Celebrity spotting: A new ship that fits my vacation style

Apr 12, 2024

Hello, I'm Anika and I'm relatively new to cruising. With the cruise industry putting up impressive numbers lately — including record-shattering booking numbers — there's a fair amount of newbies like me boarding ships. And as easy-going as cruising is, figuring out which line is right for you can be quite the process. I've gone down the Google rabbit hole and taken all the "which cruise line is right for you" quizzes, but there's no research quite like actually getting on board.

And, after my 2-night jaunt on the inaugural cruise of Celebrity's newest ship, I can say that this cruise line offers an experience that fits me well. It's comfortable without being cliche. It's approachable instead of stuffy. Best of all, you don't have to be a lifetime cruiser to feel at home on board. Here are my takeaways from my short trip on the Ascent

Your favorite neighborhood, just floating

One of the things that stood out to me while on board Ascent was the fact that it felt more like one of my favorite city neighborhoods, instead of what you'd picture a stereotypical cruise ship.

Come to find out, that’s because Celebrity hired land-based architects to design the ship. This was especially evident in the bars and dining venues. It felt like they copied a cocktail bar from the streets of Manhattan and pasted it onto Deck 4, or took inspiration from your favorite date-night sushi spot and gave it top billing on the ship.

Everywhere I turned, it was as if I was surrounded by a bunch of "special occasion" spots that I couldn’t wait to try. As a self-proclaimed city-slicker, I love having so many different options at my fingertips, be that a romantic French Bistro or a casual late-night spot, and as any city-dweller knows, the key to a great neighborhood is to have all of these within a few blocks of one another and the Ascent achieves just that.

The Sunset Bar

Just like in your own neighborhood, you wind up with your favorite haunts and mine ended up being the Sunset Bar at the back of the ship. Boasting incredible views, beachy-chic decor and a killer cocktail menu, I was convinced I had been teleported to Tulum. When I needed a quiet moment, I’d head directly below to find a cozy spot at Eden. With tons of greenery, natural light and mid-modern furniture, you couldn’t have convinced me that I wasn’t at the Three Arts Club atop Restoration Hardware in Chicago. 

For food, my most memorable meal was at Fine Cut, the high-end steak house. The moody vibe with plush velvet seats, dark lighting and live music in the distance felt like I had waited months to score this res. Of course, for a truly exceptional experience, you need both style and substance and Fine Cut delivered. I have dreams about that glorious Tomahawk steak with a side of baked blue cheese macaroni.

A well-balanced martini at the Martini Bar

If you’re like me and always have room for an after-dinner drink, I’d suggest heading to Martini Bar. The drinks are powerful (shoutout to the Ketel One espresso martini that was on draft) and the bartenders are a riot. They balance glasses on their foreheads while they pour their hand-crafted creations and toss bottles so high in the air they almost hit the chandeliers. It’s no surprise the adjacent dance floor was often the place to be as the night went on.

I felt like I was staying at a high-end all-inclusive resort

Despite the above, it’s not all about the food and beverage options — a common shortcoming of visiting your typical all-inclusive. There are plenty of opportunities for dancing (silent disco, anyone?) and mingle with the other guests, like yoga at the rooftop garden, pickleball tournaments and poolside trivia. If you’re not up for group activities, there was also a well-equipped fitness center, a spacious spa and a pool deck that rivaled those of a swanky resort. 

Not to be outdone, the onboard entertainment is heralded to be some of the best at sea. This 2-night inaugural was for cruise industry folks (a notoriously hard-to-please bunch) so to hear a flood of positive comments as soon as the auditorium doors opened is a major boon for Celebrity. Most notable was the mind-bending acrobatic performance at the high-tech theater. Surrounded by high-definition screens and state-of-the-art lighting and sound equipment, every seat was the best seat in the house. 

The trip was so easy

While good food, tasty drinks and entertainment that actually entertains are all vital elements to an experience like this, it’s all for naught unless it’s easy to enjoy from start to finish. So let’s start with the actual start and the finish. Embarkation and disembarkation were among the easiest processes I’ve experienced, setting the tone for an easy vacation. No crazy-long line at the check-in desk, no confusing security deposit charges to authorize, just a simple scan of your sea pass and off you go. I dropped my luggage with the porter and was in my cabin within 20 minutes. Vacation mode: activated. Same with getting off the ship — I exited at the time that lined up with my travel arrangements and was in my rideshare to the airport without breaking a sweat. 

Celebrity Ascent

Although I haven’t been on many, my favorite thing about being on a cruise is how easy it is to relax. There’s no need to sift through endless restaurant reviews to find a place for dinner or wasting energy worrying what the parking situation will be like. All the convenience is right at your fingertips. As soon as I got off the ship, I wanted to get right back on it and, to me, that’s the benchmark of a good vacation.

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