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Celebrity Solstice

Celebrity Solstice being undocked

Celebrity Solstice being undocked












The picture above is of Celebrity Solstice, Celebrity Cruise’s latest & biggest ship. It’s just been floated out of the construction hall (the building beyond her bow) at Meyer Werft in Pappenberg, for finishing-off. She’ll be ready in about three months or a bit less: she goes into service on 23 November, in the Caribbean. She’ll be in Europe doing Celebrity’s 10 and 11-night Eastern Mediterranean cruises in 2009, and we’re booked on her for late September that year. Please click on the image to see a larger version on Meyer Werft’s website.

I think she’s very pretty and very big: 315 metres long, 122,000 GRT, 2800 passengers – lots of superlatives. But we enjoy Celebrity so I’m sure we’ll enjoy our cruise on her. She’s the lead ship in a class of at least three: Celebrity Equinox is already under construction ( to enter service in 2010), and Celebrity Eclipse will follow in 2011. I think there are options for another two ships as well, though with the current economic climate, who knows if they’ll be built.

I think these ships will put Celebrity back into the limelight. It’s hard to remember now that, when they were delivered, Horizon (1990) and Zenith (1992), and Century (1995) were close to ‘state of the art’. Galaxy and Mercury were slight developments of Century but by the time they were delivered other lines had announced more ambitious plans, and delivered on them soon afterwards: Grand Princess, for example, for a time the largest passenger ship in the world, entered service in 1998, just a year after Mercury which was merely medium-sized in comparison. Celebrity’s Millennium class, the first of which came into service in 2000, was actually quite conservative: a typical Panamax ship with a high proportion of balcony cabins. Quite like the Spirit/Vista ships, in fact, and by 2005 there were almost a dozen-and-a-half cruise ships of similar size and style in service with various lines. Meanwhile, Celebrity owners Royal Caribbean were pressing ahead with first the Voyager class and then the Freedom class, all of them very large and feature-littered, while Carnival debuted their Destiny class and its developments. Celebrity had to wait its turn for more investment.

Now Celebrity is back in the ‘big ship’ game, which (despite some personal misgivings about large ships) is where a major line has to be these days. But the good news is that the Solstice class looks as if it won’t be as crowded as some ships, they’re very good looking, and they have all the features and facilities that today’s cruise passengers of major lines have come to expect – and then some. Time will tell how successful they will be, but at the moment it looks as if a cruise on Solstice of her future sisters will be a memorable and high-quality experience.

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