In 1988, Holland America Line took over the name and two-ship fleet of Home Lines. The newest 1986-built ship Homeric was absorbed into their own fleet under the name of Westerdam and the other ship, Atlantic was chartered out to Premier Cruises. Home Lines was an upmarket cruiseline in the style of Holland America itself and they had owned two highly valuable cotracts for priority docking arrangements in Bermuda. Holland America Line also had these contracts already so there was no need in taking them over and the government of Bermuda offered these contracts to other cruiselines, with the addition that the contracts would only be given to upmarket cruiselines.
Zenith visited the port of IJmuiden at the 2nd of may 2019. She is a frequent visitor to the port since last year, when she came in for the first time at exact the same day.
The Greek Chandris Cruises was highly interested, but they did not sail as a higher end line. To meet the demands for the contracts, Chandris decided in creating a new company from scratch and so they founded Celebrity Cruises. Immidiately, after the contracts had been awarded to the new line, they ordered two ships from the German Meyer Werft in Papenburg but as these ships would take some years to built, they had one of their own ships upgraded to start up the new company sooner. The choice was for the Galileo, that was renamed Meridian for the new branch. An older ship, but upgraded to the standards needed for the contract. The first German-built ship entered service in 1991 under the name of Horizon for Celebrity Cruises and a year later, our subject Zenith was starting her sailings as it's sistership, bringing the fleet up to three ships. As a new ship, Zenith became the ship offering the Bermuda cruises from New York and the other ships started to explore other territories.
Construction and general statistics
Just like her sistership Horizon, Zenith was built at the north-German wharf of Jos L. Meyer at Papenburg where she was known as yardnumber 620. The ship measured 47.413 tons and had a lenght of 208 meters, a width of 29 meters and a draft of 7,70 meters. The ship has twelve decks for her 1828 passengers and 620 crewmembers. Propelled by two controllable pitch propellers, the ship reached a speed of 21 knots. Her keel was laid at the 18th of october in 1990 and she was launched almost exactly a year later at the 31st of october in 1991, after which completing the ship took untill the 1st of march of 1992. For Celebrity Cruises, the Zenith was registered at Monronia, Liberia.
The interiours for the ship were designed by the Greek Michael Katsourakis together with British designer John McNeece. The ship was designed to a little different style from Horizon, as Zenith has warmer colours used throughout the ship and more woodworks are used, making the ship more classic then her earlier sister. Furthermore, both sisters are nearly identical. The two-deck showlounge has a raised stage and seven different seatinglevels, providing good sightlines from everywhere.
The Windsurf Café is the ships lido-restaurant with two buffetlines indoors as well as one outdoors, that can be used during good weather, also giving the possibility to have informal lunch or diner on the outside deck. That, if you like to try something else then the Michael Roux inspired dining in the main diningroom. Roux is a chef based in London, who earned three Michelin-stars and regularly checks aboard the Celebrity ships to oversee the retainment of his quality.
A very nice spot to spend your evenings are the Fleet Bar, forward atop with glass walls, teak floors and a very nautical style and atmosphere overall.
Zenith has two pooldecks and five whirlpools, next to a well laid-out sundeck so it never feels crowded. For the sportive passengers, there is also a joggingtrack, a Health Club and massagerooms.
The ships Maiden Voyage started at the 4th of april in 1992, sailing from Fort Lauderdale in Florida to the Caribbean. She kept sailing Caribbean and Bahamas cruises from the beginning, but started to alternate to other destinations as the company grew with more, larger ships throughout the 1990's. In march of 1995, a seven day cruise aboard Zenith was the inspiration for American writer David Foster Wallace for his essay 'A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again', filled with humorous irony about the excessive hospitality aboard cruiseliners, changing people into spoiled brats. Throughout the essay, the ship was named as the Nadir but according to Wallace, 'the rechristening is nothing particular against the ship itself'. The title of the essay later also was the inspiration for an episode of The Simpson's cartoonseries dubbed 'A Totally Fun Thing That Bart Will Never Do Again'.
Due to the renewal of the Celebrity fleet after the take-over by Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines in 1995 also, the older and smaller ships in the fleet were likely to be phased out into other companies as they were not longer up to the task of furfilling the wishes Celebrity Cruises'passengers were getting used to. After the ships of the Millennium-class entered service, the older sisterships were replaced in the recently aquired Spanish fleet of Pullmantur. So in 2007, just when Celebrity Cruises introduced the Solstice-class, Zenith was heading for Europe. For Pullmantur, her name wasn't altered and she started sailing the Mediterranean and South America for the Spanish-speaking market.
In a few years time, the ship suffered from onboard fires, the first one while being docked at Stockholm when a fire broke out damaging the ships sternsection. In june 2013, a fire in the engineroom near Venice crippled the ship as she lost all power and had to be towed to port by four tugboats. Both times, there were no casualties.
The second fire happened just when the ship had started her sailings for Crocieres de France in 2014, a new initiative by Royal Caribbean to refloat the French cruisemarket. This sidekick had been founded in 2012 and Zenith and Horizon were replaced here to relief the Bleu de France to other duties. Also for this new venture the ships were not renamed, although for French language the Horizon was now referred to as L'Horizon although not officially renamed. Aboard, French became the language and cuisine and entertainment were inspired by French culture. Not really a success, as the company was discontinued in 2017 and both Horizon and Zenith were again replaced in the fleet of Pullmantur for European and South American cruises.