Today Celebrity’s newest ship, the Celebrity Edge, sails out of its shipyard in Nazaire, France, and begins its transatlantic voyage to its homeport of Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades). The ship which as been four years in the making. It is Celebrity’s newest class of ship and holds 2,900 passengers. Three additional Edge-class ships are already on order, and start arriving 2020 – 2022. The Edge’s maiden voyage will set sail on December 9, 2018.
Celebrity’s last new class was the Solstice-class launched in 2008, so the new Edge class will be welcome by many Celebrity loyalist. How will the Edge be different from the Solstice ships? Let’s explore:
What’s New & Different
The Retreat – A new addition to Celebrity is “The Retreat.” Located in the front of the ship on Deck 16, it is sure to be a hit with sophisticated cruisers, The Retreat is a suites-only area with its own pool, bar, lounge area, and Luminae (the fabulous suites-only restaurant featuring a modern, eclectic cuisine created by Celebrity's Michelin-starred chief).
Theatre – The three-story theatre’s main stage juts well into the seating area creating a theatre-in-the- round experience. Incredibly beautiful backdrops for performances will dazzle audiences from a wall of LED screens and projectors. For those who were mesmerized by the acrobatic on the Solstice shps, the aerial rigging is on the Edge as well.
Main Dining Room (Well its gone, sort of) – The typical cavernous main dining room found in most large ships is gone. In its place are four complimentary smaller theme dining rooms. The Cosmopolitan Restaurant features American cuisine. The Normandie Restaurant pulls from the elegant French Murano specialty restaurant which was launched on the Solstice class ships. The Tuscan Restaurant delivers Italian flavors and pulls from the Tuscan Grill from the Solstice class ships. And the Cyprus Restaurant offers cuisine from the Mediterranean. These restaurants will give sophisticated cruisers more variety in their dining options.
Martini Bar – I must admit, the Martini Bar has always been one of our favorite spots to meet fellow passengers and learn about their experiences. The Edge has given the Martini Bar a more centered and prominent location. No longer shunt to the side, the Martini Bar is featured in the glamorous Grand Plaza under the three-story Chandelier.
Infinity Veranda Staterooms – One of the more intriguing new designs is the Infinity Veranda. A push of a button transforms a typical outside balcony space into interior space thus increasing interior stateroom space as well as providing floor to celing glass to view the sea.
Magic Carpet – What will certainly be an attention grabber, the Magic Carpet is a large multi-use exterior elevator (actually it is a cantilevered floating platform) that can travel the 16 stores of the ship. When lowered it will be used as a platform to load and unload newly designed tenders. While at sea and during the evening it becomes another bar or dining area.
These innovative and unique changes will only elevate Celebrity Cruises. We are sure it will only cement Celebrity as our favorite cruise line.
It shouldn’t really be a surprise, but as Baby Boomers & Gen Xers have watched their kids move out, have become proficient cruisers, are seeking new experiences, have more free time and money, and desire a more sophisticated cruise experience, they are increasingly wanting to up their cruise game.
These cruisers started cruising 10, 20, or 30 years ago. They’ve watched ships get bigger and bigger, add more and more entertainment, but over time some the novelty has worn off and maybe they don’t party as much as they did in the past. Now it is more about creature comforts, upscale dining, and an interest in discovery of new destinations, cultures, experiences, and friends.
For some this means moving from their previous balcony stateroom preference into a suite. For others it means moving from one of the mass market cruise ships (Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, or Princess cruise lines) to the premium (Celebrity or Holland America) or a luxury line.
These seemingly simple changes can drastically change your cruise experience often at a price increase that isn’t that much higher (more about that in a later post). Plus, for many it has opened up the possibility to see ports they wouldn’t be able to see on the largest mass market ships. For those desiring a higher quality of food onboard, the move up opens new culinary options and a more sophisticated overall cruise experience.
The cruise industry has taken notice of this shift upwards and increased desire for greater comforts and quality of service. To meet this increase demand, the industry is building a lot of new ships.
MSC has ordered four new ships at a $2 billion investment. They will be built off the success and demand for the Yacht Club suites enclave on its existing fleet. These smaller ships will move MSC into the premium/luxury market as they are deployed starting in 2023.
