Editor’s Note: Recently, our correspondent journeyed from the United States to Athens, Greece in preparation for Celebrity Apex’s inaugural voyage. Here’s her trip report for day 5 of the sailing, where she visited Limassol, Cyprus. She detailed her shore excursion in port, as well as a main theater production onboard.
Visiting a new port is always a high point on any cruise I’m on, and Limassol, Cyprus is a new port for me on this voyage.
The thrill of discovery often makes the choice of a shore excursion difficult. With such a variety of options available, the final selection for me comes after much thought. I have learned from past experiences that unless the shore excursion would be difficult for me to execute independently, I opt out of taking a longer one.
Long before booking your cruise, you will find information on the activities in the ports on your itinerary on the booking page for the cruise that interests you. Once you are fully booked, you may also book your shore excursions before leaving home.
My thought process starts with checking the duration and the activity level of a particular excursion. The Celebrity app gives good descriptions of the excursions along with details of the activity level required. One important feature of these descriptions is the accessibility factor. In general, with cobblestone streets and few curb cuts in historic cities, the options for accessible tours unfortunately are few and far between. Check in your stateroom for a shore excursion planning guide; it gives a very quick overview of tours but doesn’t include the duration of a trip.
If you are unsure or want even more details of any aspect of a tour, the ultimate resource is the Shore Excursions desk itself, on Deck 4, which also offers a kiosk for perusing the tours. I highly recommend speaking with the shore excursion staff if you have concerns about your physical ability or if you will be using a wheelchair. The Celebrity Cruises website also answers questions about accessible tours.
In any new place, my first priority is to get a feel for the area, so I generally opt for a tour that will explore the port city. Although I had read many tempting descriptions, I finally settled on A Walk Through Limassol. We shuttled to the meeting point in the old part of town (Celebrity also offered a free shuttle for independent explorers).
Colonialism and Cats
The first thing that I noticed when I entered the bus was that the driver was steering from the “wrong” side of the bus and that traffic was on the “wrong” side of the road. Obviously, my knowledge of Cyprus left much to be desired, another reason to explore with a guide who explains history concisely. Not wishing to embarrass myself publicly by showing my ignorance, I pulled the guide aside and asked if there had been British rule at some point. I received a positive response with no comments about my ignorance. Before the Brits, Cyprus had many rulers, including Venetians and Ottomans. Remnants of the previous inhabitants and their cultures are scattered throughout town.
Being flat, Limassol presented no challenge other that looking in the proper direction to check for traffic before crossing the busier streets. Our small group wandered through the old section of town, which had many pedestrian areas and not as many cobblestones as expected.
Along the way, we noticed the number of cats in the streets. According to our guide, cats are more popular here than are dogs. Allegedly, venomous snakes once infested Cyprus. St. Helen, according to a Byzantine legend, sent ships full of cats to Cyprus.
Our guide suggested that the earliest domesticated cats were found in Cyprus, and French archaeologists found evidence of a human burial with an accompanying cat. The story sent me down a rabbit hole and I found that there is an organization responsible for feeding and caring for the thousands of cats on the island. They operate a charity shop in Limassol and utilize volunteers to run their program. Now that I have discovered Limassol, I might consider a volunteer shore excursion on my next visit.
After our informative tour, we stopped at a souvlaki restaurant, enjoyed our snack on the outside tables and were accompanied, of course, by a few cats that practiced social distancing. This is the second time that I didn’t have to worry about what to have for lunch when I returned to the ship. What could be better than enjoying a local meal while in port?
Our visit to Limassol was the shortest on our itinerary; the ship departed in the mid-afternoon. Tomorrow we are heading to Rhodes as we make our way back to Athens.
I would be remiss not to address the entertainment options on Celebrity Apex.
No matter your preference for entertainment, you will find plenty of options on the ship. Live music, bar demonstrations, and theater productions keep guests entertained. In the case of the larger productions, COVID-19 played a significant role (no pun intended) in the return to cruising.
The performers practiced for earlier sailings, never anticipating the shutdown of the industry because of a virus. The production date of their shows seemed an ever-moving target as cruises were delayed. Finally, on this maiden Celebrity Apex voyage, the Tree of Life took to the stage on the Mykonos port day.
The energy of the performers overtook the theater. Feats of physical prowess highlighted the show as did the voices of the actors who sang old familiar songs . The 20-foot Tree of Life took stood stalwart at the center of the stage as the story of life played out around it. The cast members were visibly emotional at the final bow.
I have experienced such passion throughout Celebrity Apex. Whether it’s the crew so anxious to serve the guests or the guests who are ecstatic about sailing once again, the mood on the ship is happy and hopeful. Will Celebrity Apex pass the COVID-19 tests with flying colors? Will this cruise truly be the maiden voyage into future carefree sailings?
Like many other passengers on this cruise, we welcome any good news on the progress of cruising. We are hopeful that older sister ship Celebrity Edge sails without issue. We are a small, but mighty group of fearless cruisers who took a risk — one that we hope will pay off.
While we are all hoping for a return to the old tradition of cruising that we have become so accustomed to, we are all looking forward to an even better future.
We have scheduled our COVID-19 test for the last day of the cruise so that we can safely disembark. Time will tell if our efforts to remain healthy and safe were successful.
Read the previous Celebrity Apex trip reports: