined a ‘Retreat & Suites Design Tour’ to see how the other half really live.
I fear that Nicky and I probably looked like we were auditioning for catching flies – we spent most of the tour with our mouths gawping at the apartments on Edge.
Not only are they mahoosive, but they also feature views to die for (we’re talking better than the captain’s!), gorgeous design and furniture with stunning mezzanine levels and the finest attention to detail.
Something that did occur to me while trying out a suspended swinging chair in one of the suites (which ranges from twin-level villas with outdoor plunge pools, to suites with 82ft of glass commanding amazing views over the water)…even if I could afford just one night’s stay in one of these places, would I really want to venture outside of my room when I had all this to enjoy? I think not.
Where’s the magic?
We also managed to get ourselves onto an Edge Magic Carpet Launch Test Ride, but there’s a funny story to this, which I think you’ll appreciate.
So on the side of the ship there’s this huge cantilevered Magic Carpet – magic because it has the capability to move up and down the ship to whatever deck it desires (or rather, the person operating it desires).
It was designed by leading British architect Tom Wright (who we met and who is a lovely, down-to-earth guy) and it’s the world’s first cantilevered, floating platform, transforming itself into an exciting venue depending on where it’s positioned.
And we were going to be road testing it – although we were relieved to discover that it doesn’t move while on it (safety and all that!) But being on the side of the ship as it sailed the calm waters would offer a whole new experience and view.
However, when we arrived (a teeny weeny bit late – I blame Nicky), we were ushered straight onto a lifeboat, which looked like it was ready to make a move.
Once we had detached from Edge, I turned to Nicky and said: “Why are we on a lifeboat? I thought that we were going to be enjoying drinks on the platform?”
We couldn’t figure it out so had to ask someone instead. Well, that was a mistake because whoever we asked was adamant that we were heading to the mainland to be dropped off.
Our faces must have been a picture – we had got on the lifeboat for no reason whatsoever and thought we were being taken to the mainland! What about our cabin, our clothes, my MacBook? Would we ever see them again?
I tried to put a positive spin on it. “Don’t worry Nicky,” I told her. “When the boat gets to the mainland, we’ll just stay on it and admit our mistake so we can get taken back to the ship.”
Another passenger overheard us. “You’re on the test launch, right?”
“Well, we thought we were!” we replied.
“Oh yes, you are. The lifeboat just goes out to sea so that you can admire Edge from all angles.”
Talk about feeling a bit silly. But admire Celebrity Edge we did, taking a trillion photos as the lifeboat sailed the calm waters. It was a wonderful experience and quite serene.
Meeting Ben (and Eamon and Kelly and Jason…)
Nicky is a huge Ben Fogle fan. She loves his adventure programmes and really wanted to meet him when we heard he was onboard. So when I’d clocked Ben in the dining buffet area (and trust me, I spent a lot of time in that buffet), I just had to get my picture taken with him while Nicky was piling up her plate to show her what she was really missing!
As it turned out, we were both going to be meeting Ben anyway – as Celebrity’s Global Destination Ambassador, he was giving a talk about Exploring the Med which we were really looking forward to.
Sadly Ben got a bit of a grilling from one of the journalists (the type of journalist that gives us all a bad name!), but he handled it calmly and professionally. I couldn’t say the same for myself, who leapt to his defence, suggesting that because so-called journalist was worldly travelled, big adventures to others would be less impressive to her as she’d “seen it all, done it all” – something that she didn’t clearly understand.
Whether or not Ben appreciated my gesture is anyone’s guess, but he did allow us some time after his talk for photos with him, which Nicky appreciated – just check out the look on her face!
Talking of rubbing shoulders with the stars, we also bumped into the very wonderful Eamon Holmes (he was so very lovely!), the sultry Kelly Hoppen and happy chappy Jason Gardiner – in the spa!
The rest of what you should know
Edge is as sophisticated as they come. If you’re into your tech, then you’ll love the gadgets, the gimmicks and the game-changing check-in procedure– as long as they work.
And if you’re not into your tech, it’s so easy to use that you soon will be. And if you’re REALLY not into your tech, Celebrity doesn’t force you to take it on, so you can go ahead and check in normally.
Other fabulous reasons why I was smitten with Edge include something that I might have briefly mentioned before: the buffet.
Yes, Edge has got some spectacular speciality restaurants on board (we ate at two of them and they were delightful – especially Le Petit Chef, where dinner is brought to life through engaging digital animation projected onto plates), but Nicky and I were really impressed with the dining buffet.
Why? Too many reasons to mention, but in short, you could go there at any time of day and it would be open. It would also have changed its food about 10 times a day – catering for breakfast, brunch, lunch, afternoon tea, snack time, dinner, late dinner, midnight snacks…you get the gist…
Nicky and I really took our “investigative journalist” roles seriously when it came to exploring all aspects of the buffet. Let’s just say that I avoided the scales for weeks after I returned home and leave it at that. But just before we do – try the plethora of ice-cream flavours with sweets AND give the giant cookies a go – they simply just melt in your mouth. Oh and the scones and clotted cream…. It’s a must.
I digress. Other fabulous things about Celebrity Edge….well, there are just too many to mention but as a brief snapshot…
- The spa offers 19 different spa treatments. I wonder how many Jason Gardiner tried.
- Edge was the first cruise ship to ban plastic straws – and there are no plastic bottles on board whatsoever.
- Godmother of the ship is none other than Malala Yousafzai. In 2014 she became the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize recipient and donated the entire prize earnings to finance a school for girls in Pakistan. The Malala Fund was born and she continues to fight for every girl’s right to education.
- There are Jacuzzis galore – and even better that, a couple of them look like two giant martini glasses. I’m just glad that Tom the architect decided not to use transparent materials when designing them – sensible Tom, very sensible.
If I’ve whetted your appetite for all things Edge – and the amazing technology that you can have fun with on board, then you should know that this summer Edge will transport guests to the stunning vistas of the Mediterranean with a range of seven- to 11-night sailings from iconic cities like Barcelona and Rome.
Price-wise, an 11-night Amalfi Coast and Greek Isles fly/cruise, departing on 19th August 2019 starts from £3,639 per person in an Infinite Balcony Stateroom, based on two sharing.
It includes flights from Heathrow, transfers, a free classic drinks package for two, a ten-night cruise departing from Rome, meals and entertainment on-board the ship and all relevant cruise taxes/fees.
So Nicky and I have heard that Edge will be joined by Celebrity Apex in 2020, and two additional sister ships in 2021 and 2022.
And because of that we’re thinking of starting a new magazine “Life On…. A Celebrity Ship” in order to get a sneak preview of the ships – what do you reckon? Would the powers that be go for it?
In hindsight we’d probably spend 90% of our time in the dining buffets doing our best impersonation of “investigative journalism”, so perhaps that wouldn’t be such a great idea after all.
A Pin For Your Adventure Board
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