I sailed on my first Celebrity cruise. I didn't like the entertainment, but it's my new favorite cruise line (2024)

Trying a new cruise line for the first time can be both exciting and nerve-wracking, especially when you’ve been loyal to one brand. You might find the grass is greener on the other side - or you might return to the brand you’ve been loyal to.

While I’ve sailed on many different cruise lines, my husband, Luke, has only sailed with Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise Line. With the exception of one Carnival cruise, Luke’s sailed on ten different Royal Caribbean cruises over the last decade. In fact, he inherited my top-tier loyalty status once we were married, allowing him to enjoy the same loyalty benefits that I receive.

The last three summers, Luke and I sailed to Alaska, Iceland, and the Canary Islands with Royal Caribbean. After a less-than-impressive experience on Royal Caribbean’s old Jewel of the Seas last summer, we decided to splurge on a premium cruise line this summer. Life’s too short to be stingy on vacation, right?

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I sailed on my first Celebrity cruise. I didn't like the entertainment, but it's my new favorite cruise line (1)

Opting for something a little more upscale, we booked a 7-night sailing on Celebrity Apex to Norway. As the newest ship class for Celebrity Cruises, I was hopeful that he would love the more opulent experience, as Celebrity is considered a premium cruise line with a heavy emphasis on modern, relaxing experiences.

Although not everything was perfect during our sailing, Luke was sold on the Celebrity cruise experience. He even said it would be tough to return to Royal Caribbean after he’s had one taste of the premium cruise line. From more attentive service to the expansive buffet, here’s what Luke’s inaugural experience was like on Celebrity Cruises.

First impressions are everything - and Celebrity Apex packed a punch

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I sailed on my first Celebrity cruise. I didn't like the entertainment, but it's my new favorite cruise line (2)

Right off the bat, Luke was very impressed with the stylish, modern cruise ship. Celebrity Apex is basically brand new, as she launched in 2021 as the second Edge Class ship. Luke remarked how the ship was unlike any Royal Caribbean ship he had sailed on before.

Comparatively, Royal Caribbean is known for building big mega cruise ships with a wide appeal, mostly to families. The cruise line’s smaller ships are more than 20 years old; however, these older ships tend to sail on the more interesting itineraries. As a destination-focused cruiser, Luke was excited to sail on a newer ship with a more compelling itinerary to Belgium and Norway.

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I sailed on my first Celebrity cruise. I didn't like the entertainment, but it's my new favorite cruise line (3)

In addition, Luke preferred the midsize nature of Celebrity Apex. The Edge Class ship measures 130,818 gross tons and holds right around 2,900 guests at double occupancy. Celebrity Apex was just large enough to have all the amenities we could ask for without feeling too large. During our sailing, the ship never felt too crowded.

Celebrity Apex is a work of art with every corner of the ship feeling meticulously designed. The vessel is both chic and functional, making her one of our favorite ships we’ve ever sailed on. Within a few hours of being onboard, Luke said, “I don’t think I will want to go back to Royal Caribbean after this experience!"

The dining experience was one of the highlights with the consistency and variety offered

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I sailed on my first Celebrity cruise. I didn't like the entertainment, but it's my new favorite cruise line (4)

Indulging in the delicious cuisine available is one of our favorite aspects of cruising. Celebrity Apex has 29 distinct bars, restaurants, and lounges onboard. Luke was very impressed with the culinary experience on Celebrity Apex, from the buffet to the specialty restaurants and dining rooms.

To start, Luke was wowed by the ship’s onboard buffet, which is known as the Oceanview Cafe. The buffet features an array of food stations with more options than you could imagine. While some cruise ship buffets are repetitive and lack variety, Celebrity Apex’s Oceanview Cafe left a lasting impression. In particular, Luke loved the freshly-made pizza and make-your-own stir-fry bar.

Moreover, we tried two specialty restaurants on Celebrity Apex. First, we had dinner at the Rooftop Garden Grill, which was the star of the show! Here, you can find a tranquil space to relax outdoors, surrounded by real greenery. Although the weather was quite chilly as we sailed to Norway, we braved the cold for a fantastic outdoor meal.

Luke said he is still dreaming about the meal at Rooftop Garden Grill! We loved everything from the homemade buffalo sauce on the chicken wings to the sizzling cookie skillet and juicy burger. If we had more time onboard, we likely would have returned for a second meal here because it was that delectable!

Read more: How to save money on a Celebrity cruise

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I sailed on my first Celebrity cruise. I didn't like the entertainment, but it's my new favorite cruise line (6)

During our first sea day, Luke also wanted to try the sushi restaurant on Celebrity Apex, known as Raw on 5. He ordered an assortment of Asian dishes, including sushi, oysters, and pork belly skewers. While the meal was good, Luke agreed it wasn’t excellent and he wouldn’t return in the future.

Finally, we had an outstanding experience in the Main Dining Room. Celebrity Apex has four themed dining rooms where you can dine each night. After dining in the Greek-themed Cyprus, we were so impressed with the waitstaff that we returned to the same table each evening. Luke found the main dining room food to be excellent overall and noted how the food was consistently better than his experiences on Royal Caribbean.

Read more: Your really dumb cruise ship dining questions answered

Our porthole balcony cabin was contemporary, although not entirely functional

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I sailed on my first Celebrity cruise. I didn't like the entertainment, but it's my new favorite cruise line (7)

For this cruise, we splurged on a balcony cabin to ensure we could enjoy the fjords of Norway from our stateroom. I wasn’t sold on the infinite veranda concept, so we booked a porthole balcony at the back of the ship.

Luke noted the cabin was beautifully designed and felt very modern. While the size is similar to other balcony cabins, Luke appreciated the marble accents and minimalistic design. Our cabin was fairly standard with a king bed, sofa couch, private veranda, and dresser.

