Delivery of the fifth ship is slated for fall 2012. Celebrity has already announced that the four previous orders will be introduced each autumn between 2008 and 2011.
The 122,000-ton, 2,850-passenger Celebrity Solstice features a number of new-to-cruising twists, which include an actual lawn for picnics and bocce, a glass blowing studio, and a wine bar with sommelier service. Among the new-to-Celebrity elements include family staterooms, AquaClass cabins that offer a spa-destination experience, and Blu, a restaurant featuring healthy cuisine. Also important to note is that these ships will be Celebrity's largest, and fall in the post-Panamax size classification. That means the vessels are too large to fit through the Panama Canal (at least until a planned expansion of the Canal in 2014 or thereabouts).
In a statement released by the shipyard, Bernard Meyer, who runs Meyer Werft, noted his pleasure in receiving an additional order for a Solstice-class vessel.
But what's more intriguing about the announcement of this one ship addition, says Cruise Business Review's Teijo Niemela, is that the order is a boost for the North American market. "These days, with so much attention focused on increasing cruise travel to European and Asian passengers, the new-build orders we're seeing mostly benefit lines that serve new markets. Celebrity, while also expanding to attract a more international customer, really has a firm tradition of serving travelers from the U.S. and Canada."
Niemela anticipates that as Celebrity unveils its first few Solstice-class ships (beyond 2008's Solstice there's also 2009's Equinox and 2010's Eclipse) it will begin to phase out some of its smaller, existing vessels. That would include Century, Galaxy and Mercury.
--by Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor in Chief