Review: Celebrity Edge cruise an impressively modern, luxurious experience at sea

The Celebrity Edge Cruise ship sailing at night
Photo credit: Celebrity Edge

The enormous Celebrity Edge cruise ship recently docked in New Zealand for the first time on its inaugural 13-day journey from Sydney to our shores and back again.

Having never set foot on a cruise ship before, I was excited to hop aboard the Edge in Auckland and for three nights as it visited Tauranga, Napier and Christchurch.

Before boarding, I admit I had some silly preconceptions that this form of travel was just for older travellers and that cruising is a dated form of holiday which might be fun as a novelty - but not for me. 

I am happy to report that I was wrong on all counts. Celebrity Edge is an impressively modern and luxurious experience, with only a few minor letdowns.  

The ship and accommodation

Reportedly costing a cool billion dollars to construct, Celebrity Edge is one of the most modern and technologically advanced ships of its class. 

While exploring the ship, it's easy to see where the money went. When you're not looking out a window, you quickly forget you're at sea. 

At 130,000 tons and 300m tip to tail, the Edge's size means that - unless there is extremely high wind or it's moving at high speed - there's barely any rocking or swaying. Those worried about seasickness can rest easy. 

Instead it feels more like a floating city in miniature: restaurants, bars, a spa, casino, pools, fitness centres and even a theatre and fully fitted-out nightclub sprawl over 15 decks.  

Celebrity Edge is so enormous that even fully booked with 3000 guests being served by 1500 staff I rarely found it feeling crowded.

The entire ship has a sleek modern design and each area has a unique feel that still works as a cohesive whole. 

Some of my favourites included the spectacular three-story LED chandelier dominating the midship Martini Bar, verdant Eden bar which was perfect for reading a book while sipping a cocktail or nibbling a snack, and the beautiful Sunset Bar giving an unbeatable view over the waves to accompany an evening whiskey.

While distinct, all the venues aboard share a slick yet welcoming aesthetic and give the entire ship a feeling of being a destination in and of itself, rather than a vehicle ferrying you between destinations. 

Simply moving through the space onboard is a visual treat thanks to more than $10 million worth of art adorning the walls. A highlight for me was the walk-through art installation in a completely mirror-covered hallway on Deck 5. 

The interior of an infinite veranda stateroom on the Celebrity Edge.
The infinite veranda stateroom. Photo credit: Celebrity Edge

Once I had done a bit of exploring, it was time to retreat to my cabin, an infinite veranda stateroom on deck 6. 

I was impressed with what the cabin achieved with its approximately 23 square metres of floor space, managing to feel comfy and spacious. 

The double bed was absurdly comfortable and everything from the lights to the aircon and blind could be easily controlled via a touch screen in the wall. 

A small veranda area facing out to sea had a retractable window which creates a lovely spot to sit and drink a coffee in the morning while watching the waves. 

The bathroom was particularly well laid out and the shower felt more at home in a high-end hotel than onboard a ship.

One slight hiccup with the room was the lack of powerpoints outside of one block in the centre, for which you'll also need to bring a US adapter if boarding in NZ.

The powerpoint's location means that if you want to watch something on your laptop or charge your phone while in bed, you'll need to awkwardly stretch out a long charger across the room. 

Another wrinkle which may irk some travellers is that while Edge does provide high-speed Wi-Fi courtesy of Starlink, it is not complimentary. Basic packages include low-speed Wi-Fi for checking messages and sending emails, but if you want to stream or send video, you'll have to pay more. 

For those with bigger budgets and wanting more room to relax, there are much larger and more luxurious suite options aboard, from penthouse suites up to two-storey villas which are essentially fully appointed houses. 

The Edge's most premium offering is an 'iconic' suite which stretches across the top deck with mind-boggling amenities and an unbeatable panoramic view. It runs into the six-figure per cruise range.

Food and entertainment

Cruisers enjoying the Martini bar aboard Celebrity Edge.
The Martini Bar aboard Celebrity Edge. Photo credit: Celebrity Edge.

At first, the number of options for dining and drinking on the Edge can feel a little bewildering with dozens of options across multiple decks. 

Thankfully there's a comprehensive app which provides an overview not only of the layout of the ship but of every restaurant's opening times and it can even help you make a reservation.  

Every ticket gives you multiple complementary options for dining, with more expensive tickets covering all standard beverages too. Speciality restaurants are an extra charge unless you have paid for a suite-level room or above. 

The largest restaurant available to all ticket holders is the Oceanview cafe, which provides a buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner and was my primary dining choice during my trip. Meal options changed each day but were always delicious, and while buffet-style food can often be a case of quantity over quality, I was genuinely impressed with every bit of food I tried. 

However, the quality of the buffet made my experience with the sit-down dining options included in my ticket aboard a little more disappointing. 

Each of the complementary restaurants I visited were beautifully built spaces which wouldn't have felt out of place in a trendy suburb in a major city, but the meals I tried - a pasta dish one evening and a grilled chicken breast the other - were both fairly lacklustre. 

This was compounded by both restaurants serving the same food with only a few 'speciality' items on each menu that were unique to each venue. 

There are more upscale experiences for dining and drinking which I enjoyed more, like an exceptional eye fillet at the Fine Cut Steakhouse followed by a post-dinner cocktail at the luxurious and leafy Eden Bar.

And while I never got to dine there, if Eden Restaurant is half as good as the bar above it, you're in for a treat there. 

The interior of the Eden Bar aboard Celebrity Edge.
The Eden bar and restaurant. Photo credit: Celebrity Edge.

The best dining options being reserved for high-class ticket holders or those willing to fork out does give the cruise a feeling of class stratification, with the more expensive packages containing exclusive both dining and relaxation options. There are even whole sections of the ship containing these facilities that are inaccessible to lower ticket class holders.

But those with standard tickets are far from missing out as most spaces are open to all. The main pool on the top deck and the richly appointed Martini bar are particularly beautiful and where I spent a good portion of my journey. 

Once the sun has set, the nightlife kicks off, with a live theatre at the aft of the ship putting on a regular show for all guests. 

The one I attended, Colours of Life, showcased some genuinely impressive acrobatics alongside some cheerfully cheesy musical covers. 

An impressively decked-out nightclub club operates next door to the theatre for those wanting to kick on into the wee hours. My last night was spent leaning right in as a DJ belted out the hits of ABBA until 2am.

The verdict

Despite a mild letdown on the food front, I loved my time on the Celebrity Edge and felt I barely scratched the surface of what was on offer during my three days aboard. 

Had I stayed for the entire 13-day cruise, my ticket would have cost approximately NZ$6000, which isn't cheap but is reasonable considering how much is included. 

As far as first cruise experiences go, Celebrity Edge set a very high bar. I can't wait to be back aboard.

Newshub was supplied a complimentary three night cruise on Celebrity Edge for this review