(6:32 p.m. EDT) -- Early bookers know that this is the time of year cruise lines start releasing the next year or two's itineraries -- but fans of Celebrity Cruises may have noticed a notable exception.
According to cruisebusiness.com, the Web site for trade magazine Cruise Business Review, Celebrity has published programs through spring 2012 for all of its ships -- except Celebrity Mercury. For that ship, itineraries are only available through April of 2011, confirmed via a visit to the cruise line's Web site.
The hypothesis is that Celebrity may be planning to transfer Mercury to TUI Cruises, a joint venture between Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and German shipping and travel giant TUI AG, after it finishes out its current program of sailings. The ship would join the old Celebrity Galaxy (a sister ship to Mercury), which has been sailing for TUI Cruises under the name Mein Schiff since last year.
There is some evidence to support the theory. Cruise Business Review's Teijo Niemela tells us Mercury hasn't had a significant upgrade of late (and that the line wouldn't make that investment just to transfer the ship out of the fleet). Niemela also points out an additional eyebrow-raiser: the fact that Baltimore recently announced Celebrity Century would replace Mercury in that port.
We're willing to put all our chips in on this bet -- Cruise Business Review speculated (correctly) the same fate for Galaxy before Celebrity made its formal announcement.
A Celebrity spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.
--by Melissa Paloti, Managing Editor
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Is Celebrity Sending Another Cruise Ship Off to Germany?
May 19, 2010