Wednesday , September 22 2021

Celebrity Edge: Saint-Nazaire provides a unique insert



After 23 months of construction and 6 million hours of work for Chantiers de l & # 39; Atlantique, Celebrity Edge said goodbye to Saint-Nazaire yesterday afternoon. As the first of the new generation of particularly innovative cruise ships for the American company Celebrity Cruises, the ship, officially delivered on October 31, was originally scheduled for November 6. But the creation of a very empty depression in the North Atlantic, which will be freed at the beginning of the week from Ireland to Portugal, prompted the shipowner to anticipate a 48-hour trip to avoid a significant part of the storm that would also face sails on the Route du Rhum. Celebrity Edge must take 9 days to reach the United States, with a stopover in the Bahamas, to blow up several hundred shipyard workers and contractors who are still working on board during the crossing.

Celebrity Edge leaves Saint-Nazaire yesterday (© BERNARD BIGER)

Celebrity Edge leaves Saint-Nazaire yesterday (© BERNARD BIGER)

Celebrity Edge leaves Saint-Nazaire yesterday (© BERNARD BIGER)

Celebrity Edge leaves Saint-Nazaire yesterday (© BERNARD BIGER)

Construction on photos:

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

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

Commissioning in January 2018 (© BERNARD BIGER)

Commissioning in January 2018 (© BERNARD BIGER)

The first sea trip in July (© BERNARD BIGER)

The first sea trip in July (© BERNARD BIGER)

Second tests in September (© SEA AND MARINE)

Second tests in September (© SEA AND MARINE)

Another three weeks before the first passengers

At the end of this first journey, without passengers, the new flagship Celebrity Cruises will join the home port of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It will rarely be close to two weeks before launching the boat. A period that will improve its preparation and crew, which includes 1377 people from 69 different nationalities. Among them is Nicoline, the first woman from Ghana who became a bridge officer. "From the very beginning, the company wanted to have a month between delivery and the first paid flights to go on a boat and make sure everything is perfect on the day the passengers boarded," explains Laurent Castaing, general director of the shipyard. Atlantic.

An activist of women's rights as a godmother

Eventually, Celebrity Edge will debut on November 26 to start navigating the presentation reserved for travel and press agencies. The first commercial cruise to the Caribbean will beginst December, while his official baptism was planned in Fort Lauderdale on December 4, with a very special godmother. It will not be, as it often happens, a show business star, artist or well-known sportswoman. This time, the company wanted to highlight the wonderful case through Malala Yousafzai. A 21-year-old Pakistani women's rights activist was assassinated in 2012. Two years later she received the Nobel Peace Prize and became an icon of the fight for emancipation. girls through education. Her story touched Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, president of Celebrity Cruises, who wants her company to become a model for integration, shared life and gender equality. "The Celebrity Edge is a revolutionary ship and for him we wanted to have another godmother, combined with the basics of our company." On a boat like this, the crew consists of 69 nationalities, different religions, gender and sexual orientation. Everyone can live together in harmony despite the differences, which is a good lesson for everyone, I've also fought a lot for gender equality in this company because there are not many women in positions of responsibility, but everything is changing and I want women to be important in all areas of business. which is the first Ghana officer to become a bridge officer, I hired the third female captain in Celebrity, and women now make up 30% of the crew. In this perspective Malala was the best possible godmother for this ship and we are all proud that she took on this role, " says the head of the company. In addition to the media aura of the struggle against the young Pakistani, Celebrity Cruises "made a significant contribution to the Malala Foundation, which allows access to education for 130 million women".

So this is a great thing that Celebrity Edge brings to market, and the dynamic and tireless Lisa Lutoff-Perlo has a firm intention to sustainably support the celebrations.

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

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

"One of the most innovative cruise ships of all time"

When it comes to the ship, it is a very clear step forward in the cruise industry. Laurent Castaing, who is not a type that can be classified as grandilquence, is impressed by the result: "With the confidence that Celebrity Cruises gave us and the level of exceptional cooperation between our teams, we are proud to design and build one of the most innovative cruise ships of all time. This achievement once again demonstrates our ability to supply our most demanding customers with high-quality ships on time.A period of just 16 months has passed since the prototype was halted and delivered, and after 16 months the achievement of this high level of finish is exceptional. standard, with the level of decoration and detailed work. "

"Small", but very original

Although impressive, "Celebrity Edge", also known in Saint-Nazaire because of its number, "J34" is not the largest liner that appeared in the Loire estuary. 306 meters long, 39 meters wide by the waterline and 129 500 GT, this vessel has "only" 1467 cabins. It is significantly outclassed in size by the new MSC or Oasis class giants (362 meters, 228,000 GT, 2,750 cabins) Royal Caribbean International, affiliate of the Celebrity of the American group RCCL. But J34 is apparently the most original cruise ship that came into use in a decade, since the first Oasis premiere in 2009.

