Why ship within a ship is an ideal luxury cruise experience

I wrote this article on the veranda of our Sky Suite on Celebrity Millennium — Photo courtesy of Lois Alter Mark

Hotels within hotels have been a growing trend for the past few years, so it was only natural for cruise lines to follow suit. Offering exclusive accommodations and VIP perks, Ships onboard transform huge ocean liners into intimate experiences, allowing luxury-seeking guests to enjoy the best of both worlds.

Celebrity Cruises first showcased its ship-within-a-ship concept, The Retreat, with the launch of Celebrity Edge in 2018 (and plans to expand it across its entire fleet with a $500 million upgrade). dollars).

So when my husband and I decided to piece together our first cruise – which we took to Alaska on Celebrity Millennium – we also decided it was time to upgrade the experience and book The Retreat, which didn’t exist not when we traveled on the ship 20 years ago. With more private spaces and fewer people (out of a sailing capacity of 2,218 passengers, only around 100 are invited to The Retreat), it seemed like the perfect way to sail at the moment.

Apparently, we’re not the only ones feeling this.

“The Retreat Suites have been the most popular cabins as we resume sailing,” said Brian Abel, senior vice president of hotel operations for Celebrity Cruises. “We are witnessing the renaissance of travel and cruising. Passengers who are once again so passionate about sailing want to make the most of their trip by taking advantage of the most luxurious and exclusive offers.

Here are 10 features of The Retreat – all of which are included in the price – that take the already stellar Celebrity Cruises experience to a whole new level.

All suites

The Penthouse Suite is like a luxury apartment at seaThe Penthouse Suite is like a luxury apartment at sea — Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises

The Retreat consists of 50 suites, starting at a spacious 254 square feet and going up to a whopping 1,432 square feet. We opted for a Sky Suite, which was so well appointed, with a king-size bed topped with a luxurious Cashmere™ mattress, plenty of storage, premium bath products, plush bathrobes and slippers. The suite even had a pair of high quality binoculars which we used on our shore excursions to focus on the bald eagles hiding in the trees and calving from the glaciers.

As grand as those indoor spaces are, it’s the outdoor spaces that make the suites even more coveted. With lanais ranging from a generous 57 square feet to a jaw-dropping 1,098 square feet, you can “ooh” and “ah” at the scenery while having breakfast delivered straight to your table or curl up on your sofa with a good book.

The retreat terrace

The Retreat Sundeck is a private space to admire the viewThe Retreat Sundeck is a private space to admire the view — Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises

Located one level above the pool, the Sundeck is the perfect place to get away from the crowds and relax. Reserved exclusively for guests of The Retreat, it features plush daybeds, cabanas, sofas and lounge chairs, plus a host of amenities including sunscreen, lip balm and even sunglasses. sun, so you can lie down safely.

Retreat hosts will make sure you are supplied with water, cocktails or whatever else you need. There is also a hot tub and outdoor shower for warming up or cooling down. Best of all, because the Sundeck has prime real estate at the front of the ship, you are guaranteed unobstructed views as you sail to your destinations.

The retirement lounge

The Retreat Lounge is a great place to relax 24/7The Retreat Lounge is a great place to relax 24/7 — Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises

Guests of The Retreat have access to their own lounge, where they can stop for drinks, small bites and even afternoon tea. Renowned designer Kelly Hoppen CBE created a warm and welcoming space, and we often went there for snacks and made ourselves at home when passing through to go elsewhere. (Hmm…maybe that’s another reason we left the ship to weigh more than we did when we arrived.)

The lounge is also where you will find The Retreat Concierges, who are there to assist you with any request. Whether you want to make onboard or shipboard reservations, plan a special occasion or a private excursion, consider it done.

Lights

Luminae is the private restaurant for guests of The RetreatLuminae is the private restaurant for guests of The Retreat — Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises

This private restaurant, reserved for guests of The Retreat, is intimate and charming – and the food is excellent, thanks to an eclectic and ever-changing menu that includes signature dishes from Daniel Boulud, Michelin-starred chef and Celebrity Cruises global culinary brand. . Ambassador. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Luminae acts as the main restaurant for guests of The Retreat, so you can have all your meals there. And believe me, you will enjoy them.

Are you hesitating between filet mignon and salmon? Do like my husband and order both. And don’t miss the juicy Signature Burger with its adorable little basket of fries. It’s on the lunch menu every day because it’s so popular that customers would probably revolt if it wasn’t.

