Celebrity Edge: The Ship We Know Too Little About
Article Published: Thursday, January 26, 2017
It's one of the most hotly-anticipated ship launches of 2018 – yet it is also one the upcoming ships that the travelling public knows the least about.
In the fall of 2018, Celebrity Cruises will take delivery of its first newbuild ship in six years: Celebrity Edge. An entirely new class of ship, Celebrity Edge will be smaller than the line's most recent ship, Celebrity Reflection, which debuted in 2012. That ship was 126,000 gross tons, with a passenger capacity of just over 3,000 guests. The new Celebrity Edge will be 117,000 gross tons, and will be capable of holding around 2,900 guests.
Built at the STX shipyards in Saint-Nazaire, France, Celebrity Edge will be the first in a four-ship order that will enter service between 2018 and 2022. Celebrity Edge will receive her first sister-ship, Celebrity Beyond, in the spring of 2020. The names of the remaining two cruise ships have not been announced yet.
In late November of 2016, Celebrity held a steel-cutting ceremony at the STX yards in Saint-Nazaire to commemorate the start of construction on Celebrity Edge. STX and Celebrity executives posed for a photograph with a flat-grey, one-dimensional cut out of a ship that may or may not represent the exterior profile of the ship. To date, no renderings of the ship have been released, nor have any deck plans, general arrangement plans, itineraries, details, cabin specifications, public room listings, or features.
Other than their names, entry-into-service dates, and rough specifications, little information has been made public; an unusual move for an industry that likes to spend months, even years, hyping up their latest-and-greatest ships before they ever touch the water.
“Edge Class is destined to be a trailblazer in modern luxury travel,” said Richard D. Fain, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “The new ships will be on the cutting edge of innovation and the leading edge of design, so the ship names are spot on and offer a sense of how Celebrity Cruises is looking into the future.”
Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, Celebrity’s President and CEO, added that the ship will be well worth the wait. “We set the bar high for the architects and designers on Edge class, and we were rewarded with a stunning design. Cutting the ship’s first piece of steel is the traditional first step in the shipbuilding process, and I’m excited to see our dreams turn into reality over the next 24 months. We are excited to reveal more details soon, and travelers, trade partners and enthusiasts alike will not be disappointed — this ship is going to be amazing.”
Celebrity also recently announced it had appointed design icon Nate Berkus to be its “design ambassador” for Celebrity Edge, with a series of reveals set for March to coincide with the annual Seatrade conference in Florida, along with further reveals for this year and 2018.
‘When Celebrity approached me about a potential partnership, I couldn’t wait to get on board—pun intended. Their commitment to delivering the very best in terms of luxury design, but also their attention to the overall experience, the level of detail and care, really stood out for me,’ Berkus said.
While little is known about Celebrity Edge or her sisters, we can make some educated guesses about the direction Celebrity is taking with these new ships.
Their smaller size means that these four vessels will be more versatile than the larger Solstice Class ships that entered service between 2008 and 2012. They will likely bridge the gap between the smaller Millennium Class ships that entered service starting in 2000, including Celebrity Millennium, Celebrity Infinity, Celebrity Summit and Celebrity Constellation.
At 91,000 gross tons apiece, these 2,100-passenger ships are the smallest vessels in the fleet, excluding the line's three ships in the Galapagos Islands. They are also the oldest vessels, with Celebrity Millennium closing in on her 17th birthday.
It is reasonable to assume that, with four new ships coming online, Celebrity may elect to retire the Millennium Class ships at some point as the new Edge Class vessels hit the waves. Or, these ships could be deployed on runs that are inaccessible to the cruise line at the moment, like an expansion of capacity into Asia, or an increase in "home port" cruising from the United States, which is in greater demand from American travellers looking to avoid long air journeys overseas.
At this point, Celebrity has said little about whether the Edge Class ships will supplement or replace the Millennium Class, but it's a fairly safe bet to say that if you love the classically-styled Millennium ships, you'd do well to book a voyage aboard them in the next few years while you still can.
Celebrity has stated publicly that the Edge Class will continue Celebrity's "Modern Luxury" trend of ship design that it began back with the Celebrity Solstice in 2008. The largest ships the line had ever constructed to-date, Celebrity Solstice and her sisters brought innovations and technologies from parent company Royal Caribbean's megaliners and rolled them into an equally-large, though substantially more elegant, package.
STX France just finished building Royal Caribbean's massive Harmony of the Seas, and barely paused long enough to celebrate before commencing work on Celebrity Edge.
No doubt many cruisers will love the size of Celebrity Edge and her sisters. Big enough to include plenty of public rooms, lounges, bars, restaurants and other diversions – not to mention a wide variety of staterooms and suites – these new Edge Class ships could herald a retreat from the 'bigger is always better' mentality that gripped the cruise industry over the past decade. These are not small ships by any means, but their more modest size will likely appeal to guests who enjoyed the Millennium-class ships but have been put off by the line's larger vessels.
Where Celebrity Edge will sail to is still a mystery. As of this writing, Celebrity hasn't released any itineraries or even hinted one way or another where this new ship will be deployed. It's fairly safe, however, to assume that because she's being constructed in France and will debut late in the year, a fall Transatlantic Crossing to North America is probably in the works, and we'd bet on a winter 2018-2019 season in the warm waters of the Caribbean.
After that, well, the sea is the limit. With renewed focus on Asia, Northern Europe, North American 'homeport' cruising and even expedition cruising, Celebrity Edge and her sisters could very well end up sailing to every corner of the earth. And only time will tell what Celebrity does next.