What do interior designer and TV personality Nate Berkus, Gwyneth Paltrow’s wellness brand Goop, star French chef Daniel Boulud, Olympic athlete Simone Biles, and Peloton all have in common? These are some of the names and brands affiliated with the latest ship from Celebrity Cruises, the 3,260-passenger Celebrity Beyond.
Let’s start with Berkus, who serves as Celebrity’s travel ambassador and who designed some of Celebrity Beyond’s gorgeous interior spaces. Gwyneth Paltrow, CEO of Goop, is the cruise line’s well-being advisor; Goop products are available for purchase on board. Boulud, whose restaurant Daniel in New York has earned two Michelin stars, has his first floating restaurant, Le Voyage, on the ship and is Celebrity’s global culinary ambassador. Biles, an Olympic gold medalist in gymnastics, is godmother of Celebrity Beyond and recently oversaw the vessel’s christening ceremony in Fort Lauderdale. And as for Peleton, passengers can keep up with their livestream workouts in the ship’s gym.
The message is loud and clear that Celebrity Cruises wants to make sure that its latest vessel is trending. It’s also, according to Celebrity CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, hoping to change skeptics’ perceptions of cruising through impressive “culinary experiences and wellness amenities not found anywhere else at sea.”
How “Celebrity Beyond” differs from other Celebrity ships
Celebrity Beyond is the third ship in the brand’s Edge class of vessels; its sister ships are Celebrity Edge and Celebrity Apex. Celebrity Edge, which debuted in 2018, was such a departure from mainstream mega-ships it was named to Time magazine’s World’s Great Places list in 2019. A fourth sister, Celebrity Ascent, debuts next year.
With each new vessel, the cruise line is constantly tweaking, according to Lutoff-Perlo. So, Celebrity Beyond is a little larger, longer, and taller than its sister ships, with a sleeker profile and some new features.
The ship maintains attention-grabbing attractions from the earlier ships, including a bright, orange-colored Magic Carpet platform that rides the side of the ship, stopping on various decks to serve as a venue for drinks and dining. Another impressive feature are hot tubs perched on top of structures that look like martini glasses at the main pool on Celebrity Beyond’s expanded resort deck.
Top-flight guests get more space to hang out. The Retreat private resort within a cruise ship area for suite guests—with exclusive restaurant, sundecks, cabanas, and pool—is 40 percent larger on this ship compared with its peers. If you want even more privacy, the 1,900-square-foot Iconic Suites come with their own outdoor hot tubs and two-story Edge Villas feature private plunge pools.
For the rest of the passengers, a fun new addition is deep glass-enclosed soaking pools that cantilever off the ship near the plant-filled Rooftop Garden. The space also hosts tai chi lessons, outdoor movies, and dancing under the stars.
One revamped location that really caught this writer’s attention is the expanded Sunset Bar, a multi-terraced space high up and aft on the ship, where Berkus has created a Greek beach club scene with, as he puts it, “unobstructed views of the world.” The message here is barefoot luxury. Grab a drink at the bar, prop up a pillow on a lush couch, and watch the sun go down over the ocean.
About the food and drinks on “Celebrity Beyond”
Celebrity has long had a reputation for above-par food and wine. Years ago, the line’s then French chef advisor Michel Roux dramatically told me, “No stinking rotten frozen pastry comes aboard these ships.”
Celebrity Beyond is no exception. There are 32 food and beverage experiences onboard, including eight specialty restaurants. During my overnight experience last month, Boulud was clearly excited to see his restaurant, Le Voyage, for the first time. His relationship with Celebrity Cruises came about because years ago Cornelius Gallagher, now Celebrity’s vice president of food and beverage operations, had worked for Boulud as a young sous chef. (Gallagher later earned a Michelin star at one of his own restaurants.) Boulud says he was at first wary of getting involved in a cruise ship dining experience. Then he cruised on Celebrity Edge, “and discovered the world of cooking on a ship that size,” he says.
On Celebrity Beyond, Le Voyage is all white walls and white lights, with tables—many set for an intimate dining experience for two—stylistically separated by white netting. The concept is to cocoon diners into a space that is designed to let the food shine.
Boulud says his goal with the menu was to showcase global cuisine and to highlight his expertise beyond French cooking. Two of the standout dishes during a multi-course tasting were tamarind-peanut crusted carabineros (large deep-sea prawns) with papaya slaw alongside a green Thai curry, and a classic French chicken with porcini mushrooms and madeira cream, served with Marie de Beauregard vouvray from the Loire Valley and Goldeneye pinot noir from California, respectively. I’m still dreaming about the warm lemon-scented madeleines that arrived at meal’s end.
Tasting menus start at $75 per person for three courses and go up to $239 if you do a full Chef’s Table experience with wine pairings. Even before Boulud’s involvement, Celebrity Cruises was the only cruise line with a wine cellar that has been recognized by Wine Spectator magazine.
At Le Grand Bistro, you can dine while watching 3D cartoon chefs appear on your dinner plate to give you the meal’s backstory. Other attractions included the cold seafood towers (for $70) at Raw on Five and the kebab stand that is part of the expansive buffet.
The center of the culinary action on Celebrity Beyond is the very lively three-deck Grand Plaza with a central Martini Bar under a huge pulsating light sculpture and chandelier. This is not a quiet place for a drink—the bartenders put on a show that could compete with Tom Cruise in Cocktail. Have them make you a kale martini with Grey Goose, kale, celery, lime, ginger, and apple, or try the pickle juice vodka martini (the drinks are $15 to $18).
The wellness offerings on “Celebrity Beyond”
The other place where Celebrity Beyond shines is in the area of wellness. Those who are all-in on a wanting to have a full-blown wellness-focused getaway might consider booking AquaClass staterooms or the AquaClass Sky Suites, where passengers are immersed in a destination spa experience that includes spa amenities in their stateroom (such as a yoga mat to use on board) and access to the clean eating–focused restaurant Blue. In these staterooms, guests can order custom detox smoothies from room service before using their complimentary fitness pass at the spa, where they also have access to the SEA Thermal Suite—a collection of eight spaces that include a hammam, a Crystalarium for energy healing, an infrared sauna, and a “Float Zen Zone” where you can relax in a hanging basket chair and swing “into a meditative state.” Or you can just recline on a heated lounger and look at the ocean.
For everyone else on board, passengers can pay to play from an impressive lineup of fitness and spa offerings. You can opt to work out in an expanded F Training studio, or try classes that include “bungee fit,” “cardio boxing,” and “pulse barre,” when you are not doing your Peloton workout. At the spa, guests can indulge in such unusual treatments as a Zero Gravity Wellness Massage (from $229), during which you are suspended on a treatment table for a “choreographed massage” with eight table positions designed to “to reach your main muscles and stress zones,” according to the brochure. There’s also an Ocean Spa Wave Massage that involves being wrapped in seaweed and algae and resting on a waterbed to relieve stress (from $249).
Celebrity Beyond is wintering in the Caribbean, with alternating eastern and western Caribbean itineraries. A seven-night cruise to the Bahamas, Mexico, and Grand Cayman is priced from $699 per person, and the Retreat suites start at $5,215 per person. Celebrity Cruises has moved to a pricing model where eligible fares include drinks, Wi-Fi, and gratuities.