ONBOARD THE CELEBRITY APEX -- It's the $1.2 billion flagship of the Celebrity Cruises fleet, and after a long wait, the Celebrity Apex is welcoming aboard revenue cruisers on U.S. departures.
It's been a busy few weeks for Celebrity, which is launching eight ships in eight weeks, with four more to come in 2022 and the entire fleet back in service by April. One of those ships is the Apex, which was initially meant to launch in early 2020; the ship was delivered in a virtual ceremony and was only officially named this fall.
Cruisers who know and love the Celebrity Edge will recognize their favorite features here on its sister, from the lush Retreat and the peaceful Roof Garden to the Foam Room entryway to Eden and the Infinite Verandas that bring the balcony into the cabin.
But if there ever was any doubt about how important art and decor are to a cruise experience, the Apex settles the argument. From the color palette to the chandeliers, every step on Apex is a sensual and luxurious experience. The private suites and two-story villas stand up to close scrutiny; even their bathrooms are worthy of note. Indeed, the food seems to benefit from the decor of the dining rooms, each of which has its own color scheme, its own chair designs, its own flatware pattern.
World Travel Holding's senior vice president of product and operations, David Crooks, said, the Apex's "premium experience ... perfectly aligns with Celebrity's latest branding campaign of 'new luxury.'"
The Apex was a hit with many of the World Travel Holdings travel advisors who were onboard for the company's national conference.
"There's a vibe," said Dream Vacations franchisee and corporate meeting planner Eddie Diaz. "I really love the feel, the open spaces, the contemporary style, the energy of the Grand Plaza, the Roof Garden and Eden. Design-wise, it's beautiful."
Lainey Melnick, owner of a Dream Vacations franchise in Austin, Texas, said she was impressed with the outdoor spaces, the food and the entertainment.
"The variety of shows, from the aerobatics of Eden to the comedy and magic shows, offers something unique to clients with diverse tastes," she said.
And World Travel Holdings co-CEO Brad Tolkin said the Apex was a "phenomenal" product. "The tones on the ship are just magnificent; the suite bathrooms are very spacious.
"And I love that the gym is open 24 hours a day."
Carol Nunnery of Nunnery Travels & Associates/Dream Vacations in Cape Girardeau, Mo., said that the Apex might seem "a little too fancy" for some of her clients. But, she added, "there are so many unique spaces, I think it would be good for a wedding at sea."
Diaz specifically called out the theater, which he said would be ideal for corporate meetings. "You can do so much with the different aspect ratios of the screen, and there's plenty of space for breakouts. ... and all the amenities are included in the price, which helps with the bottom line and the budgeting."
Raven Guess, a 26-year-old who was sailing Celebrity for the first time since coming to work as an independent contractor at Vacation Days Travel by Dream Vacations, owned by her mother, Rhonda Day, said that the ship was "very Instagrammable."
"I haven't sold it yet, but I like the fact that it has a luxury feel that's still approachable, and the live music everywhere," she said.
"I'd sell it to my friends."
Another Celebrity first-timer, Linda Maze of the Travel Maze in San Antonio, is planning to suggest the Apex to her cruise groups, which traditionally sail Royal Caribbean and Carnival out of Galveston, Texas.