We're experienced cruisers on multiple lines with Celebrity being our go-to company. Pushing 50 Celebrity cruises with 10 on other lines. Our first cruise was with Celebrity in 2001 aboard Mercury on an 11 day Southern Caribbean itinerary. We've sailed on every Celebrity vessel, at least once. We were hooked from day one on Mercury. That ship still sails with TUI Cruises as Mein Schiff.
This is a long review/post. I tried to do it in segments while we were cruising but the editors vetoed that and told me I had to do it after the cruise was completed and I could report on all the key aspects of it. So, here goes the after cruise report:
Did a lot research and reading of reviews in selecting this 7 day, Eastern Caribbean cruise on Edge. We also waited until prices weren't at a premium. That was about a year+ after Edge launched to a lot of fanfare from Celebrity management. I took particular note of the three negative comments about Edge that were contained in various reviews from various cruise web sites including Cruise Critic.
First, I considered those directed at the company that involved a sense that the company, while targeting a more affluent, younger cruiser with Edge, missed badly. Initial bookings when Edge was placed in service indicated demand was low and cabin pricing was high.
That Edge features an exclusive area called The Retreat and the premium nature of this ship that Celebrity was pushing drove all introductory cabin prices up. This sort of exclusive cabins and areas concept is new to Celebrity but not other cruise lines (NCL has had the Haven for years and MSC features the Yacht Club). Celebrity did try to replicate this new industry wide approach approach with what they called the Site Life along with Concierge and Aqua class that touted exclusivity but really didn't deliver it. It just cost more to cruise in any of these cabins.
Accommodations in The Retreat are expensive to start with and go up to astronomical levels after that. These cabins are not in our cruise budget. Accordingly, I'm not commenting on them in this review. However, their introduction on Edge has impacted cabin pricing across all cabin classes. Celebrity has down-priced Edge cabins in general after a slow start but as far as I know, not cabin pricing within The Retreat. Celebrity is still pushing it's premium mantra and for those that can afford a cabin in this class - a probably small cohort but nonetheless a profitable revenue stream from it - Celebrity is mining this crowd. By doing so Celebrity is also trying to both keep up with this innovation in exclusivity for cruisers industry wide as well as appeal to and attract affluent cruisers who might book with Crystal or Seaborn, among other premium cruise lines.
Second, apparently well informed comments on the dissatisfaction of ship's staff regarding design and functionality in the multiple dining venues. These include poorly designed table service areas that don't afford enough counter space or storage for dishware, flatware, glassware and linens. This causes slow table turn around times
Third, cruisers who had sailed extensively with Celebrity and become Captain's Club members found the many changes incorporated in Edge to be less than satisfactory. These include dining options, Captain's Club gatherings and Elite cocktail hours, usually done in the large bright and open e.g., Millennium class, Constellation Lounges, now in Edge's smaller and darker, The Club. The gatherings are also scattered elsewhere and that negates the value of socialization commonly found previously and on other Celebrity ship's Captain's Club gatherings.
First, let me say that this is a distinctly different cruise ship and cruise experience from our past experiences with Celebrity on Century, Millennium and Solstice class ships. Frankly, on first impression, a good one. Very good, in fact, for us. I'll focus on both the unique attributes of this ship and also the more mundane things like boring cabin storage or electrical outlets .... and don't tell me these aren't things you are interested in learning about!
We live in and therefore board in Fort Lauderdale, FL. The boarding experience in Fort Lauderdale is better than any, on any line, in the past. Celebrity, in conjunction with the port authority, built a new Edge Class Terminal. Check in is made quicker and easier by using the Celebrity App on your phone during the days or weeks before your cruise. You can download it from Google Play (Android) or Apple Play for Apple products. Once you complete and print your Express Pass, including using your phone to take a picture of yourself, you drop your bags curbside and after a few painless security checks by local hosts using portable tablets and scanners to scan your Express Pass, you board the ship and proceed to your cabin.
Interestingly, we normally ignore boarding times printed on our Express Pass, arrive at the terminal around 10:30 - 11:00 am, check in with the a large crowd of early arrivers, board the ship, eat lunch and explore, waiting until around 1:00 pm to make our way to our cabin. This time, we arrived at around 1pm per the arrival time on our Express Pass. The terminal was empty save a dozen folks. Curbside to Cabin took less than 15 minutes. Painless and technology driven.
