The Edge was overall a great experience and an interesting change from other cruises.
The full gallery of ship-related photos for this sailing can be viewed at: https://photos.app.goo.gl/pkTDmh2vB3ByGvKb9
General thoughts on the ship:
The new terminal is really well-designed for getting people on and off the ship quickly, but the gangway at Port Everglades seemed needlessly long. Having checked in with the app, you simply proceed on board after going through security and presenting the electronic boarding pass. You get to skip the desk. No forms and no photos needed. There is a biometric facial recognition system in place for disembarkation which has sped up disembarkation dramatically. No need to fill out forms, present a passport (passport is still required, but not checked in standard scenarios), and no speaking with Customs officers. Ultimately, there is no waiting at all at the beginning or end with the combination of the app check in and the biometric facial recognition at the end.
The boarding times listed pre-cruise were inaccurate/misleading. We actually left Ft Lauderdale early, which made sense given the distance to Puerto Rico, but the boarding times did not reflect the early nature of this departure. We were the very first ship out of port on Sunday afternoon (whereas Princess normally goes first). We got a much-appreciated added hour in San Juan (at the beginning) and St Maarten (at the end), the latter of which was crucial given the 26,000-passenger port load that day as well as the Heineken Regatta which resulted in traffic chaos. We (and many others) would’ve missed the earlier (scheduled) all aboard time due to the traffic.
The app is generally good and helpful, but it is buggy. The virtual key never worked despite being set up. I liked having the ability to control the TV and lights with the app (particularly the 50% light function). The app is identical to the Royal Caribbean app, with the addition of controls for stateroom temperature, lighting, blinds, and TV. The chat feature is complimentary, at least while it’s in its beta phase. It turned out that there is a substantially less expensive internet package available on board than the one advertised pre-cruise.
The built-in night light in the bathroom was a great feature. The size of the shower and the design (glass enclosure with hinged door) were great, but I missed having a drying line in there for wet clothes. Having a real hair dryer and a working plug in the bathroom was a huge improvement. I also liked having a push out door on the bathroom vs the usual (unsanitary) lever. Unfortunately, the sink is too high and the shallow rectangular design results in water spilling if you try to rinse anything out in the sink.
The third (sofa) bed was actually comfortable! I found out on the last day that our room was actually a quad, with a trundle bed under the sofa. This was a good, unobtrusive design!
The robes provided in the room were nice: soft and a good (substantial, but not too heavy) weight. I would’ve bought one if they were offered for sale as some lines do. Unfortunately, storage in the room is extremely limited. There are a lot of wasted chances to include usable space (for example, above the desk or beds). The room had a good number and assortment of outlets.
We had one of the new infinite verandas, where the entire stateroom goes into the former balcony area, which adds to the living space. This is somewhat similar in concept to a river cruise French balcony, but the window opens from the top down, allowing air flow without a strong breeze blowing through the room. Salt builds up quickly on the window and will gum up the track over time. Salt is also likely to corrode the nearby furniture quickly. A button to open the infinite veranda completely or close it completely (like there is for the blinds) would be greatly appreciated over having to hold the button down the whole time.
We did a cabin crawl that took us through various room categories, from oceanviews to the Iconic Suite.
The Celebrity Suite is a nice step up from the Sky Suites, which are the entry-level suite category. This is a Celebrity Suite:
The Iconic Suite is a total “wow!” experience, with its own private deck, hot tub, Peloton bike, full dining room, two bedrooms (including a giant master suite with an ocean-facing king bed), massive master bathroom, full walk-in closet and so forth. There’s even a private butler’s pantry for the crew to use in service of a party in the suite. The one room type I missed out on getting to fully explore is the two-level Edge Villas, but the Iconic Suite is the most expensive on board (and one step through the door and you can see why).
I did manage to sneak a glimpse at the Edge Villa, though:
The food overall was really good in both variety and quality. The hot cinnamon rolls at Eden were tremendous. There are four main dining rooms included in the cruise fare. Cyprus was my favorite dining room, with the hummus and assorted condiments that were fixtures in other Celebrity ships’ main dining rooms, the prettiest decor of the four, and a taverna salad being on the nightly menu. Main dining service generally takes too long for my preferences, so the buffet having a great variety at night was much appreciated. I love the hand washing stations at the buffet, but would have appreciated another, smaller station at the back side of the buffet (near the pizza area) for those who enter from the outside.
