Aboard the Apex on a 7-day itinerary through Greece, I would get the golden opportunity to experience and review Celebrity Cruises, an award-winning luxury cruise line, as a first-time guest. The newly launched ship, the Apex, is part of the Celebrity Edge series, designed to give cruisers an overall more luxurious experience. The concept combines upscale contemporary features, health and wellness, and an innovative design while providing a sense of community on board. Apex and its two other sister ships, the Edge and the Beyond are scheduled to launch in April 2022.

As a luxury travel advisor who has curated countless custom itineraries to Greece, from romantic Santorinian honeymoons to memorable island-hopping sailing adventures for families, this would be my first time visiting Greece myself. The following is my insight and review on the Celebrity Apex Ship, voyaging through the Mediterranean Sea.

Our cruising itinerary was the 7-Night Greek Islands & Cyprus Cruise, but shortly after embarkment, our route unexpectedly changed due to abrupt COVID-19 related restrictions on the island of Cyprus. Hello Greece and hello… Croatia! Aha, a change in travel plans, meaning a perfect chance to practice what I often preach to my clients; the whole go with the flow concept.

Like many of the other guests onboard, we embraced this unexpected detour, leading us now to Dubrovnik, Croatia, in addition to the Greek islands of Mykonos, Santorini, Rhodes, plus two days coasting through the Aegean and Adriatic seas. Now, initially, I thought that two days at sea would be too much downtime. However, my days at sea ended up being exactly what I needed – downtime!

While the career of a travel advisor may seem like an everlasting vacation (spoiler: it’s not), when we do travel, our senses are hyperactivated to best embrace and evaluate the overall travel experience, feather duster in hand, we are brushing away the sugarcoated fluff to reveal and examine the true quality experience that hotels, cruises, and tour operators offer. With our boots on the ground, we can discover the best of the best for our discerning clients.

At Boutique Travel Advisors, our bespoke luxury vacations are thoughtfully curated to each traveler’s own needs, styles, and preferences. Walking a mile in the travelers’ shoes helps us determine not just what to recommend but also for whom and for when. Sometimes, those shoes are water shoes or hiking boots for the active adventurists or even shiny red bottom heels for the glamorous wanderluster. Other times, those shoes are a bit more versatile for discovering the nooks and crannies of a destination on foot. The beauty of travel: There is always something for everyone anywhere you go (and you can never bring too many shoes).

From past bookings with Celebrity, I had a good sense of the ideal clientele for this kind of cruise experience. Still, this trip was an opportunity to understand better which clients would thoroughly enjoy their time onboard with Celebrity. There are so many different cruise lines, styles of ships, and itineraries to choose from, and no one size fits all.

Accompanying me was my 19-year-old niece, Chloe. In addition to enjoying some sweet aunt-niece time, I was also able to gain insight into what it is like for a young adult to sail Celebrity.  In her own words, Chloe shares her own Celebrity Cruises review and how it made Greece a memorable trip for her.

Chloe (left) and Angie (right) in Athens, Greece

Top 5 Favorite Things About Sailing the Celebrity Apex

Days at Sea

I did not expect this to be on my list of favorite things aboard the Celebrity Apex.  However, the cruise had so many things to do onboard that we kept busy, relaxed, and entertained on both days at sea.  The ship has a state-of-the-art workout facility.  The ship equips the gym with plenty of free weights, equipment, and cardio devices, including Peloton bikes, treadmills, rowers, and climbers. 

Several fitness classes were offered, including yoga, the popular F45 training program, spin classes, and more.  The spa facility is as impressive as the gym.  There were plenty of loungers on the pool decks, and there were enough hot tubs and other areas for leisure lounging on the top decks. 

There is also a track that spans across the top two deck levels.  I usually worked out in the gym every morning and ran a few miles on the track before getting ready for each evening of dinner and entertainment. Surprisingly, I increased my workout routines and re-introduced daily running; this basically never happens on vacation. Thank you, Celebrity!

Each of the meals was so delectable – particularly the scrumptious breakfast spread. Each of the signature restaurants has its own ambiance, making it a novelty to try each one. We chose to splurge on specialty dining on three of our nights, including one night of sushi (so fresh), another night at Eden (delicious), and the Le Petit Chef for the other (a perfect choice for families with young children).

Eden Restaurant Dining Area

Eden Restaurant Dining Area

Variety Shows & Entertainment 

Somehow, Celebrity knows just how to keep everyone entertained on one ship.  While I am so not one to ever place fifty on black, anyone expecting a casino aboard their cruise will be pleased by the immense size and number of slots and table games.  Occasionally, guests gathered in the shaded areas to watch a movie. But, of course, the airing of Mamma Mia! had my full attention. 

This musical is such a light-hearted production that touches on the beautifully messy complexities of romance, it’s hard not to imagine yourself singing and dancing through Greece… (wait, we were actually there!).

My niece and I also enjoyed the nightly shows. Each night there was an early and late show, and we tried to catch them both. Musicals, singers, magicians, and comedians entertained us into the wee hours of the night. I laughed so hard that it essentially served as a core workout along with my return to running – once again, thank you, Celebrity!

