· Travel,Cruises

Helen and I have never been cruisers. We know our cruise lines and book a lot of wonderful cruise itineraries for clients, but personally we had never quite been excited enough to board a ship with 2,500 fellow passengers. We always valued our independence when traveling. The last week has changed all that.

We were incredibly lucky to be invited to represent our host agency, Gifted Travel Network, on a pre-inaugural sailing of Celebrity's first new ship in 6 years, the EDGE.
Christened this Tuesday by Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, there is a strong story behind that decision, with Celebrity employing far more women in high positions than any of their competitors, including President and CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, who has championed gender equality since taking up her post in 2014.
Celebrity have been known as an excellent Premium large ship cruise line, but the EDGE takes them into the Luxury category for sure, leapfrogging some competitors whilst keeping pricing in line with their other ships. This was an experience we will never forget and means our travel plans for the future are even more difficult to decipher, because cruising just became a part of those plans...

The Celebrity EDGE Top 5

1. Staterooms

Our own cabin (above) in the Infinite Veranda category makes up over half the total number of staterooms and at 230 sq ft with an additional 89 sq ft veranda it is both spacious and innovative. The main feature is that the room is built right out to the edge of the ship, and so the veranda can become part of the living space if you so wish. Of course if you're interested in a Suite, there are 6 categories to choose from, with the Iconic Suite atop of the tree. Our photo below is of the 689 sq ft balcony of the Iconic Suite and for now I'll leave it to your imagination just how large the actual cabin is.

2. The Magic Carpet (below)
Another revolutionary feature is this floating platform on the side of the ship that can be raised and lowered, and varies its function as you move through the day and night. At its lowest position, it speeds up the tender process no end when a port call requires for that. On Deck 14 it becomes a daytime extension and bar for the Pool area, and at night when up at the very top, Dinner on the EDGE can be enjoyed, with stunning outdoor views and a culinary experience to match.

3. Art (above and below)
I was so intrigued by some of the original art installations to be found all over the ship, I literally walked around every deck trying to make sure I saw it all. The art themes are really continued in several of the large spaces also, where many abstract installations actually change their appearance as you move into the evening. Eden, a hard to describe lounge/bar/cabaret area at the rear of the ship with 3 levels of floor to ceiling windows exemplifies this, and was an exciting evening destination for some quirky cocktails.

4. Roof Garden (above)
I'd estimate our particular cruise was two-thirds full to capacity with travel consultants and journalists making up the bulk of the guests. One of my objections previously to cruising at all, was I wanted somewhere to relax in quiet (apart from the cabin). Here you can do it. The Roof Garden, in the evening in particular, transforms into a chill space, with many areas to slink off to and find that privacy, even with live music playing in the background. We loved it up here.

5. Boutique hotel
There were several times on this cruise when we actually forgot we were on a ship. The design is so clever, such as one of the pool areas (above), that we constantly came across smaller areas that reminded us of a boutique hotel, or several of them, if that makes sense. Even the Main Dining area is divided into 4 different themed restaurants, each serving Celebrity's core menu but then with their own signature dishes. So Main Dining even felt fairly intimate, and of course the Specialty Dining was spectacular, for instance Luminae (below).

And I haven't even mentioned the theater and music events, the tranquility of a magnificent spa, the casino and the multi-level kids programs.

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