(Editor’s note: Blade contributor Peter Rosenstein is submitting blog posts from his transatlantic voyage.)
Saturday morning dawned clear and warm in Rome and at 9:30 met the bus arranged by my travel agents to head to the port. Mimosas served on the bus to start the day off right. There were old cruise buddies on the bus and some new friends to meet. We arrived at the cruise terminal and had the best check-in process I have ever had for a cruise. From stepping off the bus to being in my cabin was less than 30 minutes. Congratulations Celebrity Cruises on this achievement.
Stepping on the Celebrity APEX seemed like coming home. It has been exactly a year since I was on her last when we began our transatlantic from Barcelona in October 2021. This year instead of 1,250 passengers we have been told there are about 2,400. So we shall see if it makes a difference in the level of service.
Literally a few moments after entering my cabin there was a knock on the door and my butler, Simon, came to introduce himself and orient me to the Retreat and my sky suite. He helped me to connect to the ship’s Wi-Fi and explained how I could reach him for anything during the cruise. He would be the one delivering breakfast to my room each morning.
It was then off to meet friends at the buffet. The change here was once again it was self-service, which surprised me. The staff is all wearing masks but practically no passenger is. I guess once we all had to show a negative COVID test within the last 48 hours to board we all felt comfortable, or at least for me somewhat comfortable.
Then it was off to walk around the ship, unpack my suitcase when it was delivered to my cabin and then head to the sail-away party thrown by Scott and Dustin, my travel agents, in the Iconic suite. There was Champagne flowing and a large dining room table full of hors d’oeuvres. Again, new and old friends from around the world; some who missed last year’s cruise because of U.S. COVID policy at the time. My friend who I wrote about last year, Andrew Derbyshire, entertainer extraordinaire, is back on this cruise and he joined us with his friend Stacy Jackson, a singer and TV star in London, at the sail-away. Can’t wait to hear him sing again during the cruise. As we sailed from port there was the first of what would be incredible sunsets to enjoy.
The first of the daily LGBTQ meet-ups was scheduled for 8 p.m. at the martini bar and it was listed in the daily program. I missed it as we had dinner reservations at Eden for that time. Turns out Eden has a new chef this year. The food is still quite good but a little different. I hope the LGBTQ happy hour will be moved in the next couple of days to the Eden bar at 6 p.m. each evening, where it was last year allowing people to meet before they headed off for their evening’s activities.
All-in-all it was a wonderful first day on the ship ending back at the martini bar. Then back to my room for a good night’s sleep and finding a note on my pillow to remind me to turn back my watch an hour. Didn’t complain about an extra hour sleep and remembered to put the breakfast request slip outside my door. Tomorrow would be a sea day.