The line -- a joint venture between Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., Celebrity Cruises' parent, and European mega-operator TUI AG -- pumped some 50 million euros (approximately $78 million) into transforming the aging Celebrity Galaxy into the thoroughly modern Mein Schiff.
In fact, fans of the 13-year-old ex-Celebrity ship will barely recognize Galaxy in the new German guts and livery.
Pod chairs with cushions dangle from the ceiling in the Himmel and Meer Lounge. There's a stark white Wii Corner with partitioned spaces for game play, each containing a pillow chair. Espresso makers are standard in all cabins and, incredibly, a number of balconies feature hammocks (achtung?). Private cabanas have been added to the top deck and a chic sushi bar set-up is one of several new eateries.
And let's not forget the striking calligraphy on the hull, comprising phrases ("new friend," "midnight sun") on a dark blue canvas.
Mein Schiff will sail 2- to 14-night cruises from ports such as Kiel and Hamburg, Germany, and Palma de Mallorca, Spain. The ship will then reposition to the Caribbean for winter (November 2009 through April 2010), homeporting in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
During 2010 and 2011, Mein Schiff also will sail itineraries in the Nordic Seas, reaching the far coasts of the Faroe Islands and Iceland, as well as the Eastern Mediterranean and Western Mediterranean, passing through the Strait of Gibraltar to visit the Canary Islands and Morocco.
--by Dan Askin, Associate Editor