I've been monitoring this ship's construction for a long time and was very excited to experience it to see if it lived up to the hype. Some areas did. Others did not. Overall I felt it was a swing and a miss. I also think your experience - and the reason the reviews on this ship are so varied - will depend on your choice of cabin. More on that later. I should preface this by stating that we were in an Infinite Veranda. I think anyone staying in a traditional balcony room - or better a Suite class or higher - will end up with a much better experience.
The new terminal - Port 25 - is beautiful. We used the Mobile App to do our online check-in ahead of time. We also had Expedited Arrival. It was incredibly easy. Being a 3 day cruise we had carry-on luggage. So we walked into the terminal, showed our passport and Mobile Pass, and waited. We got there a bit early but did not have to wait too long before they let us get on the ship. I highly recommend using the Mobile App and online check-in. The Mobile App was super useful the entire time during the cruise. We loved it.
The overall design of the Edge is stunning. Highlights include the Grand Plaza, Eden, Magic Carpet, Resort deck, and the Oceanview Cafe. The look and feel was very much boutique high end hotel rather that cruise ship. Kudos to the design team for their efforts. Just on visual design alone the ship gets 5 stars. There is nothing else like it.
We dined in four areas - Cosmopolitan (one of the main dining rooms), Oceanview Cafe (the buffet), Petit Chef (extra pay), and Eden Cafe (lunch). The food was consistently fantastic everywhere we dined. Absolutely no complaints. The buffet area has to be one of the best ever. The 2 story soaring ceilings really open the space up. Instead of the traditional port/starboard cafeteria style lines, the Cafe is more of an open market area that cuts across the entire ship. None of the "sorry this side is closed go around" to deal with. Le Petit Chef is the restaurant where they use Skullmapping technology to beam a 3D-ish "show" onto your table and plate. It was very entertaining and the food was great. I recommend it. Eden Cafe was tasty but the salads were small. This was only for the lunch in the cafe, but it is a nice break if you want something light. There is also an extra-pay Eden restaurant for dinner, but we did not do that.
We took in one show - The Jewelry Box - in the main theater. The theater itself is spectacular. The A/V experience was excellent. We did the first show of the night and the audio balance between vocals and music were off, drowning out some of the singers. It's a Preview cruise, so there were bound to be bumps. We heard the second show was better. We did not do the shows in Eden. To be honest, they just looked very weird.
Eden itself is stunning. The entire multilevel design gives you endless spaces to relax, read, or socialize. It will be interesting to see if the show they do at night becomes a recurring thing or they change it to something else. I did not hear anyone praising it. I feel Eden and the Magic Carpet will be true highlights of all of the Edge class ships. Eden does indeed change in look and feel depending on the time of day.
We did not dine on the Magic Carpet but we stopped in for cocktails during the day at sea. Here's a tip for you - if the daily agenda shows the MC will be doing both lunch and dinner that day, they will keep it parked on Deck 5. Lunch will end at 1:30pm and they will need to reset it. By 2pm it was open for drinks. Probably until 5 or 5:30 until they had to set up for dinner. At least that was our experience on our 3 night cruise. Sitting out there was fantastic. It was an almost surreal experience to look back at the side of the ship. We had champagne and watched the sun begin to set. It is a beautifully designed space.
The Grand Plaza is wonderful. Of all of the spaces on the ship this one felt like it was perfectly designed. I wouldn't change a thing. Nothing but applause.
I also want to praise the staff. They were fantastic. The team working the Martini Bar was highly entertaining as well.
So far so good. So where does it start to fall down? A few areas:
As gorgeous as the ship is, some of the design choices did not follow the "form follows function" rule. Meaning they picked something fantastic looking at the expense of usability:
- The martini shaped hot tubs are two flights up from the pool. If you are relaxing poolside and feel like getting in the tub it is a very long way away. So if you see an empty or almost empty tub, it will most likely be full by the time you make it up there.
- The jogging/walking track seems like a great idea, however half of the time it also doubles as the primary traffic area. Meaning there are long sections of the track that do double duty as a walkway. That beautiful ramp up to the forward hot tub is a perfect example. It is very narrow - the width of the track. So if someone is truly trying to jog/run they will constantly have to stop or ask people to move. You cannot go around them because there is no room to. This is very different from a dedicated properly designed sports deck/track. We tried to do a power walk for 9 laps and kept running into a cluster of women blocking both lanes talking as they strolled. Too much of that track is walled in on both sides, making it rather useless for true exercise use.
