The most hotly anticipated cruise ship of the year has set sail on its pre-inaugural tour – but before it departed MailOnline Travel was given exclusive access.
MailOnline travel writer Samantha Lewis was allowed on Celebrity Cruises’ new billion-dollar vessel, Celebrity Edge, before it got under way from Fort Lauderdale in Florida on Sunday.
Here are her first impressions of the revolutionary liner that is likely to shake-up the cruise scene.
MailOnline travel writer Samantha Lewis was the first journalist from a European publication to be allowed on Celebrity Cruises’ new billion-dollar vessel, Celebrity Edge, which left Fort Lauderdale in Florida on Sunday. The ship is pictured here in Fort Lauderdale at the weekend
It’ll make a splash: The ship features a jaw-dropping outdoor swimming pool on deck 14
I want to touch everything. From the mesh screens that adorn the wall, to the melting artwork in the corridor, to the crushed velvet furnishings – this is a sensory experience.
And it starts right from the moment you step onto the ship and are greeted by an imposing seven-ton chandelier made up of more than 700 LED lights.
They change from white to gold in a glorious flashing display during the evening – and the light engineers delight in showing off the spectacle to me before I sit down to talk to Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, the president and CEO of Celebrity Cruises.
There are several parts of the 3,000-passenger ship that blew Samantha away, including Eden, pictured. It’s a stunning garden-themed restaurant, which offers an action-packed dining experience
The Grand Plaza on decks three and four. It features a white grand piano and dazzling decor
The amazing Rooftop Garden on deck 15, which promises to be a special place to relax
The Rooftop Garden Grill will mean guests can dine under starlight as Celebrity Edge chugs along
Lisa has driven the mammoth project for the past four years and you can tell she’s absolutely thrilled with the finished product. But as anticipation mounts she admits she’s naturally feeling the pressure ahead of tomorrow (Sunday) when the rest of the world’s media will be invited aboard.
She doesn’t have anything to worry about though because Celebrity Edge is utterly outstanding. And then some.
There are several parts of the 3,000-passenger ship that completely blow me away and Eden has to be one of them. It’s a stunning garden-themed restaurant, which offers an action-packed dining experience. The décor is very on-trend with lots of palm print, plus there are plants literally sprouting out of the walls and floor-to-ceiling glass windows spanning three decks, so the views are pretty sensational.
As I walk around trying to take it all in, a swing that hangs from the ceiling is being tested before the launch. I stand there picturing the room filled with open-mouthed guests marveling as entertainers dangle in mid-air.
The eye-catching Tuscan Restaurant that cruise guests can make a bee-line for on deck three
Kelly Hoppen has designed the accommodation. Samantha reveals that the suites have natural woods, cashmere in the mattresses and nifty storage solutions
One of the ship’s Penthouse Suites on deck 12. Samantha is impressed with the colour scheme
The Iconic Suite proves to be Samantha’s favourite. It has every conceivable indulgence, from a hot tub to a private butler service
Samantha strikes a pose on the ship’s Magic Carpet
But the real wow factor has to be The Magic Carpet. Where do I even begin? Well firstly, as the name suggests, this is a floating tennis-court-sized platform that juts out over the side of the ship and glides up and down, changing its function depending on the deck its docked at. It can be an extension of a pool area or outside seating for lunch, for example.
It’s the world’s first cantilevered floating platform and will no doubt be the main talking point among passengers because it really is quite extraordinary. It’s a cool space to chill out in during the day with a cocktail and I imagine it will look magical at night when guests can dine under the stars.
I’m already an hour into my tour and my guide tells me I’ve only covered about 30 per cent of the vessel, which hammers home its sheer scale. I haven’t even looked at the rooms yet but that’s where we’re going to next.
Kelly Hoppen has designed the accommodation and her fingerprints are everywhere – even in the lifts. If you know anything about the famed interior designer, it won’t come as a surprise that taupe is prominent in the colour scheme.
I’m shown a Celebrity Suite, which is kitted out with a mix of natural wood, classic white marble and vibrant orange accents that provide a pop of colour. There’s cashmere in the mattress and some nifty storage ideas too, like a desk that flips up to reveal a vanity mirror.
The much-anticipated Magic Carpet deck, pictured on the left. It’s the world’s first cantilevered floating platform. On the right is a snap by Samantha of the ‘Retreat Deck’
Five-star dining: The stunning Luminae restaurant on deck 12
One of the pools on deck, left. Pictured right is one of the on-board barber shops. Celebrity Edge will offer Mediterranean cruises in the spring of 2019
Celebrity Edge doesn’t have any angular lines – there is lots of curved architecture, says Samantha
And then onto the suite where I vow to stay if I win the lottery. The Iconic is luxury personified and I can almost hear the champagne corks popping as I pad around the sprawling living space. It has every conceivable indulgence, from a hot tub to a private butler service.
That’s another thing to note – there are gadgets and gizmos aplenty onboard. I’m especially impressed with the app, which you can download to make the check-in process a breeze, plus use it to map out your stay using 3D technology.
Celebrity Edge will begin eastern and western Caribbean cruises starting on December 9. Then it sails across the Atlantic to offer seven-night to 11-night Mediterranean cruises in spring of 2019.
Celebrity Edge will begin eastern and western Caribbean cruises starting on December 9. It’s pictured here in Fort Lauderdale