 

The Retreat

While we did not have a suite in The Retreat, I was able to do a site inspection, and can I just say wow, this exclusive area of the ship has added amenities and provides an element of privacy as if you are staying at a boutique hotel.  It will appeal to healthy-minded people looking to use the spa and fitness center daily. 

It also has an exclusive lounge, its own sundeck with pool, a private restaurant (the Luminaire featuring signature dishes created by our Global Culinary Ambassador Daniel Boulud and a dedicated Personal Retreat Host. The Retreat offers suite-level accommodations with panoramic views. In addition, it has two-story residences that include a private terrace and plunge pool.

This type of cabin, an Edge Villa, features one bedroom, a spacious separate living room, and two bathrooms (Sq ft: 739 interior / 211 terrace).  The Retreat also contains two-bedroom options including the Iconic Suite (Sq ft: 1892 interior / 689 terrace), the Penthouse Suite (Sq ft: 967-1690 interior / 197- 1098 terrace) and the Reflection Suite (Sq ft: 1636 interior / 193 terrace).   The name speaks for itself, but the Retreat is where guests get pampered in privacy, relaxation, spa services, and a spacious cabin and terrace. The next time we cruise with Celebrity, we will choose the Retreat as offered on several of their ships.

 

Taste of Greece

One of the many benefits of cruising is the convenience and ease of traveling to more than one destination in a short time frame. Instead, you are allowed to explore different islands without unpacking and repacking, nor do you waste time traveling by plane or ferry. Cruising is a beautiful way to explore a country for the first time, especially if there are many micro-destinations to choose from, such as Greece & the Greek Islands. 

You may never feel like you have enough time in any one place, but a day in the port will determine if it is a place you would like to revisit at a future date. After breathing in that warm yet refreshing island air, I know that the islands of Antiparos, Crete, or Naxos are worthy of returning to.

My short-lived time on Celebrity Cruises Apex scratched the surface on Greece and left me not only desiring more, but it left me with insight into what to do and where to go to fulfill that desire one day. With a clearer vision comes more anticipation, and I am already looking forward to returning with my husband for a romantic stay at an iconic resort in Santorini. And the time after? Renting a private, beachside villa for a beautiful family getaway.

 

Two aperol spritz at Pantheon Restaurant in Athens, Greece

Lunch & Aperol Sprirz at Pantheon Restaurant in Athens, Greece

 

Community

I do not know if the long-awaited return of cruising has anything to do with it – but the other guests on the Celebrity Apex were especially warm and friendly. It was evident by the energy in every room that every passenger was as happy and grateful to be here as the next.

The people we met came from all walks of life, traveling with friends, family, a significant other, or extended families. After just a few days of sailing, these once strangers turned into familiar faces, and not long after, they became our cruise friends. We would cross paths with our new friends at the pool and continue meeting new smiling faces throughout the excursions and ship activities.

By the end of our sail, the college students followed each other on social media. They wished that they had met sooner (hint, hint to Celebrity). What could Celebrity Cruises Apex do to make the experience better for families? The clientele on our sail consisted of many families, primarily families with late teens and young adults. It would help to offer more ice breaker activities in the lounges to help cultivate those connections early on.

Within a shared experience of a cruise, there is a collective bond that takes place among fellow passengers that you simply do not get in everyday home life. When the dominant mindset of those around you is to fully enjoy and embrace the experience, it’s the little moments and positive exchanges that make a big impact on a spectacularly joy-filled trip. 

 

Favorite Port

Santorini was my favorite port day, as I’ve been anticipating my first time visiting this island for many years. It did not disappoint. We spent the day in Oia Valley, visiting shops and soaking in the Caldera View. I couldn’t help but want to stay longer.  On our most adventurous port day, we cliff jumped, visited shimmering beaches and coves, and kayaked over 6.5 kilometers around Dubrovnik. Talk about an unforgettable day.

We did a mix of excursions at the ports arranged by both Celebrity and our preferred tour partners in Greece and Croatia. There are so many benefits to hiring a private guide and driver, allowing you to take full advantage of your day doing whatever you want, at your own pace!

View of Santorini, Greece

View of Santorini, Greece

My Final Take on Greece

What was there not to love about exploring Greece on a luxury cruise? I loved the food, the warm, cultured people, the architecture & history, the beaches, and more. If I had the luxury of more downtime, I would have strolled through the cobblestone streets lined with local fashion boutiques, art galleries, and cafés. Next time around, I will gift myself the chance to relax (ahem, put down the travel advising feather duster) and wake up in gratitude to the fifty-shades-of-blue of the Mediterranean Sea.

Fortunately, a voyage through the Greek islands never repeats itself. My review of the Celebrity Cruises Apex Ship is that it left me wanting even more of Greece! I have a newfound item on my travel bucket list: to sail on a private yacht with my husband and our closest friends. I imagine myself being amongst a handful of my favorite people, salty sea breeze dancing right along with us as we effortlessly carve our way through the turquoise Aegean waters. Cue the ABBA playlist in the background. Maybe someday, being an empty nester won’t be so bad?

 

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BTA is a full-service luxury travel agency based in Scottsdale, AZ. To learn about securing exclusive amenities at our hotel partners or for assistance planning your next trip or cruise, please get in touch with Boutique Travel Advisors.