'I thought cruising was tacky, but Celebrity Edge has converted me': How life on the billion-dollar ship named best new liner of 2018 is one 'pinch me' moment after another
MailOnline Travel's Samantha Lewis was mightily impressed when she was given a tour of Celebrity Cruises' new billion-dollar vessel, Celebrity Edge, before its first trip from Fort Lauderdale in Florida last month, as she reported.
She then spent two nights aboard the liner - named best new ship of 2018 by Cruise Critic - and continued to be wowed. Here's her account of a trip that converted her to cruising...
Cruising has never really taken my fancy mainly because, if I'm completely honest, I thought it was a bit tacky. I always imagined it to be a sort of floating holiday camp with perma-tanned retirees, all-you-can-eat buffets and show tunes.
However, that was until the chance came to preview Celebrity Edge.
I was invited to join a two-night taster cruise leaving Fort Lauderdale in Florida, where Celebrity Edge was docked, for a short trip to Nassau in the Bahamas.
Intrigued to see what all the fuss about, I packed my bags and jetted off Stateside to embark on my first ocean odyssey.
When the day came for the cutting-edge vessel to set sail I had already been in Florida for a couple of days so I could have an exclusive sneak peek of the ship.
It had wowed me but I knew when it was full of passengers I’d get an entirely different experience.
It was mid-morning when we arrived at the swanky terminal at Port Everglades to check-in. The process ran extremely smoothly and within minutes I was shown to my room.
My cabin had one of the ‘infinite verandas’, designed to blur the line between indoors and outdoors. At the touch of a button I was able to lift up a screen to reveal a spacious balcony, with the option to activate floor-to-ceiling windows to seal off the outside space.
After quickly unpacking, I spent the rest of the day wandering around exploring every nook and cranny.
There were around 2,000 members of the trade and media on board, plus a group of 'influencers' - one of many signs Celebrity Cruises was hoping to woo the millennial crowd with its latest offeri
Everyone was taking dozens of photos and Instagram was going wild.
deck it's docked at. Here it's being used to load passengers on and off tenders
My first evening started with cocktails in the Martini Bar while admiring the bling-tastic chandelier, which weighs seven tonnes and serves as the hub of the ship.
We then headed to Normandie, one of the four main restaurants for dinner. The décor is beautiful and everything from the salt and pepper pots to the side plates is coloured in pastel shades of pink. It serves contemporary French cuisine and my main course of lavender infused salmon was an absolute revelation.
And then I ended the night as an alien. No, really.
The entertainment in The Club was a Secret Cinema-style immersive experience where on arrival you were given an alien alias and assigned a task. Sadly I never did track down the fortune teller who had been exiled from her home planet.
The next morning I had another pinch-me moment as I watched the sun rise over the Bahamas, before eating myself silly at breakfast in Ocean View Café. I stacked my plate with everything from coconut French toast to a cinnamon bun. Cruising, I learnt, was not for the carb-conscious.
Thankfully much of the rest of the day was spent lying horizontally in the spa, which is without doubt the best I have been to on land or at sea.
It’s the vision of acclaimed designer Kelly Hoppen and crystals feature heavily. There’s a huge amethyst crystal in one of the sea thermal suites - and you even get to take a crystal away with you after your treatment.
I had a Power Poultice Massage, which was performed on a warm bed made from tiny amber and quartz crystals. It was, as I’d been promised, quite literally life-changing. After a glass of grapefruit-infused water drunk on a heated lounger gazing out to the ocean, I floated back to my room to get ready for dinner.
For the final night I was invited to dine at Eden for some more immersive fun - think Midsummer Night's Dream meets Cirque Du Soleil. Actors dressed in fairy costumes wafted around the garden-themed restaurant, while others swung from a trapeze. My fellow diners found it bizarre but I enjoyed the spectacle.
And just like that it was time to return to reality. We all agreed that two days was not long enough as we disembarked early the next morning.
You know it has been a good trip, I reflected, when the only disappointment was not having space in your suitcase to take home the complimentary bottle of Veuve Clicquot.
I think I could get used to the cruise life...