A blanket of fog wrapped around the soon-to-debut Celebrity Edge on a recent September morning in the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France. It layered mystique onto the hulking vessel, Celebrity Cruise’s first new ship in six years.
Ahead of Edge’s November debut, Forbes Travel Guide was among the first to get a look onboard. We saw why it’s built such buzz: the first ship to be completely designed in 3D, Edge reimagines the traditional stateroom blueprint; some big names envisioned the design; and it features an impressive cantilevered multi-use space that functions as everything from a pop-up restaurant to an embarkation platform.
Here’s what has us most excited for Edge’s inaugural sail.
“The culture at Royal Caribbean and Celebrity is we have to push the envelope, whether that’s food or architecture,” said Richard D. Fain, chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean, Celebrity’s parent company.
Fain told us that he and his team toured the world’s grand hotels and some other destinations to figure out what they liked and didn’t like. “The idea that the chandelier can control the room came from Hotel Plaza Athénée Paris’ exploding chandelier,” he said.
Fain found similar inspiration at Van Cleef & Arpels in Paris. “The idea that a stairway can be sexy, that was new to us.”
These details made their way onto Edge, where a curvy white staircase leads up to the spa, and a chandelier serves as the focal point in the ship’s central gathering spot.
“How ships are designed is one of the ways to make people comfortable and feel like they are in a special place,” said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, Celebrity Cruises president and CEO.
To bring Edge’s design to another level, Lutoff-Perlo sought out unexpected candidates who primarily worked in hotels. “What’s important to me isn’t that they are world-renowned, but that they are connected to our brand’s dream.”
One of the firms recruited for the undertaking was Paris-based Jouin Manku, which did Le Bar and Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée, both striking spaces in Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Hotel Plaza Athénée Paris.
Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku conceived The Grand Plaza, the nucleus of Edge. “We wanted to make a space that was slinky and sexy,” Manku said. “The vision was: how do you take the foundations of the glamour of a ship and bring it to the 21st century?”
The result is a stylish, modern and minimal space spanning three decks. The showstopper is the sculptural light installation. The funnel-shaped piece hovering over the Martini Bar is composed of 765 blades illuminated by LED strips that change color (and along with it, the room’s ambiance).
Tom Wright of WKK, who designed the distinctive sail-shaped Five-Star Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, worked on the ship’s exterior spaces. In the main pool area, the British architect added “The Prism,” an oversized, ever-changing LED installation hovering over the bar. It sits near two white martini-glass-shaped hot tubs that are suspended 22 feet above the 75-foot lap pool.
Wright also created the Rooftop Garden, a playful space with plants, sinuous teak benches and sculpted trees that illuminate at night and offer a perch for a guitarist or other serenading musician.
Among the restaurants, three-story Eden stands out. In the aft, the eatery/bar/cooking class venue offers a nearly 7,000-square-foot glass wall — that’s more outward-facing glass than any other room at sea. The space makes you feel like you’re in the Garden of Eden, with shades of green infusing everything from the leaf-like ceiling tiles and the emerald mermaid scale wall, to Milan designer Patricia Urquiola’s “Library of Plants” and hanging plant pillars.
Shows also will see an upgrade with an immersive theater-in-the-round surrounded by 10 oversized projection screens.
While the suites and sumptuous villas (two-story structures with their own plunge pools) weren’t ready for our tour, we did get to peek inside one of the 1,467 staterooms by London interior designer Kelly Hoppen. The gray and white staterooms adopt a modern, sleek vibe, but their key new feature is what Celebrity calls the Infinite Veranda.
Instead of a balcony affixed to the outside of the room, it is part of the interior space here. With the press of a button, you can section off the veranda with doors and another button slides the floor-to-ceiling window down for some fresh air. Or opt to open the doors and use the veranda as part of the air-conditioned room. This indoor-outdoor stateroom design — a first in the ocean cruising world — allows for 23 percent more space than Celebrity’s Solstice Class.
In the bathrooms, the more spacious showers look like they are covered in white marble, but it’s a lighter porcelain tile (weight is obviously a concern for ships). They come stocked with C.O. Bigelow toiletries in a fresh lavender-peppermint scent.
The Magic Carpet
When you first glimpse Celebrity Edge, one of its most distinguishing features pops on the starboard side of the navy and white vessel: the bright orange Magic Carpet.
The world’s first cantilevered venue at sea, the Wright-designed Magic Carpet is the size of a tennis court and weighs 90 tons. It moves 13 stories along the exterior of the ship, depending on need. At its highest point on deck 16, the Magic Carpet turns into a pop-up dinner spot; it expands the pool deck on 14; it adds alfresco dining space to fifth-deck restaurants; and on deck 2, it serves as a tender platform.
Accommodating up to 100 people, the space itself is a great place for lounging with its gray-and-white-striped sofas, yacht-like feel, bar and an area for live performances.
You’ll want to grab a seat during Edge’s first season to the Caribbean (the following campaign spotlights European cities such as Rome and Barcelona) for front-row ocean vistas.