When the pandemic flipped the planet upside-down back in 2020, there were countless industries that immediately took a huge hit. Restaurants and bars, movie theaters, sporting and music events—businesses all over the world were shuttering overnight. The cruising industry was one of the hardest hit. But now, thanks to vaccine breakthroughs and new hygienic protocols, people are finally feeling more comfortable getting back to normal—and cruising is back. Need proof? Look no further than Celebrity Cruises, which is leading the charge with a brand-new flagship vessel aptly named Celebrity Beyond.
My wife, kids, and I recently got our boat shoes back on and hopped aboard the newest (and most luxurious) ship in Celebrity’s fleet for a seven-night voyage. We flew into Fort Lauderdale, FL to embark on our trip, which would take us to the Bahamas, Mexico, and Grand Cayman. Looking back on the voyage, we could not have been more impressed with the Celebrity experience.
We opted for The Retreat package, which included a suite, all premium drinks, premium WiFi, tips, and more, as well as exclusive access to the ship’s Luminae specialty restaurant. If you’re planning a trip on the Celebrity Beyond, upgrading to The Retreat package is the way to go.
Upon arrival at the port, Retreat guests are directed to a separate priority entrance. There, a dedicated concierge greets you and gets your whole group checked in with no wait lines or delays of any kind. The Retreat check-in lounge is fully stocked with drinks and food that guests can enjoy while their bags get checked and the onboard logistics are dialed in. The whole boarding process took less than 10 minutes.
Once on board the ship, we made our way to our Aqua Sky Suite. It was even more breathtaking than the virtual tour we took months prior. The rooms measure 319 square feet (plus a balcony) and come complete with a luxurious king bed as well as a super comfy pull-out sofa bed for the kids.
The view from our 14th-floor balcony was incredible, and the bathroom was impressively spacious with a full-size bathtub, shower, and vanity.
As we explored the ship after settling into our suite, we were blown away by the access our Retreat package gave us. A private upper-deck lounge with a full bar and snacks, a full-service concierge, a private pool and hot tub area on the top deck—we almost spent the entire first day on the same floor.
Things to Do
But as we made our way around the rest of the ship, we could barely pull our jaws up from the floor at every turn. The main pool deck is massive, with thoughtful, modern design accents, stunning artwork and sculptures, and pristine architecture from bow to stern.
We meandered through the gorgeous Rooftop Garden (which includes a giant video screen that played daily movies for the kids as well as World Cup soccer matches) and passed through Eden (a lovely indoor garden seating area with food and drink amenities). We sauntered through the magnificent Grand Plaza, and we poked our heads into the Magic Carpet area (a cantilevered floating platform that reaches heights of 13 stories above sea level).
When it comes to entertainment, the Celebrity Beyond boasts A-list options for all guests. We enjoyed nightly shows at the state-of-the-art Theatre—it’s equipped with a 20-foot-tall 4K LED screen comprised of 17 million pixels that curves 110 feet around the stage.
The venue was unlike any other we’ve experienced, and each of the shows was standing-ovation worthy. An amazing visual journey through the five elements of Earth, mind-bending visual effects that immerse you into historically iconic works of art, a wildly entertaining musical tribute to the most iconic boy bands in history (from The Beatles to Boyz II Men to NSYNC)—each of the performances was Las Vegas-caliber, to say the least.
Parents, rejoice: The Celebrity Camp at Sea is one of the best kids programs we’ve ever seen. The counselors are friendly and attentive, and the games, programs, and activities that they host for the kiddos are top-notch—our youngsters barely wanted to hang out with us at all.
And there’s adults-only fun, too: the casino. The Celebrity Beyond features a full casino with dozens of slots, table games, and tournaments for the dice-throwers and card-players in your group.
Food & Drink
When it comes to dining, the Celebrity Beyond has set the bar miles above what we’d normally expect on a cruise ship. The ship boasts 32 distinct food and drink experiences, including 14 cafes, bars, and lounges, four main restaurants, and four complimentary casual dining venues.
As mentioned before, The Retreat guests have exclusive access to Luminae restaurant, which features unique menus crafted by a Michelin-starred chef that you won’t find anywhere else on the ship.
The food is truly amazing, and the luxury experience of Luminae is next-level. In addition, the ship features eight specialty restaurants (Le Voyage, Fine Cut Steakhouse, Le Grand Bistro, Le Petite Chef, Raw on 5, The Magic Carpet, The Rooftop Garden Grill, and Eden Restaurant), where guests can make reservations ahead of time. There’s no shortage of places to eat and drink on this ship—in fact, one of the most difficult parts for us the whole week was deciding which venue to try next.
The experience aboard Celebrity’s new flagship was one we’ll never forget. While going ashore each day was great, the ship amenities were the highlights of the week.
After a few years of distancing ourselves from others, sheltering in place, unsure of where “normal society” was headed, it was truly a breath of fresh air to get back into the swing of an epic vacation. We decided to go big for our first foray back into cruising, and we couldn’t be more pleased with what Celebrity Beyond gave us.
With its sterling reputation in the cruising industry, Celebrity Cruises is the line to go with, and the Celebrity Beyond represents the company’s latest and greatest. Want to get a preview of what you’re in for? Celebrity also just launched a virtual tour of every inch of the ship through their new VR platform, Wonderverse.
With seven-night cruises on Celebrity Beyond starting at only $723, now’s the time to get your next luxury vacation on the books.
[Starting at $723; celebritycruises.com]
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