Celebrity Cruises is the cool kid among the seven big cruise lines that account for the majority of cruises taken by North Americans.
Operating relatively big but not giant vessels, the Miami-based brand is known for some of the most stylish and cutting-edge ships in the cruise business. It’s a line that is all about high-end design, innovative features (just wait until you read below about the “magic carpet”) and on-trend restaurants that are aimed at sophisticates — not a party crowd.
Celebrity ships also are significantly more all-inclusive — and even a tad more upscale — than the ships operated by the other big cruise lines. Since last year, the line has included unlimited drinks, Wi-Fi and daily gratuities in its base fare as part of a new Always Included fare structure.
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Still, for now at least, Celebrity ships are firmly anchored in the mass-market category. The line in recent years often has used the term “luxury” to describe its offerings. But the size of its ships, their service levels and — perhaps most importantly — their price points are all a lot closer to what you’ll find at such mass-market lines as Princess Cruises and Holland America than at true luxury brands such as Crystal Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.
In our book, that’s not a bad place to be.
With relatively inclusive fares for some sailings at Celebrity as low as $150 per person, per day, there’s a good argument to be made that the line is one of cruising’s great values. It may not be a luxury line. But it’s the line you take if you want a taste of the all-inclusive and upscale experience of a luxury line without paying $1,000 per person, per day.
In This Post 3 things TPG loves about Celebrity Cruises The stylish design of its ships Its industry-leading shipboard spas Its inclusion of drinks, WiFi and gratuities in base fares What we could do without Confusing company marketing calling it a “luxury” brand The Celebrity Cruises fleet
Of the seven big cruise lines that account for the majority of cruises taken by North Americans, Celebrity has one of the simplest fleets.
At the core of the brand are 11 relatively big ships that can be bunched into just three groups, or “classes,” as they are known in cruise industry lingo.
The newest group of ships at the line is the Edge Class, consisting of just two vessels that have been unveiled since 2018 — each holding around 2,900 passengers. If you’re in the “newer is better” camp when it comes to cruise ships, this is the Celebrity ship class for you.
The newest Celebrity Cruises ship, Celebrity Apex, is part of the line’s new Edge Class of vessels. (Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises)
Celebrity currently has plans for five Edge Class vessels in all. A third vessel in the series, Celebrity Beyond, already is under construction at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in St. Nazaire, France. It’s scheduled to be completed in 2022. Two more of the vessels are expected to be constructed by 2023 and 2024, respectively.
Eventually, the abovementioned rollouts will make the Edge Class the new core of the Celebrity fleet. But, for now, that title falls to the line’s five-ship Solstice Class series. If you take a Celebrity cruise now, the odds are you’ll be on one of these ships.
Just a tad smaller than the Edge Class ships, the Solstice Class vessels were unveiled between 2008 and 2012.
At the core of the Celebrity fleet are five similar Solstice Class vessels, including Celebrity Equinox. (Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises)The biggest of Celebrity’s three vessels in The Galapagos is the 100-passenger Celebrity Flora. (Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises)
The last grouping of relatively big ships in the Celebrity fleet is the Millennium Class, made up of four significantly smaller vessels that debuted between 2000 and 2002.
In addition, Celebrity operates three very small vessels in the Galápagos that, together, make up a fourth grouping of vessels. As we’ll explain below, these three vessels are far different than the line’s 11 main ships and constitute what is, in effect, a separate business for the brand.
With relatively big, the 11 main vessels in the Celebrity fleet are not nearly as big as the vessels operated by Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line and MSC Cruises — the three lines best known for giant ships. The biggest Celebrity vessels, the two Edge Class ships, measure around 131,000 tons. That’s about 43% smaller than the biggest ships operated by Royal Caribbean.
Celebrity’s Solstice Class and Millennium Class ships are even smaller at around 122,000 tons and 91,000 tons, respectively.
