I was just on a 10-night Hawaii sailing onboard Infinity, and I ate dinner with the Captain at his table along with the Chief Engineer, Hotel Director, and a corporate director from Miami. Her first name was, if I am not mistaken, Rosarita (spelling?). I do not remember what her department was. She said that they currently have no plans for SELLING ("retire" usually means being taken out of service forever, probably scraping them, something they would never do) Horizon or Zenith. She said that they are very popular on the Bermuda itineraries, and they are still very nice classic ships that are profitable. Although she stated that they would eventually have to replace them, I think that time will not come until they either cost too much to operate, or they can no longer meet Celebrity's standards.
Also, as stated in another post on this board, Horizon (and I know that Zenith is also) is in great condition. Although their may be tiny problems here and there, the high caliber of Celebrity demands that they are kept in supreme shape; from the engines, to the hallways.
There were rumors a while ago tht Celebrity Cruises was working on a design for new vessels of similar size to MV Horizon and MV Zenith. At the time, those rumors seemed to surprise quite a few folks because the trend in the industry seemed to be toward larger and larger vessels. The rumors were not clear as to whether such vessels would replace MV Horizon and MV Zenith or, instead, would deploy to more distant parts of the world, such as the South Pacific, the Pacific Rim, the Indian Ocean, and Africa (what competitor Princess Cruises calls "Exotic Adventures") -- or perhaps both. Nonetheless, the recent introduction of MV [i] Tahitian Princess [/i[ (formerly MV R4 of Renaissance Cruises) and MV Pacific Princess (formerly MV R3 of Renaissance Cruises) by Princess Cruises does provide ample evidence that at least one direct competitor believes that it's still possible to operate vessels of such size, or even smaller, profitably. So far, though, I have not seen anything definitive regarding actual orders for such vessels. My guess is that the line might have put plans for such vessels "on hold" due to the uncertainties posed by the current global political situation (the "9/11" attack, the recent combat in Iraq, the North Korean nuclear threat, SARS, etc.). Under present conditions even cruises to Europe, which is politically quite stable, are not selling as well as in past years.
When Celebrity Cruises places firm orders for new vessels, you can expect a press release from the parent company (http://www.rclinvestor.com). There's also no doubt that CruiseMates will report the orders on the "News" section of this site.
As a matter of fact Norm, I was the person that started those rumors. While onboard Constellation last summer, I did hear rumors about replacing Horizon and Zenith. Through talks with cruise line executives, I have learned that they have talked about Horizon and Zenith's replacements, and even have laid out brief designs for them. If they are replaced, which eventually will be necessary eventually, the replacements will be the same size. A ship much larger can not sail to Bermuda, an itinerary Celebrity has always been famous for. I heard that the designs were around 50,000 tonnes. Like I said, these are just designs. To maintain the high caliber of Celebrity, they will need to be replaced later this decade. The Millennium-class ships are expected to last only about 12 years in the Celebrity fleet, according to the cruise director (Jim Cannon) of Millennium. But, like I stated before, these designs are brief, and no contract has been set up with any yard what-so-ever. I don't even know if the board of directors has approved it. So, my post is firm, they have NO plans of replacing Horizon or Zenith. They are both fine, profitable vessels.
If they were to replace - retire the Zenith and Horizon - the line would have to look at Bermuda.
The port requirements are what they would try to meed and get the biggest ship in there.
From talking to Celebrity people - the Bermuda run is a big money maker for them.
They train a lot of staff on these runs.
The extra days in one place and no extra cost on ship help them a lot.
I was suprized when Holland America pulled out of there in the 80's as I always thought this was a great trip.
But they may have been pushed out by Celebrity and NCL.
The shipsize I think they could fit into Bermuda wuold be close to 50,000 tons.
And about the same length at the current Zenith and Horizon.
But they may try to make the ship a lot more upscale.
In Bermuda only the Docklands, clearly the least desirable of the three ports, can accommodate the larger ships. We were just there on Millennium a few weeks ago. Took the ferry into Hamilton where both the Zenith and Horizon were tied up together. St. Georges can only handle one ship, and it has to be a small one.
The cruise director on Millennium told us that Celebrity has no new ships on the boards. He said they probably would have announced some new ones by now if not for all the obvious problems in the industry.
If the Bermuda market gets any softer for Celebrity, you can bet your bottom dollar, they'll be shopping one or both of the vessels.
It'll be interesting to see how popular the new longer Caribbean itineraries are with these ships.. without having to offer 7-night pricing.
With more options for summer cruises.. especially from the Tri-State New York area (the bulk of the Bermuda cruise market).. the season's looking very very soft.
Last year's season was no banner year either!