A new look and exceptional performance

The ship adopts a completely new design, both outside and inside the building. Seen from the outside, it is distinguished by a slightly inverted arc, with a bulb embedded in the base of the arch. This is the most striking aspect of the hull optimized for improving the preservation of the sea and crossing the waves. During two test campaigns outside of Belle-Ile in July and September, the Celebrity Edge also showed remarkable performance, with extremely low levels of noise and vibration, to the extent that pilots from the Loire had an impression when the ship maneuvered, remaining in the dock (see our article on this topic).

The Bow Celebrity Edge during the dry harbor visits this summer (© MER ET MARINE)

The Bow Celebrity Edge during the dry harbor visits this summer (© MER ET MARINE)

This hull, as well as various technical improvements, not only improved the sailing capacity of the boat, but also significantly reduced fuel consumption. "We are falling by about 20% compared to previous generation vessels (four millennia from Saint-Nazaire 2000-2002, ed.) And this ship is ahead of the emissions regulations," explains Laurent Castaing. If the Celebrity Edge is not equipped with an LNG drive, it has scrubbers (smoke cleaners) for processing sulfur oxides (SOx), but also new SCR systems, large pots. Catalysts for removing nitrogen oxides (NOx).

A completely asymmetrical boat

At the front of the architectural J34 is also the most original insert. "The structure is very open, with maximum light and is completely asymmetrical, which was a real engineering challenge." No more simple passages, and even longitudinally homogeneous semi-bridges, classical shipbuilding architecture for easier distribution of masses. Here everything is out of the center, from Eden, a large living room on three levels in the back, to the Edge Villas, located at the top, in front. Four duplexes of this type are located on the starboard side, and only two on the starboard side. "The Eden project is a good example of how complicated this ship is, this space is spread over several levels and curved, with a ramp on the bay." Because it is not symmetrical at all, it was difficult to be aware of the result in classic plans. center of the virtual reality Montoir-de-Bretagne, and when we finished this work of virtual reality, because it was the first and that in such cases there is always a doubt, we created a scaling model 1 of all this local wood model in a large alveolus of paint on the spot that has been decorated by decorators and in which future employees and artists to test the proper functioning of different spaces of Eden.

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

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

Platform for lifting to the starboard

The asymmetric architecture of the floor covering is related in particular to the presence, for the first time on carpet, of a large lifting platform evolving, depending on the needs and time of day, between the waterline and the highest level with a double central pool view. Called the "Magic Carpet", this large orange construction, 30 meters long and 6 meters wide, is the brainchild of the Nazi engineers that Celebrity has taken over. Initially, the company was seduced by the possibility of using this equipment as a bridge when the ship is at anchor. Magic Carpet will be placed on deck 2, where there is a large reception area for passengers called "Destination Gateway".

One of the offers overwhelmed last Friday (© MER AND MARINE - VINCENT GROIZELEAU)

One of the offers overwhelmed last Friday (© MER AND MARINE – VINCENT GROIZELEAU)

Tenders, boats used to transport passengers between boat and land, moor on the platform to get on and off cruisers, facilitating the flow, but also the safety of operations and customer comfort. During the waiting phase they can really enjoy sofas and Magic Carpet armchairs. "This is a real novelty, but because we could not always leave the platform in a low position, we found other uses for it," says Lisa Lutoff-Perlo. "Outside Deck 2, Magic Carpet will be placed on Deck 5, where it will serve as an outdoor terrace of seafood restaurants, as well as to deck 14, creating an extension of the pool with a bar and lounge, and in the evening on deck 16 so that our passengers can experience an exceptional dinner with spectacular views. "

The Magic Carpet in docking mode for tenders (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

The Magic Carpet in docking mode for tenders (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

The Magic Carpet (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

The Magic Carpet (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

The Magic Carpet (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

The Magic Carpet (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Magic carpet by the pool (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Magic carpet by the pool (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

A visit just before departure but without a photo inside

Since the announcement of the Celebrity Edge order in December 2014 (With the initial contract of 1.2 billion euros for the first two copies), communication around this project was extremely controlled by the company. During the construction, only one press event was organized, one and a half month ago, which gave rise to the report that we broadcast on September 24. Before the departure of the ship Celebrity Cruises, at the request of the shipyard, agreed to welcome a handful of French media on Friday, including Mer and Marine and some local confreres. An exceptional visit led by Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, which allowed us to discover an almost completed ship. Unfortunately, the photos were forbidden, the shipowner wanting to save a surprise until November 26. Therefore, we illustrate this article with synthetic images of internal spaces that are very close to reality, and sometimes even below the final result.