All of Celebrity’s 11 main ships carry between 2,000 and 3,000 passengers apiece, based on double occupancy. That’s several thousand passengers fewer than the biggest ships at Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and MSC Cruises.
The line’s three Galápagos-based vessels are downright tiny, as they must be to operate in the Galápagos. The government of Ecuador, which controls the archipelago, does not allow vessels that carry more than 100 passengers to sail in the destination.
Celebrity’s three Galápagos-based vessels carry just 16 to 100 passengers each.
In all, Celebrity’s 14 vessels have 23,473 berths, when counting just the two main berths in every cabin (excluding extra pull-down bunks and pull-out sofas). That puts Celebrity among the smaller of the big lines catering to North Americans. One of its main rivals, Princess, has nearly twice as many berths (42,156), based on double occupancy. The world’s biggest cruise line, Royal Caribbean, has nearly four times as many berths (88,307).
Destinations and itineraries
Celebrity sails almost everywhere in the world, but its heaviest presence is in the Caribbean, Europe and Alaska. In a typical summer, the line will deploy six of its 11 main vessels to Europe while sending another three to Alaska. That leaves just two vessels that Celebrity typically will assign to Bermuda and Caribbean sailings.
During the winter, the line will move most of its ships to the Caribbean but also send a few to Asia, Australia and South America.
For the coming winter, eight of the line’s 11 main ships are scheduled to sail in the Caribbean. There will be one ship a piece in Asia, Australia and South America, respectively.
When sailing in North America, Celebrity ships such as Celebrity Edge often operate out of Fort Lauderdale’s Port Everglades. (Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises)
The line’s three small Galapagos-based vessels never leave the Galapagos, in keeping with rules governing cruise vessels in The Galapagos.
In all, Celebrity ships sail to nearly 80 countries in a typical year, hitting all seven continents. They visit more than 300 different ports and destinations. Those all are large numbers. But they’re not quite as large as what you’ll find at some of Celebrity’s biggest competitors. Celebrity doesn’t offer quite as big a range of itineraries as Princess and Holland America, for instance.
Among the line’s itineraries, you’ll find everything from two-night sampler cruises to the Bahamas to 18-night voyages to Hawaii and the South Pacific. But Celebrity isn’t known for the sort of longer, multi-month voyages and around-the-world sailings that are a hallmark of the Princess and Holland America schedules. Most of the line’s itineraries are in the one- to two-week range.
In North America, Celebrity ships generally sail out of Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Tampa in Florida; Boston; Cape Liberty, N.J. (one of the ports for New York City); San Juan, Puerto Rico; Los Angeles and San Diego in California; Vancouver, British Columbia; Seattle; and Seward, Alaska.
In Europe, Celebrity ships mostly sail out of Southampton in the U.K.; Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Barcelona, Spain; Piraeus, Greece (the port for Athens); Venice and Civitavecchia (the port for Rome) in Italy; and Lisbon, Portugal.
Who sails Celebrity Cruises?
Celebrity appeals to a somewhat older demographic than some of its best-known rivals in the world of relatively big ships (think: Royal Caribbean, Carnival Cruise Line, MSC Cruises and Norwegian). This is, in part, because its onboard offerings are not aimed at families nearly as much as the onboard offerings of the latter brands.
Unlike Royal Caribbean, Carnival, MSC Cruises and Norwegian, Celebrity doesn’t load up the top of its ships with sprawling waterparks, go-kart tracks, laser tag courses and other flashy, family-focused diversions.
Instead of bustling attractions, the top decks of Celebrity ships offer lots of quiet and relaxing pool and lounge areas where you can enjoy the experience of being at sea without a lot of hustle and bustle. Inside, the experience revolves around dining, classic showroom entertainment and a classy bar and music scene — just as it has on Celebrity ships for years.
The serene pool deck on Celebrity Edge at twilight. Don’t expect waterslides and bumper car pavilions on this ship. (Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises)
It’s the sort of experience that draws a lot of couples in their 40s, 50s and 60s but not necessarily a lot of families. The average age of a Celebrity passenger is a tad north of 50.
