Celebrity Apex Cruise: Days 1 to 3, Fort Lauderdale, Key West and a day at sea
Making its maiden voyage in 2021, the Celebrity Apex still looks gleamingly new with state-of-the art high-tech. This is a ship that makes the most of technology to provide its 2,910 guests, served by over 1,300 crew, with a luxurious cruising experience.
In winter, Celebrity Apex sails a variety of Caribbean itineraries before crossing the Atlantic to offer Mediterranean routes in summer.
Our cruise, leaving Port Everglades mid-afternoon, is a seven night cruise sailing south to Key West, then onto Belize, the Mexican island of Cozumel and finally Grand Cayman.
Downloading the Celebrity App, and completing check-in online, is the key to speedy boarding.
After a 50 minute transfer has taken us from Miami Airport to Celebrity’s Port Everglades terminal, we are on our way to our cabin in minutes.
Using the app, we study and book our excursions before boarding. It takes time to study the vast range of excursions offered at each destination. Moreover, there are discounts applied on excursions booked early.
Our Edge Infinite Veranda Stateroom, a collage of greys and restful colours designed by Kelly Hoppen CBE, is one of 500 such cabins on board. Other categories range from interior staterooms through villas to the ultimate Penthouse and Iconic suites.
A large window, gives shimmering views across Caribbean seas. Switches and the app provide the option of opening the top portion of the window to allow in cool sea breezes.
A double sofa leads to two beds that can be pulled together into a king size double. Then by the window, there are two veranda chairs for taking in the view.
Evening dress alternates between smart casual and chic. So there is plenty of wardrobe hanging space for dresses, jackets and trousers. Cleverly, a corner-piece shelved cupboard serves perfectly as a shoe rack. There is vital space beneath the beds to keep suitcases out of the way. Featuring a shower, there is more storage space in the bathroom.
Twice daily room service, with a chocolate delivering turn-down service, helps keep both stateroom and bathroom looking shipshape.
Using the app to schedule events is essential. Daily events from art seminars through F45 work-outs and Martini-tasting to open-air cinema are listed on Daily Events. It’s advisable to select events for My Planner. Otherwise you could miss out on an acupuncture consultation, acoustic guitar recital, DJ session, Hold’em Texas casino game, quarterback challenge, or a seminar on arthritis and back pain.
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Again the app is key to working out opening times for the 29 bars, cafes and restaurants available. Menus are updated every day and published online.
Four main restaurants are included in the cruise package. A walk through wine cellar leads into the American influenced Cosmopolitan restaurant whilst Normandie has an aura of Parisian elegance. Cyprus continues the European theme while Tuscan, perhaps because of Stanley Tucci’s televisual homage to Italian food, is very popular. Also, throughout the day, the Ocean View Cafe offers a buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Then there are the speciality restaurants. Drop into the sushi demonstration to see how the chefs create perfection at Raw on Five. As the name suggests Prime Cuts serves upscale meats and fish. Most innovative of all is Le Petit Chef with its table top animations of its menu. In addition, the Eden Restaurant and Mast Grill add to the dining options available.
Even more innovative is The Magic Carpet. A platform lowered during the day to facilitate boarding. When raised to level 14, it gives spectacular lunch and dinner time views.
As a large ship, with almost 3,000 guests to entertain, Celebrity Apex, provides high-quality entertainment across three venues.
Behind the stage is a 110 feet wraparound screen in a theatre that seats around 500. At the rear of the ship, Eden lives up to its name, with hanging gardens and sculptures providing a serene setting for acoustic guitar and jazz duo recitals.
Timbered and darkly nocturnal, The Club, hosts early evening performances as well as late night DJs and dancing.
First port of call: Key West
The Southern Most Point in the USA, the country’s driest and only frost-free city, is Celebrity Apex’s first port of call.
Book the Conch Train excursion for a local’s inside take on eccentric Key West. You’ll learn that back in 1982, dissatisfied with heavy-handed policing that was disrupting tourism, the Conch Republic simultaneously declared independence and war on the USA. Officials were attacked with bread rolls and the USA saw sense. Though the document of secession has never been revoked …
We study the Conch Train’s route so that we can stop off at Ernest Hemingway’s house and rejoin the train later.
When Hemingway arrived in Key West, the delayed delivery of the writer’s new Ford car gave Hemingway time to fall in love with the laid-back island. Buying a house with his second wife Pauline, Hemingway began the most prolific writing spell of his life: writing 700 words before lunch, fishing for marlin in the afternoon, drinking at Sloppy Joe’s in the evening and finding his way home guided by the neighbouring lighthouse.
At the end of the train tour, take a short walk to The Little White House. When Harry Truman became president in 1944, ill-health forced him to take doctor’s advice to spend as much time as possible away from Washington in warmer climes, and to begin the day with a shot of Bourbon “to get his heart going. Truman’s wardrobe of vibrant Hawaiian shirts demonstrates that his Floribbean base had a more relaxed dress code than Washington.
Other excursion options for Key West include a catamaran voyage and snorkelling, dolphins and snorkelling, rum tasting and a tour of the Hemingway Distillery, biking, and a Key West foodie tour.
A day at sea
As there is no rush to depart on an excursion, begin Day 3 with an energising morning stretch session.
This is also a day for a leisurely served breakfast in Cosmopolitan restaurant, where breakfasts are cooked to order and coffee cups rapidly topped up.
After the excitement of Key West there are opportunities to relax with Tai Chi up in the supremely soothing roof garden, mindset relaxation, or less healthily complimentary drinks in the casino.
Many passengers base themselves around the Resort Deck’s main pool for the day. There the entertainments team keep sunbathers occupied with games, music and quizzes. For those simply wanting to soak up the Caribbean sun, the roof garden and top deck are far quieter.
Or this could be the day to book a spa treatment, a session with a personal trainer or take the seminar on increasing your metabolism.
Celebrity Apex departs on a 7-night sailing on 25th November from Fort Lauderdale, calling into Key West, Belize and Grand Cayman. With Celebrity’s biggest offer of the year giving 75% off the second guest, prices start at £1,309 for guest one and £396 for guest two, based on two people sharing an oceanview stateroom, and includes $100 per person onboard spending money.
For those looking to experience Celebrity luxury in European waters, Celebrity Edge, sister ship of Celebrity Apex, departs on 13th May from Rome (Civitavecchia), calling into Corsica, Portofino, La Spezia, Cannes and Palma de Mallorca. With Celebrity’s biggest discount of the year with 75% off the second guest, prices start at £1,594 for guest one and £404 for guest two, based on two people sharing an inside stateroom. This offer includes $100 per person onboard spending money. Plus, for an extra £99 per person, flights from London Gatwick can be added (transfers are an additional cost).
This is the half-way point on a cruise that is still to visit Belize, Cozumel and Grand Cayman. Though, such are the Celebrity Apex’s onboard charms, that some guests never leave the ship.
Disclosure: Our cruise was sponsored by Celebrity Cruises.