I got the first hint that the brand new Celebrity Edge wasn’t going to be the typical cruise ship the second I rolled on board. I felt like I had just entered the lobby of a W Hotel filled with famous and important people I hadn’t seen on TV yet. Subtle dance club music was playing at a volume loud enough to energize you, but low enough where you could converse normally. There was glass and metal and sleek wood and modernity everywhere. The wheelchair accessibility was superb; better than any cruise ship I’ve been on. But nowhere was the telltale sign of stereotypical Celebrity cruises with seniors dominating the population. This ship definitely belonged to a different crowd.
In early December, I had the incredible opportunity to sail on a 2-night sneak preview cruise to “nowhere” for the Celebrity Edge. There were several of these preview sailings for promotional purposes, but this one was special. It was the naming, or christening, cruise, and it would be filled with celebrities and top Royal Caribbean corporate brass, as that’s Celebrity’s parent corporation. It was a nonstop celebration filled with shows, ceremonies, free booze, incredible food, ship tours and demonstrations, and new friends and connections. I could speak endlessly about my 48-hour experience, but in this review I’ll focus on the Celebrity Edge’s wheelchair accessibility, and what your experience as a passenger in a wheelchair will be like.
Boarding the Ship
The Celebrity Edge is currently sailing Caribbean itineraries out of Fort Lauderdale and European itineraries in the Mediterranean Sea. Terminal 25 at Port Everglades is brand-new and dedicated exclusively to Celebrity ships, so this is where you would board. It is extremely modern and holds just a hint of the design that awaits you on the ship. Upon entering, you will take an elevator to the second level where you will show your boarding document — which will most likely be on your phone — and your passport. We did not have to wait in a long line to get our keys or anything else. Our cruise cards were waiting for us at our state rooms, and made the check-in process totally effortless. I had no trouble rolling up the bridge and across the gangway in my Whill Ci while rolling my carry-on sized suitcase next to me.
My best friend and I were assigned an accessible veranda state room on deck eight, specifically #8132. To say it was amazing is an understatement! Celebrity Edge has debuted what it calls infinity verandas, which are an extension of the actual stateroom that become the balcony. Using only buttons, you can lower light blocking shades and also open the window, which slides down to convert that space into a true balcony. That area also separates from the bedroom portion of the state room with two sliding doors. In addition to the queen bed that we had separated into two twin beds, there was a sofa that could convert into a third bed. I had more than ample space to get around in my chair. The room also had a desk with a sliding extension and a box with hidden power and USB outlets. There was one regular outlet next to my best friend’s bed, and I had two USB outlets next to mine.
The bathroom also had plenty of space for me to roll around, with a wide roll-under sink with plenty of counter space. The toilet was a good height for me and had grab bars all around, including a grab bar that could be lowered from the wall. The shower bench folded down from the wall, but unfortunately was one of the small square benches with plastic straps for the seating. I definitely would have preferred one of the wider wooden fold-down benches. Also, for whatever reason they attached the shower gel and shampoo dispensers so high up on the wall that only somebody standing could reach it. I expressed this concern to management and asked that they lower the dispensers so that people who cannot stand up can reach them.
Dining and Drinking
The food on the Celebrity Edge is absolutely to die for, and offers dining options in a nontraditional way. There are not two, but four dining rooms: the Normandie, which has a French theme, the Tuscany, which has an Italian theme, the Cosmopolitan, which is mostly American food, and the Cyprus, which has a Mediterranean theme. You will be assigned one of the four dining rooms for your dinners, but you can make reservations to eat instead at any of the other three dining rooms. We were assigned to the Cosmopolitan, and since we were on the ship only for two nights, we ate there both nights. The food was absolutely outstanding each time.
In addition to the traditional dining rooms, you can also eat at less formal venues like the Eden Café, the Oceanview Café (buffet), or the Mast Grill. If you want to spend a little bit more for a truly special experience at one of the specialty dining restaurants, you can eat at Fine Cut steakhouse, Raw on 5 oyster bar, the Magic Carpet restaurant, or several other eateries. For those who have reservations in certain types of suites, you also have access to the exclusive BLU and Lumiere dining rooms.
Like pretty much every other cruise ship, the Celebrity Edge has a large performance theater. However, it’s built in-the-round with a central stage, which is totally unlike theaters in any other cruise ship you have seen. If you’ve been to a Cirque du Soleil show in Las Vegas or elsewhere, you’ll get the general idea. There was also a huge wraparound screen around the stage and into other parts of the theater that add amazing effects to the various production shows. As for the quality of the shows, they completely blew my mind! I’ve gotten so jaded by cabaret-style and average production shows on other cruise ships, but what Celebrity Edge offers in production value would motivate me to spend money to see a show like that in a major city. As for the seeing itself, you can either view the show from the top row of the upper level of the theater in specially designated wheelchair spaces, or you can take a list to the lower level of the theater and sit right in front of the stage at a table or next to the theater style seating.