Still, while families with younger children usually gravitate to one of the abovementioned lines with more family-friendly activities, that doesn’t mean you can’t bring your kids on a Celebrity cruise. The line does offer a relatively robust children’s program (more on that below).
While not huge with families with young children, Celebrity does draw a fair number of multigenerational family groups. It’s one of the lines you take if you want an affordable ship that’ll appeal to your 70-year-old parents as much as your 12-year-old kid.
Cabins and suites
Celebrity ships offer a wide range of cabin categories at a variety of price points. You’ll find everything from relatively low-cost, windowless “inside” cabins measuring just 181 square feet (perfect for vacationers on a tight budget) to massive, multi-room suites that are 10 times that size (and priced to match).
At the high end, some of the accommodations are truly stunning. They include two so-called Iconic Suites on each of the line’s new Edge Class ships that measure more than 2,500 square feet, including outdoor balcony space. That’s roughly the size of the average American home.
Iconic Suites on Edge Class ships have bedrooms with beds facing windows looking out over the bow. The views, as you might expect, are stunning. (Photo by Tim Aylen courtesy of Celebrity Cruises)
Located at the very top front of the Edge Class vessels, above the bridge (yeah, you’ll have a better view than the captain in these rooms!), the Iconic Suites offer breathtaking views through floor-to-ceiling panoramic glass windows. They each have two bedrooms, a dining room and a living room. Master bathrooms are true stunners with massive whirlpool tubs, marble-lined showers and two sink areas.
The Iconic Suites aren’t the only over-the-top suites on the Edge Class ships. Each of the vessels also has two multi-room Penthouse Suites that measure more than 1,575 square feet, as well as the line’s first two-deck-high suites. Dubbed Edge Villas, the latter accommodations (there are six on each ship) only measure 950 square feet, including balcony space, but may be the most alluring cabins on the ship with stunning sea views from both a downstairs living room area and an upstairs bedroom area.
The Edge Class ships are by far the line’s most suite-heavy ships, with a whopping 190 suites of different types on each vessel. The Edge Class ships also offer hundreds of special spa-themed AquaClass cabins and Concierge Class cabins that come with special amenities. But you’ll find plenty of suites and special AquaClass and Concierge Class cabins on Celebrity’s other ships, too.
The Reflection Suite on Celebrity Reflection, which measures 1,830 square feet, was the first two-bedroom suite on a Celebrity ship. (Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises)
In general, Celebrity offers a lot more high-end accommodations on its ships than some of its rival lines — particularly Princess. It’s one of many differentiators between the brands.
Celebrity also is known for one of the most innovative new cabin types in the cruise industry, the “infinite veranda” cabin. Found only on Celebrity Edge and Celebrity Apex, these are standard size balcony cabins with outward-facing walls that are almost entirely made of glass.
Billed as an industry first, the new glass-walled cabins were made possible by a rethinking of the way the load-bearing walls of cruise ships are constructed.
A wall of glass is the highlight of Infinite Veranda cabins. (Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises)The top of the glass walls in Infinite Veranda cabins slide down to create a balcony-like area. (Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises).
Notably, the top of the glass walls in the infinite veranda cabins slide down at the flick of a switch to create a balcony-like area — an innovation that, until recently, only had been seen with cabins on river cruise ships. The balcony-like area can be closed off from the rest of the cabin by closing bifold doors.
Celebrity’s Solstice Class and Millennium Class ships have more traditional balcony cabins.
Both the Edge Class and Solstice Class are known for ships with an inordinately large percentage of cabins that have balconies. About 81% of cabins on Edge Class ships have balconies. On the Solstice Class ships, the percentage is even higher at 85%.
About 57% of cabins on Millennium Class ships have balconies.
Restaurants and dining
Every Celebrity vessel has one and sometimes up to four main restaurants where meals are included in the fare, and these dining rooms are at the heart of the dining experience on Celebrity ships. Many passengers have all or most of their dinners in one of these main restaurants.
