|In a move long-awaited by Celebrity-watchers, Celebrity Cruises will transfer Horizon, its oldest ship, to Island Cruises, a sister company. The ship will depart from Celebrity's fleet in October 2005 -- and re-emerge in spring 2006. A new name has not yet been announced. The ship, which is being leased from Royal Caribbean for a six-year period, will sail South American and Mediterranean itineraries for Island Cruises, a joint venture between Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and First Choice Holidays PLC, a U.K. tour operator.|
The 46,811-ton, 1,354-passenger Horizon, which debuted in 1990, was one of the three original ships in Celebrity's fleet. Meridian, which preceded Horizon, left the fleet (ultimately Meridian sank during a cruise in May 1999 due
to afire in the engine). Zenith, which followed in 1992, will continue to sailing for Celebrity.
While much beloved by veteran Celebrity cruisers, Horizon has long presented a marketing challenge to the line because it lacked the contemporary amenities -- balconies, multiple restaurants, and a thalassotherapy pool to name a few -- that were so prominently a part of the success of its Millennium class of ships.
Horizon will be the second ship to join the Island Cruises fleet. The line's first vessel -- Island Escape -- may be familiar to Royal Caribbean aficionados as the former Viking Serenade. Island Cruises was launched in 2002.
Upon its pre-Island Cruises dry dock, Horizon-nee-TBA will get a major overhaul to bring its onboard ambience in line with that company's more casual style. Dining options will be increased from three to five, a children's pool will be added and a new Kids Zone facility will be created. The ship will also gain 50 balconies.
In the meantime, Horizon will continue, as scheduled, to sail itineraries which include Caribbean cruises from Tampa this winter and a summer slate of Bermuda calls from Philadelphia this summer.