'Drop-dead gorgeous,' is how Stuart Goldsmith, co-owner of The Travel Academy, a luxury cruise seller in Liverpool, summed up Celebrity Edge.
'The glass, the high ceilings, the openness, the light. I think it's going to be a hit,' said Roger Block, president of Travel Leaders Network.
Parabolic ultra bow
As well, Edge—whose forward section until now has been missing from public renderings—was shown to have a 'parabolic ultra bow,' as Richard Fain, chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., called it. Curved rather than pointed, with the bulbous bow encapsulated, this novel shape slices through the water more efficiently and contributes to the whopping 20% greater energy efficiency per passenger day than Celebrity Cruises' Solstice-class ships.
Fain also said Edge will be the first in the company's fleet rated for its reduction of underwater noise, as confirmed during sea trials more than a month ago.
Just six weeks from delivery, the 129,500gt newbuild that Celebrity is calling 'transformational' still holds surprises.
The Grand Plaza
Newly revealed today, the triple-deck-high Grand Plaza was created by Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku of the Parisian design studio Jouin Manku, whose credits include the Jules Verne restaurant in the Eiffel Tower. The Grand Plaza's centerpiece is a seven-ton chandelier illuminated by dynamic LED strips that change color from day to night. It rises over the Martini Bar, one of Celebrity's signature spots, and the Plaza also holds the first atrium cafe for the brand. Using lighting and entertainment programming, the area changes moods from morning to noon to afternoon to night and brings people together like an Italian piazza, Manku said.
Inspired by the skilled labor that goes into making a ship—such as Jouin’s grandfather, a welder in the construction of the ocean liner Normandie—Jouin Manku designed an exposed corridor feeding The Grand Plaza that shows authentic welders’ touches, architects’ markings and engineers’ notes on the unadorned beauty of the vessel's steel bones.
The exposed corridor is the favorite aspect of Edge for Xavier Leclercq, SVP newbuilding and innovation, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., a veteran of 40 cruise newbuilds. 'Seeing the steel structure and the workmanship is unique,' he said.
In the Plaza and throughout the ship, Celebrity president and CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo pointed to the tremendous thought and refinement that went into every detail, including the ceilings, columns and staircases. Just one example: the highly detailed zinc ceilings in Le Grand Bistro.
One of the staircases, designed by Jouin Manku, sports another novel element—a pendulum that swings slightly with the ship's motion, 'a reminder you are on the sea,' Manku explained.
The Magic Carpet
This iconic Edge feature serves as a posh launch platform (Celebrity is calling its upgraded, custom-designed tenders launches) when at sea level, an alfresco extension to the Raw on 5 seafood spot when at Deck 5 and as a venue for special dining experiences when on Deck 16.
Visitors today sipped Champagne from the Magic Carpet's bar and dined on gourmet bites at tables topped by linen cloths and floral arrangements, with sky-high views all around.
'The Magic Carpet is a cool experience,' Travel Leaders' Block said. 'Imagine a group for cocktails or a private dinner. People are going to be able to do amazing things there and brag "Remember when we were on the Magic Carpet?"'
The Magic Carpet sprang from the desire to improve the tendering experience. In place of standard tenders/lifeboats, Edge has eight luxurious launches engineered for a quiet ride, with air conditioning and thick, blue leather seats. Passengers will embark from the spacious Deck 3 Destination Gateway onto the Magic Carpet and then the launches.
Even the launch davits are sculpted because, as Leclercq said, 'Everything on this ship has to be beautiful.'
Since Edge only anchors at about 15% of ports, the Destination Gateway will be a multipurpose area—'a blank canvas,' as Lutoff-Perlo described it—that can host port lectures, art auctions, teen events, table tennis and even crew parties.
This triple-deck, glass-enclosed lounge/restaurant at the back of the ship was built on a spiral known as the Fibonacci sequence. It has a winding ramp for views of the sea and over the action in the room itself, plus a 'library of plants' where bartenders can snip fresh herbs to infuse in cocktails. It will be a chill place by day, with a cafe, that after dark turns into a hot dining/nightlife experience with some edgy elements including performance art.
