In a sign that shows Celebrity is clearly courting British cruisers, the third ship in the 122,000-ton, 2,850-passenger Solstice class will be sailing summer itineraries to the Mediterranean and Northern Europe from Southampton in 2010. The ship will also be launched in the U.K. port.
This will not, however, be the first new Celebrity ship to visit the British waters -- the second Solstice-class ship, Celebrity Equinox, will also launch in Southampton in July 2009, and will sail a 10-night Mediterranean cruise over to Rome where it will be homeporting for the rest of the summer and autumn. Meanwhile, Celebrity Solstice will also be sailing from the Italian port in the summer.
These new ships are of course not the only Celebrity vessels to sail from the U.K.: Celebrity Constellation, which has been operating out of Harwich, will continue to sail Northern Europe itineraries out of that British port in 2009.
This announcement from a U.S cruise line stands in stark contrast to that made by Carnival Cruise Lines a few weeks back, when Carnival said it was cancelling Carnival Liberty's U.K.-based Northern Europe cruises for next year, leaving customers to scramble for an alternative.
Although 2009 will not see any "new" U.K.-specific ships, there will still be expansive offerings for U.K. passengers who choose to cruise from home. P&O Cruises and Cunard will keep up the momentum, at least during warmer weather months, with all ships sailing various itineraries from Southampton. Royal Caribbean is again placing Independence of the Seas in Southampton and Princess Cruises will be replacing Sea Princess with the larger Grand Princess for next year.
Fred. Olsen and Thomson Cruises will continue to offer a mix of ex-U.K. sailings.
Older-style lines like Voyages of Discovery, Swan Hellenic and Saga will also be adding to the offerings with regional departures. On the luxury side, Oceania Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Silversea Cruises and Holland America offer a smattering of European cruises from London and Dover.
On the Italian front, both MSC Cruises and Costa Cruises will feature a number of ex-U.K. sailngs in 2009.
Are you curious about what Celebrity Equinox and Celebrity Eclipse will offer when they arrive this side of the pond? Check out our coverage of Celebrity Solstice -- which is christened today in Ft. Lauderdale! -- for more.
--by Kelly Ranson, U.K. Editor