The Retreat by Celebrity Cruises

The Retreat: A Ship Within a Ship by Gary Buchanan

Life on the ocean waves is essentially urban living aboard exemplary ships where sensory pleasures are dialled all the way up. Predicated to be next lever grandeur, these style-drenched ships offer the chance to experience things passengers can’t wait to boast about on social media.

Many guests who traditionally would only ever choose suites on venerable cruise ships have now pledged their allegiance to the elite cadre of elegant boutique ships. But they are losing out on the bountiful array of activities and recreations found on larger ships. What if it was possible to enjoy top-of-the-range entertainment and revelry – akin to a hub without the hubbub? Now, for the savvy cruiser it is.

Around a decade ago a few visionary ship designers came up with the ship-within-a-ship concept, a remarkably successful creation that’s become a highly sought-after hideaway on a number of megaships.

The Retreat, Celebrity Beyond

The Retreat, Celebrity Beyond

This new trend takes the notion of a VIP experience to the next level. It’s similar to club rooms with executive lounge access in a hotel or a corporate box at a football game. You’re technically at the same establishment or event, but the exclusive, private area within your ship comes with trappings of luxury, classier amenities and superior service, mostly from a team of butlers and hosts. What’s more, few other passengers even know these private-access enclaves exist which makes them unrivalled when it comes to bragging rights.

As some travellers search out an ever more sophisticated getaway, cruise ships have adapted to appeal to them. For this clique, round-the-clock dining and great views don’t cut it any longer, but a private sanctuary replete with perfectly plush furnishing that ups the ante in the luxe factor and purrs opulence and privilege, unquestionably does.

The notion of a swanky haven offering amenities and enrichments that are normally associated with smaller, ultra-luxury ships is no longer in the realms of fantasy. Enhanced services including priority embarkation and disembarkation, butlers and concierges, not to mention private sun decks, pools and intimate lounges, plus a dedicated gourmet restaurant, are just some of the added bonuses guests can expect in these elite cocoons that overflow in discreet decadence.

The Retreat Pool

Several acclaimed cruise lines at the pinnacle of luxury offer an experience straight out of the pages of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. Their credo and quality of life aboard these more intimate ships fluff the egos of even the most staid of cruisers. Many travellers wanting to recreate this vibe are now embracing the benefits of a halcyon hideaway on a larger ship.

While prices are often comparable to those of luxury ships, it gives someone seeking an embellished experience at sea the chance to sail with friends and family who might not necessarily want to splash out high-end luxury.

On every metric, ultra-luxurious ships offer esteemed experiences; while in another sphere, there are companies who are renowned for state-of-the-art innovations and peerless speciality dining options. The ship-within-a-ship concept offers the rapture of the former and the allure of the latter.

When the 2,918-passenger Celebrity Edge made her debut in December 2018 it heralded a new epoch for this trailblazing cruise line. Little wonder the ship was recognized as one of the ‘World’s Greatest Places’ in 2019 by TIME Magazine.

Designed to be oriented to the ocean, it boasts several features that are groundbreaking, not just for Celebrity but the cruise industry. Among the innovations are ‘Edge Staterooms with Infinite Veranda’ where bi-fold doors can be closed to create a traditional room area separated from a balcony area. They can also be left open, creating an indoor space that’s about 23 percent larger than traditional balcony cabins. 

Also noteworthy is the Magic Carpet, a platform the size of a tennis court that is cantilevered over the ship's starboard side. Painted tangerine, it moves up and down the side of the vessel serving functions that range from restaurant to lounge to tender-boarding platform. There’s no doubt, when it comes to maritime design, this ship is at the cutting ‘Edge’.

The Magic Carpet Celebrity Cruises

The Retreat Celebrity Cruises

Two months after Celebrity Edge first grabbed the headlines, the company unveiled ‘The Celebrity Revolution’ – a $500-million ‘re-imagination’ that has sharpened the 21st century credentials of the Millennium-class and Solstice-class ships. Part of this makeover includes The Retreat for guests occupying suites. Currently, the ships that have been transformed are: Celebrity Millennium; Celebrity Summit; Celebrity Equinox and Celebrity Silhouette.