For dinners in these main restaurants, you must sign up for either Select Dining, which is where you can show up whenever you want, or Traditional Dining, where you have a fixed table and time for dinner.
Note that only a certain number of passengers can choose Select Dining per sailing. If this is what you want, it pays to book your cruise early, as Select Dining typically is available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Also, note that the Select Dining process works a little differently on the two Edge Class ships, which have four different main restaurants with varying themes.
The main Metropolitan Restaurant on Celebrity Millennium. (Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises)
Every Celebrity vessel also has a casual buffet eatery where meals are included in the fare. Located near the main pool area on ships, these are called Oceanview Cafe, and they typically offer a wide range of dishes.
Another included-in-the-fare option found on Celebrity ships is the deck-top Mast Grill, which serves burgers, hot dogs and the like.
Every Celebrity ship also has at least a few extra-charge eateries. On many ships, you’ll find the line’s signature Italian restaurant, Tuscan Grille. It serves up handmade pasta, artisanal meats, flatbread pizzas seafood and other Italian specialties in an elegant setting and comes with a flat fee of $30 per person.
Some Celebrity ships also have a classic French restaurant called Murano, which comes with a flat fee of $40 per person. It serves up everything from veal tenderloin to herb-crusted lamb. There’s also a six-course tasting menu that comes with wine pairings for each course at an additional cost.
The Tuscan Grille on Celebrity Edge. (Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises)
Other extra-charge venues found on at least some Celebrity ships include Raw on Five, which serves sushi and sashimi, and The Porch, which offers a raw bar with oysters and lobster rolls. Some ships have a Parisian patisserie-like venue called Le Grand Bistro that offers light fare such as ham-and-cheese baguette during the day and gourmet charcuterie and cheese boards with carafes of wine in the evening.
In addition, passengers staying in spa-focused AquaClass cabins on Celebrity ships have access to an exclusive restaurant with a spa-inspired menu called Blu (there’s no per-visit charge; the cost is folded into your AquaClass fare). There’s also an exclusive restaurant on Edge Class ships for passengers staying in top The Retreat suites called Luminae. It features dishes created by star New York chef Daniel Boulud.
Entertainment and activities
Celebrity ships are loaded with entertainment and activities that range from Broadway-style theater shows and live music to glassmaking classes. Top decks of Celebrity ships have lots of pools, lounge areas and — on some ships — park-like retreats with live grass. Just don’t expect a floating amusement park. Unlike some big-ship lines, Celebrity isn’t topping its vessels with waterslides, go-kart tracks, ropes courses and other family-focused attractions.
Theaters and shows
There’s no shortage of theater and lounge entertainment on Celebrity ships. On a typical night, you might find a flashy, fast-paced production show playing in the main theater, a comedian performing in a secondary lounge and live music on offer in several more venues.
In many cases, the main theaters on Celebrity ships are quite elaborate, with Broadway-level lighting and special effects, and the productions housed within the theaters are elaborate, too.
A scene from Hype, a show that plays on Celebrity Cruises ships. (Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises)Performers from the American Ballet Theatre can be found on Celebrity Cruises ships. (Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises)
Typical productions include “Elyria,” an adults-only, fashion-forward fairytale with a sultry late-night vibe, and “A Hot Summer Night’s Dream,” where you’ll be immersed in a light-hearted journey that fuses music with extraordinary acrobatics and, yes — a little bit of Shakespeare.
Celebrity also is known for a partnership with American Ballet Theatre that brings exclusive performances from American Ballet Theatre performers on select ships, dance classes with the performers and “meet and greet” events with the performers.
Other interior attractions and activities
In addition to entertainment spaces, the interiors of Celebrity ships are filled with other venues where passengers can kick back and let loose day and night, including some that are quite unusual.
