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First Impressions of Celebrity’s Newest Ship

Key Takeaways

  • There are 32 different dining and drinking venues on board, from Le Voyage by celebrity chef Daniel Boulud to the line’s iconic Martini Bar.
  • The onboard entertainment is incredible. The “Awaken” show combines popular music with acrobatics and lasers, while Ascent After Dark: Shine the Night invites cruisers to don metallic or sequin outfits for a deck party under the stars. 
  • The Solarium adults-only pool area is a relaxing spot with comfortable lounge chairs, a pool and hot tubs; head to Eden for delightful cocktails and optimal sunset views.

You can think of Celebrity Cruises as the more adult cousin of Royal Caribbean International – which makes sense, considering both cruise lines are owned by Royal Caribbean Group. With all of the recent buzz around both brands, I was excited to sail on Celebrity Cruises’ newest ship, Celebrity Ascent, in its debut month. I embarked out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in December 2023.

The 17-deck, 141,420-ton ship has 1,646 staterooms and can carry 3,260 guests at double occupancy. At 1,073 feet long and 128 feet wide, the ship has plenty of space for upscale amenities, edgy entertainment and incredible dining venues. The Edge Series ship also has more than 1,400 crew members who hail from 60 different countries around the world.

As an avid cruiser who has taken more than 50 ocean and river voyages on almost a dozen cruise lines, I found Celebrity Ascent lived up to the hype. The ship itself is stunning, and each area has a distinct vibe. I loved the ample amount of food and drink opportunities – there are 32 different venues – and the standout onboard entertainment was like nothing I had seen before on a cruise ship.

Celebrity Ascent itineraries

Megan duBois

Celebrity Ascent sails around the Mediterranean and the Caribbean over the next few years. Summer 2024 brings Ascent to Mediterranean ports of call in Greece, Turkey, Italy, France, Spain and Portugal. The Mediterranean season ends in October 2024, with a 13-night transatlantic sailing departing from Barcelona, Spain.

In late April 2025, it’s back to the Mediterranean for the 2025 season between May and October. Ascent then returns to the Caribbean for sailings in late 2025; destinations include southern Caribbean locales, plus the Panama Canal and Royal Caribbean’s private island in the Bahamas, Perfect Day at CocoCay. Similar Caribbean sailings are also on sale for early 2026.

Who should sail on Celebrity Ascent?

Megan duBois

Celebrity Ascent, like its Edge Series sister ships, caters to adults traveling together. The overall vibe of the ship is upscale and modern, with plenty of places to grab a drink, enjoy a meal and watch a show. Couples can enjoy an elevated date night in Le Grand Bistro, while the aptly named Sunset Bar – which overlooks the rear of the ship – is the spot to be with a cocktail in hand as the sun sets into the horizon. This bar was easily my favorite spot on board; I spent most afternoons here enjoying a cocktail.

The deck parties, of which Ascent After Dark: Shine the Night is the premier event, are a fun time – but they aren’t so loud that guests can hear the bass thumping in the staterooms below. Shows at The Theatre are fully immersive, with incredible technology and great music that had me dancing in my seat.

If you are traveling with children, know that there aren’t many places on board for kids to just hang out and be kids. The Camp at Sea kids club is crammed into a small area on Deck 3, away from the main Grand Plaza and The Martini Bar.

Cruises on Ascent can be expensive, but Celebrity often runs deals on sailings. Without any promotions, sailings around the Mediterranean in 2024 and 2025 may run between about $1,000 and $5,600 per person. In comparison, 2024 and 2025 Caribbean voyages may cost between about $2,000 and $4,400 per person before discounts. (Note: Cruise rates can change frequently, based on demand and availability.)

The stateroom

Megan duBois

There are over two dozen different stateroom styles on Celebrity Ascent. The smallest (and usually cheapest) rooms are the Inside Staterooms, which offer between 181 and 202 square feet of space. For solo travelers, the Single Inside Staterooms offer the same amenities as a double occupancy room, but with a smaller 103-square-foot layout and no single supplement fee at booking.

