If you think you’ve seen it all, just wait till you see Beyond.
When Celebrity’s newest ship, Celebrity Beyond, set sail for its maiden voyage from Southampton the last week of April, it attracted Celebrity’s most loyal following. But its past passengers had never seen anything like Beyond. The largest ship the “Modern Luxury” cruise line has ever launched, Beyond may look like its sisters, Celebrity Edge and Celebrity Apex.
But the resemblance stops at its striking bow, its cantilevered “Magic Carpet” and its X-shaped funnel. At 140,600 tons, its 1073-foot length accommodates 3,260 guests in 1646 staterooms and suites. It is longer, taller (by one deck), with even more options for dining and drinking—some 32 in all. And while you may think it is immense, it doesn’t even crack the list of the 54 largest cruise ships in the world.
Celebrity Beyond is an Adult Playground unlike any other.
While its competitors try to outdo themselves with go-cart tracks, indoor sky-diving and surf stimulators, Celebrity Beyond opts for adult pleasures. Yes, there is a “Camp at Sea” offering for young cruisers over 500 activities (!). But Beyond caters to adults. It focuses on great dining, 14 ship-wide bars and lounges, a remarkable spa and wellness ‘journeys’, extraordinary accommodations and an incredible collection of Art that rivals many a contemporary Museum.
There’s luxe shopping at the ship’s boutiques including Cartier and Bulgari—the latter offering one item of jewelry with the lofty price tag of $100,000. US.
Beyond’s Resort Deck features two glorious swimming pools—one open air and one in a Solarium. The Rooftop Garden is where live musical performances take place, movies are shown and prism light shows take place. On Beyond’s maiden voyage, Soccer Games were shown on the big screen and attracted a sizeable crowd of British passengers on board. Towards the stern of the ship, there are an additional two infinity pools for dipping, plenty of areas for lounging and a wonderful terraced “Sunset Bar” created by Star designer Nate Berkus.
To tour Beyond, let’s start at the top.
That’s where you will find the design feature that changed the Celebrity Fleet. It’s The Retreat, the home of the most luxurious suites on Edge. It’s such a success, it’s been expanded on Beyond. It’s a ‘ship within a ship’ concept designed by Englishwoman Kelly Hoppen CBE. It boasts its own lounge, and its own Dining Room, Luminae. And then there’s The Retreat Sundeck. On Beyond, it’s been expanded. It includes a sundeck that’s 40 percent larger sand two stories of outdoor pleasure. That’s a good thing because, according to Celebrity, the suites now sell out faster than any other category. They’re so popular, Celebrity has created a completely new set of “Aqua Class” Sky Suites. More on “Aqua Class” later… but all suite categories add an extra layer of luxury, services and amenities in The Retreat. The absolute top of the line are two Iconic Suites. The largest suites in the fleet have views that rivals the Captain’s. They are perched over the bow. From what we heard, they’re the first two to sell out. (At published rates of $3015.US a day per person and up, that’s astonishing to mere mortals like us.) Our absolute favorite suites however are the Edge Villas, two story affairs with their own private ‘plunge pools’ and direct access to the Retreat Sundeck.
Mere mortals may still swoon at their Staterooms
Most of these serene havens have “Infinite Verandas” introduced on Edge and perfected on Beyond. You either love them or opt for a regular balcony which are also available. We loved ours. It’s 23 percent larger than the earlier Solstice Class ships like Equinox and Silhouette. The idea is that it turns the whole living space into a Veranda. Well, not exactly…but we were particularly taken with the divider between the outdoors and in. Then there’s the bed. A King-sized mattress is kitted out with “Celebrity eXhale Bedding” which means it’s pure luxury to sleep on or in. There’s a mini-fridge, a large-screen TV and a nice little seating area, desk and plenty of closet and drawer space. The bathrooms are a model of beautiful efficiency. “Aqua Class” staterooms, like the one we sampled, have incredible showers with all manner of shower heads that took us two days to figure out. Then we sampled a “Concierge Class” stateroom where the shower was simpler to operate and everything else was practically identical. “Aqua Class”, however, entitles you to the pleasures of the SEA Thermal Suite in the Spa and a table at “Blu”, the truly glorious restaurant reserved just for those in “Aqua Class” at breakfast and dinner. (It’s closed for lunch.)
