"We are in the midst of investigating a whole new class of ships for Celebrity Cruises," said President and COO Jack Williams, who declined to elaborate any further.
New tonnage will be needed to continue to develop the brand, defend market share and to replace the departure of the 1990-built Horizon this fall. It is also expected that the 1992-built sister ship, the Zenith, will follow.
Meanwhile, Celebrity is broadening its product by deploying the Summit in the Far East and South Pacific starting in 2006, offering cruises in Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Vietnam and other destinations.
In other news, Celebrity is adding one Xpeditions experience to every major cruise itinerary, ranging from heli-tours and lava tube cave explorations in Hawaii to four-day explorations of pyramids i Egypt and a behind-the-scenes visit to the Johnson Space Center in Houston led by Apollo VII Astronaut Walter Cunningham.
Williams said that the Xpedition program, including cruises in the Galapagos Islands aboard the Celebrity Xpedition and voyages to the Arctic and Antarctic aboard the chartered icebreaker Kapitan Khlebnikov, was doing very well.
According to Williams, the Celebrity Xpedition generates the highest per diems in the fleet and generally sails at 80 to 85 percent of capacity, which he implied was a comfortable occupancy level, although the ship also sails full sometimes.
Williams noted that the market was driven by confidence in the brand name by travelers who otherwise may not venture to the Galapagos, for instance. He believes that confidence will also drive business to Celebrity's new program in the Far East.