Credit: Celebrity Cruises
Celebrity Cruises new “exquisite” cruise ship Celebrity Apex debuted in early summer – but what’s life really like onboard the ship? Our review reveals all.
As I touch the key card to the X marks the spot lock on my cabin I can’t help but say ‘wow’ out loud as the door clicks open and I step inside. With ships not yet sailing at full capacity levels in post-Covid times the upgrade fairy has waved her magic wand.
Instead of spending the next seven nights in a perfectly nice Infinite Veranda cabin on Celebrity Apex I am walking into one of the 16 Celebrity Suites and one of the first things I see is a bottle of Champagne chilling on the table.
Next I learn that the supersize stateroom, with a separate bedroom, bathroom with a proper bath and three wardrobes (including one by the door which I only discover by chance near the end of the cruise) comes with something else – a Personal Retreat Host; in other words a butler. My floating Downton Abbey moment has arrived.
Celebrity Cruises butlers are on hand to make dining reservations, configure the minibar with your favourite tipple, sort laundry, make spa reservations and – if you can overcome typically British reserve – even pack and unpack. One night I asked ‘my’ butler Costin to arrange a pre-dinner soiree in my room for a group of friends and he duly arrived with fizz and an array of canapés.
I was among 700 passengers on a seven-night sailing from Athens to Barcelona aboard Celebrity Cruises’ newest ship.
It’s the second Edge-class vessel with a distinctive inverted bow that enables it to sail smoothly through the water as well being more energy-efficient. The 2,910-passenger Celebrity Apex was due to debut in the UK last year until a certain pandemic got in the way.
– READ MORE: Celebrity Cruises Covid restrictions: What rules are onboard? –
However, like many things in life, it was worth waiting for and I joined multi-national guests who were both eager to get back to cruising and have an opportunity to get a look at the ship before it headed across the Atlantic for a delayed naming ceremony in Fort Lauderdale followed by a winter season of Caribbean itineraries.
With travel regulations and health protocols still in place there was advance paperwork and forms to be filled in, however with the help of the Celebrity app boarding was seamless and throughout the sailing we were kept well-informed about what needed to be done.
Celebrity Apex was due to debut in the UK last year until a certain pandemic got in the way. Credit: Celebrity Cruises
Celebrity provided quick, free antigen tests prior to boarding as well as in destinations that required them and before disembarkation to return home. All crew members wore masks and we had to wear them when walking around inside, but we’ve all been used to it for so long now that none of it felt intrusive or restricting.
It certainly didn’t take me long to get into the ebb and flow of life onboard which revolved around a busy programme of optional daily activities, shore excursions, entertainment and days punctuated by casual or more dress-up meals at the plethora of dining venues.
– READ MORE: Celebrity Cruises reveals incredible dining experiences –
As a suite guest, my perks included dining in the exclusive Luminae restaurant and access to The Retreat, a private lounge serving complimentary drinks and snacks which leads to a sun deck with a pool and bar.
That said I wasn’t the only one feeling spoiled as Celebrity takes the sting out of cruising with a transparent pricing policy which, as standard, includes drinks, Wi-Fi and tips in the fare with the option to purchase a premium package covering premium drinks and other extras.
Celebrity Apex: The Retreat is a private lounge serving complimentary drinks and snacks. Credit: Celebrity Cruises
The Retreat was created by award-winning British designer Kelly Hoppen and is one of many areas throughout the ship with designer touches, most notably the Grand Plaza which forms the heart of the vessel and the quirky Eden dining and entertainment venue with flower-shaped chairs.
Elsewhere there is the lush Rooftop Garden, with a bar and grill restaurant that’s a great spot on sunny evenings, and hundreds of pieces of art dotted around the ship.
– READ MORE: How I became a high-flying cruise ship acrobat on Celebrity Cruises –
In an effort to offset some of the onboard calories I make token attempts to go to the gym. If you have good willpower you can head to the juice bar but there are so many eateries vying for attention.
There are several speciality restaurants that come with a charge and the most novel is Le Petit Chef, where plates and tabletops come to life with a charming animated show beamed down before the food is served.
Celebrity Apex: Elsewhere there is the lush Rooftop Garden, with a bar and grill restaurant. Credit: Celebrity Cruises
That said you certainly won’t feel short-changed in the main included restaurants which are the expansive Oceanview Café buffet and the four table service dining rooms, each with a distinct character of their own.
Whether you push the boat out with a suite or book a cruise in one of the 17 cabin categories that include affordable interiors, Celebrity Apex is a class act filled with plenty of surprises and features that you won’t find on any other vessel.
– READ MORE: Cruise lines to keep on your radar for 2022 –
A standout one is the Magic Carpet, a cantilevered platform that moves up and down the outside of the ship and is variously used as a bar, restaurant and platform for getting on tenders for shore excursions.
Back on dry land I just have to start getting used to life without a butler again. Such is life.
Get on board
Following the winter 2021/22 Caribbean season, Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Apex will reposition in May 2022 to sail on British Isles, Scandinavia and Russia, Iceland and Ireland, Norwegian Fjords and Mediterranean itineraries through to October 2022.