Celebrity Cruises lifted the veil from its much-awaited Edge class of ships, the first new design for the premium brand since the Solstice class was created in 2006.
While not all of the features were revealed, media and key trade partners were briefed on the ship's accommodations and some high-profile amenities that will surely be among the most talked about innovations.
High on that list is the Magic Carpet, a traveling platform capable of seating 90 guests for dinner that will be cantilevered off the side of the ship and move between decks.
The 90-ton covered platform, about the dimensions of a tennis court, will change function depending on which deck it docks. The uses range from a specialty restaurant to an extension of the pool deck to a loading dock for tender operations.
Magic Carpet is one element of an overall theme of bringing guests in closer contact with the sea, said Richard Fain, chairman of RCCL, Celebrity's parent company.
"The closer connection to the sea is quite important," Fain said.
To foster that, Edge will have a unique design to some of its balcony cabins, which will be marketed as the Infinite Veranda. The fixed partition of steel and glass between the cabin and the balcony has been scrapped in favor of a thin, folding screen of glass, allowing the balcony to be incorporated into the cabin when the screen is open.
At the cabin's edge, there is a glass half-height panel, and a second glass panel that descends at the push of a button to meet it from the ceiling. When that panel retracts, the whole cabin can be opened to the air.
If the veranda window is down and it starts to rain, "the bridge has the ability to close the window," Celebrity CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo said.
Fain said the 918 Infinite Veranda cabins will be 226 square feet without the balcony space and 269 square feet with it, compared with an industry average of 172 to 183 square feet.
The extra space will accommodate more storage, larger bathrooms and king beds. Edge will also have 16 Infinite Veranda cabins for solo travelers with queen beds.
Suites will expand from 5% of capacity on the Solstice-class ships to 12% on Edge, Lutoff-Perlo said. There will be two Iconic suites of about 2,500 square feet perched atop the bridge with 700-square-foot balconies. They will have two bedrooms and two baths, and each can be combined with a Royal suite to form a larger accommodation.
The Celebrity Edge, which will be delivered in December 2018, and its sister Celebrity Beyond (due in 2020) will have a pair of two-bedroom, two-bath Penthouse suites and six duplex Edge villas. There will also be 146 Sky suites, all with conventional balcony doors.
Suite guests will have exclusive access to a sundeck called The Retreat with a private pool, a separate lounge and butler service, as well as to the Luminae restaurant available only for suite guests, as on other Celebrity ships.
The pool deck, which was also previewed, will debut the industry's first two-story jogging track and an asymmetrical design in which many pool loungers are positioned outward to face the sea, rather than inward at the pool. There will be six rentable cabanas with 20-foot ceilings and tulip-shaped hot tubs that will be elevated on stems.
A Rooftop Garden with tree-like sculptures will occupy the aft pool deck. It will be larger than the Roof Terraces on Celebrity's Millennium class, and about the same size as the Lawn Club on Solstice class. It will have a grill comparable to the Lawn Club Grill and show movies like the Rooftop Terrace.
Another advance for the Edge class will be a revision of the shore excursion tendering experience, which will use Magic Carpet as its centerpiece. Guests will access Magic Carpet through a Destination Gateway, an embarkation station that will show destination highlights on large LCD screens.
The lifeboat tenders will be recast as Edge Launches with a more stylish design, although Celebrity wasn't ready to reveal details. When not being used for excursions, the Destination Gateway will be a learning and activities center, featuring enrichment talks, conferences, trunk shows, shopping events and art auctions.
The Celebrity Edge will also roll out a refined portfolio of digital services, primarily relying on the guest's smartphone for functionality. An X-Ray Vision app will let guests "see through walls" to remote areas of the ship such as the bridge, the galley or the engine room.
The digital improvements will be on 15% of the combined RCCL fleet by year's end and about 50% by the end of 2018, Fain said.
He said one of the most visible changes with the Edge class will be the exterior look created by the Infinite Veranda, which eliminates the egg crate appearance of many balcony-rich ships. "When you look back on the ship, the wall is now a flat wall," Fain said. "It will give you a much calmer look."