Celebrity completes its Solstice-type upgrades

By Kate Rice
Celebrity Summit SolsticizedCelebrity Cruises has completed the "Solstification" of its Millennium-class ships, investing more than $140 million in taking elements from the five-ship Solstice-class fleet and adding them to the Celebrity Constellation, Infinity, Summit and Millennium.

Celebrity took some of the most popular amenities and services it introduced on the Solstice-class ships, the line's newest and largest ship class, and added them to the Millennium ships to enrich the onboard experience.

"Our Millennium-class ships already had a large and loyal following, having repeatedly ranked at the top of many of the world's most prestigious consumer polls," said Dan Hanrahan, the outgoing president and CEO of Celebrity, after the cruise line finished improvements to the Millennium "And their original style, design and ambience served as significant inspiration for the design of the Solstice class.

"So now, we're bringing it full circle, incorporating on the entire Millennium class what our guests enjoy most on the Solstice class. It ties our whole fleet together in a very powerful way."

A major addition to the ships is the AquaClass category of cabins, which have private verandas; exclusive access to the specialty restaurant, Blu; and access to the Persian Garden and Relaxation Room in the AquaSpa. Blu features "clean cuisine," popular for serving a flavorful truffle vinaigrette instead of a rich bearnaise, for example.

Guests in the spa-inspired AquaClass rooms also have a personal spa concierge who can book treatments. The cabins also come with plush Frette bathrobes and slippers; enhanced personal care products; and plentiful in-room amenities, including Hansgrohe showerheads, fog-free bathroom mirrors, aromatherapy selections, and daily deliveries of complimentary bottled water and teas.

Celebrity Summit QsineAnother major addition is Qsine, the restaurant that focuses on international cuisine and fun, serving guests a variety of tasting dishes that diners select from menus displayed on iPads. Sample menu selections include spring rolls served in vertical springs and popcorn shrimp in theater-style popcorn boxes.

The Infinity, Summit and Millennium all have Qsine, which was introduced on the Celebrity Eclipse and the Silhouette. The Celebrity Constellation, "Solsticized" in 2010, will keep the Solstice-inspired specialty restaurant Tuscan Grille, an Italian-themed steakhouse added during its revamp, and will not have a Qsine.

All Millennium-class ships now have iLounges; the Summit already had one, but during the upgrade its iLounge was moved and renovated. These computer lounges feature Apple workstations with MacBook Pros and iMacs. Passengers can check email and surf the Web or take classes on everything from social media to using photo, audio and video programs. The classes range from beginner to advanced level. Guests can also shop for Apple products in the iLounges; Celebrity was the first authorized Apple reseller at sea.

The ships were also given a Cellarmasters wine bar, complete with the Enomatic wine serving system -- an industry first when Celebrity introduced it on the Solstice -- enabling guests to select wines by the glass, at the touch of a button. The Enomatic uses gas preservation to keep wines from deteriorating after they've been opened.

The new Martini Bar and Crush has an ice-topped bar, which may have been designed to be coolly elegant but is also irresistible to graffiti writers who write on the icy tops or leave palm prints. The Millennium ships also now have the Cafe al Bacio and Gelateria, which serve irresistible ices and ice creams.

Michael's Club, a Celebrity signature lounge already on the Millennium-class ships, had a selection of fine whiskeys, cognacs, bourbons and scotches but now offers craft beers, including 50 international selections.

The cruise line also added verandas to its spacious Celebrity Suites and additional oceanview and inside cabins.

SCelebrity Summit iLoungeolstification included bringing Celebrity's eXhale bedding program to the Millennium ships.

Done in partnership with Reverie, which specializes in luxury bedding, hand-made in the U.S. with natural raw materials such as bamboo and sustainable natural rubber, the mattresses are almost entirely recyclable and biodegradable, feature removable, hypoallergenic, antibacterial and dust mite-resistant covers and a breathable, plush pillow top with a patented air-flow design.

Rounding out Celebrity's eXhale bedding program are custom-embroidered, 100% Egyptian cotton linens (this will be added to the Celebrity Constellation next year).

Celebrity took two years to upgrade the four ships, renovating each over a three-week dock period.

Staci Fialkoff, president of Source International Travel in Laguna Niguel, Calif., said the additions have helped her make sales, specifically pointing to a group she put on an Alaska Infinity cruise.

"I sold a party of 10 on all of the Infinity's new features," she said. "They did the Aqua Class cabins, which the ship didn't have before. That was my way to sell an older ship. ... It's smart to reinvent themselves."

Follow Kate Rice on Twitter @krtravelweekly. 
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