Miami – (October 31, 2006 ) – Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. has received antitrust approvals from Spain and Portugal on its planned purchase of Madrid-based cruise and tour operator Pullmantur S.A. With purchase plans on schedule, company officials also unveiled Celebrity Expeditions, an extension of the Celebrity Cruises brand, and a ship swap involving Pullmantur’s Blue Dream and Celebrityâ€™s Zenith.
In August, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. signed an agreement with Pullmanturâ€™s shareholders to buy all the companyâ€™s capital stock, subject to regulatory approvals. Todayâ€™s announcement eliminates the last major requirement to finalization. The company anticipates closing in mid-November.
â€œWe are pleased that the Spanish and Portuguese authorities have given us the green light on our Pullmantur acquisition,â€ said Royal Caribbean Chairman and CEO Richard Fain. “It allows us to move ahead with very exciting plans for both Celebrity and Pullmantur. For Celebrity, it allows us to build out and extend the Celebrity brand with tailored ships for target marketsâ€”a long-time strategy for the brandâ€”and, for Pullmantur, it enables us to add needed capacity to the fleet.â€
Rounding out the Celebrity brand has been a strong focus for the company, and the expansion of Celebrity Expeditions furthers that strategic objective. When the 718-guest Blue Dream joins Celebrityâ€™s fleet, it will formalize a small ship, destination-driven offering new to the brand, which will operate under the banner of Celebrity Expeditions. Currently, Celebrity has only one ship, the 100-guest Celebrity Xpedition in the Galapagos, in this category. The line expects the concept to grow over time.
â€œCelebrity Expeditions will offer the best of what Celebrity is all aboutâ€”fine dining, superior service, relaxing spa treatments, engaging enrichment programs and exceptional destinations,â€ said Celebrity President Dan Hanrahan. â€œThis offshoot is a natural extension of the brand, as we move into new markets with tailored-to-market products.â€
Blue Dream will be renamed Celebrity Journey, and will join Celebrityâ€™s fleet in April, 2007, sailing Bermuda itineraries from Cape Liberty in Bayonne, NJ, beginning May 5, 2007. Before switching brands, the ship will undergo a one-month revitalization and drydock to incorporate many of Celebrityâ€™s signature elements such as two specialty restaurants; expanded spa services, including in-room offerings; expanded concierge service, including butlers; and additional guest suites. The restyled ship will sail the same Bermuda itineraries originally scheduled for Zenith.
â€œCelebrity Journey will be an ideal ship for the Bermuda market,â€ said Celebrity Cruises President Dan Hanrahan. â€œIts smaller size and upscale style are perfect complements to premium destinations such as St. Georges and Hamilton.â€
Zenith will sail regularly scheduled Caribbean itineraries from Tampa until April 13, at which time she will sail a Caribbean and Bermuda itinerary from Tampa to Cape Liberty. The April 13 sailing will be the shipâ€™s last sailing as part of the Celebrity fleet before the ship redeploys to the Pullmantur fleet in June, 2007. Before re-entering service, the ship will enter drydock where workers will add balcony cabins, enlarge public spaces and customize the ship for Spanish guests. Once retooled, Zenith will sail seven-night Mediterranean cruises between Athens and Venice.
â€œIt is gratifying to see the benefits of our new alliance come together so quickly,â€ said Pullmantur General Manager Alfonso Lopez Perez. â€œAdding Zenith to our fleet gives us greater strength in meeting the demands of the Spanish market, and I am confident we will realize even greater synergies as our partnership grows.â€
All guests currently holding bookings on Zenith in Bermuda will be contacted by Celebrity representatives to transfer existing reservations to similar accommodations on Celebrity Journey.
Celebrity has set up a toll-free number for travel agents and guests with questions about ship or itinerary changes. That number for group and individual bookings is 1-888-281-9343, featuring prompts to direct callers to areas of interest.
Celebrity Journey was constructed in France and entered service in May, 2000, as R6. The ship is 30,277-grt and has 358 staterooms. The German-built Zenith entered service in April, 1992, as a 46,811-grt vessel with 673 staterooms.
New bookings for sailings on Celebrity Journey will be available in the next several days. Ship itineraries for the remainder of 2007 will be announced shortly.