My parents have been telling me to go on a cruise for years.
“Everything in one place,” “there’s great entertainment,” and “you can have whatever you want for dinner” were all selling points they tried. But I was hard to convert.
I recently got a two-day preview of Celebrity Cruises’ newest ship, Celebrity Beyond, and it’s fair to say I get it.
I embarked without really knowing what to expect and while two days with no port stops wasn’t enough to understand the full cruise experience, it gave me a good taste of the charm of cruising, especially on a boat like this one.
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The first thing to note about Celebrity Beyond – the third ship in the Celebrity’s Edge series, which was priced at around $1 billion (US$1.56 billion) – is that there are no gimmicks . There are no go-kart tracks and slides, instead the focus is on relaxation, well-being and luxury – Goop’s Gwyneth Paltrow starred as the company’s wellness consultant.
So if you’re looking for a relaxed, child-free holiday that doesn’t require you to lift a finger, then this might just be the place for you.
There are 1,646 cabins on the ship (179 more rooms than previous ships), accommodating 3,260 guests and varying in price. There are interiors, rooms with balconies, luxury suites (one that even costs around $80,000 for a 10-night trip and has its own peloton), and two-story villas with private plunge pools.
The latter two room options give guests access to an exclusive part of the ship called The retreat. Celebrity describes it as a resort within a resort, where guests get access to a private restaurant and lounge area.
Although I didn’t stay in either of these rooms (Ronan Keating may have been on board) I was able to peek inside The retreat and check out the high-end suites on offer. The Iconic Suite (the one with the peloton) was the size of my Wellington apartment.
I stayed in a room with an infinite veranda. It had a firm but comfortable bed, TV, desk, lounge and wardrobe, and a shower in the bathroom. Its name derives from the floor-to-ceiling window that could be opened to transform the space.
An important note after only spending two days on this ship…no one will go hungry.
I’ve barely scratched the surface of the restaurant offerings on this ship, but I’ve definitely done my best to sample as much as possible (for research purposes, of course).
There are 32 dining options on the boat. Yes, 32 – 15 restaurants, five cafes and 12 bars and lounges.
Several casual dining options are available for breakfast and lunch. The Oceanview Cafe was the destination for me during my stay on board.
For breakfast, it served a variety of breakfast dishes from around the world and then changed its menu throughout the day. While this was a buffet, staff served guests whatever food they requested.
The various cafés are always open to meet your coffee and snack needs. You can even enjoy a Goop smoothie at the Spa Cafe And Juice Bar (additional cost).
There are four main restaurants included in the price of the cruise – Tuscan, Cypriot, Norman and Cosmopolitan restaurants – plus eight specialty restaurants available at an additional cost – Eden, Rooftop Garden Grill, The Magic Carpet, Raw on 5, Le Petit Chef, Le Grand Bistro, Fine Cut Steakhouse and Le Voyage.
Each restaurant offers different cuisines and dining experiences. Raw on 5 takes you to Japan with a selection of sushi, sashimi and dumplings – and was definitely a highlight. Fine Cut Steakhouse, as the name suggests, specializes in quality steaks with tasty sides — the Gruyère Cheese Tater Tots were delicious — and an extensive wine list (one of the most expensive bottles on the menu was $4,500). The Rooftop Garden Grill offers more relaxed dining options with sandwiches and sharing platters. And Le Voyage, the first restaurant at sea by world-renowned chef Daniel Boulud, offers a menu inspired by culinary experiences around the world.
A culinary highlight on my cruise was dinner at Le Petit Chef. It’s a digitally immersive dining experience where your plate and table come to life with animation that informs you of the food you’re about to be served. If you book on this ship and have the opportunity to dine at Le Petit Chef I would recommend it as it is quite a nice and unique experience.
Bar wise, the Sunset Bar, as the name suggests, was a great spot for an afternoon drink watching the sun go down. The decor of this bar is beautiful and makes you feel like you’ve been transported to the Mediterranean – and this boat even sails through the Mediterranean, so how perfect is that?
The midship Martini Bar is also a great place to grab a drink, and every evening the bar staff puts on a cocktail show several times a night, throwing drinks in the air and pouring nearly a dozen blindfolded martinis .
And that brings me to the main entertainment aboard the ship.
I don’t know what I expected from this ship in terms of entertainment but I was definitely impressed with the performances.
I was allowed to see two of the three theater performances – arta performance bringing iconic works of art to life, and stage entrancea spectacular collection of some of Broadway’s biggest hits, including Chicago, Hamilton and Moulin Rouge. If you love musicals – and, like me, have been dying to see them Hamilton played live – the latter is a show I would definitely recommend.
If you don’t like big stage productions, you might enjoy the more relaxed performances of Marvel at Eden and The jazz joint. That Marvel at Eden Performance had my jaw on the floor; The stunts performed by the talented group of dancers and acrobats were simply outstanding.
Additionally, the ship has the basics you would expect from a luxury cruise ship — multiple pools and hot tubs, sun loungers, and chill-out spots (Eden is a great place to chill with a book and coffee).
If you want to work off a bit of the food you indulged in on the ship, there’s a gym with great views of the water, as well as a variety of exercise classes – the cult F45 fitness class is on board, as well as sunrise and Sunset yoga classes and a running track around the upper decks.
Beyond currently has 35 itineraries ranging from five to 14 nights around the Mediterranean and the Caribbean.
Some itineraries include nine nights in Italy, Croatia and Montenegro, eleven nights in Italy, Turkey and the Greek Islands, and nine nights in Aruba, Curaçao and the Cayman Islands.
Prices vary depending on the room selected and itinerary.
On a six-night Bimini, Mexico and Grand Cayman cruise, an interior for two will average around US$1621 (NZ$2598) per person, while a suite at The Retreat costs around US$5539 (NZ$8879 ) per person costs , on average.
A Covid-19 note
Guests boarding a Celebrity Cruise must be fully vaccinated and submit a negative preliminary test.
- At the helm of the ship is Captain Kate McCue, the first American female cruise ship captain
- There are over 1400 crew members from 60 different countries
- The ship embarked on its maiden voyage on April 27, 2022
The author was a guest on Celebrity Cruises.