Celebrity Gains Ship for Expedition Spin-Off

December 14, 2006
In big but not entirely unexpected news, Celebrity is yet again the beneficiary of Royal Caribbean's acquisition of the Spanish Pullmantur.

Celebrity -- which previously announced it would receive one of Pullmantur's mid-sized vessels, to be called Celebrity Journey when it debuts in May 2007 -- will now acquire a second ship. Celebrity Quest will join the fleet in October 2007.

The two ships, former members of Renaissance Cruises' vaunted R-series, measure 30,277 tons and carry 710 passengers. They will join Celebrity Xpedition, the flagship of Celebrity's spin-off Expedition line; that vessel plies the waters of the Galapagos all year round.

Celebrity Quest, which is still sailing as Blue Moon for Pullmantur at this point, will feature itineraries that focus on more exotic regions than do Celebrity's bigger ships, much like Celebrity Journey. Celebrity Quest will begin its maiden season in the Caribbean -- not exactly one of the world's more undiscovered cruise regions -- but the difference is that the ship will call in smaller, less trafficked ports like St. Barth's and Guadeloupe. It will then offer some Panama Canal sailings.

A trickle of details has been revealed about both of the siblings. Each will feature 2 specialty restaurants, 15 different grades of stateroom categories and expanded spa services (including in-cabin treatments). The most significant feature? Every cabin on these ships -- not just suite category staterooms -- will have access to both concierge and butler.

Celebrity will spend a combined $35 million to refurbish and upgrade the ships; they'll both spend a month in dry-dock though at different times. Among the enhancements will be entirely new bedding and soft goods, and the addition of popular Celebrity signature elements such as the Martini Bar, Sushi Cafe, Acupuncture at Sea, Michael's Club and the Cova Cafe.

The two ships once belonged to a fleet of eight nearly identical vessels for Renaissance Cruises, which ceased operations in late 2001. The ships -- popular for their multiple dining options, high ratio of balconies and lovely public rooms -- sail for other cruise lines, too, including Princess (Tahitian Princess and Pacific Princess; Royal Princess joins the fleet in May) and Oceania Cruises (Regatta, Insignia and Nautica).

--by Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor