From left: Scott Butler, lead architect for Eden; Patricia Urquiola, lead designer for Eden; Richard D. Fain, chairman and CEO for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.; and Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, president and CEO of Celebrity Cruises. // © 2017 Celebrity Cruises
Feature image (above): Eden, the new activities venue onboard Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Edge ship, will feature spaces for dining, performances, seminars, nightlife and more. // © 2017 Celebrity Cruises
Once you get a look at Celebrity Cruises’ new 2,900-passenger Celebrity Edge ship, you may think of it as a paradise. It might as well be; you are absolutely guaranteed to experience Eden onboard once the vessel launches in 2018.
A new venue, Eden is a leap in the recent trend to turn a major space — traditionally an atrium — into a round-the-clock center of activity for everything from relaxing to dining.
What is Eden like? For starters, it’s big: 12,650 square feet — bigger than the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam or New York’s Hayden Planetarium — and three stories high. The 7,000 square feet of glass that wraps around Eden is an architectural feat; it has more outward-facing glass than any other room at sea.
In the course of a day, Eden — which carries the slogan “Chillful. Playful. Sinful.” — will take passengers through those themes. Mornings are meant for relaxation and calm (think: yoga and reading); afternoons will bring about activities such as hands-on enrichment seminars, tastings and performances from sitar players and aerialists; and evenings turn the space into “Eve at Eden,” a fusion of performance art and unique culinary experiences.
In creating the concept, Celebrity tapped top designers in land-based hospitality and entertainment. And they surpassed conventional cruise line concepts for dining and leisure.
Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, president and CEO of Celebrity, says that the line has not yet set the fee for dining in Eden Restaurant, which will seat 100 people in the evenings. The eatery will have a full open kitchen and double as a culinary center for classes and demonstrations. Cornelius Gallagher, associate vice president of food and beverage operations for Celebrity, as well as a Michelin-starred chef, is preparing the creative menu for the restaurant, which will offer a set, five-course dinner that ends with a surprise called “The Crescendo.”
In addition, Eden Cafe will seat 220 diners who can enjoy complimentary breakfast and lunch selections inside the venue or in two alfresco seating areas.
Dining and entertainment will also be blended together.
“When people think of traditional cruise ship entertainment, there’s a very specific image that they have in mind, but the exciting thing about Eden is that we’ve actually been invited to break so many of those rules,” said David Ley, director of Variety Worldwide, which is known for creating the New York dinner-theater experience “Queen of the Night.” Ley’s blend of unusual theatrical experiences with dining and nightlife will appear in “Eve at Eden.”
Celebrity’s “breaking of the rules” was evident at the line’s recent introduction of Eden at New York’s Brooklyn Botanic Garden, where bartenders climbed the walls at Eden Bar to pick herbs from the 18-foot high Library of Plants. The living wall was produced by Patricia Urquiola, lead designer for Eden and a Spanish designer who was awarded the Order of Isabella the Catholic by King of Spain Juan Carlos I for her fantastical creations. Urquiola also created hanging plant pillars and signature unconventional furniture that give Eden much of its character.
“Our search for partners who are as passionate about world-class design as Celebrity is led us to the incredibly talented Scott Butler and Patricia Urquiola,” Lutoff-Perlo said. “The entire space is magical throughout morning, afternoon and evening, when our guests will experience Eve at Eden, an experience produced by the visionary Variety Worldwide and our very own Cornelius Gallagher. They have all created something magical and magnificent."
Butler, lead architect for Eden, is also a founding partner of Wilson Butler Architects and has worked on Royal Caribbean International’s Oasis-class design. For Eden, he drew inspiration from the “golden spiral” generated by the medieval Fibonacci sequence, which lies at the heart of much of nature and art and has appeared in popular literature, including Dan Brown’s novel, “The Da Vinci Code.” The 295-foot ramp enveloping the space allows guests to wander in an organic path through and around Eden. The venue will also feature the Tree of Life installation, a carryover from Celebrity’s Solstice class of ships.
Travelers can experience Eden on Dec. 16, 2018, on Edge’s debut sailing out of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where it will alternate Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries. In addition to Eden, Edge — the first of four ships in its class and Celebrity’s first new ship since 2012 — will showcase innovations including the moving Magic Carpet deck and staterooms where outdoor balconies can be glass-enclosed in inclement weather.