The maintenance of optimal storage conditions for fresh produce is rarely achieved in commercial cool chains. The impact of deviations for short time periods from these optimal storage conditions on fruit quality has not been thoroughly investigated. In this study, ‘Cripps Pink’ apples (Malus domestica) stored at 0 °C in air were exposed to periods at 20 °C (for 1, 3, and 6 days) to simulate breaks in the cool chain. The influence of harvest maturity, storage time before exposure, length of exposure, and multiple exposures to 20 °C on fruit physiology during and after the exposures was monitored through 27 laboratory-based scenario simulations. Preclimacteric apples exposed to 20 °C hastened climacteric development, whereas postclimacteric apples were induced to produce ethylene at ≈1.5 times the normal on return to cool storage at 0 °C irrespective of the fruit harvest maturity or timing, length, and number of exposures to 20 °C. The observed increase in ethylene production did not increase rates of reduction of either fruit stiffness (a measure of flesh texture) or background color measurement (hue angle). This research suggests that fluctuations in temperature have a greater effect in terms of changes in quality for preclimacteric apples than postclimacteric fruit. The reasons why changes in fruit stiffness and background hue angle in postclimacteric fruit did not respond to increases in ethylene production require further investigation.