When you board the ship, there are two gangways, one forward one aft, the scene is not quite like the Grand Foyer experience of the major lines. Cruisers with some cruising experience to compare entry foyers will miss this. Instead, it's a hall-way with elevators immediately in front of you. Not at all spectacular but, wait, you'll see spectacular as you move through the ship.
The feel of the ship is very hi-tech and very modern architecturally. Iv'e seen ship's reviews describing it as "plastic" and like a big city 5 star hotel implying that negatively. I'd disagree with those characterizations. There is simply a lot of glass and stainless along with modern materials used in pleasing colors and combinations. There's plenty of wood if you like that sort of thing and I do - most of it, I'm pretty sure, is engineered. You've seen it if you've bought flooring lately. Looks as good as wood, is half the price and holds up as well. If you are in to this, engineered materials are much more eco-friendly than the typical woods found aboard cruising vessels. Celebrity touts it's eco-friendly ships and on-board processes. Keep an open mind when you walk aboard the ship for the first time. Experienced cruisers who are traditionalists may not like the first impression they get visually when stepping aboard, others will. I liked it. It is a departure from the look and feel of 99% of the cruising vessels, now in service, across the industry. On the Celebrity TV Channel, there are several documentaries running continuously on Edge's design and build history. Interesting if you want to see the how and why of Edge's design.
We booked a deluxe inside cabin on deck 11 forward (its a few square feet bigger) mainly because it was the best deal on a cost per day basis. We are retired and we cruise frequently and frugally and rarely splurge. We prefer some kind of "window" but best price predominates and inside cabins are usually in that category. I read several Edge reviews containing complaints about the cost and value of the Infinity Veranda cabins. They feature horizontally separated two glass panels one of which can be lowered from the top electrically to a half way point. There are light weight, patterned balcony doors hinged and hung vertically that when fully opened they allow your entire cabin to seem like it has a huge breezeway or porch. In other words, the balcony is actually part of your cabin. I looked inside but didn't occupy one of these so can't speak to those cabins but the deluxe inside cabin was roomy and comfortable - minus a "window."
The bathroom overall and curved, glassed in shower is quite a bit bigger than the Millennium and Solstice Class ships and nicely thought out with regard to counter space, storage and shelving. There is actually a 115/120v receptacle in there for your electric tooth brush or razor charger. Hair dryer is provided and can be plugged in and used in the bathroom - that is a departure from all previous Celebrity vessels.
The cabin feels big - bigger than anything else we've booked including Celebrity, RCCL, MSC, NCL, Oceania, OVs and balconies. The only thing bigger was the Captain's Suite on Carnival Sunrise - we booked it once for a family thing. Nice but Carnival? Done with that. Most reviews I've read on Edge say the cabins are all bigger than fleet standards on both older Celebrity ships and all the rest.
The closet is large enough to handle plenty of hanging clothes, has a safe and upper and lower hanging rods. We move wood hangers and robes out of the closet and bring our own skinny hangers or ask our room steward for them. Drawers and shelves abound. No lack of storage space and mostly well thought out. The electrical outlets are nicely arranged. One at the bed side and multiple receptacles at the desk top, including standard US X2, European configured X1 and USB X2. There is a standard 3 prong US receptacle and USB X2 at bedside.
Hi-tech lighting, heating and cooling controls contained in a touch-screen display are placed next to the bathroom door. The controls feature a variety of lighting options. It takes a bit of experimentation to figure out how they work. Even though your cabin attendant will explain how the controls work, you won't remember. Practice makes perfect. When you select night lighting, all the cabin's lights go out except a night, under-counter light in the bathroom. Other settings include morning and evening (both subdued lighting). If you set the controls to keep the room at 72 degrees or whatever temperature you select, it actually does that.
There's a small fridge that is designed to provide ala carte snack and beverage supplies. There's not room for anything else. You could ask your cabin attendant to remove all of that but I've never done that with Celebrity. I have with RCCL and they did as I asked.
