Blake Snow

writer-for-hire, content guy, bestselling author

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Celebrity’s newest cruise ship is the billionaire boat for everyone

Courtesy Celebrity Cruises

FORT LAUDERDALE—Celebrity Cruises look different, taste different, sail different, and value things that other cruises lack, like “all included” packages, plus ship layouts and guest rooms that feel more like a spacious resort than cramped passenger ship.

They are not the funnest ships on the high seas—nor the biggest or family-friendliest. But they are the most relaxing, delicious, and healthy ships sailing today. And thanks to incentivized fares that are only slightly higher than its competitors, Celebrity is also a “best buy” in cruising, despite their premium digs.

The recently launched Celebrity Ascent is the embodiment of this approach. Built for nearly a billion dollars, the 1,000 foot, 3200 passenger vessel doubles down on what its three older “Edge Series” siblings do so well. It’s 20% more fuel efficient, which is good for the planet. And it serves a greater variety of global cuisines, fanciful restaurants, and fresh produce than others, which is good for the belly.

On the inaugural christening last month, my daughter and I boarded the Ascent in less than five minutes, while armed with Celebrity’s snazzy app. We then devoured two charcuterie plates, a wholesome salad, and washed it all down with a pretentious Pellegrino from the Ocean View buffet, which seriously gives Vegas buffets a run for their money. Not exactly. But close.

Partly cloudy skies off the coast of Florida limited the sun-hug I was hoping for on the first afternoon by the pool. But my soul was well on its way to being sun-kissed and satisfied throughout the trip. In a word, Ascent is “soothing.”

In addition to its best-in-class food and sophisticated decor, Celebrity is known for its service. Although the entire industry is staffed by a humble army of endearing workers, Celebrity’s are a cut above. I’m smiling just thinking about a half dozen in particular that went out of their way to ensure my teenage daughter and I enjoyed our first-world vacation. “The ship is just a canvas,” says parent CEO Jason Liberty. “The staff are the colorful brush strokes.” I believe him.

So what can guests expect from the newest vessel to sail the Caribbean? Plunge pools by the Rooftop Garden, which is the best green space you’ll find on any cruise. A private party room called The Annex for group movies, live sports, karaoke, and golf simulator. New restaurants, bars, menus, casino, and shows. Plus cheeky wall art, like funny-looking bears and supermodels sitting with dogs at dinner.

Not everything’s perfect. Although my easy-going family will continue to book Celebrity as a great way to unwind, thrill-seeking families are probably better served on Royal Caribbean. And the onboard entertainment isn’t as polished as what you’ll find on Disney Cruises.

But those are minor quibbles against the real reason that half of all Americans prefer cruising to any other vacation: to satisfy their gluttonous desires in sunny places with all-inclusive pricing and spontaneous activities that free them from the monotonous transactions and commutes of everyday life.

In that regard, Celebrity Ascent more than delivers. It doesn’t fix what wasn’t broken. It prioritizes good vibes and creature comforts over fun. It builds on everything the brand is beloved for. And that’s saying a lot.Blake Snow