MIAMI -- Anticipating a higher-than-expected demand for Europe
voyages this year, Celebrity Cruises and sister brand Royal
Caribbean International are rising to meet the call for increased
capacity in 2003 by stationing five vessels in Europe.
Celebrity's Millennium will join the Constellation, and Royal
Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas and Splendour of the Seas will
join the Brilliance of the Seas, more than doubling the brands'
total capacity there.
Richard Fain, CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., said the
company had acted "cautiously" when repositioning its ships away
from Europe for the 2002 season. Planning for 2003 required the
company to hit a balance, Fain said.
"My guess is that if nothing happens in Iraq we will wish we had
six [ships] instead of five, and if something big happens, we'll
wish we had four," he said.
Celebrity had pulled back on its 2003 Europe capacity earlier
this year: The Century, which was slated for a series of Europe
cruises, a few months ago had its 2003 season shifted to summer
Caribbean cruising. Officials said the move was made to increase
capacity in the Caribbean.
Right now, it's still too early to tell if the Europe season
will be as big a success as Celebrity and Royal Caribbean
International hope, although Jack Williams, president of both
brands, told financial analysts "early indications are for
RCCL executives said their passengers continue to book closer to
the sail date, so the real picture for summer 2003 may not be clear
for several months. Travel agents like Pat Tinney, who sailed on
the Constellation in September with a group of 20 clients, agreed
that the majority of her bookings are still made at the last
Tinney, owner of Creative Tours by Pat in Mary Esther, Fla.,
said there was "definitely a trend back" toward Europe.
"But it depends on the world situation," she added. "If the
Mideast crisis dies down, there will be no problems."
The Constellation is the final ship in Celebrity's building
spree -- the line doubled its capacity in two years. It is the
fourth in the line's Millennium-class series, and past Millennium
guests and agents will have no trouble finding their way around the
Of course, a few things will be changing on the Celebrity ships.
The line launched an onboard improvement program in September that
is intended to maneuver the line into an "upper premium"
Celebrity is running a "pilot program" of some of the
initiatives on board the Millennium.
So far, Millennium guests have been treated to, among other new
offerings, expanded spa hours and menu, sorbet and cold towels
offered poolside, sushi options in the casual restaurant, sunset
yoga classes and a complimentary welcome glass of champagne.
Steven Hancock, senior vice president, Celebrity marketing, said
it was likely the successful upgrades would be rolled out fleetwide
in the first quarter.
The Constellation will sail a series of northern Europe
itineraries from London to Scandinavia and Russia, and then
reposition to the Mediterranean for cruises from Barcelona. To get
from the Baltics region to the Med, the Constellation sails an
itinerary called the Best of Europe.
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• Tour arm offers land add-ons