In addition to the theater, you can see live bands and performers at The Club or next to the Martini Bar in the Grand Plaza. but the real draw for entertainment on the Celebrity Edge is in Eden at night. It is really hard to put into words what Eden is without seeing it for yourself. During the day, it is a green and lush gathering space with a café, a bar, ample seating areas for reading and games and quiet moments, and a huge glass dome that allows plenty of natural sunlight to filter in. You can get to all three levels of Eden through an extraordinarily convenient spiraling ramp that is fantastic for wheelchair users and other passengers alike. But Eden truly comes alive at night with a cast of characters who reside in this fictional space. They are some combination of woodland fairies or sprites who absolutely love to interact with their audience. They never break character, perform dances and acrobatic acts, and are hell-bent on their mission to make you smile and have an absolutely amazing time. You really have to see it to believe it, and you will find yourself wanting to be in Eden every night of your cruise.
How do I describe this incredible feat of cruise ship engineering? Celebrity calls its “Magic Carpet” the highlight of the Edge. The “world’s first cantilevered, floating platform” is capable of moving around the ship from top to bottom. It’s about the size of a tennis court and can change functionality as it moves from deck two up to deck 16. When it’s on the bottom deck of the boat, guests will use the Magic Carpet to board the ship’s tender boats. On the upper levels, the feature will host late-night parties, dinners, and barbecues.
To use the Magic Carpet to board the tenders, wheelchair users (and all other passengers) head down to Deck 2 to the Destination Gateway. Crew members will direct you to the side of the main roped-off areas of waiting passengers. When they’re ready to take you down separately, you’ll wait at the top of a short stairway while they prep the electric stairlift for you. The maximum weight capacity of the CAMA C6 platform lift is 225 kilograms (496 pounds) and the maximum length is roughly 47 inches. Please keep these specifications in mind, as you may have to go down in a manual chair (if possible) separately from a heavy power chair or scooter. The crew are extremely helpful and want to make sure you are safe and comfortable.
Once you get to the bottom of the stairs, you’ll go down a short metal ramp with a roughly one-inch lip. Then you’ll be on the Magic Carpet! You’ll be directed to one of the two plexiglass gates that open to the tender boats. The crew will bring out a long metal ramp that clips into two grooves at the edge of the platform. This will help keep it steady, as the tender boat will likely be bobbing around. I would guesstimate that the width of the ramp at its narrowest point is approximately 30 inches. To get on the tender, several members of the crew will hold both the tender boat and the ramp as steady as possible. Then you just roll onto the ramp (which has raised edges to keep you from rolling off to the side) and onto the tender boat! You can then just roll straight ahead into a wide space between two rows and sit tight right in front of a huge window for a great view. Once you’re back at the Magic Carpet, the disembarkation process is pretty much just the reverse of boarding. The metal ramp will be laid down for you and you’ll roll off the tender boat onto the platform. You’ll go back up the small metal ramp and take the chair lift up to the Destination Gateway.
The Pool and Solarium
I did not personally get an opportunity to use the main pool or the smaller pool in the solarium. I also did not see the main pool lift installed, but I know they have one and you can make arrangements to use it with advance notice for the main pool. There is an electric lift that will get you from the main pool deck to the upper portion of the deck in order to get into the pool. I was able to use this lift by myself. I am unsure if the solarium pool or either of the hot tubs have a lift available.
I did finally arrange for any of the spa services on the Celebrity Edge. however, I was given a personal tour of the entire space. They have both a hair salon and a men’s barbershop. As for the spa services, you can get everything from a regular massage or facial to hydrotherapy and time in a crystal healing room. Almost all of the spaces are fully wheelchair accessible, and the massage tables and even the hydrotherapy table are adjustable and can be lowered to help someone transfer.
I asked at a loss for words to tell you how beautiful — and accessible — the public spaces on the Celebrity Edge are. it really feel like you are in a luxury hotel and not on a cruise ship. They’ve taken great pains with the decor by hiring some of the best design professionals in the world to create luxurious and unique spaces. Almost all of the doorways to public areas are sliding glass or have automatic pushbuttons for easy entry and exit. Every public bathroom has an accessible toilet with an automatic door opener. The elevators are large and the waiting area on each deck for the elevators is huge. There are only a few places that are inaccessible, like the upper levels of the Grand Plaza that have a couple of steps to reach. However, there is ample table seating around the central portion and you do have access to the martini bar from here. If there is something you need help reaching or you need something moved out of the way, crew members are extremely friendly and helpful and are more than happy to make sure that you have access to everything you need.
Are you ready to book the accessible cruising adventure of a lifetime on the amazing Celebrity Edge? Then contact me at Spin the Globe/Travel so we can get started!