Saturday , November 28 2020

Celebrity Edge: Saint-Nazaire offers an exceptional coating



After 23 months of construction and 6 million hours of work for the Chantiers de Atlantique, Celebrity Edge said goodbye to Saint-Nazaire yesterday afternoon. The first of a new generation of particularly innovative cruise ships destined for the American company Celebrity Cruises, the ship, officially delivered on October 31, was scheduled to depart on November 6. But the formation in the North Atlantic of a very hollow depression, that will be triggered in the beginning of the week of Ireland for Portugal, took the shipowner to anticipate the departure of 48 hours to avoid the majority of the time. storm that will also have to face the sailboats of Route du Rhum. Celebrity Edge is expected to take 9 days to reach the US, with a stop in the Bahamas to land the few hundred employees and shipyard contractors who continue to work on board during the crossing.

The Celebrity Edge from Saint-Nazaire yesterday (© BERNARD BIGER)

The Celebrity Edge from Saint-Nazaire yesterday (© BERNARD BIGER)

The Celebrity Edge from Saint-Nazaire yesterday (© BERNARD BIGER)

The Celebrity Edge from Saint-Nazaire yesterday (© BERNARD BIGER)

The construction in photos:

End of assembly in January 2018 (© MER ET MARINE - VINCENT GROIZELEAU)

End of assembly in January 2018 (© MER ET MARINE – VINCENT GROIZELEAU)

Launch in January 2018 (© BERNARD BIGER)

Launch in January 2018 (© BERNARD BIGER)

First sea voyage in July (© BERNARD BIGER)

First sea voyage in July (© BERNARD BIGER)

Second test in September (© MAR E MARINE)

Second test in September (© MAR E MARINE)

Three weeks before the first passengers

At the end of this first trip, with no passengers, the new flagship of Celebrity Cruises will join the port of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Rarely, it will still be almost two weeks before the boat starts operating. A period that will improve its preparation and that of its crew, which includes 1377 people from 69 different nationalities. Among them is Nicoline, the first woman of Ghanaian descent to become a bridge officer. "From the outset, the company wanted to have a month between delivery and the first paid cruises to board and ensure that everything was perfect the day the first passengers boarded," explains Laurent Castaing, general manager of the shipyards. Atlantic.

Women's rights activist as godmother

In the end, Celebrity Edge will debut on November 26 with the presentation presentation navigation reserved for travel agents and the press. Your first Caribbean cruise will begin inst December, while his official baptism is scheduled for Fort Lauderdale on December 4, with a very special godmother. It will not be, as is often the case, a show business star, an artist or a renowned sportsman. This time, the company wanted to highlight a great cause through Malala Yousafzai. The 21-year-old Pakistani human rights activist was the victim of an assassination attempt in 2012. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize two years later and became an icon of the struggle for emancipation. through education. Her story touched Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, president of Celebrity Cruises, who wants to make her company a model of integration, coexistence and gender equality. "Celebrity Edge is a revolutionary ship and we wanted a different godmother in connection with the foundations of our company. In a boat like this, the crew is made up of 69 nationalities with different religions, gender and sexual orientation. Everyone can live together in harmony, despite the differences, which is a good lesson for everyone. In this company, I have also been struggling for gender equality because there are not many women in positions of responsibility. We have, for example, Nicoline, who is the first officer in Ghana to become a bridge officer, I hired Celebrity's third captain and women now represent 30% of the crew. Malala was the best possible godmother for this ship and we are all very proud that she has accepted this role, "says the head of the company. In addition to the aura of the media that gives the struggle of Pakistani youth, Celebrity Cruises "has contributed significantly to the Malala Foundation, which works to enable 130 million women to access education."

So it's a great cause that Celebrity Edge is taking to its launch and that the dynamic and tireless Lisa Lutoff-Perlo has a firm intention to sustainably sustain the past festivities.

Lisa Lutoff-Perlo and Laurent Castaing last Friday on the Magic Carpet (© BERNARD BIGER)

Lisa Lutoff-Perlo and Laurent Castaing last Friday on the Magic Carpet (© BERNARD BIGER)

"One of the most innovative cruises of all time"

As for the ship, it is clearly a remarkable step forward for the cruise industry. Laurent Castaing, who is not the grandiloquence type, is impressed with the result: "Thanks to the confidence that Celebrity Cruises has given us and the exceptional level of cooperation between our respective teams, we are proud to have designed and built one of the the most innovative cruise ships of all time.This achievement once again demonstrates our ability to provide our customers with the most demanding high quality vessels on time.It was only 16 months ago that this prototype was put on hold and delivered, and in 16 months, achieving such a high level of finish is exceptional. It is a very high-end ship with a level of decoration and a rather special work in detail. "

