Cruise lines navigating the choppy waters of COVID-19 have implemented modifications to operate safely. The recently christened Celebrity Apex is no exception. The 2,910-passenger ship, which is currently operating at about 70 percent capacity, is the newest in Celebrity’s Edge-class fleet of ships, and it’s turning heads wherever it goes.
Completed in early 2020, the ship’s debut was sidelined by the COVID-19 pandemic. But in early November, the ship was finally christened—581 days past the originally scheduled date.
Apex and the Edge-class of ships bring with them many firsts, including innovations like “The Magic Carpet,” a bright orange, cantilevered bar and restaurant that ascends and descends the side of the ship to the delight of diners. Apex also has a new craft beer bar serving rare brews, the first F45 high-intensity workout classes at sea, and the first-ever Montblanc boutique aboard a cruise ship.
Apex spent the past year sailing around the Mediterranean visiting ports in Malta, Croatia, and around the Greek islands before crossing the ocean to Fort Lauderdale. Its November 2 christening event was the debut of the ship’s Caribbean itineraries for the winter, when Apex will make visits to Mexico, Grand Cayman, Belize, St. Thomas, Puerto Rico, St. Kitts, and the Bahamas, among other ports of call. For summer 2022, it will return to the Mediterranean sailing around the Greek islands once again, and to ports along the French Riviera and Spanish coastline.
Mega cruise ships are fan favorites because of the plethora of amenities they bring, but future cruisers may be wondering how the industry’s largest vessels have been affected by the pandemic. Here’s what has changed—and what to look forward to—based on a recent journey aboard Apex.
The onboard experience
Capacity limits are one of the first things travelers will notice, but these work in passengers’ favor, providing even more space to relax on the ship. You will rarely queue for food or service as fewer people are clamoring for staff attention. The pool and gym have plenty of space, too, and with so many outdoor areas to explore, like the rooftop garden and sunset bar, it can sometimes feel like you’re the only one around.
In The Retreat, a special section of the ship reserved for those staying in suites, guests are pampered with complimentary drinks in a private lounge, and access to a separate pool deck with pool swings and cabanas. For those that want seclusion, even when the ship is back to full capacity, this is it. Some of the top suites even offer two floors with dining areas, butler service, and panoramic bathrooms, and all suite guests enjoy access to a private specialty restaurant. The two, 2,500 square-foot Iconic Suites (the largest in Celebrity’s fleet) come with the line’s bespoke cashmere mattresses, a fully stocked and complimentary minibar, and enormous balconies with private whirlpools.
Wherever you stay on the ship, fewer passengers has not translated to curtailed amenities. Apex continues to offer nightly performances like comedians, musicians, and dance shows, which are especially mesmerizing thanks to the 110-foot, curved 4K LED screen that wraps around the stage (it’s unlike anything ever installed on a cruise ship before).