There’s a gorgeous red love apple in Eden, but it’s so tucked away you may not find it on your first or even second visit to the most hidden bar and restaurant zone on Celebrity Beyond.
It’s a symbol of the temptation that awaits as you board Celebrity Cruises’ biggest and most spacious ship yet. Celebrity Beyond has got a unique personality boasting 15 restaurants, five cafes and 12 bars along with acres of deck space. There are so many options for pools and lounging options in the sun or shade and entertainment day and night that even our nine-day cruise from Barcelona to the port for Rome turned out not enough time to experience everything the ship has to offer.
There’s no way to list all the things you might want to discover. It all depends on your tastes and the time of day. But here are seven unique experiences you might miss and really should discover on Beyond:
1) A cocktail on the Magic Carpet
Unique on Celebrity’s Edge-class ships is the big orange elevator platform that extends over the edge of the ship. It’s definitely hard to miss when you see it from shore, but it moves from deck to deck at different times for different uses during the day so you need to seek it out when on board. There are two experiences that really do seem magical that you need to try:
On a sea day when the platform isn’t at sea level being used as the boarding platform for tenders, the Magic Carpet generally rises to a perch at the edge of the top deck. Its open as a friendly bar with a shady forever view that’s generally not particularly busy by day and has plenty of places to lounge. You can get the most stunning forever view of the ocean from here and the view from the front corner almost makes you believe you’re flying alongside the ship.
Later, in the evening there’s no mellower a place to have a nightcap in the afterglow of sunset. But last call comes early. It seems the bar has to close by 9:30 so that the platform that’s usually lowered to deck 5 in the evening can be moved without the sound disturbing guests in the suites above and below the platform.
2) The whimsical art that’s everywhere
How can we not talk about the white elephant in the room? It’s hard to miss the enormous sculpture at the end of the pool deck of a white pachyderm perched on the back of a poor stick of a guy. But this ship is such a floating gallery of fascinating art that it’s worth taking the stairs, checking out all the elevators and even touring the restaurants when they aren’t serving to appreciate the vast collection.
Among my favorites are the Swarovski crystal- studded peacock at the entrance to the Cosmopolitan restaurant and a hall of mirrors filled with cosmic bronzes that seemingly hang in space. And how could you not love the whimsical portraits of dogs and their eccentric owners? They’re part of a collection of thousands of sculptures and photographic artworks curated for Celebrity by Peter Millard and Partners in London.
3) Being seen but not heard at the silent disco
There’s something about slipping on a set of lighted earphones and choosing your own volume and boogie style that makes silent disco the trend that it’s become on cruise ships. But somehow on Beyond, the silent disco nights which happen on sea days have become the must-do parties of the cruise. The ample dance floor around the Martini Bar in the Grand Plaza gets so packed the crowds move into the atrium and hallways. People really dress for the occasion and get into what the DJ is playing, even if they haven’t had a couple of rounds from the bar first. Maybe it’s the fact all you need to do is pop a few moves to fit in and you don’t actually have to make conversation to have the time of your life.
4) Leaps forward – and back bends too– in production shows
I was in awe of the stage production shows on this cruise, and so was everyone else. You have to stake out your place early to snag a ground floor seat close to the stage in the multi-media Theater whose elevating stages and digital special effects take productions into a new digital age of set design in a way that might be similar to the way movies created new audiences for stage performances.
But it’s the amazingly talented cast that makes the productions come alive. And along with world class singers and dancers, there are dazzling aerialists including a contortionist who seemed to have no limits in her joints. She could stand on one hand and twist her entire body into a pretzel.
A new show on Beyond called Elements shows why people want to get as close to the action as possible. The spectacle with a theme of he five elements – air, water, earth, fire and ether – utilizing state-of-the-art technology, mesmerizing visuals, breathtaking acrobatic performances and fashion-inspired costumes.
5) Spa like a Celebrity
Like to keep active while you’re vacationing? The spa fitness center features all the latest exercise and weight equipment including Peloton bikes and cycle and treadmill machines whose video screens let you tour the world virtually.
But there’s a whole lot more to Celebrity’s concept of a spa. There’s even a whole class of Aqua Class suites that are located most conveniently to the spa zone near the front of the ship. The menu includes more than 120 different kinds of “destination-inspired” treatments from massages to shaves in a two-chair barber shop.
I had one of the most relaxing massages ever from my therapist Hristina, from Macedonia who added hot stones to the mix to help unknot muscles I hadn’t realized were knotted. But the experience didn’t end there. Beyond has the biggest SEA Thermal Suite in Celebrity’s fleet that they call “eight distinct spaces to navigate your own path to wellness.”
There are ones I recognize, like the Turkish Hammam steam room, a room of heated lounge chairs and the corridor of rainforest shower heads that change colors as you walk through them. But then there was the Energy Inhale room, with blocks of salt in the wall, the Energy Healing Crystalarium at 100 F and the infrared Sauna Desert at a toasty 115 F. Strangest of all was what’s called the Zen Float room, which consists of upholstered wicker baskets that swing freely from the ceiling. Apparently, you’re supposed to let the weightlessness bring on a meditative state. While I didn’t reach nirvana, it is a relaxing way to hang.
Hint: Being in an Aqua Class suite entitles you to use the SEA Thermal Suite in the Spa any day and also get a table at the exclusive Blu restaurant, reserved only for Aqua Class guests.
6) Sunset Bar any time, but especially sunset
Even the most well -kept secrets get around as the cruise goes by. By the final days, The terraces of the rear deck Sunset Bar created by Star designer Nate Berkus were quiet in the first days of a cruise. But they’re the perfect place to watch the sky turn fluorescent colors at sunset. By the last half of the cruise as the two level space with a lot of hideaways becomes the happening evening cocktail spot. .
The bar is not just one deck space but ingenious terraces of niches and enclosures that include day beds and banquettes and some areas that a big enough for a small party. Best thing is there’s always room around the rails for that sunset selfie. The drinks of choice seem to be Champagne and frozen drinks.
Tip: The bar is right above the Oceanview Café and taking a stairway down leads you to its outdoor seating area and pizza station. Folks with the munchies can grab slices or appetizers to enjoy with their cocktails on deck or move to an alfresco table for dinner.
And a word of caution: the Sunset deck zone features two infinity pools whose glass sides give you the effect of hanging above the waves. Be aware, though that the water can play optical tricks, When viewed from the outside, whatever’s under water can end up looking a couple of times larger than what’s above the surface.
7) From goop to Gucci
And we can’t ignore Celebrity’s newest partnership with Gwyneth Paltrow’s goop cosmetic collection , that’s shown up first on Celebrity Beyond. It extends to goop-inspired smoothies in the spa café (at an additional charge of $6 per glass). The goop goods are just a fraction of the dozens of upscale brands on the luxury avenue on deck 5 that features entire stores of Cartier and Gucci and exclusive lines from Stella McCartney, Marni and goat-milk skincare products from Beekman 1802. Even window shopping on Beyond’s designer boulevard is a good look at what they’re showing this year without having to stand in line to get into the designer flagship stores in Rome where we’re headed on this cruise.
Celebrity Cruises does have ways to make you feel like a celebrity. And there are things you’ll only find on the Edge class ships. Is it time to go Beyond?
Celebrity Cruises three Edge-class ships are doing Mediterranean cruises through October. Celebrity Beyond is doing a 12-day trans-Atlantic cruise from Barcelona with stops in Spain, Portugal, the Azores and Bermuda, arriving at its winter home port, Ft. Lauderdale.
Story by Wallace Immen, executive editor, The Cruisington Times