Herald Travel takes an inside look at the new Celebrity Beyond cruise ship. Video / NZ Herald
With sophisticated nightlife and sleek design, is Celebrity Beyond the ship that can sell cruises to millennials, asks Joanna Booth
A ship’s sponsor is more than someone who smashes a bottle of champagne against the bow. Look at the celebrity behind the bubbles and you’ll find out who the cruise is for. Partying Pitbull and Katy Perry did the honors for Norwegian Cruise Line. Princess Cruises, a traditional and refined cruise, has attracted real-life royalty with the Duchess of Cambridge. And movie legend Sophia Loren brings that old-school dazzle to the entire MSC Cruises fleet.
With the sponsors of its newest and most innovative ships, Celebrity Cruises has worked hard to signal its appeal to a new audience. Celebrity Edge was launched in 2018 with the blessing of Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, and its latest ship, Celebrity Beyond, is sponsored by Olympic gymnast Simone Biles.
Inspiring, ambitious and – above all – young, these women are not your typical cruisers. But then, Celebrity Beyond isn’t your typical cruise ship. It’s not big, brash and brightly colored, filled with slides and rides and aimed at the family market. Nor is it small, quiet, cultured and perfect for couples of – dare we whisper it – a certain vintage.
Celebrity Beyond is…different. From its F45 and Peloton studios, offering high-intensity group workouts, to its striking art collection – which includes an immersive sculpture space, where you walk among flowing bronze forms in near-darkness – it is new, vigorous and unconventional.
Beyond is sophisticated but not stuffy, lively but not loud – a ship suited to the demographics that may have dismissed cruising as “not for them”. A couple in their thirties looking to tick off a host of destinations in a single vacation would feel at home here, as would a group celebrating a 40th anniversary in style, or a family with teenagers rolling their eyes at the thought of a traditional children’s club.
This does not mean that youth is a must; the young at heart, empty nesters and retirees will also appreciate the vibrant atmosphere and cosmopolitan lifestyle on board. From morning meditation sessions to late night jazz, there’s always something to keep you interested, but with screeds of outdoor space and stylish lounges, you’re never short of a place to relax and do nothing. .
This vibe of lively elegance is, at least in part, due to the ship’s appearance, which owes more to the hotel’s design than anything more recognizably maritime. Some of the more avant-garde aspects are the work of Tom Wright, the British architect behind Dubai’s iconic sail-shaped hotel, the Burj Al Arab. You’ll find its influence in the resort’s asymmetrical terrace, where curved, organic shapes create intimate cabana-style hideaways, in the rooftop garden with its cantilevered hot tubs, and in the unique Magic Carpet. This striking tennis-court-sized structure, made entirely of tangerine steel and wide glazing, juts directly out of the side of the ship, migrating between various decks to provide everything from an open-air extension to the restaurant of sushi to a new way to access tenders when they need to land.
Another Brit, interior designer Kelly Hoppen, brought her own elegant and tranquil aesthetic to the cabins. Its signature palette of neutrals emphasizes the quality of the furniture – think
Cashmere mattresses on the king-size beds — and the tone is definitely that of a boutique hotel, with clean lines and an airy, spacious feel. I loved the “infinite veranda” in my cabin, a nifty trick where the entire top half of the floor-to-ceiling window slides down, creating a balcony when desired while still maintaining the entire uninterrupted footprint of the cabin as interior living space when you don’t.
The suites are even more chic, which include two-story Edge Villas with private plunge pools, and the Iconic Suite, the largest in the Celebrity fleet, a sprawling two-bedroom behemoth with its own Peloton bike, expansive veranda, and pitch. above deck, giving you the same view as Captain Kate McCue, the impossibly glamorous skipper. Suite guests have access to The Retreat, an exclusive area of the ship with a two-story sun deck, private lounge and its own restaurant, Luminae, with signature dishes designed by Celebrity’s Global Culinary Ambassador, Chef starred Daniel Boulud.
Although The Retreat offers an extra level of luxury, the entire ship has an upscale feel and an emphasis on dining and nightlife that will appeal to this younger, more sophisticated demographic.
