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OnboardCelebrity Cruises offers an exceptional level of personal service, accommodations that are among the most spacious at sea and a wide variety of activities and amenities. Onboard, you can attend an informative onboard lecture or discover unique gifts in the upscale boutiques. Other features and services include enhanced adult enrichment programs, more interesting shops in the Emporium complex, "welcome aboard" sparkling wine and mimosas, a spa cafe dinner option that's tops in the industry, wine tastings (and the first Riedel comparative wine workshops at sea), a revamped sports deck, extensive golf programs and the innovative Acupuncture at Sea program (taking over the space once occupied by Notes on the Millennium-class ships). Innovative bar options abound, with the frozen Martini Bar and offbeat Molecular Bar.
The company has shown enthusiasm for blending the innovative with the classic -- for instance, decorating with both contemporary and traditional art.
In 2007, the line engaged culinary consultancy Blau & Associates to work closely with Celebrity's culinary staff across the fleet to maintain the line's most popular items and complement them with fresh, contemporary and creative concepts that will continue to deliver an exceptional dining experience onboard. The entire fleet's casual dining and buffet areas are receiving facelifts. On its first two Solstice-class ships, Solstice and Equinox, Celebrity has also introduced novel alternative restaurant concepts, from Asian-fusion to Italian steakhouse, including an eatery exclusive to AquaClass (spa) stateroom passengers. For Celebrity Eclipse, the line introduced a fun, new dining idea. Qsine, which replaces Silk Harvest, takes commonplace or comfort foods and twists the recipe, presentation or both to live up to its slogan, "Uniquely Unordinary." Expect to try DIY sliders, sushi lollipops and much more. On its latest ships, Silhouette and Reflection, Celebrity introduced a 58-seat dining venue on the top deck -- the Lawn Club Grill -- which (for a $40 cover charge) marries a cooking lesson and all-you-can-eat churrascaria and pizzeria.
In September 2009, Celebrity began rolling out a beta test of its Celebrity Select flexible dining program, which became available fleetwide in February 2010. Flex-dining passengers are able to reserve dining times online before their cruises or once they're onboard the ship.
All Celebrity ships have cabins and suites that are standard in size and amenities. (A minimum category stateroom at 172 square feet is a plus for bargain seekers.) Celebrity has also upgraded amenities in all cabin categories to include terry cloth robes and in-room service from the dining room menu. The Celebrity fleet's AquaSpa transports passengers to a whole new world with treatments inspired by rituals from exotic cultures. Passengers can discover a state of complete tranquility in the Persian Garden or pamper themselves with a host of indulgences.
All standard cabins have TVs with closed-circuit movies and Sony's interactive features; direct dial telephones; minibars; safes; hair dryers and convertible twin/queen beds. And on U.K.-based Celebrity Eclipse there is in-cabin tea and coffee making facilities. A large number of cabins have private balconies (56 percent of all accommodations on Millennium-class ships). Suites have verandahs and an outstanding private butler service. Additional in-suite amenities include DVD players or VCRs, personalized stationery, whirlpool baths, afternoon tea and predinner canapes. In addition to alternative restaurants on Millennium-class ships (specialty restaurants levy $5 to $40 per person service fee), Celebrity has launched an evening casual dining program fleetwide. These are in addition to the traditional main dining room.
Beyond its general increase in enhancements, Celebrity offers Concierge Class accommodations. This unique class of oceanview staterooms offers passengers extra amenities, from service-related additions (priority luggage service, complimentary sparkling wine) to plusher furnishings (luxurious bed coverings and pillow menu, some balconies with dining tables). Concierge Class services were expanded in 2012 to include a predeparture lounge with free coffee and juices. Originally available only on Millennium-class ships, the innovation proved so popular that it is available on most of the ships in the fleet. And another new category of staterooms debuted with the Solstice class: AquaClass cabins, which cater to spa enthusiasts and include spa perks and use of an exclusive, intimate restaurant, Blu. These were so popular that Celebrity added 34 AquaClass Suites onboard Reflection.
In February 2014, Celebrity announced it would add a new class, "The Suite Class," to its ships. Suite Class passengers will have their own private restaurant and private VIP lounge.
Key features on the Solstice Class vessels include the Lawn Club, a freshly manicured lawn on the highest deck. Passengers can enjoy casual outdoor activities in a country-club atmosphere and enjoy the grass between their toes, watch a glass-blowing demonstration on Solstice, Equinox and Eclipse; or a meal in the Lawn Club Grill on the latter two ships. These ships also feature Cellar Masters, a bar inspired by the vineyards of Napa Valley, which brings to life the experience of a global wine tour while you learn about and taste a large variety of wines from around the world. In a welcoming and unique onboard environment, you'll discover new wines, receive recommendations and enrich your wine knowledge.
