Aloe. Jade plants. Palms. Monsteras. Rosemary bushes.
I couldn’t help but gently fondle the leaves of these plants to judge whether they were real. With this sailing of the Celebrity Ascent as my 15th cruise in less than two years, most of the greenery I’ve seen on cruise ships is fake, with some using better replicas than others. But on the Celebrity Ascent, just about every plant I encountered was real.
It’s that authenticity that struck me as I got to know this ship during its naming ceremony and two-day sailing out of Port Everglades on Dec. 1. The personality of the brand appears consistent throughout, which I would describe as sophisticated and playful, with neither characteristic overdone.
For instance, a statue of a bathing-capped female swimmer with goggles and outstretched arms faces the pool in the Solarium, but it doesn’t overwhelm the space. In Cyprus Restaurant, natural and gold-painted stones on a wall form a stunning multidimensional portrait of a woman.
The menu at Craft Social, a bourbon bar in the atrium, gave me the same impression of authenticity. The bar serves 32 bourbons, giving patrons an opportunity to build their own old fashioned. The menu also had three specialty mixed drinks, including a Smoking Bull 19 made with Brugal 1888 rum, Carpano Antica vermouth, Aperol and orange spice tea. It was finished in a smoke box, and the smell reminded me of the coziest campfires.
Unlike other bars on cruises that offer a variety of smoked drinks, like Atlas Bar on the Azamara Onward and Founders Bar on the Oceania Vista, Craft Social offers just one drink, keeping the bar from getting too complicated.
My server at Eden, Daniel, also struck me as authentic. He was genuine and helpful walking me through the menu and sharing some of his life story. When asked, he told my guest and me about spending the last 22 years working for Celebrity and sending his children in Honduras to college. I left my table full of the food he recommended and warmed by his joy when talking about his kids.
My first impression: I wished the sailing was more than two days.
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