After a few weeks of increasingly fevered speculation, Celebrity Cruises today came clean about its plans for Celebrity Galaxy. That ship will, after its last cruise on March 2, 2009, transfer over to TUI Cruises, a new, German-based cruise line that's a joint venture between Royal Caribbean, Celebrity's parent, and European mega-operator Tui AG.
In the cruise industry version of tea leaf reading, the news today is no big surprise for a number of reasons. Celebrity's honchos have not been shy about emphasizing the line's newer (and newest) ships, starting with the debut of Solstice, a new design for the company, later this year. As well, the 77,713-ton, 1,850-passenger Galaxy, which launched in 1996, had no itineraries listed on Celebrity's Web site beyond the March 2 sailing -- while others in the fleet have voyages listed through spring.
And finally? Despite undergoing a refurbishment which, ironically, is taking place right now, Celebrity Galaxy did not receive the massive transformation accorded sister ship Celebrity Century. The latter, you may recall, received a $50 million upgrade back in 2006; the job included adding 314 balconies to its exterior, gutting and rebuilding its spa, and adding Murano, a new alternative restaurant.
Celebrity Galaxy's getting a $4 million makeover this week at Grand Bahama Shipyard in Freeport but the investment, which will cover cosmetic upgrades, is peanuts compared to that of Celebrity Century.
The ship is planned to depart from Freeport on May 3 on an Atlantic crossing, after which it will begin sailing Europe cruises.
Galaxy and Century, along with Mercury, are part of a sibling trio that represents the fleet's most venerable ships. Now speculation is bound to focus on Celebrity Mercury, which like Celebrity Galaxy, was accorded only a minor refurbishment (which took place last year).
We'll keep the tea leaves handy.
--by Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor in Chief