Celebrity Cruises is a cruise line which was founded in 1988 by the Greece-based Chandris Group. In 1997, Celebrity Cruises Ltd. merged with Royal Caribbean Cruise Line to form Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., and has been a wholly owned subsidiary of the latter since then. The company has its headquarters in Miami, Florida.
Celebrity Cruises was founded in April 1988 as a subsidiary of the Greece-based Chandris Group to operate upmarket cruise ships to Bermuda. Chandris had been involved in cruise traffic since the 1960s, and during the late 1980s the company operated in the United States market under the brand name Chandris Cruises. Chandris Fantasy Cruises targeted the lower end of the cruise passenger market, with fleets consisting of second-hand ocean liners. Celebrity Cruises came into existence when, in April 1988, Home Lines, at the time one of the world’s leading premium cruise lines, was sold to Holland America Line. Home Lines’ ships had held two of the five contracts offered by the Government of Bermuda to cruise lines, giving the ships priority berthing arrangement and unlimited access of sail to the islands in exchange for the ships sailing to Bermuda between April and October each year. Although these contracts were highly valued, Holland America Line decided to withdraw the former Home Lines ships from this service, leaving an opening for two new ships to gain access. Chandris wanted to acquire the contracts, but the Government of Bermuda was only willing to award them to upmarket cruise lines, which Chandris Fantasy Cruises was not.
In order to gain the Bermuda Government contracts, Chandris created Celebrity Cruises and immediately began negotiating with the Bermuda Government in April 1988. As a result of the negotiations, Celebrity Cruises was awarded the contract for two ships for a five-year period beginning in 1990 In order to fulfill the contract, Chandris Fantasy Cruises’ Galileo was rebuilt at Lloyd Werft, Germany in 1989, re-entering service as Meridian for Celebrity Cruises in February 1990. As the second ship Horizon, that had been ordered in 1988 as a replacement for Amerikanis in the Chandris Fantasy fleet, was transferred to Celebrity Cruises fleet, entering service in May 1990. In late 1990 Celebrity Cruises placed an order for a sister ship of the Horizon, delivered in 1992 as Zenith.
Merger with Royal Caribbean
In 1997, the Chandris family sold their interests in Celebrity Cruises to Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, leading to the formation of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. as a holding company to keep both brands separate, and the renaming of Royal Caribbean Cruise Line to Royal Caribbean International. During the same year Celebrity Cruises took delivery of the first Century class vessel, Century, that was followed by Galaxy in 1996 and Mercury in 1997. Following the delivery of the Mercury, the Meridian was sold to Singapore-based Sun Cruises. Between 2000 and 2002 Celebrity took delivery of a quartet of new ships, the gas turbine-powered and aptly named Millennium class ships Millennium, Infinity, Summit and Constellation. The Celebrity Expeditions sub-brand was launched in 2001 with the acquisition of Celebrity Xpedition, a small boutique ship offering specialized cruises around the Galápagos Islands. In 2005, the Horizon was transferred to the fleet Royal Caribbean’s United Kingdom-based subsidiary Island Cruises. In the same year, the first ship of what was to be named Solstice class was ordered from Meyer Werft. By 2007, three more ships of this class were on order.
In 2006, plans were made to transfer Blue Moon and Blue Dream from the fleet of Pullmantur Cruises to Celebrity Cruises under the names of Celebrity Quest and Celebrity Journey. The ships would have joined the Celebrity Expeditions sub-brand, but in the end the decision was made to form an entirely new line, Azamara Cruises, to operate these ships in 2007. Also in 2007 the Zenith was transferred to Pullmantur Cruises ‘in exchange’ for the Azamara ships. Transfer of the Zenith also meant the end of Celebrity Cruises’ association with Bermuda for the time being, as no ship was brought in to replace her on the cruises to Bermuda. In April 2010, The Celebrity Summit reposition yearly to New Jersey and offers cruises to Bermuda.
In 2007-2008, all of Celebrity Cruises’ ships were renamed with a “Celebrity” prefix added to the pre-existing ship names. Celebrity Solstice, the first ship in the new Solstice class, was delivered to Celebrity on 24 October 2008. In May 2009 Galaxy was transferred to the fleet of TUI Cruises, a joint venture between Celebrity Cruises’ owner Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and TUI AG and renamed as Mein Schiff. Two more Solstice Class ships entered service – the Celebrity Equinox in 2009 and the Celebrity Eclipse in 2010.
In 2011, Celebrity Mercury was sold by Celebrity fleet to become Mein Schiff 2 for TUI Cruises. The fourth Solstice Class ship the Celebrity Silhouette entered service in 2011. The Celebrity Reflection was delivered in 2012.
In 2014, Celebrity Cruises launched a blog called Catalyst, which covers travel, fashion and culture.
In April 2015, Celebrity’s oldest ship, the Celebrity Century departed the fleet.
On 4 December 2014, Celebrity Cruises signed of a letter of intent for a new class of vessels. The two 2,900-guest, 117,000 GT ships, will be developed under the project name EDGE and will build upon the brand’s Millennium and Solstice class vessels. The company expects delivery of the first ship in fall 2018, with the second vessel delivered in the early part of 2020.
In December 2014, Lisa Lutoff-Perlo (after 32 years working for Celebrity Cruises) was promoted to president and Chief Executive Officer. Making her “the first woman to be named CEO of a major cruise line”.
On 14 March 2016, Celebrity Cruises announced the planned acquisition of Galápagos Islands tour operator Ocean Adventures and its two ships, the 48-guest M/V Eclipse and the 16-guest catamaran M/C Athala II. The move expands Celebrity’s guest capacity in the Galápagos by 65 percent.
Celebrity Cruises announced on 11 October 2017, that it will perform legal same-sex marriages on its ships while in international waters following the legalization of same-sex marriage in Malta, where most of the Celebrity fleet is registered. The company already hosted same-sex marriages while docked in jurisdictions where they are legal, but the change in Maltese law allowed the company’s captains to perform legally recognized marriages while in international waters.
In July 2018, the company announced its intention to invest more than $500 million to refurbish all ships in the company’s fleet.
Information courtesy of Wikipedia.