Celebrity’s two newest ships, Celebrity Edge and Celebrity Apex, for instance, have fanciful, tropical garden-inspired lounge, dining and entertainment areas at their backs called Eden that are like nothing else you will find at sea. At night, so-called “Edenists” interact with passengers in the venue, performing something that perhaps can best be described as Cirque de Soleil meets “Sleep No More.” It’s entertaining, weird and unlike anything you would expect on a cruise ship.
The Eden Lounge on Celebrity Edge. (Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises)
Soaring three decks high and lined with glass walls, the Eden venue on each of the ships also offers a place to relax or grab a quick bite during the day, in a garden-like setting with stunning views of the ocean. The famed Spanish designer Patricia Urquiola helped create the look of Eden.
Such multi-use venues are a big thing for Celebrity. On Celebrity’s Solstice Class ships, you’ll find 200-seat venues called Celebrity Central that can be configured for everything from late-night comedy shows to movie showings, cooking demonstrations and trivia contests. The spaces also are used for lectures by guest speakers.
The Celebrity Central venues on Solstice Class ships can be found in “entertainment courts” that also are home to nightclubs called Quasar. The retro-chic hot spots draw a late-night crowd that comes to dance to tunes controlled by resident DJs. On some nights, the venue morphs into a “silent disco” where passengers wear headphones to sway to piped-in music.
Celebrity ships also are known for their martini bars, each called — simply enough — the Martini Bar. Another standout feature of Celebrity ship interiors are wine-focused venues called Cellar Masters that stock more than 400 wines for tastings. A particularly cool feature of the Cellar Masters venues is that they have self-serve Enomatic wine dispensers. Just swipe your card and you can get a sampler of wine in varying sizes.
Every Celebrity ship also has a casino, and spas are big on Celebrity ships. Very big.
The spas on Celebrity’s new Edge Class vessels offer nearly two dozen treatment rooms, an extensive beauty salon and a thermal suite with heated stone beds, a Turkish-style steam bath, an infrared sauna and a meditation aromatherapy room.
A couples treatment room in The Spa by Canyon Ranch on Celebrity Millennium. (Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises)
The spas on the Edge Class ships also are known for some of the most wide-ranging treatments found on any cruise ship. Celebrity Edge was the first cruise vessel in the world to offer a collection of advanced treatment tables that included the MLX Quartz, the Spa Wave MLW Amphibia and the WellMassage4D (if you’re a spa aficionado, you’ll know what these are). The WellMassage4D, notably, allows for a “zero gravity” immersion massage.
In all, the Edge Class spas offer more than 120 different treatments, including acupuncture and salt stone therapy.
The top decks of Celebrity ships are notable for what they don’t have: There are no pedal-powered sky rides or ropes courses like you’ll find on Carnival ships or the go-kart tracks that top some Norwegian vessels. There are no surfing simulators, sky diving simulators, rock climbing walls or zip lines of the sort found on Royal Caribbean vessels.
While Celebrity operates relatively big ships, it has eschewed the “amusement park arms race” that has been taking place between many of the lines operating big, resort-like ships.
A glass-topped, adults-only pool area called The Solarium atop Celebrity Edge is designed to be open no matter where the ship is sailing. (Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises)
Instead, Celebrity has gone for a much more serene feel with its top decks. For starters, they are covered with a lot of relaxing (and usually very stylish) pool and lounge zones. But they’re also covered with some of the most unusual relaxation zones that you’ll find anywhere at sea.
Each of the Solstice Class vessels, for instance, is home to what just may be the most innovative deck-top feature ever conceived: A half-acre “Lawn Club” area with real grass.
Cabanas are for rent at the Lawn Club on Celebrity Equinox. (Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises)
Marvels of cruise ship engineering, the Lawn Clubs are maintained by full-time greenskeepers who oversee a complex filter and irrigation system to keep the grass looking shipshape. Home to Adirondack chairs, hammocks and lawn games such as bocce and croquet, these Lawn Club areas offer a quiet, park-like respite from the activity in other parts of the ships.
