Features that could have been gimmicks on the 2,918-passenger Edge are real winners.
The Magic Carpet, for example, is an outdoor chill-out lounge on a platform cantilevered over the starboard side of the ship, able to sit in any of four positions. When it’s at deck 14, you feel as though you’re gliding over the ocean, while down at deck 2 level, you can curl up with a book in one of the stylish, grey-and-white sofas, right next to the water.
Eden, too, is a beautiful, airy lounge, spanning three decks – and according to the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in France, where Edge was constructed, it’s the most complicated structure they’ve ever built, as it’s encircled on three sides by the greatest expanse of glass ever to be fitted on a cruise ship. Eden is flooded with light and filled with tropical plants, creating the feeling of a jungly conservatory. A living ‘plant library’ behind the bar grows the garnishes for the cocktails, while dancers and aerialists, called Edenists, perform throughout the day.
In addition, there’s a theatre with the sound system of an arena rock concert and a gym with Peloton spinning bikes that live-stream classes from the Peloton HQ in New York. Even the restaurants pack in the tech. At Le Petit Chef, tiny 3D figures run around your plate, chopping and preparing virtual food, stepping back with a flourish as waiters appear bearing an exact, real-life version for you to eat.
The staterooms, suites and spa, designed by Kelly Hoppen, are all touchy-feely textures and soothing colour schemes of cream, dove grey and oatmeal, with splashes of aquamarine and burnt orange. The gadgetry here, too, is state-of-the-art. Download the Celebrity app and you can open the door, move the blind up and down and dim the lights. In the 918 Infinite Veranda staterooms, half the glass wall slides down to let the sea breezes in. Done already on riverboats, yes, but so much more complicated on a cruise ship.
Anybody familiar with Celebrity’s Solstice Class ships will remember the half-acre of lawn on the top deck. The Lawn Club has gone on Edge, though, replaced with the Rooftop Garden, a bar and grill, dance floor, big screen and general outdoor lounge room, a mixture of quiet little enclaves and long, wavy wooden benches that give the whole place the feel of a posh park. Sculptural wooden ‘trees’ are dotted around to create shade and serve as wind breaks (following extensive testing in a 3D simulated wind tunnel), and the whole area is lush with big potted shrubs, which can be changed to suit the environment in which the ship is sailing – the Caribbean in winter and the Mediterranean in summer.
Are there any negatives? Barely. The poolside cabanas seem overpriced, at $400 per day, and you’d need deep pockets to enjoy the speciality restaurants, which cost as much as $65 a head. But if ever a ship is going to change perceptions of cruising being stuffy and old-fashioned, this is the one.