Celebrity's New Century By Kuki, CruiseMates Cruise Director November 22, 2006, 2006
Eighteen months ago, at a Miami press conference, Celebrity Cruise Lines announced a $55 million refit for the Celebrity Century. Read the resulting article here.
Now the overhauled ship is back in Miami, and we went onboard to see the results. The finished product hints at the chic ambience of W Hotels, and the ship is elegant enough to impress the most discerning passenger. The updated Century is now 71,545 tons. Her length and width remained unchanged at 815 ft. and 105 ft. respectively. But with the addition of the new cabins, the ship can now carry 1,814 guests, based on double occupancy.
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Shorter Cruise Options
For the time being, Century will home-port in Miami, where Celebrity wants to have a presence; the line previously based all its Caribbean ships at Ft. Lauderdale. Celebrity decided to use the Century for alternating four- and five-day itineraries in the Caribbean, rather than the seven-day or longer cruises its other ships sail.
Celebrity President Dan Hanrahan explained that the company decided in 2005 to
experiment with four- and five-day sailings using the Celebrity Zenith, while anticipating that the "new" Century would operate those itineraries beginning this year. The cruise line was delighted with the response to its initial foray into shorter cruises, and is now ecstatic to be the only line offering a freshly updated, premium-brand ship in the shorter cruise market.
Celebrity executives told us that in recent years, companies that offer corporate incentive and meetings programs have requested shorter itineraries, which also weighed in their ultimate decision. They said they expect this to be a good market for this ship.
Hanrahan also told CruiseMates that the shorter cruises are predicted to result in increased daily revenue from the casino, compared to the averages from Celebrity ships sailing longer cruises.
He said he was not concerned about the Century's shorter cruises being perceived as "party cruises," which is the image of many short cruises operated by other lines.
"We don't believe we attract a party crowd" he said, "and we don't expect that to change, so though we think casino revenue will rise, we don't expect to see that hold true with alcohol revenue".
Extra Cabins, New Balconies
The decision to update the Century didn't come easily. Celebrity struggled with the decision for some time, but ultimately decided that updating the individual areas of the ship, stretching the project over several years, was not the answer. They chose the more aggressive path: Spend $55 million in a five-week period to add 14 new cabins, 314 new balconies, refurbish all cabins and public areas, add a Muranos specialty restaurant, a new kids facility and a teen disco. The results are an engineering marvel and a ship that Celebrity guests new and old will love.
We spoke to Century's Captain Pagonis, who nursed her through the rebuilding process at the shipyard in Palmero, Italy. He will remain master of the new Century. When we asked him how the ship handles with an additional passenger deck and all the new balconies, he told us, "She handles impeccably".
There's not a spot in the ship's public areas that has not been renewed; work involved installing new carpeting, new upholstery, or tearing out an entire bar area and redesigning it. It is amazing that the design team and shipyard managed to complete this project in five weeks.
The main reason for the overhaul was to add balconies, bringing the Century's features more in line with the line's Millennium Class ships. The new balconies are actually larger than the original drawings called for. During construction, the line decided to spend an extra $700,000 beyond the original budget to extend the balconies. They are a nice size by industry standards, and feature a taller table (suitable for dining) and two chairs, even on the standard balconies.
Keeping in mind last year's fire on a Princess ship, all materials used on the balconies --flooring, balcony dividers and furnishings -- were chosen for their fire resistant features.
All the cabin interiors have been redone, and though Century never offered excessively large standard cabins, the new design is well laid out and aesthetically pleasing. All cabins now have built-in 23-inch flat screen TVs, and closet and storage space is plenty for even the most ardent over-packer. The color schemes of burnt orange and burnt yellow is relaxing. The bedding and linens have been upgraded, as have the lush towels. Even the washbasins in the cabin bathrooms have a unique designer touch.
Wireless Internet access is also new to all Century guest cabins.
The Public Rooms
The new Muranos, a surcharge alternative restaurant ($30 per person at present) on
Deck 5, is a stunningly attractive facility, offering fine dining with a menu designed by
Celebrity's Culinary and Wine Consultant, Michel Roux.
The hit of the nightlife scene on the new Century will no doubt be the "Ice Bar" Martini Bar on Deck 7, featuring a liquid wall that freezes to form a sparkling crystalline appearance, and a bar counter that freezes into ice-cold stone. The bar will serve Celebrity's famed menu of 30 varieties of martinis. Other bars and lounges were fully refurbished.
Ice Bar Table
Ice Bar Bar
And now teen guests will have their own disco, Xtreme - complete with soda bar and dance floor - where they and their friends can enjoy night life specifically designed for their age group.
Shopping options have been updated in line with a new upscale fleet-wide initiative, and the ship added a new luxury store, in conjunction with Leon's of Beverly Hills, named Boutique C.
Combining these new features with Celebrity standards, like the Hemisphere, Rendezvous, and Crystal Lounges and the elegant traditional dining room (The Grand Restaurant), makes this ship a must-sail for staunch fans of Celebrity, and should attract first-time cruisers looking for a premium brand touch of luxury.
In time Celebrity hopes to initiate similar refit programs on Century's sister ships, Galaxy and Mercury.
For a short time, with a bit of research, one can find five-day cruises on this magnificent ship beginning as low as $299.