Ocean View Staterooms are slightly larger, at 200 to 242 square feet. There are three different room styles; the main difference among them is the size of the window. Options range from small windows in the middle of the wall to large, floor-to-ceiling picture windows.

Ascent’s balcony cabins are quite varied, but the majority are Infinite Veranda Staterooms, where the balcony is actually a uniquely designed window that can be opened to let the ocean breeze in. There is a set of glass doors that can be drawn to make this space more private, as well.

Concierge Staterooms allow guests access to a dedicated concierge staff and exclusive onboard events. AquaClass cabins all feature the infinite balcony design, plus unlimited access to the SEA Thermal Suite, complimentary dining at Blu restaurant, fitness classes and a spa concierge.

Celebrity Ascent’s suites are all part of The Retreat, the line’s ship-within-a-ship concept where cruisers have access to an exclusive restaurant, a sun deck with a pool, a lounge and a dedicated crew. Suites range in size and style, from smaller 319-square-foot studios to massive two-bedroom suites offering more than 2,500 square feet of indoor and outdoor space.

When I sailed on Celebrity Ascent, I stayed in an AquaClass stateroom. The main living space had a king-size bed, which was cozy after long days of exploring the ship and nights spent on the dance floor. I found the cabin’s couch a bit uncomfortable, but there was plenty of storage space in the large closet and drawers. Conveniently, the bed was high enough to fit my suitcases under.

Because this was my first time in an Infinite Veranda room, I was interested to see how the balcony actually worked. After pressing a button for the window to roll down, my room instantly filled with humid air – not the sea breeze I was expecting. The air conditioner also turns off when the window is down, so it takes a long time for the room to cool off again. I only opened the window once because of this. For me, the extra veranda space served as more of a sitting area to take in the views than a spot to enjoy the ocean breeze.

My stateroom’s bathroom was spacious, with a larger-than-usual standup rain shower. I also loved the eco-friendly bath amenities, which smelled divine. I used the in-room bathrobes and slippers every day of the cruise.

I loved that my AquaClass stateroom came with some amenities that are not included in other Infinite Veranda rooms. There were two yoga mats, two bottles of water that were refreshed daily, a welcome bottle of sparkling wine, an umbrella, binoculars, complimentary shoeshine service and a pillow menu. AquaClass guests also have unlimited access to the spa’s thermal suite, complimentary fitness classes and a dedicated spa concierge. I went to the thermal suite daily to enjoy the heated loungers and steam rooms.

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Best amenities on Celebrity Ascent

Megan duBois

On Celebrity Ascent, you’ll never be bored. Over just a few days, I was able to participate in game shows and dance parties, sit back and enjoy live music, and spend some time by the pool. While I don’t gamble, the casino always seemed to be full when I walked by, and someone was always cheering about hitting the jackpot.

For live entertainment, be sure to catch Flash Flair Fusion, the nightly bartending performance at the Martini Bar. Meanwhile, the Theatre hosted three main shows during my sailing: “Residency,” “Awaken” and “Bridges.” (Based on my experience, “Awaken” is the production to prioritize.)

Additionally, The Club hosts most of the ship’s game shows and some smaller live music events. I loved hanging out at this venue; it was never overly packed with people, and the games were pure fun. I even got called up on stage to participate in one of the games and ended up winning a Celebrity Cruises-branded hat.

For some outdoor fun, hit the onboard pickleball court. Or, head to the Rooftop Garden, where float pools face the ocean and plenty of comfy seating awaits. I loved how lush this space felt, thanks to all of the live plants surrounding the seating areas. This is also the spot to catch movies at night.

If you’re looking for an even more unique place to hang out, head to The Magic Carpet. This bright orange, glass-encased bar hangs out over the side of the ship and is the perfect spot for an after-dinner drink. The Magic Carpet can move up and down the side of the ship, docking at select decks for a set amount of time. I loved hanging here at night as the ship was pulling out of port to see the islands light up and watch other ships pass by.

