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Horizon

Horizon seen departing IJmuiden after the first visit of a ship from Crocieres de France from The Netherlands at the 16th of june 2014.

On the 19th of november 1989, Chandris Cruises launched their first newbuilt for the new Celebrity Cruises brand, that was to operate the lucrative market from the eastcoast of the United States of America to the Bahamas. The local authoroties at the Bahamas awarded the contract for priority berthing to Chandris, when they started up this new brand, that was going to be very upmarket as the Bermuda authoroties required. Celebrity Cruises had been started up with one of the companies Fantasy Cruises ships, that was re-named Meridian for Celebrity Cruises, but this ship was an older vessel and was not really the luxury ship Chandris needed. 

The new ship measured 46.811 tons and had a lenght of 208 meters. She was 29,32 meters wide and had space aboard for 1798 passengers in 677 cabins, as well as for 642 crewmembers. The ship was driven by two propellers, powered by two nine-cylinder and two six-cylinder MAN-designed diesel engines and could sail at the speed of 22 knots during service. She was launched from the yards of Jos L. Meyer at Papenburg, Germany, where she had been built as yardnumber 619. In april 1992, the ship, that was named Horizon at the 11th of april 1990, was recieving a sistership that was slightly larger then herself and this ship was named Zenith. At the 30th of april 1990, Horizon was delivered to Celebrity Cruises and started her intended cruises. She also visited the Caribbean in between het Bermuda cruises.

Her first homeport was Monrovia, so she flew the Liberian flag, but this was changed to Nassau at the Bahamas in 2003. In 1997, Chandris had sold Celebrity Cruises to Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and because Celebrity Cruises at that time was the only passengership operation from Chandris, they ended their venture into cruising with the sale. At that time, the new Century had just been added to the fleet and the line was expecting two sisterships within the next years, the to be named Galaxy and Mercury. The company was really succesfull under the new ownership and a class of 90.000-ton ships was ordered at the end of the 1990's. These of course became the Millennium-class of ships, almost double the size of the Horizon and Zenith.They also introduced a new standard for Celebrity Cruises and in october of 2005, a few years after the last of the Millennium-class Constellation had been added to the Celebrity Cruises fleet, Royal Caribbean re-placed Horizon to its Island Cruises brand. Just like their biggest competitor Carnival Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean owned several brands, in which the smaller ones acted as absorbers for the out-of-date tonnage of the larger lines.  

Before her Island Cruises carreer started, Horizon was sent to the Grand Bahama Shipyard to be rebuilt and updated. In the rebuilding, the ship recieved two new restaurants and 59 new cabins, of which 50 had balconies. This was a standard from the mid 1990's onwards and Horizon had just been built before those were becoming so important. The ship re-emerged under the name Island Star and she started sailing from Rio de Janeiro in december of 2005. Her cruises now also brought her over to Europe, as the Mediterranean Sea was one of the most important regions for Island Cruises where she was sailing from Palma de Mallorca.

On the 6th of october of 2008, Royal Caribbean sold the share of 50% that they had in Island Cruises to First Choice Holidays and so they also ended the charter of Island Star from the end of 2009 onwards. Now, the ship was replaced in another Royal Caribbean subsidiary, the Spanish-based Pullmantur Cruises for whom she was renamed Pacific Dream. Reports came out that the ship was being transferred again over to Crocieres de France from may 2009 onwards, the company that had to re-open the French cruisemarket and also a fully owned subsidiary of Royal Caribbean. This would mean that she was not going to sail for Pullmantur at all. It seemed that Royal Caribbean didn't really know what to do with the ship, because she finally did start her sailings for Pullmantur under her intended name, only for a short while. In november 2010, it was finally decided to place her in the French fleet, replacing their Bleu de France, the former HAPAG-Lloyd ship Europa that had been built in 1980. She made her first sailings for the French market in 2012. Her sistership Zenith followed her also over to the French line in 2014. For Crocieres de France, the former Horizon was again named to her first name and Zenith kept her own. In 2015, the fleet of Crocieres de France was to be expanded with Celebrity Century, but she was partially sold to a new Chinese adventure called SkySea Cruises instead.

It seemed that investment in de Crocieres de France brand was not made, as both former Celebrity ships were also sailing cruises for Pullmantur and were also named as Pullmantur ships on the Spanish website. To make things more clear, the CdF brand was discontinued from early 2017 onwards and the ships really replaced in the fleet of Pullmantur. So this French adventure, although promising at first, had a very early end. In my opinion, it would have been more appropriate to really give the ships French names and registration in France, that could have made a difference as the ships would have been more attractive to the French market. Of course for Pullmantur, the ships will lose their French cuisine, language and style, replaced by the Spanish Pullmantur branding.    

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