Lovin the Celebrity EDGE – Western Caribbean Cruise
Saturday February 15 – En-route to Miami
My passengers all arrived at Toronto Pearson earlier that I suggested which ended up being a good thing because the lines to clear security and US customs were ridiculously long. I highly suggest that anyone flying to the USA needs to arrive at Toronto Pearson with plenty of extra time – 3 hours ahead might not always be enough.
My passengers have an advantage because once they are through the airport formalities they can relax in a premium lounge – a “Travel With Bradley” perk. Once again the Premium Lounge staff had reserved seats for our group which is a huge plus. This lounge (catering to US bound passengers) is not large. Everyone enjoyed a bountiful hot breakfast and conversation with their fellow passengers.
While in the lounge one of my passengers came to me and said “I may be reading the flight screen wrong but I think it says our flight to Miami has been cancelled”……… sadly enough that was the case so I told my passengers to stay put in the lounge and I headed to see the Air Canada staff.
At least 50 people were in line ahead of me at the Air Canada Customer Service Desk so I called my office emergency line and within minutes someone was in their car heading to the office in order to resolve this issue while others were on the phone from their homes with Air Canada and our suppliers in the USA. What an efficient, wonderful team!
I learned that new boarding passes would be printed and we would be allocated a $20.00 lunch voucher from Air Canada due to the delay.
I soon received word that the office staff secured space for all my passengers on a newly added Miami flight departing at 430pm. Our Miami Airport greeter and Coach Line were notified about our new flight details. One advantage when you travel with a group is in a situation like this, group passengers seats are usually secured first followed afterwards by individual travelers.
I gathered my passengers in an area outside of the lounge where there was ample seating and asked them to wait as I wanted to make sure we were first to get the new boarding passes. As soon as AC staff gave me the word it was a quick process picking up the new boarding passes and then we used our lunch vouchers (accepted at all food venues in the terminal).
Time zoomed by and soon we were seated on a 777 aircraft to Miami. It’s very unusual for Air Canada’s newest and largest aircraft to fly this route but two flights were involved in this change of aircraft – 450 passengers – they needed a LARGE plane to hold everyone!
During our flight I enjoyed watching, “Judy” – the award winning movie about Judy Garland. I’ll purchase a DVD copy when I get home. I don’t often find the time to see a movie but I can highly recommend this one.
Our arranged Miami greeter was waiting for us at luggage claim and soon we boarded a comfortable coach for a relatively short drive to our deluxe overnight hotel. We passed the newly opened Hard Rock Guitar shape hotel along the way – very cool.
At our hotel everyone was housed in 2 room suites – we were spoiled with so much room but after a long travel day we deserved it.
Sunday February 16 – Boarding Celebrity EDGE
After a relaxing buffet breakfast in the hotel restaurant we were anxious to get to the cruise port.
The coach driver was a real pro. He could move the motor coach around like it was Mini Cooper size.
Checking in for the Celebrity EDGE cruise was a VERY simple process. I’m surprised Celebrity hasn’t incorporated a similar process system wide but I have to wonder if there is the technology at other ports around the world to make it happen.
The Celebrity terminal that has been built especially for the EDGE is state-of-art and its very beautiful.
As usual the cruise baggage mafia was waiting for our arrival. They expect a large gratuity when handling group luggage so I look after this as soon as we arrive so my passengers are not harassed.
Once we entered the new cruise terminal we rode an escalator to the upper level, we quickly went through security (many lines) and then an agent met us, scanned our express pass and asked us a couple questions. We then walked a few more steps where our express pass was scanned again and that was it – we were on the vessel. What a seamless easy process with no lines – possibly 10 min max from start to finish – marvelous – congrats to Celebrity! I don’t believe you will find an easier cruise ship check-in process anywhere else in the world.
On board we went directly to our stateroom to pick up our room key card (in a slot next to the stateroom door) and we left our carry-on bags in the stateroom – so nice not to have to carry them around. Staterooms were officially allowed for occupancy at 1pm but most of our staterooms were already ready for occupancy when we boarded. I was able to make welcome aboard dinner reservations for my group in a speciality restaurant so I called all my passengers with the details.
The EDGE cost 1.3 billion to build – making it the most expensive ship ever built. If you appreciate design you will really admire this amazing vessel. I had a meeting with a staff member who stressed the vision of the designers and I’m so glad she did because I then noticed many design features that I may of overlooked. There is certainly plenty to admire when sailing on the EDGE.
Captain Kate is in command and she is a marketing machine. She is the first American female with the Captain role on a Mega Cruise Ship. I don’t know where she finds all of her energy. She has become a Celebrity Cruise superstar. Some passengers make a point to sail the EDGE because they want to meet her – she has a huge fan base especially with younger cruisers. My brother, Darren is one of her admirers – he has chatted with her on line and follows all her instagram posts.
I was invited to a welcome aboard reception. I knew Captain Kate would be there so my goal was to get her picture. I then had the opportunity to be in that picture. When I mentioned my brother Darren she knew who I was talking about, so she grabbed my camera and made a video for him. How fun is that!
