UPDATE: This story was updated on April 9 to reflect a change in policy that now requires guests to join ship-sponsored shore excursions for these sailings rather than being able to disembark and explore ports independently. A Celebrity spokesperson said the policy will be reviewed again 30 days before the first departure.
The second Edge-class ship, Celebrity Apex, will debut with seven-night, roundtrip departures from Athens on June 19, calling on three Greek islands, Limassol, Cyprus and Haifa, Israel.
Royal Caribbean Group CEO Richard Fain said he anticipates there will be a Europe cruise season.
Greece plans to be fully open to international visitors in mid-May, and vaccinated Americans over 18 and minors with negative Covid tests will be allowed to sail. The crew will be fully vaccinated, as well.
Bookings will open at 9 a.m., Eastern, on March 30.
In addition to Cyprus and Israel, the ship will call at Mykonos, Rhodes and Santorini, Greece. Shore excursions will be offered, including one to Jerusalem during the Haifa stop.
The Apex was delivered last year in a virtual ceremony just as the pandemic was getting underway. It has never cruised with passengers.
Celebrity Cruises CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo said she rescheduled the celebration of her 30th wedding anniversary for a cruise in September aboard the Apex and pointed out that the line is returning to the seas where it got its start. Celebrity was founded in 1988 by the Greek Chandris family; it was acquired by Royal Caribbean Group in 1997. Its Greek heritage is reflected in the profile of its marine officers, with 70% hailing from Greece, including the captain of the Apex, Dimitrios Kafetzis.
The announcement was timed for release on the bicentennial of Greece's independence. In a statement, Greek tourism minister Haris Theocharis, who led the charge to reopen the country, said he was eager to welcome visitors back. "The positive economic impact that tourism brings to our country cannot be overestimated, and I am very happy Celebrity Cruises is playing an important role in rebuilding this important economic pillar."