Cruise lines are constantly searching for ways to attract new cruisers to the market. Travelers often do not even put large cruise ships on the radar because they are intimidated by the sheer volume of guests, and the daunting thoughts about how to effectively onboard and embark without it being a huge hassle. However, after a two-night inaugural cruise aboard Celebrity Edge, it is easy to embrace the concept due to the design and technology that makes for a seamlessly smooth experience.
Frictionless Arrival: Before the cruise began, I downloaded the Celebrity Cruises app and signed in with my guest credentials. I did a virtual check-in where I verified my name and birthdate as they appear on my passport three days before the sailing. I then scanned my passport to the app, snapped a selfie, and then accepted the terms and conditions. I was eligible for Expedited Arrival, which showed on my Xpress Pass. Upon arrival, I was able to skip the queue in the terminal by using the facial recognition portals that used technology to match my face with the photo that I had already uploaded from home. As advertised, I was from the “car to the bar in less than 10 minutes.”
Other helpful technology features included:
Digital Key: No more hunting around for the room key or risk having it deactivated by magnets. You now have the ability to open your stateroom door by holding your phone (with the app open) to the lock.
Stateroom Experience: Vacation mode all the way, I laid in bed controlling the lighting, temperature and Infinite Veranda blind options via the app on my phone and set my own preferences for timing of wake up and sleep mode.
Guest-to-Guest Messaging: Traveling with a group of friends? Now you can chat directly with them via the app, or create a group chat to keep up with each other’s plans and locations throughout your cruise without using data from your cell service.
Future Advances Coming: Celebrity Excalibur Group representative Jay Schneider briefed us on further advances to the app that will incorporate more control into passengers’ hands such as room service via the app, ship to guest messaging, check yourself on/off the ship, request preferred turn-down times, interactive deck maps and a virtual Concierge service.
Interactive Dining: The Petit Chef™ and Friends is an interactive experience between your plate and the 3D animation that brings four mini-chefs to life. Each course you dine on is recreated via artists from Skullmapping™ with technology that brings the chefs to life on your table. Truly a mesmerizing and unforgettable experience, it was my favorite meal onboard.
The Flow: Clearly the naval architect and interior designers gave a lot of thought to how the flow of passengers would be managed during peak times. Elevators were plentiful and fast as lightening. Suite guests have their own private pool, bar, spa and relaxation areas forward, which means the population of the ship is more balanced throughout. The pool deck area is open and spacious, including private lanai areas that can be rented for the day. At night, restaurants and entertainment areas are balanced nicely from bow to stern so there is never a crowded or congested feeling.
Magic Carpet: Audacious, the distinctive bright orange external open-air lounge floats above the water on the starboard side of the ship. Its multi-purpose design allows it to be used for casual dining, sunset cocktails, an intimate concert venue and a comfortable and practical holding spot to embark into tenders for shore excursions. The entire room slides up and down the side of the ship so it can become an extension to any of the 16 decks. The panoramic space is another fantastic design feature for the ship.
Eden: All of the restaurants aboard boast stunning interior designs that reflect the cuisine. However, Eden was my favorite for its over-the-top modern architecture and design where outdoors meets indoors. The massive three-deck high windows with a glass catwalk and perches for people to feel one with the sea, combined with the almost atrium feeling with live plants incorporated into the walls on the interior, give it an earthy vibe. Cocktails are served in beautiful vessels, which adds to the sophisticated ambiance; and by night the open space becomes a playground for adults who enjoy everything from inventive live performances to hilarious headphone disco dance parties.
Staterooms/Suites: I stayed in an Aqua Class standard balcony room with bi-fold doors to the Infinite Veranda™. Keeping the doors open until bedtime, my room felt even bigger than its 202 square feet. The additional 42 square feet of balcony space bathed the room in sunlight, which added to the feel of a relaxing interior space. The streamlined configuration of the stateroom designs for Edge allows for king-sized beds in all standard rooms. The bathroom was spacious (by cruise ship standards) and the shower could even be considered luxurious. Perhaps built-in drawers for additional storage space under the couch or under the fold-a-way desk would be a nice addition, but otherwise, a very nice design. Suites are elegant, and include exclusive amenities like private butlers and access to private dining and come with additional perks like boarding early and late departures.
The ability to board and embark easily, the variety of unique and delicious dining experiences, first-rate entertainment, and plethora of relaxation areas were the keys to me embracing living on “The Edge” and loving every minute of it.