Welcome Aboard the Celebrity Ascent

Celebrity Ascent

The party has already started. The buzz of sociability: music, laughter and the hum of conversation is a siren call to fun, and we follow it—like moths to a flame. It is 11:30 a.m.

Stepping into the luxurious Grand Plaza we’re ready to fit right in. What’s the drink du jour? Veuve Cliquot please. Around me, others are enjoying Coffee Martinis which seem right as a pre-lunch cocktail. I feel like I am in a big Hollywood movie. This is the Celebrity Ascent. There is a cool musical score that entices my feet to dance. It’s hard to tell who is having more joyfulness here: the acrobatic bartenders who balance drinks on their elbows, and leap on the bar while pouring, or the crowd of guests they are entertaining. If I went home right now, I would feel satisfied that I’d had a great time.

Celebrity Ascent
Celebrity Ascent

Lunch in the Oceanview Cafe is a voluptuous introduction to the foods of land and sea, including many of the dishes that have become part of the melting pot of American cuisine. An international landscape of foods, fruits and vegetables: from pasta to sushi, from tacos to grilled lamb chops and steak, from a generous slice of standing rib roast to grilled salmon, it is a floating, living gigantic representation of the cuisines of the world, arranged delectably in a supermarket size buffet. And desserts! Don’t interrupt me please, while I indulge in a myriad of luscious fruit tarts, and six-inch-tall cakes. Just a sliver please.

The excitement of the naming ceremony begins late afternoon with the opening experience of the City of Mount Dora Pipe Band featuring two energetic and amazing DJ’s. The co-Godmothers of the ship are sisters Captain Sandy Yawn and Michelle Dunham, founder and executive director of a school for children with Autism. Always charming and articulate, Jason Liberty, President and CEO of the Royal Caribbean Group, and Laura Hodges Bethge, President of Celebrity Cruises, introduce the two Masters of the Celebrity Ascent, brothers, Captains Dimitrios and Tacos Kafetzis. Leaving nothing to chance, a Pastor and a Rabbi both give their blessings. Then, it’s complete silence as we see a jeroboam-size bottle of Veuve Cliquot Champagne zip-line toward the ship and crash into the Hull. Gross Tonnage: 141,420. Length: 1073 feet. Beam: 128 feet. Draught: 27 feet. Cruising speed: 22 Knots. Welcome to our world, Celebrity Ascent. Now, the ship can glide out of the dock and sail away into the sunset.

Celebrity Ascent
Dining Room, Celebrity Ascent

Dinner at the Raw Bar is an oceanic culinary adventure. In a cool and calm ambiance, we’re served lobster, shrimp, scallops and other crustaceans, fish and sea critters, all with their appropriate accoutrements. From personal experience, I know that the simplest of dishes are the most difficult to prepare, and I recognize that the chef in this kitchen is a master of timing and seasoning.

After dinner, it’s showtime, a musical production called Awaken is performed by the Theatre Production Cast. It’s like a pre-Broadway, out-of-town tryout starring a very talented ensemble.  Dare I meander over and join the table of the Texas Hold’em Cash Game, or shall I be an innocent by-stander this time. These are the big decisions to make while on a cruise.

Back in my stateroom, the ship glides smoothly and quietly into the night and I am asleep the moment head hits pillow.

My favorite meal of the day is breakfast. As an Aquarius, I take the time to commune with the ocean from my window table, and enjoy the quiet luxury of perfect eggs, breads and fruits. In the scheme of things, the ship is medium size, but there is so much to see and explore.

The latest cutting-edge Spa technology is available to be explored. The SEA Thermal Suite has eight distinctive therapeutic experiences including Hammam, Salt Room, Crystalarium, Heated Lounges, and more. A Spa fanatic like me would want to spend the day here, but not this day.  This day there is much more to see, do, and dine.

Celebrity Ascent
Suite, Celebrity Ascent

A guided tour of the ship is a must, and has us all dreaming of spending about a month of divine luxury in extraordinary suites, dining in restaurants where the word “gourmet” is taken for granted, working out in the state-of-the-art gym, and relaxing on the most comfortable recliners on the deck, just watching the horizon and the blue sea and sky.

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For me, it’s not a vacation without shopping and browsing in the well-known designer outposts on board. The Bulgari Boutique Grand opening, for example, displays its newest, breathtaking statement pieces. The perfect shop from which to bring home a little bauble as a souvenir of the journey. The perfume shop entices me to stop, to sniff and breathe, and I note that my favorite scents are duty free. A retrospective of Louis Vuitton through the ages presents familiar bags, luggage and accessories that have never seemed to go out of fashion.

Turning a corner, I literally bump into an old friend, Daniel Boulud who is on board inaugurating his new restaurant, Le Voyage. Alas, “not enough hours for me to enjoy your cuisine this trip, maybe next time.”

Celebrity Ascent
Fine Cut Steak House, Celebrity Ascent

The dress code tonight is “Sparkly.” A good opportunity to wear my silver sequin Dolce Gabbana coat—that should do the trick nicely. The Fine Cut Steak House has a menu that is a carnivore’s dream. We’re seated at a writer’s communal table for dinner, and served family style. After sampling several splendid cuts of beef, we all agree that they are flawless and delectable. Satisfied and still “Sparkly,” we take the elevator to the Latin Dance Party. It’s like riding a bicycle, you never forget those steps. Next, a bit of exploration in the Gaming Salon, then a quick duck into the Late Night Comedy Show for a few laughs to end the night.

It’s true, time passes quickly when you’re having fun. I must fly back to my state-room, and leave my packed-bag in the hallway before midnight. And just like that, it is waiting for me on the pier the next morning. What a weekend! What a ship! I can’t stop raving about it. My American family is not surprised at my enthusiasm—they have been cruising on Celebrity for more than a decade.

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