At Last! Celebrity Orders New Ship ... and It's a Whopper

July 12, 2005

In one of the most long-awaited new-build announcements in contemporary cruise history, Celebrity Cruises has disclosed the signing of a letter of intent with Germany's Meyer Werft to build a 117,000-ton, 2,850-passenger ship. Says Meyer Werft Managing Partner Bernard Meyer, "It has taken us many months to develop a strong, working prototype and this next-generation of ships is truly extraordinary."

As yet unnamed, the new vessel will be launched in fall of 2008. Specific details were not included aside from the fact that the vessel will have a 90 percent ratio of outside cabins (with 90 percent of those having balconies).

Beyond the fact that Celebrity's last new ship was launched more than three years ago -- seemingly eons in this era of a ship-per-year newbuildings -- the other big surprise is its size. At 117,000 tons, Celebrity's new vessel will measure nearly 30,000 tons more than its next biggest (the Millennium class), though it will carry just 900 more passengers.

Classified as a post-Panamax sized vessel, the ship will have fewer destination-related options as it cannot pass through the Panama Canal, which is typically a major route for ships between, say, the Caribbean and Alaska.

And this announcement earns Celebrity one other distinctive calling card: It will have a ship bigger even than Carnival (that line's Conquest-class vessels measure in at 110,000-plus tons).

According to Celebrity's press release, the company "incorporates many features typically associated with luxury cruising" (though we do question how a ship holding 2,850 passengers can offer luxury on a par with the industry's more posh, small-ship cruise lines). For instance, the space ratio -- generally considered the number of gross registered tons allotted to each passenger and, more importantly, an indicator of spaciousness onboard: If you divide 117,000 tons by the passenger double occupancy count, it works out to 41.05. Compare that to Millennium-class vessels, which offer a space ratio of 46.27 per passenger.

The cost of the new ship is in the $640 million range. Celebrity has an option on a second.

The addition of the ship in 2008 will result in an increase in capacity for Celebrity of almost 8 percent.