When planning out your evenings, keep in mind that it can be a trek to get from one onboard activity to the next – especially when there is very little time between many of the major scheduled events. One night, I started in The Club to watch a game show, then immediately had to get to the Theatre. After the theater performance, I had to walk the entire length of the ship and take the stairs to get to the night show in Eden. Then, after Eden, it was time for the Shine the Night deck party. By the time I got back to my stateroom, I was exhausted.

Best dining venues on Celebrity Ascent

Megan duBois

There are 32 different spots for food and drinks on Celebrity Ascent, including four main dining rooms; four casual complimentary eateries; eight specialty restaurants; 14 cafes, lounges and bars; and two exclusive venues.

Included with the base fare are meals at the four main dining rooms, all of which serve the same menus every day, plus a small exclusive menu that’s tailored to the theme of each restaurant. (For example, if you’re dining in Cyprus, there is a small list of Cyprus-exclusive dishes that highlight Mediterranean cuisine, while the Normandie restaurant serves up French favorites.)

Other restaurants included in the cruise rate are Eden Cafe & Bar, which serves light bites and sweets; Mast Grill, offering burgers and salads; and Oceanview Cafe, a buffet open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

For an additional cost, head to specialty dining venues like the stunning Le Voyage by Daniel Boulud, which is great for date night; Le Grand Bistro, a fun take on a classic French Bistro; or Eden Restaurant, which features an entirely plant-based menu.

My favorite specialty dining option – and overall favorite restaurant on the ship – was Raw on 5. It features stunning chilled seafood towers, fresh sashimi and hot dishes like fresh lobster and shrimp wontons. Each dish was prepared beautifully, the service was top-notch and our table next to the window offered great views.

However, one restaurant I would skip is Fine Cut Steakhouse. It is a pretty standard steakhouse, and nothing on the menu really stood out to me. The upscale ambiance was also diminished by music floating in from the nearby Grand Plaza and Martini Bar (think: everything from One Direction to Cher). While both artists are great to hear while sipping a martini in a public space, I don’t want to hear them while dining at an expensive restaurant.

Best excursions on Celebrity Ascent

Megan duBois

On a past Mediterranean cruise, I explored both Florence and Pisa, Italy, while docked in the Italian city of Livorno. Celebrity offers a similar excursion aboard the Ascent. The day trip includes a scenic drive through the Tuscan countryside; exploring Florence and seeing the Ponte Vecchio and the Duomo; and a trip to Pisa to see the iconic learning tower. In Rome, consider doing an all-day tour where you can see the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain and St. Peter’s Square.

Regardless of where your cruise is headed, you may choose to explore ports on your own instead. If that’s the case, be sure to give yourself enough time to get back to the ship. I always try to return at least an hour before the scheduled sail away time.

Overall impressions of Celebrity Ascent

Megan duBois

When it comes to ships that cater to a mostly adult audience, Celebrity Ascent really has it all. From stunning common areas to incredible dining and entertainment, I was never bored on this ship. What I loved most was the wide range of entertainment, from pop-up music around the ship to full-blown experiences that need to be seen to be believed. The food on the ship is a step above most other major cruise lines, and the number of dining options is great, especially for longer sailings.

While I loved my room’s location and amenities as a whole, I found the Infinite Veranda design to be a bit of a waste. When I did use it, my room got hot quickly and took a while to cool back down. I would consider booking a traditional veranda cabin next time, or a stateroom with a large picture window to save some money without sacrificing the ocean views.

Why Trust U.S. News Travel

Megan duBois has been covering travel, cruising and theme parks for over five years. She has taken more than 50 cruises, has traveled to four continents and more than 25 countries, and has visited a dozen theme parks around the world. Her work appears online and in print in major publications like U.S. News & World Report, Travel + Leisure, The Points Guy, Conde Nast Traveler, Forbes and more.

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Bernard Greenhall
Bernard Greenhall

Bernard is a sports and physical education expert with years of experience. He's passionate about promoting health and wellness through physical activity, and he's worked with athletes and non-athletes alike to help them achieve their fitness goals. Bernard holds a degree in Physical Education and is dedicated to staying up-to-date with the latest trends and research in his field.

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