But for anyone who wants to choose when and where they dine, there's Celebrity Select. Cruisers with Celebrity Select can eat at any of the four main dining rooms for dinner whenever they want, either by showing up at the door or making reservations ahead of time.
We thought the food in the main dining rooms punched above its weight, with Celebrity Signatures appetizers, such as lobster ravioli and salmon tartar, as well as more traditional options, such as Caesar salad and French onion soup. The lobster ravioli was delicious, though we thought the soup could have been thicker. Entrees were outstanding -- seared duck, roasted Colorado rack of lamb and beef tournedos.
We were also impressed with the quality and variety in Oceanview Cafe. But with all that said, we still found the food in the upcharge dining venues to be better than what was included.
Service in all of the restaurants was excellent, and we were especially impressed by the intuitive sommelier service when we ate in Cosmopolitan -- spotting we had opted for duck, he swapped out our cabernet sauvignon for a much better pairing of pinot noir.
Items on the dinner menus in the main dining rooms (not specialty restaurants) are clearly marked as gluten-free, vegetarian, no sugar added or lactose-free. There are also items marked as "fit fare." (We never saw a single item that didn't have at least one designation.) Additionally, there's a gluten-free dessert and baked goods counter in the buffet, and you'll find a sugar-free item or two at the regular dessert counter.
Main Dining Rooms (Decks 3 & 4, see below for specifics): Celebrity Edge has four complimentary main dining rooms: Normandie, Tuscan, Cosmopolitan and Cyprus. Each has its own decor and atmosphere, as well as a small section of the dinner menu, called "Exclusives," which you can only find there. These will always be found on the left side of the menu. Although the exclusive offerings stay the same from night to night, a second menu (with different exclusive items) is used for the latter half of longer sailings.
On the right side of the menu are the "Celebrity Signatures" and the "Classic" menu, both of which are available in all main dining rooms. Like the Exclusives items, Classic menu (Caesar salad, shrimp cocktail, grilled chicken, New York sirloin, etc.) options also do not change from night to night. The Signatures menu does change every night and makes up the bulk of each restaurant's offerings.
You can order a starter from one section of the menu and a main course from the other, or order both from just one side. The wait staff is also open to customizing dishes; for example, we craved the marshmallow sweet potatoes that came with another dish and were able to order it as a side dish separately.
There's also a special menu for vegetarians; it's the same in each restaurant, but changes daily.
Desserts in all main dining restaurants include a variety of pies, cakes, sorbet, low-fat yogurt and ice creams, though each venue also has one exclusive dessert option.
All main dining rooms also offer a kids menu.
Normandie Restaurant (Deck 3): Inspired by Murano, Celebrity's French fine dining venue found on its Solstice-class ships, Normandie's featured menu includes contemporary French cuisine. Of particular note to Celebrity Cruises enthusiasts, the restaurant's design features authentic panels from the original S.S. Normandie that used to be on display onboard Celebrity Summit.
Normandie's Exclusives menu features countryside chicken pate, a potato and Gruyere tart (that's more tart and potato than Gruyere, but was yummy) and baked Brie as appetizers; and a beef tenderloin puff pastry, lavender-roasted salmon and slow-roasted rack of pork as entrees. The exclusive dessert is a raspberry coulis with layers of chocolate.
Tuscan Restaurant (Deck 3): This restaurant is inspired by another of Celebrity's signature specialty dining venues, Tuscan Grille. The featured menu here offers cuisine straight from Southern Italy, while the black-and-white decor reflects the fashion-forward chicness of Milan.
Tuscan Exclusives menu items are Tuscan bean soup with sausage, octopus carpaccio and an Asiago cheese flan as appetizers, and rosemary roasted chicken, strozzapreti carbonara and slow-roasted porchetta as main entrees. The exclusive dessert is tiramisu.
Cosmopolitan Restaurant (Deck 4): Cosmopolitan is a nod to Celebrity's traditional main dining rooms. There may not be a grand, sweeping staircase and a double-height room as on the other ships, but you do enter the space via a backlit wine cellar, with bottles on each side and above you.
The room itself has a glamorous feel, but if you're unlucky enough to be seated at one of the six-person tables that use banquette seating on one side, try to avoid the bench as it's straight but the table is elliptical, putting an uncomfortable distance between you and the table with no way to scoot in.
