In This Issue
- Celebrity’s Apex
- Cruising – Nothing Stays The Same
- Getting From Piraeus To The Acropolis
A Look At Celebrity’s Apex October 2021
This ship entered service in the Mediterranean in 2021 and is now heading for a season in the Caribbean. It is the second in the Edge class and will be followed soon by their newest ship the Beyond. While decorating themes are different for each ship the basic layout and features are virtually identical.
The appearance, atmosphere and design of these newest Celebrity ships is another step up for this line in cruise ship luxury and innovation. Unlike many cruise companies, Celebrity has always pursued style and a sophisticated experience over thrill rides and unusual offerings like go-cart races and water flume rides. For this reason Celebrity seems to attract more mature and refined passengers that eschew the wild party atmosphere found on many other lines.
Welcome aboard the Celebrity Apex
The Newest Stateroom Addition – The Virtual Infinite Balcony
The new feature we like the most on these ships is the virtual balcony stateroom. This stateroom provides a wall of glass with the top half capable of sliding all the way down and open. The advantage this has over a typical veranda room is that it adds considerable room to the stateroom interior while still providing unrestricted viewing and a great place to sit and enjoy ocean breezes and port sights. It also incorporates a completely opaque shade that comes down to cover the entire wall along with a set of folding, frosted glass doors for privacy and this cabin is amazing.
A standard infinite balcony stateroom is also large at 285 square feet and features much larger beds up to a full king size being one option. The room also comes with a control panel where you can configure the lighting and wall shade with the push of one button from movie watching to open veranda to sleep.
On top of the new stateroom addition the bathrooms are a major upgrade. The showers are the largest we’ve experienced on a cruise ship outside of upscale suites and the bent glass shower doors provide two serious advantages. First the door is almost half the shower so access is amazing. Second the bath is vented by a fan in the shower stall with only about an inch of opening above the glass. For the first time ever you can now take a steaming shower without any hint of fogging on the mirrors. One of my reasons for often preferring an inside cabin is the total darkness they provide and the infinite balcony stateroom can now be as dark as an inside cabin if you wish.
The Celebrity App
While late to the game with ship intranet apps for cell phones and tablets, Celebrity and the Apex have caught up in grand style. Using the onboard app you can make dinner reservations, check the menus in each dining room option and stay up to date with entertainment and activities around the ship for your entire cruise. You can look at events and meals for each day of the cruise and add reminders quickly to your own individual calendar inside the app. Hour by hour reminders keep you from missing any selected events and notify you of any schedule changes.
The Apex features a number of speciality restaurants along with four themed main dining rooms. Each themed dining room has meals dedicated to their themed speciality along with the common menu selections shared by them all. The Ocean View buffet serves three meals a day offering something for any taste. The only real change is you cannot serve yourself and that may change in time as the pandemic subsides. There are sections for Asian, Mexican and Indian cuisine along with traditional favorites.
In the premium restaurant options there’s a steak house, a sushi based venue, a rooftop garden barbecue restaurant, an experimental venue where a digital chef prepares your meal at the table before it comes out of the kitchen. There is also a French bistro and the popular El Bochio cafe. Apex also features Eden, a concept eatery, bar, lounge and entertainment venue with an open kitchen surrounded by its dining room with an immersive entertainment environment and a huge wall of glass with ocean vistas.
The Eden Restaurant
Starting with the Apex theater and its theater-in-the-round feel backed by a huge unique digital display wall that provides spectacular backdrops for the featured guest talent and the ships production numbers. The ship also includes two additional offerings providing small-room nightclub feel for music and numerous other acts.
A large rooftop garden on Apex is equipped with a bright video screen where daytime and evening movies are shown. This class of ship also has a feature called the Magic Carpet, which is a large room that moves up and down off the side of the ship. The Magic Carpet includes a bar and lounge with evening entertainment and moved down to sea level can operate as a tender boarding area.