Crystal Cruises, one of the leaders of the luxury cruise industry, will launch three new ships starting in 2022. These 800 passenger Diamond Class ships will be all-suite, and all-balcony. While Silversea Cruises will launch two new Evolution class ships in 2022 focusing more on the luxury expedition and immersion cruising market. Regent and Seabourn are adding new ships in 2022 and 2021. Celebrity Cruises will launch its new “Edge” class of ships in December, with three more Edge class ships on order.
While the share of the upscale cruise market has remained nearly the same over time, the overall industry has experience substantial growth which has proportionately increased the demand for the premium/luxury market. This growing demand will fuel the need for more and more upscale ships to serve these new customers. This will result in a broader variety of options, price points, and features for guests, and the opportunity to continue their love for cruising for many years to come.
Jump to the front of the line at immigration & passport control
If you've ever flown into one of the world's busiest airports, you know how miserable the immigration, passport control, and customs process can be entering a foreign country. We've waited hours in line at London's Heathrow. During high tourist season, expect long waits in Madrid, Amsterdam, Paris, Amsterdam and Milan of up to four hours.
While TSA Pre-Check and Global Entry can speed you up in the United States, they don't help you overseas. But we have clients who don't want to wait for hours to clear immigration & customs in a foreign country. Fortunately, there are several airport concierge services that can whisk you to the front of the line. Depending on the airport, we use different companies.
The rates for this VIP service vary widely from as low as $100 per person to several thousand dollars. These services will meet you at your gate and escort you to the correct carousel to retrieve your luggage, and then some take you to the front of the line for passport control and customs. After clearing immigration and customs, they will take you to your pre-arranged local transfer to your hotel or cruise ship. The higher priced services frequently include access to a private or VIP lounge.
If you are flying first class, check with the airline. Several offer similar services to their first class customers. Even if you are not flying first class, some airlines offer meet-and-greet services for a reasonable fee.
These services are not just for arriving in a foreign city. They are also available able for connection services (in a foreign country) as well as departure assistance (in foreign countries).
All of these can be very helpful if you are in a country that doesn't speak English, you don't speak their language, or you're concerned about how to navigate foreign airports.
Many of our clients use these services for the peace-of-mind and time savings they provide. Who wants to start a vacation stressed out? Treat yourself to VIP service. As Sophisticated Cruising, we can make all of the arrangements for you.
Switching airlines at a connecting city can create problems for your baggage
Imagine checking in for your flight, checking your bags, and arriving at your destination only to learn that your baggage is spinning around on a baggage carousel at your connecting airport. Well it happens more often that you might think and it happens when you switch airlines at a connecting city.
This is going to sound very esoteric and unimportant. But, as more consumers decide to purchase airline tickets online, there is an increasing need to understand some of the rules related to “Interline Baggage” agreements between airlines. These agreements govern how airlines pass or transfer your luggage from one airline to the next during your trip.
Historically, when you checked in at the airline counter, the attendant would ask if you wanted your bags checked through to your final destination. To which you would smile appreciatively and say, “Of course. Thanks.” And it was as simple as that. You'd happily board your flight and reclaim your baggage at the end of your flights.
Some low cost airlines, like Southwest, did not have interline agreements, which meant their passengers had to pick up their luggage, and go to the check-in counter to re-check their bags.
A few years ago, American stopped interline transfers when a customer was using two different tickets (2 different passenger name Records or PNRs). And this is the point consumers need to understand. If you purchase two separate tickets to get From Point A (your starting point) to Point C (your Ultimate Destination) because you want to switch airlines at Point B (your connecting airport), then at Point B (connecting airport) American (Oneworld), United (Star Alliance) and Delta (SkyTeam) won't transfer your bags to your ultimate destination. Nor will any of the discount airlines for that matter.
At your connecting airport (Poing B), you must claim your luggage and re-check in with the next airline - that means going to baggage claim, then to the second airline check-in counter and check-in (pay another checked luggage fee), AND then go through security again. Some ticket agents and some specific airlines will go ahead to check it through, but all three's interline agreements (Oneworld, Star Alliance and SkyTeam) explicitly state member airlines are only required to check bags through to the ultimate destination IF there is only a single ticket (PNR).
