There’s no other cruise ship that has had to wait longer to debut than Celebrity Cruises’ new Celebrity Apex.
Originally slated to be named in March 2020, the ship’s launch was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but has finally been christened by Reshma Saujani (founder of the nonprofit organization Girls Who Code), a staggering 581 days after it was previously scheduled.
Simply put, the wait was well worth it.
As a sister ship to the Celebrity Edge, Apex is nearly identical, but there are a few differences that make it stand out. Besides an entirely new art collection, the design has been updated in venues including The Club, which now features additional screens on the balcony level to better visualize activities and shows happening on its first floor. The decor has also been revised here and there, including at Blu, the restaurant dedicated to AquaClass clients.
Craft Social Bar is the only new venue. What was the casino bar on Edge is now a detached food and drink concept that serves small bites and a selection of harder-to-find brews in bottles and on tap. Patrons will be amazed by a fascinating dispenser that seems to magically (actually, magnetically) fill glasses from below their base.
Onboard entertainment has also seen some updates. The Theatre still astounds with its massive LED wall and stage in the round, where production shows such as “Rockumentary” — featuring an excellent live band performance of classic rock through the years — take full advantage of an impressive pulse-pounding sound system. Meanwhile, the visually stunning “Crystallize” features clever projection effects and breathtaking aerial acrobatics intertwining with hypnotic pop violin tunes from the likes of Lindsey Stirling.
The aft-facing, glass-enclosed Eden and its fantastical garden aesthetic has also been reprised, but its programming is less edgy than before. Gone is the sexualized good-vs.-evil narrative, and in its place is a more playful but equally weird “Alice In Wonderland”-style “Night of Dreams” show that seeks to target an emerging demographic.
"[Apex and Edge] are spectacular,” said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, president and CEO of Celebrity, when asked how travel agents should be selling the new class. “They appeal to an entirely new generation of cruisers who just don’t know what cruising is. Our travel partners are really important in spreading the word.”
[Apex and Edge] appeal to an entirely new generation of cruisers who just don’t know what cruising is. Our travel partners are really important in spreading the word.
During a larger conversation with travel advisors, she pointed out an opportunity to up-sell customers, indicating that sales are disproportionately higher for upper-category veranda cabins and The Retreat because guests with pent-up demand are currently treating themselves. I personally stayed in one of the premium collection’s Sky Suites on a two-night preview of the ship, and the accommodations were a lovely upgrade over the ship’s already amazing signature staterooms.
As on Edge, Infinite Veranda interiors go all the way to the balcony rail, which is revealed and opened by mechanically lowering a window pane. My Sky Suite alternatively featured a more traditional veranda. Its spectacular flank and forward views were tucked behind the corner track of Apex’s Magic Carpet — the bright orange deck that hangs off the side of the ship and positions to different levels for convenient tendering operations or alfresco dining extensions.
It’s hard to imagine how Celebrity could surpass what the line has achieved with Apex, but it will attempt to do just that when Celebrity Beyond is introduced next year. The third in the series and coming online in April 2022, Beyond will be longer and taller, showcasing added and expanded spaces that encompass a multi-level Sunset Bar and a more dramatically terraced Rooftop Garden. (On Apex, one of our dinners was hosted at the Rooftop Grill, and its menu was a tasty combination of barbecue comfort foods and gourmet grill items.)
Perlo also explained that Beyond will benefit from two bonus 10-meter sections inserted at each end of the ship. Extras highlighted onboard will include Le Voyage by Daniel Boulud (as the acclaimed chef and line’s global culinary ambassador’s first dedicated restaurant at sea), as well as a World Class Bar, which was carried over from earlier ships in the fleet and cantilevered over the Grand Plaza. Off the central atrium’s side, coffee shop staple Cafe al Bacio will also be enlarged.
But Apex will never be entirely outdone. Shared among all vessels in the class will continue to be an expansive pool deck and cabanas; a sublime spa, salon and fitness center; elevated high-end shopping experiences; and great selection of complimentary and specialty dining befitting Celebrity’s longstanding reputation for exceptional cuisine.