The Celebrity Edge Friday, in the Penhoët Basin (© SEA AND MARINE - VINCENT GROIZELEAU)

The Celebrity Edge Friday, in the Penhoët Basin (© SEA AND MARINE – VINCENT GROIZELEAU)

The Celebrity Edge Friday, in the Penhoët Basin (© SEA AND MARINE - VINCENT GROIZELEAU)

The Celebrity Edge Friday, in the Penhoët Basin (© SEA AND MARINE – VINCENT GROIZELEAU)

This visit was in any case the most satisfactory when it comes to assessing the quality and innovation of this new product. And also, as a bonus, the discovery of certain spaces that have never been revealed before and that the company's president discovered it on the same day.

Roof garden (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Roof garden (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Outdoor garden

On the back of the upper deck will be "Rooftop Garden", designed by designer Tom Wright as an outside garden. Unlike the previous series of cruise ships, the Solstice class, there is no real lawn here. The floor is covered with teak wood, but the space will be decorated with plants with real plants and shrubs. There will be more than 150. Plants will be planted only after the arrival of the boat on the other side of the Atlantic, in a climate favorable to their development. This beautiful space, which is heavily forested, is surrounded by stylized trees, which, apart from the decorative aspect, are intended for cutting the wind. Rooftop Garden has a large screen that will allow you to watch movies under the stars in the evening, while the back has a grill.

Rooftop Garden grill (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Rooftop Garden grill (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Pool pool appearance changed

In the middle of the ship, a pool with a double washbasin is discovered, and above all with a very different architecture than the traditional one on the liner. "This space is different from the usual decks, which is why we called it" Deck with terrace "because it resembles a resort rather than a swimming pool – says the president of Celebrity Cruises, on the right side of the bridge there are six large cabins, comfortable private couches built in a large wooden structure, which passengers can reserve to enjoy this space in a more intimate atmosphere.

Holiday deck (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Holiday deck (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Holiday deck (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Holiday deck (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Cabana on board of the resort (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Cabana on board of the resort (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

There are also two whirlpools that are suspended in martini-shaped cups. There is also a traditional pool with a mezzanine with rows of sun loungers, but on the port side there is a gently sloping ramp, which again breaks the usual symmetry. This bridge, which will be placed during the day, Magic Carpet (which will not be able to accommodate passengers when it is moving), also enjoys special attention in terms of lighting, offering different atmospheres in the evening. "There will be many light games," says Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, who also wavers with metal walls: "Usually, the walls are white on ships, here we wanted to dress them with the artists who decorated them.

The terrace in the resort is extended to the front and back through a large buffet, as well as an indoor pool with very original architecture under an amazing glass dome.

Indoor swimming pool (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Indoor swimming pool (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

An excellent VIP complex

In front of the ship, on its high part, there is a space called "Retreat", a magnificent complex designed by architect Kelly Hoppen. It is reserved exclusively for passengers 174 apartments on the ship (12% cabins). This set includes a sun terrace with a swimming pool and a hot tub, as well as a café, lounge and restaurant. All rooms have a private bathroom.

Sun terrace in the Retreat space (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Sun terrace in the Retreat space (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Space salon Retreat (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Space salon Retreat (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Luminae restaurant at Retreat Space restaurant (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Luminae restaurant at Retreat Space restaurant (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Sumptuous apartments

At the apartment level, we were able to visit the two most impressive categories and, of course, they are like the rest of the boat at the height of what was announced. First, there are six edge villas with an area of ​​88 m², equipped with a two-level room overlooking the large balcony with a jacuzzi. The impressive bay window all the way up to the upstairs bedroom offers a magnificent view of the sea that you can imagine as real apartments without being able to see inside.

Villa Edge (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Villa Edge (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Villa Edge (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Villa Edge (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Villa Edge (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Villa Edge (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

View of the marina on four balconies located on the right side (© SEA AND MARINE - VINCENT GROIZELEAU)

View of the marina on four balconies located on the right side (© SEA AND MARINE – VINCENT GROIZELEAU)

Even more impressive are the two impressive, two-storey apartments with an area of ​​230 m², which are located just above the wheelhouse. The huge living / dining room opens onto a large bay window with a spectacular 90 degree panorama on the bow and one side of the ship. The view is breathtaking from the master bedroom, an arched bed that is decorated on the back of a luxurious and very large bathroom. To avoid blocking the field of view, the large TV is hidden in the ceiling. The second bedroom, also with its own bathroom and a large wardrobe, is located on the other side of the apartment, with doors that open onto an impressive terrace, also accessible from the living room. Terraces of two Iconic Apartments occupy the area of ​​bridge flaps.

