(9 a.m. EDT) -- Suspicions confirmed: Celebrity Cruises is saying auf wiedersehen to Celebrity Mercury. The 77,713-ton, 1,898-passenger ship, currently Celebrity's second oldest, will be transferred to German cruise line TUI Cruises to become the second ship in that fleet.
The move, announced this morning, is far from a surprise: Just last week, Cruise Critic called attention to a report on cruisebusiness.com, the Web site for trade magazine Cruise Business Review, which theorized this very outcome based on the fact that Celebrity had yet to announce either future itineraries for the ship or a plan to refurbish it.
Celebrity Mercury has sailed for the line since 1997 (only Celebrity Century predates it, having debuted in 1995). It will join TUI Cruises fleet in May 2011 under the name Mein Schiff 2, reunited with its sister ship, the former Celebrity Galaxy -- which has been operating since May 2009 as TUI's Mein Schiff.
Celebrity Mercury's last cruise will set sail on February 14, 2011 -- which means the ship's season of cruises from Charleston has been eliminated. Passengers booked to sail on or after February 26, 2011, may cancel for a full refund or transfer to any Mercury sailing from Baltimore from October 18, 2010, through February 14, 2011, except for the Christmas cruise departing December 20, 2010. Guests who choose to rebook will receive a per-stateroom onboard credit of $75 (for inside or oceanview) or $100 (for verandah or Concierge Class) -- or a per-suite credit of $200.
Celebrity Cruises will be contacting affected guests; passengers can also call 888-281-9343 with questions.
After a hefty refit to match the ship to Mein Schiff -- which will include the expansion of the spa and fitness area, the addition of a teen bar and a host of design changes -- Mein Schiff 2 will sail a maiden season of Baltic and Nordic cruises. Full itinerary details will be published June 1, 2010, when bookings open.
In a press statement, Celebrity Cruises President and CEO Dan Hanrahan is quoted as saying that crewmembers on the departing Mercury will not be without new job opportunities, due to the expansion of the Celebrity fleet with ships such as Celebrity Silhouette, due out in July 2011.
--by Melissa Paloti, Managing Editor
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