About Celebrity CruisesWith the introduction of its Solstice Class of ships, Celebrity Cruises entered a new era of larger ships and higher capacity -- competing even with the likes of Carnival Cruise Lines -- but don't mourn just yet for the little cruise line that offers personalized service. After all, no one believed Celebrity could maintain its standards with its birth of Millennium-class ships. But it managed quite nicely, adding a series of enhancements that pleased even the most stalwart fans of smaller ships.
Celebrity Solstice (2008), Celebrity Equinox (2009), Celebrity Eclipse (2010), Celebrity Silhouette (2011) and Celebrity Reflection (2012) measure 122,000 tons (Silhouette and Reflection are slightly larger). All are about 30 percent larger than the Celebrity's newest Millennium-class ships.
With these 2,850-passenger ships (2,886 in in the case of Silhouette and 3,046 for Reflection), Celebrity rocked the notion that a cruise line that positions itself in the "premium" market must keep its ships small and cozy. The plan has worked. The interior architecture of the Solstice Class ships is the best we've seen in some time, and even on a full sailing, the ships feel half empty. Passenger flow is excellent, with no lines and no crowding, and onboard evolutions -- including a top-of-ship Lawn Club featuring real grass -- have been welcomed and successful. The Solstice Class features were so popular that Celebrity added some of the restaurant, lounge and decor concepts to its Millennium-class ships (see our slideshow of Constellation's refurb).
Aside from these "new ship" developments, Celebrity Cruises has spent the past few years -- pretty much since the launch of its last Millennium-class ship, Constellation, in 2002 -- upgrading onboard services and amenities. The goal in turning its attention inward was to introduce enhancements that would position the cruise line as a competitor to luxury line Crystal Cruises, albeit with a younger passenger demographic.
Celebrity also has been focusing on land-based options bundled with cruises, giving passengers the chance to spend time in destinations, such as Alaska and Ecuador.
Celebrity was founded in 1989 by the Greece-based Chandris Group, which established the line's reputation as an upscale big-ship operator. Celebrity was acquired by Royal Caribbean in 1997 and now operates as its sister cruise line. With the 2004 launch of its wildly successful Celebrity Xpedition program, the line has been able to offer its upscale, active passenger base a new option: a once-in-a-lifetime, up-close-and-personal Galapagos Islands experience. Celebrity has become the only big-ship cruise line to offer year-round sailings there.
But you won't find Celebrity Millennium or Celebrity Summit trawling these small-ship waters. Instead, the company acquired the former Sun Bay I, a 2,329-ton, 98-passenger vessel, and transformed it into the 92-passenger Celebrity Xpedition. The aim? To combine the line's stylishness with more adventurous destinations.
Celebrity Cruises FleetThe Celebrity fleet currently consists of 11 ships.
Celebrity Zenith joined the company in its earliest incarnation. (The "vintage" ship left the fleet in 2007.) The later addition of Celebrity Century, Celebrity Galaxy and Celebrity Mercury reflected the first real evolution -- vessels that were sleeker and larger, and possessed intriguing design elements and impressive collections of contemporary art. (Celebrity Galaxy left the fleet in March 2009; Mercury left the fleet in February 2011.)
The Millennium class followed with Celebrity Millennium, Celebrity Infinity, Celebrity Summit and Celebrity Constellation, all measuring 91,000 tons and carrying 1,950 passengers. This group of ships carries through the company's art and culinary visions while also achieving firsts in their own right, from all-glass elevator banks and spa cafes to new alternative restaurants that pay homage to history's great ocean liners.
With the introduction of Celebrity Solstice in November 2008, the line took its vision to the next level. Sister ship Celebrity Equinox followed in summer 2009, Celebrity Eclipse in spring 2010 and Celebrity Silhouette in summer 2011, all of which carry 2,850 passengers. The final Solstice-class ship, Celebrity Reflection, launched in October 2012, with 3,030 passengers.
On the refurbishment front, Celebrity invested $100-plus million to overhaul its four Millennium-class ships. The four ships gained several of the most popular features found on the Solstice-class quartet, including a creperie and Italian steakhouse. Celebrity Constellation was the first to receive the dramatic makeover when it went under the knife in spring 2010. Infinity (November 2011), Summit (January 2012) and Millennium (April 2012) followed.
Fellow PassengersCelebrity attracts an extremely diverse passenger base, targeting baby boomers and their families, as well as seniors and honeymooners. In addition to U.S. travelers, the cruise line also draws passengers from Canada, Europe and South America. Longer voyages in more distant locales, from Europe to South America, tend to draw an older crowd, while weeklong treks to places like the Caribbean and Alaska are magnets for families. In an effort to attract more multi-generational groups, Celebrity's family programs have expanded to include teen centers and more enrichment and educational programs for children.