CruiseWith the launch of the Celebrity Edge, Celebrity Cruises continues its march into the type of hospitality product offered by upscale, urban boutique hotels

Celebrity Edge, the floating boutique hotel

Eden features a lively, open-concept kitchen, and menus that deliver sensory and experiential dishes served by performance artists.
Eden features a lively, open-concept kitchen, and menus that deliver sensory and experiential dishes served by performance artists.
Celebrity Edge in numbers

•    29 restaurants, cafes, bars and lounges

•    Edge Staterooms with Infinite Balcony 27% larger

•    Takes 2,918 passengers

•    500 activities at Camp at Sea for young cruisers

The Edge has the hallmarks of the hip, non-institutional hotel: that idiosyncratic feel, a trendy yet elegant design and an emphasis on gastronomy.

At 2,918 passengers, it can’t claim the intimacy of smaller, boutique ships. But in an era when 6,000-passenger ships are on the horizon, the Edge can be categorised as midsized.

The ship’s interior designers delivered an onboard environment where the main colour is taupe and yet somehow manages to be anything but boring.

Two of the Edge’s signature features, the Magic Carpet platform and the balcony-inside-the-room Infinite Veranda, are truly original and so organic to the structure of the ship that they won’t be easily copied. Of the two, I was most impressed with the Magic Carpet. It is both a marketing attraction that differentiates the Edge from every other ship at sea and improbably practical. In its position on Deck 3 as a tender-boarding platform, in combination with the redesigned Destination Gateway, it is a shore excursion portal like no other. While sailing, it’s a 93-ton dining venue that hangs over the ship’s side and moves to several different decks.

Two other features deserve to be singled out. The multistory Eden restaurant/lounge/bar at the rear of the ship is an iteration of the space created for Royal Caribbean as Two70 in the back of the Quantum of the Seas.

But Eden is so artfully done, with so many intriguing levels, nooks and fun spaces that it’s a tour de force that has to be experienced to be appreciated. The Le Petit Chef animated dinner experience is delightful, at least the little bit I got to see in a demonstration.

The 72-seat Le Grand Bistro was booked solid on my two-night preview cruise. I imagine the demand for this will exceed supply, even at US$55 per diner.

Travel agents liked several things about the Edge, such as the serenity of the design.

“Spa at sea” was the description that came to mind for Vanessa Cohen, an agent for Protravel International in Miami. She said the suite-centric Retreat area was a personal favourite. “’Retreat’ is a good label for the whole ship,” she said. “It’s so elegant and spa-like.”

Corridors are trimmed in a soothing gray that suggests bleached wood. Carpets are gray with a cross-hatch pattern in cranberry. The ship makes great use of neutral colours, with occasional splashes of jewel tones.

“Everything blends together so nicely,” said Marni Becker, senior director of cruise sales for Travel Leaders’ luxury brands.

Part of the reason the Edge triggers a relaxation response is the height of the ceilings, which have been raised throughout the ship.

The ceiling in the Oceanview Cafe buffet restaurant slants mildly upward to meet floor-to-ceiling windows, a combination that makes the normally frenetic buffet experience far more civilised.

“Light-filled,” “transparent” and “weightless” were some of the adjectives that popped into my head in the Solarium pool area.

There is a modern baroque asymmetry to much of the ship that playfully subverts expected forms. Ceiling alcoves are imbalanced trapezoids with curved corners. Stair treads have gentle angles in unusual places.

But the result never feels queasy or off-kilter.

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