Horizon/Zenith Gallery
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Ship Gallery & Report

In 1988, the Greek family-owned Chandris Line formed Celebrity Cruises as a new premium brand concept in order to take advantage of the availability of 2 contracts with the Bermuda Government for ships visiting Bermuda on a regular basis. The Bermuda Government was only interested in attracting passengers from the luxury end of the cruise market while Chandris Line, since its foundation in 1960, had always previously been associated with the lower end of the cruise market.

Celebrity Cruises successfully secured two 5-year contracts commencing in 1990 and their first ship on this service was the company's 27 year-old Galileo (1963), specially refurbished and relaunched as Meridian (30,440grt).

But as a running-mate for Meridian, Celebrity Cruises ordered a new ship.
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46,811 grt; length 681ft; 1,354 passengers

(left) Ordered by Chandris Line in 1988 as a replacement for the 36 year-old Amerikanis, Horizon entered service in May 1990 as the first new ship for Celebrity Cruises.

The order was soon placed for a sister-ship and in 1992, Horizon was joined by Zenith (47,255 grt). Built in Germany and with their racy blue & white hulls by yacht-designer Jon Bannenburg, these 2 ships soon established an outstanding reputation for cuisine and on-board service and with menus conceived under the guidance of Michel Roux, were among the first ships to achieve 5-star status with 2 sittings for dinner, rather than an open or single sitting.

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(left) Battery Park, New York & the World Trade Centre
(right) Bermuda from Gibbs Hill Lighthouse
Horizon alongside at St George, Bermuda

For this cruise, we booked Horizon, 2 weeks "back-to-back" at the end of the season; the first week was our 5th visit to Bermuda while the second week took us south from New York to the Caribbean.

However, our first cruise aboard a Celebrity ship got off to bad start when we were let down by the company's transfer arrangements in New York and then again in San Juan, Puerto Rico. But aboard Horizon, the food and service were quite good, although we disliked the constant announcements, the piped music all over the ship and the constant drive to sell you drinks with "souvenir glasses". The overall atmosphere was, of course, unashamedly American and it took some getting used to.

Nevertheless, on value for money alone, we still booked again, this time aboard Zenith!

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(left) Dad at Spanish Point Park, Bermuda
(right) "The Birdcage", Front Street, Hamilton
Zenith passes through "the Cut"
to enter the harbour at St George, Bermuda

By this time, the problems of 3 years ago seemed to have faded and Celebrity went out of their way to make sure things didn't go wrong!

Aboard Zenith too, the issues that had irritated us 3 years ago didn't seem half so bad, second time around. And she was, after all, just about the best hotel in town!

Show Picture Full Size The Main Lobby on Europa Deck (left) was the principal boarding point on both ships and it set the scene well for what was a smart, clean, modern-looking ship. 2-decks high and with a water-feature at one end, it was a quietly attractive, welcoming space.

The Palladium Showlounge (below left) forward on Galaxy & Fantasy Decks seated 850 with good sightlines and generous space with drinks tables, thereby encouraging bar-service before the shows. With its large, well-equipped stage, the shows proved more elaborate than we were used to, although the talent was mixed and the content the same "cheesy" hotch-potch we knew well.

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Aboard Horizon Aboard Horizon Aboard Zenith Aboard Horizon
Palladium Show Lounge The Rendez-Vous Lounge Card Room & Library

The Rendez-Vous Lounge on Galaxy Deck was the main midships cocktail lounge but being adjacent to the Restaurant meant that it got extremely crowded in the evenings. Aboard Horizon, the Card Room & Library were on the port side but this space on Zenith was dedicated to the Martini Bar, later to become a popular "signature lounge" on all Celebrity ships. Show Picture Full Size
Aboard Zenith
The Martini Bar
Caravelle Restaurant aboard Zenith Caravelle/Starlight Restaurant
The ship's large 2-sitting Restaurant was light and bright but with a relatively low ceiling, proved a little noisy at times and I noticed the absence of arms on the dining chairs.

However, fine china and linen table settings complimented an impressive menu, conceived by famed international chef Michel Roux.
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The restaurant's international staff also provided excellent service, friendly but curteous, contributing to a standard of food and service so far unheard of in mainstream cruising. One of the keys to the "Celebrity formula" was the 7-day, repeating standard menu on all ships in the fleet, meaning that on any particular day of the week, you always knew what would be on any ship's menu. Since the ships were built specifically to cater for a weekly Bermuda service, this was no problem for the vast majority of American passengers who took their holidays 1 week at a time.

