As the sun rose today, so did the number of ships in Celebrity Cruises’ award-winning fleet. At a ceremony in Emshaven, Netherlands, Celebrity officially “took delivery” of Celebrity Equinox, marking the official transfer of the new, 2,850-guest vessel from shipbuilder Meyer Werft to Celebrity Cruises.

Following inspections, Celebrity Equinox will host a series of promotional activities from Southampton, England, for press, travel agents and other audiences. The ship will be formally named in ceremonies July 29, and will enter service service July 31 on an 8-night Norwegian Fjords cruise.

“All of us at Celebrity are extremely grateful to the countless individuals at Meyer Werft and at some of the world’s best architecture and design firms,” said Celebrity Cruises President & CEO Dan Hanrahan. “All of them worked tirelessly with us to bring this ship to fruition, only eight months after Celebrity Solstice. And now, we’re eager to have our guests experience on Celebrity Equinox the exceptional cuisine and service our brand is known for, paired with the inspiring style and design that is synonymous with Celebrity Cruises.”

Guests who sail on Celebrity Equinox will enjoy a resort-like experience at sea through the brand-defining, industry-first attributes also found on Celebrity Solstice, including the industry’s first Lawn Club, a half-acre country-club atmosphere featuring real, growing grass; 10 dining venues including several created by noted hospitality designer Adam Tihany, and all featuring menus pairing classic and contemporary selections created by noted chef, restaurateur and Celebrity’s Vice President of Culinary Operations Jacques Van Staden; AquaClass, the line’s spa-inspired staterooms offering exclusive access to the Mediterranean-influenced specialty restaurant, “Blu”; the industry’s first Hot Glass Show at sea, presented in collaboration with The Corning Museum of Glass; larger, more intuitive staterooms influenced by a panel of five “boomer” women with unique travel and hospitality insights, and widely varied entertainment, including spectacular new shows in partnership with Poet Theatricals.

Following the Norwegian Fjords cruise, Celebrity Equinox will depart Southampton August 8 on a 10-night “Best of Europe” itinerary to Rome, calling on ports in France, Spain, Portugal and Italy, as well Gibraltar, UK. The ship then will sail a series of 13- and 14-night “Ancient Empires” cruises through October, featuring two new ports of call: Haifa and Ashdod, Israel. These voyages also include an overnight stay in Alexandria, Egypt.

On November 5, the ship will sail a transatlantic voyage to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where she will begin a series of alternating 10- and 11-night “Ultimate Caribbean” voyages through April 2010. The 11-night voyages will stop in George Town, Grand Cayman; Cartagena, Colombia; Colon, Panama; Puerto Limon, Costa Rica; Roatan, Honduras; and Cozumel, Mexico. The 10-night sailings include calls on Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas; Basseterre, St. Kitts; Bridgetown, Barbados; Roseau, Dominica; Philipsburg, St. Maarten.