Forget flying, travelling should be plain sailing. Puns aside, my recent trip aboard the Celebrity Edge was my first ever venture onto a cruise ship. Having been on the water plenty of times on a dizzying array of smaller boats, I really didn’t know what to expect from a cruise ship. Would it be like a floating metropolis? Would there be enough to do? How would the ship move in the sea?
First up is the boarding process. The airport-style scanners are a necessary security precaution but any inconvenience is left there. The check-in process is straightforward, and with no weight or liquid restrictions you are free to take on board your entire life’s belongings if you wish. Very convenient if you’re planning to change outfits every six hours like I did. Within few minutes we were walking up the gangway to our new home for the next two days.
The layout of the ship can be a little daunting at first, but once you’ve familiarized yourself with the layout of odd/even room numbers and navigated which end of the ship is which, it becomes fairly routine to be able to find your room. We did actually find that the beautiful, unique pieces of artwork that adorn the walls almost became directional aids; turn left at the Slim Aarons-style photo and then keep walking past the beautiful black and white portrait and you’re home. The corridors were surprisingly quiet at all times, despite there being close to 2,000 people on board.
We were on the ship for two nights; a round-trip sea-only voyage from Southampton to Jersey. Our room was a Retreat Balcony Stateroom; a surprisingly spacious and very well-finished room complete with huge bathtub and a balcony that looked out to the ocean below. We were blessed with unusual amounts of sunshine (for the UK at least) and so the balcony became a favourite place to sit and relax in the mornings and afternoons. In terms of décor, the room is distinctly contemporary (a theme that runs throughout the ship), and every single detail has been accounted for. With the revamp costing in the region of one billion dollars, it is definitely money well spent.
On the top deck is the main pool area, along with The Retreat towards the front of the ship. Being in a Retreat room, we had access to this private area that felt like a home within a home; sun loungers, cocktails and a jacuzzi to boot. Head round the running and walking track to the rear of the ship (past the beautifully sheltered Roof Garden) and you end up in the Sunset Bar. While the wind can pick up here, if you find the right spot it is a joy to watch the sun set with a cocktail in hand. It was also surprisingly quiet on our voyage too, and became a great place to sit around in the evenings.
It would be difficult to cover everything on the ship in one blog post, but it is safe to say that every need is catered for on board. The dizzying array of restaurants (29 in total) will serve almost any cuisine you could ever want, and each have been designed with that in mind. Normandie, the French bistro, genuinely feels like a French Bistro. Cosmopolitan, a nod to art deco New York, feels like a throwback to the Big Apple in the 1950s. Thankfully with Kelly Hoppen MBE at the helm, design is breathtaking in all the right ways.
Aside from food and drink, there is a lot of emphasis placed on immersion and entertainment on board. Each evening the Theatre puts on a performance like no other, and only occasional bounce over a rogue wave reminds you that you are indeed on a ship. The Martini Bar in the main foyer is a buzz of activity with a live band and pianist bouncing music from wall to wall. My favourite spot, however, was in Eden; the three-level bar/restaurant that occupies a vast space in the rear of the ship. Mirroring its Cornwall-based land counterpart, it was a stunning interior that transitioned from tranquility through to performance and then energetic silent disco. It’s chameleon-like ability to be anything and everything definitely providing options on board. For those who want late late nights; the casino and The Club will certainly keep you entertained until the early-hours of the morning.
Would I recommend a voyage on the Celebrity Edge over flying? Certainly. While the prices may be a little higher, and the process just that little more time consuming, it was an absolute joy to be on board. We barely felt the ship move over the 48 hours on board, and only an occasional glimpse out to the horizon reminded me that we were on water. Every single member of staff greeted us with a smile on their faces and there was a real sense of homeliness on the ship. Impressive, considering it can cater for near to 3,000 guests at full capacity.
You can find out more about the Celebrity Edge voyages (which include a very tempting voyage through the Italian coastline) and other options that Celebrity Cruises offer through the link here.