Ignore its odd shape. This cruise ship is a chic resort — with martini-shaped hot tubs

If Miami’s Design District stokes your personal aesthetic, Celebrity Cruises’ new ship was designed for you.

An intricate brise soleil of gold-colored metal, leather and mesh shades the atrium bar, creating intimacy in the vast space. A contemporary interpretation of Poul Henningsen’s classic artichoke lamp adorns a restaurant fitted with burgundy banquettes and classic black-and-white photography. In the curve of the aft stair leading from deck 4 to 3, a pendulum installation by Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku reflects the ship’s movement.

But even those who aren’t full-blown connoisseurs will appreciate the smart, stylish appeal of Celebrity Edge, now sailing from Fort Lauderdale. Who wouldn’t smile at a hot tub shaped like a martini glass?

From first glance, the newly debuted Edge is no ordinary ship. Unlike the typical knife-blade prow, Edge sports a bull-nose “parabolic ultrabow” designed for increased comfort in all types of seas, said Harri Kulovaari, the executive who has overseen Royal Caribbean’s shipbuilding efforts for more than a decade. Another giveaway: the Veuve Cliquot-orange steel-framed hydraulic hoist on the starboard side that stretches from sea to sky.

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Instagram-worthy moments come nonstop: The top-deck garden lounge with massive-screen TV rimmed by laser-cut trees. The Tuscan dining room, all black and white save for the yellow accents. The angular birch wood figures by French sculptor Xavier Veilhan “walking” along a hallway. Art studio Fredrikson Stallard’s “forest” of twisted sculptures reflected in a mirrored gallery. The breezy cabanas in a series of arches that look like some film noir interpretation of whales’ ribs.

Even the beef short ribs — a drab-looking dish at best — are so delicately garnished with vegetable curls that no cellphone shot does them justice. (And yes, they’re as flavorful as they look.)

Celebrity Edge features hot tubs shaped like a martini glass -- just one of many stylish touches. Jane Wooldridge Miami Herald Staff

But Celebrity Edge is more than a photo set at sea. It’s a chic resort that feels like the sky-high condo you wished you lived in.

And that, say company executives, is the idea. “We want people to say not only how beautiful the ship is, but also how comfortable it is,” says Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, Celebrity Cruises president.

Says Richard Fain, chairman of Celebrity parent Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.: “We’re finding the balance between aesthetically pleasing and exciting, with exciting things to do.”

Edge and the three ships that will follow it advance the design of Celebrity’s five-ship Solstice class. Like its predecessors, Edge carries about 2,900 passengers (double occupancy) on design-savvy, culinary-rich voyages. Both classes feature staterooms that spoon against one another, creating alternating configurations that allow for a junior-suite style sitting area and bathrooms with roomy glass showers.

A crown of lights atop the martini bar is the centerpiece of the atrium Grand Plaza aboard Celebrity Edge. Jane Wooldridge Miami Herald Staff

But in both cabins and public spaces, Edge pushes the previous design in a contemporary interpretation of what the company has dubbed “modern luxury.” Here, that translates into a crown of pulsating crystals topping the atrium Grand Plaza, “floating cocoon” chairs hanging from the spa ceiling, and artwork — from Richard Avedon’s iconic “Dovima with Elephants” to Sacha Goldberger’s photograph of grandmother superhero Mamika popping through the roof of an antique two-seat BMW — at every turn.

“The art and design elements create the environment,” says Lutoff-Perlo. Curves, craftsmanship and the occasional touch of whimsy — don’t miss Sophie Dickens’ one-ton bronze horse sculpture jokingly referred to “Mr. Edge” — are intended to convey aspiration and a love of experiences. Floor-to-ceiling windows dominate public spaces from spa to restaurants.

“The ship is absolutely stunning,” said Elizabeth Jordan, a Protravel agent in Boca Raton. “The wall-to-wall glass gives such amazing views of the ocean. All of the lounge chairs in the spa face outward. This really strikes you as a ship that’s completely different from what you’re used to.”

It’s an overt appeal to millennials — but doesn’t come with an age limit. “We do believe it can attract people to cruising who haven’t yet cruised,” said Lutoff-Perlo.

Rooftop Garden and Running Track Celebrity Edge Naming Ceremonies. Fort Lauderdale, Florida USA. November 2018. Photo by Steve Dunlop +447762084057 Steve Dunlop

To do so, Celebrity mixed experienced cruise designers with architects, engineers and designers who had never worked on a ship, said Kelly Gonzalez, Royal Caribbean’s principal design lead for the project. Those include British interior design star Kelly Hoppen; Tom Wright of WKK, architect for the sail-shaped Burj Al Arab in Dubai; .and Spanish architect/designer Patricia Urquiola.

More than 80 percent of the staterooms feature floor-to-ceiling windows that slide down to become balconies, shifting focus to the outdoors and giving staterooms almost 25 percent more space than on Solstice ships. To support this design, the structural backbone of the ship had to be shifted inside the hull so the balconies could be “hung” from it. Much of the design required precise calibrations that weren’t possible five years ago, said Kulovaari.