The glass wall on Eden makes a dramatic feature in the stern, and since the lowest level is so close to the sea and just above the Azipods, it had to be painstakingly designed for wave resistance and to ensure a low level of noise and vibration, according to Jean-Yves Jaouen, operations director at Chantiers de l'Atlantique.
Hugely different from previous Celebrity ships, the Edge Theatre has a main stage that extends into the audience, creating a theatre-in-the-round. There's no curtain or backstage; the changing rooms are below. Two rotating spiral staircases, 10 synchronized panoramic projection screens, 16 video mapping laser projectors and aerial performance rigging make this a cutting-edge venue.
Five original productions were created and will debut when the curtain rises on the ship in late November; the shows won't be phased in, as is typical on a new vessel.
In this standard stateroom—there are 910 of these—the veranda is part of the room, giving a much more spacious effect. The push of a button lowers the top level of the floor-to-ceiling glass. Another button lowers a blackout screen, ideal for anyone who wants to sleep in. French doors can close off the balcony area to the rest of the room.
'They have an open, airy feel. There are no curtains, no intrusions on the view,' Lutoff-Perlo said.
The windows on the outside of the infinite verandas are flush with the sides of the ship, giving a distinctive, sleek look to the superstructure.
'This looks easy,' Leclercq added, 'but we had to completely remove the [weight-bearing] structure. The structure is here,' he said, tapping the inside wall facing the corridor.
Deck 14's Oceanview Cafe, a casual dining spot, has a dramatic look with double-height ceilings and towering glass walls on the port side. Almost 900 people can dine there, but the space is artfully divided to create intimate areas without blocking the views. Market-style food stations will serve everything from regional dishes to pizza.
One of the four main dining venues, the Cosmopolitan, has curved pillars and a wine entrance that harken to the architectural shapes and the wine tower of Celebrity's Solstice-class ships. Another restaurant, the Normandie, will be decorated with panels from that historic liner that previously graced Celebrity Summit.
The Rooftop Garden
This Deck 15 area is an evolution of Celebrity's Lawn Club. Instead of live grass, it has greenery, fantasy trees, a bar and a grill for gourmet barbecue fare, and is home to the brand's 'A Taste of Film' experience.
'The Rooftop Garden was the "wow" for me,' said Lindsay Pearlman, co-president, Ensemble Travel Group. 'You walk out and say "This is cool." The use of materials makes it very warm and inviting. Usually the top of a ship is covered in Astroturf. Not here. This is a complete re-do of the space.'
One deck below, the pool area—or the Resort Deck, as Lutoff-Perlo prefers to call it—has a glittering art installation above the bar, a pair of towering champagne-glass hot tubs and soaring cabanas on the starboard side. Chaise lounges on the Resort Deck face out toward the ocean.
Next door, the Solarium, an adults-only pool area, is another gasp-inducing space for its transparent ETFE roof and large glass wall expanses.
Harri Kulovaara, EVP maritime for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., said Edge's advances result from building on past achievements, a corporate culture that continually sets the bar higher and collaboration among the company's leaders, the ship's designers and Chantiers de l'Atlantique, a yard with 'tremendous competence and technical skill.'
Celebrity's creation of the Edge class dovetailed with research and development at Saint-Nazaire, Leclerq added. 'The collaborative spirit with the shipyard was excellent. Only Royal, and only Celebrity, could do this,' he said, crediting Kulovaara, Fain and Kelly Gonzalez, VP architectural design, for a ship 'different from anything we have built before.'
'They're doing so many things that are one-offs,' noted Van Anderson, co-founder, Avoya Travel. '[Celebrity Edge is] as far from cookie-cutter as you can get. The design work is incredible. Customers are going to be impressed. All this bodes well for our industry. Just when you think what else can they do on a cruise ship, they do something amazing.'
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