From the moment you step on board, it quickly becomes apparent that Celebrity Cruises spared no expense in designing Celebrity Beyond, the third ship in the brand’s Edge Series. Like its sister ships (Celebrity Edge and Celebrity Apex) before it, the Beyond is instantly iconic thanks to the prominent blue X perched atop the vessel that cleverly houses her smokestack, a nod to the brand’s Greek heritage.
But while all three ships share some common ties (a fourth ship, Celebrity Ascent, will tentatively be debuting in late 2023), Celebrity went bigger and better with the $1.3 billion Beyond. Not a detail was overlooked, from the opulent Grand Plaza, inspired by Italian piazzas and featuring a stunning three-story chandelier, to thoughtful touches like the wood slats that rest above the pool deck’s cabanas, designed to resemble the waves of the ocean.
Celebrity Beyond also follows suit of the Edge and Apex in choosing another barrier-breaking woman as the ship’s godmother, seven-time Olympic medalist Simone Biles—widely considered the greatest gymnast of all time, who fully encompasses the concept of going “beyond.” Biles joins Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Malala Yousafzai, who was chosen as godmother of the Edge, and Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani, godmother of the Apex.
But beyond (no pun intended) the altruistic inspiration behind Celebrity Beyond, there’s a lot to love on board. I was fortunate to spend seven days on a recent sailing to the Caribbean, and here are some of my favorite features of the ship. Between dozens of world-class dining options, Broadway-worthy entertainment, and chic nightlife, there’s no shortage of things to eat, drink, see, and do.
Renowned Chef Daniel Boulud’s Le Voyage
There’s a distinct emphasis on gourmet dining aboard Celebrity Beyond, which boasts four main restaurants, eight specialty restaurants, and two private dining experiences; along with plenty of casual options found throughout the ship. However, the culinary jewel of the ship is undoubtedly Le Voyage, helmed by world-renowned Chef Daniel Boulud, who also serves as the Global Culinary Ambassador of Celebrity Cruises.
Boulud’s first signature restaurant at sea, Le Voyage’s menu draws global inspiration from the James Beard award-winning chef’s favorite travel locations. Highlights include the sweet and savory Vidalia onion tart, tamarind and peanut-crusted prawns, prime Black Angus filet mignon, and the decadent, lobster-studded risotto au homard.
Even the space itself exudes luxury, with an intimate yet upscale aesthetic designed by the architect-designer team of Sanjit Manku and Patrick Jouin, who are also credited with the Grand Plaza aboard the Beyond and other Edge Class ships. Keeping in theme with the restaurant, Manku, and Jouin conceived the space with myriad cultures in mind, giving it a feel that comes across as old-world yet modern.
A Spotlight on Art and Design
Celebrity Cruises worked with some of the world’s most renowned artists and designers to ensure that every space on the ship emanates artistic style. In fact, Celebrity Beyond boasts an impressive 4,500-piece art collection featuring nearly 700 artists from over 40 countries—not counting the rotating pieces in the art gallery which are up for guest auction. Among the pieces are abundant sculptures found across the ship’s various decks, living botanical works, mosaics, and even art that you can sit in. There’s always something intriguing to catch your eye (or bottom, as the case may be).
Celebrity’s Greek heritage is likewise reflected in the artwork found throughout Beyond, such as the sparkling Homage to Hera peacock statue outside of Cosmopolitan restaurant, hand set with over 28,000 Swarovski crystals; the stunning Aphrodite mosaic inside the Crypus restaurant; and 3-D printed cast bronze sculptures of Apollo, Aphrodite, and Artemis.
However, the most recognizable (and Instagrammable) piece on Beyond is undoubtedly the life-sized sculpture of a white elephant balanced on a man’s back featured prominently on the pool deck. Designed by French sculptor Fabien Merelle’s L’origine, the piece symbolizes the cruise line’s ability to weather the coronavirus pandemic that brought life and cruising as we know it to a screeching halt in 2020. The piece likewise serves as a gentle reminder, even on vacation, that no obstacle is too great for man to overcome.
The Garden of Eden
But even with all the amazing art found throughout the ship, easily the coolest and most chic spot on Celebrity Beyond is the fantastical, multi-level Eden sanctuary. The space, which was originally conceived for the previous two Edge Series ships, hosts Eden Café, Eden Restaurant, and Eden Bar, all of which overlook the ship’s wake from jaw-dropping three-story high windows—the most outward-facing glass found on any other venue at sea.
True to the theme, Eden features a host of botanical artwork, such as the large Blossom Within sculpture from wife-and-husband duo Natasha Lisitsa and Daniel Schultz. Featured prominently in the center of the space, the mixed media installation resembles a geode filled with bright silk flowers, which are incidentally the only faux plants found in Eden.
Even the entrance to Eden is a marvel to take in. Guests make their way through the “Journey to Eden” via an interactive art installation called Odyssey, designed by Fredrikson Stallard. After passing through LED screens, guests make their way through a dark, mirrored hallway filled with trippy molten bronze “meteors” that float, suspended in space. Larger bronze pieces rest on the floor and double as seating for the perfect spot to sip on a drink and people-watch.