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Aboard Horizon
Zodiac Club
Aboard Zenith
Rainbow Room
Aboard Zenith
Aboard Zenith
Michael's Club

The Zodiac Club was the other main bar lounge, located aft on Fantasy Deck. This was used as a Cabaret/Night-Club and was more successfully redesigned on Zenith in the Rainbow Room. Adjacent to this, what was Horizon's Gemini Disco was also redesigned to accommodate a relocated Library as well as introducing another of Celebrity's "signature lounges", Michael's Club, a concept later enlarged and to become popular as a regular alternative nightspot on all Celebrity ships.

Show Picture Full Size Midships on Fantasy Deck was the Plaza Bar (left), a casual bar/cafe which, while being comfortable and elegant, suffered from excessive noise, a problem addressed on Zenith by the addition of carpets and different furnishings in the Cova Cafe Milano (right). Show Picture Full Size

One weakness in the ship's design, however, proved to be the Coral Seas Cafe (no picture) which was rather basic, poorly laid-out and far too small for the number of passengers using it. Interestingly, Celebrity would later put considerable effort into the resdesign of the Cafes on their future ships.

Show Picture Full Size Up forward on Marina Deck, the America's Cup Club aboard Horizon (see left) or Fleet Bar on Zenith, were situated above the Bridge and were the most elegant lounges aboard, decorated in yachting blues and cream and with splendid 180-degree views.

It was very sad that, in later years, when these ships ceased to operate for Celebrity Cruises, this lounge would be lost in the conversion to add more balcony cabins - and more passengers!
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The success of Horizon and Zenith led to Celebrity Cruises ordering 3 new larger ships: Century was introduced in 1995, Galaxy in 1996 & Mercury in 1997 but at this point, the Chandris family then sold its interest and Celebrity Cruises became part of the giant Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.

Celebrity Cruises seemed to grow from strength to strength as RCCL continued the expansion of this "mass-market premium brand" with the introduction of 4 even larger ships: Millennium in 2000, Infinity in March 2001, Summit in November 2001 & Constellation in 2002.

Meanwhile, drawn by the seductive attraction of Bermuda, we travelled twice more aboard Zenith.

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Zenith approaches "The Cut"
at St George, Bermuda
Sun Deck
& Marina Deck Pools
(Gerry's photo)
Grill Terrace
& After-Decks
(Gerry's photo)
Promenade Deck
(Gerry's photo)

Show Picture Full Size Show Picture Full Size We now experienced a cruise operation that was maturing into an unpretentious yet sophisticated experience.

In 2006, we took the bold step of booking "Concierge Class" and although on Zenith, this didn't give us a balcony, it did come with a few luxury bathroom touches and extra privileges aboard.

(left) Concierge-class cabin no.1039 in St George, Bermuda aboard Zenith

As the fleet's new ships became larger, so Celebrity Cruises grew in both size and success. However, by 2005 the now 15 year-old Horizon could no longer satisfy the ever-increasing demands of the premium cruising market, so she was transferred under charter as "Island Star" to Island Cruises, a joint venture between Royal Caribbean Cruises and First Choice Travel. Show Picture Full Size

Show Picture Full Size The lovely America's Cup Club above the Bridge was converted into suites and balcony cabins and her overall passenger capacity was increased to around 1500. Then in 2008, RCCL sold its interest in Island Cruises and when the charter concluded in 2009, the ship was transferred to another RCCL subsidiary, Spanish Pullmantur Cruises, this time as "Pacific Dream".

Meanwhile, in 2007, Celebrity's 2nd ship Zenith was also transferred to Pullmantur Cruises but unlike her older sister, she retained her original name. In fact, it seems that Horizon has also reverted to her original name from 2011, although it has been rumoured that she may be transferred yet again, to another RCCL subsidiary, the French CDF Crosieres de France.
(right) Zenith departing New York in 2004 on her regular weekly cruise to Bermuda
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Total Mileage aboard
Horizon: 3,484 n miles
& Zenith: 4,016 n miles

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