Is Celebrity Cruises’ “The Retreat” worth it? We see this question asked often online. In our opinion, if the price tag fits your budget, it is totally worth it. The Retreat is ship-within-a-ship concept offering specialized, upgraded amenities and services for those who book suites. All suite categories (sky suite and above) have access to The Retreat.
Regular readers of this blog know that we adore cruising – especially with Celebrity Cruises. We enjoy cruising so much that we’re even hosting a Postcard Jar Friends Cruise aboard the Celebrity Reflection in January of 2023.
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What’s included in The Retreat on Celebrity Cruises?
The first thing you’ll notice that makes The Retreat worth it is the priority boarding. Suite guests have access to their own, quickly-moving line. In Celebrity’s new Terminal 25 in Fort Lauderdale, there is even a private boarding lounge for Retreat guests. With comfortable seating, fresh-baked pastries, and drinks you’ll wait in style for your turn to check in.
The check-in process is super-easy, as well. You just sit in one of the comfy chairs until a staff member comes by with an iPad. They scan your documents, review your medical information (post pandemic), and check your passport. The next thing you know, you are scanning your boarding pass and are on board. On the last cruise we took out of Fort Lauderdale on the Celebrity Apex, it took a total of about 12 minutes to get from curbside at the port to the martini bar on the ship.
The lack of lines doesn’t stop there. When it’s time to tender ashore, suite guests have priority boarding, just as they do on the morning of disembarkation. It’s just one of the little details that makes suite life so, um,
Luminae at The Retreat makes a suite worth it by itself
The first time we booked a suite we knew that we had access to the special suites-only restaurant, Luminae. We stopped by just after boarding to see where it was before heading to the buffet. The maitre’ d saw us and invited us inside for lunch. How could we turn that down?
We were barely in our chairs when a team of servers descended on our table, made sure we were comfortable, had water, multiple choices of bread, and a diverse menu.
Soon, they returned to answer any questions we had and to take our orders. Talk about rock star treatment! Never before had we been so pampered in a restaurant at sea or on land.
During that cruise, we realized that this was typical treatment in Luminae. Add to that the unique menus with dishes not found anywhere else on the ship, and we found what might be our favorite restaurant at sea.
We also loved that the staff just didn’t seem to know the word, “no.” Do you want something from the menu in the main dining room? Just ask. Is there a specific cocktail you’d like? Just ask. Two desserts? Just ask. You get the picture.
Finally, as a guest of the Retreat, you may also dine in Blu, a spa-themed restaurant normally reserved for AquaClass guests, on a space-available basis. Of course, all the main dining rooms and the buffet are open to suite guests, as well. In short, you have a plethora of options.
The Retreat Lounge and concierge
Something else that makes booking in The Retreat worth it is the exclusive Retreat Lounge and the dedicated concierge you’ll find there. The lounge is a wonderful, usually quiet place to relax and unwind.
There, you’ll find water, sodas, tea, coffee, beer, wine, cocktails, and snacks – all day long. You’ll also find cheerful servers who are happy to help you get what you want so you can enjoy your vacation.
Every day the Retreat also offers a continental breakfast, afternoon tea, and a cocktail hour with hours d’overs.
Also in the lounge are dedicated hosts and concierges who can help with anything you need to make your vacation better. Whether you want to make a reservation at a specialty dining restaurant, book a private shore excursion, or ask a question about your on-board account, the concierge is happy to help.
In fact, they’ll even have someone from Shore Excursions, Future Cruise, or the Spa come and meet with you in person so you won’t have to stand in a line anywhere.
It’s one more way you get to spend less time waiting and more time relaxing on your vacation. We especially enjoy relaxing on a comfy chair with a view in the Retreat Lounge (above) or outside on this covered balcony (below) reserved for guests of The Retreat.
Larger staterooms for guests of The Retreat
Suites come in a variety of sizes from the smaller Sky Suites to suites with multiple bedrooms, bathrooms, as well as hot tubs and plunge pools. No matter which suite, we have found the service and amenities offered to be exquisite. We appreciate that the room is about 50% larger than a regular stateroom, and has a larger bathroom, with a tub, as well.
Each suite also has a private veranda which is a perfect place to sit, relax, and watch the waves go by. It’s also the best venue ever for a room service breakfast. Can you beat these views?
Depending on the suite you book, your accommodations may include an in-room bar setup, as well as unlimited complimentary laundry and specialty dining.
Upgraded amenities for The Retreat guests
Celebrity welcomes guests of The Retreat to their staterooms with a complimentary bottle of sparkling wine. Guests will find premium toiletries in the bathroom and will sleep on Celebrity’s signature eXhale® bedding. This includes plush duvets, 100% pure cotton sheets, and even a pillow menu to help them find that perfect night’s sleep.
In the morning, they may don their plush robe, bedroom slippers and order an in-room specialty coffee. Their personal Retreat host will even bring fresh fruit, pastries, or a full breakfast to the room if asked.
