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Pictured left to right outside the new store are: Paul Hardwick, Fred. Olsen Travel Agents Director of Retail; Emma Bailey, Fred. Olsen Travel Agents; Tutti Taylor, Fred. Olsen Travel Agents; Councillor Candy Vaughan, Mayor of Eastbourne; Trevor Ridler, Fred. Olsen Travel Agents Business Development Manager; and Shirley Waters, Fred. Olsen Travel Agents..

Celebrity Apex - Amsterdam – Cork

I flew out to Amsterdam with EasyJet. The check-in process was smooth as they only had four flights operating that day from Stansted Airport, there were no queues, and the check-in staff were lovely. I’d arranged my own flights due to only sailing part of the cruise. EasyJet allows you to print your boarding passes in advance and then you only need to bag drop at the airport.

Celebrity Cruises Apex is a stunning ship in the Edge Class series, boasting incredible features. Once you step aboard, it’s incredibly spacious, and you'll be spoiled for choice when it comes to bars. For example, the Martini bar offers comfortable seating, as well as inviting sofas and chairs where you can relax on board. Live musicians provide entertainment throughout the day and night, and there's even a small dance floor where fellow passengers can enjoy ballroom dancing.

Cafe Al Bacio is a must-visit spot, not just for exceptional coffee but also for its delightful, sweet treats. They generously offer complimentary cookies, the cake of the day, pastries, and muffins. I had the pleasure of trying a variety of their muffins and cookies - they were delicious!

The Magic Carpet is a truly distinctive feature of Celebrity Apex. This bar/restaurant is positioned on the side of the ship, providing breathtaking views of the sea. It’s accessible from the pool deck and it can even move to Deck 5 to serve as an additional gangway when needed.

Eden Bar offers a garden-like ambiance with abundant natural light streaming in through floor-to-ceiling windows. You can enjoy craft cocktails here, and in the evening, they host a range of performances, from aerial displays to singers and onboard artists.

I made regular visits to 'The Club' every evening, where the entertainment options are truly diverse, ranging from quizzes to silent discos (a definite highlight) – the energetic performances from the entertainment team kept the disco going into the early hours!

Now, let's talk about the incredible dining options on board Celebrity Apex. The ship boasts an abundance of culinary choices that left me wishing for more time to sample them all. With four main restaurants – Normandie, Cosmopolitan, Tuscan, and Cyprus. They each offer a distinct themed menu that remains consistent every evening, with a wide range of options to satisfy your taste buds. Additionally, they provide daily menu selections and always available dishes. For instance, if you choose to dine in Cyprus, you can select from either the Tuscan or Normandie menu, ensuring plenty of variety. These restaurants offer à la carte dining, with attentive waitstaff serving you at your table. During my visit, I had the pleasure of trying Normandie's snails and Cyprus' lamb shank and buttered chicken - the food was not only flawless in taste, but also beautifully presented.

If you prefer a lighter meal or the convenience of self-service, the buffet restaurant is the perfect choice - serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as offering light bites and pizzas around 11 p.m. The buffet lunches are often themed, providing unique dining experiences. During our cruise, I enjoyed an Irish theme with hearty stews, a British day with fish and chips, and a roast dinner.

In addition to these dining options, there are specialty restaurants available for a small cover charge, but reservations are recommended. While I regret not having the opportunity to dine at these venues, one highly recommended option is Le Petit Chef – a truly unique dining experience that's unlike any other.

You're in for a treat when it comes to on board entertainment! Each day brings something new and exciting, from hilarious comedians to engaging quizzes and karaoke nights. The talented entertainment team also takes to the stage in the theatre, I had the pleasure of witnessing the mesmerizing "Crystallize" performance, and I must say every performer was sensational.

The staterooms, range from Inside, Outside, Veranda, and Suites, and are all designed for comfort and spaciousness. My experience of an Edge Stateroom with an Infinite Veranda was delightful, it featured a generous layout with a cozy sofa area and a well-equipped bathroom. The innovative Infinite Veranda allows for open-air access with a simple press of a button, offering flexibility for various weather conditions. Most Staterooms have showers, while Suites come with the added luxury of bathtubs. Families can benefit from interconnecting Veranda and Inside Staterooms.

For the epitome of luxury, explore "The Retreat," an exclusive experience that includes access to a private restaurant, a dedicated lounge, and a serene sundeck, all complemented with a Personalised Butler Service, Premium Drinks, and Premium Wi-Fi, ensuring an exceptional voyage. The ship is well-equipped to cater to younger guests with its fantastic children's facilities known as Camp at Sea, offering an impressive selection of over 500 activities designed for kids to enjoy.

On board, you'll discover a wide array of shops to explore and a spacious casino if you're in the mood for some excitement. The pool area is designed for relaxation and sunbathing, with plenty of sunbeds available. Additionally, there's a pool bar and a snack bar offering delectable hot dogs and burgers during the day. For those seeking a tranquil retreat, the adult-only indoor pool nearby provides a serene and peaceful environment. Celebrity Apex also boasts a luxurious spa and a well-equipped, spacious gym for your wellness needs.

The onboard staff go above and beyond to ensure your cruise experience is exceptional. Their friendliness, helpfulness, and willingness to assist is truly commendable. They consistently welcomed me with warm smiles and were readily available for any inquiries. It's worth noting that many of the staff members I had the pleasure of interacting with have been dedicated to Celebrity Cruises for numerous years, which is a testament to the exceptional quality and commitment that the company represents.

When booking with Celebrity Cruises, they offer two distinct options, and I had the privilege of choosing the "All Included" package. This excellent choice provided access to the classic drinks package, which covers beverages up to $10, complimentary Wi-Fi for one device, and crew gratuities. Throughout the cruise, I found it incredibly convenient not to worry about expenses on drinks (such as cocktails, wine, beer, spirits, soft drinks, bottled water, coffee, and tea) as they were all included. I also made great use of the Wi-Fi, thanks to the fantastic Celebrity Cruises app that offers a wealth of information about the cruise. The hardworking crew truly exceeded expectations and deserved the tips included in the package. In contrast, the "No Perks" option doesn't include the drinks package or Wi-Fi, and tips are added to your onboard account daily. Having the "All Included" package made the cruise a seamless and worry-free experience, allowing me to enjoy each day without constantly calculating expenses.

I flew home with Ryanair from Cork Airport. The check-in was quick and easy and the airport was small so it did not take long to get through security. Cork airport has a couple of places to get food and a duty-free shop for those important purchases. Both flights worked well, the crew was friendly, and the plane wasn’t full so there were lots of empty seats to move around.

As we near the end of this cruise adventure, let's recap some must-experience moments. Don't leave without witnessing the enchanting "Tree of Life" evening show, indulging in the unique dining delight of "Le Petit Chef," and dancing the night away at the unforgettable “Silent Disco”.

Finally, here are a couple of top tips to enhance your cruise experience:

  • Prior to setting sail, make your life easier by downloading the Celebrity Cruises app. It's your all-in-one tool for planning, checking in online, watching the safety video in advance, and staying informed about on board activities, menus, your account, and even finding your way with the deck plan.
  • Look out for the charming necklace waiting in your Stateroom, where each day brings a new charm to collect - be sure to complete your set at the on-board shop.

If you would like more information or advice on Celebrity Cruises, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

You can find Lorna at our Thorpe Travel branch in Norwich.