Celebrity Edge is not just another new ship for Celebrity Cruises.
The 2,918-passenger vessel – scheduled to sail with paying passengers for the first time on Saturday – was designed to be transformational for the brand, Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, the company’s president and CEO, said.
“We wanted to really catapult [Celebrity] forward with this new design,” Lutoff-Perlo told USA TODAY during in an exclusive interview held in the ship’s soaring Grand Plaza.
The French-made Edge, which is making its debut in Florida’s Port Everglades, is the prototype for a new class of vessel that will transform not only the cruise line but the industry, too, Lutoff-Perlo said.
Celebrity already has ordered four of the ships to roll out between now and 2022.
The company now operates nine large ships, not including Edge, and three small vessels in the Galapagos.
“We believe there will be a lot of people talking about it,” she said.
First look at Celebrity Edge
Offering a striking profile when seen from a distance, Edge boasts outward-facing cabins that are fronted with wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling glass – a new concept for ocean cruising made possible by redesigning the internal architecture of the ship.
“It took a lot of re-engineering [and] ... a lot of different thinking,” Lutoff-Perlo said.
“It took a lot of people telling us ‘I don’t think we can do that’.”
Dubbed Edge Staterooms with Infinite Verandas, the new cabins have balconies that are incorporated into the main cabin area.
Bi-folding doors in the rooms can be either completely closed, forming a traditional room area separated from a balcony area, or left open, creating a wide-open indoor space that is about 23 per cent larger than traditional balcony cabins.
The glass walls at the end of the Infinite Veranda cabins slide down from the ceiling at the push of a button, descending to the level of a traditional balcony to create a balcony-like feel.
Lutoff-Perlo said that installing the Infinite Veranda cabins required adding about 2 per cent more volume to the vessel than otherwise would have been needed.
“That was a big deal,” she said.
The creation of the Infinite Veranda cabins was just one of several major initiatives intended to orient Edge to the sea to a greater extent than traditional cruise ships of its size, Lutoff-Perlo said.
Also noteworthy was the creation of a three-deck-high, plant-filled lounge, dining and entertainment venue at the back of the ship called Eden, which is partly encircled in glass.
Offering unusually wide-open views of the ocean, it is full of seating nooks facing the sea.
Another innovative feature of Edge is Magic Carpet, a 90-tonne platform the size of a tennis court that is cantilevered over the ship’s starboard side.
Painted tangerine, it moves up and down the side of the vessel serving functions that range from a lounge to a restaurant to a tender-boarding platform.
When used as a lounge or restaurant, it offers stunning views out to sea and back to the main part of the vessel.
Lutoff-Perlo said passengers were now demanding more interaction with the sea.
“Everyone tells us the one thing they would like is a closer connection to the sea, and a closer connection to the ports we visit, which is why we made the ship more outward facing,” she said.
Lounge chairs on the ship’s top decks face towards the ocean and not the inside of the ship as was typical in the industry, Lutoff-Perlo said.
It was a little change that makes a big difference in how passengers experience their surroundings while at sea, she said.
At the top of the ship, another unusual new space, the plant-filled Rooftop Garden, offers passengers a garden-like outdoor venue to watch films under the stars.
It is also home to a grill where passengers can eat while enjoying the sea breeze.
“All these things that we have done are purposeful in that regard,” she said of the efforts to adapt the ship to the sea in a greater way.
The focus on giving passengers more of a connection to the sea was the impetus for Edge’s name.
The idea is passengers are taken to the “edge” of the point where the ship meets the ocean like never before.
Edge is Celebrity’s first new ship in six years and the first prototype for a new Celebrity vessel to debut in a decade.
Lutoff-Perlo said the company went back to the drawing board for a lot of the ship’s onboard offerings. Almost every one of the restaurants on Edge – and there are nearly a dozen of them – is a new concept.
Instead of a single large main dining room, Edge offers four smaller main dining rooms, each with its own decor and culinary theme.
Named Tuscan, Cosmopolitan, Normandie and Cyprus, the rooms serve a common menu augmented by a handful of specialty dishes unique to each venue. Tuscan serves some Italian dishes, for instance; Normandie’s specials have a contemporary French flair.
Lutoff-Perlo said the theme of each of the four restaurants offered a nod to the older ships in the Celebrity fleet.
Cosmopolitan has elements that evoke the main dining rooms on earlier vessels. Tuscan draws inspiration from the Tuscan Grill eateries found on some Celebrity ships. Cyprus, which serves Greek cuisine, is an homage to Celebrity’s Greek heritage.
“We’ve taken much from the fleet,” Lutoff-Perlo said.
“Yet we’ve transformed the experiences in a unique way.”
Edge arrived at Florida’s Port Everglades last week after a 15-night journey from the shipyard in France where it had been under construction for more than a year.
Edge initially will sail to the Caribbean out of Port Everglades before moving to the Mediterranean for next summer.
In the Caribbean, the ship will operate seven-night trips starting at US$1,049. In the Mediterranean, it will offer mostly 10- and 11-night voyages starting at US$1,899.