Now you are probably scratching your head and saying why would I purchase two tickets? Well, it is becoming more common as passengers look for ways to cut costs. For instance, if you are flying from Denver to Athens, you might find that it is cheaper to buy a ticket from Denver to NYC, and then purchase a second ticket from NYC to
Athens. You can find similar instances flying within the US where it is cheaper to buy one ticket from your home airport to a connecting airport, and a second ticket from the connecting airport to your final destination. In the past, the airlines would have checked your luggage through to your final destination as long as you showed them both tickets (or etickets). Now American, United, and Delta will only check your bag through to the connection where you must reclaim and re-check them. Unlike many baggage fees, these rules apply to members with elite status, and apply even if the second ticket is booked with an airline that is part of the same airline marketing partners/alliances.
If you choose to book with separate airlines for a cheaper fare, be sure to leave enough time at the connecting airport to reclaim your bags, go through the check-in process again, and be processed through security. Or, don't check your bags.
Once again, we see the friendly skies becoming less friendly.
We've traveled around the world with our pets. In fact our pets have flown more air miles than many people. But it is important to understand the right way to fly with your pets. Here are some of tips we've learned over time:
Check with your vet
Ask your vet if it OK to fly with your pets. Your pets may have illnesses, conditions, or be of an age which might making flying unsafe. Also certain types of dogs are prone to problems with flying. Check and make sure all of your vaccinations are current - some airlines will required documentation from your vet.
Avoid layovers or connecting flights
Air flights are taxing on pets due to increased stress, changes in pressure, fear of flying, lack of ready access to food & water, or the inability to relieve themselves. Direct flights, especially red-eye flights, help to minimize some of these problems. When we fly overseas, we spend the night in a pet friendly hotel if there is a connecting city to allow the dogs to adjust. If you do this, verify with the airline in advance that you won't be charged an additional pet fee.
Consider getting pet tracking device
When pets are in an unfamiliar place, they are more likely to bolt out of fear. Pet tracking devices can help you find your pets if they wander or take off. If you are checking your pet in the baggage compartment, some trackers can help you locate where you pet is if they are inadvertently missed placed by the airline. You'll find various types of trackers at the Dog Clinic. At a minimum these devices can give YOU a little more piece of mind that your pets are safe.
Check for international pet passport requirements
If you are traveling overseas with your pets, make sure to check for foreign regulations regarding bring pets into that country. Most countries will require that your pet be micro chipped. In addition, you will likely have to get a certificate from your vet. These international health certificates require original ink signatures from the issuing USDA Accredited Veterinarian and the endorsing APHIS Veterinary Medical Officer with the application of the APHIS embossed seal. These documents will be presented as you enter the country.
Get an approved pet carrier.
You'll probably be required by the airline to used an approved pet carrier. Check our the airline requirements below.
Know your airline's pet policies
AeroMexico | Air Canada | Air France | Air New Zealand | Air Tahiti Nui | Alitalia | All Nippon | American | Asiana | Austrian Air | Avianca | British Airways | Brussels | Cathay Pacific | Condor | Copa | Delta | Egyptair | Emirates | El Al | Eva Air | Iberia | Icelandair | Japan Airlines | Jet Airways | KLM Airlines | Lan Chile | Lot Polish | Lufthansa | Norwegian Air | Philippine Airlines | Qantas | Qatar | SAS | South African | Swiss | TAM | Thai Airways | Turkish Airlines | United | Virgin Australia | Virgin Atlantic
We have two small dogs and when we travel, we usually put them up in a dog resort where they are watched by professionally trained staff with a veterinarian on 24 hour call. It is pricey, but we feel that our "children" will be well cared for, so that we can relax and enjoy our vacation without worrying about them. But there have been times when we have taken the dogs with us, and then we face the challenge of finding a nice hotel that will accept dogs
Our favorite website to find hotels that accept dogs is 1ClickPetHotels.com.
There you select hotels by state and then from a list of major cities. The site displays the cost/fees to bring a pet as well as whether there is a maximum weight allowed. From the site you can click to a page about the hotel, see its rating & comments, plus there is a link to check availability and make a reservation.
1ClickPetHotels does not have not have foreign hotels listed. So we use DogFriendly.com to check for dog friendly hotels around the world,
as well as a second resource for US hotels. This site also displays the cost per dog/cat as well as any size limitations. BUT, it is also a good resource for other travel
issues related to pets including airline policies on pets, quarantine issues by country, and more. However, verify any information that is important to you because some of the information appears to be out-dated.