- The cabanas are beautiful, but that area also serves as the forward/aft walking area on the starboard side of the Resort deck. So when that area is closed off (for either a private event or a day at sea cabana use) you have to either plan to walk on the port side of the ship, or maneuver through the chairs and starboard side of the pool. This may sound minor, but it was very obvious that people were grinding to a halt as they tried to maneuver through the pool deck front to back on the starboard side because they could not walk the path through the cabana section.
- There is no stage in the pool area. If that is by design, then why do you schedule performers there? They end up putting them at this portable podium to the right of the pool bar in-between 2 sets of stairs. When the cabanas are closed you have tons of foot traffic walking right past them to either get to the Mast Grill or the Solarium or to go upstairs. Even with the cabana section open, you still have a lot of people walking less than a foot from the entertainers. That entire forward/starboard corner of the pool is a traffic jam area.
- The Rooftop Garden is beautiful but seems like a wasted space. For some odd reason they chose to put an extra-pay restaurant at the back of it. I think it was something like $45 for gourmet burgers and stuff. There is no bar to sit at in this area. You can go around to the Sunset Bar and then come back to the Garden area with a drink if you wanted to. We tried to watch a movie there one night but found it to be an odd uncomfortable place to sit.
- If you are not Suite class or higher, the only way to look out the front of the ship is from the Fitness Center. There is no bar or lounge for those of us in "steerage" to enjoy. That is all reserved for those in first class. Or pay to get into the Thermal Spa at the front.
- There is no type of library or dedicated quiet space. Eden has lots of quiet areas - unless there is some event going on. And we did see a few nooks and crannies off to the side in a few spots. But if you really want to go browse some books or newspapers or even bring your Kindle to read in peace, you were pretty much out of luck.
The bars are beautiful and well staffed, however there are simply too few of them. By our count there are 2 indoor and 2 outdoor. Indoor you have the Martini and Eden bars. There is also the Casino bar, but the bar top is covered in gambling games. I don't really consider it a true lounge area. There is a cafe off of the Grand Plaza that also serves coffee/dessert type alcoholic drinks. But it overlooks the Martini bar, and more importantly it does not have a bar top to sit at. Outside you have the Pool bar and the Sunset bar. The Sunset bar was quite large and did have a nice view. Magic Carpet only serves as a bar intermittently depending on the time of day since it also doubles as a restaurant. It seems closed most of the time.
And ... that was it. There are no other lounges anywhere, unless you are in a Suite class or higher. We ended up in the Martini or Sunset bar anytime we wanted a drink. We did one in Eden, but most of the time we went back there they would have this odd incense wafting around. The smell was a big turn off so we only tried it once. We did manage to do the Magic Carpet the only afternoon we saw it open for drinks, and it was great.
The Infinite Veranda (IV) is not a balcony room. In our opinion it sits somewhere between an ocean view and a balcony class room. Unfortunately Celebrity has made the bulk of the ship IV type rooms. It will be interesting to see how the public reacts. It was a love/hate for us.
It is tastefully styled. The bathroom is big with a huge shower. We had the room set up for 2 twins. The rooms alternate so you end up with the bed either near the closet or near the window. (Go with near the closet.) The closet itself seemed a bit small but there were tons of drawers and other storage areas. The room darkening blind really blackens out the room. Perfect for a daytime nap. The technology with the touch panel - or the Mobile App - to run things like the lights and power window shade are great. When you have the bifold doors open the room feels so much bigger. It really is breathtaking with the floor to ceiling windows. Open that window up and then, yes, the room suddenly connects to the air and sea and you feel like the entire room is a big balcony. We also found it much more private than a standard balcony. You really were never bothered by your next door neighbors when outside. Because you weren't really outside on a balcony. You were in a room looking out a window. Which brings me to ...
