Chantiers Delivers Large Cruise Ship and Starts Another for Celebrity
The Chantiers de l'Atlantique shipyard in St. Nazaire, France delivered one large new cruise ship to Royal Caribbean Group’s Celebrity Cruises while work also started yesterday on the fifth and final cruise ship of the class. The shipyard remains busy working through the cruise orderbook assembled before the pandemic put a stop to large cruise ship orders for the time being.
Calling the ship, a “symbol of excellence,” the executives of Royal Caribbean and Celebrity marked the delivery of the Celebrity Ascent (141,420 gross tons). The festivities on November 7 included the official document signing for the handover, the switch of the ship’s flag and registry from France to Malta, and capped with a champagne toast.
Today, the cruise ship got underway on a 10-day Atlantic crossing from France to Freeport in the Bahamas before she proceeds to Florida. Her first revenue voyage will begin on December 3 from Port Everglades to the Caribbean. The Celebrity Ascent will spend the winter cruises to the Caribbean before departing in April 2024 for the Mediterranean.
The Celebrity Ascent is a sister ship to the Celebrity Beyond delivered last year. The third and fourth ships of the Edge Series, they are approximately 68 feet longer and increased from 130,800 gross tons for the first two cruise ships to 141,420 gross tons for the third through fifth ships of the series. With 1,646 passenger cabins, the Celebrity Ascent has accommodations for 3,835 passengers plus 1,468 crew.
The first ship of the class, Celebrity Edge was introduced in 2018 with unique features including a straight prow, extensive use of glass, and a signature element a cantilevered platform that transforms from a tender landing to a dining area or lounge as it rises up the side of the cruise ship. Celebrity highlights that the enlarged versions of the design also have new dining options and an expanded Rooftop Garden.
"I am convinced that Celebrity Ascent will meet the same success as the other ships in the prestigious Edge Series," said Chantiers de l'Atlantique General Director Laurent Castaing during the handover ceremony. “Its fine exterior and interior design and its exceptional seaworthiness make it an outstanding ship."
The order for the Celebrity Ascent was placed in December 2016 when the cruise industry was nearing a peak before the pandemic. The first steel however was cut two years ago in a market recovering from the long suspension in operations. Assembly began in July 2022, and now she enters service as cruising is again reporting strong bookings and improving pricing.
The shipyard also marked the construction of the fifth and final ship of the celebrity with a ceremonial first steel cut with the executive of the cruise line. Celebrity announced the ship will be named Celebrity Xcel, and she is due to enter service in November 2025. The company is promising that the design will provide “completely new experiences,” including a more spacious garden and a redesign for the main, three-story, Grand Plaza lobby.
The next Celebrity cruise ship is also the last confirmed order for a large cruise ship for Chantiers de l'Atlantique. The yard is currently building the Utopia of the Seas (236,860 gross tons) which will be delivered to Royal Caribbean International in the summer of 2024 and the MSC World America (215,860 gross tons) which is due in the spring of 2025. MSC has options for two more ships in the world class scheduled for 2026 and 2027, but other than that the yard’s orderbook is for smaller, luxury cruise ships.
While everyone remains confident that there will be future cruise ship orders, in the three and a half years since the onset of COVID-19 only a handful of small cruise ships have been ordered at any of the major yards. The shipyards have all been looking for expanded opportunities beyond the cruise industry and possibly in new sectors such as constructions for offshore installations to replace the cruise ship business.