As mentioned in the title we recently did a B2B on the Apex and here’s my thoughts on the cruises & our first suite experience!
We are a 49 & 52 year old married couple, Me (Tony) am from England & Julie is from Canada, we met on the celebrity silhouette back in 2012 where we became friends for life and one cruise after another we just decided we actually wanted to be together forever so fast forward around 4 years and I packed my bags and moved to Montreal to be with my dream woman, and never looked back!
We’ve done around 23 cruises in total with most on celebrity as they are our favourite cruise line.
As it turned out we had a lot of changes leading up to this cruise but we actually booked inside cabins on both the 25th September & 3rd October Apex cruises with the hope of upgrading via the move up program to infinite balcony’s on both, We we’re successful on both cruises but for the second cruise we actually upgraded again but onboard this time to a sky suite S1, So from the inside we booked for an extra $2660 Canadians dollars total we got a S1 midship suite and we felt that was a pretty good deal 😊 this was our first suite experience and I’ll touch on that later in the review.
We hope anyone that wants to take the time to read this review enjoys it and makes it to the end.... once I get started I tend to go on a bit as I’m always thinking of another bit of info... Sorry! 😂
Like any trip there’s always a bunch of stuff to do and organise regarding the travel to & any stays before boarding the ship, this time, for us anyway and I guess a lot of people there was a bunch of new protocols to navigate through to ensure a smooth process 🤞🏻
We fly Swiss airways from
Montreal - Zurich (2&1/2hr layover)
Zurich - Athens
Both flights we’re on time and went ok other than a screaming kid for the night flight (all night) 🙄
I’ll never understand the need to drag your child on such a long flight just so you can go on holiday... go camping and don’t inflict such issues on others... I know people are rolling their eyes right now but it’s my review and I’ll say what I want to... 😜and no need to comment that people want to take their kids to see granny... how about spend the money on a first class ticket for granny to visit you? I’m going to say 95% of the time it’s selfish parents wanting to go away so dam everyone else. I’m sure if the same adults we’re travelling on their own and this happened to them they would find it equally annoying & frustrating.
Anyway as I said my review and all that... no input required! 😂
Pre-cruise hotel in Athens
We booked the Phidias Piraeus Hotel due to the ratings/reviews and also the location to the marina near the port. On arrival we we did have to wait for our room but we had booked the cheapest (only room available) at the time of booking but the manager did inform us he had a nice upgrade for us so in the end it was worth waiting for. The room was small but very well equipped and had a small balcony on both sides of the room. The location of the hotel was perfect. 5 mins walk to all the restaurants & bars on the marina water front. The hotel did offer breakfast but we decided to go to the marina as we had plenty of time. We would definitely stay their again if we find ourselves cruising out of Athens again
As we only booked the 25th cruise a week before departure we were somewhat limited to an early check in for the cruise, Generally we arrive at the port around 9.30am and just get in line and board as soon as we can, For this cruise we were allocated a check in time of 1pm so it was a little strange trying to fill our morning while we waited to leave, Anyway after a walk around the port area and a nice breakfast but the time we strolled back to the hotel & finalised the bags it was time to head to the port 😁a quick taxi ride and we were there, we actually arrived around 12.45pm but was told to go and take a seat in the pre-pre check in area, Shortly after we started the process and headed into the terminal to start the check in stuff and get our Antigen test done, 15 mins later we got called to say we are good to go and we could board the ship
So after a very smooth check in procedure we started that lovely walk towards the ship, it really is an impressive sight when you first see it for the first time just before you board, walking up to it was very special as like for a lot of people it was our first cruise for some time and we were very excited to be back cruising 😊As we did our first steps onboard it felt like we were back, a very warm & welcoming feeling from the crew members standing there to greet us, What was different was stepping onboard a brand new ship/class for us and not knowing where anything is 😂in some part we felt like first time cruisers again which was good & bad in a few ways but we new we’d get the hang of it quickly and after a day or 2 we kind of new the basic areas we needed 🍸😎
Pax count for both
On the 25th September sailing I was told there was 1045 pax due to board, actually I think we ended up with around 975 that actually made it to the ship, Nor sure what happened to the difference in numbers but I guess in these times people can cancel at the last minute for various reasons... 🤷🏼♂️
On the second cruise 3rd October we we’re initially told during the first cruise there was just under 500 booked but as the week went on a lot of people must have decided to get on it as by the time the 3rd came along there was around 800 booked/confirmed onboard, don’t get me wrong still amazing and as we new what it was like to be onboard the previous cruise with around 1000 people we new it was going to be another quiet experience onboard.
