(12 p.m. EDT) -- When it comes to new ships, virtually every cruise line promises that its vessels are revolutionary. Celebrity Cruises might very well deliver.
The cruise line unveiled details of its new Edge-class ships -- set to debut in late 2018 with 2,900-passenger, 117,000-ton Celebrity Edge, the class flagship -- at a media event today at the company's The Innovation Lab at PortMiami.
"Celebrity Edge is a transformational ship," Celebrity President and CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo told Cruise Critic last week in an exclusive interview.
The Magic Carpet
What makes Celebrity Edge transformative? Well, let's start with perhaps the most unique feature, the "Magic Carpet," a movable deck about the size of a tennis court cantilevered off the side of the ship. The 90-ton Magic Carpet scales the decks, moving down to Deck 2 to assist with disembarkation in tender ports and all the way up to Deck 16, where it becomes a specialty restaurant in the evening.
The Magic Carpet will help ease the transition from the ship to the tender boats, a pain point identified by Celebrity passengers. Passengers can spend time sitting on the deck, then walk directly from the Magic Carpet to the tender, without ramps or unwieldy stairs. Celebrity also upgraded some tender boats for Celebrity Edge, adding padded seating and air conditioning.
During the day, the Magic Carpet will serve as an al fresco extension to a raw bar restaurant on Deck 5. The movable deck will rise to the pool deck (Deck 14) for happy hours and late-night parties. At dinner time, it will serve as an alternative restaurant on Deck 16, where the theme will change every night. One night, passengers might dine on lobster bake, the next, bubbles and barbecue. (Passengers aren't permitted to "ride" the Magic Carpet when it's moving.)
"The whole beauty of this is that it's open to the ocean; you're one with the sea," said Richard Fain, chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., Celebrity's parent company.
For another innovation, Celebrity Edge will introduce the Infinite Veranda, a cabin designed to seamlessly blend indoor and outdoor. Essentially, an Infinite Veranda makes your balcony part of your cabin, thanks to bi-fold doors that can be opened completely adding about 23 percent more space to the room.
The balcony features a window that rises to close off the space from the elements at the touch of a button. When the window is closed and the bi-fold doors opened, the entire space is air-conditioned. Doors can be closed, so passengers can enjoy a more traditional balcony experience as well. Celebrity Edge will have 918 Infinite Veranda cabins, including 16 single-accommodation rooms (another first for the cruise line). Lutoff-Perlo said the Infinite Verandas completely change the exterior of the ship, though the company is keeping that view under wraps for now.
Award-winning London designer Kelly Hoppen is responsible for the Infinite Verandas -- in fact, she's the brains behind all of the ship's cabins, which look more like hotel rooms than cruise staterooms across all categories.
Cabins in general are designed to provide larger living areas, beds and bathrooms, with more storage space and a better connection to the sea. Lutoff-Perlo said those changes, "checked off five things" passengers requested -- without taking up additional real estate, a precious commodity on cruise ships. All double-occupancy cabins will feature king-sized beds with cashmere bedding; single-occupancy cabins will have queen beds. Cabin doors can be opened using an app on your phone.
New Suites -- and a Suite Space
Celebrity Edge will introduce two new suite categories to the company -- the Iconic Suite and the Edge Villa -- along with a suites-only Retreat.
Edge will have two Iconic Suites, each coming in at more than 5,000 square feet. Both will sit atop the bridge, facing forward so passengers will have the same view as the captain. The two-bedroom suites also position the 700-square-foot veranda over the bridge wing, and balconies feature private Jacuzzis and private cabanas. The two suites are mirror images of each other.
The Edge Villa is a two-level suite that features an elevated master bedroom, large living room and two full bathrooms. The ship will have six Edge Villas, which span decks 14 and 15. Each balcony will feature a private plunge pool. Passengers staying in these cabins will have direct walk-out access to The Retreat Sundeck, part of a suite-only complex called The Retreat. This suite-only area is a first for Celebrity.
Also designed by Hoppen, The Retreat is a serene area that includes a private pool and sundeck, lounge and restaurant. (Celebrity's Luminae, for suite passengers, is a staple on the line's other ships, but this version, called Luminae at The Retreat, moves the restaurant closer to the ship's suites.) Access to all areas is complimentary for suite passengers, who also will have access to 24-hour concierge service. The lounge will serve breakfast and host a happy hour daily, while Luminae will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. A whopping 12 percent of cabins on Celebrity Edge are suites; a bump of 7 percent over the line's Solstice Class.
The Resort Deck
"I refuse to call this a pool deck," Lutoff-Perlo said, preferring to refer to the space as a resort deck. Regardless of what you call it, the area, located on Deck 14, is designed by architect Tom Wright, who focused on integrating the outdoor and indoor spaces. The deck includes a large pool flanked by sculptural trees and two "martini glass" Jacuzzis that overlook the deck below. It features two-story windows, with chaise lounges positioned around them facing toward the sea.
"The ship was designed to be outward facing," Lutoff-Perlo said. "We really wanted to bring the outside in and the inside out."
The deck will feature six enormous private for-fee cabanas.
The Rooftop Garden
Celebrity's Solstice Class features the popular top-deck Lawn Club, with real grass ideal for lounging and picnics. Its Millennium Class has the Rooftop Terrace, a chic space to gather for drinks and movies. The cruise line takes both a step further by combining the best elements of them into The Rooftop Garden, an area filled with live, lush greenery and sophisticated tree sculptures, which can double as seats for performers -- break up the wind, too.
"The Rooftop Garden is the perfect merger of these two experiences," Lutoff-Perlo said.
During the day, it will host yoga and games. At night, passengers can show up for live music and Celebrity's "A Taste of Film," which pairs movies and meals.
The space will also feature the Rooftop Garden Grill, an alternative eatery, which will serve gourmet burgers during the day and transform into a barbecue at night. Passengers familiar with the for-fee Lawn Club Grill might spot some similarities.
"It's transformative but familiar," Lutoff-Perlo said, adding it's not so different from the rest of the fleet. It looks like us and feels like us but is a whole transformation."
Edge will include other popular features from its fleet, including the adults-only Solarium. Celebrity turned to Nate Berkus to serve as the ship's design ambassador to help tell the story of the ship, Lutoff-Perlo said. It is the first of four Edge-class ships on order. The second, Celebrity Beyond, will debut in spring 2020. Two yet-unnamed ships will sail beginning in fall 2021 and spring 2022.
"This is a new class of ships that will make the industry stand up and say, 'Holy cow!'" Lutoff-Perlo said.
Cruises, which go on sale today, will alternate between Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries, sailing weeklong voyages to each from Fort Lauderdale starting December 2018. Eastern Caribbean itineraries will visit San Juan, Tortola and St. Maarten. Western Caribbean trips will take passengers to Key West, Costa Maya, Cozumel and Grand Cayman. The line hasn't announced the ship's spring 2019 itineraries yet.
"This ship is special, and we can't wait to show it off to the world," Lutoff-Perlo said.
Want to see more of Celebrity Edge? Check out our slideshow, with renderings of the ship.
--By Colleen McDaniel, Senior Executive Editor