My passengers were excited about my welcome aboard dinner invitation. We dined in one of the Speciality Restaurants (Le Bistro) – a Le Petit Chef experience. This one-of-a-kind evening was originally exclusively on the EDGE but has now expanded to other ships in the fleet. In fact my recent Antarctica group had the pleasure of enjoying two nights at the Le Petit Chef. I don’t want to tell you about this culinary experience because it more thrilling if you don’t know what to expect. My group loved it!
Tonight’s entertainment in the theatre was a piano playing comedian. It’s hard for a comedian to please everyone – some enjoyed his show while others didn’t.
I just love the EDGE infinite balcony staterooms. They are a first. This new concept adds 23 extra sq feet to the typical stateroom size (major bonus) and the views from the floor to ceiling window is beyond spectacular – this mega size window brings the spectacular outside sea views inside. Every time I walked into my stateroom that view took my breath away. When the room steward closed the veranda blind in the evening I opened it again. I often kept that window open even through the night as I enjoyed the fresh air breeze and the sound of the EDGE moving through the ocean was so relaxing.
Monday February 17 – Key West
Our day in Key West started an hour later than scheduled because another vessel hindered our entrance into a small channel that Captain Kate had to get the EDGE through before arriving at the dock but even with the delay by 8am we were able to get ashore.
I met a few interesting people at breakfast in the Cosmopolitan Restaurant – a Jewish man that lives 5 minutes from the Trump compound in West Palm Beach (he teaches Opera) and a couple from Norway who have been sailing on the EDGE for a month and then they board the Oasis of the Seas for 2 more weeks of cruising before heading back to Norway. Sadly while on this ship a family member of theirs passed – Captain Kate conducted a service for them.
Key West is a wonderful port. In fact some of my passengers enjoyed their time so much they asked me to make sure they get on my not-yet-released, Key West tour.
Key West is actually closer to Cuba than Miami.
There are 4 smaller themed dining rooms that are included in the EDGE cruise fare along with some speciality (fee) dining rooms. My passengers scattered amongst all of them this evening.
I have encouraged them to try all the different complimentary venues. Each one of these restaurants features speciality items exclusive to that venue.
I dined in the Speciality Fine Cut Steakhouse where the cuisine and service was exceptional. Many claim this is the finest fee restaurant on-board. As many of you know I am not a red meat/pork eater so I ordered the lobster that was pouched in lemon butter – so good!
Tonights production show was enjoyed by all. The main theatre onboard the EDGE is state-of-art. The stage is round and huge LED screens fill almost half the theatre so the technology is sometimes more impressive than the entertainers! The downfall is its too small for this size of ship – you need to arrive early to get a seat.
Tuesday February 18 – Day At Sea
It was a perfect weather day to be at sea – the sun was beaming and the seas were as smooth as ice.
Almost all of us gathered for an optional group luncheon in Cosmopolitan – delicious food with attentive service.
Late in the afternoon Captain Kate made an announcement that broadcast throughout the ship (even in the staterooms). She said she would be skipping the port of Costa Maya due to unrest – some protesters are closing roads etc and as Captain Kate stated her goal is to keep passengers and her crew safe. She is now going to head the EDGE directly to Cozumel and when a pier opens tomorrow evening at approx 7pm we will dock for an overnight stay.
Tonight’s dinner was at “Raw on 5” – this is not just a sushi restaurant – they have shrimp cocktail, stir fries, beef tenderloin on the menu….
Tonight’s show in the theatre was a Paul McCartney tribute – was very well done – the crowd loved it.
Wednesday February 19 – Day At Sea with Evening Arrival in Cozumel
It’s another picture perfect day.
Many of us gathered for dinner in the Cosmopolitan and later in the afternoon we enjoyed a Travel With Bradley cocktail reception in EDEN.
Captain Kate docked the EDGE at the newest port in Cozumel. A short distance from us was another pier where 2 Carnival Ships were docked.
EDEN consists of a cafe, lounge and restaurant. I dined at the restaurant this evening and the culinary experience may be one of the very best I have ever experienced. I had a prime seat overlooking the open air kitchen. The chefs here deserve to be named something other than a chef – they are true artists. Many of them work with tweezers and the 6 course meal is truly a masterpiece. I have no idea where else I could find a culinary experience quite like this one. Throughout the evening acrobats and singers performed in the restaurant. This was an added bonus that really wasn’t needed because the meal was so exceptional.
Two Carnival ships departed at 830pm and 9pm. From my balcony I had a beautiful view of their departures. I kept my balcony window open this evening. The air was fresh.
Thursday February 20 – Day In Cozumel
Eight other cruise ships joined us in Cozumel but surprisingly it wasn’t busy when I headed into downtown Cozumel. Celebrity and Royal Caribbean use the new International dock – there are a number of docks in Cozumel.
It was another beautiful day – highs of 86 and not humid.
The taxi ride to the core runs $8.00 and it doesn’t seem to matter how many people you have with you. It’s a flat $8.00. The taxis are more than plentiful and the drivers are friendly.
I meet some of my passengers in Cozumel so we explored together. You need to be willing to barter in the local shops or you are going to pay way too much. For instance I purchased a ring – first price was $250 and I walked away paying $50.00.
