We were not particularly looking for a cruise on the Edge, but it came up as best value when I compared with others (including other Celebrity offerings) in Western Med around the same time. I guess they must have been struggling to fill this cruise since we were still getting email offers to bid for an upgrade one week before embarkation. To be honest we were quite excited to be cruising on the latest in the Celebrity fleet, despite some of the less than ecstatic reviews. Our cruising experience so far is RC Navigator, Celebrity Constellation (twice), Queen Victoria.
We booked a fly cruise package, all supplied by Celebrity via our agent. Return flights were from Manchester with Jet2 to Rome. Flights were ontime and adequate for our needs. Fiumicino has improved greatly since we last used it, although that was probably 14 years ago. Celebrity reps were on hand around the airport and had us all gathered and onto the transfer coaches in good order.
We had treated ourselves to Concierge class because we didn't much like the look and location of the few traditional balcony cabins. Consequently, having checked in and provided photographs using the Celebrity app in advance, with expedited arrival we whizzed through embarkation in minutes. Staterooms are immediately available once onboard. Seapass cards await you at your stateroom door so you can dump your carry-on bags, freshen up as required and head out to eat/drink/explore. Sadly, the Concierge special lunch finished at 13:00 so we missed that, but there were plenty of free tables in Oceanview cafe unlike some previous cruises. Duly fed and lubricated we explored the ship.
The inside spaces felt much more spacious than we experienced on Constellation. The ceiling height and huge windows in Oceanview cafe provided a very bright and open environment, and we never failed to find a table (eventually). We loved Eden. Granted it does smell a bit wierd, but for us not so bad as some reviews suggest, and the deck 5 entrance is quite unique. Some people did not like this entrance, but you can also access the area via a stairway from deck 4. It is disappointing that access to the front of the ship is restricted to suite guests, although we did get out there once for a Concierge sailaway experience. The pool area gets busy, but there are plenty of sunbeds elsewhere although you can sometimes struggle to find somewhere quiet/sunny/shaded/sheltered depending on what you want. There is an interesting selection of artwork around the ship, but a less interesting selection of shops unless you have the interest/budget for high-end luxury goods. Even the 'basics' shop seemed to have excessively high prices, and they don't have the 'sales' we have seen before. The theatre is excellent. Again, very open with good views of the stage from all the seating which almost surrounds the main stage area.
Concierge class Infinite Balcony 12216. We did get some noise coming from above, but not sure if it originated in Oceanview cafe directly above us, or on the deck above that from people moving chairs around. Anyway, it was not a major problem for us. We found it a well designed space with plenty of storage for our 10 day cruise. The bathroom in particular was excellent - no bashed elbows or clingy curtain in the shower. Not 100% convinced about the 'infinite balcony' part though. The main problem for us was we like to take a quick peek outside in the morning; easy enough with curtains, but a real pain with a slow, noisy electric blind. The opening window was OK, but again very slow and noisy. I am not sure how reliable they are going to be. If your stateroom has the bed nearest the window, closing the sliding/folding doors really limits space at that side of the bed. We never closed them. Room controls (lighting/ac/tv/window/blind) are good and you can do a lot using the Celebrity app, although mine would not unlock the room door from outside. If you think you might want to use binoculars, bring your own; the pair supplied were useless. We were glad of the umbrellas though!
FOOD & DINING
We enjoyed the food in all the places we tried. We had late seating fixed dinner in Cyprus so had the same dining companions. We tried Raw on 5 which was (mostly) delicious and less expensive than we expected. All items are individually priced so we ate sensibly for less than $60 total. The only item we found questionable was a 'Green Tea Pannacotta' which had a really nice flavour, but was not a panncotta, more like a cheesecake topping in a huge jamjar. We needed to use up our onboard credit so booked Le Petit Chef towards the end of the cruise. They were obviously trying to fill up empty slots in the special restaurants by discounting so we paid $40 per head instead of $55. It was entertaining and delicious although due to some badly timed adverse weather several people including me struggled to finish. We enjoyed the coffee, tea and cakes in Cafe al Bacio. Everything else we consumed was in Oceanview where the selection and quality were excellent. Our only complaint was the strict adherance to opening times for lunch, even in Oceanview. If you return after 2:30pm, the eating options are very limited - pizza, pasta, burger, cakes.
The usual mixed bag of entertainment options was provided. Some we loved, some were not our thing, but all were good at what they did. There was plenty of live music around the ship, way too much to list here.
The leading light for the whole cruise was Captain Dimitrios Kafetzis who, in case you didn't know, is Greek! His daily pronouncements from the navigational bridge were peppered with great humour and his appearances around the ship, especially in the theatre, were met with huge appreciation from those present. If he ever decides to relinquish his Captaincy, he could easily have a follow-on career as an entertainer. He finished his tour at the end of this cruise, and should next appear on Celebrity Apex maiden season.
Cruise director Eddy was good, but I wonder how much of his humour hit the mark with anyone not from the UK.
