Asymmetrical, Muscular, bold & elegant
With the launch of the Edge as it's newest class of ships, Celebrity seeks to throw out the mold and revolutionize the design of cruise ships. You'll notice these changes before you even board the Edge. The Edge is striking, bold, muscular, and yet elegant. Her stacks glisten in the sun like the tailpipes on a 60s muscle car. Her bow is uncharacteristically straight to increase efficiency and cut through heavy seas, versus the sleek curve found on most ocean vessels. The brightly colored 90-ton Magic Carpet hovers in the air, offering a unique cocktail and dining experience as you float above the water's surface. The Edge's smooth flat windows of the "infinity balconies" create a smooth elegant exterior versus the bulky steel superstructure on most ocean vessels. The ship's asymmetrical design is evident throughout the ship as seen in the windows of the three story Eden restaurant and lounge, as well as in the jogging track which rises and falls between decks 15 and 16.
A Tug towards millennials
The Edge has been designed to appeal to Millennials which makes perfect sense. We started cruising about 25 years ago. The Millennium was our first Celebrity ship and it was what hooked us on Celebrity. But Celebrity needs to design ships that will capture the next generation of cruiser, just as the Millennium did for us many years ago. This is neither a good or bad comment, but an acknowledgement of the need for Celebrity to keep developing the next new group of cruise aficionados as the Baby Boomers and Gen Xers continue to age gracefully. Just as they captured our hearts 20 years ago with Celebrity's commitment to service and quality, now they need to capture the next generation.
It appeal to Millennials can be seen in its use of technology, entertainment and food. Your smartphone can open you stateroom door, control the lights and thermostat, and close the curtains. This is all great, but when I had to get up in the middle of the night, I'd rather just flipped a light switch versus find my phone, turn it on, find the Celebrity app, open it, navigate to the light controls. Find the overhead lights in the living room and have them only go up to 50%, so I didn't wake up Kent. There isn't a light switch for the overhead lights or several other lights - you have to use the app.
Likewise there are no posted menus for the main dining rooms - its all been moved to the app. Conceptually we liked this, but the head chef decided to change the order menus. Day 4 menu was served on Day 3, but the chef didn't tell the tech people, so the menus on the smartphones and TVs were all wrong. As tech becomes more pervasive, departments are going to need to learn to coordinate with each other to prevent these types of problems which occurred quite a lot.
The theatre entertainment has moved away from production shows to talented lounge singers with a band with heavy use of technology to project backgrounds. More on the entertainment latter.
Some Celebrity regulars will prefer the Solstice Class ships others will prefer the Edge. Fortunately, there will be four Edge Class ships by 2022, and the Solstice Class ships will remain for many more years so everyone wins. Celebrity will freshen up its Solstice Class ships with Edge colors and finishes, but I suspect most the ship will remain the same for those that prefer the Solstice Class ships.
Elegant and sophisticated interior
As you board the ship you immediately notice its contemporary and elegant design with brown-tinged gray colors and wood which create a warm and soothing environment.
Gone is the gaudy opulence seen on other cruise lines. Auction art in hallways has been replaced with stunning modern photography and sculptures. Sophisticated sleek and hidden lighting inside and out makes you forget there was ever a need to light up the dark.
There is ample seating throughout the ship whether you want to sip on a mocha or read a book. Chairs are still large, but seat depth has been reduced so that you can sit back comfortably - no more sitting with you legs straight out like Edith Ann.
The on-board shops are more sophisticated, and the days of discount displays and sales in the halls are gone. The Martini Bar takes center stage in the ship filling its three story atrium with a design and vibe reminiscent of trendy bars in South Beach or Los Angeles.
Simplified Boarding process
Celebrity built a brand new terminal just for the Edge. Checking into our suite was a dream. No giant hall with horrendous lines. In fact, there is a separate entrance for suites where you are whisked away to a lounge There you are greeted and asked to take a seat, enjoy a cocktail or a light continental breakfast, and wait for a concierge to take your picture and send you off to your stateroom. No paperwork to turn in and you aren't given anything take with you - no room card, instructions, etc. Instead you are told that your room card is on your door with a second inside the stateroom. You are permitted to drop off you carry-on luggage in your room immediately, although the rooms will not be fully made up until around 1 pm. Not having to drag around carry-on luggage was great.
We've always been a fan of the food on Celebrity. With the Edge, Celebrity has been able to elevate the dining and culinary experience ship-wide. The improvement is a combination of enhancing the quality and environment, as well as the sophistication of the food service. You'll notice this from the buffet through Luminae (the private suites restaurant) and the specialty restaurants. The buffet has higher ceilings with soaring windows which fill it with light. Several guests noted, and we concurred, the quality and variety of the buffet service was much better (it was always good). The pizza station moved to the rear, and the ice cream station has been moved to the main entry area. Several communal tables have been added. All of these changes have increased the total seating area and seating options.
When you approach the buffet you'll notice a double line of sinks. Gone are the days of "washy washy."
