The hottest addition to Celebrity’s onboard entertainment allows guests to create their own vases, bowls, and other works of art. Glassblowing isn’t entirely new to the cruise line: For the past 10 years, a partnership with the Corning Museum of Glass featured live demonstrations by master glass blowers in the Deck 15 Lawn Club. But a new partnership with Hollywood Hot Glass (based in Florida’s Broward County) invites guests to take a more hands-on role in the process.
By June, interactive glassblowing will be available on three Celebrity ships—Equinox, Eclipse, and Solstice. We tried it on the Equinox shortly after its debut this spring; here’s what to expect.
What It’s Like
Held in the former Corning space on Deck 15, the Hollywood Hot Glass studio comprises a furnace (where the glass is kept at a liquid state), a work station, cooling racks, and benches where people can watch works in progress.
After choosing the design and colors for my piece (a ruffled bowl in teal, light blue, and white), my instructor, Jeff Mick, handed me a pair of safety goggles and we dove in. Using a hollow steel rod, Mick unearthed what looked like a glob of smoldering lava from the furnace and dipped it into bowls of colored sprinkles (which are actually tiny shards of colored glass).
By continuously spinning the rod, the colors started to melt and form a striped pattern. I was disappointed when the stripes came out red instead of blue, but Mick explained that colors change when they’re heated; as the glass cools, they return to their original hues.
As for the actual glassblowing part, surprisingly not much air is needed. Mick instructed me to send a small burst of air down the tube, and a bubble started to form inside the liquid glass. He handed me a pair of giant tweezers to gently shape what would become the opening and the base, and then advised me to sort of flick the rod—this would create the waves along the rim.
Even though the process is heavily assisted, it was a little unnerving to be that close to 2,000-degree liquid glass. That said, I felt like the class offered the right amount of hand-holding. Mick thoroughly explained each step and was able to keep me engaged in the execution, without making me feel unsafe.
At the beginning of each sailing, Hollywood Hot Glass hosts a live demonstration at The Lawn Club (Deck 15), after which guests are able to register for a time slot to create their own piece of glass art.
There are eight objects to choose from—including decorative flowers and paperweights ($40), a tumbler ($65), vases ($90), and the ruffled bowl I made ($150)—and around a dozen colors. Prices for the activity are based on the size and complexity of the object you choose. The process takes about 20 minutes and is followed by a 12-hour cooling period, after which guests can retrieve their finished works to take home (if you participate on the last full day onboard, they’ll have it delivered to your room before you disembark).
As we mentioned, the Hollywood Hot Glass studio is on the ship’s top level. Even with a steady ocean breeze, working in front of a 2,000-degree furnace on a hot day can get a bit uncomfortable. It’s well-worth breaking a sweat for the experience (after all, it is just 20 minutes), but if you’re cruising the Caribbean in August, we recommend snagging an early morning or evening timeslot.
Overall, glassblowing is a novel onboard activity, and the finished result makes a good conversation piece to take home.