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Celebrity Cruises is a cruise line founded in 1988 by the Greek Chandris Group. In 1997 Celebrity Cruises Ltd. merged with Royal Caribbean International to become Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., which operates Celebrity, Royal Caribbean International, Azamara Cruises, Pullmantur Cruises and CDF Croisieres de France. Today the company is headquartered in Miami, Florida in the United States. The signature "X" on Celebrity ship funnels is the Greek letter chi, for "Chandris". Common features on board are aft-glass dining rooms, formal foyer areas, alternative restaurants, balcony and suite staterooms, large pools and lounging areas, signature bars and lounges, libraries, elegant spas and gyms, as well as relaxing areas.
Meridian was Celebrity Cruises' first ship.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 they operated in the United States market under the band name Chandris Fantasy Cruises. Chandris Fantasy Cruises mainly catered for the lower end of the market, their 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 to sail to the islands in exchange for the ships sailing to Bermuda between April and October each year. Although these contract 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 the contract. Chandris wished to gain these 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 begun 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 from 1990 onwards. 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 Millenium 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 2004 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 2007-2008 all Celebrity Cruises' ships were renamed with a "Celebrity" prefix added in front of the pre-existing names. Celebrity Solstice, the first ship in the new Solstice class, was delivered to Celebrity on 24 October 2008.
Celebrity Cruises has ordered five new ships, Celebrity Solstice, Celebrity Equinox, Celebrity Eclipse, and two still to be named ships. These will be Celebrity's largest vessels at 122,000 GT, holding 2,850 passengers each, and measuring 1,033 ft (314.86 m) in length, with a beam of 121 ft (36.88 m).