If you want, you can walk across the Lawn Clubs barefoot.
Among other unusual deck-top features, some of the Solstice Class ships also have a glass-making pavilion next to the Lawn Clubs that is home to glass-making classes.
Another innovative feature found atop Celebrity ships are the giant orange platforms the size of tennis courts that hang over the side of the two Edge Class vessels.
The Magic Carpet on Celebrity Edge. (Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises)The Rooftop Garden on Celebrity Edge is home to the Rooftop Garden Grill. (Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises)
We should say that these platforms, called Magic Carpets, are at the top of the Edge Class ships “at times.” That’s because they’re designed to move up and down the sides of the ship to serve multiple functions ranging from bar and 90-seat restaurant to a tender boat boarding area. Sometimes they are at the top deck of the vessels. Sometimes they are halfway down the side of the ship, or near the water line. You just never know where you’ll find them.
The top decks of each of the Edge Class ships also have a plant-filled “playscape” called the Rooftop Garden with an outdoor eatery called the Rooftop Garden Grill. Inspired by childhood playgrounds, they’re designed to “awaken the inner-child in everyone,” the line has said.
While it doesn’t draw as many families with young children as Royal Caribbean or Carnival, Celebrity offers an extensive children’s program on ships that gets high marks from parents.
Dubbed Camp at Sea, the program brings free, supervised activities daily for children ages 3-12 in dedicated spaces on board Celebrity vessels.
Celebrity splits children in the program into three age groups: Shipmates (ages 3-5 years), Cadets (ages 6-9 years) and Captains (ages 10-12 years). Each group has its own age-appropriate activities, ranging from art time and song singing for Shipmates to scavenger hunts and pizza making for Captains. But the activities can vary from day-to-day and cruise-to-cruise. Celebrity likes to say it has no set agenda for camp activities and changes things up regularly based on the interests of the particular kids in the program on each cruise.
Camp at Sea counselors also welcome parents with toddlers to visit for playtime during special Toddler Time hours. But parents of toddlers can’t leave them at the program unattended. Toddler Time activities include toy play and mingling with other children.
Celebrity ships also offer activities for teens (ages 13-17) at dedicated Teen Clubs. Teens can hang out at the clubs with other children their own age and also take part in organized teen sports competitions, silent disco parties, culinary classes, and Xbox tournaments.
While the free programming for children ages 3-12 ends at 10 p.m., you can pay extra to leave your kids at shipboard Camp at Sea centers past 10 p.m. until 1 a.m. for a supervised “slumber party.” This is essentially a group kidsitting service. It currently costs $6 per hour per child.
What to know before you go Required documents
A passport is required for all international itineraries. If you’re a U.S. citizen, you don’t need a passport for many sailings out of U.S. ports (including sailings to Alaska, Bermuda, Canada, Hawaii and Mexico, and most sailings to the Caribbean). You instead can travel with an official copy of your birth certificate and a driver’s license or other government-issued photo identification. A few other forms of identification, such as a passport card, also are acceptable.
Passports must be valid for at least six months. Note that it is important that the name on your reservation be exactly as it is stated on your passport or other official proof of nationality.
Gratuities for room stewards and restaurant servers are now included in the line’s new Always Included fare structure, as are most gratuities for bar bills. A 20% gratuity will be added when a passenger orders a drink that’s not included in the line’s Always Included fare structure, as well as for minibar purchases, and spa and salon services.
Celebrity has been rolling out faster Wi-Fi systems with land-like speeds across its fleet in recent years, such that you now can stream video on most ships. The line’s new Always Included fare structure brings access to a basic internet plan called Surf for no extra charge. It’ll let you surf the web, send messages and use social media apps (but not stream video). A much faster option called Xcelerate that allows for video streaming and video chats is available for an extra charge. The current rate is $35 per day.
