Sue Bryant explores Celebrity’s much-hyped new ship.
You’d spot the new Celebrity Edge from miles away, thanks to the Magic Carpet. The 2,198-passenger ship, which made its debut in Miami in November, is adorned with a bright orange platform, the size of a tennis court, cantilevered over the starboard side and decked out with chic outdoor furniture, plants and a bar.
The Magic Carpet is a smart piece of kit, moving up and down between decks, with different functions at each of four stops. On deck two, it’s used for luxury embarkation. On deck five, it’s an extension of the Raw on 5 seafood restaurant. At deck 14, it’s a chill-out bar next to the pool, and at the highest point, deck 16, an exclusive speciality restaurant. It would be easy to dismiss the Magic Carpet as a gimmick, but it’s already a big hit with passengers. With the sea-facing wall all glass, you really do feel as though you’re perched on the ‘edge’.
If the Magic Carpet is impressive, the Eden lounge really had the engineers at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire scratching their heads. According to Celebrity’s president and CEO, Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, it’s the most complex space the yard has ever built, three decks high and sustaining the largest glass wall at sea, the ceiling propped up by slender, tree-like pillars. A circular ramp spirals around the edge, with uninterrupted views of the wake, or a vantage point down over a mass of lush, tropical plants, a bar, restaurant and lounge with all-day entertainment.
Meanwhile, the technology in the theatre blows anything in the West End out of the water. A system of 154 speakers, called Constellation, the only one of its kind at sea, provides sound so cleverly engineered that it can give the illusion of being in a cathedral, or at a rock concert in a giant arena. The stage is set against 10 giant LED screens, the tallest at sea (there are a lot of superlatives on this ship), with 18 projectors and 220 lights creating extraordinary effects.
Cabins, too, push the boundaries of ship design. In the 918 Infinite Veranda staterooms, the top half of a wall of glass slides down to create a balcony effect – done before on riverboats, but to fit these on an ocean-going ship, the whole supporting spine of the ship had to be shifted, which involved extensive 3D modelling. There’s a cool app, too, which controls the lights and shutter in each cabin and even opens the door.
Perhaps the quirkiest bit of innovation, though, is Le Petit Chef – dinner with a difference in Le Grand Bistro. Four tiny, 3D chefs appear in front of diners at each place setting and scurry around, preparing food and arranging it on the plate. Once the dish has been assembled, the mini chefs sit back with a flourish and waiters appear, bearing the actual food, identically presented.
The technology was designed by Belgian company Skullmapping, beaming the 3D images from projectors embedded in the ceiling. It’s so complex that it takes one day for four people to create one second of video. Gimmicky? Certainly, but it’s enormous fun and the combination of whimsy and cutting-edge design really sums up this clever, thoughtfully designed ship.