"Small" but very original

Although imposing, the Celebrity Edge, also known in Saint-Nazaire for its hull number, the "J34", is far from being the largest transatlantic surfaced in the Loire estuary. With 306 meters in length by a width of 39 meters in the water line and a gauge of 129,500 GT, this ship has "only" 1467 cabins. It is greatly outperformed in size by the new MSC or Oasis class giants (362 meters, 228,000 GT, 2750 booths) from Royal Caribbean International, a subsidiary of the American group RCCL. But the J34 is clearly the most original cruise ship to come into service in a decade since the launch of the first Oasis in 2009.

New design and excellent performance

The ship adopts a completely new design, both outdoors and indoors. Seen from the outside, it is distinguished by its slightly inverted arch, with a lamp embedded in the base of the arc. This is the most striking feature of an optimized hull to improve sea maintenance and wave crossing. During the two Belle-Ile test drives in July and September, Celebrity Edge also performed remarkably, with an exceptionally low level of noise and vibration, to the point that the Loire pilots said they had the impression, when the ship was maneuvering, of still being in the dock (see our article on this subject).

Celebrity Edge prow during its dry dock this summer (© MER ET MARINE)

Celebrity Edge prow during its dry dock this summer (© MER ET MARINE)

This hull, as well as several technical improvements, not only improved the boating capacity of the boat, but also significantly reduced fuel consumption. "We are decreasing by about 20% compared to the previous generation ships (the four millennium Saint-Nazaire between 2000 and 2002, ed) and this ship is ahead of the regulations in terms of emissions," explains Laurent Castaing. If Celebrity Edge is not equipped with LNG propulsion, it has scrubbers to treat sulfur oxides (SOx), but also new SCR systems, large pots Catalysts removing oxides of nitrogen (NOx).

A completely asymmetrical boat

On the architectural front, the J34 is also a more original finish. "The structure is very open, with maximum light coming in, and it's completely asymmetric, which represented a real engineering challenge." There are no more straight passages or even half-long homogeneous bridges, classic shipbuilding architecture to distribute the masses more easily. Everything here is decentralized, from the Eden, the large three-tiered lounge at the back, to the Edge Villas Suites, located at the top, front. Four duplexes of this type are located on the starboard side and only two on the side of the door. "Eden's design is a good example of how complex this ship is.This space is arranged in several levels and curved with a ramp against the bay window.As it is not at all symmetrical, it was difficult to be aware of the result in the plans As we finished this virtual reality work, because it was the first one and in this type of case there is always a doubt, we did a a model of wood in a large alley of paint on the site, which was decorated by the decorators and in which came officials and artists to test the proper functioning of the different spaces of Eden.

The Magic Carpet, one of the great innovations of the ship (© MER ET MARINE - VINCENT GROIZELEAU)

The Magic Carpet, one of the great innovations of the ship (© MER ET MARINE – VINCENT GROIZELEAU)

Starboard lift platform

The asymmetrical liner architecture is linked, in particular, to the presence, for the first time in a liner, of a large lifting platform evolving, depending on the needs and time of day, between the water line and the highest level high. the double central pool. Called "Magic Carpet," this orange structure 30 meters long and 6 meters wide is an idea of ​​the Nazi engineers, which Celebrity took over. The company was initially seduced by the possibility of using this equipment as a pier when the ship is anchored. The Magic Carpet will then be positioned on deck 2, where the passenger reception area, called the Destination Gateway, is located.

One of the proposals surpassed last Friday (© MER AND MARINE - VINCENT GROIZELEAU)

One of the proposals surpassed last Friday (© MER AND MARINE – VINCENT GROIZELEAU)

Bids, boats used to transport passengers between the boat and the land, dock on the platform to board and disembark, facilitating the flows, but also the safety of the operations and the comfort of the clients. During the waiting phases, they can truly appreciate the Magic Carpet sofas and armchairs. "It's a real novelty, but since we can not always get the platform down, we find other uses for it," says Lisa Lutoff-Perlo. "Outside Bridge 2, the Magic Carpet will be positioned on Deck 5 where it will serve as an outdoor terrace for the seafood restaurant.It will also come to Deck 14 to form an extension of the bridge with its bar and lounge. And finally we'll meet you on deck 16 at night to allow our passengers to experience a unique dining experience with spectacular views. "

The Magic Carpet in dock mode for contests (CRUISERS © CELEBRITY)