Cosmopolitan is the only main restaurant onboard open for breakfast, every day, and lunch, only on sea days. The breakfast menu in Cosmopolitan offers everything you could want in the morning; for those in a rush, the express breakfast comes with scrambled eggs, bacon and toast. Cosmopolitan is open for lunch on sea days, and on embarkation day for Concierge passengers only. The menu features a variety of Pan-American options.
For dinner, the Cosmopolitan Exclusives menu is as follows: grilled carrot and mozzarella salad with trout, barbecue-glazed short ribs and seared scallops as appetizers; and pan-roasted salmon, herb-marinated chicken breast and Manhattan-cut New York strip steak as main dishes. The exclusive dessert is a carrot cake.
Cyprus Restaurant (Deck 4): Celebrity Edge's fourth main dining room is an homage to the line's Greek heritage -- Celebrity Cruises was found in 1989 by Greece-based Chandris Group. As the name also implies, Cyprus is the ship's Mediterranean-themed main restaurant serving dinner only. Seafood is the focus, but the menu includes other options for those who aren't in the mood for fish.
Cyprus Exclusives starters include a Greek-style salad, saganaki (fried cheese) and sea bass ceviche (which was delicious!), while entrees are lamb shank tagine, Greek-style grilled sea bass and lemon dill chicken souvlaki. The exclusive dessert is Giaourti Me Meli, a whipped Greek yogurt dish drizzled with honey and toasted walnuts.
Luminae (Deck 12): Luminae is available exclusively to suite passengers and is located next to the suites-only The Retreat section of the ship. Anyone who books a suite can dine there as they wish for breakfast, lunch or dinner (reservations are not required).
The breakfast menu is the same every morning and includes all the usual items.
The lunch menu is on a seven-day rotation (a new menu every day for seven days) and might include prawn ceviche or cream of parsnip soup as appetizers and creamy lobster rolls, grilled petite filet mignon, a vegetable stir-fry and Luminae signature burger as main courses.
The dinner menu, which rotates daily over the course of 14 days, includes items such as Maine lobster salad, beef tartar and artichoke soup for starters; venison ragout, Alaskan halibut, grilled guinea hen, roasted spiced eggplant and cauliflower "steak" for main courses; and a handful of sides and desserts.
We ate there for dinner and were not hugely impressed. It's a small menu, with a choice of four apps and five entrees. Some of the mains are designated as a "Chef's Signature" dish, including the grilled ribeye steak. If it's a signature dish, and a steak, it should be almost impossible to get wrong, but this was tough, almost rubbery in texture and tasteless. Other dishes included a rack of lamb, which was rare, with a real depth of flavor; and Alaskan halibut on a tiny portion of rice, which was rather dry.
Celebrity has a partnership with acclaimed New York-based French chef, Daniel Boulud, with several menu items designed by him available only in Luminae. His chicken tagine dish, using a sous-vide method (vacuum cooked), is a standout dish on the menu.
The kids menu at Luminae is the same one you'll find in the four main dining rooms.
Blu (Deck 5): This spa-centric restaurant, decked out in pretty blue-and-white decor and found on all Celebrity cruise ships, is for the exclusive use of passengers staying in AquaClass cabins, as well as suites; it's open for breakfast and dinner only.
The dinner menu, which changes every night, features spa-style cuisine. We dined on sherry-glazed pheasant (a rarity on cruise ships) and it was a standout.
A small menu of "timeless classics" is also always available in Blu.
Oceanview Cafe (Deck 14): Celebrity Cruises' signature buffet restaurant has been completely reimagined for Edge. Located at the back of the ship on Deck 14, the restaurant features high ceilings and windows all around. The double-height of the room is noticeable from the second you walk in; it feels brighter and more spacious than other buffet restaurants at sea. Food is arranged into stations in the center, with seating options for two people and room for big groups. In keeping with the ship's theme of connecting to the sea, several tall bars (with high stools) are set up facing the windows. These were a favorite among passengers and filled quickly each day. At the back of the restaurant is an open-air seating area overlooking the ship's wake.
Oceanview Cafe is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The restaurant offers a wide variety of options at all meals, and we were happy to find healthier options alongside some great indulgences no matter the time of day. All bread is made onboard Edge, and you can watch as pastry chefs make carb-rich treats out in the open in Oceanview Cafe.
