The most notable new cruise ship of the year now officially has a name.
Celebrity Cruises late Tuesday celebrated the debut of its much-awaited, 2,918-passenger Celebrity Edge with an emotional naming ceremony at Florida's Port Everglades presided over by one of the world's most famous activists. Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, known for her advocacy for female education and empowerment, became the first Nobel laureate to christen a cruise ship when she signed a tablet with her name to trigger the smashing of a bottle across Edge's bow.
The custom-made, 18-liter bottle contained Badoit French mineral water in lieu of Champagne in an apparent nod to Yousafzai's religion. Her family is Sunni Muslim. The ceremony was laced with a theme of gender equality, which has been a focus for Celebrity president and CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo since she took the helm of the brand in 2014. Singer/songwriter Andra Day kicked off the ceremony with an uplifting rendition of her Grammy-nominated, self-empowerment anthem “Rise Up.” She later performed her Oscar-nominated single “Stand Up for Something.” Both anthems were chosen for their statements about the power of girls’ education and its role in shaping the future.
“The ceremony today was both touching and symbolic of what Celebrity Cruises stands for," said Lutoff-Perlo, who has overseen a major expansion of the number of women working on Celebrity ships. Lutoff-Perlo was the first woman appointed to run a major cruise line. "I am grateful to Malala, her family and Malala Fund for embracing today’s events and look forward to continuing our work together around the world."
Celebrity is in the midst of a two-year partnership with Yousafzai's Malala Fund, which has as its mission securing safe and free quality education for girls.
Yousafzai was just 17 when she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014. Now 21, she began her life as an activist in Pakistan at the age of 11, when she started a secret blog about life under the Taliban, which did not permit girls to go to school. She was targeted for her advocacy and, at 15, was shot on a school bus. Surviving the attack, she continued to campaign for girls’ education.
Richard Fain, the chairman and CEO of Celebrity's parent company, Royal Caribbean Cruises, choked up when relating the story of her attack during a speech at the event. He said the company was honored that she agreed to be the ship's godmother.
“We are especially proud because Malala’s example of relentless persistence and achievement is an inspiration to our crew, who have all worked so hard and made real sacrifices to build better lives for themselves and their families,” Fain said. Tuesday's naming event was held in The Oculus, Edge's main theater, which has an unusual-for-a-cruise-ship, stage-forward design. The event was hosted by designer and television personality Nate Berkus.
Unveiled to travel agents and media last week, Edge is the prototype for an innovative new series of ships at Celebrity called the Edge Class. Designed to be oriented to the ocean in a way that is unusual for big vessels, it boasts several features that are groundbreaking not just for the line but the industry. Among them: Outward-facing cabins that are fronted with wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling glass – a new concept for ocean cruising made possible by redesigning the internal architecture of the ship.
Dubbed the Edge Stateroom with Infinite Veranda, the new cabin type has balconies that are incorporated into the main cabin area. Bi-fold doors in the rooms either can be completely closed, creating a traditional room area separated from a balcony area, or left open, creating a wide-open indoor space that is about 23 percent larger than traditional balcony cabins.
The glass walls at the end of the cabins slide down from the ceiling at the push of a button, descending to the level of a traditional balcony to create a balcony-like feel.
Also noteworthy on Edge is a three-deck-high, plant-filled lounge, dining and entertainment venue at the back of the ship that is partially encircled in a massive, curving wall of glass. Called Eden, it offers unusually wide-open views of the ocean. It's full of seating nooks facing outward to the sea.
Another innovative new feature of Edge is Magic Carpet, a 90-ton platform the size of a tennis court that is cantilevered over the ship's starboard side. Painted tangerine, it moves up and down the side of the vessel serving functions that range from a lounge to a restaurant to a tender-boarding platform. When used as a lounge or restaurant, it offers stunning views out to sea and back to the main part of the vessel.
At the top of the ship, another unusual new space, the plant-filled Rooftop Garden, offers passengers a garden-like outdoor venue to watch movies under the stars. It also is home to a grill where passengers can grab a bite while enjoying the sea breeze. Celebrity enlisted some of the world's best-known architects and designers to design Edge's public spaces, including Patricia Urquiola and Kelly Hoppen.
Edge arrived at Port Everglades in late November after a 15-night journey from the shipyard in France where it had been under construction for more than a year. On Saturday, it kicked off its first voyage with paying passengers, an abbreviated, three-day trip to the Bahamas. It'll begin a regular schedule of weeklong sailings to the Caribbean on Dec. 9.
By Gene Sloan, USA Today
Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more
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