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Celebrity Beyond: What’s it like on board Celebrity Cruises’ newest ship, and is it worth the price?

Celebrity Cruises’ Edge-class ships were named in Time magazine’s World’s Greatest Places list. So how does the new Celebrity Beyond compare?

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Celebrity Cruises' newest ship, Celebrity Beyond

Celebrity Cruises' newest ship, Celebrity Beyond

Celebrity Cruises Beyond Arrival. The Solent Southampton UK. 21st April 2022. Photograph by Steve Dunlop www.stevedunlop.com steve@stevedunlop.com

Celebrity Cruises Beyond Arrival. The Solent Southampton UK. 21st April 2022. Photograph by Steve Dunlop www.stevedunlop.com steve@stevedunlop.com

An AquaClass Stateroom on board Celebrity Beyond

An AquaClass Stateroom on board Celebrity Beyond

The Resort Deck

The Resort Deck

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Celebrity Cruises' newest ship, Celebrity Beyond

Getting lost at sea is nobody’s idea of a good holiday. Yet anybody who has listened to Desert Island Discs has probably pondered the peace it might offer or the luxury item they would bring.

Now, imagine if the ‘island’ itself is the luxury. It features endless bars, shows, high-end shops, a spa retreat and pool deck. Well, this world, known as Celebrity Beyond, was dreamed up long before Covid sent the cruise industry into choppy waters — but its maiden voyage this spring was perhaps symbolic of a rising tide.

At a cost of nearly €1bn to construct, the size of the ship is hard to comprehend. Simply massive, it stands 17 stories tall and 327 metres long. Celebrity Cruises’ president and CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo believes it “shatters any and every preconceived notion of the cruising experience”.

And I had many preconceived notions before boarding for a short two-night stay in the English Channel.

In my mind, a cruising holiday was for somebody a bit older who was seeking a slow-moving break, for starters. I like to hit the road, explore a city and test out the nightlife. My bias was further fuelled by Lutoff-Perlo’s suggestion that her new pride and joy was targeted at Gen Xers (born in the 1960s or 1970s). As a child of the 1980s, a cruise ship holiday hasn’t made it onto my bucket list yet.

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An AquaClass Stateroom on board Celebrity Beyond

An AquaClass Stateroom on board Celebrity Beyond

An AquaClass Stateroom on board Celebrity Beyond

But with the opportunity to travel after two years, it was easier to find an open mind than my passport. And this is where I get lost again — both figuratively and literally. Because stepping onto Celebrity Beyond is the equivalent of stepping out of reality and into a maze of restaurants, cafés, bars and shops you might expect of a five-star resort. It’s is an immersive experience. A party boat or a place for R&R, depending on what you are looking for.

The standard bedrooms are what you might expect from an upmarket hotel and, of course, if money isn’t an issue you can live like royalty.

Let’s try to keep it on the right side of aspirational for now though. An Ocean View Stateroom costs around €1,900 per person sharing for a nine-night cruise around European destinations. That price includes all the food you can eat, Wi-Fi, drinks, and the staff don’t expect any tips from passengers.

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At the other end of the scale, there is the AquaClass Stateroom at around €2,580. For that extra spend, you get to walk right out to the water’s edge on a veranda as well as access to the Sea Thermal Suite and a spa concierge.

There is also an Iconic Suite, which is off the scale. If you have to ask the price, then you can’t afford its multiple bedrooms, kitchen and sun-drenched deck, which is made for hosting, and naturally includes a private spa pool. I would see little reason to ever leave the Iconic Suite. But that would mean missing out on the ship’s wider offering, including its unexpected entertainment programme.

Again, my prejudices (and an episode of a programme I once saw featuring Francis Brennan on a cruise) led me to assume that what passed for nightlife on board ships was more Ballroom of Romance than Copper Face Jacks.

Yes, there is karaoke, but there are also nightly shows in the ship’s theatre that you’d happily pay to see in the West End. The performances are all singing and all dancing, but what makes them stand out is the artistry built around them. A massive screen wraps around the stage, showing 3D appearances from a 35-piece orchestra that were recorded and filmed at London’s Palladium.

Stage Door brings together a string of hits from the musicals in such a way that no actual storyline is needed. Another show, Arte, combines dramatic dance, high-flying acrobatics and visual effects with a definite wow factor.

The shows will leave you wanting more, which is fine if you have the energy to relocate to Eden bar at the aft of the ship. The three-storey space with floor-to-ceiling windows has a chilled vibe during the day, but at night, it comes alive. It was a highlight.

The trick is to try get there quickly after the theatre to get a seat. The challenge in doing that is you must pass the Grand Plaza on the way — the ship’s three-deck atrium area, which is very much the ship’s social heart. It’s also a good place to find your bearings, although the lure of the Martini Bar might lead you astray again. The central bar is surrounded by restaurants, a coffee shop and a craft beer bar, where you can watch big sporting events.

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The Resort Deck

The Resort Deck

The Resort Deck

Celebrity makes a big pitch of its restaurants. This new ship has Michelin-starred chef Daniel Boulud on its books and a selection of speciality venues that serve whatever type of food you might want. I have rarely had a steak as good as that produced by Fine Cut restaurant.

But for all the fancy venues, don’t rule out the Oceanview Café, which has the feel of a food emporium but the quality of a high-end restaurant. Anything served in there is included in your package, and such were the options that I could easily have eaten every meal in Oceanview.

There are more than 1,400 crew from 60 countries (the Irish contingent includes a solo musician who performs on board and an art gallery director). At the helm is Captain Kate McCue, who has become something of a celebrity in her own right — or at least her hairless cat has. McCue has more than 335,000 followers on Instagram, where she brings fans behind the scenes on her journeys.

The number of senior roles held by women on this ship is notable. Around 70pc of the bridge is staffed by women. Overall, there is almost one crew member for every two guests on board — although during my journey, the ship was only at half capacity, so my comfort might have been better than what can normally be anticipated.

It would be hard to find a gripe with this latest offering from Celebrity Cruises. It’s really a question of money. If you can afford it, then your cash will be well spent.

Don’t miss

Guests are encouraged to download an app as their guide to life on the ship. It can be used to book restaurants and activities, provides a handy map of the ship, and there is also a calendar to keep you on track.

Do it

Celebrity Beyond has a variety of Mediterranean journeys, including nine-night Italian Riviera and France itineraries and 10-night Greek Isles itineraries through to
early October. After that, it will head to the Caribbean.

Prices vary, but the Italian Riviera and France tour departing on July 30 costs €1,635pp.It will depart from Barcelona and visit Provence, Nice, Santa Margherita, Florence/Pisa, Sicily and Naples before finishing in Rome (Civitavecchia).

Kevin was a guest of Celebrity Cruises. See celebritycruises.com for more.


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