The cruise ship that even design snobs will love
Celebrity Edge offers cruising done differently.
Words by Ute Junker
First published in Explore
It isn’t until we reach Portofino that I realise what’s happened. It’s a sunny morning and I’m sipping my café latte in my favourite spot at Café al Bacio, a place I love as much for its high-backed velvet burgundy armchairs as for its perfect flat whites. Through the floor-to-ceiling windows the Cinque Terre coastline stretches out in front of me. As I watch, another of Celebrity Edge’s fleet of tender boats heads off towards town, delivering guests to the dock.
It’s then that the truth dawns on me. I’ve become that sort of cruiser. The sort who stays on the ship.
This is not the way I usually roll. For me, cruising has always been about the destination, about where I’m going rather than which ship I’m on. I don’t come on a cruise to catch a theatre show or compete in a trivia tournament. I’m here to explore new places and rediscover old favourites.
Yet here I am, sitting contentedly on the ship as other people head off to explore Portofino. Celebrity Edge, it seems, has seduced me.
But then, that’s exactly what it was created to do. The architects and designers who created the ship were chosen because they had never designed a cruise ship before. The brief for Celebrity Edge was to do things differently, and that’s exactly what they did.
This is a ship where light pours in through floor-to-ceiling windows everywhere from the gym to your stateroom, where there are plenty of open spaces to enjoy the fresh sea air, including a leafy rooftop garden which converts into an al fresco cinema.
And then there is the cantilevered platform known as the Magic Carpet. Designed by Ton Wright, the architect behind the magnificent sail-shaped Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai, the Magic Carpet slides up and down the side of the ship, creating a bar and restaurant suspended in mid-air.
Other big names on the design team include Kelly Hoppen, who brought her sleek style to the staterooms, and Patricia Urquiola, whose portfolio includes celebrated hotels such as Il Sereno on Lake Como. On a ship rich in eye-catching detail – from underlit staircases to fan-backed taupe leather chairs decorated with delicate embroidery – Urquiola and architect Scott Butler created my favourite space of all.
The oasis-like Eden, soaring over three levels at the back of the ship, is a bar, a restaurant, a lounge, and more. A living wall with moss and succulents dominates one side of the space, while 650 square metres of windows offer views out to sea. Meanwhile the slender walnut pillars and the many shades of green create a forest-like effect.
Eden also serves some of the most memorable food onboard, sophisticated dishes such as prawns teamed with peppers, chorizo, garlic and lemon, and sheep’s milk gnocchi served with sage butter and smoked pecorino. I’d say it’s my favourite restaurant but, after a week on board, I still haven’t finished working my way through all 29 restaurants and bars.
Apart from Eden, my highlights include Raw on Five’s superb seafood – everything from sashimi to crab cakes to seafood towers – and the Le Petit Chef experience, which uses digital projections to turn a four-course dinner into a multi-sensory experience.
Between each course the table becomes a canvas on which an exploration of culinary history unfolds. An ode to the delights of the tomato, for instance, features entrancing animated scenes of the Aztecs’ island capital where the Spanish conquistadors first encountered this novel fruit. Our waiter then delivers the next course to our table: tarts topped with juicy tomatoes, dripping with the taste of summer.
The longer I spend aboard Celebrity Edge, the more inviting spaces I discover, from the spa’s chill-out zone with its hanging baskets and a spiral mosaic of black and white stones that channels a Zen garden vibe, to the gym where you can drink in a sea view from every treadmill, bike, rowing machine or cross-trainer. No wonder that I sometimes have to remind myself to leave the ship.