Initial thoughts of ship
What can I say other than WOW, what a beautiful ship it is, like the S/Class ships in a way the E/Class ships are very classy & lovely colours all around the ship. The designs all over the ship were really nice and the mix of colours etc really worked for us, If you got on blindfolded & didn’t know anything at first thought I’m sure you’d just know it was a Celebrity Ship.
My initial thoughts we’re that I really liked it and all the concerns I had we’re not going to be an issue but over the first day or 2 I did find I was wishing they had stuck with the standard balcony design... Now my initial thought was it was a great idea and yes it did give a feeling that the cabin was bigger and that was great but I think that’s where the positives ended for me.
The process of opening & closing the window (and yes let’s call it what it is) was fun maybe the first time but after that I just felt it was a weird thing, and I know it’s a small thing but to have to stand there and keep the button pressed in vs just pressing it once seemed odd to me 🤷🏼♂️
And using the space as a balcony just seemed nothing like a balcony on a cruise ship I’ve ever experienced, with the window fully open there was absolutely no breeze coming in & the seats were either too low or the window edge was too high as from the sitting position we were just looking at the thick window edges and didn’t feel like it was anywhere near the same experience vs the other ships/classes.
The bed was comfy & again the visual design was very nice... if I must be honest the over use of that fake coral stuff all over the ship & cabins was a bit much 😂
The bathroom was nice, great size shower and nice big sink.
We found that although there is a lot of storage spaces all over the cabin it wasn’t really ideal for what we wanted or needed, personally I loved to over the bed storage and can’t see why they didn’t add that to these also, I know a lot of people don’t like it but you don’t have to use it but for the people that do like it there’s still space to have had it there. Not a big deal but we ended up having to put still in/on shelves in the bathroom that could have been more accessible in the bedroom area... for us anyway!
Main dining rooms
We really we’re looking forward to trying these out as for us the MDR on the other ships just seems to have become a little bland and very much the same every night and we wasn’t disappointed, We loved them all and to be honest the way they are set up regarding the menus it’s very easy it eat in them every night with lots of choices. And everything we ate we really in-house and it seems like they have stepped up the food presentation as well, Now there are a lot items from the s/Class ships and I guess that makes sense but there are also new items which were enjoyable also, We also loved the different designs in each restaurant as it gives you a real feel that you are eating in a different restaurant every night, Obviously you are but you know what I mean (hopefully)
We only tried Raw on 5 & Fine Cut on this cruise as we enjoyed the MDR so much so didn’t feel the need to try the others, Plus with being on the next cruise we just thought we’d try others then.
Raw on 5
Julie is a lover of anything raw fish/sushi, me not so much (well not at all really) but we always visit this place (or sushi on 5) at least once a cruise as we really enjoy the experience in there, as I said Julie loves it and really looks forward to it and to be honest with the menu both places have I’ve never left hungry so for the both of us it’s always a good experience 😋
There was a few new items to try out, especially for me as a non sushi eater and I must say I loved everything I had, Julie really enjoyed hers also so a good night all round.
On first impressions again we really liked it but after 10 mins and the start of the martini show down on deck 3 we just wondered why they left the restaurant so open to the noise & lights in the main central section of the ship? It wasn’t just the noise etc it was as soon as it started a load of people got up from their table to go look over the edge to watch the show and all this between tables set up on the edge also. If I was sat there I’d be pushed with all the extra people standing around our table... now it’s only 10 mins but still for us it just seemed a bit of a flaw... also if you go there for a romantic meal and it’s during one of the martini shows it’s very loud & flashing lighty... 😂
The food however was very good, Julie’s steak was a little over cooked as we ordered med & med-rare but both were the same, not a big but in our experience it just seems they don’t like to serve steaks rare for what ever reason as it generally comes out a little over!
But overall a nice dinner in a somewhat nice restaurant, We’d definitely go again on another cruise 😋
We have to say one of the best things about cruising in the current climate is how lovely the buffet experience is, We went at various times and it was alway a nice experience, crew we’re amazing and the food delicious but the absolute best thing was not having to worry about finding a table or having to share a table with let’s be honest you’d never want to share a table with people... I’m sure we’ve all seen them or heard them 😱😂if only all cruises could sail at 30% 😂
If I’m being honest I must say the bars we’re a little disappointing, we love the old martini bar so much we both just felt the replacement just didn’t hit the mark... I will say sailing with around 30% occupancy will obviously affect the atmosphere but still the bars around the ship just didn’t feel as nice, We also really liked the passport bar and we didn’t feel there was a bar like that on this ship.
