As regular sailors with Celebrity since 2005, we’ve enjoyed our cruises each time including this, our first experience on Edge. Our enjoyment was slightly tempered by concerns that the entertainment, shopping, on-ship activities, hospitality options, may be aimed mainly at a generation younger than ours.
We hadn’t taken a short cruise before and realized that 4 of the 7 days are lost travelling to the Caribbean islands. While on board, therefore, we booked a cabin for January 2020 on the “Summit”. She sets sail from San Juan, PR and each of the following days you dock at a different Caribbean island.
“Summit” was fully booked for our first choice of date so it’s evidently best to plan a year ahead.
Allow plenty of time: we were stuck in highway traffic outside Port Everglades for about 45 minutes before passing through security and making our way to the Celebrity Edge terminal. Sunday is a particularly busy port day, with 8 to 10 ships docked and loading, which creates a bottle-neck.
Once we reached the terminal, plenty of porters were ready to take our bags and we were greeted by check-in staff for Elite passengers. As usual, they processed our tickets and passports with friendly efficiency.
Our Deck 8 cabin was placed forward, not far from the nearest elevators/stairs, convenient for the Oculus Theater. To reach the restaurants we had to cross the entire ship.
Our Stateroom Attendant Virne took excellent care of us.
The cabin is a stylish improvement on other ships, larger overall and the bathroom, particularly the shower stall, roomier. Very compact storage, okay for a week but we wondered about longer cruises.
The verandah didn’t work for us. We like to use an outdoor balcony as a separate living area. The openable window isn’t a substitute for sitting outdoors. Also, the blackout curtain is on the outside window so you can’t sit on the balcony in daylight while your partner sleeps in darkness.
We missed the attractive Sky Lounge” on Solstice ships for Elite Members’ 5- 7 p.m. “Happy Hour. That whole area is cordoned off on Edge as a Retreat for suite guests. Le Club was the only exclusive Elite locale, a dimly lit interior room, unappealing at that hour. In theory, Elites could go to any bar between 5- 7 p.m. for complimentary drinks, but in practice the other bars were very crowded and there was no seating room.
Eden is a most attractive addition to the public areas. The architecture, use of space and plants is striking. Whimsical characters in quirky dress perform and interact with the bar customers. One came and peered at me so I said “Good morning”. She replied “Good Eden” and scampered off.
We thought that the boutiques, apart from bargain liquor and cosmetic shops, were too exclusive to attract middle-class passengers. There’s a huge expensive watch emporium and often empty empty Cartier, Tiffany and Bulgari stores. A feature of other cruises is a sea day Bazaar for bargain-hunters. It was not held on Edge.
The Captain was friendly and chatted with passengers he met around the ship. Humorous, he lightened up his daily announcements with quips.
We missed the detailed, technical route map typically on an easel near Guest Relations, to show our exact location as the cruise progressed, and a few other details noted: no writing paper, envelopes or pens in the cabin and no daily newspapers published on board.
We weren’t the only passengers to ask why there was no Library – many people come aboard planning to read a lot – and no area dedicated to Board Games. Another complaint we heard was that space for ballroom dancing was more limited than on other ships.
Dinner time is a highlight of our days on board. Even though we book the Select anytime option, we enjoy the attention and camaraderie of the same waiter and assistant each night. We were able to achieve this as on boarding we ran into waiters Nelson and Meritza, old friends from Summit, and ate at one of their tables all week. In our case, splitting the main dining room into four separate restaurants had no appeal and we were satisfied with the range of dishes on offer at Tuscan.
We found Deck 14 Oceanview Cafe’s buffet breakfast and lunch options the best ever on Celebrity. Lots of variety, well cooked and served. The bakery section is astonishing. Maybe the Café’s layout is different on Edge as we had no difficulty finding seating.
Elite status meant we could eat a continental breakfast and sip café latte in comfort at the Tuscan. However, service there was so slow we gave up. On the Solstice class ships, the Elite option is self-service apart from the beverages, so much speedier.
We went to the first show in the Theater most nights and found the quality mixed. The stage sweeps out into the theater, which can create an opportunity for spectacles, particularly dancers and trapeze artists. The backdrops for two shows were created by panoramic movies to great effect: Kaleidoscope and Hot Summer Night were both surprising and well-performed. A problem for me was the acoustics: the singers tried hard to project the lyrics but the words were lost in the overall sound. To my taste, the caste’s excellence leans more towards acrobatics, physical skills, stamina and less towards grace and art. We missed the live band on stage.
In a short week there were two comedians (two, really, and one was appalling). We missed the customary Broadway-style singer or other solo musical performer.
Although there is an outdoors movie screen up in the beautiful, natural roof garden, we always enjoy the big screen in the darkened Celebrity Central theater on Solstice class ships: a chance to catch up on recent movies.
Maybe not offered on week-long cruises, we missed talks by expert guest speakers, sometimes called “Beyond the Podium”.
On other cruises we have often organized or participated in small group cruisecritic tours or gone on Celebrity excursions. This time we went ashore on our own.
At Old San Juan we walked off the ship and straight up the hill to picturesque Plaza de Armas, where the Drug Store sells everything you might have forgotten to bring. There is also a Walgren Pharmacy in the first building beyond the pier. We stopped at buzzing Barrachina bar & restaurant for a snack and $5 Pina Coladas.
First visit to hurricane-racked Tortola, we ran into open-air tour buses right outside the dock and opted for a $20 p/p two-hour tour of the island with about 25 other folk. Our driver (“Mr Watts”) took us all over and gave an informative commentary while showing us spectacular views of mountains and coastline.
St Martin has recovered from the hurricane, downtown at least. Walking from the dock, we made a beeline for the specialty Dutch cheese shop next to Chesterfield restaurant. As a year earlier, Etienne and his brother helped us select cheeses, home-made guava jam and a Dutch liquor, which we collected on the way back to the ship after a wander around the busy shops of Philipsburg.
A breeze. The crew organized set times for passengers to leave the ship. Our bags were exactly where expected when we got to the customs area. Maybe because of the new photographic identification system, Immigration officers barely checked anything and there were no Customs staff available unless you had something to declare.
Au revoir and hasta la vista, Celebrity!