Iconic Suite Living / Dining room (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Iconic Suite Living / Dining room (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

The main bedroom of the iconic apartment (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

The main bedroom of the iconic apartment (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Iconic Suite secondary room (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Iconic Suite secondary room (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Terrace of the iconic apartment (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Terrace of the iconic apartment (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Very good cabins

The Celebrity Edge has other categories of apartments (Penthouse, Royal, Celebrity Sky), but also cabins, smaller, but very successful and comfortable. These cabins are characterized by a delicate color, a large amount of wooden veneers in the Scandinavian style, marbles in large and very beautiful bathrooms or showers. Their cabins are distinguished by design and many small tricks. "For example, in all ship's booths, electrical sockets and connectors are hidden in what looks like a small wooden container with jewelry, which avoids dragging wires everywhere, and at the same time simplifies the work of household members in everyday home.

Penthouse (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Penthouse (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Sky Suite (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Sky Suite (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Balconies replaced with verandas

The main novelty of this ship is the Infinity verandas, which are almost 900 on board and therefore constitute the main category of cabins. In this, the traditional outside balcony was removed and replaced by a veranda. The cabin extends de facto into a bay window, directly above the ship. The upper part, controlled by a switch, can be lowered and transformed into a balcony open to the outside. "It is very innovative and is an extension of the cabins and makes the whole ship exterior, thanks to which the surface of the cabins is 23% larger, which will give our passengers a unique view of the sea with a completely clear view", greets Lisa Lutoff-Perlo. Large fabric curtains have also been finished, we put them on a thin curtain integrated into the ceiling, which extends to order in front of the bay window, and part of the balcony can be separated from the cabin by folding glass panels.

Cabin with veranda (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Cabin with veranda (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

This type of balcony is already used on river cruise ships, but it is the first in the case of a sea liner. It also represented some technical challenges related to adapting these sliding windows to the marine environment. "They must be able to withstand 200 km / h of wind and must be extremely reliable, we have tested several dozen thousand times, including during sea trials," says Laurent Castaing.

Atrium Grand Plaza (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Atrium Grand Plaza (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Atrium Grand Plaza (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Atrium Grand Plaza (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Part of the bare hull left in the eyes of passengers

The heart of the ship is the Grand Plaza, an atrium, which extends over three levels, with access to the outer promenade with sides, but also restaurants, lounges and bars. He is also asymmetrical and has spurs, some inclined, which contribute to the strength of the structure, while giving a small industrial stamp. The desire of the French architectural firm Jouin Manku, who imagined the Grand Plaza and other spaces of the ship, including an amazing runway. The interior of this room was designed so as to gradually see, in the direction of walking, a bare metal hull of the ship, which is located behind reasonably placed panels. "It is a tribute to the construction of boats and those who made it," says the company's president, whose favorite place is also marked Jouin Manku. This is a wonderful staircase overlooking the restaurants that surround the beautiful giant clock.

Clock and stairs, even more beautiful in real life (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Clock and stairs, even more beautiful in real life (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Four main restaurants

Celebrity Edge offers many dining options, including 4 main dining rooms, each of which can accommodate around 350 people. "These four restaurants have their own design and a different theme: 75% of the dishes are identical, 25% are specific." There is an American-inspired Cosmopolitan restaurant, a Tuscan restaurant that still has Cyprus with Mediterranean cuisine and dishes from Greek cuisine that They remind us that before becoming an American, Celebrity was a Greek company, founded in 1989 by the Greek shipowner John Chandris and taken over by RCCL in 1997. The famous 'X', the company's symbol, comes from this first life and comes from the fact that "Ch" is written in X in the Greek alphabet, and the letter has traditionally been placed on the chimneys of the company's ships, with the Celebrity Edge being the double fireplace in the form of X.