What doesn't work:
Others have pointed this out but I feel it needs repeating. In a traditional balcony room, if you wake up early and want to step outside to enjoy your balcony, you cannot do it in an IV room. The current design prevents this. The room darkening blind is against the window. So if you would like early morning fresh air you have to raise the blind, and then lower the window. Your cabin-mate will wake up from either the noise or the light. The bi-fold doors can be closed, but they are not super thick. And with no curtain ... This is where the room fails the "balcony" test. In reality it is an Ocean View room with a window you can lower. It is a fantastic floor to ceiling window. But it is a window, not a balcony. Using the bi-fold doors was fussy. You have to constantly move the furniture around to do the blind, bi-folds, or power shade. It wasn't worth the effort. We never used the bi-fold doors. I was the early riser and would simply go upstairs to sit and enjoy coffee seaside.
Here is the other huge problem we ran into with this cabin design. In a traditional balcony room, if your outer door/window are dirty, the steward will have that cleaned when the room is serviced. With these floor to ceiling windows, the only way to clean them is with an external window washing machine. Your window must be closed for this. Now, you would think this would be a fast process. You would be wrong. We were docked in Nassau for 9 hours. At 10am we attempted to lower our window. We could not. They can override it centrally. A message on the touch panel told us it was disabled. Window washing time. We went into town. Came back 2 hours later. Still locked out. It stayed that way until 4pm. So for 6 of the 9 hours we were in port we could not sit on our "balcony." It's possible it freed up before 4pm, but by 2pm we had given up. The point is that in a traditional balcony room you are not shut out from using it for half the day. This is where the entire "veranda" label falls apart for me.
Another issue is the door to the bathroom uses magnets to close it. Slick. Until it is 2am and someone gets up to use the bathroom. There is NO way to quietly close that door. The magnets slam it shut every single time. This should be an easy fix.
One last minor problem is that the safe in the closet was the smallest I have ever encountered. It wouldn't even hold an iPad.
I think Celebrity can make a couple of simple changes - even retrofitted on the Edge - to make the IV room more usable. Add a curtain in front of the bi-fold doors. This would at least allow someone to go outside and keep the room somewhat dark while the other person sits inside. They also need to revamp the window washing schedule. We were at the forward end of the ship. The IV rooms go the entire length. Were all room windows locked shut until every single one was cleaned? Can they change this? It was a 3 night cruise with 1 port and we could not use our balcony most of the time in port. What will a 7 night cruise look like? Oh, and figure a way to dampen the magnet latching bathroom door.
I think the Edge has a lot to offer. I know they have 3 more sister ships planned.
My advice to cruisers is to really think about the design limitations of an IV room prior to booking one. I would never get one again. Maybe if they put a curtain in and changed the window washing schedule. But I much prefer a standard balcony. If everyone in the cabin is on the same schedule, the IV room may be perfect for you because you won't feel like you are prevented from using the balcony while others sleep. Just be aware of the window washing issue. Or get a regular balcony room. Or get Suite class or higher to have more options for bars/lounges as well as access to the front of the ship.
My advice to Celebrity is to consider adding more lounges to the upcoming sister ships. Ditch a couple of those extra-pay restaurants for some unique lounges. Add a library/quiet area back in. Let those of us in steerage access the front of the ship somehow. And figure out a way to darken the IV room at the bi-fold door area. Or reduce the number of IV rooms with true balcony ones. Maybe you can cluster the IV rooms together to make window washing faster. Who knows. But I felt the IV room was not a balcony room, and you need to either change your marketing or change the room design.
I most likely will not sail the Edge again. If I did I would get a regular balcony room. Or if I could afford it I would do the Single person IV room. But the lack of bars/lounges got boring during a 3 night cruise. I cannot imagine what a 7 night would be like.
Please see my full review on the Edge for more details. Basically, the much hyped Infinite Veranda room is not a balcony room. It is an Ocean View room with a floor to ceiling window that you can open. It is a beautiful room. It offers many things a traditional Ocean View or Veranda room do not offer. It is a no compromise step up from Ocean View. But compared to a traditional Veranda room it has some compromises. I don't think everyone will like this type of room. It depends on how often and what time of day you usually enjoy using your balcony. We loved the floor to ceiling glass and having the window open. But we did not enjoy being unable to use our balcony for 6 hours while they washed the outside windows. We also could not use it if one person wanted to sleep in, because you cannot darken the room and have the window open at the same time. These limitations soured our opinion of the room.
Although we did not do any excursions in Lauderdale, it is a great city with a lot to offer.