Celebrity Cruises is the major beneficiary of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.'s acquisition of Pullmantur, RCCL announced today.|
First, in the good news/bad news department, Celebrity and Pullmantur will swap ships. The good? Pullmantur's Blue Dream, one of the former Renaissance R-series vessels, will join the Celebrity fleet. The ship, along with those operated by Oceania (Regatta, Insignia and Nautica) and Princess Cruises (Tahitian Princess, Pacific Princess and, in April, Royal Princess), features a plethora of balconies, a range of restaurants and elegant public rooms. It gives Celebrity a contemporary-styled small- to mid-sized ship with which to compete with the aforementioned Princess and Oceania.
The ship will be called Celebrity Journey and will sail under the Celebrity Xpeditions banner, which until now has had just one vessel -- Celebrity Xpedition, which sails only in the Galapagos. Celebrity Journey will join the Celebrity fleet in April, undergo a significant refurbishment, and on May 5 begin sailing the same Bermuda cruises intended for Zenith.
Which brings us to the bad, er, sad -- though not totally unexpected -- news: Zenith will be sent over to Pullmantur and as such will no longer be a part of the Celebrity fleet.
Zenith will sail on its planned Caribbean schedule from Tampa until April 13. Following its last cruise as Zenith on April 13 from Tampa to New Jersey's Cape Liberty (the line's port facility in the New York City area), the ship will leave service. It, too, will enter dry dock before joining Pullmantur in June 2007, with the addition of balcony cabins, enlargement of public spaces and creation of various customizations for Spanish cruise travelers. Upon re-entering service, the ship, which has not yet received its new name, will sail seven-night cruises between Athens and Venice.
Passengers who are booked on Zenith for Bermuda cruises next year will be contacted by company representatives to transfer their reservations to Celebrity Journey. As well, travel agents and travelers alike who have questions should call 888-281-9343.
One potential challenge in terms of rebooking existing passengers is that the 30,277-ton, 716-passenger Celebrity Journey holds only about half the capacity of the 46,811-ton, 1,346-passenger Zenith.
Celebrity plans to announce Celebrity Journey's itineraries for the remainder of 2007 in the near term.