Now about those 32 Food and Beverage Experiences…
Talk about variety! There are 14 Cafés, Bars and Lounges including the Ship-Central Martini Bar which is right in the middle of Deck 3 and rises to Deck 5. It proved so popular on Edge and Apex, like everything else, it’s bigger on Beyond. There 8 specialty restaurants—read extra charge—4 Main Dining Restaurants and 4 “Complimentary” Casual Dining Venues. The largest of the latter is the truly remarkable “Oceanview Café”. There you’ll find virtually anything you could ever want to eat. Of particular pleasure, the Indian food there is tops. This is undoubtedly owed to the number of Indians who work in the ship’s galleys. The Main Dining Restaurants each feature a specific cuisine. Normandie is French, Tuscan is Italian, Cosmopolitan is New American and Cyprus is Greek Mediterranean. There’s a “Main Menu” at each of these beautiful restaurants but we found choosing the cuisine-specific items the most satisfying way to dine.
The 8 Specialty Restaurants are well-worth their extra fees
Though we couldn’t sample them all, we were bowled over by the ones we did. Fine Cut is ‘a modern steakhouse’ and quite honestly, I have never seen a New York strip the size or quality of the one I had there. Le Grand Bistro is an amazing adventure: Each tabletop comes to life with an animated “Petit Chef” who, in a very French accent, explains each dish one by one.
“Eden” overlooks the wake of the ship. Its open kitchen reveals its handsome young Chef, Nicola, preparing absolutely superb dishes to order. Try the crispy Branzino. It’s out of this world. And finally, there’s Le Voyage by Daniel Boulud. This atmospheric Fine Dining experience is helmed by Celebrity Cruises’ Global Culinary Ambassador, New York’s own Daniel Boulud. The Chef previously created dishes for both Luminae and the Chef’s Table but Le Voyage is his first-ever restaurant at sea. Every bite will confirm why Chef Boulud is a James Beard Foundation award winner for “Outstanding Restaurant”, “Outstanding Restauranteur”, “Best Chef, New York City”, and “Outstanding Chef of the Year”. Right off the main restaurant is Private Dining Room which seats eight, one of two Private Dining Rooms aboard Beyond.
A word about the woman behind Celebrity and Beyond
She is Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, the CEO of Celebrity Cruises and a true force of nature. Her professional accomplishments are legion. But what she has done to Cruise Industry culture is simply astonishing. Her true passion is boosting diversity and equity in every dimension at Celebrity Cruises. She has grown the percentage of women on the Bridge from 3 to 27 percent in just the last four years. At the very top, there’s “Captain Kate”. The Master of Celebrity Beyond, Kate McCue, is a San Francisco native and the first American woman at the helm of a cruise ship. That’s hardly the least of Lisa Lutoff-Perlo’s achievements. On our voyage we learned first hand how intent Lisa Lutoff-Perlo is on inclusiveness. She had reached out to a severely war-wounded Press Photographer. He in turn had created a gallery of phenomenal images of the marginalized people of every nationality and disability. She is truly a leader who makes this world a better place and we salute her.
There is much more to learn about Celebrity Beyond…
How she will be joined by her true sister ship, Celebrity Ascent, in Fall of 2023. And where she will sail to in the Mediterranean this summer before crossing the Atlantic in October. Beyond will spend the winter in both the Eastern and Western Caribbean before returning once again to the Med for Summer 2023.
Cover photo: Celebrity Beyond Arrives in Southampton, credit Celebrity
Credit Monte Mathews for photographs unless Celebrity is credited
See sailings here Celebrity Beyond (cruisecompete.com)