We love to play the slots in the casino and for the last few cruises the experience seems to be only going one way and it’s not the right way... don’t get me wrong from a financial view we actually came away winning money on both cruises but the entertainment value wasn’t the same as the choice of machines just didn’t excite us, we love the machines that have a story along with them that has interesting features etc we just found a big proportion of the machines onboard the Apex were of a similar nature, For instance anyone that loves slots might understand... we love Wonder Woman, sex & the city, the flintstones, Charlie & the chocolate factory & our new favourite the Simpsons machine and there’s wasn’t any like that 😞as I said we came away with a plus so it’s not all bad!
We didn’t really visit any shops and to be honest it didn’t look like anyone else did do nothing really to report, One that did surprise us was that there wasn’t a Tiffany’s store...Julie loves anything Tiffany so maybe we would had spent a few winnings in there if they had one but no.
Neither of us are spa people so again nothing really to report other than it did look nice and they ran various offers throughout both cruises.
Wow, what an amazing pool, I would have said it wouldn’t be possible to have such a big pool on a cruise ship as I’ve never seen anything near the size of this one on any cruise like, it really is a lovely pool, Not sure I’d feel the same the the Caribbean on a sea day in 90 degrees heat but with 30% occupancy it was very cool indeed!
As you would expect with only 30% occupancy there was never a crowd, not that we saw anyway... yes the martini bar was busy night one of the first cruise but after that finding a seat wasn’t an issue. Likewise the pool deck was never busy, nor was any of the other bars. The buffet was a dream all the time everyday.
In 2 weeks we never saw anyone in there. Personally we don’t see the attraction.
Over the 2 cruises we did unfortunately have to visit guest relations a few time and everyone of our issues was dealt with very well, Although some seemed to take longer than we thought they should I’d say the crew manning this area we’re great, especially a lovely English lady named Natasha who helped up a lot throughout the first cruise,
Onboard testing process
As the first cruise was an 8 night cruise we we’re required to have a mid cruise test along with the embarkation & disembarkation, the test at the end of the first cruise actually worked as our test to start the second cruise as well so we was only required to take 1 final test at end of the second cruise to fly home as the cruise was only 7 nights, as we live in Canada we we’re required to have a PCR test vs the other ones that we’re Antigen tests. All the tests we’re performed early in the morning with the results coming in via the app around 2-3pm the same day, we did get a hard copy of the results delivered to our cabin in the evening but I just kept logging into the app to check and as I said they arrived between 2-3pm.
Now unfortunately we did develop a couple of symptoms at the beginning of cruise 2 and although we we’re confident it was just a common cold virus we felt we had to report it just in case... even though we had been tested negative the day before...
As soon as we reported it we were told to stay in our cabin and wait for the doctor to come and evaluate us, the doctor arrived within 20 mins and had a nurse with him. They ran a few tests and checked out breathing etc and also took a PCR test to check for covid. We we’re told we had to remain in the cabin for 24hrs to see if the symptoms got any worse. They called us a couple of hours later where they told us our results we’re negative but said we still have to isolate in the cabin for the 24hrs. What I wasn’t expecting was the following day we had to take a second PCR test and was told we would have to isolate for another 24hrs as we still had symptoms (a cough & congestion) this was a bit annoying as on any cruise I’ve been on we’ve always seen people walking around the ship coughing/sniffing/sneezing etc etc and nothing was ever done about it... we had had 2 PCR negative results so we didn’t understand why we’d have to isolate again for an additional 24hrs. In fairness the doc agreed that the this seemed unfair and said he’d come back around 5pm to see if our symptoms improved and what can I say... I heard in my mind him say... tell me you’re both ok at 5pm and I’ll release you 😂so around 5.40pm he came back we said we we’re find and he released us to get out of the cabin, maybe we weren’t fine but we didn’t think we were a danger to anyone as we always stay away from the crowds anyway so as there wasn’t any crowds we felt fine with our decision.
The switch over process was easy, we were told to meet at 9am to pick up our new cards and have a new photo taken along with confirming our credit card, Actually all we had to do was pick up our cards as they had all the other details already from the online check in process we did before boarding the first cruise. The whole process took less than 5 mins so all good.
As mentioned previously the new embarkation test was actually done the day before as the same test as the departure test so that was nice not having to do that again,
We were allowed to get off if we wanted to but we decided not too, we were given transit passes should we want to get off to bypass the standard boarding procedures for new guests.
As mentioned earlier we went from an inside to a infinite balcony via the move up program and then upgraded on the ship to a sky suite, we first asked about this on day one of the first cruise and we were told yes this would be possible and it’s a fixed cost per upgrade, the cost was $800US each for the sky suite & $2000US for a celebrity suite which for our first experience we just felt the sky suite would be a good starting point so that’s the route we went with. Now... we we’re told to just come back on the morning of day one on cruise 2 but they obviously don’t know me and as I’ll explain later it’s just as well I’m a pain in the arse as if I hadn’t been we’d have lost out!