There was a sad amount of food waste. Too much quantity of each item, and the displays of whole fish just “for display only” were unfortunate. This seemed at odds with Celebrity’s push to make this ship more sustainable, with 25% greater fuel efficiency, metal water bottles to replace single-use plastics, etc. Like everywhere recently, this ship is using paper straws for drinks.
I missed having afternoon tea, which was a favorite on other Celebrity ships. They have aggressively downsized the gelato offering from a whole area near Café al Bacio to just two selections in the standard ice cream area at the buffet. This was surprising, and diminishes the value of it as a perk for Captains Club members. Some of the drink prices were insane (e.g. $17 for one drink in the Magic Carpet), but a “standard” bar drink or wine was a more reasonable $9.
The service was generally very good throughout the ship. Guest Services seemed understaffed, but the crew were helpful when you could finally get to them. Some of the bars/offerings said they were closed 10 minutes before actual time (e.g. at the spa cafe “we close at 2” but it was 1:50).
Much of the design was fantastic. There are nice little touches like real orchids in the public restrooms that make the whole experience seem higher end. The Destination Gateway was a huge positive change over the usual embarkation area, and allowed that space to be repurposed during the sea days. Great idea!
The spa is gorgeous, and the fitness center is large with good variety. The martini glass-shaped hot tubs are cute, and I appreciated being able to use the towels without worrying about the hours of a check in/out desk (and the implicit assumption that you’re going to steal the towels).
The open design is very nice. I like the open layout of the future cruise office, and the open atrium from decks 3 to 5 is actually usable/functional in a way that other cruise lines miss. The extremely downsized photo supply (cameras, etc.) offering was disappointing as I’ve found Celebrity to have a great selection in the past.
The Club is much nicer and more versatile than the old mini theater (Celebrity Central). The theater is very well-designed, with very few obstructions/poles (and the ones there are have something velvety on them, good for those standing-room only shows).
Some of the chairs (the swinging chairs in Eden, and some of the really soft velvety chairs in the atrium area) were super comfortable. So nice I want to order some for my own house! But most seating was odd and uncomfortable. There were many dozens of different chair designs on board.
Some of the design was a huge step back, though. I hated the lack of front access to the outside. The huge front deck on 14 was reserved only for spa pass holders, and there was no way out on any other deck. There doesn’t seem to be a truly unobstructed view from any stateroom, or even the pool deck. Parts of the ship show up in every picture unless you’re shooting something straight ahead. While taking pictures, I noticed a fair amount of rust and staining already for only three months in; seems like a bad sign for the ship’s future appearance. The pervasive gray color scheme, while attractive and very “now,” is bound to look dated in the not-too-distant future (i.e. “that looks so 2018/19!”).
I miss the lawn from the Solstice class ships. The rooftop “garden” is good for movies, but not inviting otherwise. The Sunset Bar has been greatly reduced in size, and most of what remains is a smoking section, so I never went there after the initial (extremely overcrowded) sailaway. In general, there seems to be a huge reduction in/lack of relaxation areas for non-suite guests.
On the morning of disembarkation, despite daily walking of the outer decks, I discovered a hidden relaxation area on Deck 15 overlooking (but disconnected from) the Serenity area. I wish I had known about this area when I could use it. I imagine it’s very lightly used due to the hidden nature of it.
The “winner” for the worst design is the tacky black-floored mirrored hall on Deck 5 with metallic pole/sculptures that looked like it belonged on an old Carnival ship. This seemed totally out of place.
With the elevators, the green and red indicator lights that show whether the elevator is headed up or down are a good addition. However, the touchscreen design of the panel inside is too sensitive and resulted in the elevator stopping on every deck if someone leaned on it. Carnival Horizon’s “smart elevators” are much more efficient.
I really enjoyed the theater shows. Bandaoke, trivia, the “game shows” etc. were all fun. The casino was large and smelled nice (in addition to being smoke free, they seemed to be treating the air with something “clean” smelling) and I appreciated the free tournaments and free play that were occasionally offered. The watch-making seminar was interesting and not a sales pitch like most ship seminars turn into. I also enjoyed the Captains Club wine tasting event.
Overall, the downsides were minimal, and we are looking forward to our next cruise on the Edge!