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Celebrity Edge made history on June 26th. This 130K gross ton mega-ship became the first ocean cruise ship to sail from the U.S. since March 2020. Of course, we were onboard for this milestone voyage. Having just returned from Royal Caribbean’s first sailing on Adventure of the Seas out of the Bahamas, we thought we knew what to expect from this trip. We were wrong. See the 8 things that surprised us about the first cruise on Celebrity Edge from the United States.
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What Surprised Us About the First Cruise On Celebrity Edge
No Physical Distancing Reminders
For over a year now, we have all become accustomed to following physical distancing markers. Our cruise on Adventure of the Seas was no different, with signage located throughout the vessel.
Signs were located near elevators limiting capacity to four guests or one party. Markers at the bars indicated where you could stand to order. Also, queue lines included markers at venues like the coffee shop and Guest Services.
However, there were no such measures on Celebrity Edge. With 99% of those onboard vaccinated, there was no official social distancing on the ship.
All Public Venues Were The Same
Surprisingly, all of the public venues were exactly the same during this first cruise on Celebrity Edge as well.
Unlike our sailing on Adventure of the Seas, there were no changes to the seating at any of the public areas. This included the restaurants, bars, and the main theater.
The cruise line did not reserve any seats for social distancing in the theater, and all of the tables were open at restaurants and lounges. In fact, there were several times in the dining room that the table adjacent to us was occupied. Further, individuals could sit at the high tops at all bars.
This is a stark contrast to our cruise on Adventure of the Seas. On that cruise, the capacity was restricted to 25% in the main theater. At bars and restaurants, tables were strategically reserved. Likewise, cruisers could not sit at any of the bars, even the outdoor ones.
Celebrity Parties Were in Full Swing
Cruisers like to have a good time. This means attending the nighttime parties and events.
Sadly, Adventure of the Seas avoided any such activities that would draw crowds. This included Sail Away. None of the popular Royal Caribbean Promenade events like the 70’s disco party or the midnight balloon drop occurred during the week-long voyage either.
Related Post: Adventure of the Seas Bahamas Cruise Review
This was not the case on Celebrity Edge. The party started with a packed Resort Deck Sail Away, complete with a performance by the ship’s singers and dancers. There was also a White Party on the Pool Deck and two Silent Discos.
With no social distancing guidelines, the cruise line was able to offer these events. It did not appear that cruisers were worried about being in crowded areas, whether they were indoors or outside.
Kids Not Wearing Masks
Celebrity Cruises has mandated vaccinations for all cruisers over 16 years of age (or 12 years of age starting August 1st). With that requirement in place, adults did not have to wear face masks on the ship.
We did have to wear masks in the terminal. We also needed to follow regulations of local ports of call, which meant wearing masks in Mexico and the Bahamas.
Related Post: What It Was Like on the First Cruise From the U.S.
According to a pre-cruise email, Celebrity Cruises was strongly recommending unvaccinated children wear masks. Honestly, we almost never saw children wearing masks.
This was a bit surprising, as all children on Adventure of the Seas were required to wear face masks. For the most part, children followed this rule on the ship.
Amount of Cruise Activities
When it comes to cruise activities, Celebrity Edge offered the full gamut. There were several trivia sessions, game shows, and competitions throughout the voyage. Some favorites were Majority Rules, Yes or No, and the Whisper Challenge.
Plus, there were two speakers onboard offering a variety of Beyond the Podium lectures most days.
Dance classes on the pool deck were a regular occurrence. There were even crew vs. cruisers competitions.
Live music was found all over the ship at all times of the day as well. In addition, there was was a different main theater show each evening with two showtimes at 7pm and 9pm.
Now, Adventure of the Seas did have live music at venues like the pub and piano bar most nights. The main theater also offered entertainment with a total of 5 shows and an ice show. However, besides that, it was mostly trivia.
So, we were pleasantly surprised with the variety of activities and events on Celebrity Edge when compared to our sailing just a few weeks prior.
Shore Excursion Protocols
One element of this cruise that was perhaps the least like a “typical” cruise were the shore excursion requirements.
Up until the last minute, it was unclear if Celebrity Cruises would allow passengers off the ship for free exploration. On Adventure of the Seas, cruisers were able to get off the ship on private tours or independent explorations.
The Celebrity Edge health and safety protocols first stated that we could take “on your own tours”, then this guideline changed at the last minute. Celebrity Cruises decided to only allow passengers off the ship in Mexico if they booked a shore excursion through the cruise line.
In Cozumel, cruisers could not even get off the ship to shop or dine at the vendors in the cruise port area.
In Costa Maya, the guideline changed slightly once onboard, allowing passengers the ability to walk around the port area. They could also purchase a tour through the cruise line or through authorized tour providers in the port area.
In Nassau, Bahamas, cruisers could get off the ship to explore freely.
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On Adventure of the Seas, we knew ahead of time that all passengers leaving the ship would receive a COVID-19 test. Mostly, this requirement was in place to satisfy the international air travel requirement for U.S. residents returning home.
At the last minute, Royal Caribbean also instituted a rapid COVID-19 test at embarkation. This occurred at the check-in point in the Bahamas.
For Celebrity Edge, there was no testing requirement for vaccinated individuals prior to boarding the ship. Further, there was no testing prior to disembarkation.
We think it is odd that the U.S. requires a COVID test if you arrive via air from a foreign destination but not via cruise ship. We are not complaining about the lack of COVID-19 testing, but it did catch us off guard.
Per CDC guidelines, the cruise line did test children under 16 prior to embarkation and disembarkation on Celebrity Edge.
It Felt Like a Regular Cruise
Perhaps what surprised us the most about the first cruise on Celebrity Edge is how normal it felt. While we thought the Adventure of the Seas cruise was mostly typical, Edge felt no different than a pre-COVID voyage.
We were not alone in this perception. Other cruisers concurred that it felt just like the good old days.
With no social distancing or masks, a full schedule of activities, a nightly main theater show, and busy dining rooms and lounges, this cruise was like any other cruise.
For us, this is a great feeling. It also demonstrates that cruising can return safely with vaccinated cruisers. The CDC was onboard this initial voyage, and we did not notice any major changes made to protocols along the course of the week.
Now, Celebrity Cruises does require crew members to wear masks. However, on the last day, some staff in the outdoor lounges indicated they did not need to wear masks anymore while outside.
Of course, our experiences are based on this first sailing from the United States. The onboard experience and guidelines could change based on current conditions on the ship and in local ports of call.
Either way, with two cruises in the books for Summer 2021 already, and at least three more planned, we are excited by the restart of cruising here in the U.S.!
Do you plan to cruise this summer? Are you surprised about our experiences on the first cruise on Celebrity Edge this year? Drop us an anchor below with your expectations for travel in 2021.