This was our 17th cruise. We have Elite Captain’s Club status and we enjoy the Celebrity product. We booked this cruise almost a year in advance for our 35th anniversary. I really like new ships and technologies, so I was excited about trying out the Edge. Then all the bad reviews came, and we started to have real doubts but decided to go ahead and give it a try. For the most part, our fears were unfounded. With the singular exception of the Infinite Veranda, we loved the Edge experience and would cruise again on that class ship.
We live on the west coast of Florida and drove over to the Ft Lauderdale area the day before. We stayed at the Embassy Suites in Deerfield Beach. Nice hotel, across a small street from the ocean with easy, pleasant walking along the shore to nice restaurants. And it was considerably cheaper than staying in Ft. Lauderdale. Unfortunately, much of the beach in front of the hotel had eroded away.
The next morning, it was an easy drive to the port. Unfortunately complications from home altered our plans and we didn’t get to the Midport Parking Garage until about 12:30 while things got sorted out. We got into the garage and started up the ramps when an attendant said everything was full higher up. He directed us to park in a “non-space” at the end of a row. It seemed sketchy but ended up working OK. The price is $15 a day. It was an easy walk across the street to where the Edge was docked. You can get cheaper, off-site parking, but then you must wait for the shuttle to pick you up on return.
For boarding I had downloaded the app which had our photos and the pass, but also made a paper copy of the pass. That worked out well as, for reasons that weren’t clear, the app wasn’t working in the terminal. So, the agent scanned the paper copy and we were onboard in no time. We collected our glass of champagne and went directly to the room to drop off our carry-ons. The key card was at the entry- way to the door. I think it was the most efficient boarding we have had, even with the mishap with the app.
We were in an E1 Infinite Veranda on the port side of deck 8, midships. I specifically chose the port side to avoid interference with the view from the Magic Carpet and its support mechanisms. We really liked the room with the exception of the Infinite Veranda. It simply is not a balcony room but rather an ocean view room with a big window that opens. Too frequently the window was locked by the bridge, even when window washing wasn’t being done. The space is completely enclosed so that, even with the window open, you feel like you are inside. The space is quite small and the chairs are not very comfortable so there is no desire to sit there with a book or a glass of wine and enjoy the ocean flowing by. When this type of window was introduced on European river cruises, it was met with wide acclaim. But there you were upgrading from a fixed window or a slider. This definitely is a downgrade from a true balcony. However, it does make the room seem larger and the floor to ceiling view is nice. On a cold weather cruise, it would be a most pleasant room.
The bed was most comfortable. There was plenty of storage. As usual, the suitcases easily fit under the bed. The plugs and USB ports were convenient. The bathroom worked well, and the shower was large by cruise standards. You can control the lights, ventilation, lock, etc. with the app, but it was actually easier to just use your key card or the control panel in the room. The safe was big enough for our stuff including a I Pad. We didn’t use room service so the lack of a table to dine on was not a problem.
All of our breakfasts and many of our lunches were taken in the Ocean View Café. The variety, quality and taste of the food was really good. I especially enjoyed the eggs Benedict, smoked salmon and fresh fruit in the morning. The fresh squeezed orange juice, included on the classic beverage package, was great but it was not obvious where it was obtained. It is served at Il Secondo Bachio, a specialty coffee shop by the port side OVC entrance. The lunch items were varied. It was fun to try different world cuisines. Some items were served on islands on both sides of the cafe, but it was not entirely symmetrical, so it was worth it to walk around all of the stations.
The Mast Grill has hamburgers, hot dogs and fries which were good. They list turkey and veggie burgers, but said it would take 10 minutes to cook, which was disappointing. A long time ago, Celebrity served marinated fish sandwiches at the Mast Grill. I wish they would bring that back.
For dinner, we always opt for the fixed, second seating at a large table. The first seating is too early for us and makes it rushed if you are returning from an excursion. You also miss the ship leaving port and, of course, the beautiful sunsets. We love meeting new people at the large table and have made some great friends over the years. We also cherish having the same wait staff every night and developing a relationship with them. Every night we just walked in to our table, going right by a sometimes lengthy queue waiting for anytime dining.
I was concerned about the splitting of the MDR into four rooms, each with a different theme. I had read that it isn’t hard to get a reservation at one of the others, but it is still a bother. Who wants to hassle with reservations and lines when you are on vacation? While the standards and the daily MDR menus are the same, each dining room has its own specialty appetizers and main courses, which we wanted to try. Not to worry, our waiter easily gave us menus from the other MDRs and we could order from any of them. So, although we were assigned to the Cosmopolitan, we had absolutely delicious items from all of the other MDRs. We ate all but one dinner in the Cosmopolitan and always had a very good, sometimes outstanding, meal. I would say that the Edge dining was a definite upgrade from previous Celebrity ships, which were quite good in the first place.
One legitimate knock on the Edge specialty restaurants is that they are way overpriced. However, we did eat at Le Petite Chef. The menu looked good, but somewhat ordinary. But we thought it would be fun to see what the show was all about. The animation projected onto the table was cute. The plated dish perfectly matched the projected image. The surprise was the quality of the meal. While the main course was filet mignon with Bearnaise sauce, it was the best steak and sauce we had ever had. We opted for the wine pairing package which featured wines I haven’t always liked. Well, I guess I have picked the wrong examples before because each wine was superb and perfectly matched the course. Overall, it was a wondrous meal.
