Celebrity Apex: Pre-Cruise, Embarkation, and First Impressions
This week, Premier Custom Travel’s Chris Grum is onboard the newest ship in the Celebrity Cruises fleet, Celebrity Apex, for a seven-night Eastern Caribbean cruise. During the voyage, he will be sharing photos on our Facebook and Instagram pages, plus several blogs posts about the unique features of this luxury vessel.
In this first blog of the voyage, Chris covers embarkation day and some first impressions of the ship.
CELEBRITY CRUISES OVERVIEW
For those not familiar with the brand, Celebrity Cruises is part of the Royal Caribbean Group. They call themselves “Modern Luxury” and that’s an accurate, if a bit misleading, tag line. The ships are certainly luxurious, but they are not stuffy or formal, words sometimes associated with the word “luxury.” There are no black tie dinners or formal nights here. In fact, I didn’t even bring a sport coat or a tie. Here are the two types of evening attire:
SMART CASUAL (most evenings) – Women should feel comfortable wearing a skirt, pants, or jeans with a casual top, while men should feel comfortable wearing pants or jeans with a short sleeve sport shirt.
EVENING CHIC (nights two and six on this voyage) – Women should feel comfortable wearing a cocktail dress, or a skirt, pants, or designer jeans with an elegant top, while men should feel comfortable wearing pants or designer jeans with a dress shirt, button-down shirt, or sweater. Sports coats and blazers are optional.
T-shirts, swimsuits, robes, bare feet, tank tops, baseball caps, and pool wear are not allowed in the main or specialty restaurants at any time, while shorts and flip-flops are not allowed during evening hours.
When you book a Celebrity Cruise, they offer many amenities as part of their “always included” pricing strategy. If you sail in any category except a suite, you will receive the classic beverage package, standard wifi, and pre-paid crew gratuities. If you choose to sail in The Retreat (suite category), you receive the upgraded premium drink package, premium wifi, pre-paid crew gratuities, and a $300 per person onboard credit. In addition, guests in The Retreat enjoy their own restaurant (Luminae), The Retreat Sundeck, The Retreat Lounge, and many other additional amenities. Guests who sail in a category below The Retreat do have the option to “buy up” to the better drink and wifi packages if they wish but do not get access to The Retreat amenities. There’s also concierge class and Aqua class (which features its own exclusive restaurant, Blu, and access to the spa’s thermal suites).
Celebrity Cruises has 14 ships in its fleet currently. Apex is the second of their Edge class ships, with two more of those coming on line in the next year or so. Beyond, the third in the class, debuts later this year, with Ascent, the fourth Edge class ship, coming in 2023. They offer many of the most sought-after destinations in the world, including the Caribbean, Europe, Alaska, Australia & New Zealand, Asia, the Mediterranean, South America, and The Galapagos.
The process of getting ready for this voyage was smooth and easy. Celebrity Cruises allows you to use any onboard credits prior to the cruise (if you wish) to purchase specialty dining, shore excursions, onboard experiences, and more. We chose to book a few of each and I’ll share those choices throughout the seven night cruise. Check-in was also relatively simple, as were the pre-cruise COVID-19 protocols. The Celebrity App does most of the work, allowing you to verify your health details and even do part of your muster drill the morning of the cruise (you watch the safety video and even “listen” to the ship’s emergency horn). We did ours in the uber on the way to the port.
Celebrity Apex sails out of Terminal 25 at Port Everglades, a stunning new facility built by Celebrity Cruises specifically for their Edge class ships (although the rest of the fleet uses it when an Edge class ship isn’t in port). The terminal is very nice and doesn’t feel crowded even when full. The procedure for entering and clearing security is easy, whether you are in standard staterooms or The Retreat (suite class). The biggest difference is that suite guests have a special lounge for waiting and check-in. The Retreat shoreside lounge has plenty of seating, plus a bar with both drinks and small snacks. Once you clear security, you are escorted to a seat in the lounge and checked in at your table (instead of standing in line). When the ship is cleared to board, you are lead up the gangway by one of The Retreat butlers or concierge staff. It’s a wonderful way to kick off your cruise and you already feel like a star when you get spoiled before even setting foot on the ship for the first time.
A very energetic group of crew members and officers welcomed us onboard. The first thing you notice about Celebrity Apex is how open it is. Most cruise ships have very limited open air spaces, trying to maximize the space onboard. Some cruise lines would have up to 5000 passengers on a ship this size, but Celebrity has chosen to give everyone more elbow room and more open spaces across the entire ship. It’s refreshing to know that even when the ship is sold out (which it is not this week), you are not crammed in like sardines.
The other thing you notice right away is the décor, which is gorgeous. The ship has artwork, sculptures, and accents throughout that cover a wide variety of styles and tastes. Because cruise ships have to meet certain maritime standards, you tend to see similar designs even on different brands. What I’ve noticed here is that they’ve done a good job of masking or hiding those required features like fire doors, etc. My first impression is that the ship also flows well, and the elevators are very large (at least by ship standards). Another nice touch with the elevators is that the entire outline of the door turns green for up and red for down, making it easy to spot which elevator has arrived to take you to your destination.
I’ve uploaded over 400 photos (so far) and will continue to add to that album, perhaps even create another one, as we go. My goal is to share as much of this ship as possible to give you the experience that you’re “virtually” sailing along with me.
I’ll continue to blog throughout the week, discussing The Retreat in more depth, plus sharing details about the ship, my stateroom, the onboard venues and restaurants, and the ports we are visiting. Stay tuned for more – coming soon!