Inspiration Destinations New Zealand Lost and Sound: Exploring the Best of New Zealand with Celebrity Cruises

Lost and Sound: Exploring the Best of New Zealand with Celebrity Cruises

June 7, 2024
The side of Celebrity Edge cruising through Milford Sound, one of the best ways to explore New Zealand - Luxury Escapes

New Zealand’s glacier-carved Fiordland, home to the famous Sounds, is the first stop on Celebrity’s inaugural regional cruise. Annabel Fuller loses herself in the wild beauty beyond and the frenetic activities available onboard Celebrity Edge.

The energetic tune of the Cupid Shuffle wasn’t the soundtrack I expected to echo across the pool deck while sailing through the serene New Zealand Fiordlands. Yet there I was, in one of the most spectacular places on the planet, sliding to the left and gliding to the right. The atmosphere buzzed with anticipation and spirits were high onboard Celebrity Edge’s inaugural Australia-Pacific sailing.

While I am mesmerised by the towering cliffs, untouched rainforest and plummeting waterfalls around us, activities coordinator, Christoff, directs our aqua-aerobics accomplices to kick higher as the music continues to sound into the early afternoon. Meanwhile, fellow passengers take in the wild beauty from their outward-facing staterooms, with craft cocktails in-hand on the cantilevered Magic Carpet – a versatile viewing platform that floats 13 floors above the sea – and from the packed grand atrium, where I’m told ABBA’s greatest hits are drawing a crowd to watch the Sounds float by.

Nothing prepared me for the grandeur of the Fiordlands. Each day of adventure begins in my decadently soft king-sized bed, gazing out floor-to-ceiling windows in my Infinite Verandah Stateroom. Prying my
eyes open, I peek at steep cliffs carved by waterfalls while wisps of fairy-floss light mist dance across the snow capped mountains of Dusky Sound. As if on cue, a singular Sooty Albatross soars past the ship.

As we cruise into our second destination of the day, Doubtful Sound, I step out onto the Magic Carpet: and hear a passenger exclaim “Penguins!” A colony of Fiordland crested penguins are playfully diving into the mirror-calm waters; nearby on rocky outcrops, sleek fur seals yawp as the soft sunlight glistens on their coats. There’s no question the best way to see the Sounds is onboard a ship, where you have a 360-degree view of the sea life, and I turn to see a pod of dolphins gracefully dancing along the port side, leaving shimmering trails in their wake.

I’m a joiner

An array of people drink cocktails on the rooftop garden of the Celebrity Edge, one of Celebrity Cruises newest ships to sail New Zealand - Luxury Escapes
The rooftop of Celebrity Edge, Celebrity Cruises.

While only a handful of passengers are in the pool with me at the afternoon aqua-aerobics class, no one sits out the full schedule of daily activities, cherry picking the on-ship diversions according to their interests. Celebrity Cruises president Laura Hodges Bethge, who is sailing onboard with us, says the ship’s arrival in Australia “is a moment of celebration, not just for Celebrity Cruises, but for guests as well”.

“Celebrity Edge is widely regarded as one of the most innovative cruise ships on Earth, shattering perceptions of cruising with several firsts onboard,” she says. These firsts include the multi-functional Magic Carpet and out-of-the-box accommodations like ultra luxe two-storey villas with private pools. Laura has coined the term “joiners” to describe guests who wish to indulge in everything that the Edge has to offer. I’m a “joiner”. From guided meditations and Zumba in the rooftop garden to salsa
lessons, trivia and even indoor archery, there wasn’t a single activity I didn’t try. Add a three-course dinner, followed by evenings at the elegant Martini Bar (the blue curacao and pineapple-infused Tropo-tini is a refreshing “I’m on holiday” tipple), and I barely have the energy to put myself to bed, let alone indulge in treatment at The Spa or enjoy a soak in one of the outdoor Jacuzzis, set beneath the night sky full of stars.

Offered exclusively on days at sea, the immersive behind-the-scenes ship tour is a highlight. After a small-group tour of the ship’s main galley – plating over 19,000 meals a day – we are led onto the captain’s bridge.

Set sail

An orange sitting area covered in glass hanging over the edge of the Celebrity Edge, one of the newest Celebrity Cruises ship to sail New Zealand - Luxury Escapes
Views of New Zealand from Celebrity Edge, Celebrity Cruises.

Captain Matt Karandreas has been at the helm of mega-ships for over 20 years and gave us a glimpse behind the curtain into the mastery of commanding this billion dollar ship. A crew of 1320 chart our safe passage and keep us (too) well fed. All 29 world-class dining venues – ranging from innovative plant-based dishes at Eden to Mediterranean fare at Cyprus – have been expertly curated to engage our senses for an inspiring and immersive experience.

On the night I dine at Le Petit Chef Restaurant, appetisers include a tartlet of slow-roasted heirloom tomatoes and cured salmon; mains include traditional braised rib of beef and a pan-seared Mediterranean branzino and dessert is a sumptuous strawberry Chantilly Napoleon. This epicurean spectacle ignites my childlike whimsy as 3D animations project a mischievous “petit chef” across the crisp linen tablecloth, blending delicious cuisine with innovative digital storytelling. On our final morning, as we sail into the brilliant Sydney Harbour, the Sydney Opera House shimmers in the early morning sun. Soon a new batch of “joiners” will discover that the natural wonderland of Australia and New Zealand is best discovered on the Edge.

This article was originally featured in the third issue of Dream by Luxury Escapes magazine. Get your copy here.

About Annabel Fuller
Lover of gelato and all things travel, Annabel is happiest when exploring new places, soaking in the glorious sun rays and scuba diving. When she's not writing about the most glamorous destinations, she's on the lookout for her next adventure.

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