So I decided I’d drop by and just speak to Natasha quietly about the suite upgrade as at this point once we decided to go ahead we really wanted it 😂all was going well until around 5pm on the last day of cruise one when Natasha told me that a large group had actually called celebrity and took all the available suites left and there was no availability anymore 😱but Natasha said leave it with her as she was in communication with the suite manager to hopefully find us something (anything) but I won’t lie our hopes seemed to have gone from 99% sure we would get it to no chance at all in a matter of hours! Anyway we left our cabin and moved our stiff to the new infinite balcony and was just told don’t unpack 🤞🏻around 5pm I went to guest relations for one final time before unpacking and to my surprise they had just confirmed we had a suite and not just a suite but a mid ship S1 which was amazing, I felt like we’d won the lotto after such highs & lows throughout the week.
S1 sky suite (first time suiters)
So, I’ve talked about the process of getting the suite so I won’t repeat all that, I really liked the layout of the suite and the bed facing the balcony doors was great, really nice to wake up and lookout to see or port as we relaxed in the mornings, it was also nice to take a rest in the afternoon with the great view in front of us.
The bathroom was really nice and loved the tub/shower combo, I don’t think I’d ever take a bath on a cruise but having it resulted in a huge shower and we really enjoyed that. The big sink along with the separate toilet with its own door in the main bathroom was also nice touches. There was plenty of storage in the bathroom and the sliding mirrors that opened to a window was also a great touch we thought. Loved opening it up while getting ready so we could still have the amazing views that the full length windows to the balcony gives you.
There was adequate power sockets for us and the USB sockets made it easier to keep all our devices charged.
The retreat lounge
At first we thought it was a nice space but in reality for us it’s just not our thing, I can see why people like it but for us it just seemed a bit boring in there.... the soft drink/water self service fridges was good as we were able to get drinks without having to bother the staff. We really liked getting a light breakfast from the small buffet area there and eating it on the small open deck next to the lounge.
The retreat sun deck
This was a highlight for us as it was so quiet all the time, the pool was small but perfectly fine for cooling off in the warmer days, the hot tub was also nice and we enjoyed the fact that there’s a sign on it saying only people from the same family or same cabin at a time so really nice to have it for just the 2 of us. I’ll miss that when cruise life gets back to normal.
The retreat snacks
The snacks available at the retreat was nice but not sure they are any different to what’s available at the buffet or The coffee bar.
To be honest I’m not sure why they put the restaurant on deck 12 forward as in bad weather it’s got to be the worst place to be on the ship, and trust me we found that out on this cruise and by all accounts everyone there felt it quite bad between Messina & palma! I guess it’s not often and they wanted the restaurant closer to the suites but personally I’d have preferred it with the other restaurants.
The food was ok, some dishes we really enjoyed and some we felt were just ok, before the trip all we had heard was how amazing it was and that we wouldn’t want to eat anywhere else on the ship but to be honest we enjoyed the MDR just as much (if not more) and to be honest we were a little disappointed in luminae overall.
The retreat location
Again I see why they put the retreat there but to be honest for us it just comes with to many weather related issues to enjoy fully. Maybe because the main pool deck was so quiet and the main pool was so nice we enjoyed it down with the common folk 😜just as much really!
A very smooth process and a completely relaxed way to end a cruise.
We got up around 7am and went for a quick breakfast in luminae, then we got our bags and went to wait in the retreat lounge until we was ready to get off, We got luggage tag 4 of which 1-5 we able to get off anytime between 7-9am so as we planned to go straight to a hotel we wanted to wait as long as possible before departing the ship.
Once we got off it must have only took 5 mins from leaving the ship to getting in the taxi so no issues at all and our luggage was waiting for us in a very well organised luggage hall.
End of cruise hard sell for 10/10
One thing that does always leave a sour taste in my mouth is the last day/night hard sell of please give us a 10/10 for service... it seems like it’s a script from celebrity as it’s pretty much word for word regardless of who it is that gives you the speech.... I was very close to have to talk to someone about us as in one restaurant it was given to us by both waiters along with the wine waiter and to be honest it’s just too much, Now yes I understand that the reviews are important to the crews jobs etc but as someone that’s worked in the service industry all my life I’ve never experienced it anywhere else other than a cruise ship. And to be honest if anything it would make me give a less score or just not bother at all.
Again my opinion and I just think they would be better to just mention the survey & move on!