Carry-on drinks policy
Celebrity allows you to bring two bottles of wine per cabin onto ships at boarding at no charge (for consuming in your room; you’ll be charged a $15 corkage fee if you want to bring it to an onboard restaurant or bar to drink).
On all ships, smoking (including the use of electronic cigarettes) only is allowed in designated outdoor areas. It’s forbidden in cabins and on cabin balconies. Passengers caught smoking in their cabins will be charged a $250 fine per occurrence.
Unlike some lines, Celebrity does not build self-service launderettes onto its ships. Vessels offer extra-charge laundry and dry cleaning services.
All vessels have standard North American-style, 110-volt outlets in rooms as well as European-style, 220-volt outlets. A growing number of vessels also have USB ports in cabins.
The currency used on all Celebrity ships is U.S. dollars, no matter where they are in the world. All vessels operate on a “cashless system,” with any onboard purchases you make posting automatically to your onboard account. You’ll receive a SeaPass card that you can use to make charges.
You must be 21 to consume alcohol on Celebrity sailings from North American ports. The drinking age on sailings from South America, Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand is 18.
During the day, there is no specific dress code, and people dress casually. If it’s a sea day in a warm-weather destination, and you’re bound for the top-deck, that means looking like you’re going to the beach — t-shirts, shorts and bathing suits (with a cover-up to go inside) are just fine.
During the evenings, most nights are designated as “smart casual” nights, which means that — in restaurants and the theater, at least — a t-shirt and shorts won’t do. But to Celebrity, smart casual doesn’t mean anything fancier than pants or jeans with a short-sleeve sport shirt for men, and a skirt, pants or jeans with a casual top for women.
Two nights a week on seven-night sailings, Celebrity upgrades the dress code to “evening chic,” which is a new take on the old cruise ship formal night that is a lot less formal. The line says women should feel comfortable wearing a cocktail dress, or a skirt, pants or designer jeans with an elegant top. For men, evening chic nights could mean pants or designer jeans with a dress shirt, button-down shirt or sweater. A sport coat or blazer is optional.
Celebrity Cruises’ loyalty program
Celebrity has a point-based frequent cruiser program, the Captain’s Club, that has six tiers, ranging from Preview (at 0 points) to Zenith (3,000 points or more).
The number of Captain’s Club points you earn for cruises will vary depending on both the length of the sailings and the type of cabin you book.
When staying in the most basic cabins, such as windowless “inside” cabins, you’ll earn 2 points for each day you sail. When staying in a top suite, you can earn as many as 18 points per day.
Staying in balcony cabins, which the line calls Veranda cabins, will get you 3 points a day.
There’s also one more way to earn Captain’s Club points. In 2020, Celebrity launched a new program called Power Up Points that let Captain’s Club members get bonus points by filling out online surveys, participating on social media or booking specific promotions.
Taking part in such activities will get you Power Up Points, which then can be converted into Captain’s Club points at a ratio of 10 to 1. That is, for every 10 Power Up Points you get, you’ll get one additional Captain’s Club point.
As is typical with cruise line loyalty programs, lower tiers don’t bring all that much in terms of truly valuable benefits. You’ll get things like access to a loyalty desk (at the Preview tier) or an invite to a private party (at the Classic tier). But higher levels of the program start to be enticing.
The third-to-highest tier, Elite, brings such perks as an exclusive window to preview and book new itineraries, priority ship-to-shore water shuttle service, complimentary laundry and a complimentary minibar setup.
Elite Plus kicks things up by offering additional discounts for onboard services (including a 15% discount on specialty dining cover charges); and free cappuccinos, lattes, espresso and tea throughout your sailing.
But the ultimate perk for Captain’s Club members comes when you reach the top Zenith tier. You’ll get a free seven-night Bermuda or Caribbean cruise in a balcony cabin. Yep, that’s right: a free cruise.
Note that, in contrast to airline frequent flyer programs, cruise line loyalty programs do not require you to requalify for status every year. So, yes, the perks with lower tiers aren’t great. But it’s not as difficult as it might at first seem to hit the more rewarding higher level tiers in just a few years if you’re cruising a lot.
