I arrived at the Celebrity Apex for her Naming Ceremony (delayed 581 days due to Covid-19) and a short two-day cruise to nowhere, designed so the invited guests could check her out.
The short answer is: Celebrity knows how to do it and do it right. Cutting edge, but comfortable. Familiar, but oh so different. Diversity forward from the crew to the captains to the executives in an inclusionary way. Solid cuisine and very good service; especially for a large cruise ship.
The ship is designed so that if you are staying in a suite you have a very different and more upscale experience; with it being one that you can essentially live in less than a third of the ship quite nicely. But if you are not in a suite: This is a “large cruise ship”.
In my short time onboard I was able to taste both experiences…and you definitely want the suite experience. For as beautiful and well-designed as the Celebrity Apex is, it can be a bit more in size than you might desire.
Before I get into the details of the ship, I do want to tell you about the Naming Ceremony. It was beautiful, mesmerizing, and classy. It was also very emotional since everyone had gone through the Covid-19 ordeal associated with delaying the event combined with the godmother being Reshma Saujani, the author of the book “Brave, Not Perfect” and the founder of the group Girls Who Code, which empowers women to break through the barriers of engaging in technology development.
After hearing from all the executives, Reshma just radiated such enthusiasm and emotion I don’t think there were many dry eyes in the house. But when she picked up her young son, donned in a miniature tuxedo but no shoes, it made it such a genuine experience and a memory that will last a lifetime.
Now to the ship!
I stayed in a Concierge Class Stateroom with Infinite Veranda. There is virtually no difference between this stateroom and the standard staterooms with the Infinite Veranda. AquaClass is identical other than having a more elegant rainfall showerhead (in the same amply sized shower) and access to part of the Spa. The beds, as always on Celebrity, are comfortable and there is plenty of storage and just enough hanging space for a seven-night cruise, which is what the Celebrity Apex will generally be operating. The sofa is a bit hard and more of a daybed, but works. And the bathroom is relatively spacious with a generous shower with a good showerhead, ample floor space, a large sink and plenty of storage. There are some nice innovations such as a slide-away desk if you want more floor space and a full-length lighted mirror.
My one complaint about the stateroom – and it is my only complaint – is the Infinite Veranda. As I mentioned I did not like the concept of it, but this is my first time experiencing it. In short, there is nothing “infinite’ about it, but rather it delineates what would be a small balcony if it had a balcony.. However, being inside the ship it is anything but a balcony. It basically is a floor to ceiling window that has a motor that raises and lowers the top 40% of it. Call it what it is: Oceanview with Opening Window.
Now while it wasn’t wonderful during the day (no sunbathing) at night you do have the ability to easily keep the window open so you can sleep to cool ocean breezes with the sounds of the water lulling you to sleep. (It does – logically – automatically shut off the air conditioning, however.) I understand that on the next iteration of the ship, the Celebrity Beyond, there will be more standard balcony staterooms as the Infinite Verandas are not as popular as Celebrity had wished.
In my last article I gave you a bit of a rundown on the Suites and Dining Venues: Celebrity Apex – The Naming Ceremony…and Goldring Travel Will Be There! So rather than repeating it here, please read the article for the specifics, but enjoy the photos of them posted below! That said, my favorite suite is not the largest, but the one with the most interesting design features: The two-story Edge Villa. I could live in it; especially with its own “world” plus direct access to The Retreat.
There are also Sky Suites which are larger than the standard staterooms, with larger bathrooms and have access to The Retreat. These are quite popular.
The Retreat is a multipurpose/multilevel area of located on Decks 15 and 16 forward, overlooking the bow. This is also where the Edge Villas are located. There are numerous sitting and lounging areas, a private pool and hot tub, etc. as well as a bar where you can order the expected luncheon culinary items.
There is also a private indoor Retreat Lounge with a full bar as well for quieter, cooler, times and with a slight bit more formality.
You also have access to the private, suite guest only, Luminae Restaurant.
And there is where I did my Hamburger Test. It passed with flying colors! My hamburger was a perfect, juicy, medium-rare on a properly toasted bun with jammed onions, crisp lettuce (two nice-sized romaine leaf portions), and ripe tomatoes (two slices). It was accompanied by truffle parmesan fries.
And, once again, it foretold the quality of my other meals; noting that I did not dine in any of the other specialty restaurants. I actually found the overall quality of the cuisine to be superior to some of the venues on Silversea and the Celebrity Apex breads were far superior. It is not a slight of Celebrity’s luxury sister, but rather a compliment to Celebrity.
Here are some of my culinary adventures on the Celebrity Apex:
That said, you will not run out of places to dine or be entertained on this ship, but if you do venture out of The Retreat or Blu (the Aqua Class restaurant) you do need to come to grips with the large scale of things though the four main restaurants (each have the same basic menu with a few items unique to the venue.
Because Celebrity Apex does a great job in breaking up dining venues into manageable sizes the only venue that may take you to a less comfortable place is the Oceanview Café buffet restaurant. It is a pretty massive area with numerous stations offering a wide variety of cuisines with solid quality; especially for a buffet.
It does have a very good ice cream station at the front of the space and a pizza venue at the rear. The pizza is hot and fresh, but it is, alas, cruise ship pizza; though some of the better I have tried. (Note: I did just spend time in New York City devouring “real” pizza so my critique might be a bit more biased than usual.)
The public spaces of the Celebrity Apex are all pretty much stunning. From the Rooftop Garden to the Martini Bar to the pool areas and grand hallways, there are many moments that make you go from “That’s interesting” to “That’s cool” to “Wow!”
One thing that, as a non-suite guest, I find a bit troubling is there is no inside quieter venue for a cocktail. The spaces are attractive, but there is noise from both the live music in the centrally located Martini Bar and people talking above the music in this central hub of the ship.
And there are innovative ideas, some subtle (such as the walking track rising and falling over two decks with gentle bends to keep things interesting) and other more striking (such as the Magic Carpet; the elevator-based landing that serves as a restaurant, bar and, believe it or not, tender platform). The theatre is impressive with its huge hi-tech background/LED screens, elevator-based platforms and an homage to theatre-in-the round.
Speaking of the theatre, I did – shockingly – take in two shows. The one in The Club was edgy, a bit dark, a bit sexy and truly spellbinding with acrobatic performers spinning from the ceiling, contortionists of sorts, a variety of dancers, and two excellent singers; all set in a cabaret setting.
The one in the Main Theatre was definitely more mainstream with some incredible dancers (contemporary, theatrical, and aerobatic) and singers that were fine, but I wish were at the high level of the dancers. It truly put the high-tech electronic background to good work. Not my cup of tea, but it would be more most.
I do wish I had more time on Celebrity Apex because there is just too much to see and experience in what was really 1.5 days. But, to be sure, it is not like you are visiting an amusement park (think a Royal Caribbean ship), but rather an upscale resort and entertainment venue.
Note that I said “upscale” and not “luxury”. Yes, there are most certainly luxury elements such as The Retreat, the suites and certain dining venues, but with Celebrity’s focus more on Gen X’ers than Boomers, it correctly defines itself as “Modern Luxury”.
I do have a number of Seabourn clients that look for inexpensive getaways and I have always recommended Celebrity for same. Each of them has come away a bit suprised, but with the same positive experience…just like I have.
Might it be your turn?