Elvis Presley may have had a huge hit with Love Me Tender, but for most cruisers of a certain age the T word inspires a feeling of dread. The good news is the arrival of glitzy new ship Celebrity Edge is set to change all that.
This most hotly anticipated 3000-passenger giant cost £650million to build and is packed with innovations designed to appeal Silver Travellers.
The most eye-catching of these is the Magic Carpet – a tangerine-coloured, tennis court-sized platform that glides up and down the side of the ship, morphing into a bar, a restaurant or a chillout zone, depending on where it stops.
But it’s at sea level when it’s a docking station that it really comes in its own creating easy and stress-free access to the super-luxurious tender boats – a game-changer for passengers with mobility problems and or anyone travelling with grandchildren.
Oh the joy of no longer having to clamber down rickety gangways and risking you neck getting into a tiny tender bobbing around precariously in the ocean!
The Magic Carpet is equally appealing in its other incarnations. I loved it in bar mode on Deck 13, and I can thoroughly recommend sipping champagne on a supersized sofa, suspended 150ft above the waves (woman very slightly overboard).
This young at heart, funky, super-stylish vibe continues throughout the ship, with interiors by top designers including by former Dragon’s Den star Kelly Hoppen. There is contemporary art round every corner which you can easily spend a whole day admiring.
Ms Hoppen’s fellow designer, Patricia Urquiola, has really gone to town (or country) with Eden – a vast conservatory-style lounge spanning three decks at the back of the ship. By day it’s a place to hang out, sip a latte and watch the sea go by through the gigantic 7,000sq ft window. By night it transforms into an entertainment and performance venue where ‘Edenists’ stroll around, performing impromptu dance routines.
If you like your entertainment a tad more traditional, Celebrity Edge has a state-of-the-art theatre with original shows including A Hot Summer Night’s Dream – inspired by the Bard but featuring some of the most brilliant dancers you’ll ever see. Passengers hoping for classic West End musical action will be disappointed, however – Edge is much too edgy for that.
Even the onboard nightclub has a twist. Called The Club (how long did that meeting last?) it hosts laser tag by day, but once the DJs start spinning you can walk through a ‘scanner’ and receive a new alien identity to act out with the ship’s resident pro dancers. It’s not for everyone – but it was jumping with aliens of all ages when I visited.
Other cruise-ship favourites thrown overboard include the main dining room, replaced by four no-charge restaurants serving French, Italian, Mediterranean and American-style food. And of the seven speciality restaurants, my standout favourite was Le Petit Chef, where animated characters are projected on to your plate and busily prepare a cartoon version of your food until the real thing appears. Great fun – unless you¹re famished – but at around £40 per person it isn’t cheap.
Add all the restaurants, bars, cafes and lounges together and, well, you’ll lose count (I¹m told the grand total is 29). And the wow-factor continues out on deck. At 23 metres, the pool is one of the longest at sea, and it’s flanked by hot tubs on stalks (Celebrity calls these ‘martini glasses’, and they¹re certainly good for a sundowner). If you’d rather kick butt than kick back, the enormous gym offers more fitness classes than any other at sea, and there¹s a jogging track that dips and rises between decks. Personally though, I preferred the gorgeous 22,000sq ft spa, where you’ll find every beauty and wellness treatment known to woman.
When the time comes to seek your own private sanctuary – or Infinite Verandah Stateroom in Edge-speak – you’re in for another nice surprise. The big twist here is glass doors that disappear at the touch of a button, turning your entire room into a veranda. It’s a brilliant idea that creates a huge sense of space – and one that rival cruise lines are sure to borrow.
The godmother of Celebrity Edge is Malala Yousafzai, the Nobel Peace Prize winner who defied the Taliban to fight for woman’s education. She is certainly an inspired and inspiring choice for an inspired and inspiring ship.