(July 24, 12:47 p.m. EDT) -- Update: Celebrity is still working out the details of the Celebrity Life program, but a spokesperson tells us that some events will be free, while others will carry a fee. Essentially, all wine- and liquor-related events, Rosetta Stone classes on the computer, spa treatments, and certain technology classes will carry an extra fee. Other technology classes, cooking demos and competitions, and group language classes will be free. Other course costs are yet to be determined. For more specifics, read our board thread on this topic.
(July 23, 7:08 p.m. EDT) -- What do wine-tasting, star-gazing and "fab abs" courses have in common? They're all part of Celebrity's new enrichment program, called Celebrity Life, which focuses on the three pillars of dining, learning and wellness. The new onboard activities will debut on Celebrity Equinox when the ship launches on July 31.
Onboard enrichment programs have long been a part of luxury and premium cruising, but lately cruise lines are upping the ante with new and improved classes, lectures and workshops. Late in 2008, Holland America unveiled its Explorations program, focusing on destination education, culinary arts, and technology and wellness classes. And this April, Cunard, which has always had a robust enrichment program, announced a new partnership with the Oxford University Press Science Club to offer Science at Sea lectures.
Celebrity Life, meanwhile, will feature enrichment options in three categories: Savor, focusing on culinary themes; Discover, with educational programs to teach passengers something new; and Renew, a wellness program. Here's a sampling of what you'll find onboard:
The Savor program is broken into three types of offerings. Celebrity Vineyards will encompass wine-tasting and appreciation classes. Signature Spirits events focus on mixology -- the scientific-sounding name for making cocktails and other alcoholic beverages -- including "Molecular Mixology" workshops developed by The Liquid Chef, who creates high-end cocktails and muddled drinks with unusual ingredients. Food as Art focuses on interactive cooking demos, including guest cooking competitions and behind-the-scenes tours to watch food preparation in the ship's galley.
The Renew program combines fitness classes, spa treatments and wellness seminars to help travelers "feel better, live longer and look younger." Seminars offering youth-enhancing lifestyle tips and stress management, medi-spa cosmetic services (BOTOX and anti-aging facials), body-sculpting and strength-training classes, nutrition seminars, acupuncture, yoga and tai chi are all available to help Celebrity cruisers feel and look good -- not to mention keep them away from the dessert buffet.
The Discover program has the broadest reach, as Celebrity has partnered with several well-known companies to offer a wide variety of educational opportunities to its cruise passengers. Lecturers from Smithsonian Journeys, the Smithsonian Institution's educational travel program, will come onboard to teach about history, culture, art, architecture and nature. An alliance with Rosetta Stone lets passengers learn one of 13 languages through self-teaching computer programs or group classes over the course of each sailing. And -- our favorite so far -- Celebrity will also offer astronomy classes through Stargeezer, a program with a mission to educate people about astronomy in an accessible way. We're keeping our fingers crossed that the star-gazing parties and "star hunts" will take place on the Lawn Club -- just one more way to utilize one of the most innovative aspects of Celebrity's new Solstice-class ships.
Additional offerings include technology classes (everything from iPods to Photoshop) through the line's "digITal" series and ballroom and world dance classes and competitions hosted by Celebrity's professional dancers. And, travelers who have had so much fun on their cruise that they would hate to forget one single minute can learn about preserving vacation photos and memories through classes offered by the StoryTellersClub, a company dedicated to promoting the art of scrapbooking.
After Celebrity Life debuts on Celebrity Equinox, the line plans to roll the program out fleetwide by the end of November 2009.
--by Erica Silverstein, Senior Editor