High class service follows suite guests everywhere they go on board. With a premium drink package included in the fare, Retreat guests can enjoy a favorite beverage anywhere on the ship.
Also included in the cost of The Retreat are streaming WiFi and all gratuities for staff (though you can always tip extra if you’d like). Finally, Retreat guests also receive some on-board credit to spend on anything from shore excursions and jewerly to appointments at the luxurious on-board spa.
The Retreat Sundeck is totally worth it
A newer feature on Celebrity ships is The Retreat Sundeck. First introduced on the Edge and all Edge-class ships, The Retreat Sundeck is being retrofitted onto all of the other existing ships in the fleet, and is one of the features that truly makes booking The Retreat worth it. We call it our “happy place.”
The Retreat Sundeck is a private area reserved for suite guests to enjoy time outside. It offers a number of amenities not necessarily found on the main pool deck. We love that the loungers aren’t just made of tight vinyl mesh. Instead, they’re padded and offer a perfect seat where you’ll be happy to spend a day.
In addition, there’s dedicated staff who get to know you and are happy to provide personalized service. They’ll bring you a cocktail if you’d like, or even a light lunch of shrimp cocktail or a hamburger and fries. And they keep you on your toes, too. You never know when someone will swing by to offer a treat like a fruit-kabob or a scoop of gelato. They always seem to have the perfect snacks to cool you off on a warm, tropical day.
Some ships even have a dedicated Retreat Sundeck Bar with bartenders who work hard all day to take care of their guests and make sure there’s a fun, relaxing atmosphere for everyone.
Ships with a Retreat Sundeck
Not every Celebrity Cruise ship has a pool and bar designated for The Retreat guests. Here’s what’s available as of spring 2022:
Edge – pool, hot tub, sundeck bar, upgraded lounge seating, cabanas
Apex – pool, hot tub, sundeck bar, upgraded lounge seating, cabanas, umbrellas
Beyond – pool, hot tub, sundeck bar, upgraded lounge seating, cabanas, umbrellas (available after April 29, 2022)
Millennium – hot tub, upgraded lounge seating, cabanas
Summit – hot tub, upgraded lounge seating, cabanas
Silhouette – hot tub, sundeck bar, upgraded lounge seating, cabanas
Equinox – upgraded lounge seating, cabanas
Ships that are expected to be “revolutionized” with additional sundeck amenities for The Retreat guests include: Constellation, Infinity, Eclipse, Solstice, and Reflection.
And just to pamper sunbathers a little more, we’ve often found a bowl of iced towels on the The Retreat Sundeck. Talk about refreshing! There truly is nothing better when you’re under the hot sun. Also available are sunglasses and sunscreen.
For a complete video tour of the Retreat Sundeck on the Celebrity Apex click HERE.
Personal Retreat host service is over the top
Another perk that makes The Retreat worth it is that you have a personal Retreat host. Your personal Retreat host (formerly called butler) doesn’t hang out in your room or anything, and doesn’t pack or unpack (unless you request his/her help). But they do assist you with about anything you want or need. Like the concierge in The Retreat Lounge, your host can help with dinner reservations (at specialty restaurants like Eden), setting up shore excursions, and the like.
In addition, your host is the one who brings room service to your room. Whether you want coffee and pastries or a full meal, your host will make dining in your room a special experience.
Your personal Retreat host will also help with tasks like getting items to and from the laundry, and will even reserve a seat in the theater for you on evening chic nights.
Extra experiences make The Retreat worth it
When you’re in The Retreat, you’re sometimes invited to take part in extra ship experiences. We’ve been invited on bridge tours, to the helipad at the bow of the ship for sail away, and have even had lunch with the captain (pre-pandemic).
You’d still have a wonderful vacation without these extra experiences, but having them can take the trip to the next level of special.
It’s easy to meet people (if you want to)
Being in The Retreat makes it easy to meet people. After all, you see some of the same folks over and over whether that’s in the lounge, in Luminae, or up on the Retreat Sundeck. In fact, we’ve met some wonderful people in The Retreat and we’re now glad to call them friends and continue to keep in touch.
When you’re in The Retreat you’re part of a sort of family. If you’d like, it’s easy to sit, chat, and get to know new people. Indeed, it’s one of our favorite things to do on board.
The Retreat: Is it worth it? Cost vs. benefit
Does The Retreat cost more? Yes. It can add a couple of thousand per person to your cruise. But based on the overall experience, we think The Retreat is totally worth it. That said, an experience in The Retreat may not fit in every budget. If it doesn’t match yours, that’s fine. We know from experience that you’ll have a wonderful cruise regardless because Celebrity Cruises’ service and accommodations are second-to-none.
One word of caution though: if you upgrade to The Retreat, you may never be able to go back to a regular balcony stateroom, again. It’s sort of like trying to go back to holding hands after being married for 10 years. Not likely.
This is not a sponsored post. We paid for all of our cruises and upgrades to The Retreat. Want to try cruising? Join us on our first Postcard Jar Friends Cruise on the Celebrity Reflection in January 2023.