Top Sellers Give Rave Reviews After Celebrity Edge Sneak Peek
Open Jaw, Bruce Parkinson
When a cruise line calls a new ship "transformational," expectations go sky-high. That's the case with Celebrity Edge, being shown off yesterday for the first time to some of Celebrity Cruises' key travel partners.
During a yard tour at Chantiers de l'Atlantique in Saint-Nazaire, France, Cruise Week’s Anne Kalosh spoke to several advisors about a few of the ship's most touted features and some of their favourite things.
The Magic Carpet
This iconic feature of Celebrity Edge 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 "Dinner on the Edge" experiences when on Deck 16.
"The Magic Carpet is a cool experience," said Roger Block, president of Travel Leaders Network. "Imagine a group for cocktails or a private dinner. People going to be able to do amazing things there and brag 'Remember when we were on the Magic Carpet?'"
Infinite Veranda Staterooms
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 curtain, ideal for anyone who wants to sleep in.
"The renderings didn't do them justice," said Michael Consoli, a Cruise Planners agent. "Most people use the balcony 5% of the time. Here, they can use it all the time."
This triple-deck, glass-enclosed lounge/restaurant at the back of the ship has a winding ramp for views of the sea and over the action in the room itself, plus a garden wall where bartenders will be able to 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 nightlife experience with some edgy elements including performance art.
"A cool, different type of space where you can be fully immersed with the entertainment all around is going to be neat," said Vicky Garcia, co-owner and COO, Cruise Planners. "You're not sitting around waiting for the entertainment to start or end.
The Rooftop Garden
The open space atop Celebrity Edge has fantasy trees, a bar and a grill for gourmet barbecue fare and is home to Celebrity'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 make 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."
The Grand Plaza
Previewed here yesterday, this triple-deck-high space was designed by Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku of the French design firm Jouin Manku. Its centrepiece is a monumental chandelier over the Martini Bar, and it has the first cafe in an atrium for the Celebrity brand. Using lighting, the entire area changes moods from morning to noon to afternoon to night.
"I loved the Grand Plaza. That chandelier! It's amazing, stunning and gives a different feeling during different times of the day," Cruise Planners' Consoli said.
Celebrity Edge won't have regular tenders but eight luxurious launches engineered for a quiet ride, with air conditioning and thick, blue leather seats. Passengers will embark from a spacious Destination Gateway onto the Magic Carpet and then the launches. During today's yard visit, agents got to climb aboard one of them.
"An a-ha," Cruise Planners' Garcia said. "Being on it was pretty amazing. That they have air conditioning and are so quiet, with no exhaust fumes, is incredible. They're not a selling point but a creature comfort."
"The glass, the high ceilings, the openness, the light. I think it's going to be a hit," is how Travel Leaders' Block summed up Celebrity Edge.
"The biggest things we tell clients about is not to worry about getting seasick and feeling confined. This is bringing the feeling of the sea back to cruising. Wherever you go, you see so much of the ocean," said Pammy Tyler, a Cruise Planners agent in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
"My favourite thing was the overall design of the ship," Ensemble's Pearlman said. "Most ships have art on them. With Edge, the ship is the art."
"They're doing so many things that are one-offs," said Van Anderson, co-founder, Avoya Travel. "It's 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."
Bruce Parkinson Editor-in-Chief
An observer and analyst of the Canadian and international travel industries for over 25 years, Bruce uses the pre-dawn hours to prepare a daily news and information package to keep industry members up to date.