Celebrity Cruises, although one of the most modern cruiselines in the world, has its origins already in 1959, when Chandris Lines was formed in Greece by Anthony Chandris. The purpose of this company was to offer linevoyages from Greece to Australia and for this, the Bloemfontein Castle was bought from the Union Castle Line. The ship was renamed Patris and this started the naming strategy of the company, with all shipnames ending at -is.The first sailing commenced from Piraeus, Greece to Sydney in Australia at the 14th of december 1959. The company gained the highly lucrative Greek mail contract to carry the mails between the countries and this was to be the lifeline for Chandris. Their funnel logo was the Greek letter 'chi' and it was printed at the ships funnels. The 'chi ' is written as an 'x' and this explaines also the use of the 'x' at the funnels of the ships of Celebrity Cruises, as we see later.
Below, I show a picture postcard from the Chandris liner Australis of 35.400 tons from my postcard collection. She was the largest one-class liner during the late 1960's and early 1970's, sailing cruises as well as line-voyages. The picture is one from the Beken family of Cowes, England and the poststamp is dated the 4th of december 1971.
After Patris, the fleet of Chandris Lines grew rapidly, with ships like Ellinis, the former Lurline of Matson Lines from San Fransisco, built in 1932. Also, the America was bought from United States Lines and renamed Australis. In 1965, Chandris bought the National Hellenic American Line and their only ship the Queen Frederica. At that time, the name and ship were owned by Home Lines. This ship was used as a dual-purpose ship, she also brought Chandris into the cruisemarket. because this ship was old and not up to safety requirements, she was replaced in 1967 by the former Kenya Castle from Union Castle Line, that was renamed Amerikanis. In 1970, Matsonia was bought from again Matson Lines and renamed Britanis. This was at a time that line-voyages were declining and the ships more or less started to have cruises as their main objective. In 1974, Chandris Lines was merged with Chandris Cruises, owned by Anthony's brother Dimitri Chandris. Before 1974, both companies were totally separated and the company was restyled as Chandris Line Chandris Cruises. This rather unpleasant and unusual name was changed to just Chandris Cruises in 1977, when the line-voyages were discontinued and the company solely concentrated on cruises.
The Celebrity Cruises flag, showing the Greek letter 'chi' that originally stands for Chandris Cruises, not Celebrity.
In 1988, Chandris Cruises formed another company under the name Celebrity Cruises. This company was formed in the wake of the Holland America Line take-over of the ships of Home Lines. Home Lines had owned two highly valuable contracts for priority berthing arrangements between april and october at Bermuda and Holland America did not want to take over these contracts. Chandris Cruises however, was highly interested but they sailed with older, secondhand tonnage while the government of Bermuda liked to award these contracts to upmarket brands. Immidiately after the formation of Celebrity Cruises, that was to be an upmarket cruiseline, Chandris started negociations with the government of Bermuda and the contracts were awarded to them. One of Chandris Cruises' ships was transferred to the new company, that although it was another company also used the funnelmarkings of Chandris Cruises. This ship was the 1963-built Galileo and she was renamed Meridian. She sailed for Chandris from 1982 onwards. Chandris also ordered two newbuilds for Celebrity Cruises, the later Horizon and Zenith. Of these ships, Zenith sailed the Bermuda cruises untill her sale in 2007. Under the Chandris Cruises name, two ships were sailing at that moment, named The Azur and The Victoria. Another ship was sailing under the Fantasy Cruises brand, the Britanis. But the newbuilds and the main focus was now at Celebrity and both other names Chandris and Fantasy Cruises were discontinued in 1994 and 1996 respectively. In 1997, when Chandris just had taken delivery of their fourth ship within the Celebrity Cruises brand, the Century, they also sold this brand to Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and Chandris ended being a ship-owning company. After the take-over, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line changed their name to Royal Caribbean International (RCI) for their own cruiseline and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines (RCCL) became the mothercompany for their seperate brands.
Celebrity Cruises started to grow in size under their new management, who decided to enlarge the two planned sisterships of Century that were being build during the take-over. This is why Galaxy and Mercury are somewhat larger. Just as the big rival to Royal Caribbean, Carnival Corporation, RCCL started to use the same blueprints for the ships of Celebrity as well as RCI in their next order. The ships of the Vantage class that was built for RCI are of the same basic design as the Millennium-class of Celebrity. But it was decided that the new Celebrity ships would be built at the former house-wharf of Royal Caribbean, Chantiers de L'atlantique in Saint-Nazaire, and the new ships for RCI would be built at the former house-wharf of Celebrity, Jos L. Meyer in Papenburg, Germany. This decision alone was not taken well by Celebrity's newbuild-department because they had good relations with the German wharf and they were very content with their latest ships of the Century-class. Later on, the French built Celebrity ships proved to be very troublesome in service due to the pod-propulsion that would 'spring a leak almost every week'. The German built ships of RCI were free of those problems and it was no surprise that the following class of ships for Celebrity, the Equinox-sisters, were again built in Germany. As a sad end to one of the most innovative naming-systems in modern cruising, it was decided to add the name 'Celebrity' to the names of the ships for this new class, and of course it was also decided to change the names of the older ships within the fleet.
Celebrity Silhouette, one of the Equinox-class ships, sailing to the sun at the 26th of may, 2016 after she left the IJmuiden locks.
Under the banner of Celebrity Cruises, also another part of the company is operated around the Galapagos Islands. Originally, it was intended for the company to be Xtended with two ships coming over from Pullmantur in 2007, to be named Celebrity Journey and Celebrity Quest. Before the ships were added, another company was formed for them instead as a full daughter of Celebrity under the name of Azamara Cruises and the ships were renamed accordingly. In 2017, after the take-over of the two ships of the Ocean Adventures brand in 2016, the expeditionfleet named Celebrity Xpeditions was extended and it now sails with three small-sized ships under the names of Celebrity Xpedition, Celebrity Xploration and Celebrity Xperience. Also in those names, the Chandis 'X' returns. In the early 2000's, Celebrity Cruises had already offered cruises on charter basis aboard the Russian icebreaker Kapitan Khlebnikov, so they were not really new to this kind of cruising.
In december of 2018, the keel for a totally new kind of expeditionship was laid at the Dutch shipyard De Hoop in Lobith near the German border and she will be introduced as Celebrity Flora, leaving the 'X'-name to the past within the Xpeditionfleet. She will also be followed by a sistership. Nice fact is that this will be the first oceangoing cruiseship for a mayor company built in The Netherlands since Holland America's first Prinsendam in 1971.
Nice fact to know is that, next to Chandris Lines that was formed in 1959 for the migrant trades to Australia, other family members of the Chandris brothers owned ships from 1915 onwards. As Chandris Hellas, the company still exists and they manage a fleet of oiltankers and bulkcarriers. Chandris Hellas just manages the ships, they are owned by different companies. Within their fleet, there are now sailing four oiltankers with the names Australis, Britanis, Ellinis and Patris. These ships were built between 2000 and 2007 and measure around 300.000 Dwt.
Other ships that have sailed for Celebrity Cruises are placed elsewhere at the site
Horizon (1990-2005) is placed under Crocieres de France
Galaxy (1996-2008) is placed under TUI Cruises as Mein Schff 1
For booking information, visit the website of Celebrity Cruises.