Sara Macefield pays a visit to the innovative newcomer Celebrity Edge, as the company reveals its sister ship will be operating out of the south coast port
UK agents have welcomed the news that Celebrity Cruises is to bring its second Edge-class ship Celebrity Apex to Southampton to be christened in April 2020, after which it will operate a maiden mini-series of voyages.
The announcement came during a visit for trade partners and media to the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Brittany where the line’s acclaimed first new ship in six years, Celebrity Edge, is close to completion.
President and chief executive Lisa Lutoff-Perlo and UK & Ireland managing director Jo Rzymowska said more details would be revealed on November 29, just prior to Celebrity Edge’s christening in Fort Lauderdale by peace campaigner and Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai.
The move is regarded as recognition of the strong support for Celebrity Edge from the UK trade and its popularity among consumers.
The company is now throwing down the gauntlet to retailers to build on this, especially as Celebrity Apex’s Southampton season marks the first time the line will operate two ships from the port with Celebrity Silhouette returning for a third consecutive year.
Vision Cruise managing director Andrew Runacres hailed the announcement about Celebrity Apex as excellent news for British cruisers and the industry.
He was also impressed with his first look at Celebrity Edge, adding: “It takes cruising to another level with its innovation, design and inspiration.”
Commenting on the reaction to the new $800 million vessel Lutoff-Perlo added: “It has been extraordinary in the UK and surpassed our expectations, which is why we are bringing Celebrity Apex to Southampton.
“Consumers have responded to the brand and Celebrity Edge, so this mini season of sailings will be a test of the market support.”
Company chiefs are confident the 2,908-passenger newcomer – the first of four Edge-class vessels – will make an even bigger impact on the brand than the Solstice-class ships which debuted in 2008.
“Ten years is a long time in shipbuilding and design and a long time for us to have a new class of ship, so we have pushed the envelope as far as we can,” Lutoff-Perlo added.
This is evident from Celebrity Edge’s standout features that many were seeing for the first time on September’s visit.
Lunch was served on the Magic Carpet – the revolutionary moving platform cantilevered on to the side of the ship that transforms from a disembarkation/embarkation platform to a bar and a restaurant as it moves between 13 decks.
The Grand Plaza promises to be a jaw-dropping focal point, dominated by the LED chandelier and billed as the ship’s beating heart, while the three-storey Eden “pleasure garden” with its vast glass windows was already taking shape as a jaw-dropping space.
The Infinite Veranda cabins, which have a window that moves down to create a Juliette balcony area which can be closed-off from the cabin with bi-fold doors, work so well you can’t help wondering why it hasn’t been done on ocean ships before – though similar concepts have been successful in the river cruising world.
Even the lifeboats have been renamed launches to reflect their swanky new look with faux wooden floors and leather-style seats.
The hallmarks of Celebrity Edge are the high ceilings and ample use of glass that lets in natural light at every angle, complementing the smooth lines and curves that roll wave-like through the interiors.
“Celebrity Edge is not just an evolution; it’s a revolution and we are confident it will have an even bigger impact on the overall industry than Celebrity Solstice did when it launched,” Rzymowska predicted.