Particular highlights for us were:
Revelation in Eden. Don't expect to understand it, but it is quite unusual and unique. We took the opportunity to 'Meet the Edenists' on one of the sea days which did give some insight. Interaction with the audience is key to the performance, so be prepared for the Edenists to approach you during the show if you are within their reach.
Tribute to Elton with Max Anthony
Kevin Jordan - 3 different shows, all very funny.
The Liars Club gameshow (= Call my Bluff) featuring Captain Dimitrios and Kevin Jordan.
Martini bartender show each evening at 8:30pm and possibly repeated later. A good crowd-puller for a less than 5 minute show.
PORTS OF CALL/EXCURSIONS
Port 1 Naples. We took an excursion pre-booked with Cruising Excursions to Sorrento, Amalfi coast and Pompeii. Excellent guide and driver, but a long (8H+), hot day. Pompeii was really interesting for me, but to see it all in detail would take about one week. Clearly I will have to make a return visit.
Port 2 Barcelona overnight. Day 1 we used HOHO buses to find our way around. Day 2 visit Las Ramblas, Boqueria market and Bario Gothiko. For me it's just another big city, but if I go back I would certainly consider a visit inside Sagrada Familia. The outside was intriguing.
Port 3 Palma de Mallorca. Been before and we wanted to relax a bit so stayed on board ship.
Port 4 Villefranche. Should have been Monaco, but bad weather meant the port would not allow tendering. We went ashore and walked around the town, sat on the harbourside and had a (very expensive) drink. Then back onboard for our normal late lunch.
Port 5 Santa Margherita. Had a walk around town. Nice shops & cafes if that's what you want. We did not travel to the obvious Portofino on the basis many people were doing exactly that so would be busy.
Port 6 La Spezia. We took a pre-booked guided tour with Cruising Excursions to Florence and Pisa. Again, an excellent guide and driver, but a very long day and not such good weather.
Without exception the crew are exemplary. Every crew member from the Captain down engaged willingly and happily with guests, always with a smile. We observed one member of the guest relations team trying with dogged determination to resolve a problem for what looked like a Japanese national who did not speak any language used by her team. She was using a translator app on her Smartphone and trying to persuade the guest to speak into the phone so she could understand his problem. Not sure if it was resolved, but we saw him later and he seemed happy enough playing Mah Jong with his friends.
For us, the excellence of crew and service is the main reason why we have used Celebrity 3 times, and have booked a future cruise onboard for next year.
For us this worked really well. I set it up on my iPhone at home, and used it to check in ready for expedited arrival, including photographs for the Seapass/security system onboard.
It took a bit of time to figure out how to connect onboard. I had to disable data roaming so my phone did not try to connect to the ship via mobile data, then connect to the onboard wifi. Note when you connect to the onboard wifi, you DO NOT need to have an internet package, there is an option to just connect to the wifi. Once connected, you have to remember to 'refresh' regurlarly using the button on the page for daily activities (top right side) so you see any changes to the timetable. You can also control TV, lights, AC and window blind in your stateroom, make bookings for most things available onboard 'and more'.
I just found I had to remember to disconnect from ship wifi and enable data roaming again when in port so I could access the internet when I wanted.
A great cruise on a fantastic new ship with a brilliant crew. We met one of the senior officers who asked how we liked the ship. After answering, I asked him what HE thought of the ship. He told us he has worked with the same cruiseline for 40 years (he was on Galaxy years back) and he believes Edge sets new standards in cruise ship design and quality. We agree.
Concierge class Infinite Balcony 12216. We did get some noise coming from above, but not sure if it originated in Oceanview cafe directly above us, or on the deck above that from people moving chairs around. Anyway, it was not a major problem for us. Note this cabin has an overhang from the deck above which does block some light. We found the cabin a well designed space with plenty of storage for our 10 day cruise. The bathroom in particular was excellent - no bashed elbows or clingy curtain in the shower. Not 100% convinced about the 'infinite balcony' part though. The main problem for us was we like to take a quick peek outside in the morning; easy enough with curtains, but a real pain with a slow, noisy electric blind. The opening window was OK, but again very slow and noisy. I am not sure how reliable they are going to be. If your stateroom has the bed nearest the window, closing the sliding/folding doors really limits space at that side of the bed. We never closed them. Room controls (lighting/ac/tv/window/blind) are good and you can do a lot using the Celebrity app, although mine would not unlock the room door from outside. If you think you might want to use binoculars, bring your own; the pair supplied were useless. We were glad of the umbrellas though!
We used HOHO buses on day 1 to find our way around, then day 2 was a walk along Las Ramblas to Boqueria market and Bario Gothiko. For me it is mostly just another big city, but if I do go back I would take the opportunity to visit inside Sagrada Familia. The outside was amazing, so the inside....?
We were not allowed to tender into Monaco due to bad weather so ended up tendering into Villefranche instead. Nice little town to visit briefly, but drinks in the cafes were expensive.