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Regarding the cabin, Luke found the bathroom to be a huge upgrade compared to any other cruise ship he’s been on. The large bathroom was a highlight of the cabin for Luke, including the marble tiling, large vanity, and shower design.

In particular, Luke was astonished at the shower’s large size, especially as a tall 6’4" man. He loved having so much space in the shower, noting how it felt luxurious in comparison to other cruises.

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I sailed on my first Celebrity cruise. I didn't like the entertainment, but it's my new favorite cruise line (9)

The only downside of the cabin for Luke was the lack of storage. We’ve never had issues with a lack of storage in a cruise ship cabin until this experience. We only had one closet and three large drawers to share between the two of us.

The closet was about half the size of other new cruise ship cabins that I’ve sailed in. Because of this, the drawers were overflowing with clothes and the closet was difficult to close. We made it work, but we had to be strategic about storage. In my opinion, the cabin’s storage would be better with a few shelves above the vanity.

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I sailed on my first Celebrity cruise. I didn't like the entertainment, but it's my new favorite cruise line (10)

Finally, the balcony was another selling point for Luke. We had a more private enclosure with the deluxe porthole because of its unique design. This meant we couldn’t see other balconies around us and others couldn’t see into our balcony either. Luke also noted how clean the balcony was, which shows Celebrity Cruises’ attention to detail.

Read more: Balcony cruise ship rooms: are they worth the splurge?

For Luke, the ship’s entertainment wouldn’t be a reason to return

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I sailed on my first Celebrity cruise. I didn't like the entertainment, but it's my new favorite cruise line (11)

Entertainment is usually a strong point of Celebrity Cruises, but Luke didn’t think so. We attended the headliner show, Crystalize, in the immersive theatre onboard. While I greatly enjoyed the show (along with most of the entertainment onboard), Luke was less than impressed with the storyline.

Crystalize features an assortment of singing, dancing, electrifying pop violin music, and aerial acrobatics. The show is advertised as a multi-sensory spectacle unlike anything you’ve seen before, exploring “the light that burns within us all.” Luke found the performers to be extremely talented but found the overarching theme to be a little gimmicky.

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I sailed on my first Celebrity cruise. I didn't like the entertainment, but it's my new favorite cruise line (12)

We also attended Caravan in The Club, which is an eclectic variety show with a circus theme. The evening of the performance, our dinner went a little late, so we weren’t able to actually grab a seat. Instead, we stood in the back and watched the acrobats with their extraordinary talents.

Luke was impressed by the show and wished we had arrived sooner to watch the full spectacle. With limited seating in The Club, I would estimate more than half of the guests watching the show were standing around the stage or sitting on the stairs, so we weren’t alone.

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Generally speaking, we didn’t attend too many shows during our time onboard. The shows that most interested us were very late at 10:45PM. After early mornings and full days exploring the ports of call, we were pretty exhausted after a big meal for dinner to stay up until midnight.

The service on Celebrity Apex was extremely attentive across the board

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I sailed on my first Celebrity cruise. I didn't like the entertainment, but it's my new favorite cruise line (14)

We’ve never had a poor experience on a cruise ship before, but Celebrity Apex had some of the best service we’ve received. Celebrity Cruises prides itself on personalized, attentive service, and this was certainly the case for us.

For example, the wait staff in the dining room would provide personalized recommendations based on our preferences. Our server would bring Luke his nightly escargot without him needing to verbalize it! The staff also remembered our drink preferences, providing co*cktails on the table each night when we sat down.

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I sailed on my first Celebrity cruise. I didn't like the entertainment, but it's my new favorite cruise line (15)

Luke was so impressed with the level of service we received onboard, from the bars to the lounges and the dining rooms. He felt the staff wasn’t nearly as overwhelmed as other cruises we’ve been on. With fewer guests to tend to, the staff could provide more personalized, accommodating service.

Without kids onboard, the cruise experience was more relaxing and serene

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Luke and I do not have children, so this played a factor in our decision to cruise with Celebrity Cruises instead of Royal Caribbean. Cruising on a ship that was designed with adults in mind was a first for Luke.

While Royal Caribbean’s ships are filled with endless activities and onboard thrills, Celebrity Cruises is more about relaxation and feeling pampered. The premium cruise line is geared towards adults, with very little for kids to do onboard.

Read more: 13 things Celebrity Cruises does different than Royal Caribbean that I like better

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With only about 20 kids on our sailing, Luke particularly liked the ambiance and vibe of the cruise. He prefers chilling onboard by the pool or relaxing elsewhere on the ship when cruising. With fewer onboard thrills, there was more space on Celebrity Apex for unwinding, from the aft-facing Eden space to the indoor Solarium.

Finally, the small touches set apart Celebrity Cruises from Royal Caribbean

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Coming from more affordable, mainstream cruise lines, Luke noticed many of the little gestures from the cruise line. On the first day, he came out of the public restroom and mentioned how nicely decorated the bathroom was. In addition, Luke found it quite fancy how there were individual hand clothes for guests to use.

Each evening, we found chocolates on our pillows during the turndown service. Luke appreciated having our cabin cleaned twice each day, as this was something that was cut from Royal Caribbean and other mainstream cruise lines. Having service in the cabin twice each day felt like a luxury!

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Even though we paid more for our Celebrity Cruise, the overall experience was worthwhile. Luke said these little gestures go a long way when you’re splurging on a vacation with a premium cruise line. Moving forward, Luke said he would prefer cruising with Celebrity Cruises over Royal Caribbean.

After our 7-night fjord cruise, Luke said Celebrity Cruises is his new favorite cruise line!

I sailed on my first Celebrity cruise. I didn't like the entertainment, but it's my new favorite cruise line (2024)
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