Miami may be the world’s busiest cruise port, but there’s more to adventures afloat here than the voyages themselves. At the Innovation Lab – an unassuming building just a stone’s throw from Miami’s docks – Celebrity Cruises were revealing how “magic” happens.
Via full-size cabin mock-ups not dissimilar to the “rooms” at IKEA, and a 3D virtual reality simulator, cruise line representatives were breathing life into designs for the new cruise ship Celebrity Edge, launching next December.
Whether it’s a new dining concept, first at-sea attraction or a one-of-a-kind innovation, the evolution of cruising continues apace. The reveal of Celebrity Edge, the first of a new class of ship, raises that bar one notch higher.
As one might expect from the “modern luxury” brand’s first new ship for six years (and its first fresh design in a decade), Celebrity Edge features industry firsts that the company’s CEO, Richard Fain, reckons “will establish a new baseline for cruise ships.”
Billed as “a ship designed to leave the future behind”, Edge features Kelly Hoppen interiors, enlarged cabins and a uniquely versatile Magic Carpet among her many USPs. Architectural rules have been rewritten to create an “outward-facing” aesthetic that breaks from traditional ship design and promises to be the envy of the industry.
Central to the concept is a desire for “greater connection with the ocean”. This is realised most dramatically in the Magic Carpet – a platform that slides between decks. At its lowest position, it’s the Destination Gateway: an embarkation station that makes for more comfortable tendering.
Raised to Deck 5, it’s an al-fresco restaurant, or additional entertainment space higher still at Resort Deck level. At its highest elevation,it becomes a speciality restaurant for an intimate “Dinner on the Edge”.
This game-changing innovation is the work of British architect Tom Wright, whose most talked-about project until now, was Dubai’s sail-like Burj al Arab hotel. Wright’s influence extends to Celebrity Edge’s Resort Deck, whose double-height cabanas and figure-of-eight jogging track further embody the outward-facing brief.
Equally ingenious are the Infinite Veranda Staterooms, where balcony and living area are merged into one continuous space. At the touch of a button, guests will be able to expand their stateroom by almost a quarter, stretching it to the water’s edge.
For celebrity designer Kelly Hoppen, this was new ground. Her first cruise ship commission, it is also her biggest project to date. “I’d never been on a cruise before, but felt this would be a great challenge,” she said at the launch in Miami.
Refusing to scope out other brands for research, Hoppen “wanted to come from a different angle so that I could really push the boundaries.”
She has transformed the onboard environment, even redesigning the emergency exit signs.
The result is thrillingly chic: staterooms dressed in elemental tones (including Hoppen’s signature taupe) lifted by splashes of colour, plus public areas that rival any luxury hotel on land. Especially noteworthy are the two new suite categories, with six split-level Edge Villas and two vast Iconic Suites situated above the bridge for views even better than the Captain’s.
Does it work? The ship doesn’t launch for another 21 months but over 800 bookings were taken within hours of the launch. Not only are revolutionary designs good for business; they’ve put Celebrity Cruises well ahead of the game.
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