Personal service

Impeccable service is the keystone of The RetreatImpeccable service is the backbone of The Retreat — Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises

Because Celebrity understands that the true foundation of luxury is service, guests of The Retreat have a team of dedicated attendants, concierges and your personal retreat host ready to help with any request. Although standard gratuities are also included as part of The Retreat, you’ll probably want to tip everyone extra at the end of the cruise for taking such good care of you.

Our suite’s mini-fridge was always stocked with our favorite beverages, and because these pros lacked for nothing – including my husband’s sweet tooth and penchant for afternoon snacks – we always came back to the Fresh starters and desserts waiting for us at various times of the day.

Special invitations and gifts

The view from the ship's helipad as we cruised to Endicott Arm, AlaskaThe view from the ship’s helipad as we sailed to Endicott Arm, Alaska — Photo courtesy of Lois Alter Mark

One of the most enjoyable perks of being a guest at The Retreat is the surprise of unexpected gifts that mysteriously appear in your suite. Each evening we received a small box of chocolates along with a small gift: a Celebrity tote bag, Alaska baseball caps, a souvenir photo of the beautiful Dawes Glacier.

We also received invitations to exclusive events, such as a Balinese jewelry making demonstration and, highlight of the cruise, front row seats for a special tour of Endicott Arm and Dawes Glacier on the helipad. of the ship. Warmed by woolen blankets and steaming hot chocolate, we literally had the best seats in the house when we stopped in this beautiful part of Alaska, with spectacular, head-on views unavailable in any public areas of the ship.

Onboard credit

The Persian garden is a beautiful place to relaxThe Persian Garden is a beautiful place to relax — Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises

Every guest at The Retreat receives a credit to use on board the ship, and you’ll definitely want to apply it to the amazing specialty restaurants and spa. Whether you treat yourself to a massage or a facial, the spa is the perfect place to spend a day at sea. If you book a treatment, you’ll have access to the Persian Garden good for whatever comes your way, offering a variety of aquatherapy environments ranging from aromatic steam to tropical rain showers.

The specialty restaurants are all worth trying. Sushi on Five serves up authentic made-to-order Japanese rolls and nigiri, as well as wontons, ramen and more. Tuscan Grille is Italian food at its finest, and when your server says he’ll bring you a little of each item that looks good to you (which is dangerous because everything will taste good to you), make no mistake. The portions are generous and it would be wise to wear stretchy pants. Le Petit Chef is an unmissable experience, combining innovative entertainment with an equally innovative menu for a truly one-of-a-kind dinner.

Premium drinks package

Kudos to the Premium Drinks Package included in The RetreatKudos to the Premium Beverage Package included with The Retreat — Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises

Although the Premium Beverage Package is available to all guests at an additional cost, it is an included benefit for The Retreat guests. This means you can enjoy unlimited specialty coffees and teas, craft and craft beers, spirits, cocktails, frozen drinks, Coca-Cola products, premium bottled water and wines by the glass. up to $15 per serving. You will also get 20% discount on bottles of wine.

Being able to order your drink of choice whenever you feel like it without racking up an exorbitant tab at the bar – or cafe – is such an indulgence that you’ll want to toast your wise decision to book The Retreat.

Unlimited Wi-Fi

Thanks to unlimited Wi-Fi, you can share live videos with your friendsWith unlimited Wi-Fi, you can share live video with your friends — Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises

Ship Wi-Fi can be very expensive, but guests of The Retreat get unlimited Wi-Fi included, making it easy to post photos of their excursions (or the cornucopia of an all-day buffet at the Oceanview Café) and inviting friends and family who know FOMO to join them on their next cruise. Since we didn’t have to worry about data usage, I was able to work from our lanai, surrounded by stunning scenery and occasionally joined by a humpback whale or pod of dolphins swimming alongside the ship.

Priority embarkation and disembarkation

Retreat guests enjoy priority boarding so they can start their vacation quicklyRetreat guests enjoy priority boarding so they can start their vacation quickly – Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises

When you can’t wait to get on board, being a guest of The Retreat will ensure you’re on board and settled into a lounger in no time. And when it’s time to disembark, you’ll be personally escorted to the gangway, where you’ll be taken to the special cordoned off section for The Retreat’s guests to collect your luggage. It saves you time and makes you feel like you’ve visited people who really care about you.