This week, I was lucky enough to fly to Miami for a private tour of Celebrity Cruises’ new Innovation Lab, where architects and designers are creating and testing features for the line’s new ship Celebrity Edge.

I flew around the ship inside a 3D virtual reality ‘cave’, enabling me to see public spaces and staterooms from every possible angle. I trialled facial recognition technology designed to make the embarkation process smoother, and I even used a new X-ray vision app to see through walls!

State of the art, yes. But not one thing we saw was actually new, according to chairman Richard Fain, just existing technologies used differently to create something quite revolutionary.

Driving it all was problem-solving and guest satisfaction. The line’s Magic Carpet was borne from a desire to enhance the often tedious process of tendering guests ashore – but in addressing that problem, Celebrity has created an extra tennis court-sized entertaining space, cantilevered over the ocean.

It’s hardly surprising that with such a constant desire to improve, innovate and invest, the cruise industry continues to attract record numbers of customers.

According to figures released by Clia UK & Ireland this week, the number of Brits taking ocean sailings jumped by 5.6% to a record 1.89 million, while those taking
a river cruise leapt by 11.2% to 166,900.

If growth continues at its current pace, the magic two million figure could well be topped this year. And with agents absolutely central to this expansion, the sector as a whole really is on the Edge of something special.