Get Out There is a column for people with itchy feet, written by Paste contributor Blake Snow. It’s different now, but the trip is still worth it, especially for these open borders.
It took a minute, but cruising is back. In the past few years most liners have stopped sailing, but now all ships are going full speed ahead.
The same is true for Celebrity Apex, the recently launched ship from the ocean’s highest-rated cruise line, which has the highest ratings according to passenger reviews. Barely used for two years, it settled on its current Caribbean itinerary last fall.
The week before Christmas, my family boarded the wonderful Apex in Fort Lauderdale for a week of all-you-can-eat, island hopping (Key West, Cozumel, Grand Cayman, etc.) and sunny relaxation. This is what I like most about this ship.
Celebrities are known for their “above average” cooking, and the same is true at Apex. The main dining room was absent on a few occasions, but most dining rooms, specialty restaurants, and even buffets usually landed, if not delightedly. Examples include Apple Walnut Soup, Le Petit Chef’s Burrata Beet Salad with Braised Short Ribs, and Greek Salad with Cypress Chicken Kebab. The Caribbean oxtail on the buffet was excellent, fire baked pizza, beef he chimichanga and just about every dish. Other highlights included chocolate croissants, mousse cakes, and anytime goodies from Cafe Bacio. Oh, and all-you-can-eat soft serve ice cream by the pool (it was closed!)
Unlike other cruises, Celebrity has offered free drinks, WiFi and gratuities on all ships for the past few years. This is a great perk that makes your cruise experience more enjoyable, luxurious and carefree. This is one of the reasons why Celebrity is rated one of the “Best Values” in cruising, despite the luxury bargains. The included basic drink package and Wi-Fi are both limited, but their inclusion is better than what other cruise lines say. Plus, if you really want everything, a premium package is available.
This is not your grandma’s cruise ship. Apex and its new ‘Edge’ class ships are a shining example of this. Onboarding, porting, and disembarking are made easy with app check-ins and huge destination aisles. Vegas-like push-button controls let you wake up, go to sleep, and adjust your room instantly. An “infinite” balcony with convertible windows offers more space than a traditional verandah. The tender boat is the most luxurious I have ever been on. And the bathroom is the biggest I’ve ever refreshed.Overall the Apex is smart, modern and makes vacationing quick instead of complicating.Even the mandatory safety checks, just he 1 It only takes minutes (really).
Apex is not a booze cruise, nor is it a boring cruise. No announcements ringing in your room every day telling you what’s going on. There’s an activity guide, but Celebrity assumes you’ll seek it out, and it’s okay to let it sleep as long as you like. On board, Apex exudes a laid-back environment without being overtly boring (more on that below). My only criticism is that the ship could have been a little too quiet at times, and could have benefited from more upbeat music in certain situations.
The Apex top deck has a large open air screen for watching sports and movies. This is the largest I have seen on a cruise ship. Our family enjoyed a few World Cups, NFL and recently released movies. The pool and suspended hot tub are similarly spacious and satisfying. Also, free room service is a luxury bonus. But the Silent Disco was the most fun thing we did on board. Three different DJs spin different mixes simultaneously using three color-coded wireless headphones. Listeners and dancers can match their favorite colors and it’s always fun to see which color is the most loved, or take off your headphones and watch the people.
After sailing with Apex (our third celebrityship in five years), it’s no wonder this cruise line is top rated and valued as well. A party-going passenger probably won’t like his Apex, but virtually everyone will love her Apex, including couples and families.
Where to Stay: If you need to stay overnight or extend your vacation before or after sailing, my family had a relaxing time at the Marriott Harbor Beach Resort. It’s a large, beautiful, classic hotel with a private beach, renovated rooms, and minutes from both the cruise port and airport. It’s a true South Florida gem.
Blake Snow is a frequently traveling columnist who has contributed to flashy publications and Fortune 500 companies as a daring writer for hire. He lives in Provo, Utah with his adolescent family and his two dogs.