A Shift In Cruise Focus
Over the past decade or more, cruising generally seems to be trying to leave the traditional character of cruising behind. Most cruises of the past had main dining rooms with a couple of seatings each evening. Passengers were assigned to tables either large or small, depending on preference, with a serving staff that learned about your individual needs. It has been in that environment that many passengers made new friends from all around the world with many staying in touch and often planning future cruises together. Continuing with that is becoming very difficult. While starting up cruising with the pandemic has aggravated the ability to sit next to other people it will still be an issue after Covid because of the changes in approach to dining.
Going by a number of names like “anytime dining” or “open dining” the fixed seatings have mostly been replaced with these freeform dining experiences. Up until now Celebrity has allowed traditionalists like some of us to hold onto our preference for fixed seatings and large tables. With the Edge class of ships that is now become history unless you’re traveling with a group. The addition of the Celebrity App to reserve your dinner seat and having to select from four main dining venues, it is now virtually impossible to find an option to get to know groups of fellow passengers over dinner.
With many cruise lines the popular feature for frequent cruisers in the past has also been evening cocktail hours. They’ve been an opportunity for people to get together, socialize, get to know each other and trade ideas and recommendations for seeing cruise ports or booking itineraries. What is now emerging, partly facilitated by the inclusion of drink packages in the cruises fare, is just open bars all around the ship. This has the negative effect of changing the country club character of a daily event into just bar hopping. Sure there’s a lot of socializing and conversation in the bars but what’s missing is that atmosphere of it being an event with the expectation of getting to know each other.
Much of our problem is we’re just old fashioned and probably adverse to change. However talking to fellow passengers these changes that are now happening in the cruise world are beginning to disincentive many frequent cruises from sticking with cruise lines that used to be their preferred cruise line.
We’d really like to hear from other dedicated cruise fans about how they feel about these changes.
Visiting the Acropolis from Piraeus Greece
An easy trip from the port of Piraeus into Athens for a visit to the Acropolis is inexpensive and takes about forty minutes each way. The main Piraeus Metro station is located at the back of the port itself and is a fifteen to twenty minute walk from where most cruise ships dock. If you are walking from the pier there is a sky walk over traffic at the subway station location. The Metro (subway) system in Athens offers various kinds of electronic tickets but for a single day trip the best option for a trip into Athens and back is the 90-minute ticket at € 1.90 each way.
There are also:
- 24-hour ticket at € 4.50 that allows 24 hours to travel any number of times in and out of the various public transportation systems.
- 5-day ticket at € 9
- 3-day tourist ticket (includes return transport from the airport) at € 22
There are easy to use vending machines at all stations that accept credit cards and provide instruction in a number of languages. You can also purchase any number of tickets at one time and use them as needed. A discount of 25% is also available for seniors over 65, teenagers under 18 years old and university students under 25. Children under seven ride free. In order to get the discount you will need to purchase tickets from a ticket window.
To enter the metro system tap your ticket at the entry post. From that point the ticket is valid for 90 minutes in the system or until you leave by taping out to exit.
Getting on the train going in the right direction is easy. Each platform is named for the last station on the route. So in order to get the train back to Piraeus follow the arrows showing Piraeus which is the last station on the green line.
A Walking Tour Of The Acropolis Area
The Acropolis Museum
For a much more in-depth understanding of the history of Athen’s Acropolis a visit to the museum is strongly recommended (admission € 20). Inside are a number of artifacts from excavations along with many of the damaged statuary saved from the Parthenon itself.
The Agora and Roman Forum – ruins of the Forum with remains of the agora built by the Romans from 19-11 B.C. include columns & an octagonal tower.
Roman Ruins – walking around the base of the Acropolis are a number of archeological sites to explore that include Roman houses and the ancient cisterns.
Areopagus Hill (Λόφος Αρείου Πάγου) Historic site sitting high up on another hill it once served as the high court of appeal for judicial cases in ancient Greece.
While the highlight of the trip is ascending the Acropolis itself there is much to see around the area. One recommendation is to walk through the Filopappou Hill Park. Admission is free and there are a number of archeological sites to explore. Walking to the top of the hill offers one of the best views of the Acropolis itself.