Review: Wellbeing cruise on board Celebrity Apex
By Cruise International | 19 Apr 2022
Celebrity Cruises offers some of the industry’s best wellness voyages. Rebecca Barnes gets her wellbeing fix on board Celebrity Apex – find out more below.
I’m meditating alongside a large amethyst crystal and can almost feel the indulgences of the night before slipping away. The detoxing Crystalarium Energy Healing spa treatment on board Celebrity Apex is just one of the ship’s next-level wellness offerings – the element of earth is said to emanate a ‘luminous vibrancy’, while the natural crystal serves as the ‘conduit for healing energy’.
If this sounds like your kind of sea day heaven, you’ll be happy to know there’s much more where that came from, partly in thanks to Celebrity Cruises’ partnership with wellness and lifestyle brand goop.
In fact, the ‘goop cruise’ was trending for much of last year, not least because the brand’s founder, Gwyneth Paltrow, has been appointed Celebrity’s ‘wellbeing advisor’.
Then there’s the line’s Women in Wellness programme, which features a panel of wellbeing gurus assigned to energise passengers with specially curated workouts and mindfulness sessions (on select sailings).
They include Noella Gabriel, co-founder of Elemis; Katie Brauer, founder and chief executive of The Yoga Professional; Ruth Zukerman, co-founder of SoulCycle and Flywheel Sports; and Moran Mitchell, Olympian and F45 athlete, among other leaders in their fields.
With so many of us suffering from Covid fatigue, it’s a timely move. The impact of the pandemic has changed the way many of us prioritise our physical, mental and emotional health, and many cruise lines are investing in elevated spa and wellness facilities to meet this demand.
Designed by Kelly Hoppen CBE, the palatial spa on Celebrity Apex offers 120 treatments and therapies, along with a number of technological firsts in beauty and fitness at sea, including F45 classes and Peloton bikes overlooking the ocean. There’s even an aesthetics clinic offering injectables, fat freezing and radio frequency treatments.
Exclusive to Edge-series ships is the Sea Thermal Suite, which features eight tranquil spaces to enjoy some quiet time. While the curvy heated loungers are extremely tempting, I drink in the sea views while nestled in a swinging basket chair in the Float Zen Zone. As well as being the ideal spot for chilling pre or post-treatment or fitness class, it’s a great place to feel at one with the ocean.
Afterwards, I head to the AquaSpa Cafe for a custom-blended goop chlorella smoothie. Designed by Paltrow and the aforementioned wellbeing advisors, it contains chlorella, berries, peaches and ginger and puts a spring in my step.
You may also want to get your wellness fix on land. When sailing in the Mediterranean, there are a number of active excursions on offer, from kayaking along Majorca’s west coast to a biking tour in Valencia and trekking through Catalonia’s rolling hills in Barcelona.
If that’s a priority, pick a spring or autumn sailing to enjoy sunny days minus searing temperatures – almost perfect conditions for boosting your step count ashore. As the only cruise ship tendering in Santorini’s caldera one morning, there are fewer tourists around, so I enjoy getting lost in Fira’s undulating maze of cobbled streets before heading back down to the port.
Sleep hygiene is taken seriously on board, so a refreshing night is all but guaranteed. On Celebrity Apex, when you retire you’ll slip into luxurious eXhale bedding – exclusively designed for all staterooms using 300 thread count Egyptian cotton alongside a cashmere mattress, it’s said to bring nature’s elements and the latest technologies together for pure luxury and comfort.
For a truly immersive wellness experience, the AquaClass staterooms offer unlimited access to the Sea Thermal Suite, in-room yoga mats, goop amenities, on-demand wellness classes on stateroom TVs, a pillow menu, spa concierge, spa credit and preferential spa rates.
On new ship Celebrity Beyond, which launches this spring, AquaClass gets an upgrade: the all-new SkySuites combine the best of the AquaClass offerings with the luxury amenities of The Retreat, the exclusive resort-within-a-resort for suite guests.
The following day I find myself back in the spa on a tilting table – the immersive zero gravity massage is said to produce a weightless feeling by tilting and changing into different positions. It’s actually incredibly comfortable, especially in the S-shape configuration that is almost like lying in a hammock.
Teamed with a Himalayan salt stone to penetrate tense muscles, I lie on my front before flipping onto my back. When the bed tilts up and down it seems like you might slide off, but the floating feeling that washes over you is immensely relaxing. I don’t want it to stop.
Post-massage, despite being as zen as a person could possibly be, I stand under the colourful rainfall water therapy showers – the drops and streams of water are said to wash away tension while refreshing, invigorating and massaging the body.
It doesn’t end there, with even more in store for serious wellness devotees. Celebrity Apex is the world’s only cruise ship offering the Iyashi Dôme Experience, rooted in the Japanese tradition of heating the body using far infrared light.
The medical-looking dome device is not one for claustrophobics, but upon hearing that one session can burn up to 600 calories, I decide to give it a go. The 50-minute treatment works by making you sweat while you relax; this is said to aid the body’s detoxification process while releasing tension, kick-starting the metabolism, minimising jet lag and enhancing muscle recovery. While I don’t notice any drastic inch loss, I do feel very relaxed afterwards and ever so slightly slinkier in my outfit that evening.
Outside the spa, 2,900-passenger Celebrity Apex is one of the coolest, most exciting ships on the ocean, with many boundary-pushing spaces. Most of the staterooms are roomy Infinite Verandas, but I’m staying in a spacious Celebrity Suite that has a separate sitting area, plush Frette robes and slippers,
premium bath amenities and a generously sized balcony with loungers.
Along with exclusive access to suite-class restaurant Luminae, suite guests receive additional perks including premium drinks, personal butlers and access to The Retreat. This VIP sanctuary features a sun deck, cabanas, a bar, a pool with swing chairs and hot tub – it’s a tranquil place to relax, socialise or soak up the sun.
Elsewhere on the ship, dining choices abound, and it’s easy to be virtuous if you wish: the Spa Cafe offers nourishing, spa-inspired dishes and creative takes on healthy cuisine, while light breakfasts and lunches can be taken in the globally inspired Oceanview cafe, which offers everything from fruit platters to salads and stir fries.
Mediterranean fare is served up in main restaurant Cyprus; focusing on seafood, the menu features simple, fresh dishes inspired by the region. AquaClass guests also get exclusive access to clean cuisine restaurant Blu, offering inventive dishes and plant-based options including delicious Beyond Burgers and sustainable, biodynamic wines.
The multi-level experiential Eden restaurant is perhaps the most exciting dining experience. In a nature-inspired setting, you can feast on dishes such as the bazaar bowl with chilled labneh yogurt, beets, cucumber, almond and homemade naan bread; cold-smoked yellow tomato veloute with green apple, basil and wasabi; and slow-cooked halibut with cracked wheat tabbouleh, piquillo, lemon emulsion and chive.
We all know that holidays bestow you with multiple mental and physical health benefits, and Celebrity Cruises’ innovative 360-degree approach puts it way ahead of the competition in the wellness space. I step off the ship feeling calmer, happier and more serene. Along with the naturally restorative powers of the sea itself, it’s just the post-pandemic tonic I was craving.
How to book a Celebrity Apex wellbeing cruise
A four-day Short Caribbean Getaway cruise on Celebrity Apex costs from £759 per person, excluding flights. For more information speak to your travel agent or visit celebritycruises.com.