Celebrity Beyond challenges cruising stereotypes with a design-led vessel that brings the best of land-based architecture to sea. Jeannine Williamson discovers more.
I enter the darkened art installation and make my way through a mirrored area filled with gleaming tactile sculptures, including ones resembling smooth golden nuggets where you are encouraged to sit down and take in the surroundings. Walking out I find two playful figures of deer looking at their reflections in an imaginary glacial river.
It feels as if I am in an art gallery – indeed there are works by 700 artists from 40 counties still to discover – but I am actually at sea on Celebrity Beyond, the third vessel to join Celebrity Cruises’ third (cutting) Edge-class vessel. Following on from sister ships Edge and Apex, this is the largest in the trio as it is 20 metres longer, one deck higher and carries 3,260 passengers.
This means even more room to enjoy a ship that is a destination in its own right and oozes a feeling of relaxed luxury, without ever feeling starchy or ostentatious. Once again, award-winning British interior designer Kelly Hoppen has worked her magic on cabins and public areas. She has been joined by other acclaimed names including fellow Briton Tom Wright who conceived the distinctive sail-shaped Burj al Arab hotel in Dubai.
Each day I discover new things, from a signed Picasso to a wall that has been deliberately left unfinished so passengers can see the hull of the ship. That said, nobody can miss the jumbo (in every sense) elephant sculpture in the pool area which also features new infinity plunge pools that extend six feet over the side of the ship.
Another standout feature is the Magic Carpet, a hallmark on Edge and Apex, which is another unique engineering feat. Around the size of a tennis court, it’s a cantilevered platform that moves between several decks and offers guests uninterrupted views through panoramic windows while relaxing during the day, sipping cocktails in the evening or signing up for one of the speciality Dining on the Edge meals.
That said, one of my favourite spots for a sundowner is the aptly named Sunset Bar. The al fresco bar at the back of the ship has a new pergola-covered entrance and is spread out over a variety of terraces so you can find the perfect place to enjoy sunny days or capture the moment when the final rays slip over the horizon.
On the restaurant front, an all-new venue on Celebrity Beyond is Le Voyage, the first-ever fine dining restaurant at sea for French Michelin chef Daniel Boulud. With a travel theme, the intimate 50-seat dining room includes tables surrounded by balloon-like cocoons.
At night the ship takes on another guise with a raft of entertainment in different venues. The two-level theatre, with a semi-circular stage set against a curved LED screen, stages exciting and innovative shows involving acrobatics. I really loved Decadence, the high energy show at the multi-purpose space Eden, which includes a lounge, bar, cafe and restaurant. Taking place right in front of the audience, the cabaret performers mingled with the crowd and even danced on tables. Another night they moved to The Club nightspot for an evening of jazz, again with the twist of tumblers showing off their skills as part of the show. Both were great fun.
More action can be found at the extended Martini Bar which is the focal point of the three-deck Grand Plaza area. Each night, beneath a contemporary chandelier lit by glowing LED lights, the dexterous bar staff juggle cocktail shakers and bottles to music. It’s another unmissable highlight.
When it’s time to chill out there are plenty of tranquil spots, too. The ship has more deck space than its predecessors and suite guests have the extra perk of the exclusive Retreat area. Celebrity puts a big accent on wellness, so there’s also a large spa and thermal suite as well as a lush and verdant roof garden.
At the helm of Celebrity Beyond is Captain Kate McCue, America’s first female cruise ship captain and the first woman to ever sail a brand-new ship out of the Saint Nazaire shipyard in France. Yet another notable first on this stunning trailblazing vessel that challenges many presumptions about cruising and turns them on their head.
Celebrity Beyond will spend its inaugural season in the Mediterranean before repositioning to the Caribbean in October for the winter 2022/23 season. A nine-night Italian Riviera & France cruise starts from £1,321 excluding flights
Silver Travel Advisor recommends Celebrity Cruises. You can get a quote and book by calling our Silver Travel Advisors at 0800 412 5678.