Celebrity Cruises ship Celebrity Beyond departs on its maiden voyage tomorrow. World of Cruising went onboard the new cruise ship to find out what to expect in our latest review.
First Celebrity Cruises went to the Edge, then the Apex – now it has gone Beyond with the biggest ship in the class so far.
Proudly making her debut in Southampton in the hands of Captain Kate McCue, Celebrity Beyond embodies all the features of her older sisters but with even more to offer.
At 66ft longer than Celebrity Edge, launched in 2018, and Celebrity Apex, debuting last year, Beyond certainly has gone a bit further – which is why the name was swapped from the second ship in the fleet to the third.
There’s an extra deck and 179 more suites and staterooms, increasing the passenger capacity by 350 to 3,260.
Celebrity Beyond bars and dining
New venues include Le Voyage restaurant by French chef Daniel Boulud and the World Class Bar near the Grand Plaza, which itself has been opened up more with the Martini Bar and its spectacular evening lights display moved more centrally.
The Fine Cut steakhouse has lost outside seating to gain 50 more covers inside. On deck, the pool seating area has been expanded and the cabanas turned around to face the centre of the ship rather than the outside.
At the stern, the Sunset Bar area has doubled in size to give even better views as the sky turns red at the end of the day, and the Rooftop Garden has been expanded with two cantilevered pools.
But the main winners are The Retreat suite guests, who gain an extra floor and now have their lounge, sun deck and exclusive restaurant Luminae all in the same section.
Aqua Class, which already had its own restaurant, Blu, has for the first time gained Aqua Sky Suites, meaning those passengers can also use all the facilities in The Retreat.
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However, many of the attractions of Celebrity Beyond will be familiar to anyone who’s sailed on an Edge-class ship before.
The Magic Carpet is an orange cantilevered venue that moves up and down the starboard side, becoming a restaurant on deck 14, adding extra space on deck 5 or heading all the way down to deck 2 to become a platform to board tenders when the ship is moored offshore.
All guests have a choice of four main dining rooms – Cyprus (Greek/Mediterranean), Tuscan (Italian), Normandie (French) and Cosmopolitan (American). The menus share most dishes in common, with a selection of choices reflecting the individual venue’s cuisine.
Speciality restaurants include Le Grand Bistro (which hosts Le Petit Chef, where tiny cooks are brought to life on your table cloth through clever animation) and Dinner on the Edge – a meal on the Magic Carpet.
Snacks can be found in the Oceanview Café buffet, the Spa Café and the Café al Bacio coffee house.
The Craft Social Bar, with a selection of craft beers, also doubles up as a sports bar with big-screen TVs.
Celebrity Beyond entertainment
Entertainment is everywhere – one night on a preview cruise I walked along deck 5, from an excellent show in the theatre via a cocktail-making display in the Martini Bar to a stunning acrobatic act in Eden then back to The Club for live band karaoke followed by a DJ set into the early hours.
The singers, dancers, musicians and other performers are outstanding. I often wonder how cruise lines find such talent willing to spend months at sea.
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The three new shows created for Celebrity Beyond are Elements, a journey through air, water, earth, fire and ether; Arte, based around works of art; and Stage Door, a tribute to West End musicals.
Wonderful effects are created by using an ‘air fountain’ to blow large sheets of flowing fabric over the audience, while images play across a 110ft curved LED screen made of five panels that move and open.
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The line is also very much about wellness, with a spa, F45 fitness classes and Peloton cycles among its offerings. Gwyneth Paltrow is its well-being advisor and she’ll be joining a cruise on Celebrity Beyond in September to promote her goop products, which are also sold on board for the first time.
As you would expect with Celebrity Cruises, a lot of attention has been paid to the 1,000 new pieces of art around the ship. By the pool is a statue of an elephant balanced on a man, a walk-through area called Odyssey filled with sculptures and mirrors leads towards Eden, and many interesting works catch your eye as you stroll the decks. Like previous Edge-class ships, you’re able to look through part of the inside panelling to see the bare steel exterior of the ship, complete with graffiti from the builders.
Though Celebrity is considered a haven for adults, children aren’t forgotten, either, with Camp at Sea catering for three to 12-year-olds and the Teen Club for those aged between 13 and 17. Another plus for passengers is that wifi, drinks and tips are now included in the fare.
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Away from the public eye, money and effort has been put into sustainability too, from waste recycling to water purification and exhaust cleaning. The ship even connected to the city’s electricity supply in Southampton so the engines could be turned off while in port.
The first in the class, Celebrity Edge, introduced the concept of the ‘infinite veranda’. Instead of open balconies on some cabins there are floor-to-ceiling windows, the top half of which can be lowered for fresh air. This gives the room more space but when the weather’s fine you can pull some folding doors behind you and sit and enjoy the sea breeze.
Celebrity Beyond arrived in Southampton on April 21, fresh from the shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France, where she was constructed during the pandemic. She made a couple of preview cruises for trade and media before setting off on her 10-day maiden voyage on April 27.
Celebrity Beyond crew
At the helm is Captain Kate McCue, who became the first female to take the lead role on a major US cruise ship on Celebrity Summit in 2015. Accompanied by her cat, Bug Naked, the captain has become an Instagram star with more than a third of a million followers. During the pandemic, she spent 317 days continuously at sea.
Captain Kate told a press conference on Celebrity Beyond: “To take this ship out of the shipyard to me was like having a child. It was very tough to manoeuvre out of the locks, it’s an intense manoeuvre, but it meant that this ship was going to sea to do what it was meant to be, and that is a ship sailing around the world.”
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Another important woman in the making of Celebrity Beyond has been designer and former Dragons’ Den star Kelly Hoppen who came on board in Southampton to inspect her work. Both she and Captain Kate praised Celebrity Cruises president Lisa Lutoff-Perlo for her pioneering leadership.
It’s not the end of the road for the Edge series yet, though. Another sister, Celebrity Ascent, is due to join the fleet next year, with a fifth, as-yet-unnamed, ship completing the set in 2024.
Emerging from the years of Covid, Celebrity Cruises is determined to keep its focus on the future and never look back. Unless it’s a glorious sunset off the stern of its latest beautiful ship, of course.
Get on board
A nine-night Italian Riviera and France cruise on Celebrity Beyond, leaving Barcelona on September 24, costs from £1,677, excluding flights.