The Magic Carpet in dock mode for contests (CRUISERS © CELEBRITY)

The Magic Carpet (CELEBRITY CRUISES)

The Magic Carpet (CELEBRITY CRUISES)

The Magic Carpet (CELEBRITY CRUISES)

The Magic Carpet (CELEBRITY CRUISES)

The Magic Carpet on the Pool Deck (CELEBRITY CRUISES)

The Magic Carpet on the Pool Deck (CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Visit just before departure, but no photo inside

Since the announcement of Celebrity Edge's request and its first twin in December 2014 (with an initial contract of € 1.2 billion for both boats), the communication around this project was extremely controlled by the company. During the construction, only one press event was organized a month and a half ago, which gave rise to the report that we released on September 24th. Before the ship's departure, Celebrity Cruises, at the request of the shipyards, agreed to receive a handful of French journalists on Friday, including Mer et Marine and some local confreres. An exceptional visit led by Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, which allowed us to discover a nearly completed ship. Unfortunately, the photos were banned, the owner wishing to spare the surprise until November 26. Meanwhile, we illustrate this article with synthetic images of interior spaces, which are ultimately very close to reality and sometimes even below the end result.

The Celebrity Edge Friday, in the Penhoët Basin (© MAR E MARINHO - VINCENT GROIZELEAU)

The Celebrity Edge Friday, in the Penhoët Basin (© MAR E MARINHO – VINCENT GROIZELEAU)

The Celebrity Edge Friday, in the Penhoët Basin (© MAR E MARINHO - VINCENT GROIZELEAU)

The Celebrity Edge Friday, in the Penhoët Basin (© MAR E MARINHO – VINCENT GROIZELEAU)

This visit was in any way very gratifying to seize the quality and the innovative side of this new product. And also, as a bonus, the discovery of certain spaces that, until now, had never been shown or revealed and that the president of the company itself was able to see for the first time that day.

The Rooftop Garden (CELEBRITY CRUISES)

The Rooftop Garden (CELEBRITY CRUISES)

The outdoor garden

On the back of the upper deck will be the "Rooftop Garden" designed by designer Tom Wright as an outdoor garden. Unlike the previous series of company cruise ships, the Solstice class, there is no real lawn here. The floor is covered in teak, but the space will be embellished with plants with real plants and shrubs. There will be more than 150. The plants will be planted only when the boat arrives on the other side of the Atlantic, in a climate more conducive to its development. This beautiful space, which is densely wooded, is framed by stylized trees that, in addition to the decorative aspect, are designed to cut the wind. The Rooftop Garden has a large screen that will allow you to watch movies under the stars at night, while the back has a grill.

Garden Grill (© CELEBRITY CRUISERS)

Garden Grill (© CELEBRITY CRUISERS)

A redesigned pool deck

In the middle of the ship unfolds the pool deck with a double basin and, above all, a very different architecture than is traditionally found in a liner. "This space is different from the usual pool decks so we call it Deck Resort because it's more like the resort than the pool deck," says the president of Celebrity Cruises. On the starboard side, the bridge includes six large cabins, comfortable private lounges built into a large wooden-clad structure, which passengers can book to take advantage of this space in a more intimate setting.

The deck of the Resort (CELEBRITY CRUISES)

The deck of the Resort (CELEBRITY CRUISES)

The deck of the Resort (CELEBRITY CRUISES)

The deck of the Resort (CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Hut on the deck of the Resort (CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Hut on the deck of the Resort (CELEBRITY CRUISES)

There are also two whirlpool tubs, which are suspended in martini-shaped cupboards. There is also no traditional pool deck on a mezzanine with rows of chairs on either side, but on the side of the door a slightly sloping ramp that again breaks the usual symmetry. This bridge, which will be positioned during the day Magic Carpet (which will not accommodate passengers when in motion), also enjoys special attention in terms of lighting, to offer different atmospheres at night. "There will be a lot of light play," says Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, who also draws attention to the metal walls: "Normally, the walls are white on the ships, we wanted to dress them up with artists decorating them.

The Resort Deck is extended back and forth by a large buffet as well as an indoor pool with a very unique architecture under an incredible glass dome.

The indoor pool (CELEBRITY CRUISES)

The indoor pool (CELEBRITY CRUISES)

An excellent VIP complex

The front of the ship, in its upper part, houses the space "Retreat", a magnificent complex designed by the architect Kelly Hoppen. It is reserved exclusively for passengers of the 174 suites of the ship (12% of the cabins). This suite includes a sun terrace with swimming pool and hot tub, a café, a lounge and a restaurant, all with private bathroom.