Choosing where to eat is a pleasure, with eight specialty restaurants including the Fine Cut steakhouse, the Raw on Five sushi bar and the jewel in the crown, Le Voyage by Daniel Boulud, the first restaurant at sea offering the chef’s fine French cuisine . . For an intriguing evening, try Le Petit Chef – your table comes to life with clever entertainment, all centered around the menu you are served.
Free dining options are no slouch either, with four unique a la carte restaurants serving Greek, Italian, French, and American cuisine in beautifully designed surroundings.
When it comes to nightlife, Beyond’s bars really excel. I felt like I had traveled around the world in one evening. Sipping champagne at the open-air Sunset Bar transported me to a Mediterranean rooftop, while the innovative cocktails at the low-lit World Class Bar tasted as good as any prepared for me by a London mixologist. With its gigantic chandelier and bartenders weaving their way through polished flair shows, the Martini Bar made me feel like I was ending the night in New York.
Evening entertainment is equally slick. The main theater is state-of-the-art, with a host of shows blending music, choreography and visual effects. But the most fun to have, for my money, is at Eden. This architecturally prodigious plant-filled space is unlike anything else afloat, with three stories of glazing, a sloping walkway punctuated by hidden nooks, an open-kitchen restaurant, and a towering central bar. In the daytime you might stumble upon a yoga class or a live acoustic set here, but at night it becomes the dance floor of the silent disco and a venue for a raffish but never rude cabaret show. . It’s glamorous, unusual and a lot of fun – enough to convince even the most skeptical that cruising can be cool.
4 Celebrity cruises to book
1. Mediterranean magic
Experience Celebrity Beyond for yourself on a spring cruise around the Mediterranean. The 12-night Italy, Turkey, and Greek Isles cruise visits historic heavyweights including Rome, Athens, Naples, and Ephesus, and stays overnight in Istanbul. You’ll also see the idyllic islands of Santorini, Crete, and Mykonos, and spend two days at sea to make the most of the ship itself.
Departing May 23, 2023, round trip to Rome starts from $5756 per person
2. Australian appellations
You don’t have to travel long distances to enjoy one of Celebrity’s newest ships. Beyond’s sister Celebrity Edge arrives at Downunder in 2024 and, among other routes, will take a nine-night Australian wine trip that will suit those who enjoy the finer things in life. Cruising round-trip from Sydney, you’ll stop in Melbourne, Adelaide, Kangaroo Island and Hobart, interspersed with four days at sea for more rest and relaxation.
Departing April 5, 2024, return travel to Sydney starts from $3042 per person.
3. Scandinavian summer
If you just can’t wait to get on board, Beyond’s other sister, Celebrity Apex, is sailing the Baltic Sea this northern summer. The 12-night Best of Scandinavia will feature a handful of capitals, including Copenhagen, Helsinki, Tallinn, Berlin and Stockholm, spending the night in the latter so you can enjoy a balmy August evening in the Swedish city. You will also take full advantage of the complex’s terrace, with four days at sea to spend under the northern sun.
Departing August 20, 2022, Roundtrip Amsterdam Cruise Starts From $5132 pp
4. Straight to the South Pacific
Celebrity will be bringing one of its oldest but still stylish ships, Celebrity Eclipse, to New Zealand at the end of the year, and January will see a 12-night sail take you to the heart of the South Pacific from Auckland. Calling at ports in Fiji, Samoa, American Samoa and Tonga, the itinerary also includes six days at sea, so you’ll have time to play bocce or putt golf balls on the lawn of the real grass roof, enjoy a wine tasting at the Cellar Masters bar, and enjoy a lively dinner with Le Petit Chef.
Departing January 14, 2023, Auckland round-trip sailing starts from $3832 per person.
CHECKLIST: CELEBRITY BEYOND
DETAILSCelebrity Cruises fares include accommodations, beverages, gratuities, Wi-Fi, dining at complimentary venues, room service, entertainment and activities. 0800 445 885, celebritycruises.com/nz