Once the naming ceremony of The Edge had concluded, we were off to continue our two-day exploration of this cutting edge ship. Here are some highlights of the public spaces:
The Solarium caught my attention first. This huge pool area was completely encased in a huge hexagonal bubble, keeping it warm and bright, even during a deluge of rain. The pool was surrounded by hundreds of lounge chairs, most facing out toward the ocean instead of in toward the pool, and many of which were designed to be moved right into the wading-depth sloping edge of the pool. Imagine experiencing all the benefits of soaking in the rays without the typical sweaty discomfort of suntanning. Dozens of bikini clad women and their partners lounged as the lapping water kissed their bodies just enough to cool them.
Next was the martini bar, an expansive social area centered around live music, beautiful sculptures, and a huge show of dancing lights with a pipe-organ look. It was under the lights that bartenders practiced their routine, surrounded by travel critics and agents, all of whom were invited, free of charge, to enjoy all that the ship had to offer. At this bar, serving drinks had become a juggling act! This beautiful area isn’t just about the acrobatic serving of alcohol, however. There are also coffee shop bakeries in two corners of this town center, along with a variety of alternative seating for groups, couples and singles. We’re not really martini people, but Bill and I lingered in this area for hours over hot chocolate, catching up with Eric & Peggy Schanz, two friends we had met at our Expedia CruiseShipCenters training in Vancouver last spring.
Speaking of bars, Eden, aft of the martini bar, is… well… an experience on the edge. Three stories of natural light, incense, and enough plants to require an on-board botanist are just the beginning. Primitively dressed performers often pop up in Eden, dancing provocatively and silently improvising wordless scenes that often include audience members. During the day, Eden is bright, inviting, and full of life. Once the sun sets, Eden is becomes an edgy nightclub, fascinating, but a lot like its original namesake…after the fall.
We also got to visit The Theatre, where we experienced two of five original performances on the The Edge. The somewhat hour-glass shaped stage brought many more passengers to its edge, as it jutted right out into the auditorium, with he first row of audience members snaked around it. The opening show was a multi-media operetta of “The Jewelry Box,” the story of a king’s search for the one who was worthy to open the huge box that hung in center stage. The king was a two-story tall lion, presented in videography and surround sound. His subjects were four “tribes” of incredibly talented singers and dancers, each representing a different color of gem and attempting to show their worth through their craft. The second show was called “Hype,” and its energetic cast of singers, dancers, and instrumentalists lived up to its title well. This rousing show of everything from blues to rock pop to hip hop kept the audience tapping their toes, clapping their hands, and snapping their fingers from beginning to end. Both shows pushed the vocal, instrumental, dance, and videography talents of these amazing performers to the edge.
There were many other highlights of the beautiful, classy ship, but the last I will describe is the ingenious Magic Carpet. If you’ve ever been on an excursion from an anchored cruise ship, you’ll recognize the difference here right away. First of all, when the ship arrives, it is kept in place, not by an anchor that could damage the coral reefs below, but by the captain programming the exact positioning of the ship and computer-run thrusters responding with adjustments to keep it there, safe and environmentally friendly, throughout its stay. Secondly, the magic carpet, which is usually a bar and restaurant extending the space on one of the upper decks, slides down to the waterline, bar and all, and becomes the launching off point for excursions right off the edge of the ship. What used to be an adventure through the ironclad, cargo-like belly of a ship and onto a fiberglass tender has now become a visit to a beautiful deck bar for a beer, cocktail, or bottle of mineral water while awaiting a tender that better resembles the first class section of an airplane than the lifeboats of old. What a pleasant surprise, even though all we did was take a tender tour around The Edge!
I’ve always thought of cruise ships as floating luxury resorts, but architecture, design, and programming of The Edge has managed to revolutionize even that idea, opening up a whole new class of cruise ship. For adults traveling alone or together, I would definitely recommend an vacation on The Edge. For families with children and teens? They do offer programming through Toddler Time, Fun Factory, and X-Club, but who can compete with waterslides, go-kart tracks, and Disney characters?