The rain is battering my window pane, the heating’s up to full and all I have to look forward to after a soul-sapping delayed two-hour Dart trip home is Harry Redknapp’s further adventures in the Aussie jungle.
Get ME out of here! And Get Me Out To HERE, off the coast of Florida, where any self-respecting celebrity will spend at least some of their winter.
So why not me, or you, we’re surely just as deserving, if not more so?
Well, somebody must have been listening because here I am, off to the Bahamas on the launch, or wrap party if you will, of the billion bucks game-changing Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Edge where you get to be treated like a celebrity without having to shell out celebrity rates.
And more specifically I’m in the Eden lounge, Celebrity’s homage to Creation… Appletini, naturally, in hand.
Characters known as Edenists, dressed as the Earth queen and her enchanted attendants interact with the guests over dinner against a forested backdrop also sharing eternal truths as they go. Edenists are billed as chillful, playful and sinful and Sinful being my middle name (or so they tell me), I get stuck right in.
To the food and the drink.
Anyone who’s ever been on a cruise or heard about them will be familiar with the idea of cruise food stations at every turn. And human nature being what it is it’s difficult to walk on by when temptation is put on your way.
The designers on Edge used 3D from the outset to visualise their restaurants and cafes as somewhere where you would sit down and have room to breath rather than being always on the move and stuffing your face every half an hour at a food station.
The dining options fall into three categories, main, speciality and suite and aqua class. I ate across the main and speciality classes (more our price range as a tourist) Cosmopolitan, Le Grand Bistro and Fine Cut Steakhouse where you can eat the finest cuts of meat.
I consider myself something of a duckoisseur by now and can’t recall ever tasting any better than Cosmopolitan’s whole Fine Cut does exactly what it says on the cow… you can choose yours from the diagram on your menu… I’m a bit of rump man personally.
You want some sweet stuff..? I always try to leave just enough for a fruity dessert.
I prefer mine in a tall glass, though, complete with maraschino cherry and umbrella, although because you can never have enough strawberries I give myself a cheesecake lining.
I have my Daiquiri with new-found friends in the sparkling Martini bar in the Grand Plaza under a gleaming chandelier and now don’t ever want to settle for cramped wine bar at home again.
I’ve always thought that food should be fun, so I welcomed the fact that I wasn’t required to sit at a captain’s table or wear a penguin’s suit. It’s casual chic.
And you’ll not have a more fun-filled dinner than in the company of Le Petit Chef.
The TableMation experience at Le Grand Bistro sees our food prep played out on your table by a cast of mini-animated characters beamed onto your plate before your waiter serves you up the fare.
Nor is it a case of style over substance as the ravioli was every bit as enjoyable as the show. There are also Chinese and Italian tableau to enjoy too… kids, and big kids, will love this and keep coming back for more.
Breakfast in America – and I still consider this an American adventure as we set sail from Fort Lauderdale, Florida – is always a guilty pleasure.
It is, of course, the perfect excuse to stack your plate high with pancakes and maple syrup, and you have my permission to go funky and try out the apple and also the blueberry pancakes and the peanut butter French toast.
Enough food already? Let’s take a tour of the ship and work off some calories.
You can always climb the stairs, I was on the eighth floor so that’s six floors up to the top. Mmmm… we’ll maybe work our way up to it.
One of the great delights of cruising is wandering around the ship at your own pace.
You’ll ant to browse the boutiques, the casino, check out the art gallery and the corridor of Avalon statues and wander by the Theatre and The Club where rehearsals are taking place for that night’s entertainment, an interpretive music and dance performance, the Jewellery Box.
I can thoroughly recommend it, and I’m a tough audience: the Cirque de Soleil has been known to send me to sleep!
But inevitably what cruising is all about is being age sea, and the top decks are where we’ll always end up.
Where Edge cuts it and scores over cruises is in the space.
Slides and virtual reality have their places on ships, and I love them both, but Edge’s top decks are centred purely around its pools and solarium while the spa centre, run by a Corkonian woman no less, and gym, offer unrivalled exercise and relaxation experiences.
You can leave the kids down in Camp AT Sea, which boasts 500 activities including the largest Xbox One X experience (whatever that is) and that should tire them out.
Alternatiely, a running or, for me, walking track skirts the circumference of the deck and you see a lot to life on the ship while taking in the sea air and some spectacular views om your way around.
And if it’s slightly higher octane entertainment you’re after, Edge doesn’t disappoint. We’re treated to a screening of the movie Dirty Dancing, a welcome bout of nostalgia, as was the resident band Impulse with their set of classic 1980s and 1990s hits.
As classic and classy as Edge is, Celebrity hasn’t spent a billion on its first new ship in four years without some cracking bells and whistles, the most eye-catching and innovative being the 110ft tangerine dream Magic Carpet, a bar/lounge that slides down the decks on the outside of the ship.
Oh yes it does. It’s behind you. As an open-air extension to the pool on the 14th flor, while on the fifth deck, it becomes an extension to the Sushi Bar.
From the second deck it becomes a tender. Just off Nassau we get off for a whizz around the ship on our boat, all the time admiring our palatial home these two days.
You though will get to enjoy a range of excursions including bespoke trips. And guess what if exotic islands aren’t your thing, and it takes all types, then Edge is coming to Europe.
This being our last night on board I was keen to get back on the ship and join the other 3,000 guests for one last party ahead of returning home to rainy Ireland. Sorry, but it was 28C.
And seeing that all this boozing, cruising and schmoozing, I have to report, takes it out of you, I headed back to my ocean view Infinite Veranda for a beauty nap.
Infinite Veranda, you ask?
Well, you get 23% more space on account of the sliding interior door and electronically operated window.
Just like me to snooze and lose, though. Alesha Dixon, Julien Macdonald and Ben Fogle are only hitting the dance floor with our party in The Club while the sea is lulling me to sleep.
They’re celebrities… get me back out to here.
… AND THE GODMOTHER OF ALL GODMOTHERS
Every good ship gets a Godmother…. it’s tradition.
But Celebrity’s choice was innovative… Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzal.
Celebrity is backing the Malala Fund which champions global efforts to educate girls.
Malala came to our attention when the Taliban shot her for advocating girls’ education.
I know I wasn’t the only dad to a 20-year-old girl among the 3,000 guests to shed a tear at the launch.
EDEN: Channeling nature as a relaxation, dining and entertainment experience.
MARTINI BAR: Seven-tonne chandelier, composed of five levels of 765 blades.
INFINITE VERANDA: Merge inside and out with sliding doors and 23% larger.
RESORT DECK: 37% larger than Solstice class. Garden, jogging track, solarium.
MAGIC CARPET: 110ft by 20ft platform/eaterie/tender; 700sqft of glass; Spans three decks, On the second deck it becomes an embarkation station for the ship’s tenders.
This article was first published in the Irish Daily Mail in December 2018