Waking up to a phone call letting you know that breakfast is on the way is a great way to start the first full day of the cruise. What made it all the better? Our infinite verandah. Reaching over to my phone and pressing a button to open the blackout curtains, revealing a floor to ceiling view of a very sunny Key West was such a nice experience that for a moment, just a moment, I forgot I was hungover.
Key West Has Never Been So Cool
After a slow start to the morning, we decided to head ashore for a bit in Key West. We found ourselves docked just off Mallory Square, which meant a simple walk into the thick of the Conch Republic. Our first destination: CVS Pharmacy. We end up doing this frequently, as when Key West is the first stop, it’s really easy to head to CVS nearby and get anything we may have wished we’d brought with us.
On our roughly three-block walk, we noticed something about this trip was different: we weren’t sweating! The sun was warm but the air in the mid-70s (around 24C). It was really quite nice. The next stop, we though, would be The Porch, a spot we frequent for craft beer and local conversation. Unfortunately, The Porch seems to have closed its doors, which is a shame because now, where could someone possibly go in Key West to get a drink!?
On many past trips we’d walked by El Meson de Pepe, a Cuban restaurant and bar located near the old customs house off Mallory Square, so we decided to check it out on this trip. The bartender was pleasant, and we snacked a bit on some tostones (smashed friend green plantains, often served with diced onion) – a helpful remedy to my previous-evening’s over-indulgence. There were locals dining there enjoying full meals and speaking highly of the food. Of course, some of the locals just walked around and crowed like colorful weirdos.
If I’d had thought about it and planned better, we may have checked out a restaurant someone mentioned to us a couple months ago that is located on Sunset Key, a small island a few hundred meters from where our ship was docked. Loving Edge so much, and visiting Key West frequently, we opted to head back to the ship.
Oceanview Café Never Disappoints
While we munched on tostones on shore, wanting something a bit more substantial (read: cake), we headed to the buffet, which stayed open until 2:30pm. I opted to have a made-to-order sandwich on fresh bread. The sandwich station is a staple of Oceanview, with a variety of meats, cheeses, salads, vegetables, etc. Of course, several types of bread are on hand, but a great tip is that if you want a different kind of bread you can ask for any number of types of bread sliced and taken to the sandwich area. The bakery has an incredible variety, and realizing that now, my carb intake will be on the rise.
As usual, a wide variety of desserts were on hand, and this is another place that Celebrity and Holland America both shine. I had an orange chocolate-mousse cake as well as a coconut fudge brownie. I should probably be at the gym right now.
Hanging Out Over Key West on Edge’s Magic Carpet
Magic Carpet is the signature venue on Celebrity Edge, cantilevered over the ocean…or in this case, the dock in Key West. We enjoyed Magic Carpet during sail-away yesterday so once back on the ship today that’s where we headed. It’s not a large venue, but you can generally find some space as long as you don’t have your heart set on one of the large couches situated at each end, with floor to ceiling views on multiple sides. An interesting quality of this spot is that while it’s largely enclosed in glass, there is still a nice breeze, even while the ship is stationary.
As I think about it now, I’m actually really pleased that Celebrity keeps this area open (save for dinner one evening each week), rather than creating “Magic Carpet Cabanas” or something of that nature. Maybe I shouldn’t be offering up ideas.
Mirage in The Club
The Club is an interesting space on Edge. Spanning two levels, midship (without windows), and lofted, it doesn't sound great - but it's a fantastically flexible venue. Tonight they used it for a show called Mirage, which takes advantage of the valuated ceilings to allow acrobats and aerialists to do some truly fantastic things. I can't identify a strong theme here, aside from well-curated pop-songs and great lighting to go with the talented performers.
The downside of this show was it's popularity, in that despite arriving ten minutes early, we couldn't get seats in a place that allowed a generally good vantage point. I should have known better that sitting near the bar provides limited views of the upper portion of the room, where much of the action takes place. For this reason I really don't have any photos to share, but I'd like to try and catch it again. Interestingly, shows with similar concepts were on our past sailings, and this time they ensured that guests were nowhere near the performers. Back in January it was a bit more immersive, but I watched someone drop a glass onto the floor below an aerialist, leaving crew and guests to quickly remove the hazard so the performer could "land" - in short, I understand this change.
Evening Chic at the Buffet
Celebrity doesn't have formal nights, but they do have "evening chic" twice on each seven night sailing. While I donned a jacket and slacks, we ended up dining in Oceanview Cafe again as we'd met up with new friends, showered, explored the ship, etc and didn't want to commit too much time to dinner. The meal was good, and there was a sizable "Gyro Station" that had a number of Mediterranean dips and such - quite good, and I love when they do these themes. We saw something similar on Equinox a couple months ago, so I'm glad to see it again.
After eating with new friends we all decided there was just too much to do, so we started hopping venue to venue and enjoying the various live music offerings on Edge. This is an area where some cruise lines shine brighter than others: live music. There are sitarists, bands, vocalists, guitarists, etc - regardless of the venue and style, it all livens the space. One of the bands that plays all over the ship is the Shaun Brown Band. They play everything from blues, to modern pop, to country, and all things in between. They sound smooth and know how to charm a room, including at the Oceanview Cafe (we had a quick bit with Shaun earlier).
Sea Days are Cruise Sundays
Tomorrow is our first full sea day, and as I just described to a couple first time cruisers, I've long seen sea days as cruise Sundays. Do as much or as little as you please. My hope is to enjoy some outdoor time, but I also want to catch some of the more unique events Celebrity sometimes offers, like archery, drone racing, and topiary classes. Okay, I made one of those up. I sometimes subtly commit to thing by mentioning them in my daily posts, but this time I'll go for less subtle: tomorrow I'll wake up early enough to get breakfast in Eden Cafe. Stay tuned to witness pictures of my breakfast, or my failure.
- The Grand Plaza (essentially Edge's atrium) is the heart of the ship. You pass through it multiple times a day, it has specialty restaurants, coffee, the Martini Bar, live music, etc. It does seem that the bar itself is just too small. We noticed this in January and hoped they could work it out. If you go when it's really hopin', get a waiter's attention rather than waiting at the bar, as they go to the Casino Bar or a smaller service bar, and may be quicker to get your drink in hand.
- We're meeting many first time cruisers that are on with family for the holiday. Most of them have been "wowed" by the experience, which shows the value to businesses in identifying who influencers really are (and I don't mean Instagram models).
- The bifold doors in Infinite Verandah rooms now have frosted panels for increased privacy. I still think the bifolds should either better seal off the room/be air-tight, or they should just get rid of them, as a curtain could provide the privacy benefits more easily - though I do like the look of the frosted panels.