Celebrity Beyond: Is this the most spacious mega ship at sea?

Cabin love at first sight? I'm a believer. Stepping inside my spacious Aqua Sky Suite on the new Celebrity Beyond, I squeal with happiness when I spot a deep bathtub and the largest balcony (two sun loungers, two chairs and a table, room to move) I've ever enjoyed on a ship.

The king-sized bed with cashmere mattress — as decadently soft as the name implies — seduces me away from the afternoon work I had planned with the promise of a restorative nap. Cruising really can soothe the weary soul.

As Celebrity Beyond sails out of Southampton Harbour on an improbably bright and sunny recent April afternoon, a woman's cheerful voice is heard over the public address system.

"This is Captain Kate speaking," she says. "You can call me Captain. It has taken me 19 years to earn that title."

In the world of Celebrity Cruises, Captain Kate McCue is undeniably an A-list star. The 43-year-old — the first female commanding officer of a mega ship in the United States — helms the newly built luxury ship, the first woman to sail an unchristened ship out of the Chantiers de l'Atlantique shipyard in France.

Captain Kate is a trailblazer for female mariners.

"Every day, women and girls tell me they didn't even know it was a career option to be a female ship's captain," McCue says.

"There's every kind of role for women on our ships, and maybe if they see me and other women on the bridge, they have something to model their future careers and ambitions on."

The newest ship in the fleet launched in April — similar to, though even better than sister ships Edge and Apex — features a first-at-sea restaurant by Michelin-starred chef Daniel Boulud, the French chef best known for helming some of New York's most popular dining hotspots.


On the night I dine at Le Voyage, appetisers include Alaskan king crab salad, vidalia onion tart and prawns crusted in tamarind and peanuts (the pick of the bunch).

Mains run the gamut of traditional (filet mignon) to an exotic Brazilian moqueca seafood stew. There are whispers Boulud has aspirations to nab a Michelin star at sea, an achievement that would further separate Celebrity's dining proposition from the rest of the pack.

Actress and Goop entrepreneur Gwyneth Paltrow has been brought on as wellbeing adviser to the Edge-class ships.

On future Goop At Sea themed voyages, Paltrow and senior Goop experts will host wellness activities for passengers. This time, there is a Goop smoothie offered at the Spa Cafe.

Made with coconut water, kale, mango, mint, chia seeds and other things you'd buy at a health food store, it tastes like good intentions and remorse at the same time.

The onboard fitness offering rivals the best gyms on land, with classes by Aussie-founded F45 Training, cycling workout Peloton and HIIT sessions.

This conspicuous innovation is the fuel that drives Celebrity Cruises chief executive Lisa Lutoff-Perlo's goal of making cruising just too fabulous to resist.

"I want my legacy to be that nobody ever again says, 'Cruising isn't for me'," Lutoff-Perlo says.

It's true, Beyond does seem to have the power to turn the most reticent cruiser's frown upside down.

In line with other ships in the fleet, guests enjoy always included free WI-FI, drinks and tips, eliminating three of the biggest pain points for cruisers.

The 3260-passenger ship features 32 restaurants and bars, including the bright-orange Magic Carpet that has become a signature of Edge-class ships.

The elevated open-air platform moves between decks and transforms from tender muster station to airy cocktail bar to specialty dining venue.

Guests will run out of days and nights onboard before they run out of options, whether it's a pre-dinner drink at the Martini Bar, a top-notch buffet selection at Oceanview Cafe or fine dining (for-fee) at the steakhouse.

While the specialty dining is indeed very special, the complimentary offerings are also impressive.

The traditional cavernous main dining room has been replaced with four more intimate restaurants, dishing up complimentary French, Italian, Greek and new American cuisine in elegant surrounds.

Guests staying in The Retreat and AquaClass accommodation categories have even more choice, with exclusive dining venues available.

At 20 metres longer than Apex, with an extra deck and 179 more staterooms, clever design ensures Beyond never feels crowded — rather, it feels spacious and relaxed throughout.

International stars of the interior design and architecture realms are responsible for that onboard zen ambience, including design ambassador Nate Berkus (beloved by Oprah Winfrey), who created the multi-level Sunset Bar.

British architect Tom Wright, who designed Dubai's Burj Al Arab Hotel, was tasked with bringing the ship's outdoor spaces to life.

Interiors take on a luxe residential style under the direction of renowned British interior designer Kelly Hoppen known for her stylish devotion to 50 shades of neutrals.

From the compact single staterooms to the hang-the-expense Iconic Suites (views as good as the captain's), Hoppen has created accommodations that are modern, luxurious and unpretentious, no doubt inspiring countless home decor shopping splurges. I find myself making notes to self about beige throw blankets and faux marble countertops.

Upcoming for Celebrity Beyond is a summer season in Europe, sailing nine-night voyages in Italy and France, and 10-night Greek Isles itineraries.

After that, the ship will reposition to the US, where she will officially be christened on November 4 in Fort Lauderdale. Olympic medallist and World Champion gymnast Simone Biles has been named godmother-to-be.

Biles is in good company. Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code, is Celebrity Apex's godmother, with Pakistani activist and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Malala Yousafzai the chosen one for Celebrity Edge.



Global Culinary Ambassador Daniel Boulud's first restaurant at sea is the hottest ticket onboard Celebrity Beyond. Plan ahead to secure your preferred reservation for special occasions — this boutique venue books out quickly.


Taking inspiration from classic New York steakhouses, Fine Cut is a fixture on all three Edge-class ships. Along with an excellent range of choice cuts of meat, the seafood is terrific (jumbo lump crab cakes and buttery lobster tail, yes please) and the sides are not to be missed.


With more than 120 treatments on offer and close to 14,000 square feet (1300 square metres) of space, the spa on Celebrity Beyond is a pampering oasis. Book early or be prepared to take early morning port-day appointments.


Celebrity's key focus on wellness includes an expanded F45 Training Studio for high-intensity group workouts. Purchase an unlimited class pass for the duration of the cruise to participate in HIIT, LIT Bungee Fit, Peloton and F45 classes.


Go for the experimental cuisine, stay for the saucy evening entertainment. Eden is one of the most intriguing venues on the ship, a tri-level glasshouse where something out of the ordinary is always happening. Time your dinner reservation to coincide with a sexy cabaret performance.



A nine-night cruise in the Mediterranean on Celebrity Beyond in August 2022 costs from $2799 a person, twin share. It departs from Rome and stops at Florence, Nice and Barcelona. Wi-Fi, drinks and service charges are included.

See celebrity.com/au



Kristie Kellahan travelled as a guest of Celebrity Cruises.