If you’ve been following me for a while, you may know that I went on my first ever cruise ship, Celebrity Edge, back in 2018. While the two-day “voyage” from Southampton to the English Channel (and back) didn’t really show us much off the ship, it did give me plenty of time to explore what the Celebrity experience is like on it. I was hooked.
Fast-forward to the post-pandemic world of 2021. Travel had been limited for the best part of two years and so, when the opportunity came up to board the newly launched Celebrity Apex for a voyage around the Mediterranean, I packed my bags and headed straight for Athens.
Let’s get the COVID questions out of the way first. Sailing with Celebrity is safe. Very safe. Every single member of staff and passenger must be double vaccinated, and there is comprehensive testing both before you board, and almost every time you disembark for a day trip on one of the port days. It’s methodical and not inconvenient at all; with the added benefit of knowing that there are very limited risks when you board the ship. Masks are worn inside (except in your cabins), and the buffet is served rather than self-served. Aside from that there really isn’t any inconvenience at all.
Now to the fun part, the ship is an absolute joy to be on and really lives up to the Celebrity standard. My cabin for the stay was a Veranda Stateroom and felt as spacious as any hotel room on land; the double bed being extremely comfortable, and the en-suite bathroom having the signature window that allows you to look out to your veranda as you brush your teeth or have a shower. Speaking of the veranda, having this extra space did make a huge difference, and really made the stateroom feel even more spacious.
Elsewhere, there is so much to do, eat and drink on board. I would highly recommend upgrading to Suite Class if budget allows, as this grants access to The Retreat at the front of the top deck; a relaxed haven that feels like a very well-finished day club, complete with cabanas and a private pool.
If you really want to relax at sea, then I highly recommend checking out the spa area on the ship. It’s such a peaceful space, with various sauna, steam and salt rooms that can be explored at leisure. You feel completely cocooned and don’t feel like you are on the water at all; although the views from the infrared sauna would say otherwise. This is the perfect spot to watch the world sail by. I was also lucky enough to try a signature zero-gravity massage which was absolutely divine. A full hour of incredible personalised treatment, all while feeling like you are suspended in the air.
Food and drink options are plentiful and, on a seven-day cruise there was absolutely no chance of getting bored of what was on offer. I should note that quite a few of the restaurants do carry a surcharge if you are on the basic package, but they are definitely worth exploring. Raw on 5 is a sushi bar that creates some incredible dishes, and the gastronomical options at Eden really push the boundary on what is possible with food.
As for entertainment, there is once again so much choice every evening. You probably won’t want to miss any of the top-notch theatre shows which run from early-evening into the night, and I always found this a good base to plan my evening entertainment. The Club has a real buzz about it, but Eden is the star of the show. It’s such an incredible and unique space, with walls of glass and greenery housing a space which hosts theatrical entertainment and a very exciting cocktail list. If you’re into your bourbon, I highly recommend trying The Fig.
It’s at this point that I need to remind myself that we did actually leave the ship on several occasions, for shore excursions around the Mediterranean. These were expertly arranged; for Santorini we were required to board a tender for the quick five-minute journey to the port on the island. For places like Mallorca and Sicily, we were able to dock in the harbour. It was a slightly surreal feeling to go from Greek, to Italian, and then to Spanish culture within the space of a few days without boarding a flight or even having to pack my suitcase back up. The convenience of travelling this way is quite simply unmatched by any other experience and, for me at least, is a standout selling point of what sailing with Celebrity is all about.
I could be a lot more comprehensive in this review and go into even more detail about what was on offer both on board and off board the Apex, but there really is just so much that you can discover for yourself. It really was the trip of a lifetime, underpinned by an incredibly high standard of service and convenience that you would struggle to find anywhere else. To find out more about the Apex (and book), you can visit the Celebrity Cruises website here.