Celebrity Cruises' largest-ever ship, the 3,260-passenger Celebrity Beyond, is receiving its finishing touches at the Chantiers de l' Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France, in preparation for its maiden Mediterranean season.
Instead of being a carbon copy of siblings Celebrity Edge, launched in 2018, and Celebrity Apex, launched in 2021, Celebrity Beyond is longer (by almost 69 feet), taller (by one deck) and offers a raft of new and reworked features.
With the help of a team of interior design big-hitters -- Kelly Hoppen, Nate Berkus and Jouin Manku in collaboration with architect Tom Wright -- there is no doubt that this polished new ship will not only emulate the success of Edge and Apex, but set the bar for modern, premium cruising even higher.
Cruise Critic was among the first to see Celebrity Beyond at an event to mark the much-touted ship's official delivery at the Chantiers de l' Atlantique shipyard.
Here's a sneak peak of what to expect and what we love onboard.
Helmed by Daniel Boulud -- whose flagship New York restaurant, Daniel, has two Michelin stars -- we were excited to stop by Le Voyage during our shipyard visit.
Not only is Le Voyage new to the fleet, it's Boulud's first restaurant at sea (though suite-passengers have been able to enjoy his signature dishes at Luminae on other ships).
Occupying prime real estate next to the Grand Plaza on Deck 4, Le Voyage is one of the prettiest spaces onboard. Decorated in hues of bubblegum pink and light fawn, with sweeping booths and marble tabletops (expect tables to be covered by starched-white cloths when sailings commence), everything about this space feels luxurious, and we adore it.
While we didn't get to sample the food, the indulgent menu has whet our appetite, with items including Daniel Boulud's premium smoked salmon loin served with cream of caviar, pickled cucumber and dill, followed by lobster risotto, slow-braised beef short ribs and five-spice duck pithivier (pithivier is a decorative rounded pie dish).
There's an a la carte of $125 per person tasting menu option. When you consider the three-course menu at Boulud’s signature New York restaurant sets diners back $225 per person, $125 feels like a reasonable price for what could be some of the best modern French cuisine at sea.
Located on decks 15 and 14 aft (aft is cruise ship terminology for the rear of the ship), the redesigned Sunset Bar offers 180% more space than on Edge and Apex. The sultry venue wraps around the aft, flowing down to the alfresco area of the Oceanview Cafe.
The leafy Moroccan design courtesy of Berkus features a range of seating, from tables and bar stools to shaded cabanas (for sitting, not lounging).
Sunset Bar is open to the elements, so while not often suitable for a damp and drizzly day on France's Atlantic coast in April, we can't think of a better spot to enjoy sundowners when sailing in the Mediterranean or Caribbean.
From jaw-dropping artwork around the ship to the upmarket design of Le Voyage and the new World Class cocktail bar, Celebrity Beyond balances extraordinary beauty with functionality.
Many of the most tactile spaces onboard have been designed by Paris-based Jouin Manku. An elegant mesh screen that wraps around sections of the upper levels of the Grand Plaza, for example, is made up of 12 different materials that you’re instinctively drawn to run your fingers over. While on the Resort Deck, you’ll be hard-pressed to miss the playful installation of a man balancing an elephant on his back that flanks the pool.
The ship's theater, Deck 3 forward, where passengers can catch three new shows -- "Arte," "Stage Door" and "Elements" -- is not only the largest in the fleet, seating 997 passengers, but it boasts a hulking 110-foot curved 4K LED screen with five moving panels to allow for more immersive performances.
We're also looking forward to seeing The Jazz Joint, a speakeasy-style show that will take place at the revamped Club on Deck 4 forward. During the day, The Club will benefit from large windows that have been added to create a brighter space for daytime activities. At night these will be blacked out to create a suitably moody ambiance.
The leafy Hoppen-designed Rooftop Garden is bigger on Celebrity Beyond than on previous vessels with two eye-popping new plunge pools cantilevered seven meters over the edge of the ship.
Sections of these pools are glass-enclosed, which means you can see straight into the pool from the sides. We love that these new amenities are inclusive, with pool lifts and hoists to help those with physical disabilities getting in and out.
The private Retreat Sundeck, Deck 17 forward, is spread over two decks on Celebrity Beyond, adding extra value for suite-passenger with more secluded spaces outside. There’s also an extra Jacuzzi, while The Retreat Sundeck's pool has been moved so it's outward facing at the front of the ship.
The Retreat Lounge, Deck 15 forward, is also larger, though the trade off here is there is now no alfresco space directly connected to the private lounge.
Celebrity Cruises makes a big play on wellness (including a partnership with Gwyneth Paltrow's goop brand), which extends to the line's cabins. A new room category has been introduced on Celebrity Beyond that offers both spa and suite-class perks. Passengers opting for this cabin type get access to The Retreat and the SEA Thermal Suite, plus all of the regular AquaClass amenities such as wellness programming, yoga mats and in-room fitness.
There are 20 AquaClass Sky Suites on Celebrity Beyond, each one measuring 319 square feet with a 79-square-foot balcony. We love that the king size beds face the ocean and the direct sea views from the bath thanks to a window through to the bathroom. (Don't worry: There's a blackout blind for privacy.)
The Grand Plaza -- another space that's bigger on Beyond than on previous ships -- is one of our favorite spots onboard. The remarkable space is styled on a grand piazza, multiple restaurants flow off the three-story atrium, including Cafe al Bacio, World Class Bar, Le Grand Bistro and Craft & Social.
The new-look Martini Bar -- another hugely popular drinking venue -- is sure to be another big hit, centered beneath a dazzling LED chandelier in the Grand Plaza. It’s one of the most spectacular spaces onboard.
Some of our preferred drinking and dining spots directly overlook the Grand Plaza, including outward-facing seats at the new World Class Bar and romantic booths at Fine Cut Steakhouse.
Celebrity Beyond might be bigger and, arguably, better than its fleetmates thanks to a myriad of new features, but it also carries all of the Edge-class hallmarks that have come to define these successful ships.
This includes the distinctive burnt-orange Magic Carpet platform attached to the ship's starboard side, functioning as a glamorous tender platform, bar and dining concept.
Beyond also boasts Infinite Veranda cabins. Another innovation that debuted on Celebrity Edge, these rooms essentially see the entire living space become the veranda. The concept of splitting the main dining room into four (Normandie, Tuscan, Cosmopolitan and Cyprus) also appears on Celebrity Beyond.
The presence of the three-story Eden for day and night dining and entertainment; the glamorous Resort Deck and breezy Rooftop Garden will also please die-hard Edge-class fans.
We know we shouldn't have favorites when it comes to cruise ship captains (truly, we love them all), but the fact that the charismatic captain Kate McCue has taken the reins of Celebrity Beyond is a big boon for passengers.
Look out for captain Kate -- the first American female cruise ship captain of a mainstream line -- and her elf sphynx pet cat, Bug, who together transferred from Celebrity Edge earlier this year.
Celebrity Beyond's maiden voyage departs Southampton on April 27, 2022, from Southampton, on a 10-night cruise to Bordeaux, France; Lisbon, Portugal; and Seville, Malaga, Palma de Mallorca and Barcelona, Spain. Celebrity Beyond will then spend the summer sailing in the Mediterranean before repositioning to Florida.
Cruise Critic will be on a series of shakedown cruises ahead of time. Watch this space for live coverage!
Updated April 07, 2022