First introduced on Celebrity Edge, the sanctuary that is The Retreat offers a potent mix of refined style and contemporary verve; the design has ensured the Sundeck, Lounge and Luminae are adjacent on each Edge-series ships. Attributes of this innovative concept are being adopted fleet-wide and soon every ship will offer The Retreat Sundeck and Retreat Lounge - designed by Kelly Hoppen who has infused these sanctums with her own intuitive style.

On the Brit-popular 2,902-guest Celebrity Silhouette, The Retreat Sundeck is on Decks 15 and 16. With the ambiance of a luxury resort, there’s a bar, hot tub, luxurious cabanas and sunloungers. The Retreat Lounge (formerly Michael’s Club) on Deck 5 oozes warmth and finesse and offers complimentary beverages, gourmet snacks, plus a concierge service. Located on Deck 3, Luminae is the private domain for Suite Guests at breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The Retreat Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Beyond made its debut in April 2022. While this 3,260-guest ship might resemble her siblings in many ways, there’s an extra deck, a further 20 metres in length, not to mention an additional 179 staterooms and suites. Retreat level accommodation leads in with Sky Suites which are approximately the same size as Deluxe Verandah Suites on Regent’s ultra-luxury Seven Seas Splendor and slightly smaller than a similar category on Silversea Cruises’ ultra-luxurious new Silver Dawn. You have to splash out on a Penthouse Suite aboard Oceania Cruises’ Riviera to exceed the amount of personal space compared to a Sky Suite on Celebrity Beyond, while on the recently introduced Azamara Onward the Club Continent Suites are well laid out but a tad less generous in the square footage stakes.

Aboard Celebrity Beyond The Retreat has been remodelled into a three-deck enclave that in the words of Celebrity Cruises is ’a place so exclusive it has no address.’ Located forward on Deck 17, the upper level of The Retreat Sundeck includes a circular pool, two cantilevered plunge pools, sunloungers, daybeds and Retreat Bar.

One deck below and revelling in its aura of exclusivity, is the elegant Retreat Lounge for light meals, snacks and drinks, while hosts are on hand to assist with shore excursions, dinner reservations and spa appointments. Close by, Luminae at the Retreat also boasts superb sea views, but it’s the signature dishes created by the company’s Global Culinary Ambassador – Daniel Boulud – that are a tour de force.

The Retreat Lounge

The Retreat experience includes the ‘Indulge Package’ at no additional charge. This includes premium drinks; streaming WiFi; up to $200 onboard credit per person for the spa or retail; as well as another $200 onboard credit for a shore excursion. Tips are also included.

Celebrity Cruises is the big-ship cruise line for voyagers who love the cachet of small ships. The Solstice-class ships quickly became the darlings of the cruise industry when they were introduced offering a sleekly cool, Zen-like ambiance. Now the Edge-series titans take decadent design to a new level – one that appeals to style junkies as well as fastidious arbiters of good taste.

Is it fanciful to compare a luxury concept such as The Retreat with other companies offering an upper premium experience? At the end of the day it comes down to personal preference. Smaller cruise lines such as Azamara and Oceania Cruises are more niche and appeal to those seeking a luxury-esque experience at a mid-market price, while paragons such as SeaDream, Silversea, Seabourn and Regent offer the personification of ultra-luxury.

In some respects this dilemma is the yin or yang of cruising. If you prefer your creature comforts urbane, then opt for a ship that’s more comely resort than leisure machine and melt into a dimension where things are a tad more bijoux. However, if the pursuit of pleasure is on the agenda alongside mind-blowing entertainment and a superlative range of dining options, then Celebrity Cruises might be your dream ticket.

Written by Gary Buchanan

Many thanks to Gary Buchanan and Celebrity Cruises for the images used in this article.

Celebrity Beyond

Want to experience this? Give the Panache Cruises team a call on 0161 513 8200 and they'd be happy to help!

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