Indeed, a Celebrity passenger staying in suites on relatively long sailings could hit the Elite level in just a few cruises.
How much does a Celebrity cruise cost?
Celebrity ships are very reasonably priced. They’re not the least expensive vessels out there. But they’re not pricey by any means. It’s possible to find week-long Celebrity voyage to the Caribbean or even Europe starting under $1,000 per person, not including taxes and fees — at least in the offseason.
As of the date of this story’s posting, for instance, seven-night sailings from Fort Lauderdale to the Eastern Caribbean in November were starting at just $909 per person, not including taxes and fees of $169.40. That works out to just $154 per night, per person with taxes and fees for a package that includes your lodging, transportation and meals.
For such a rate, you’ll get a windowless “inside” cabin on a ship. Cabins with ocean views on the same sailings start at $989 per person, and cabins with balconies on the same sailings will set you back at least $1,249 per person. But that’s still not all that much for a cruise.
The Oceanview Bar, also known as the Sunset Bar, on Celebrity Millennium. (Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises)
As you might expect, pricing for ships generally will be lower during offseason periods such as September, October, November (not including Thanksgiving week) and parts of December. You can end up paying considerably more for a cabin during peak summer months or over the winter holidays.
The timing of when you book also can matter. Cruises book up much further in advance than airplanes or hotels, and many cruisers will tell you that the best pricing for any given sailing often is available when cruises first go on sale (which can be a good two years before a departure). Booking far in advance also will give you the best chance of getting your preferred cabin type and location on a ship.
Once on board a Celebrity ship, you’ll pay extra for some things — but not as many things as you might think. As part of Celebrity’s new Always Included fare structure, you’ll get unlimited drinks (cocktails, wines by the glass, beer and sodas), unlimited Wi-Fi and daily gratuities included as part of the base fare. You’ll pay extra for some premium drinks, extra-charge restaurants, spa services, shore excursions and a few other things — unless you’ve bought a package for some of these items in advance. Most onboard activities such as theater shows are included in the fare.
How to book
If you’re sure you know what sort of cabin you want, on which ship, on which itinerary — and about a dozen other things — you can head over to CelebrityCruises.com to make a booking directly.
That said, given the complexity of booking a cruise — there are a lot of decisions to make during the booking process, trust us — we recommend that you use a seasoned travel agent who specializes in cruises.
A good travel agent will quiz you about your particular interests, travel style and preferences, and steer you to the perfect cruise line, ship, itinerary and cabin for you. They also can help you if something goes wrong just before, during or after your voyage.
If you’re sure that Celebrity is your line, look for a travel agent who specializes in trips with the brand. You want someone who knows all of the many cabin categories on its ships and, preferably, has done ship inspections to see them first hand.
Whether you use a travel agent or not, make sure to maximize your credit card points when paying for the cruise by using a credit card that offers extra points for travel purchases. This could be the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, which offers 3x Ultimate Rewards points on travel and dining (excluding the annual $300 travel credit). There’s also the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which brings 2x Ultimate Rewards points on travel (and dining).
Operating relatively big but not giant vessels, Celebrity offers an elegant, stylish product at a not-too-crazy-high price. While it often markets itself as a “luxury” product, that’s not really the case. It’s a mass-market line with aspirations of being something more. But it stands out among the mass-market lines for many of its upscale touches, from the many spacious suites on its ships and its impressive shipboard spas to its new, more all-inclusive fare structure.
If you’re looking for a relatively big ship with lots of amenities that will offer a taste of the all-inclusive and upscale experience of a luxury line (without paying the sky-high fares of a luxury line), it’s a fine choice. Just don’t expect the sort of service levels that are found on true luxury lines such as Crystal, Regent Seven Seas and Seabourn.
Planning a cruise? Start with these stories:
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Featured image courtesy of Celebrity Cruises.