Celebrity Cruises has launched Celebrity Xpeditions which will start service with a series of seven- and 11-day programs in the Galapagos Islands with the I 00-passenger Celebrity Xpedition (ex-Sun Bay) June 11, 2004.

Jack Williams, president of Celebrity, promised that the Xpedition concept will later be expanded to  other Celebrity ships, offering sports-fishing in British Columbia, driving Hummers through the Alaskan woodlands, or attending race car school in Florida.  

"Our goal is to offer a Celebrity Xpedition experience on every cruise itinerary," Williams said.

"This is the next big step in the brand transformation of Celebrity," Williams said. Playing on the X, be called the new concept eXotic, eXtraordinary, and eXciting.

Celebrity acquired the 2,942-ton ship, which was built at Cassen Werft in Germany in 2001, for a reported $15 million. She is 296 feet long with a beam of 29 feet with 47 staterooms for 100 passengers and will have a crew of 64.

Added Steve Hancock., senior vice president of marketing: "The key for us is the juxtaposition of exotic travel with luxury. We are offering an experience where the unspoiled will meet the spoiled,"

Celebrity, which is also rolling out an extensive advertising campaign, started to take bookings Jan. 15. The ship will be staffed with Ecuadoreans while officers will be international, according to Dietmar Wertanzl, senior vice president of fleet operations.

He said that the Celebrity Xpedition will offer the same services and amenities as the larger ships in the fleet, "just on a smaller, more intimate scale."

Cruises are also nearly all-inclusive. All foods, liquor, wines, gratuities and shore excursions are included at per diems ranging from an estimated $260 to $690. Premium liquors and wines, the spa, and gift shop purchases are additional.

There will be open seating dinner in the ship's restaurant or al fresco on deck, with breakfast and lunch served buffet style or also on deck in addition to 24-hour room service.

Entertainment will mostly be enrichment programs with lecturers from the Galapagos. The ship will have an open bridge. "We are a brand on the move," added Hancock. ''Today's announcement accelerates that movement."

Williams added that Celebrity is not adding capacity to the Galapagos, but taking over an existing permit. In addition, the ship will be equipped with what Williams called an advanced waste water treatment system and will release nothing in the Galapagos.