Not all the store fronts are occupied in the core but the majority are – name brand jewelry shops, silver shops, pharmacies (no prescription needed for many well known pharmaceuticals), souvenir shops and a few restaurants.
There are a few stores as you walk down the side streets but I noticed they offer lower quality merchandise.
There were a few armed army trucks roaming around. Of course keeping passengers safe is very important here because the cruise ships bring in much needed income.
The International port also features a number of shops along with a few chain restaurants – Margaritaville, Bubba Gumps Shrimp so its not necessary to head into the downtown core if you wish to shop.
I believe we were the first ship to depart – its quite the jaunt to Grand Cayman our next port of call, and as Captain Kate said she needs to move full speed ahead if we are going to arrive on time.
I heard wonderful things about the female entertainer who took the main stage this evening.
The light and martini show in the main atrium was entertaining – takes place twice an evening.
Friday February 21 – Grand Cayman
Grand Cayman is a tender port. I was hoping that we were going to have the opportunity to use the ship life boats to get ashore because I wanted everyone to see how beautiful they are inside and out (bucket seats/televisions) but the island tender service was used probably because they offer much larger boats to get people ashore.
I was on the first tender and spent 3 hours ashore. It was a steamy day but none of us were complaining because in a couple days we are heading back to Canada’s winter temperatures.
There are a number of stores that line the Main Street – most of them carry known jewelry brands. I guess there must be enough people spending 20G on watches to keep these stores operational. Cozumel offered a wider variety of things to buy and you could find deals. Grand Cayman has always had a “very expensive island” reputation.
Some of my passengers had a blast swimming with the dolphins and many took island tours that were purchased off the ship for $25 or $20 (depending who you were dealing with).
Saturday February 22 – Day At Sea
Another beautiful day. Last night was overcast and the seas were a little choppy but by 8am the sun was beaming and the clears cleared for us.
The balcony blind in my stateroom stays open all the time and I leave the window open some but the weather must have been blustery through the night as I noticed that Captain Kate must have hit the button to close all the balcony windows because it was closed when I awoke.
I start my day at Cafe al Bacio, where the staff member named, Princess brings me a Chai Latte made with Almond Milk. I notice the same passengers early every morning at this cafe. Every once in a while one of my group members spots me in the cafe and we enjoy a great chat.
I then head to the eatery at EDEN for a very light breakfast – fruit bowl. The EDEN eatery is never busy – its a hidden gem with a very limited but high quality menu.
Finally I visit the Tuscan Grille which is reserved for those who have sailed many times with Celebrity. I stay just long enough to enjoy a smoothie and then I am on my way.
At 1030am my passengers gathered for my disembarkation briefing.
That was followed by a private galley tour “just for us”.
Finally we gathered for a Farewell Cocktail Party in EDEN. It wasn’t busy so we had choice of seating.
The weather turned this evening – stormy, rainy and very windy. The EDGE due to its latest technology design easily handles miserable weather.
I had a reservation at the Rooftop Garden Grill. It’s the only speciality restaurant that I hadn’t dined in. I called to make sure they were still accommodating guests in this weather and they said yes. I ended up being the only one brave enough to eat outside (covered overhead) so I had two executive chefs and two wait staff looking after me. They brought me a blanket to wrap around me – the outside temperature was more than comfortable – it was the wind that was a challenge. The meal was exceptional. They have a special smoker that they use when cooking so the meats/fish are full of flavor. I didn’t order a dessert but they surprised me with one. A freshly baked cookie prepared in a cast iron pan, topped with ice cream. I was videotaping the dessert and the weather when a huge gust of wind came up and literally blew everything off the table. Luckily it just missed me. This is the best form of calorie control – the dessert looked so good!
Tonight’s production show in the theatre is the highest rated in the Celebrity fleet. The impressive thing about the EDGE theatre is the massive LED Screen that circles much of the theatre. The cast of singers and dancers are young and full of talent. I miss not having a live band behind them.
Sunday, February 23 – Homeward Bound
Remember I told you how easy it was boarding the EDGE. Getting off the ship was just as quick. I had my passengers gather in the theatre – we were the first group to disembark at 8:45am. When we walked into the arrival terminal we walked up to a terminal with face recognition capability. We all received the green light meaning we did not require any screening from a customs official. We then collected our luggage – only a handful with our #11 tags so quick to find. We then walked through the nothing to declare line and we were done. I called Adrian our coach driver and within 5 minutes he arrived at the terminal – we loaded luggage and were on our way. There were massive traffic jams due to traffic merging to one lane due to highway construction but we were in a special lane and avoided all the mess.
Dealing with Air Canada in Miami was a treat. They gave me 2 exclusive agents to check our group in so once again the process was very quick. They even offered to pre-board us on the flight ahead of the other passengers.
I couldn’t have asked for anything better.
Space on the Air Canada Rogue airbus was tight so I’m glad that the flight was just 3 hours. The young crew was friendly.
We arrived back to 4C temps and sunny skies but after such a wonderful cruise we are relaxed and tanned! Thanks to my wonderful passengers.