Being the most decorated gymnast in world championship history is already a massive accomplishment, but becoming a fabulous ship's godmother from a brand empowered by women, it's just "Beyond"!
On Nov. 4, Simone Biles, one of the world's greatest athletes, christened Beyond –Celebrity Cruise Line's newest, biggest, and most luxurious ship to date from its Edge Class. The ceremony occurred at Port Everglades in Florida, with an exceptional performance by award-winning singer Leona Lewis. Choosing a ship's godmother is a tradition traced back centuries; it is believed that feminine energy brings good fortune and protection on future voyages. Therefore, ships are also usually referred to as "she."
Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, President and CEO of Celebrity Cruises, said they chose Biles to be Beyond's godmother because she was touched and impressed by her courage and accomplishments. She said Biles checked all the boxes, accomplished, driven, and a champion of things that transcend what her achievements involve. Biles also shines a spotlight on what many young women go through and don't know how to deal with; she is all about women's empowerment. Not only is the brand's CEO a woman, but Beyond's Captain Kate McCue also is the first American female captain of a large cruise ship. Millions of people follow her on social media, where she shares her life as a captain and inspires women and people to achieve anything.
"Being chosen as this incredible ship's godmother feels like boss women coming together and breaking barriers that haven't been broken before. Being part of something so special is such an honor, and I'm very humbled. I was super excited to be able to be the godmother because I feel like it's a big role. It's exciting. But as soon as I saw the ship, I said, 'Oh my goodness, that's a lot.' To be in honor of something like this is crazy, and it's so exciting," Biles said.
During the naming ceremony, it was the first time Biles had seen the ship in person. She was asked to be Beyond's godmother during its building process, and she said they jumped right on board and couldn't be more excited. She said her favorite part of the ship is the journey to Eden because it feels like stepping into Vegas. One of the most impressive aspects of Beyond is the carefully curated art. It gives the impression of a contemporary art museum on the water and allows for fantastic photo ops. The journey to Eden is also one of Lutoff-Perlo's favorite art pieces, and Eden is her favorite restaurant.
"So many guests send me letters after they cruise on the ship and tell me Eden should be a Michelin-starred restaurant, and it's just that good. And it was done by our head of culinary, Cornelius Gallagher, an amazing talent protégé of Daniel Boulud. He has worked in six restaurants that received three Michelin stars. So, for me to see his restaurant as the restaurant that all of our guests say is the one that deserves a Michelin star is very special," Lutoff-Perlo said.
According to Lutoff-Perlo, choosing women with strong messages is the right spot for Celebrity because of what the brand is and the people they care about. She said she strongly believes people not only care about taking great vacations, they like brands that focus on other important issues like equality, inclusion and the environment. The company has built a platform of relaxed luxury resorts at sea that care about the world and take people to experience new cultures, believing everybody deserves the same opportunities and wants everyone to feel welcome.
When talking about the importance of working at a company that's all about women's empowerment, Captain Kate said she wouldn't just stop at that. "Working for Celebrity, it's important because we are so inclusive. It's where we hire people from, having 75 different nationalities on board, guests, and crew from all different demographics. I don't know of another company that is so open, welcoming, warm, and successful because of their inclusion policies," she said.
Inclusion is only one of the many impressive aspects that define Celebrity Cruises. Lutoff-Perlo said when they started the Edge series, her ambition was to change the perception of cruising and the industry. She said the company focuses on offering quality and attention to detail in all its ships—also, the company's fantastic crew and how they engage with guests. "Celebrity has wholly set itself apart from the rest of the industry, which was intentional. I prefer if people think of us as a relaxed luxury resort because it opens us up to a new market of people that I think belong on Celebrity," she said.
Celebrity is very environmentally conscious, and Beyond was the third ever to call Southampton, its first port of call, to plug in and use the short base power. Captain Kate said the ship produces its own water onboard through holes intentionally located on its sides to bring water used in sinks, showers, and toilets. From there, it goes through a wastewater purification process. Once it goes down to the holding tanks, the gray water gets purified and pumped overboard. She said the black water from the toilets will go into the advanced wastewater purification process to separate solids from the liquids. "The U.S. Coast Guard has deemed the water that we pump over the side of the ship clean enough to drink," she said. Beyond's elevators also produce energy to function.
According to Lutoff-Perlo, the ship is 20% more efficient thanks to the bow's design, which through a system of bubbles underneath the ship, help it glide smoothly through the waters. She said everything the company does to reduce the ship's friction as she sails significantly reduces fuel consumption.
Beyond is an excellent cruise for first-timers, especially those into modern things. The ship has award-winning entertainment on board and delightful specialty dining restaurants. Not only is the art unique, the suites and cabins are also sleek and comfortable, allowing for a peaceful sleep after exploring everything the ship offers. Biles said if you're cruising for the first time, have fun and relax because everything will be taken care of for you.
"If you get seasick, I recommend Dramamine. But other than that, have fun. It's like any other vacation, except you get to visit different spots. Whenever I cruised for the first time, I was nervous, but once I got on board, you don't even feel it moving, and you don't even realize you're on the water until you're up at the top. So, have fun and embrace it," Biles said.
The award-winning Beyond is now in the Americas after her tour around Europe. The ship offers cruises to fabulous Caribbean destinations, so If you want to learn more about the ship, or book a cruise, visit the website.
Photography by: Courtesy Celebrity Cruises