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UK Shores See Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Launch

by Amanda Banks,, London

29 July 2009

Celebrity Cruises has announced the launch of its 122,000 tonne cruise ship the Celebrity Equinox, boasting a capacity of 2,850 and a croquet lawn on the top deck.

The vessel is expected to be the only cruise ship to be launched in the UK this year, down from three new builds last year. Statistics released by the Passenger Shipping Association show that whilst the shipbuilding industry is struggling, demand for cruises has remained level over the last two years, having increased 11% from 2007 levels. During 2009, 1.5 million British holidaymakers are expected to opt for cruises.

The ship will enter service on July 31, 2009, having been docked in Southampton for two weeks for its inaugural ceremony. The boat is moored alongside its sister ship, the Celebrity Eclipse, currently under construction and scheduled for completion in Summer 2010.

“For the UK to be hosting the inaugural celebrations of Celebrity Equinox demonstrates the importance of the British and Irish markets. The reaction of UK consumers in terms of bookings is strong with sailings during all peak holiday periods sold out,” said a spokesperson for the ship's owner, Royal Caribbean.

Celebrity Cruises has also announced the launch of its new Celebrity Life program, to be launched immediately on the Celebrity Equinox, and on the rest of its fleet by the end of November.

“Celebrity Cruises has always been committed to offering the best experience for discerning travelers,” said Celebrity Cruises Senior Vice President of Hotel Operations Lisa Lutoff-Perlo. “Celebrity Life will provide our guests with an array of experiences they will remember long after they sail with us, thanks to the delivery and dedication of our spectacular crew.” She added: “All of us at Celebrity Cruises are eager to introduce this new program to our guests. From pleasing palates to enriching intellects to enhancing day-to-day life, there’s something to suit every interest within our new Celebrity Life. And this is just the beginning. We look forward to introducing more schemes over the course of the year.”

Among its usual offerings – a casino, and a vast number of restaurants, bars and activities – Celebrity Cruises has installed on the top deck an area of real grass that is larger than eight tennis courts, to be used for activities ranging from boules to outdoor concerts.

Celebrity Cruises sails to Alaska, Bermuda, California, Canada/New England, the Caribbean, Europe, the Galapagos Islands, Hawaii, the Pacific Coast, the Panama Canal, and South America. The line also offers unique Cruisetour vacations in Alaska, Canada, Europe and South America. Noted for four of the 10 "Top Cruise Ships in the World" in the large-ship category, as voted by the readers of Condé Nast Traveler (February 2009 readers’ poll), Celebrity Cruises' fleet – including the new Celebrity Solstice and Celebrity Equinox – will be joined by the Celebrity Eclipse in 2010, a fourth Solstice-class ship in 2011, and a fifth in 2012.

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