Celebrity Cruises' new 3,260-passenger Beyond ship levels up in size, shape and form from her Edge-class sisters Apex and Edge.
Beyond is taller, longer, carries more passengers, has more pools, more hot tubs, an extra dining venue and other attractive attributes.
Every aspect of Beyond is carefully curated from the art, design and decor to the dining and entertainment.
PAX recently cruised on Beyond April 25 to 27 from Southampton, England on a media preview voyage.
Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, president and CEO, says, “We’ve gone ‘beyond’ what we imagined. We made many changes, and we also tweak right up until our guests arrive on board – we don’t let anything go. Our ships are stunning, the food is delicious, wellness is everywhere. Our luxury is relaxed, not stuffy. It’s approachable, not pretentious.”
When asked about the demographics for this ship, Lutoff-Perlo says, “Our sweet spot is Generation X – we consider how they like to travel and what they care about – then Baby Boomers and Generation Z. We’re straddling different age groups like never before and we’re also seeing an increase in new cruisers.”
The outdoor main attraction is mid-ship where the long and narrow lap of luxury pool stretches 75 feet (22 metres). It’s graced at one end by the iconic sculpture of an enormous white elephant balancing on a man’s back.
There are plenty of places here to relax with different types of seating – loungers for sunbathing, sunken pods of circular couches for close conversations and separate wicker chairs that can be moved around.
Cabanas can be rented that have plush padded seating and they face the pool instead of outward as on sister ships.
A martini-shaped hot tub on the deck above overlooks all the action below.
At the bow, the Retreat is a private, three-deck area for guests of premium suites. The area is 40 per cent larger than her sister ships due to the addition of an upper sundeck.
A shallow pool with in-pool hanging wicker chairs adds an element of fun. Hot tubs offer great views and padded loungers, sunbed pods, couch seating and cabanas offer enough variety for any mood.
On the deck below is a glass-roofed solarium pool that’s ideal if the weather is uncooperative.
At the aft, the Rooftop Garden is 20 per cent larger and features lush plants and trees, along with striking steel tree sculptures. Small and large couch arrangements create group seating and oversized umbrellas offer protection.
A jumbo TV is ideal for movies and sports events and there’s space for activities here from Tai Chi to dancing.
Nearby are two infinity plunge pools that extend over the side of the ship for seamless sea views.
There are about 32 food and dining venues including 15 restaurants, five cafes and 12 bars and lounges.
Brian Abel, senior vice-president, hotel operations, says, “The Grand Plaza is the heartbeat of the ship and so we made it larger and surrounded it with restaurants and bars. It has the feel of a European piazza. The central chandelier features light shows choreographed to music at different times of day.”
The three-deck space also features the Martini Bar where bartenders perform amazing juggling acts that draw crowds.
As for main dining rooms, Abel says, “We believe four smaller, separate and distinctly different dining rooms provide a much more intimate, luxurious dining experience than the one or two large dining rooms.”
Normandie restaurant has French-inspired cuisine. Cosmopolitan features American favourites, Tuscan restaurant serves Italian food. Cyprus highlights Mediterranean meals and plays homage to Celebrity’s Greek heritage.
Other complimentary dining is also offered at the Oceanview Café buffet as well as the Spa Cafe and Juice Bar.
There are eight specialty restaurants (one extra than her sister ships) that have cover charge fees so suggest a dining package to clients to save on costs.
The newest venue is Le Voyage by Daniel Boulud, a Michelin-starred chef. Intimate and upscale with only 50 seats, the cuisine is based in his French roots and features specialties from his travels along with Beyond’s destinations.
Le Petit Chef at Le Grand Bistro is a unique dining experience where an animated, cartoon-style video of food being prepared by a miniature chef is projected on to the tabletop and dinner plates.
Regardless of the food, which is excellent, this is a unique and entertaining venue.
Dinner on the Edge is set in the iconic orange restaurant that’s cantilevered off the side of the ship, also known as the Magic Carpet. It’s a patio bar and also does duty as a dock for tender boats.
Fine Cut is the ever-popular steakhouse and the Rooftop Grill at the aft offers alfresco dining.
Two private restaurants are Luminae for Retreat guests and Blu is for guests of AquaClass suites.
The multi-level Sunset Bar at the aft is 180 per cent larger than her sisters and has a Moroccan atmosphere with its black and white floor tile, green wall tiles and rounded alcoves.
The panoramic views make it popular from sunrise to sunset.
The World Class Bar debuts in partnership with Diageo, one of the largest producers of spirits and beers, and expert mixologists. Eden has a large bar, dance floor and lounge with stunning views of the aft through impressive two-storey windows.
Craft Social features craft beers, the Café at Bacio has specialty coffees and sweets and the Mast Bar offers poolside cocktails.
Air, water, earth, fire
The main theatre is semi-circular and has a 110-foot (10 metre) 4K LED screen with moving panels. Floor projection technology integrates with the screen content to create a stunning floor-to-ceiling visual effect.
Three new shows include “Elements” featuring the theme of air, water, earth, fire and ether, with acrobats performing in front of mesmerizing visuals.
Air sculptures are a highlight where air is blown against flowing fabric to create dancing art.
“Arte” focuses on iconic works of art with dancers, acrobats and visual effects. “Stage Door” is like a backstage pass to the biggest Broadway musicals, accompanied by a symphony orchestra that was recorded in the London Palladium.
Eden has a bar and café, and the entire space converts from an area of meditation and classes during the day to a cabaret theatre with shows such as “Decadence.”
The Club is a popular night club that also has a show called Jazz Joint.
While Beyond is focused on adult fun since there is no aquapark on board, there are two kid camps. Camp at Sea is a dedicated space for children 3-12 with activities from storytelling to a vlogging classes.
The Teen Club is dedicated to silent disco parties and game nights.
Staterooms - including new Iconic Suites
Beyond has 1,646 staterooms (179 more than her sister ships) and more than 30 categories. About 81 per cent have balconies, 10 per cent are ocean view and nine per cent are inside cabins.
“Many of our guests like to celebrate a special personal event with Celebrity and we have 178 connecting cabins on Beyond,” says Lutoff-Perlo.
A new category called the Iconic Suites features a two-bedroom stateroom that sleeps six and is 1,890 square feet (175 square metres) with a 690 square foot (64 square metres) balcony.
There are two on board and they’re located above the ship bridge wing – with a view that’s equal to what the famous Captain Kate McCue has at the helm of Beyond.
Edge Villas are a special category where guests enjoy exclusive access to the Retreat sundeck. Edge Veranda staterooms are 23 per cent larger than Solstice-class cabins.
Infinite balconies are unique. The balcony doors are bifold style that slide to the walls to blur the line between indoors and outdoors. The balcony’s upper window is electronically raised and lowered with a wall button.
Aqua Class suites are wellness inspired and include access to exclusive spaces, services, amenities and spa.
Wellness is fundamental to Celebrity says Lutoff-Perlo. “We’re focused on how people want to feel and how to reduce their stress, so we’ve partnered with many experts so that wellness is woven in.”
One such partner is Gwyneth Paltrow who has created a special “goop at Sea” wellness voyage in September – an example of how Celebrity partners with top celebrities and world renown experts to provide enriched experiences to guests.
Celebrity Beyond cruises the Mediterranean and Greek Isles this summer and heads to the Caribbean in October.
Diane Tierney is former cruise columnist for the Toronto Star. She has been on 78 cruises to 47 countries and has nearly 60,000 followers on Instagram at Cruiseguru.