Celebrity Cruises is returning to its roots this summer, with the announcement that the new Celebrity Apex will offer seven-night roundtrip sailings from Athens, beginning June 19 and running through September. Bookings for the cruise series open on March 30, 2021.
Celebrity Cruises was founded in 1988 by the Chandris family of Greece. Despite later becoming part of the Royal Caribbean Group, 70 percent of marine officers across the Celebrity fleet are of Greek origin, including Apex Captain Dimitrios Kafetzis.
The summer Eastern Mediterranean sailings — which will welcome North Americans — will feature stops at Mykonos, Rhodes, and Santorini in Greece, along with Limassol in Cyprus and Haifa and Jerusalem in Israel.
To get onboard, all crew and guests above the age of 18 must be vaccinated against COVID-19 while those under 18 will have to provide negative PCR test results.
Highlights include an outward-facing design that aims to enable guests to connect with the outdoors and the waters it cruises on. Accommodations blur the boundaries between indoor and outdoor living and offer an array of choices, from modern two-story villas with plunge pools to staterooms with infinite verandas.
The Apex also features The Retreat, a luxury ship-within-a-ship section featuring a private restaurant, lounge, and sundeck that aims to rival high-end land resorts and luxury cruise lines. Guests in this exclusive enclave are pampered by butlers and concierges.
There are 29 distinct restaurants, bars, and lounges aboard the ship, including one of the most memorable at sea — The Magic Carpet — where guests can sip cocktails and enjoy dinner on a movable platform above the sea. Celebrity’s globally-inspired menus were created by a team of Michelin-starred chefs.
“Celebrity Apex is such an exquisite ship and for her to finally begin sailing in the beautiful Aegean, where it all began for our fleet, and after so long away, is incredibly meaningful,” said Celebrity Cruises President and CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo.
Pricing for the sailings will reflect the line’s new ‘Always Included’ approach, which builds Wi-Fi, drinks and gratuities into the fare.
The Apex will offer two distinct itineraries:
Greek Islands and Cyprus — This journey will carry guests to the ancient city of Rhodes, with its classical Acropolis and Medieval architecture; the beaches and beauty of Mykonos, and the incredible island of Santorini — a world heritage site. The stop in Cyprus will introduce guests to an island culture influenced by Turkey and Egypt.
Greek Islands and Israel — Cruisers can cross off more bucket-list dreams on this cruise that adds the wonders of the Holy Land to the history and beauty of Rhodes and Santorini. Haifa offers a growing arts scene and easy access to cosmopolitan Tel Aviv, while Jerusalem is among the most atmospheric and influential cities on earth.
With sailings beginning and ending in Athens, guests will also have plenty of time to experience this legendary city.
A range of tours will be available at every port of call, including Private Journeys and Small Group Discovery Tours for those guests preferring to explore the destinations with just members of their family or traveling companions.
The assignment for the Apex won’t result in a rash of cancellations, as its next cruises were to operate from Barcelona in September. Those are still on the books. The ship has been anchored at private Bahamian island CocoCay, along with older sister Celebrity Edge and five other Celebrity ships.
The news comes just days after Celebrity Cruises announced its Caribbean comeback with seven-night summer cruises departing from St. Maarten, also beginning in June.
Sister line Royal Caribbean International is also counting on the Eastern Mediterranean this summer. The line announced today that it will put a second ship in the region, with the Jewel of the Seas homeporting in Cyprus and offering cruises to the Greek islands. Three weeks ago the line announced it would use new-build Odyssey of the Seas to operate fully vaccinated cruises from Haifa, Israel to Greece and Cyprus.