Edge also features 16 surprisingly spacious queen-bed single staterooms, scattered around the ship rather than in a single zone, as on some other lines. Suites include the Edge Villa, with a lofted bedroom overlooking its private hot tub, and the 1,892-square-foot Iconic Suite, with its own red-and-gold indoor swing.

Celebrity Edge’s Iconic Suites feature an indoor swing. Jane Wooldridge Miami Herald Staff

Like newer ships on some other lines, Edge’s suite guests get exclusive access to several private areas, including a lounge, Retreat Sundeck and the banquette-lined Luminae, whose five-course menu (crudo with caviar, halibut with baby bok choy) includes dishes created by famed chef Daniel Boulud. The ship also offers AquaClass cabins near the spa with exclusive access to Blu, which features a health-conscious menu. Le Petit Chef offers a culinary tour of the world accompanied by 3D animation within the dining tables.

Nearly all large ships today offer a range of specialty restaurants at an extra fee; on Edge those include a steakhouse, French bistro, raw bar, top-deck grill, vegetable-centric Eden and five-course Chef’s Table menu designed by Boulud. For passengers who want to stay with restaurants included in the cruise fare, Edge has four main dining rooms, each with its own decor and signature dishes. Cosmopolitan incorporates a massive wine cellar in an elegant supper club; Tuscan is all sleek Italian. Normandie features delicate hand-blown glass objects in a Parisian setting, while Cypress speaks to the Med.

But the most radical innovation is the Magic Carpet, a canopied tennis court-sized outdoor platform weighing 90 tons that can be positioned at sea level or on higher decks. (Remember that orange steel hoist?) At sea level, it’s a platform for accessing launches featuring individual airline-style leather seats — the First Class version of a tender — and deck seating, so guests don’t have to stand in line. When it’s stationed on Deck 5, the platform becomes a lounge (serving Veuve Cliquot) and part of the raw bar. On the ship’s apex, it becomes the scene for the reservations-only Dinner on the Edge.

What it isn’t, explains Fain, is an elevator. That would have required a seven-foot-high glass railing — which would have blocked the breezes that give the space its carefree ambiance.

Like the spaces they occupy, entertainment options also seek to push boundaries. The Theater, for instance, incorporates rotating spiral staircases and moving projections for concerts, acrobatics and theater.

When it’s not being used as a platform for accessing launches at water level, the Magic Carpet aboard Celebrity Edge features a bar and seating areas by day, restaurant by night. Jane Wooldridge Miami Herald Staff

Nightclub experiences are designed for an ethereal immersion. In Andromeda, located in The Club, guests find themselves in the midst of a Star Wars-style bar scene — though the pilots and other characters don’t have the same verve as the wrinkle-faced, flat-headed traders found in Steven Spielberg’s interplanetary watering holes. For a visitor still on the first drink, the experience fell flat. On other evenings, the double-deck space is used as a dance club, with DJ or band.

In the three-story Eden, the Midsummer Night’s Dream-style interactive aerial show — yes, performers may reach out and touch guests near the center — also felt forced, not up to the standard of the beautiful lounge above and restaurant below. Wrote, “Chances are you’ll either love or hate Eden but, no matter what, it will leave an impression — even if it’s just one of befuddlement.”

The Rooftop Garden aboard Celebrity Edge features laser-cut trees, live foliage, entertainment spaces and a giant screen. Jane Wooldridge Miami Herald Staff

Or maybe it’s an under 40 thing. “It’s a bit of an issue, trying to appeal to a much younger crowd,” said Ken Heit, owner of Pompano Beach-based Luxury Cruise and Tour. Still, the 20 or so clients that have sailed on Edge since its fall launch have given it good reviews. “Most are very happy. They like the high-tech quality of the ship, the food and the service,” he said.

The two couples who weren’t as happy wanted livelier nightlife. Both are nearly 80. Go figure.


Launched: November 2018

Capacity: 2,908 guests double occupancy, 3,373 total

Length: 1,004 feet

Tonnage: 129,500

Crew: 1,320

Ownership: Celebrity Cruises, brand of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.

Accommodations: Verandah suites with at-a-touch windows that lower to become a balcony, two-level suites, single cabins with queen beds

Innovations: Magic Carpet platform, parabolic bow, four main dining rooms, fully enclosed yacht-style launches, “infinity” verandahs (found on some river ships)

Amenities: Outdoor “Resort Deck” pool, adults-only solarium pool, private Retreat pool and lounge for suite guests, rooftop garden, children’s camp program, expansive spa with thermal suite

Itineraries: Edge alternates between seven-night eastern and western Caribbean cruises from Fort Lauderdale through April, when it moves to Europe for Mediterranean sailings. It returns to the Caribbean in November.

Fares: Caribbean sailings start at $1,100 per person; a sale that includes savings and perks such as onboard credits, unlimited WiFi, prepaid tips and premium beverage package are now offered.

Jane Wooldridge, an award-winning journalist and Miami Herald veteran, oversees coverage of real estate, economy, urban development, tourism, cruises, visual arts and Art Basel. She is president-elect of the Society of American Travel Writers. Find her on Instagram @JaneWooldridge.