[ON LOCATION] LAUREL HERMAN
On board Celebrity Beyond, the third ship in Celebrity Cruises’ Edge series, we called the all-suite The Retreat home; it’s a ship-within-a-ship experience and a wonderful option for groups. A stay in The Retreat means personalized, elevated and exclusive services and amenities, with the rest of Celebrity Beyond’s myriad offerings only steps away.
While offered on all Edge-class ships, on board Celebrity Beyond The Retreat has been expanded and now features a 2-story sundeck, a larger lounge area with floor-to-ceiling windows on both sides, and the Luminae restaurant, available exclusively to The Retreat guests. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the elegant Luminae serves elevated cuisine with special items from Michelin-starred chef Daniel Boulud.
Those staying within The Retreat have access to all-inclusive premium drinks, complimentary WiFi, butler service, priority check-in at the port and priority tender and boarding at the different ports of call.
There is a total of 198 suites to choose from on Celebrity Beyond and with seven categories—from the 1,892-sf Iconic Suite to the 319-sf Sky Suite—there’s something for everyone. On our sailing, we luxuriated in a Celebrity Suite, which ranges from 294 to 498 sf, and features a living room with L-shaped couch as well as floor-to-ceiling windows opening onto a large terrace (51 to 100 sf). The design is a soothing neutral palette with sophisticated textures and patterns.
Celebrity Beyond is a bit longer, taller (17 decks vs. 16) and sleeker than her Edge-class sisters, and overall offers planners 179 more suites and staterooms, for a total of 1,646 cabins. There’s also more resort deck as well as open-air spaces, restaurants, lounges and bars, including the new cozy World Class Bar, with exclusive spirits. The Sunset Bar, for instance, is 180 percent larger, and the Martini Bar, which serves over 30 different kinds of martinis, is now in the center of the atrium, able to accommodate more people around its bar. Ron Gulaskey, associate VP, global corporate, incentive & charter sales for Celebrity Cruises, says, “Meeting and incentive groups were considered in the design of this ship. Additionally, the big thing with Celebrity is that drinks, WiFi and gratuities are all included for corporate groups. When team members enjoy gatherings at any of our bars, no one needs to worry about who is going to pick up the tab and where to expense it.”
While suite guests have access to the aforementioned private restaurant, planners should not miss the specialty dining venues aboard Celebrity Beyond. We dined at Le Voyage by Daniel Boulud; it’s the famous chef’s first signature restaurant at sea. The food, service and champagne and wine pairing are divine—simply one of the top dining experiences to date in my 40-year travel career. On another evening, we ate at Raw on 5, an amazing culinary treat that offers an Asian-inspired fare. Here, we ordered a seafood tower spilling over with fresh lobster, oysters, crab and more. There are six other specialty restaurants to choose from as well as four main dining venues. In total, there are 32 F&B experiences.
There are so many stellar areas for groups to gather, including, as Gulaskey says, “The Rooftop Garden and the Magic Carpet. Those are great venues for group cocktail receptions. The Sunset Bar, meanwhile, in the aft of the ship, has tripled in size and is a perfect spot for a sailaway cocktail reception.”
Other onboard experiences ideal for groups are immersive shows such as “Arte,” as well as shows inspired by Broadway and West End musicals, and the Eden lounge, with its ever-evolving entertainment experiences. Also, meeting and incentive planners should remember that the meeting spaces’ state-of-the-art AV equipment is included at no additional charge.
Another way groups can bond is via Celebrity’s wellness offerings. On board Celebrity Beyond you’ll find everything from specialty classes to detox smoothies. The spa itself has an array of massages and body therapies on the menu; the onboard F45 Fitness Program features high-intensity group workouts; and the fitness room features, among other amenities, Peloton equipment. The brand is so committed to wellness, it aligns itself with highly respected female leaders in the wellness industry.
What is great about the cruise lines in general and Celebrity specifically, Gulaskey tells Prevue, is that since groups are on the ship together, you don’t lose your audience. Group members can see each other throughout their time on board in different areas, depending on their interest. This adds a teambuilding dimension. “Speaking of teambuilding,” Gulaskey adds, “anything we do on board, such as wine tastings, can be privatized for groups, plus we can work with the planner to create customized shore excursions such as sustainability tours.” Gulaskey reminds planners that Celebrity’s fourth Edge-class ship, Celebrity Ascent, will debut at the end of this year.