After picking up our Sea Pass cards at our room - yep, that process previously handled at a busy check in counter in the terminal is now eliminated if you checked in with the App, took a photo of yourself (it's easy) and checked in with it - we headed to the Oceanview Cafe aft on deck 14. It is also different in a nice way. It's huge, well designed with respect to traffic flow, an open, almost, I'm outside kind of feel, due to the large amount of floor to ceiling glass. The main passage ways are wide - much wider than the rest of Celebrity's Oceanview venues. At the entry point and to your left or right are large hand washing basins and behind those ladies and gents bath rooms - entry doors to these are electric sliding doors that you have to push a button to open. There is plenty of seating, even at busy times as well as outdoor seating on two levels aft.
There are two areas that could be better managed with respect to traffic flow: The omelette prep area and ice cream service area. Both can get clogged up with diners lined up waiting for an omelette to be prepared or ice cream to be served. In the case of the egg prep station, this is more a problem with how orders are taken and managed. I've seen similarly designed egg stations that don't get backed up because orders are handled differently. RCCL Jewel of the Seas had a manager taking orders, giving those to the grill guys and handing out buzzers so people don't block the station waiting for their egg order.
Just inside the entry to the Oceanview Cafe is a bar that wine beer and cocktails as well as specialty coffees and espresso are served. Bar service staff float throughout the Cafe and are easily flagged down for bar service. One thing I've always noticed that differentiates the food service aboard Celebrity as compared to other lines is that there are never dirty tables or floors. Clean-up to make tables available for new diners is quick. Supervisory level staff are everywhere in the Cafe and constantly monitoring subordinate staff performance from servers to cleaners. I've pointed out on numerous post cruise surveys how well managed the crew are and this points to both excellent leadership skills of managers as well as a corporate culture that values and promotes this sort of leadership.
As usual for Celebrity fare, the appearance of the food in the Oceanview Cafe, it's quality and taste is outstanding. If you plan your meal times to go late for breakfast and lunch, like around 2pm, you'll avoid some of the rush. We did find on this particular cruise with few children and many older adult couples, there were plenty of people eating late breakfast and lunch. It still is less crowded in the later or ending hours of breakfast and lunch service than it is around 9-9:30 am and 12:30 to 1 pm. If you choose to dine there for dinner, it was nearly empty the one time we dined there. Food choices for all meals are extensive.
Finally, there is a nice inside and outside terrace all the way aft. There are two levels back there on the outside. Also, not very busy and there are plenty of tables regardless of what the dinning load is in the Oceanview Cafe at busy times. Pizza service is available back here and runs nearly 24 hours per day. Pizza was excellent.
One of the outstanding features of the Oceanview Cafe is the huge selection of breads, breakfast items, fruit, salads and cheeses, entrees and deserts. These are all beautifully displayed. At breakfast, typical breakfast fare is available and tasty. At lunch, there is a Chef's Selections section that changes daily and has 3 or 4 dishes. There's a grill station for steaks, chicken and pork chops. Very nice. It served delicious flank steak on boarding day. There is also Mexican and Indian fare on, what I suspect, is typical for Caribbean itineraries. All-in-all the buffet style food on Edge is the best in Celebrity's fleet and I am told that it is voted as such. I can't disagree.
The SpaCafe' is within the Solarium. It features light, supposedly healthy fare, including cereals, at breakfast and smoothies. These are included in the Classic Beverage Package but otherwise they are ala carte. There is a European style automatic fresh coffee maker that prepares self serve espresso, Coffee Americana and lattes. Seating is limited but I never had a problem finding a table before around 9 am. It's very quite and subdued if you like peacefulness. One of our go-to spots in the morning as we usually just have coffee in the AM and will eat a brunch style meal usually after 1pm or as late as 2pm (The Oceanview serves lunch until 3pm). The SpaCafe is open for breakfast and lunch.
Cafe al Bacio is on deck 5 mid-ships as usual for Celebrity vessels. It serves a limited variety of pastries along with a full line of specialty coffees. Bar service is available here as well. The venue is large - maybe 2X as large as the Al Bacios on Millennium and Solstice class ships. It's usually busy but the generous space seems to accommodate it. Service, coffee and pastries are, as usual, outstanding.