At times the food presentation felt a bit pretentious, every dish in Luminae does not need some random tiny leaves placed on top with tweezers, but the food was outstanding. Nowhere was there a worse example of style over quality than in Eden. There the chefs have gone overboard in concocting exotic dishes which overwhelmed the protein. If you didn't know lobster was in one appetizer, you never would have been able to guess it. Same thing with the second course shrimp dish. Sometimes simplicity is more elegant. We wouldn't recommend eating in Eden.
There is no main dining room on the Edge. Instead there are four smaller and more intimate dining rooms. Each has a distinct theme and passengers can choose among any of them. The menu is the same in all four except for 3 entrees that reflect the restaurants theme. Some guest prefer the large majestic main dining room of the Solstice Class ships, but other liked the more intimate feeling of the smaller restaurants.
Some notes about Luminae, since it is on deck 12 and has its own kitchen, you no longer can choose from the main dining room menu items (no more french soup, escargot, or main dining entrees/desserts). This was a disappointment to several guests. Also, Luminae is much larger than on Solstice Class ships in part because there are twice as many suites on the Edge. Where Luminae on the Solstice Class ships had a divider in the middle which dampened the noise in the restaurant, the larger Edge Luminae has no divider and the din is unfortunately much louder.
Theatre in the round & New Entertainment
The theatre juts strongly into audience with a theatre-in-the-round feeling. It has huge panels which create backdrops to its performances and is loaded with technology. Where the food gets pretentious at times, the theatre seems to want to highlight its technology just for the sake technology which actually subtracts from the performance.
Nowhere is Celebrity's reach for Millennials more obvious than in the theatre. The over use of tech, the over use of projected backdrops, and music selections and presentation are all geared toward Millennials.
Entertainment has moved towards sophisticated and talented lounge singer/group acts backed up with a live band and the techy backgrounds. Think of an upscale 1920s or 1930s lounge act updated with 21st century tech.
A different martini bar
The new Martini Bar is the center of the ship, and it is grand and stunning! It is right out of South Beach or LA., and when it blasts its light show everyone stops and watches. Since it is now the center of the ship, its performers no longer compete or clash with the music coming from the lower atrium on the Solstice Class ships. The performers get center "stage" and were excellent.
This asymmetrical four level bar area is busier and more active than the Solstice Class Martini Bar (and no, it doesn't have a frozen counter anymore). This is in part because several other bars have been eliminated - the Passport Bar, Cellar Masters, World Class Bar/Gastrobar, and the Ensemble Bar. But this keeps the Martini Bar hopping and generates a great vibe in the center of the ship.
If you were Solstice Class Martini Bar fan, you may not like the new bar. Where the Solstice Class Martini Bar was very intimate with chairs tightly packed together creating a great opportunity to meet other guests, on the Edge, the new Martini Bar has wide seats and holds much fewer guests. It is now very much harder to get a seat at the bar or to meet fellow guests as most of the tables around the Martini Bar are for two or four people, and are not conducive to starting up a conversation with others.
Edge Retreat for Suites
The new Retreat for suite guests is in the front on the ship. If you like to layout and sunbathe, but hate fighting for a lounge chair, then the Retreat is for you. With its own pool, hot tub, and bar, there plenty of seating and lounging around the pool. But, there is large additional space just for lounging behind the pool area which is perfect for getting some rays or chilling out.
If you want a bite to eat, the Retreat Bar serves chilled shrimp and fantastic thick chicken sandwiches or burgers. If you don't want to lay in the sun, one deck down is the Retreat lounge with lots of comfortable chairs and tables perfect for reading a book or writing your blog articles.
With its mellow music, the Retreat is a great escape and more tranquil environment than the more hectic life around the main pool.
ASYMMETRICAL pool deck
The main pool is different too. First, the pool is great if you like to swim laps. Second, in pool loungers have been added to the starboard (left) side of the pool to keep you cool while you sunbath. Unlike the Solstice Class ships there isn't a flat pool deck. Like the Martini Bar, it is tiered into three levels with outer ring lounges facing the ocean instead of the pool. As with much of the Edge, the pool area is asymmetrical. Most larger ships have a pool deck, and an upper deck that surrounds the pool. On the Edge, the upper deck raises and falls between two decks which makes the jogging path more interesting. The only problem with the asymmetry on the ship is that it takes a while to learn how to navigate around the ship - you'll find you have to go up or down or over to get to where you want to go. But it adds to the ships drama and elegance.
The hot tubs are Martini glass shaped pedestals towering 2 floors over the pool deck, freeing up deck space for lounges and creating drama and beauty.
Modern & comfortable Tenders
Everyone will appreciate the new tenders on the Edge. They are modern and comfortable. With individual padded seats, higher ceilings so you don't have to bend over, air conditioning, and large windows, these are a huge improvement over most tenders on most ships. Actually the boarding area and process for entering the tenders is better too. There is a larger and more comfortable area to gather and Magic Carpet becomes the boarding platform for the tenders.
Still to come - Indepth reviews of specific areas
Over the next several days, I cover specific areas of the ship in more depth and provide some behind the scene pics of the ship.