Highly-anticipated Celebrity Edge arrived in Southampton today ahead of a summer season sailing in Europe.

Hundreds of agents will embark on a two-day taster cruise on the $1 billion ship before it sets off on its maiden European sailing later this week.

The ship’s arrival in the UK gives a glimpse of the future of cruising from Southampton – as sister ship Celebrity Apex will launch and be based at the port for a mini-season in spring 2020.

Celebrity Cruises has introduced facial recognition software to passengers due to use the ship to bypass long check-in queues.

By uploading a self-potrait via the line’s app, passengers are automatically checked in and can bypass traditional document checks.

The line claims the technology enables passengers to board in ten minutes.

More than 40 initiatives on Celebrity Edge claim to cut fuel consumption by 20% compared to Celebrity’s prior generation of ships.

The ship’s Parabolic UltraBow creates an increased fuel efficiency, greater speed, and a smoother ride.

In addition, the ship’s emissions purification (AEP) systems remove about 98% of sulphur dioxide emissions, and the air lubrication systems coat the hull with millions of tiny bubbles to reduce drag, according to the company.

Celebrity Cruises UK, Ireland and Asia vice president and managing director Jo Rzymowska said: “Ever since Celebrity Edge launched at the end of last year to international acclaim, customers and our travel agent partners have been clamouring to see her up close for themselves. Now she has come to the UK, we know they are not going to be disappointed.

“This is a ship that defies expectations, elevating cruise luxury to a whole new level.

“There are four more of these Edge-class ships on order and the next, Celebrity Apex, will be based in the UK when it launches in Southampton next year. This visit is the perfect preview of what’s in store.”

The line’s president and CEO Lisa Lutoff Perlo said: “Celebrity Edge is redefining the cruise experience and today she makes her exciting debut in the UK, a really significant market for us.

“The ship’s transformative design, spaces, technology and so much more, create a holiday like no other – and we can’t wait to see everyone’s reaction when she arrives in Southampton.

“Edge is changing how people view a cruise vacation, especially for those who are new to cruise/first-timers.”

Features include 29 restaurants, cafes, bars and lounges, a ‘Magic Carpet’ platform that moves up and down the side of the ship and suites designed by Kelly Hoppen.

More: Celebrity Cruises orders fifth Edge-class ship

Video: Celebrity Cruises names godmother of Celebrity Flora