Tuscan restaurant in the style of Milan (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Tuscan restaurant in the style of Milan (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Restaurant in Cyprus (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Restaurant in Cyprus (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Cosmopolitan Restaurant (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Cosmopolitan Restaurant (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Decorative elements of the old Normandy insole

Finally, the fourth and last main liner restaurant is Normandia, which offers dishes inspired by French cuisine. This space owes its name to the former French ship from the Nazis shipyards in 1935. Considered one of the most beautiful liners ever built, the mythical liner, which sank after a fire in the port of New York in February 1942, left only memories, but also collectors' items, valued by museums and collectors. This is the case with varnished panels adorning the smokehouse in Normandy and which were purchased (as well as a bronze statue) by Celebrity Cruises for the decoration of the summit, the third of four Millennium ships, delivered in 2001 by Chantiers de l & # 39; Atlantique. His sisters also began work inherited from the old ships, namely RMS Olympic for Millennium, SS United States for Infinity and Ile de France for Constellation. "At the top we had the original panels of Normandy, and we took the opportunity to recreate them and integrate in this restaurant of our new ship, which we decided to name the Normandy." It's a nice bow on construction sites, "says Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, who reveals that Laurent Castaing was particularly sensitive to this initiative, and that his grandfather worked as an engineer in Normandy. In addition to these panels, beautiful replicas of Lalique glass on a former French liner, as well as magnificent chandeliers and lamps in the form of candlesticks, contribute to giving this place a specific atmosphere.

Restaurant in Normandy (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Restaurant in Normandy (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Unique pieces

These four dining rooms are a picture of a ship, with a very original and successful decoration, borrowed a lot of taste and marked by unusual attention to detail that the ceiling. When it comes to every space of the ship, most of the furniture, decorations and works of art were specially conceived and made for boats.

A l'instar de tous les paquebots modernes, le Celebrity Edge proposera de nombreux équipements et activités à ses passagers. Il dispose par exemple d'un théâtre à l'architecture nouvelle, avec une scène avancée vers le public et de gigantesques écrans vidéo qui vont donner une nouvelle dimension aux spectacles proposés en soirée. Il y a évidemment un casino, une discothèque et salle de concert sur deux étages ou encore de nombreuses boutiques, ainsi qu'un magnifique center de bien-être.

Le théâtre (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Le théâtre (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

La discothèque (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

La discothèque (© CELEBRITY CRUISES)

Enfin un Spa digne de ce nom chez Celebrity

Un Spa qui constitue une très belle réussite, ce qui mérite d'être souligné car, jusqu'ici, ce type d'équipement n'était pas le point fort de Celebrity and d'ailleurs de Royal Caribbean International. Avec Edge, l'armateur dispose enfin d'un center de bien-être au top niveau. Là aussi, la décoration est splendide, dès l'entrée où les designers ont imaginé un 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 un maximum de lumière extérieure, avec notamment, partout où cela était possible, de grandes baies vitrées. Nous avons aussi passé énormément de temps avec les designers pour étudier les moindres détails et donner de perspectives visuelles différentes 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 comprend notamment 24 salles de soins pour des massages, traitements du corps et du visage ou encore des séances de blanchiment des dents. Il ya également de très beaux thermes, avec vue sur la mer, panneaux verticaux et fauteuils de pierre chauffants, plusieurs hammams, une salle de traitement par le le sel (Salt Room) et une autre par cristaux (Crystalarium), un sauna à infrarouge et une enfilade de douches avec différentes fonctions (brumisateur, pluie tropicale …). Le center de bien-être est agrémenté d'un coiffeur, un barbier et un espace de manucure et pédicure.

Un espace non prévu créé en quelques mois

Clou du spectacle, Eden, sur l'arrière du paquebot. L'idée d'intégrer un grand salon panoramique à la poupe a été inaugurée avec la série des Quantum of the Seas, 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 la classe Edge, 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. Un espace qui n'a pas encore été révélé publiquement. «Nous l'avons baptisé Voyage vers Eden, c'est un espace immersif avec une ambiance mystérieuse et magique». Longue d'une dizaine de mètres, cette coursive a vu ses parois recouvertes de vitres et accueille une série de 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 vitres, qui engendrent un 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 ya 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 cet espace 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 quelques semaines, est à la hauteur des espérances. Imaginé par les designer 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 principaux, 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 vraies. 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 aussi 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 voient jusqu’à l’extérieur du navire où l’immense baie vitrée est penchée. 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. 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 en particulier 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, lancer un navire au design réellement différent, qui tranche radicalement 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 tel navire.

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, « premium + », mais qui ne se range pas, du fait de sa taille et de sa capacité, 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 de luxe en matière de design, Celebrity étant également très réputée pour la qualité de son service et de sa gastronomie.

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 de développer sa clientèle. A partir de la fin avril, 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, la compagnie 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 par 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 doivent être 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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