Celebrity Cruises was founded in April 1988 as a subsidiary of the Greece-based Chandris Group to operate upmarket cruise ships to Bermuda. Chandris had been involved in cruise traffic since the 1960s, and during the late 1980s the company operated in the United States market under the brand name Chandris Cruises. Chandris Fantasy Cruises targeted the lower end of the cruise passenger market, with fleets consisting of second-hand ocean liners. Celebrity Cruises came into existence when, in April 1988, Home Lines, at the time one of the world’s leading premium cruise lines, was sold to Holland America Line. Home Lines’ ships had held two of the five contracts offered by the Government of Bermuda to cruise lines, giving the ships priority berthing arrangement and unlimited access of sail to the islands in exchange for the ships sailing to Bermuda between April and October each year. Although these contracts were highly valued, Holland America Line decided to withdraw the former Home Lines ships from this service, leaving an opening for two new ships to gain access. Chandris wanted to acquire the contracts, but the Government of Bermuda was only willing to award them to upmarket cruise lines, which Chandris Fantasy Cruises was not.
In order to gain the Bermuda Government contracts, Chandris created Celebrity Cruises and immediately began negotiating with the Bermuda Government in April 1988. As a result of the negotiations, Celebrity Cruises was awarded the contract for two ships for a five-year period beginning in 1990. In order to fulfill the contract, Chandris Fantasy Cruises’ Galileo was rebuilt at Lloyd Werft, Germany in 1989, re-entering service as Meridian for Celebrity Cruises in February 1990.
As the second ship Horizon, that had been ordered in 1988 as a replacement for Amerikanis in the Chandris Fantasy fleet, was transferred to Celebrity Cruises fleet, entering service in May 1990.
In late 1990 Celebrity Cruises placed an order for a sister ship of the Horizon, delivered in 1992 as Zenith.
Summit, a Millennium-class ship, renamed Celebrity Summit in 2008.
In 1997 the Chandris family sold their interests in Celebrity Cruises to Royal Caribbean International. During the same year Celebrity Cruises took delivery of the first Century class vessel, Century, that was followed by Galaxy in 1996 and Mercury in 1997. Following the delivery of the Mercury, the Meridian was sold to Singapore-based Sun Cruises. Between 2000 and 2002 Celebrity took delivery of a quartet of new ships, the gas turbine -powered and aptly named Millennium class ships Millennium, Infinity, Summit and Constellation. The Celebrity Expeditions sub-brand was launched in 2001 with the acquisition of Celebrity Xpedition, a small boutique ship offering specialized cruises around the Galápagos Islands. In 2005, the Horizon was transferred to the fleet Royal Caribbean’s United Kingdom -based subsidiary Island Cruises. In the same year, the first ship of what was to be named Solstice class was ordered from Meyer Werft.
By 2007, three more ships of this class were on order.
In 2006, plans were made to transfer Blue Moon and Blue Dream from the fleet of Pullmantur Cruises to Celebrity Cruises under the names of Celebrity Quest and Celebrity Journey. The ships would have joined the Celebrity Expeditions sub-brand, but in the end the decision was made to form an entirely new line, Azamara Cruises, to operate these ships in 2007. Also in 2007 the Zenith was transferred to Pullmantur Cruises ‘in exchange’ for the Azamara ships. Transfer of the Zenith also meant the end of Celebrity Cruises’ association with Bermuda for the time being, as no ship was brought in to replace her on the cruises to Bermuda.
In April 2010, The Celebrity Summit reposition yearly to New Jersey and offers cruises to Bermuda.
Celebrity Solstice, the lead ship in the Solstice-Class.
In 2007-2008, all of Celebrity Cruises’ ships were renamed with a “Celebrity” prefix added to the pre-existing ship names. Celebrity Solstice, the first ship in the new Solstice class, was delivered to Celebrity on 24 October 2008. In May 2009 Galaxy was transferred to the fleet of TUI Cruises, a joint venture between Celebrity Cruises’ owner Royal Caribbean International and TUI AG and renamed as Mein Schiff. Two more Solstice Class ships entered service – the Celebrity Equinox in 2009 and the Celebrity Eclipse in 2010.
Celebrity Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line embarkation point, Port of Seattle Bell Street Pier.
In 2011, Celebrity Mercury was sold by Celebrity fleet to become Mein Schiff 2 for TUI Cruises. The fourth Solstice Class ship the Celebrity Silhouette entered service in 2011. The Celebrity Reflection was recently delivered in 2012. After the Solstice class ships were released, Celebrity renovated all their older ships to make them more modern, they also put features that were only in the Solstice class. Therefore, they called the renovations “Solsticising”