The Mast Grill is adjacent to the pool on deck 14. Burgers, fries, hot dogs, beer and wine are available self serve there. We have used this dining venue on past cruises on other Celebrity ships. This one is no different but we did not use it on this cruise. It was always busy and especially so on sea days.
There is a small cafe with outside seating within Eden.- the Eden Cafe all the way aft on deck 4. It is not open every day. We looked but did not eat there. Salads and sandwiches are featured. It looks nice. Check your daily for times and do have a look.
Le Bistro is on deck 4 mid-ships, is not open all the time and has a $20 service charge. Looked but did not dine there. Was told it is excellent and worth the up-charge for an extensive both breakfast and lunch menu. The Gelato bar is there also.
Dinner is served in 4 main dining rooms, all of them aft, 2 each on deck 3 and 4, with traditional seating at 5:45 and 8:30pm and select dining from 5:30 to 9:30pm. I am not describing Luminae (for Suite and Retreat Guests) or Blue (for Aqua Class). We have never eaten in either of these restaurants that showed up on Solstice Class ships and later on upgrades to Millennium class ships. We don't book suites, Concierge or Aqua class cabins.
If you select traditional seating, you'll be placed in one of the four restaurants I listed above and will have a card placed in your cabin indicating the table number and which restaurant of the 4. Seating assignments will also be displayed in your App once you board and connect to Celebrity Wi-Fi. You can walk in to any of the other 3 restaurants at any time between 5:30 and 9:30pm and if a table is available, you'll be seated right away. We did traditional late seating and were assigned to the Cosmopolitan. We walked in to each of the other restaurants 3X during this 7 day cruise and only did not get seated immediately once (Cyprus).
Edge was designed to do a better job of handling select and traditional seating. I think they did a great job with this. I also spoke with two restaurant managers and neither of them confirmed the complaint by restaurant staff I had read before this cruise regarding service functionality in the dining rooms. Servers were friendly, engaged and interested in doing a great job serving you. Service over-all was, again, outstanding. The restaurant manager noted in our conversation that dining service is not for everyone. It can be demanding and requires conformity to the process. Some don't like it and move to other jobs aboard ship. He also noted that escalators, common in Celebrity's fleet in all the other dining and galley areas, have been eliminated. Galley's food prep and delivery areas are all on one floor. This streamlines service as escalators were a problem for a lot of reasons.
The thing that speaks best to how Celebrity takes care of all it's employees, no matter where they work, is that it is common to find staff who have worked for the company for over 10 years. Upwards of 15 and then into retirement is not uncommon. There are few companies left that offer career pathways that include specific training to advance standing and pay like it appears Celebrity does.
if you do select dining, you can make reservations at any one of the four venues - Normandy, Tuscan, Cyprus and Cosmopolitan. To my knowledge, you can't do this on-line pre-cruise or on the App once on board. You have to do it in person or on the phone with the restaurant managers. Check on this with your travel agent or Celebrity as I'm not sure about this. Because we weren't select dining, I had to do this in person or on the phone. One phone number - 7000 - will get you a manger that will work with your request for a dining time at any of the 4 main dining rooms.
Menus are basically the same in each restaurant with variations identified as signature fare. They do change several menu items - starters, entrees and deserts - on a daily basis. The classic menu items remain the same. If you search for Edge menus on the web using any search engine, you can view the menus. I recommend doing this before you cruise so you can get a feel for what dining outside of Breakfast and Lunch in Oceanview is all about. Again, dinner time dinning aboard Edge is distinctly different than aboard other Celebrity vessels and different from any other lines we have cruised with. While on-board, it took me a few days to figure out how to optimize your enjoyment of dinner.