At breakfast, you can expect a variety of hot and cold items. At lunch a wide variety of cold options are available, plus there's a sandwich bar where you can order from a chef, who will make it exactly the way you want it. Other spots include a carving station and the daily feature station, which offers a rotating selection of deliciousness -- one day, chefs might prepare Vietnamese-style pho, the next, paella. This was one of our favorites, as many items are made a la minute and are both creative and delicious. Other hot items fell under themes like Latin American and Indian. Themes change each day. American standards are available every day, too; head to the back of the restaurant for freshly made pizza, calzones and breadsticks.
Dinner is quieter in the Oceanview Cafe, when many passengers elect to visit other restaurants. The mood (and dress code) is relaxed in the evening. The menu is similar to what is offered at lunch, but entrees are more robust, with carving station items like roast beef and appetizers such as ceviche. A large dessert bar serves up a variety of goodies -- small enough so that you can sample a couple -- at both lunch and dinner. Passengers craving ice cream can visit Scoops, tucked into the corner at the front of the restaurant on the port side. The selection of ice cream changes each day.
Mast Grill (Deck 14): Tucked into a corner behind the main pool is Celebrity's signature poolside grill. We were surprised at the lack of seating (about 50 spots, including 26 at shared eight-person high tops), but we loved the offerings, which include beef burgers and cheeseburgers, as well as veggie and turkey burgers, hot dogs and, of course, French fries. All items are available made-to-order, so it can take 10 to 15 minutes (especially for the veggie and turkey burgers). There's a great toppings bar as well.
Eden Cafe (Deck 5): The Eden Cafe is a bit hidden, off to the side of the Eden Bar, but it's a great spot for grabbing a complimentary breakfast and lunch bite. There's not much seating inside -- maybe six chairs by the windows, but there is a small outdoor area with tables and chairs.
The breakfast selection is impressive for what's mostly a grab-and-go spot with muesli, yogurt parfait, fruit, hot oatmeal, a cold cut and cheese platter, steak and egg on a bagel, egg and cheese with your choice of either bacon or sausage, a turkey and egg white panini, and two types of wraps. And, of course, no cafe would be complete without some tempting pastries.
Lunch is as impressive with five salad choices, soups and sandwiches. There's also a daily carving station for freshly carved sandwiches and an array of pastries including cookies, muffins, nut breads and brownies.
You can also pour your own tea (12 tea choices) and coffee, or fill up a glass with orange juice, lemonade, fruit punch or iced tea for free.
Grand Plaza Cafe (Deck 3): This is a slightly misleading title for what consists of a small counter just below the Martini Bar in a corner of the Grand Plaza, offering casual daytime nibbles -- mostly indulgent pastries. At lunch you will find a couple of finger sandwiches on offer. Pour-your-own coffee is also available from two coffee machines. At night it is subsumed into the Martini Bar.
Room Service: Hot and cold breakfast items are available between 6 and 9:30 a.m.; just make your selections on the placard and hang it over your doorknob by 2 a.m. the night before.
The all-day menu is available from 11 a.m. (except on the first day of the cruise when it's not available until 5 p.m.) and includes a selection of hot and cold items, as well as a kids' menu.
A $4.95 service charge applies to orders placed between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Eden Restaurant (Deck 4); $65: Eden Restaurant offers five courses of "experiential" waiter-served dishes. From the menu, diners can select from two items for each course, with dishes that have such ethereal names, such as raindrops (lobster with a gribiche sauce), tidal pool (black cod with almonds and white asparagus), ashes (tuna toro with mango) or life after death (aged ribeye).
But Eden Restaurant is about more than just the food. "Edenists," a troupe of eight performing artists, each with a unique name (Bloom, Gloom, Flit, Wit, Coy, Loy, etc.) that represents some aspect of the Garden of Eden, wander around the area. They entertain diners by dancing, juggling and playing the sitar. Want one of them to visit your table? Pick up the lantern left there by your waiter and raise it into the air.
Dinner slots are available every 15 to 30 minutes between 6 and 10 p.m.
There's also a cocktail menu with items like garden (Woodford Reserve bourbon, honey syrup, lemon juice, aromatic bitters), clouds (Novo Fogo Silver cachacas, Earl Grey tea, lemon juice, rose water), planter (Del Maguey Vida mezcal, cardamom, lime, curacao) and the $45 village (Plymouth gin, Fino sherry, Earl Grey tea, lemon juice, demerara syrup, allspice dram, Tiki bitters, soda), which serves four people.