The terrace of the retreat (CELEBRITY CRUISES)

The terrace of the retreat (CELEBRITY CRUISES)

The space retreat room (CELEBRITY CRUISES)

The space retreat room (CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Luminae Restaurant of the Retreat Space (© CRUZEIROS DE CELEBRIDADE)

Luminae Restaurant of the Retreat Space (© CRUZEIROS DE CELEBRIDADE)

Sumptuous suites

At the suite level we were able to visit the two most impressive categories and clearly they are like the rest of the boat at the height of what was announced. First, there are the six Edge Villas of 88 m², furnished in duplex with living room overlooking a large balcony with Jacuzzi. A panoramic window over the entire height to the upstairs bedroom offers a splendid view of the sea. These suites were imagined as real apartments with no vis-à-vis or opportunity to see the interior.

Villa Edge (CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Villa Edge (CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Villa Edge (CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Villa Edge (CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Villa Edge (CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Villa Edge (CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Views of the dock the four Villas Edge located to starboard (© MAR E MARINE - VINCENT GROIZELEAU)

Views of the dock the four Villas Edge located to starboard (© MAR E MARINE – VINCENT GROIZELEAU)

Even more impressive, the two sumptuous 230-square-foot Iconic Suites are located just above the wheelhouse. The huge living / dining room overlooks a bay window with a spectacular 90 degree view of the bow and side of the ship. The view is breathtaking from the master bedroom, bed oriented towards the bow which is embellished at the back of a luxurious and very large bathroom. To avoid blocking the field of view, the large television retracts to the ceiling. The second bedroom, also with its own bathroom and a large dressing room, is located on the other side of the suite, with a door that opens onto an imposing terrace, also accessible from the living room. The terraces of the two iconic suites actually occupy the surface of the catwalk ailerons, located on the lower level.

Iconic Suite Living / Dining Room (© CRUZEIROS DE CELEBRIDADE)

Iconic Suite Living / Dining Room (© CRUZEIROS DE CELEBRIDADE)

Master bedroom of an iconic suite (© CELEBRITY CRUISERS)

Master bedroom of an iconic suite (© CELEBRITY CRUISERS)

Secondary Suite Iconic Suite (CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Secondary Suite Iconic Suite (CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Terrace of an iconic suite (© CRUZEIROS DE CELEBRIDADE)

Terrace of an iconic suite (© CRUZEIROS DE CELEBRIDADE)

Very successful cabins

The Celebrity Edge has other suite categories (Penthouse, Royal, Celebrity Sky), but also smaller, but very successful and comfortable cabins. In soft tones, with many facets of Nordic-style wood, marble in large and beautiful bathrooms or shower, these cabins are distinguished by their design and many small tricks. "There is a lot of attention to the small details, for example, in all the ship's cabins, electrical outlets and connectors are hidden in what looks like a small wooden jewelry box, which prevents the wires from being drawn everywhere. process, facilitates the work of the cabins for the daily house.

Penthouse (CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Penthouse (CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Sky Suite (CRUZEIROS © CELEBRITY)

Sky Suite (CRUZEIROS © CELEBRITY)

Balconies replaced by balconies

A great novelty of this boat is in the Infinite Balconies, which are almost 900 on board and therefore constitute the main category of huts. In these, the traditional outdoor balcony has been removed and replaced by a balcony. The cabin actually extends to the bay window directly above the ship. The upper half, controlled by a switch, can be lowered and thus open that space outdoors, like a balcony. "It is very innovative and is an extension of the cabins and makes the whole ship overseas. Thanks to this concept, the surface of the cabins is 23% larger and this will offer our passengers a unique experience of projection to the sea with a view totally unobstructed, "observes Lisa Lutoff-Perlo. He also finished the large cloth curtains, place for a thin curtain integrated in the ceiling and that unfolds to order in front of the balcony window, while the balcony part can be separated from the cabin by folding glass panels.

Cabin with balcony (CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Cabin with balcony (CELEBRITY CRUISES)

This type of balcony is already used in cruise ships on the river, but is the first for a sea line ship. This also posed some technical challenges in adapting these retractable windows to the marine environment. "They must be able to withstand 200 km / h of wind and have to be extremely reliable. We have tested several tens of thousands of times, including during offshore testing," notes Laurent Castaing.