Gross Tonnage (GT) Is Not the Weight of a Ship
When you look at the statistics of various cruise ships, you'll notice that cruise lines normally display their ship's "Gross Tonnage" (GT), the year built, the number of crew, the number of passengers, and more.
What most people don't know is that GT does not equate to the weight of the ship. Rather GT is a measurement of the ship's internal volume of its enclosed spaces (above and below the water line), where 100 cubic feet of volume equals one ton.
Gross tonnage was initially used for cargo ships to determine the maximum amount of space for the storage of goods that could be stuffed inside a ship. While it doesn't seem particularly relevant to cruise ships, it is also used to determine which rules and
regulations apply to a ship, its crew staffing levels, safety rules, and port fees. Because of this, it is the standard that most commonly is used to define a ship.
For cruise ships, typically the larger the gross tonnage, the larger the ship is, the more passengers it can hold, and the more restaurants and entertainment facilities you'll find onboard.
The Royal Caribbean "Symphony of the Seas" is the largest cruise ship with a gross tonnage of 228,081, 18 decks, and the capacity to carry 6,680 passengers. While the Pioneering Spirit, a crane vessel, has the largest gross tonnage at 403,342.
So now you know!
Being sophisticated isn't about money, power or formal education. The television show "The Beverly Hillbillies" made us laugh, and showed us that money itself doesn't bring sophistication.
You may ask, "Why should I want to be sophisticated?" The answer is simple. Sophistication is about having grace, respect for others, and a strong desire to continually expand yourself beyond where and what you are right now. And if you are on a cruise, isn't that the type of person you'd want to meet? We've all been on a cruise around an unsophisticated person who is a "total boor." Its takes some of the air out of the excitement of what would otherwise be an incredible vacation.
Innate in sophisticated cruisers is a sense of wonder in the world, and a desire to experience it first hand and up close. A sophisticated cruiser is confident and fun to be around, has interesting stories to share, and has a genuine interest in others.
So when we cruise, we aspire to be sophisticated cruisers and hope to meet other similar people. And luckily for us, we have be so fortunate to meet so many wonderful and delightful sophisticated cruisers, and to explore many far flung regions of this great earth.
Here are the key traits of a sophisticated person:
1) Respectful of other people, cultures & the destinations visited - Treats others with respect, and enjoys meeting other similarly respectful people. Appreciates the differences between various cultures. Feels an obligation to protect and preserve the places visited so that future travelers can enjoy them too.
2) Interested in the world beyond themselves - Wants to know what's happening in the world. Travels to expand their knowledge and understanding of people, cultures, the arts, history, and architecture. Appreciates the wonders of nature beyond their local experiences.
3) Posses an inquisitive mind seeking to advance their knowledge - Seeks to continually learn and grow. Well informed and likes to share stories (without boasting or boring others) and likes to hear similar stories from other people. Values listening with an open mind. Are cultured, but never snobby. Relishes the opportunity to learn from others without ever feeling superior.
4) Has worked hard to achieve what they have and seeks to enjoy the fruits of that effort - Has worked long and hard in life, and made sacrifices to achieve what's been accomplished. Enjoys reaping the rewards of these efforts through an elevated experience in accommodations, service, and the quality of food & drink. Doesn't want just a cruise, but wants a sophisticated experience.
Sophisticated cruising is the opportunity to discover the world, meet incredibly interesting people from beyond your home, and the chance to step back from your hectic lives to experience the wonders of this world.
The Sun Travel Group will launch a new suite of travel sites build around delivering concierge travel services to the "sophisticated" traveler. A sophisticated traveler is one who lives life with grace, has a respect for other people and cultures, and has a strong curiosity to discover the world and the people in it. Typically they are busy travelers who like to be pampered, and who demand professional & concierge level service and attention to detail so they can enjoy an incredible get-away from their regular routine.
Brian Raymond, owner of the Sun Travel Group said, "Our customers have worked hard and earned the right to kick back, relax, and enjoy themselves as they explore new destinations while experiencing first class service."
The first site to launch will be SophisticatedCruising.com later this month. Other elements will launch during the 2nd & 3rd quarters of 2019.