For years my parents have been telling me to go on a cruise.
“Everything is all in one place”, “there’s great entertainment” and “you can have anything you like for dinner” were all selling points they tried. But I was a tough one to convert.
I recently got off a two-day preview of Celebrity Cruise’s newest ship Celebrity Beyond, and it’s fair to say I get it.
I went aboard not really knowing what to expect, and while two days without port stops wasn’t enough to understand the full cruise experience, it provided enough of a taster for me to understand the appeal of cruising, especially on a boat like this.
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The first thing to note about Celebrity Beyond – the third ship in Celebrity’s Edge Series that came with a price tag of around US $ 1 billion ($ 1.56b) – is there aren’t any gimmicks. There aren’t any go-kart tracks or slidesinstead, the focus is on relaxation, well-being and luxury – Goop’s Gwyneth Paltrow played a hand as the well-being advisor for the company.
I know if you’re looking for a relaxing holiday – without the kids – where you barely have to lift a finger, then this might just be the one for you.
There are 1646 staterooms on the ship (179 more rooms than previous ships), catering to 3260 guests and ranging in price. There are inside rooms, rooms with balconies, luxury suites (one that even costs around US $ 80,000 for a 10-night itinerary and comes with its own Peloton) and two-story villas complete with private plunge pools.
The latter two room options give guests access to an exclusive part of the ship called The Retreat. Celebrity describes it as a resort within a resort, with guests gaining access to a private restaurant and lounge space.
While I didn’t stay in one of these rooms (Ronan Keating was on board so he may have), I was able to peek inside The Retreat and check out the high-end suites on offer. The Iconic Suite (the one with the Peloton) was the size of my flat in Wellington.
I stayed in an infinite veranda room. It had a firm yet comfortable bed, a TV, desk, lounge and wardrobe, with a shower in the bathroom. Its name is derived from the floor to ceiling window that could be opened to transform the room.
An important note to make after spending just two days on this ship … no-one will be going hungry.
I barely scratched the surface of the restaurant offerings on this ship, but I definitely tried my best to taste as much as I could (for research purposes, of course).
There are 32 food and drink venues on the boat. Yep, 32 – 15 restaurants, five cafés and 12 bars and lounges.
For breakfast and lunch, there are a number of casual dining options available. The Oceanview Cafe was the go-to for me during my stay on board.
At breakfast, it served a variety of breakfast foods from around the world, and then changed its offerings throughout the day. While this was a buffet, staff were serving guests the food they requested.
In terms of in-between meals, the various cafés are always open to fulfill your coffee and snack needs. You could even sip on a signature Goop smoothie at the Spa Cafe And Juice Bar (for an additional cost).
There are four main dining restaurants that are included in the price of the cruise – Tuscan, Cyprus, Normandie and Cosmopolitan restaurants – as well as eight specialty restaurants that come at an additional cost – Eden, Rooftop Garden Grill, The Magic Carpet, Raw on 5, Le Petit Chef, Le Grand Bistro, Fine Cut Steakhouse, and Le Voyage.
Each restaurant offers different cuisines and culinary experiences. Raw on 5 transports you to Japan with an array of sushi, sashimi and dumplings – and was a definite standout. Fine Cut Steakhouse, as the name suggests, specializes in quality cuts of steak with mouthwatering sides – the Gruyère cheese tater tots were mouthwatering – and an extensive wine list (one of the most expensive bottles on the menu cost US $ 4500). The Rooftop Garden Grill offers more relaxed dining options with sandwiches and share plates. And Le Voyage, the first restaurant at sea by world-renowned chef Daniel Boulud, offers a menu inspired by culinary experiences around the world.
One culinary highlight on my cruise was dinner at Le Petit Chef. It’s a digitally immersive dining experience that sees your dinner plate and table come to life with an animation that teaches you about the food you’re being served. If you’re booking onto this ship and have the opportunity to dine at Le Petit Chef, I would recommend it as it’s quite a nice and unique experience.
In terms of bars, the Sunset Bar, as the name suggests, was a great spot for a drink in the afternoon to watch the sunset. The decor of this bar is beautiful and makes you feel as though you’ve been transported to the Mediterranean – and this boat even goes through the Mediterranean so how perfect is that?
The Martini Bar in the center of the ship is also a great spot to grab a drink and every night, multiple times a night, the bar staff perform a cocktail show, tossing drinks in the air and pouring almost a dozen martinis blindfolded.
And that leads me to the main entertainment aboard the ship.
I don’t know what I expected from this ship in terms of entertainment, but I was definitely impressed by the performances.
I got to watch two of the three theater shows – Arta performance bringing iconic works of art to life, and Stage Doora spectacular collection of some of the biggest Broadway hits including Chicago, Hamilton and Moulin Rouge. If you love musicals – and, like me, have been dying to see Hamilton performed live – the latter is a show I would definitely recommend.
If you’re not into big stage productions then you might enjoy the more laid back performances of Wonder at Eden and The Jazz Joint. The Wonder at Eden performance had my jaw on the ground; the stunts performed by the talented group of dancers and acrobats were just outstanding.
On top of all of this, the ship has the basics you would expect from a luxury cruise liner – multiple pools and jacuzzis, sun lounges and relaxation spots (Eden is a great spot to unwind with a book and a coffee).
If you’re eager to work off some of the food you’ve indulged in on the ship, there’s a gym with great views overlooking the water as well as a variety of exercise classes – the cult fitness class F45 is on board, there are also sunrise and sunset yoga classes and a running track around the top decks.
Beyond currently has 35 itineraries on its schedule, ranging from five nights to 14 nights around the Mediterranean and Caribbean.
Some itineraries include nine nights in Italy, Croatia and Montenegro, 11 nights in Italy, Turkey and the Greek Islands, and nine nights in Aruba, Curacao and Cayman.
Prices vary depending on the room you’re choosing and the itinerary.
For a six-night cruise of Bimini, Mexico and Grand Cayman, an inside room for two people costs around US $ 1621 (NZ $ 2598) per person, on average, while a suite in The Retreat costs around US $ 5539 (NZ $ 8879) per person , on average.
A Covid-19 notes
Guests hopping aboard a Celebrity Cruise must be fully vaccinated and present a negative pre-departure test.
- At the helm of the ship is Captain Kate McCue, the first American female cruise ship captain
- There are over 1400 crewmembers from 60 different countries
- The ship departed on its maiden voyage on April 27, 2022
The writer was a guest of Celebrity Cruises.