Lobby Grand Plaza (CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Lobby Grand Plaza (CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Lobby Grand Plaza (CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Lobby Grand Plaza (CELEBRITY CRUISES)

A part of the bare hull left in sight of the passengers

At the heart of the ship is the Grand Plaza, an atrium that occupies three levels, with access to the sidewalk bridge outdoors, but also restaurants, lounges and bars. It is also asymmetrical and has preserved spores, some inclined, which contribute to the strength of the structure, while conferring a small industrial seal. A wish of the French architectural firm Jouin Manku, who envisioned the Grand Plaza and other spaces on the ship, including an astonishing clue. It is believed that the decoration of this one allows to glimpse progressively, according to the direction of the march, the hull of the ship. A bare metal wall, still covered with construction site markings, is revealed behind judiciously positioned panels. "It is a tribute to the construction of the boat and to those who did," says the company's president, who also has one of Jouin Manku's favorite spaces. This is the magnificent staircase overlooking the restaurants, which surrounds a beautiful giant clock.

The clock and stairs, even more beautiful in real life (CRUISES OF CELEBRITY)

The clock and stairs, even more beautiful in real life (CRUISES OF CELEBRITY)

Four main restaurants

The Celebrity Edge has many dining options, including four main dining halls that can accommodate approximately 350 passengers each. "There are the American-inspired Cosmopolitan Restaurant, the Tuscan dedicated to Italy, where Cyprus, with its Mediterranean cuisine and dishes of Greek gastronomy, reminds us that before being an American, Celebrity was a company, founded in 1989 by Greek shipowner John Chandris and taken over by RCCL in 1997. The famous "X", symbol of the company, dates from this first life and comes from the fact that the "Ch" is written with an X in the Greek alphabet.This letter was traditionally placed in the company's chimneys of ships.With Celebrity Edge, it is the own double fireplace that takes the form of an X.

The Tuscan restaurant with its Milanese style (© CRUZEIROS DA CELEBRIDADE)

The Tuscan restaurant with its Milanese style (© CRUZEIROS DA CELEBRIDADE)

Cyprus Restaurant (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Cyprus Restaurant (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

The Cosmopolitan Restaurant (© CRUZEIROS DA CELEBRIDADE)

The Cosmopolitan Restaurant (© CRUZEIROS DA CELEBRIDADE)

Decorative elements of the old liner of Normandy

The fourth and last main restaurant is Normandy, which offers French-inspired dishes. This space owes its name to the old Compagnie Générale Transatlantique liner outside the Nazi shipyards in 1935. Considered one of the most beautiful ships ever built, the mythical ship, which was shipwrecked after a fire in New York harbor in February 1942 , left only souvenirs, but also collector items, estimated by museums and collectors. This is the case of the lacquered panels that adorn the Normandy smoker and which were purchased (as well as a bronze statue) by Celebrity Cruises for the decoration of the Dome, third of the four Millennium class ships, delivered in 2001. by Chantiers de l & # 39; Atlantique. His sisters also embarked on works inherited from ancient ships, namely the Millennium RMS for the Millennium, the SS United States for Infinity, and the Ile de France for the Constellation. "We had original panels from Normandy at the summit and we took the opportunity to restore them and integrate them into this restaurant of our new ship, which we decided to give Normandy. It is a good tribute to the construction sites," says Lisa Lutoff-Perlo. reveals in passing that Laurent Castaing was particularly sensitive to this initiative, his grandfather having worked as an engineer in Normandy. In addition to these panels, beautiful replicas of Lalique glassware on the old French vessel, as well as magnificent chandeliers and candle-shaped lamps, contribute to give this place a very specific environment.

Normandy Restaurant (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Normandy Restaurant (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Unique pieces

Ces quatre salles à la manger sont à l'image du navire, avec un décoration vraiment très originale et réussie, loan of beauucoup de goût et marquée for a souci du détail remarquable, cela jusqu'aux plafonds. Comme pour chaque espace du navire, l'essentiel du mobilier, décoration et les works d'art et été spécialement imaginés et produits pour le bateau.

A l'instar de tous les paquebots modernes, le Celebrity Edge proposes names of activities and activités à ses passagers. It is provided for example by a théâtre à l'architecture nouvelle, avec une avantage à la publique de gigantic numeric screens qui vont donner une nouvelle dimension aux spectacles proposés en soirée. It is a casino, a discothèque et salle de concert sur deux étages or encore de nombreuses boutiques, multiples bars et salons, des thématiques ainsi qu'un magnifique center de bien-être.

