About Celebrity Cruises
With the introduction of its Solstice Class of ships, Celebrity Cruises entered a new era of larger ships and higher capacity, but don't mourn just yet for the little cruise line that offers personalized service. Doubts emerged with the birth of its Millennium-class ships, but the line managed quite nicely, adding a series of enhancements that pleased even the most stalwart fans of smaller ships.
Celebrity Solstice (2008), Celebrity Equinox (2009), Celebrity Eclipse (2010), Celebrity Silhouette (2011) and Celebrity Reflection (2012) measure 122,000 tons (Silhouette and Reflection are slightly larger). All are about 30 percent larger than Celebrity's Millennium-class ships. With the announcement of a new class of ships, the Edge Class, the line will go back to its "small ship" roots; the two vessels, launching in 2018 and 2020, will carry 2,900 passengers each.
Beginning with its Solstice Class, Celebrity rocked the notion that a cruise line that positions itself in the "premium" market must keep its ships small and cozy. The plan has worked. The interior architecture of the Solstice-lass ships is the best we've seen in some time, and even on a full sailing, the ships feel half empty. Passenger flow is excellent, with no lines and no crowding, and onboard evolutions -- including a top-of-ship Lawn Club featuring real grass -- have been welcomed and successful. The Solstice-class features were so popular that Celebrity added some of the restaurant, lounge and decor concepts to its Millennium-class ships.
Aside from these "new ship" developments, Celebrity Cruises has spent the past few years -- pretty much since the launch of its last Millennium-class ship, Constellation, in 2002 -- upgrading onboard services and amenities. The goal in turning its attention inward is to introduce enhancements that would position the cruise line as a competitor to luxury lines, albeit with a younger passenger demographic.
Celebrity also has been focusing on land-based options bundled with cruises, giving passengers the chance to spend time in destinations, such as Alaska, the Galapagos and Ecuador.
Celebrity was founded in 1989 by the Greece-based Chandris Group, which established the line's reputation as an upscale big-ship operator. Celebrity was acquired by Royal Caribbean in 1997 and operates as its sister cruise line. With the 2004 launch of its wildly successful Celebrity Xpedition program, the line has been able to offer its upscale, active passenger base a new option: a once-in-a-lifetime, up-close-and-personal Galapagos Islands experience. Celebrity has become the only big-ship cruise line to offer year-round sailings there. It's been so successful, Celebrity will add two more ships to the region -- Celebrity Xperience and Celebrity Xploration -- in 2017.
Celebrity Cruises offers an exceptional level of personal service, accommodations that reward suite and spa passengers and a wide variety of activities and amenities that tend to have a culinary focus. Onboard, you can attend an informative lecture or take a cooking class. Other features and services include "welcome aboard" sparkling wine and mimosas, Top Chef-themed contests and menu items, wine tastings (the first Riedel comparative wine workshops at sea), and now Blendtique, a wine-blending experience. Creative bar options abound, with the frozen Martini Bar a favorite among passengers fleetwide.
The company has shown enthusiasm for blending the innovative with the classic -- for instance, decorating with both contemporary and traditional art.
A partnership with Bravo Media in 2014 has given sea legs to the cooking competition show "Top Chef" through programming, menu items and even themed sailings. Celebrity cruisers can participate in quickfire challenges on sea days, order a featured menu item in the main dining room or book a sailing featuring past "cheftestants" from the show.
All Celebrity ships have cabins and suites that are standard in size and amenities. (A minimum category stateroom at 172 square feet is a plus for bargain-seekers.) The Celebrity fleet's AquaSpa transports passengers to a whole new world with treatments inspired by rituals from exotic cultures. Passengers can discover a state of complete tranquility in the Persian Garden or pamper themselves with a host of indulgences.
All standard cabins have TVs with closed-circuit movies and Sony's interactive features; direct dial telephones; minibars; safes; hair dryers and convertible twin/queen beds. And on U.K.-based Celebrity Eclipse there is in-cabin tea- and coffee-making facilities. A large number of cabins have private balconies (56 percent of all accommodations on Millennium-class ships). Suites have verandas and an outstanding private butler service. Additional in-suite amenities include DVD players or VCRs, personalized stationery, whirlpool baths, afternoon tea and pre-dinner canapes.
Beyond its general increase in enhancements, Celebrity offers Concierge Class accommodations. This unique class of balcony staterooms offers passengers extra amenities, from service-related additions (priority luggage service, complimentary sparkling wine) to plusher furnishings (luxurious bed coverings and pillow menu, some balconies with dining tables). Concierge Class services were expanded in 2012 to include a pre-departure lounge with free coffee and juices, and again in 2016 to include lunch on embarkation day and a dedicated concierge desk. Originally available only on Millennium-class ships, the innovation proved so popular that it is available on most of the ships in the fleet. And another category of staterooms debuted with the Solstice class: AquaClass cabins, which cater to spa enthusiasts and include spa perks and use of an exclusive, intimate restaurant, Blu. These were so popular that Celebrity added 34 AquaClass Suites onboard Reflection.
In 2015, Celebrity added a new class, "The Suite Class," to its ships. Suite Class passengers have their own private restaurant, Luminae, and Michael's Club, a private VIP lounge.
Key features on the Solstice-class vessels include the Lawn Club, a freshly manicured lawn on the highest deck. Passengers can enjoy casual outdoor activities in a country-club atmosphere and enjoy the grass between their toes, watch a glass-blowing demonstration on Solstice, Equinox and Eclipse; or a meal in the Lawn Club Grill on Eclipse and Reflection. These ships also feature Cellar Masters, a bar inspired by the vineyards of Napa Valley, which brings to life the experience of a global wine tour while you learn about and taste a large variety of wines from around the world. In a welcoming and unique onboard environment, you'll discover new wines, receive recommendations and enrich your wine knowledge.
Celebrity attracts a diverse passenger base, targeting baby boomers and their families, as well as seniors and honeymooners. In addition to U.S. travelers, the cruise line also draws passengers from Canada, Europe and South America. Longer voyages in more distant locales, from Europe to South America, tend to draw an older crowd, while weeklong treks to places like the Caribbean and Alaska are magnets for families. In an effort to attract more multigenerational groups, Celebrity's family programs have expanded to include teen centers and more enrichment and educational programs for children. The line's push to be recognized as "modern luxury" is meant to attract a younger demographic of urban professionals.