Le Grand Bistro (Deck 4); $39 for brunch, $55 for dinner, or a la carte to go: Not content to only offer a small selection of French dishes at Normandie Restaurant, Celebrity Edge also offers Le Grand Bistro. Inspired by classic French bistros, seating options range from tables on a planter-edged "sidewalk" to the inner cafe with sea views.
At brunch, passengers can order from a set waiter-served menu that includes omelets, pancakes, crepes and other items. They can also opt to visit a self-service buffet; it's one of the best spots if you want lobster or crab.
Throughout the day, an a la carte counter offers grab-and-go items like muffins, croissants and Danishes.
At dinner, the entire restaurant transforms into Le Petit Chef at Le Grand Bistro. The TableMations Studio Experience features the Le Petit Chef experience, which centers on a 4D animated story starring tiny characters who prepare your dish on your table, course by course, before real waiters or waitresses serve you the actual dish. The dish looks just the animated one, and each course is a charming surprise. One chef might create pasta from scratch using fresh-harvest wheat ground by a mini-pig, while another might go for an unintended ride when his icing canister gets out of hand. It's a delightful experience for families, though the relatively high price tag might restrict you to just one seating. The Le Petit Chef experience offers two set menus to choose from, but the animated characters will act out the creation of only the main menu; the other menu is for vegetarians.
Both Le Grand Bistro and Le Petit Chef feature extensive wine lists.
Fine Cut Steakhouse (Deck 5); $55: Fine Cut is the ship's steakhouse. The restaurant is open to the Grand Plaza, but it's surprisingly quiet, even when the evening's entertainment is in full swing. The steakhouse offers a menu for carnivores, so if you are a vegetarian, Edge has better options for you. Meat-lovers will love the variety of steaks on offer, ranging from the petite 6-ounce filet mignon to the 14-ounce ribeye. If you've got a bigger party, try the Butcher's Block, a family-style platter of the chef's favorite meats, served with four sides and four sauces. This serves four. If steak isn't your thing, the menu also features chicken, lobster and sea bass. Save room for the sides -- we loved the bacon mac 'n' cheese and mushroom fricassee. We also highly recommend the tangy, melt-in-your-mouth Berkshire pork belly appetizer. Fine Cut offers a kids menu, as well.
Raw on 5 (Deck 5); a la carte, $8 to $75: This simple, yet elegant Raw is so popular that despite its large size, usually requires reservations to get into. The menu, which offers hot and cold items, includes everything from oysters, crab and lobster to shrimp salad, sushi and sashimi, lobster rolls, Japanese noodles, New England clam chowder, caviar, edamame and three choices of seafood towers. Raw Bar is open for lunch and dinner.
Magic Carpet on 5 (Deck 5); a la carte: On afternoons on which the Magic Carpet is not being used for tendering, it is positioned on Deck 5, where it serves as an alfresco eatery. Originally slated to be simply an extension of Raw on 5, its menu is actually more varied. It's a lovely spot to dine with great views and a comfortable, living room feel.
Similarly, in the evening Magic Carpet returns to Deck 5 (if not being used for tendering), where it serves up drinks and a limited menu of small bites.
We recommend making a reservation for lunch and getting there nice and early in the evening.
Rooftop Garden Grill (Deck 15); $25 for lunch; $45 for dinner: Just because you're at sea doesn't mean you have to forgo the outdoor barbecue. At this venue, located in a corner of the Rooftop Garden, you can enjoy gourmet versions of your favorite backyard barbecue standards for lunch and dinner.
Dinner on the Edge (Deck 16); $65 for dinner: Once per sailing, the Magic Carpet ascends all the way to Deck 16 for an exclusive waiter-served dinner. There are no set menus for these experiences, as menus will be determined by the chef and might include items sourced at a port along the ship's sailing. Reservations are required.
Cafe al Bacio (Deck 4); a la carte: Part lounge, part eatery, this Celebrity signature offers an extensive menu of specialty coffees and teas for a fee and complimentary sweet treats. Pick your poison and then choose one of the many comfy seats in the sizable accompanying lounge, laid out in a serene color palette of gray and taupe -- except for smack-dab in the middle of the lounge, which pops with cranberry-colored, high-backed chairs and a round carpet, also in cranberry.
Spa Cafe & Juice Bar (Deck 14); a la carte, $5 to $6: Anyone looking for healthy food options at breakfast or lunch will want to check out this small cafe located off to one side of the Solarium. The food is complimentary but the juice and smoothie bar costs extra.