Le théâtre (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Le théâtre (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

The discothèque (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

The discothèque (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Enfin a Spa worthy of celebrity celebrity

A Spa is a très belle réussite, qui mérite d'être souligné car, jusqu'ici, type d'équipement n'était pas le point fort de Celebrity et d'ailleurs de Royal Caribbean International. Avec Edge, l'armateur disposes of a center of bien-être au top niveau. Là aussi, l'décoration est splendide, l'entrée où les designers ont imagé a bureau d'accueil minéral, comme sculpté dans la pierre et dont les lignes arrondies épousent celles de l'escalier situé en arrière-plan. "C'est un espace très clair et lumineux, comme l'essentiel du navire, pour lequel nous avons souhaité faire entrer a maximum of lumière extérieure, avec notamment, partout où cela était possible, large baies vitrées. Nous avons aussi passé énormément de temps avec les designers pour étudier les moindres détails et donner de perspectives visuelles diférentes selon les espaces ».

Le Spa (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Le Spa (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Le Spa (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Le Spa (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Le Spa (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Le Spa (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Le Spa comprised 24 salles de soins pour des massages, traitements du corps et du visage or encore des séances de blanchiment des dents. In addition to the beaux-thermes, avec sur la mer, panneaux verticaux et fauteuils de pierre chauffants, plusieurs hammams, a salle de traitement par le sel (Salt Room) et une autre par cristaux (Crystalarium), a infrared sauna joins enfilade de douches avec différentes fonctions (brumisateur, pluie tropicale …). Le center de bien-être est agrémenté d'un coiffeur, a barbier et a espace de manucure et pédicure.

Un espace non prévu creé en quelques mois

Clou du spectacle, Eden, sur l'arrière du paquebot. L'idée d'intégrer a grand salon panoramique à la poupe à été inaugurée avec the series of Quantum of the Seas (voir notre reportage à bord), dont le premier exemplaire est sorti en 2015 des chantiers allemands Meyer Werft. A l'époque, Lisa Lutoff-Perlo travaillait d'ailleurs chez Royal Caribbean International. Avec the Edge class, Celebrity pousse le concept encore plus loin, avec l'ambition de propulser les passagers dans un autre univers. L'expérience débute dès la coursive donnant accès à ce salon. A space that is encore été révélé publiquement. "Nous l'avons baptiste Voyage vers Eden, c'est un espace immersif avec un ambiance mystérieuse et magique". Longue d'une dizaine de mètres, cette coursive a vu ses parois recouvertes de vitres et accueille une series of sculptures laissant imaginer des troncs d'arbres dorés. Le sol et le plafond, très sombres, ainsi que les jeux de lumière et les reflets dans les glaces, qui engendrent effet visuel de grande profondeur, donnent l'impression de traverser une étrange forêt. Pour la petite histoire, cet espace n’était pas prévu dans les plans initiaux. « Il y a six mois, c’était un simple corridor mais, lors d’une visite, Lisa et Richard Fain (le président de RCCL, ndlr) ont dit qu’on ne pouvait pas laisser cele en l’état, il fallait imaginer quelque chose », confie Laurent Castaing.

Eden ( © CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Eden ( © CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Eden, le joyau du navire

L’arrivée dans Eden, encore un vaste chantier il y a quelques semaines, est à la hauteur des espérances. Imaginé par les designers Patricia Urquiola et Scott Butler, ce salon sur trois niveaux est réellement unique, avec ses différentes plateformes et sa décoration très originales. Là aussi, il y a énormément de végétaux, tous naturels, y compris des cascades de plantes intégrées dans les murs du pourtour, constitués d’éléments formant de gigantesques panneaux de ruches, dont les alvéoles ouvertes laissent s’échapper la verdure. « Toutes les plantes et les végétaux à bord sont véritables. C’est un choix que nous avons imposé, même si les designers nous ont proposé des plantes synthétiques, nous avons préféré le naturel », souligne Lisa Lutoff-Perlo. Eden, évidemment inspiré du jardin merveilleux de la Genèse, se veut comme un lieu de détente et de relaxation. Il pourra aussi accueillir des spectacles en soirée. On pourra y prendre son petit-déjeuner où venir s’y restaurer à midi. L’une des particularités de ce lieu est, encore une fois, son asymétrie, qui se voit jusqu’à l’extérieur du navire où l’immense baie vitrée est inclinée. Derrière, on trouve une grande rampe en pente douce qui part du niveau du pont promenade sur tribord pour s’élever trois étages plus haut à bâbord. Tout le long se trouvent des banquettes et autres sièges permettant de profiter de la vue.

