Follow and like Postcard Jar:

Is Celebrity Cruises’ “The Retreat” worth it? We see this question asked often online and hear it when we’re aboard Celebrity Cruises ships. 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.

Enjoying the Retreat Sundeck on Apex

Retreat worth it lounge seating

Regular readers of this blog know that we adore cruising – especially with Celebrity Cruises. We’ve purchased 23 Celebrity Cruises since 2013 and 21 of them have been in The Retreat. We enjoy cruising so much that we’re even hosting a Postcard Jar Friends Cruise aboard the Celebrity Edge in May of 2024. You should consider joining us!


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, typically quickly-moving line. In Celebrity’s 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.

Retreat worth it check in lounge

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, 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 Beyond, it took a total of about 12 minutes to get from curbside at the port to the martini bar on the ship.

Retreat worth it check in

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. After sailing a 38-night cruise including several stops that required visas and special procedures, moving to the front of the line was a big benefit of being a Retreat guest. It’s just one of the little details that makes life in The Retreat so, um, suite sweet.

Luminae is a private restaurant for suite guests

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?

Luminae at The Retreat table set for lunch

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.

Celebrity Cruises Luminae waiters

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. That said, we’ve noticed that the menu has not changed much over the last few years. And any changes we’ve seen, have not been for the better.

Retreat worth it Luminae shrimp pasta

Prior to Celebrity’s 2023 “optimization” we wrote here that Luminae might be our favorite restaurant at sea. We would not say that today. Recently, the wine selection has been lacking and some of the higher quality seafood and beef dishes that we used to look forward to enjoying have been replaced by seemingly lower-cost options.

Luminae Celebrity Cruises Halibut

For instance, the halibut filet (above) that was Ann’s favorite is no longer on the dinner menu. Even on evening chic nights, we found lobster on the appetizer menu but not as an entrée.

Retreat worth it Luminae dessert

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 dining options.

Blu restaurant Celebrity Cruises

The Retreat Lounge and concierge

Something else that can make booking in The Retreat worth the extra cost 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. However, when we cruised on the Celebrity Edge in 2023 after “optimization,” we noticed a definite pick up in foot traffic at the concierge stand and in the lounge.

Retreat worth it comfy Retreat lounge seating

In the Retreat Lounge, you’ll find complimentary 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.

In room breakfast

Tea time snacks Retreat Lounge Celebrity Cruises

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.

Retreat concierges Celebrity Cruises

In fact, they’ll even have someone from Shore Excursions, Future Cruise, or the Spa come and meet with you in person (and at a time convenient to you) so you won’t have to stand in a line anywhere.

Retreat Lounge Celebrity Apex

It’s one more way you get to spend less time waiting and more time enjoying 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. (Thes photos taken aboard the Celebrity Edge. Retreat Lounges vary among ships and classes of ship.)

Retreat lounge balcony

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 private hot tubs and plunge pools.

Sky Suite bed Celebrity Cruises

No matter which suite, we have found the service and amenities offered to be exquisite. We appreciate that even the smallest suite is about 50% larger than a regular stateroom, and has a larger bathroom with a tub, as well.

Sky suite bathroom on Celebrity Edge

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? Note that on the Edge Class ships we’ve been on, sky suites do not include a full sized table on the Verdana for dining.

Depending on the suite you book, your accommodations may include an in-room bar setup, as well as unlimited complimentary laundry and specialty dining.

For a full video tour of our Sky Suite on the Celebrity Apex, click HERE. And to tour our Royal Suite on the Celebrity Reflection, click HERE.

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.

Sky Suite bed Celebrity Cruises

In the morning, they may don their plush robe, bedroom slippers and order an in-room specialty coffee. Suite guests can call their head butler (personalized butlers were eliminated in sky suites in 2023, though we hear they may be making a comeback) and someone from room service will bring fresh fruit, pastries, or a full breakfast to the room if asked.

Coffee in room Celebrity Apex

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 (alcoholic OR non-alcoholic) most places on the ship.

Celebrity Edge Bars Martini Bar

One difference we saw in November 2023 from previous cruises, was that the in-room mini bar was no longer stocked with our favorite drinks (included in the drink package we get as suite guests). Instead, we found a variety of beverages and a cost list for private bar items. Now if I want to drink the mini sized Kendall Jackson Cab Sav from the in-room fridge, I’ll pay an additional $24. If I order the same wine anywhere else on the ship, it’s included.

Sky Suite mini bar prices Retreat Worth it

Additionally, suite guests receive premium WiFi. Finally, Retreat guests may 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 some 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.”

Retreat worth it Retreat Sundeck

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. You’ll even get extra pillows!

Retreat Sundeck on Celebrity Summit

In addition, the Retreat Sundeck has a 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, a turkey wrap or even 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.

Retreat worth it snacks

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.

Retreat worth it sundeck bartenders

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 at the end of  2023:

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
Ascent – pool, hot tub, sundeck bar, upgraded lounge seating, cabanas, umbrellas
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

Retreat Sundeck on Celebrity Apex

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.

Retreat worth it cold towels

For a complete video tour of the Retreat Sundeck on the Celebrity Beyond click HERE.

Butler service in the top suites is top notch

Another perk that has made The Retreat worth it is every suite guest had a dedicated butler. However, in 2023, Celebrity Cruises “optimized” and eliminated most of the butlers. Sadly, dedicated butlers no longer serve sky suites. While a team of a few head butlers serve all of the sky suites, dedicated butlers are reserved for the other more-expensive suites. (Note, as of February, 2024, we have heard that butlers are making a return to Sky Suites, though it may take some time. We’ll update this post as we learn more.)

Butler service on Celebrity Cruises' Retreat worth it

Head butlers can be phoned to assist you with about anything you might want or need. Like the concierge in The Retreat Lounge, the butler team can help with dinner reservations (at specialty restaurants like Eden), setting up shore excursions, and the like.

Eden on Celebrity Edge

Someone from the butler team can also help with tasks like getting items to and from the laundry, and will even reserve prime 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.

Special sail away on Celebrity Edge

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. We’ve met some wonderful people in The Retreat and we’re now glad to call them friends and continue to keep in touch and even sail together.

Retreat worth it meet people

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.

Friends on board

What’s not included in The Retreat?

While Retreat guests do have access to the Blu Restaurant as space is available, Retreat guests do not get access to the Spa’s Thermal Suite unless they are in an Aqua Class Suite. This can be confusing for some. Bottom line is that unless you are in and Aqua Class cabin or and Aqua Class Suite, you will likely have to pay extra.

Thermal spa

The Retreat: Is it worth it? Cost vs. benefit

Does The Retreat cost more? Yes. It can be much more expensive. But based on the overall experience, we think The Retreat is worth it, especially on Edge Class ships or itineraries with lots of tendering (the Retreat is your fast pass). 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 great, no matter where you are on board.

Retreat Sundeck relaxation

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 Edge in May, 2024. 

Follow and like Postcard Jar: