Last Updated on February 27, 2023
By John and Sandra Nowlan
With its new Edge class of cruise ships, Celebrity is poised to position itself above other premium cruise lines like Princess, Cunard, and Holland America.
Our seven-day Caribbean cruise from Fort Lauderdale aboard the line’s newest ship, Celebrity Beyond, left us in awe of its stunning architecture and many innovations.
Celebrity Beyond, at 140,000 gross tons, was built in France and entered service in April of 2022. Holding about 3300 passengers, its distinctive physical features make it stand out in any port.
It’s easy to spot the unusual parabolic bow (designed for better water flow) and the unique “Magic Carpet.” The latter is a wide orange platform that juts out from the starboard side of the ship. It moves up and down over 13 stories, and serves as a bar, restaurant, and tender platform.
Innovations Inside Celebrity Beyond
Innovations continue inside the ship. Boarding usually happens in the three-story central Grand Plaza. A massive chandelier of color-changing LED lights rises over the main feature, the huge Martini Bar. It’s here where waiters regularly entertain cruisers with their cocktail juggling skills.
Many large cruise ships have glass-enclosed elevators in this central area in addition to fore and aft elevator banks. Celebrity Beyond, however, has only two sets of stairs and lifts located near the front and back of the ship. It means a bit more walking and occasional congestion.
But strolling from bow to stern is a great way to appreciate the imaginative artwork, distinctive public rooms, passageways, and the creative use of light and color. It takes several days to explore the whole ship.
At Celebrity Beyond’s stern, where most ships of this size have the main dining room, the designers placed Eden. It’s a vast area with three full stories of glass providing remarkable water views from the bar, the lounge, an entertainment area, and the excellent specialty restaurant.
Deck 14 includes an open-air 25-yard lap pool, one of the largest at sea. On the same deck, just before the Spa, is the adult-only Solarium, a dome-covered area with a pool, hot tubs, and comfortable loungers.
One deck up is the splendid and well-cared-for Rooftop Garden with its own bar and grill, a giant screen for movies, and the ship’s unique meandering jogging track that includes a gentle incline to Deck 16. Five laps to a mile.
Tastefully Decorated Suites
Beyond’s hallways, rooms, and suites are tastefully decorated in muted shades of gray and maroon. In addition, most ocean-facing rooms boast another innovation on Celebrity Beyond, the Infinite Balcony. Instead of a door leading to a standard balcony, that popular feature is part of the enhanced room size.
At the touch of a button, the top half of the full-frame window drops down, providing sea air and an unobstructed view. In addition, the “balcony” area has chairs and more buttons to lower shades or draw a curtain to provide privacy. Most reviews we’ve seen love the feature but several people miss the standard balcony.
The ship wasn’t full, and we enjoyed an upgrade to a Sky Suite, the entry-level suite with a standard balcony. With about 300 square feet of space, it had a king-size bed, a sofa, plenty of storage space, a bathroom with a full tub and shower, and a wide sink suitable for two. The room included plush bathrobes but slippers in only one size. Too big for Sandra; too small for John.
We missed having bedside reading lights. They were lacking, perhaps, because Celebrity Beyond has no library or even a common “take one; leave one” book corner. The large TV had the usual news channels (MSNBC, Fox, and BBC) but no CNN. Also, unlike other ships we’ve been on, there were no music channels.
Celebrity Beyond Cuisine
Cuisine has always been a strong point on Celebrity cruises, and the innovations continued on Beyond. Instead of a main dining room, the designers created four separate complimentary dining areas – Cyprus, Normandie, Tuscan, and Cosmopolitan. Each also has a distinctive international theme plus dishes standard to all four restaurants.
In addition, on Deck 14, the popular buffet, Oceanview Café, was laid out in a dozen or more food islands. Each had its specialty, which was much superior to the buffets on most cruise ships. We never experienced overcrowding, and the food choices at breakfast and lunch were excellent.
Most new cruise ships have expanded the number of extra-cost specialty restaurants, and Celebrity Beyond has joined this trend. We tried three of them, Eden, Fine Cut Steakhouse, and Le Voyage by Daniel Boulud. Along with outstanding service, we also enjoyed some of our best-ever lamb shank, crab cakes, lobster casserole, prime rib, and filet mignon.
Surprisingly, our only disappointing meal was at Luminae, the high-end restaurant exclusively for suite guests. There we found the fish was less than prime. We were told that sometimes there was a seafood supply problem.
Beyond is an appropriate description of the main theatre on this ship. The dazzling technology is state-of-the-art, with a 20-foot tall, $5 million LED backscreen containing 17 million pixels and curving 110 feet around the thrust stage. It’s put to good use with imaginative shows, often featuring a live band with a dozen or more singers, dancers, and acrobats.
Captain Kate and Bug Naked
The main theatre was where guests were first introduced to Captain Kate McCue, the first American-born female captain of a mega cruise ship. Full of personality as well as having fine nautical skills, she always travels with her cat, a hairless Elf Ear Sphynx named Bug Naked.
Later in the cruise, she and Bug Naked took to the stage at The Club, another entertainment venue, to lead a trivia quiz about hairless cats and to answer questions.
Entertainment seemed almost non-stop on Celebrity Beyond with music (from classical to rock) and games (like Trivia and “Yes or No”) in The Club, Eden, the Rooftop Garden, and the Grand Plaza.
However, we were disappointed that the ship offered no enrichment lectures with specialists on Caribbean history, current events, and the like. Also, there were no live port talks before our various stops. Instead, there was tour information on our TVs.
Technology now plays a key role in entertainment and guest experience. Most guests seem to have smartphones, and they’re quickly becoming necessary to access restaurant menus, up-to-date event information, and tour details. Leisure travel on cruise ships is changing fast.
Overall, we were very impressed with Celebrity Beyond, especially its service staff, cuisine, and imaginative architecture.