Vendredi soir dans le bassin de Penhoët ( © MER ET MARINE - VINCENT GROIZELEAU)

Vendredi soir dans le bassin de Penhoët ( © MER ET MARINE – VINCENT GROIZELEAU)

Une superbe réussite

Au final, le Celebrity Edge constitue une très grande réussite pour les chantiers nazairiens et leurs sous-traitants, par exemple les agenceurs tels Paul Champs qui a réalisé Eden ou Ateliers Normand en charge notamment du Spa. Avec ce navire, Saint-Nazaire revient de manière remarquable sur le marché des paquebots haut de gamme et participe du même coup à l’écriture d’une nouvelle page dans l’histoire de l’industrie de la croisière. Grâce à cette prouesse technique et architecturale, Celebrity Cruises va en effet impulser de nouveaux standards et a osé, ce qui n’était pas arrivé depuis bien longtemps, prendre le risque de lancer un navire au design réellement différent, qui tranche sur de nombreux aspects avec les bateaux mis en service depuis plusieurs décennies. Un choix audacieux, qui à l’image des nouveaux styles en matière d’art fait rarement l’unanimité à ses débuts. Avec son allure si particulière, si inhabituelle, le Celebrity Edge ne manque évidemment pas de provoquer l’ire des « puristes » et autres nostalgiques des paquebots d’antan. Ceux-là même qui n’imagineraient pas une seconde voler aujourd’hui en DC-3 ou rouler en Traction Avant… L’armateur n’en a cure et assume sa décision, d’autant que l’essentiel de ces critiques proviennent de gens qui ne connaissent pas la croisière et par principe refusent d’envisager des vacances sur un paquebot moderne.

Gros succès commercial pour le lancement

Ce qui importe en revanche pour la compagnie, c’est la manière dont son nouveau fleuron est reçu par le marché. Et de ce point de vue, le succès est au rendez-vous. Ainsi, avant même sa mise en service, l’engouement pour ce nouveau bateau, traduit par un niveau de réservation très élevé, prouve que la compagnie a eu raison d’innover et de briser les codes habituels. « Nous avions des attentes commerciales très ambitieuses pour ce navire mais les réservations sont encore plus importantes que ce que nous espérions », se félicite Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, qui désire que cette nouveauté, au-delà de la clientèle habituelle, suscite des vocations chez les vacanciers. « Ce que je souhaite avec un navire comme celui-ci, c’est qu’il donne envie à des gens qui n’ont jamais navigué d’embarquer et de vivre l’expérience que nous leur proposons ».

Le Celebrity Edge après son départ de Saint-Nazaire hier après-midi ( © BERNARD BIGER)

Le Celebrity Edge après son départ de Saint-Nazaire hier après-midi ( © BERNARD BIGER)

Un produit haut de gamme mais accessible

Celebrity Cruises est positionnée sur un segment particulier, le « Modern Luxury », c’est-à-dire un produit haut de gamme, de type « premium + », mais qui ne se range pas, du fait du gabarit et de la capacité de ses bateaux, dans la catégorie du luxe. « Nous avons un positionnement unique sur le marché. Un navire comme celui-ci est très moderne, luxueux et confortable, mais il est aussi accessible ». La taille et le nombre de passagers à bord permet en effet de réaliser des économies d’échelle et donc de proposer des prix très attractifs (à partir de 1350 euros par personne actuellement pour une semaine à bord du Edge vers les Caraïbes en janvier 2019). Cela, dans un environnement qui n’a rien à envier aux compagnies les plus prestigieuses en matière de design, Celebrity étant également très réputée pour la qualité de son service et de sa gastronomie, qui surclassent d'ailleurs ce qui est proposé chez certains opérateurs se réclamant du luxe.

Développer le marché européen

S’appuyant sur une clientèle majoritairement anglo-saxonne, Celebrity Cruises souhaite développer ses parts de marché à l’international. C’est la raison pour laquelle le Celebrity Edge, après sa saison hivernale aux Caraïbes, sera repositionné en Europe, où la compagnie veut continuer d'accroître sa clientèle. A partir de la fin avril 2019, il sillonnera la Méditerranée avec comme ports d’embarquement Barcelone et Civitavecchia. Quant à son premier sistership, le Celebrity Apex, dont la mise sur cale est intervenue le 31 octobre à Saint-Nazaire, il sera proposé dès sa livraison au printemps 2020 au départ de Southampton.

Alors que Celebrity Cruises a entrepris de rénover le reste de sa flotte, qui comprend notamment les quatre Millennium et les cinq Solstice, l'armateur devra au cours de la prochaine décennie remplacer les premiers, qui vont bientôt atteindre la vingtaine d’années d’exploitation. « Pour construire, il faut être sûr que le marché réagisse et l’on ne peut pas prédire l’avenir. Il est encore trop tôt pour dire si les Millennium seront remplacés par une nouvelle classe de navires », explique la présidente de la compagnie. Celle-ci a en effet encore quelques années devant elle pour prendre sa décision, qui pourrait aussi consister à voir la série des Edge allongée pour succéder aux Millennium.

