Celebrity Cruises reveals identity of new ships for Dublin and Southampton

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Celebrity Eclipse, home porting in Southampton

Celebrity Cruises has revealed Celebrity Eclipse will become the first ship from a major line to homeport in Dublin in 2018 after spending the last eight years sailing out of Southampton.

Solstice-class sister vessel Celebrity Silhouette will replace Eclipse in Southampton, offering northern Europe and Mediterranean itineraries from 2018. The deployment is the most significant ever made in the UK and Ireland by Celebrity Cruises.

Silhouette will sail seven and eight-night Norwegian Fjord sailings, 12 to 14 night Scandinavia and Russia itineraries and 13 to 14 night Mediterranean, Canaries and Azores itineraries.

Jo Rzymowska, vice president and managing director for the UK, Ireland and Asia, said: “The performance of the Celebrity Cruise UK and Ireland business has gone from strength to strength in recent years and we are pleased to be able to grow our offering in the region with both Celebrity Silhouette and Celebrity Eclipse homeporting from here during the 2018 season.

“After speaking with our trade partners we saw this as a great opportunity for us to expand and this is the biggest ever change made to UK and Ireland deployment.”

Rzymowska said Celebrity Eclipse is well known by customers and trade so would build a solid foundation as the line’s first ship sailing out of Dublin.

“Eclipse is a much-loved ship, so by moving her to Dublin we believe some guests will follow, as well as attracting new passengers too.

“Dublin is very popular with our north American guests who have great affinity with the country plus with its upgrades Silhouette can offer an enhanced experienced with sailings out of Southampton.”

Russia sailings on Celebrity Silhouette from Southampton in July 2018 include the chance to attend the 2018 Fifa World Cup in Moscow including the third position match in Saint Petersburg.

During its farewell season in 2017, Celebrity Eclipse will host a special ‘Modern Luxury’ two-night sailing to Le Havre as well as a President’s Cruise attended by the line’s president and chief executive Lisa Lutoff Perlo.

The Solstice-class ships will be joined by two other Celebrity vessels in Europe in 2018.

Celebrity Constellation will sail out of Venice, Rome and Barcelona while Celebrity’s newest ship Reflection will sail out of Rome with eastern and western Mediterranean itineraries.

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Celebrity Cruises to base ship in Dublin

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Irish travel agents will have a dedicated ship to sell when Celebrity Cruises becomes the first major cruise line base a ship in Dublin.

One of the line’s 2,800-plus passenger Solstice-class vessels will run five sailings from the Irish capital’s port between April and June 2018.

Itineraries will run throughout northern Europe with details to be announced later in the year.

The line expects to attract more than 14,000 passengers to the Dublin sailings.

The move is estimated to be worth almost €6 million to Dublin and the surrounding area in knock-on economic benefits.

Celebrity Cruises already features Dublin and other ports throughout Ireland in its European deployment.

However this is the most significant increase in its investment into Ireland in the history of the global business.

UK and Ireland managing director Jo Rzymowska said: “Celebrity Cruises has enjoyed significant support from our travel agent partners and guests throughout Ireland for many years.

“Now we are saying thank you by basing one of the flagships of our fleet in Dublin for a mini season during early summer 2018.

“We know that our guests from around the world, and in Ireland, will love the warm welcome they receive when starting a holiday in Dublin.

“Calling Dublin home in 2018 is a major development to our European deployment.”

Dublin Port has hosted more than 180,000 cruise visitors on over 100 cruise ship calls this year, including four turnarounds where the ship begins its sailing and guests embark.

Head of corporate services Pat Ward said: “It has been a clear ambition of Dublin Port to attract a cruise line to offer our great city as a homeport.

“Today, that ambition is realised and Celebrity Cruises will be an important step-change in our history.

“The opportunities that this new investment will bring are extensive. We look forward to maximising this new platform for growth and welcoming yet more cruise ships and holidaymakers to Dublin for the first time.”

Just one cruise ship scheduled to use new Panama Canal locks

Caribbean Princess

The new, wider locks on the Panama Canal will open June 26 with the first official transit of a cargo ship, but don’t expect much traffic through them from cruise ships.

Only one cruise ship has reserved space to move through the new locks, which are open to one cruise ship a day starting in June 2017, according to the Panama Canal Authority.

Princess Cruises’ Caribbean Princess is scheduled to make a series of thirteen 10-day cruises through the canal beginning Oct. 21, 2017.

At 118 feet wide, the 3,080-passenger Caribbean Princess can’t fit into the 110-foot locks that were opened in 1914. The new locks had been scheduled to open in time for the centennial but were delayed by disputes between Panama and the consortia of contractors that built them.

The new locks rely on tugs rather than electric locomotives to move ships through them. Doubts have been raised about the ability to fit the tugs in the locks along with the longest ships, but at 951 feet, the Caribbean Princess will have room to spare in the 1,400 foot locks.

For cargo ships, questions have also been raised about the record-low depths of water in Gatun Lake, which connects locks on the Atlantic and Pacific side of the canal. Depths hit 81.75 feet earlier this year. But large cruise ships typically need only about 30 feet to operate.

Most cruise ships transiting the Panama Canal will continue to use the old locks. Cruise lines have several ships operating in Alaska that would need the new locks to move to the Atlantic, such as Royal Caribbean International’s Explorer of the Seas and Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Solstice. But for now they are stationed year-round in the Pacific, moving to Australia, New Zealand and the Far East during the winter.

A spokesman for Carnival Cruise Line said Carnival doesn’t have any full transit Panama Canal cruises scheduled through April 2018.

Holland America Line recently launched the Koningsdam, the first HAL ship that will not fit through the old locks, but it is currently deployed in Europe during the summer and the Caribbean during the winter.