We also had lunch at Raw on Five. Again, expectations set an inadequate table. I was moaning the loss of free sushi that we get on other ships. And once more, I was wrong. The variety, amazing presentations and wonderful tastes were night and day from “free sushi”. Reluctantly, but honestly, I will admit it was well worth it.
Table mates had dinner at Eden. The menu is funky, but they loved it. They took a video of a white chocolate egg being magically opened like a lotus flower by pouring hot, dark chocolate on it. That alone would have made dining there worth it.
We tried to have drinks on the Magic Carpet several times, succeeding only once. It was usually too crowded and had too few bartenders (a common theme throughout the ship) or would close abruptly and kick everyone out. The Sunset Bar was also over-crowded. It took over 40 minutes to get our drinks.
The entertainment was, for the most part, superior. The new theater design works really well, and the special effects were most enjoyable. Yes, the production shows have some music that is not familiar, and yes, the plot can be hard to discern, but the overall production was top-notch with great voices and dancing. We think they were the best shows at sea. The guest entertainers were also excellent, with the one exception of a comedian who seemed like a really nice guy, but he just wasn’t funny. It was painful to watch him try and try but have no one laugh. Oh, well, not the end of the world.
The ship is very attractive. The Eden space is well done for lounging, but difficult when viewing the show unless you get there really early for a seat near the heart of the action. The Grand Plaza is good looking but too small for its use. Getting around the ship is not always intuitive as it is on most other ships, but after a couple of days, one gets use to it. There seems to be a lot of wasted space. The artwork is whimsical (is that really art?) but fun. The shops had a different price point than what our fellow cruisers wanted apparently. We only saw one customer in a shop, apart from the sundry shop, the whole cruise. Pool seating was usually fine; we preferred the Solarium. We liked having seats face outward toward the sea. The restriction of the bow for suite guests only is a bummer but, unfortunately, seems to be the wave of the future as cruise lines try to maximize profit. Oh, for the good old days.
As usual, the crew was outstanding. They were friendly, informative, efficient and always willing to seem to go the extra mile. The exception was the bar staff who tried really hard, but just seemed overwhelmed. One wonders if the popularity of the drink packages has created an unexpected demand, but everyone commented on how hard it was to get a drink at most bars.
We chose this cruise for the ship, not the itinerary. We had been to all the ports previously. The first stop was Key West. We had a nice walk through parks and neighborhoods to the “southernmost point” and then went to the beach bar at the Southernmost Hotel where we had a great view, local beer and excellent conch fritters. On the walk back along Duval, we met a sidewalk artist who made an amazing wire sculpture of our dog. He used a photo on my cell phone as the model and the likeness is right on. It took just 5 minutes and cost $10!
The next stop was Costa Maya. On previous trips we had gone to the Mayan sites, a long drive, but worth it. This time we walked to the adjacent town of Mahahual beach. Go out of the port (stick to the right coming off the pier to find the “secret passageway” that avoids the maze-like shopping area) and turn left on Av. Caribe and then left on the main road and go down to the El Faro lighthouse. From there follow the shore road on the right to the beach. It is about a mile and a half, easy walking and felt very safe and was nice to get some exercise. At the beach there are countless bars, beach set-ups, massages, curios. The farther you go, the cheaper everything is. We ended up in lounge chairs, in the shade, at the water’s edge with pina coladas. Delightful.
The next day was Cozumel. We wanted a beach day and booked the all-inclusive package at Paradise Beach. It is a beautiful area and the water was clean and refreshing. Because our ship was sailing at 4 pm, we got to the beach about ten and had most of the place to ourselves. We had loungers in a reserved part. There was a very large party coming later, so most of the other lounges were empty. The waiters bring you whatever you want right to your seat. The place also sells a general admission where you are required to buy some food and drink but are seated in a different section. Around noon, hordes of people arrived. Many tried to sit in the reserved section but were politely redirected to their section by the waiters. However, some, exclusively Americans, became rude and belligerent, saying they could sit wherever they wanted. It was very disruptive and embarrassing to be an American, so we left early. Next time we will pick a place that restricts the number of visitors, something I tried to do but they were all booked up. The cab ride was $15 each way and was clean, easy and safe. The driver seemed surprised when I gave him a tip.
Our final stop was Grand Cayman where we took our only ship excursion. It was labelled as a Captain’s Club exclusive with a trip to a series of caves and then a rum tasting at a “castle”. The caves were interesting, even pretty. Our guide was helpful but kept running into other groups causing us to stand around and wait. No problem, it was a pleasant setting. When it was over, we had to wait for the bus. The driver was surprised, saying he wasn’t due to pick us up for another hour. I guess the guide was in a hurry. The Castle wasn’t a castle but rather one of the original Cayman homes. Still it was nice to see. The rum tasting was followed by a buffet lunch that we ate out on the lawn overlooking the ocean. Overall, it was an OK excursion, but not special as implied by the Captain’s Club branding.
Disembarkation was incredibly easy. Number called, walk off ship, pick up bags in the color-coded area, walk to garage. Total time, about 10 minutes.
We love to cruise because we like to be on the ocean, have great food and entertainment, meet nice, interesting people, have a comfortable setting, not to worry about schedules, and to experience different places and things. The Edge checked all those boxes. Yes, there were things we wish were different, the main one being the Infinite Veranda, but it all ends up being minor compared to all the pluses. I was excited to book the Edge, then apprehensive with the negative reviews, and now excited to again book on the Edge or the Apex (once it is again safe because of Covid-19). I hope this review will help some others overcome the same concerns.