La commande d’un cinquième Edge à l’horizon

Pour l’heure, quatre de ces nouveaux paquebots ont été commandés. Après le Celebrity Edge, son premier jumeau, le Celebrity Apex, sortira comme on l’a vu en 2020. Il y a quelques mois, nous vous révélions que des discussions étaient en cours pour ajouter une cinquième unité à cette classe. Un projet qui semble prendre corps puisque dans le communiqué diffusé au moment de la livraison du J34, Celebrity Cruises a bel et bien mentionné l’Edge 5 : « Celebrity Edge sera rejoint par son sistership, le Celebrity Apex, en 2020. Trois autres navires de la série Edge suivront en 2021, 2022 et 2023 », écrit la compagnie. Aux chantiers, on indique cependant que le contrat pour ce cinquième navire n’a pas encore été signé.

Confiance retrouvée entre Saint-Nazaire et RCCL

Quoiqu’il en soit, après la réussite des Harmony of the Seas et Symphony of the Seas, livrés en 2016 et 2018 (voir notre reportage à bord), puis maintenant le Edge, Saint-Nazaire est parvenu à renouer des liens très forts avec RCCL. C’est avec ce client historique que le chantier a pris le tournant de la croisière dans les années 80, avant de se brouiller avec l’armateur américain au début des années 2000 suite aux problèmes de propulsion rencontrés sur les Millennium à leurs débuts. Une page aujourd’hui définitivement tournée, comme en témoigne la confiance affichée par l’armateur. « Vous pouvez être très fiers qu’un navire comme le Celebrity Edge soit construit en France. C’est un chantier qui fait des navires merveilleux et nous avons établi une relation formidable », se félicite Lisa Lutoff-Perlo. Quant à Richard Fain, il n’a pas non plus été avare de compliments lors de la livraison du J34 : « Je ne saurais trop remercier l’équipe des Chantiers de l’Atlantique d’avoir mené à bien la construction de ce navire révolutionnaire, et du partenariat qui nous lie. Leur travail continue de transformer la manière dont nos clients perçoivent le monde qui les entoure ».

Le Symphony of the Seas juste avant son départ en mars dernier ( © MER ET MARINE - VINCENT GROIZELEAU)

Le Symphony of the Seas juste avant son départ en mars dernier ( © MER ET MARINE – VINCENT GROIZELEAU)

Nouvel âge d’or pour les chantiers

L’aventure commune va donc continuer avec la poursuite de la série des Edge pour Celebrity, mais aussi celle des Oasis de Royal Caribbean International. Un nouveau géant de ce type sortira des chantiers nazairiens dès 2021 alors que deux autres sont en négociation pour des livraisons en 2023 et 2026. Sans oublier les réflexions en cours pour de nouvelles classes de paquebots. En plus de RCCL, Saint-Nazaire peut aussi compter sur son autre client principal, l’armateur italo-suisse MSC Cruises, pour lequel il doit livrer en 2019 deux navires, les Bellissima et Grandiosa, puis six autres entre 2020 et 2026. Vont s’y ajouter les nouveaux bâtiments logistiques de la Marine nationale, avec quatre ravitailleurs en perspective dont les deux premiers seront opérationnels entre 2022 et 2025. Et les Chantiers de l’Atlantique travaillent sur d’autres projets, qu’il s’agisse de navires ou de sous-stations électriques pour des champs éoliens offshore en France et à l’étranger. De quoi garnir durablement un plan de charge à un niveau historiquement élevé. « Après le départ du Celebrity Edge nous aurons quatre navire simultanément en construction et un cinquième s’y ajoutera d’ici la fin de l’année. Saint-Nazaire est sans doute l’endroit dans le monde où l’on construit actuellement le plus de paquebots. L’activité atteint un niveau jamais vu depuis une cinquantaine d’années, mais à l’époque le chantier était rempli de pétroliers », souligne Laurent Castaing. Conséquence directe de cette bonne santé retrouvée et de cette vision à long terme, le dernier grand constructeur civil français, dont les effectifs sont remontés à près de 3000 salariés, multiplie les embauches. Quelques 150 recrutements annuels sont prévus pour les années qui viennent dans une cinquantaine de métiers différents, du soudeur à l’ingénieur.

( © MER ET MARINE - VINCENT GROIZELEAU)

( © MER ET MARINE – VINCENT GROIZELEAU)


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