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Celebrity Cruises History

Dori Saltzman
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Celebrity Reflection docked in a tender port

Who is Celebrity Cruises' CEO? Lisa Lutoff-Perlo (Dec 2014 —)

What year was Celebrity Cruises Founded? 1989

Which vessels are in the Celebrity Cruises fleet?

  • Celebrity Apex
  • Celebrity Beyond (coming 2021)
  • Celebrity Constellation
  • Celebrity Eclipse
  • Celebrity Edge
  • Celebrity Equinox
  • Celebrity Flora
  • Celebrity Millennium
  • Celebrity Reflection
  • Celebrity Silhouette
  • Celebrity Solstice
  • Celebrity Summit
  • Celebrity Xpedition
  • Celebrity Xploration

See the complete list.

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Celebrity Cruises was founded in 1989 by the Greece-based Chandris Group, which established the line's reputation as an up-market big-ship operator. The line's signature "X," displayed on the funnel of all Celebrity ships (minus the expedition vessels) is actually the Greek letter chi, for "Chandris."

The first cruise ship in the line was S.S. Meridian, which launched in 1990 followed shortly by the two Horizon-class ships, Celebrity Horizon (1990) and Celebrity Zenith (1992). Meridian left the fleet in 1997, Horizon left in 2005 and Zenith departed in 2007. During this time, Celebrity introduced its Century Class: Celebrity Century (1995), Celebrity Galaxy (1996) and Celebrity Mercury (1997) -- sleeker, larger vessels with more sophisticated design elements that included onboard modern art collections that were an attraction unto themselves. (Galaxy left the fleet in 2009, Mercury left in 2011 and Century left in 2015.)

In 1997, Royal Caribbean acquired Celebrity Cruises and within three years the first of the line's modern-era Millennium-class ships was delivered.

Between 2000 and 2002, Celebrity launched four ships: Millennium (2000), Infinity (2001), Summit (2001) and Constellation (2002). With these larger ships (some 2,200-some passengers at double occupancy versus 1,800 on Horizon), the modern-day version of Celebrity emerged with its all-glass elevator banks, onboard art collections and a focus on culinary experiences. At the same time the line also began rolling out a series of programs and enhancements designed to improve the onboard experience.

Among the additions were an expanded adult enrichment program, afternoon tea and a spa cafe dinner option (which eventually became Blu and is only open to passengers staying in AquaClass cabins).

In 2004, Celebrity launched its Xpedition sub-brand with the 98-passenger Celebrity Xpedition (48 passengers as of 2019), formerly known as the Sun Bay I, built in 2001. Though the line intended to expand its expedition cruises to the Antarctic and Arctic, it decided to stay in the Galapagos, where it added two more ships -- Xperience and Xploration -- in 2017. It added an all-new, custom built ship, the 100-passenger Celebrity Flora, in 2019, while at the same time retiring Celebrity Xperience.

With the introduction of Celebrity Solstice, the first of the line's Solstice-class ships, in November 2008, Celebrity took its vision to the next level and its ships to another size -- all are about 30 percent larger than Celebrity's Millennium-class ships. With the extra space, Celebrity shook up the cruise industry with the introduction of its top deck Lawn Club -- an oasis of real grass perfect for picnics, lounging and playing classic lawn games like bocce ball.

Other ships in the Solstice class are Equinox, which launched in summer 2009; Celebrity Eclipse, which came in spring 2010; and Celebrity Silhouette, which debuted in summer 2011. All carry 2,850 passengers. The final Solstice-class ship, Celebrity Reflection, launched in October 2012 with 3,030 passengers.

With the introduction of its Solstice Class, Celebrity Cruises rocked the notion that a cruise line that positions itself in the "premium" market must keep its ships small and cozy. At the same time, doubts emerged about the fate 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.

Overlapping slightly with the launch of the Solstice-class ships, Celebrity embarked on an ambitious refurbishment project, investing $100-plus million to overhaul its four Millennium-class ships. The ships gained several of the most popular features that debuted on the Solstice Class, including a creperie and Italian steakhouse. Celebrity Constellation was the first to receive the dramatic makeover when it went under the knife in spring 2010. Infinity (November 2011), Summit (January 2012) and Millennium (April 2012) followed.

Summit, Infinity and Millennium underwent further renovation in 2015 and 2016, adding a top-deck movie viewing area, called the Rooftop Terrace, and Tuscan Grille restaurants. The Bistro on Five creperie also transitioned to Sushi on Five, an a la carte sushi restaurant, in 2016.

Celebrity Cruises hasn't been known as an innovator since the Solstice Class debuted, but with the launch of its Edge Class, whch debuted in December 2018, the line is shifting once again toward trendy innovations that are sure to make a lasting impression. First and foremost of these is the Magic Carpet, a tennis court-sized moveable deck that is cantilevered off the side of the ship and can move up and down -- as low as Deck 2 and high as Deck 16. The function of the Magic Carpet depends on which deck it's been placed. For instance, on Deck 2 it serves as a throughway for passengers getting onto and off tender boats, while on Deck 5 it serves as an alfresco extension to a raw bar restaurant. On Deck 14 it'll function as a location for happy hours and late-night parties, and all the way up on Deck 16, it'll transform into an alternative restaurant.

Edge is being closely followed by a sister, Celebrity Apex, in Spring 2020.

Updated February 21, 2020

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