There is a definite trend at Celebrity and I suspect with other lines as well toward seating for two and away from seating for 4, 6, 8 or more diners at one table. Large groups can be accommodated but if, like us, we've always enjoyed meeting new people in the context of fixed seating at a dinner meal at tables for 8-12, that's pretty much gone. If you do select dining, you can choose to be seated at a table for two or more. If you walk in, you can usually be seated right away but if you wish to dine at larger tables, you may be told you'll have to wait until the table is filled before you will get served. That's what we were told at Cyprus - no tables for two were immediately available but we could be seated immediately at a larger table but would have to wait to be served until it was filled. Didn't like that option and we found another restaurant (Tuscan) where we were seated at a table for two and served immediately. Be patient and agile and you'll find exactly what you are looking for in terms of seating times and food options.
A note: The Normandy main dining room harkens back to the Normandy - a specialty restaurant now gone - on one of the Millennium class ships (I believe it was Infinity). There are several artifacts from the French Liner, Normandy, that the original owners of Celebrity Cruises - the Chandris Group - had obtained and curated aboard both it's Century and Millennium class ships. These are displayed in the Edge's Normandy main dining room. Both stunning and beautiful including a relief wall mural created during the golden age of cruising and for the Normandy restaurant on the French liner of that name.
I'll speak briefly about the several specialty restaurants aboard edge: Fine Cuts Steaks, The Roof Top Grill, The Raw Bar, Le Petite Chef (Dinner)/Le Grand Bistro (breakfast and lunch with a to-go menu), Eden Cafe. Again, I'd urge you to find the menus in each of these on-line, pre-cruise and have a look at them. There are also web sites that describe each specialty restaurant. I can't comment on them because we dined at none of them. We find the variation and quality of the food in Celebrity's main dining rooms to be very good making the high cost of specialty dining not worth it for us. However, it is Michelin, Five Star level restaurants we're talking about here. You'd easily be paying upwards of $60/plate at one of these ashore so, the up-charge is not unreasonable. That you can eat for nothing extra as part of your cruise fare and that fare is so good, it gets hard to justify the extra expense.
The Flying Carpet is a unique design concept on Edge. It's basically a cool bar, located in a big cable car attached to cables and guard rails on the starboard side of the ship. During the day and night, it moves up or down and then parks at different deck levels. We walked in and looked but that's about it. Another different sort of thing that I'd consider a novelty.
Bars and lounges abound. There is no ice martini bar made famous in the Solstice class ships. There is a Martini bar with flair bartenders doing bar tricks that is located in the Grand Plaza - Edge's concept for the central area on this ship that on others is the focal design point. It is not that on edge. However, the Grand Plaza is very nicely thought out. There is a band platform, dance floor, leveled seating around that with the Martini bar placed at one end. It's nice but small and frequently there are no seats at it. However, there is plenty of seating around it and within the Grand Plaza. We looked but did not have drinks there until the last night for Chocolate Martinis.
There are bars within Eden, around the pool (Prism and Sunset), the Bistro Terrace, the Casino (we don't gamble) and in a new area called The Club. It's an activities center and there is also nightly entertainment there. Captain's Club members at the Elite and above level can select complementary drinks from a limited menu from 5 to 7 pm here or at any bar on the ship. There is an Elite cocktail hour, also from 5- 7 pm, hosted at the Club with hors d'oeuvre served. During this 7 day cruise there were three stage performances, all of them for about 30 minutes, and called Mirage. The performance is done by aerialists and the close proximity to the central stage and performers makes this a unique entertainment experience. Make sure you look for show times and attend. You'll want to sit in seating as close to the central stage as you can find so you can see forward and up. To get these seats you need to get to The Club at least 30 minutes before show time.
A word on beverage pricing. We have Captain's Club privileges that allow us to partake in their 2 hour cocktail gathering described above. That meets are alcohol consumption needs nicely. Occasionally, a beverage package is offered as a perk that is attractively priced and we will take it as part of our cruise fare. I've bought a drink package once on an Atlantic crossing. I felt compelled to drink, I drank too much and have not done that since. If you are buying drinks individually, they are typical, high-end resort priced. We had two Gin and tonics on boarding day at the Sunset Bar, consumed 3 bottles of wine at dinner and had two chocolate martinis on the last night of the cruise. That was respectively and in round figures, $30 for the G&Ts, $150 for the 3 bottles of wine and $36 for the Chocolate martinis. Like I said, pricey. There are on-line spread sheets that can be used to determine if a beverage package, bought out-right, is for you or not. Depends on how often you have a drink or a beer and how that particular perk is packaged and priced. Do your homework.
