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“This goes way beyond anything I imagined — yet again,” said the woman next to me during the reveal of Celebrity Cruises’ new Celebrity Edge ship design at this year’s Seatrade Cruise Global conference in Florida.
She was also referring to the launch of the line’s Solstice Class ships a decade ago — greeted as a revolutionary game-changer at the time.
Everyone around us was nodding in agreement.
Celebrity hasn’t introduced a newbuild in six years, or a new design in 10 years — until now. Its 2,918-passenger Celebrity Edge is due to launch in December next year.
Interior designer Nate Berkus, who is regularly featured on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” was named the design ambassador for Edge, and he is just one member of the ship’s international celebrity design team.
The rest of the team includes British architect Tom Wright, who designed the sail-shaped Burj Al Arab in Dubai, United Arab Emirates; South African interior designer Kelly Hoppen, who in 2009 was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire for services to interior design; and Harri Kulovaara, executive vice president of maritime and newbuilding for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Brands. (Kulovaara has repeatedly revolutionized Royal Caribbean’s ships — from the Royal Promenade that he brought from Scandinavian brand Oy Silja Line AB and the startling Oasis of the Seas to the Solstice Class ships and more.)
At the Seatrade industry event, reaction to the reveal of Edge’s design was highly positive; there was a gasp when the rendering of the spa was shown, and nods as Berkus referred to the Penthouse Suites as “real-estate porn.”
Richard D. Fain, chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., announced that although the innovations onboard Edge are not new technology, there is new design, and some of it is influenced by river cruising.
“We didn’t invent these; we just exploit them,” he said.
One of the most important of these river cruise-inspired innovations — balconies enclosed by glass at the touch of a button — required moving the heavy steel supporting framework to the central spine of the ship, away from the outer walls.
Since passengers want more space, and balconies are only used during a small portion of a cruise, French doors slide to bring the balcony and the stateroom together. Kulovaara noted that it took more than a year to develop the design, which has to withstand different conditions and more stress than it would on a river vessel.
There are 918 Infinite Veranda rooms on Edge, and 16 of them are singles, a first for Celebrity.
The most visible of the new accommodations are also the most dramatic: two Iconic Suites, which jut right over the bridge in a huge sweep of glass. At 1,892 square feet, each has two bedrooms, two full bathrooms and a 689-square-foot veranda with a private hot tub and a daybed.
Six bilevel, one-bedroom Edge Villas make up another new suite category, with gorgeous views from two stories of windows, private plunge pools and direct walkout access to The Retreat Sundeck. And Hoppen’s design for the two-bedroom, two-bathroom Penthouse Suites includes soaking tubs on the veranda, dual showers and walk-in closets.
Highlights of the public rooms are equally impressive. The pool deck has become the asymmetrical Resort Deck, with a 75-foot lap pool. It features striking two-story martini hot tubs, private cabanas, the Rooftop Garden and sculptural trees where musicians roost.
But it’s the Magic Carpet, designed by Wright, that will probably be the identifying feature of Edge. A platform about the size of a tennis court, it’s cantilevered to the side of the ship and functions as an easy embarkation area for tenders on Deck 2. It is also a dining venue (Dinner on the Edge) for 99 people when it is raised to Deck 16; an extension of the pool area when it stops on Deck 14; and an outdoor extension to onboard restaurants on Deck 5.
Celebrity is virtually showcasing Edge this spring, using a traveling 91-seat high-definition cinema that will take North American viewers along a 10,000-plus-mile journey. From March 29 through June 20, the mobile cinema will make 48 stops in 12 weeks. The line expects to show the ship to 20,000 people with a 3-D reveal, hitting special events and festivals across the nation, starting with the Sonoma International Film Festival and moving on to events including the California Jazz & Wine Fest, the California Wine Festival, the WorldFest-Houston international film festival and Toronto’s Wine & Spirit Festival. Participants will be given incentives to book upon leaving the presentation.
Edge comes into service on alternating Eastern and Western Caribbean sailings that can be combined for a 14-day cruise. It will be joined by three sister ships in 2020, 2021 and 2022.
Seatrade Cruise Globalwww.seatradecruiseglobal.com
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