(10:10 a.m. EST) -- Such has been the success of Celebrity Cruises' summer season out of Southampton on Celebrity Eclipse that the line has said it will base a second ship in the U.K. in 2013.
The 1,950-passenger, 91,000-ton Celebrity Infinity, an 11-year-old ship that has recently undergone a facelift to add many of the features that have proven so popular on the newer Eclipse, will offer a range of 10, 11 and 12-night Norwegian Fjords, British Isles and European wine harvest cruises itineraries out of Harwich from May to October.
This is the first time a Celebrity ship will have been based in the Essex port for a full season, putting Harwich on something of a roll, with a growing number of lines cashing in on the big catchment area north and east of London and in East Anglia. Celebrity's sister company, Royal Caribbean, already sails Jewel of the Seas out of Harwich in summer and in 2012, Voyages of Discovery's Discovery and Thomson Spirit will also call the port home.
The addition of a second ship to the U.K. will, Celebrity's president Dan Hanrahan claimed at a press dinner yesterday, push the line's total figures up to a record 100,000 British passengers in 2013. And Infinity's new features should help keep the satisfaction scores up. The recent refit included the addition of AquaClass spa cabins, an ice-topped Martini bar, an Italian coffee shop and gelateria and a Qsine restaurant, already a huge hit on the newer ships.
--by Sue Bryant, Cruise Critic Contributing Editor