The Celebrity Theater is of a different design than all the other Celebrity ships. A bit of in the round feel to it and with excellent site lines to the main stage from most seats. We like to sit on the lower level (deck 3), in rows up front, stage left (on the right side of the theater seating) and 4 to five rows back. There is one seat adjacent to the isle in these rows that don't have a seat in front of them. For short people, these are ideal. There are 3 production cast shows with two performances at 7:30 and 9:30 pm on show days. They are of incredibly high, Broadway or Las Vegas show, caliber. Don't miss any of them. The other shows are contracted performance groups or individuals that vary on each cruise. Check your daily schedule. We go to some of these if they sound interesting to us and they are always really good, especially the magicians, singers or singing groups. We saw Up Town, 4 male signers doing Mo-Town songs on this cruise. Really good. Missed the comedian reportedly also good in the early show but raunchy in the late adults only show.
A word on Shore Excursions: we don't do them anymore on the Caribbean itineraries. We've been to all the Caribbean ports and attractions using both ship offered excursions and private ones arranged pre-cruise or done short notice from the pier or taxi stand. Compared to a decade ago and not at all surprisingly, ship offered excursions have gotten expensive and finding satisfactory options to ship board excursions has gotten hard and also expensive. There are plenty of on-line resources to look at excursion options from every cruise port in the world along with participant reviews of them. Up to you to do that.
Debarkation: Another tech driven new experience in the Fort Lauderdale Edge terminal. Two days before end of cruise, you'll get your luggage tags and debarkation schedule by tag number in your cabin. Debarkation instructions will be with the tags and a program from Guest Relations will run multiple times on the Celebrity TV channel. explaining the debarkation process. Pay attention. The instructions are easy but important you follow them to make the embarkation process as smooth and quick as possible.
Celebrity offers an extend your stay package. I think it is $79 per person and allows you to stay on the ship until 2:30 pm. Otherwise you have to be off by 9:30 am. We didn't use it but worth a look and I'll tell you why in a moment.
You're asked to vacate your cabin by 8 am so it can be turned around for the next cruise. Help your cabin attendant out and vacate your cabin on time. You have two choices: you can walk off toting your own bags starting at 7:30 am or you can use the luggage service and debark at the appointed time for your luggage tag number. These times range from 8 to 9:30 am. We had tag number 34, three from the last number and scheduled to debark at 9:15. We walked off at 9:05 to head to the luggage pick-up area. Facial recognition scanners have been installed by Customs and Immigration. You stare at the screen and you are cleared in mere seconds. We were off the ship, luggage in hand and at curbside ready to call Uber in about 15 minutes or less.
Here's where issues arose and have nothing to do with Celebrity. There were three ships, 2 at terminal 21 and Edge by itself at terminal 25. These two terminals are across the street from each other. As well, there were 6 other ships debarking within Port Everglades. That's probably around 25,000 folks looking to get out of the port in about 2 hours time. Uber and Lyft were unreachable due to server overload. Two taxi lines were 100+ people long. We have made it from shutting the door to our cabin to opening it at our home in 20 minutes. Not this time. Most likely due to less ships debarking at one time. We left the cabin a 8 and it took 2.5 hours to get Uber and arrive home, about 3 miles from Port Everglades. Sundays are going to be like this. You should consider options if airport connections allow it. (1) Pay to stay on board if that's workable. We could see crowds dissipating outside the terminals by the time our Uber picked us up just after 10 am but traffic was still heavy within Port Everglades making the Uber trip home take about 35 minutes instead of 10. Walking off the ship after having lunch at the Oceanview and after 1pm would probably be ideal if you hate crowds. (2) Walk off at 7:30 with your bags. The port is much less busy at 7:30 am than it becomes by around 8:30 with 9-10 am probably being the busiest.
So, that's it. Good on you if you've made it this far. I've not written a review in years but thought it important to do one for our first Celebrity Edge Cruise. This is also a ship with a lot of controversy over it's design and overall appeal within the cruise industry and among engaged cruisers who like to talk about it. Hope you enjoyed. Read Less