Setting sail in style on Celebrity Cruises’ newest ship

A dinner out to sea, a lush garden and floating art gallery are some of the surprises that await passengers on Celebrity Apex.

Kohei Nawa installation Walking through the curving silver corridor, I am surrounded by sculptures resembling glistening pebbles and coral. I emerge to pass ‘trees’ with pink ostrich feather branches, a huge brass pendulum suspended over a stairwell and then find a row of chairs resembling flowers.

To all intents and purposes I could be in a cutting-edge art gallery, especially given the fact that the passageway installation was created by leading contemporary Japanese multidisciplinary artist Kohei Nawa and the hundreds of other works I have yet to discover include pieces by renowned painters and sculptors from around world including the UK’s Paul Emsley, Alexandra Gallagher, Marc Quinn, Gary Webb and more.

The reality is that I’m aboard Celebrity Apex, the latest ship to join the Celebrity Cruises’ fleet. If there was ever a vessel to dispel some of the preconceptions about cruising, then this has to be it. Even from the outside, the vessel looks very different. Along with her sibling, Celebrity Edge launched in 2019, Apex has a distinguishing inverted bow that reduces drag and is energy efficient and also makes for smooth sailing.

Celebrity Apex Edge was the line’s first new ship in six years and the first new vessel series, Edge-class, in more than a decade. Dubbed one of the most expensive ships ever built, with a price tag of $1 billion, it’s clear that Celebrity didn’t want to cut any corners on this stunningly beautiful ship where there’s a ‘wow’ factor around every corner.

Some of the artwork is wonderfully idiosyncratic, such as an area where the outer hull of the ship is exposed and you can step inside onto a mirrored floor and gaze at reflective panels that give a sense of a perpetual view. It’s proved so thought-provoking that some passengers have even asked crew members if the ship is completely finished. Rest assured; it is.

Pool deck Celebrity deliberately engaged some designers who had never worked on ships before so they would come into the project with fresh eyes and not be influenced by any previous vessels or limitations on what might or might not be possible. The result is an ultra-stylish 2,910-passenger ship that’s like an upmarket boutique resort with more than enough to tempt any reluctant cruisers to a life on the ocean wave.

Although the ship is very tasteful, it’s certainly not stuffy. On one of his daily updates we smile when we hear Captain Dimitrios Kafetzis start his daily briefing with the time-honoured words “this is your captain speaking” followed up with the fact that he was on the jogging track and it was a wonderful day for a few laps.

Pool deck arches In a large nod to Celebrity’s roots, the Greek-born captain is among the 70% of officers across the fleet hailing from Greece. The line was founded in 1988 by the Greece-based Chandris group and it’s interesting to learn Celebrity’s signature X logo is the Greek letter chi. 

Everywhere you go there are clever and imaginative details. What would normally be functional spaces on other vessels have been turned into something different, such as the arched walkway on the pool deck.

The most outstanding feature of all is the Magic Carpet, a cantilevered platform with glass walls on three sides, that juts out from the side of the ship. Magic Carpet On the drawing table it was originally intended to be used on the sea-level deck to enable guests to step easily from the ship into tenders for shore excursions, leaving it redundant at all other times.

The brains behind the Edge-class vessels then had a eureka moment and realised it could be moved up and down the side of the ship and utilised at other times. Now it variously serves as a bar, extension to the sushi restaurant Raw on 5 and, most notably, the setting for Dinner on the Edge. These extra-special evening meals are usually held once per cruise when weather conditions allow, which means you need to keep your eye out as they are not advertised very far in advance. The chef decides on the menu, depending what fresh ingredients he has to hand on the day, and you need to get in quickly to make a reservation. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience and well worth the supplementary fee.

Eden Another knockout spot is Eden, an airy multi-purpose entertainment, dining, bar and lounge space covering three levels right at the back of the ship. The presentation of the signature hand-crafted cocktails is a real talking point, such as the Veldt in a miniature cauldron complete with ‘smoking’ dry ice and Forbidden in a glass apple. There’s a curving walkway along the panoramic floor-to-ceiling window, which is the lovely spot for an indoor sundowner overlooking the wake of the ship.

Rooftop Garden Families, and the young at heart, will love the novel Le Petit Chef where a charming, animated film is beamed down onto the plates and tablecloth in between courses showcasing the dishes shown in the film. Alternatively, for something more grown-up there’s the Craft Social speciality beer and ale bar, which is an all-new feature on Apex, and the classy Martini Bar where the huge modern chandelier is the centrepiece of a colourful light and music show each night.

Equally, there are plenty of outdoor spots to make the most of good weather. The Sunset Bar comes into its own at the namesake time of day and is a great place for an aperitif before heading to the al fresco Rooftop Garden Grill serving barbecued food in a verdant setting under the stars.

Celebrity Suite When it’s time to turn in, Celebrity Apex offers the widest range of cabins in the fleet. There are single staterooms, which are perfect for silver travellers who want to explore the world on their own, to swish suites that come with butler service and connecting cabins for families and groups of friends. The stylish rooms were conceived by award-winning British designer Kelly Hoppen and feature sophisticated muted colour schemes and ultra-comfortable beds.

Joaquin Vila artwork Even at the end of the week-long sailing, I am finding new things, such as a secluded corner of the deck for an afternoon snooze next to Spanish artist Joaquin Vila’s striking blue sculpture of a giant crouching man or a tucked away painting I haven’t seen before. It’s testimony to the fact that this beautiful ship really stands out from the crowd and is enough to catch the eye of both seasoned cruisers and turn the heads of landlubbers who might think they ‘don’t do’ cruises.

More information

Celebrity Apex will spend the winter 2021/22 season in the Caribbean before repositioning in May 2022 to sail on a variety of British Isles, Scandinavia and Russia, Iceland and Ireland, Norwegian Fjords and Mediterranean cruises. A seven-night Norwegian Fjords cruise starts from £1,136 including flights, transfers, meals, drinks, Wi-Fi package and gratuities.

Silver Travel Advisor recommends Celebrity Cruises.

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Jeannine Williamson

Award-winning travel writer

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