Ride the Magic Carpet
Another fun Edge Series feature that made its way to Celebrity Beyond is the floating “Magic Carpet” platform that serves as both a dining area and casual bar space, depending on where it’s stationed. Conceived as a collaborative effort between architect Tom Wright and designer Kelly Hoppen, the bright, tangerine-colored platform hovers over the starboard side of the ship, another aspect that makes the ship immediately recognizable, along with the blue X.
But the real magic takes place when the platform, roughly the size of a tennis court, is maneuvered up to 13 stories above sea level, from Decks 2 through 16. When lowered to Deck 5, the Magic Carpet serves as an al-fresco extension to the seafood-focused Raw on 5 restaurant, which serves up delectable sushi and raw bar options.
On Deck 14, the Magic Carpet transforms into a breezy, open-air cocktail lounge adjacent to the pool deck. But you’ll find the most impressive views when the Magic Carpet is elevated to the very top of the ship—beyond the deck areas, even—where, when weather conditions permit, Celebrity Beyond hosts Dinner on the Edge featuring breathtaking panoramic views.
State of the Art Theatre
Entertainment also gets a major upgrade on Celebrity Beyond. The largest on an Edge Class ship, The Theatre integrates the latest technology for a fully immersive experience. Curving around the stage is a 20-foot-tall, 110-foot-wide high-definition LED screen that serves as a backdrop to the performers and enhances their performances with interactive motion graphics.
Three new stage productions include Arte—keeping with Celebrity’s dedication to putting a spotlight on the arts—which goes on a journey through some of the most famous artists from across the past century, from the iconic works of René Magritte and Vincent van Gogh to riffs on Andy Warhol and Salvador Dalí. The latter even involves an enormous animated Dalí that waves around behind the dancers to a rendition of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance,” as a wink to the surrealist’s tumultuous marriage.
Another new addition to The Theatre is a first-of-its-kind air fountain designed by Brooklyn-based artist Daniel Wurtzel, featured in the Elements stage show. Performers intertwine with large swaths of gravity-defying fabric during the production, which takes the audience on a tour of the five elements: air, water, earth, fire, and ether.
The Star of the Show, Captain Kate McCue
After becoming America’s first female cruise ship captain in 2015, Captain Kate McCue now helms Celebrity Beyond, where she is, well, a celebrity in her own right. With over a half million followers on Instagram, the charming and charismatic McCue is genuinely beloved by passengers and staff alike. If you happen to catch her passing through Decks 4 or 5, she’ll most likely be swarmed by passengers for selfies, which she is only too happy to oblige.
Another reason for McCue’s notoriety? She travels the world alongside her trusted companion, a hairless Elf Sphynx cat named Bug Naked, who has a respectable social media following in her own right. Our sailing also just happened to coincide with Bug’s seventh birthday, which she seemed to regard with what can only be described as cat-like levels of enthusiasm.
Expansive Staterooms with Luxury Features
Unlike your average cruise ships, which typically have reputations for micro accommodations and wet bathrooms fit for a contortionist, Celebrity Beyond shines in this area as well. As with the Edge and Apex before it, Beyond boasts expansive, luxurious staterooms featuring the brand’s ultra-comfortable eXhale bedding and cashmere mattresses. Additionally, many staterooms come with spectacular views through the Edge-class Infinite Verandas, which can be lowered halfway to take in the ocean breeze while napping or reading a book.
But for all the comforts of Beyond’s staterooms, one of our favorite features was the ability to control the room using the Celebrity Cruises app. There is nothing cooler than waking up in the morning and not even having to get out of your comfy bed to roll down the blinds to look out on the ocean or turn on the lights (to full brightness or 50 percent, natch) with the push of a button.
Relax in the SEA Thermal Suite
When booking at The Spa, guests are invited to spend time in the SEA Thermal Suite before or after their treatment, which offers eight different nature-inspired therapeutic experiences. Amenities of the SEA Thermal Suite include a rainfall therapy room, heated tile lounge chairs offering panoramic ocean views, an infrared sauna, Turkish hammam, salt room, and even a crystalarium featuring an Amethyst crystal for natural healing and balancing chakras. Like virtually every other space on the ship, the SEA Thermal Suite is thoughtfully designed with sleek, modern touches throughout.
Want to spend more time in the SEA Thermal Suite? Guests booking an AquaClass stateroom or Aqua Sky Suite are offered unlimited access, in addition to other health and fitness-focused perks such as Goop curated wellness offerings, an in-room yoga mat, and exclusive entry to Blu restaurant featuring healthy, clean dishes.
Le Petit Chef at the Le Grand Bistro
Another dining experience aboard Celebrity Beyond that’s not to be missed is Le Petit Chef at the Le Grand Bistro. The Belgium artistic collective Skullmapping has created custom 3D animation that seamlessly choreographs your Michelin Star chef-prepared four-course meal and transforms your dining table into a fully immersive production. True to his name, the tiny Le Petit Chef walks diners through each course, providing the history and background of each dish—such as a delectable slow-roasted heirloom tomato tartlet and savory braised beef short rib with horseradish mash and peas—before servers come swooping in with plates.
If traveling with children, you definitely won’t want to miss out on the experience, though you certainly don’t have to be a kid to enjoy it. Our table of adults was likewise delighted by watching the peppy animated chef bounce us through each course, and naturally, there were plenty of the young at heart excitedly capturing the experience on their phones.