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A Cruise Ship History: The Horizon

Horizon

Built for Celebrity Cruises, the Horizon now appears to be wrapping up her cruise career.

With a colorful history, the vessel has been around for more than 30 years, sailing for several cruise lines:

1987: The Horizon is ordered by the Chandris Group at a cost of $175 million. To be built at the Meyer Werft yard, the 46,700-ton ship is designed to offer a premium product for a new subsidiary, Chandris Celebrity Cruises.

1989: While the ship is floated out in Germany, Chandris reveals details of its new cruise line and more on Horizon’s deployment. Aiming at a more upscale market, Celebrity plans to dominate the New York-Bermuda route with two ships, the Horizon and Meridian.

Celebrity Horizon

The Horizon’s inaugural season includes seven-day cruises calling at Hamilton and St. George's during the summer and Caribbean cruises during the winter. Departing from San Juan, the seven-night itinerary features visits to Martinique, Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua and St. Thomas.

1990: Upon delivery, the Horizon crosses the Atlantic, arriving in New York in May. Chandris Celebrity Cruises keeps it docked in the city for nearly two weeks, allowing the public to get acquainted with the new ship.

As CIN reported back then "among the most striking features may be the spaciousness of the new ship, including public rooms and staterooms averaging more than 170 square feet. Of a total of 681 staterooms, 533 are outside."

Horizon

1994: The Horizon faces an outbreak of Legionnaire's disease. The ship remains out of service for 11 days, while being disinfected.

1996: With more newbuilds coming into service for Celebrity, the Horizon is replaced by its sister-ship Zenith in the Bermuda run and Horizon launches Celebrity’s first Alaska season.

1997: Celebrity and its fleet are taken over by Royal Caribbean.

2001: Sailing from NYC again, the Horizon changes course to Philadelphia after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. 

2003: As Horizon’s flag is changed from Liberia to Bahamas, the ship returns to Philadelphia to be based in the port for the first time.

2004: Celebrity is expected to transfer the Horizon and Zenith to First Choice travel. The tour operator was Royal Caribbean’s main partner in Europe back then, but the move doesn’t happen as expected.

2004: The Horizon launches another first for Celebrity, offering cruises from Norfolk. Celebrity bases the ship at the Nauticus pier from April to October, offering six- and seven-night trips to Bermuda.

2005: Celebrity announces the departure of the Horizon, then the oldest ship in the fleet. The ship is transferred to Island Cruises in October.

Island Star

A joint venture between Royal Caribbean and First Choice Holidays, Island Cruises was launched in 2002 with a focus on the UK family market. The brand also had a presence in Brazil and Argentina, targeting a younger audience. Originally, the ship was chartered from Royal Caribbean for a six-year period.

2005/2006: After a major drydock, which included the addition of several balconies to existing cabins, the Horizon debuts as the Island Star in late 2005. For its inaugural season, it joins the Island Escape in Brazil, offering casual cruises to the local market. For the 2006 summer, the vessel is positioned in the Mediterranean, serving the UK market.

2008: Royal Caribbean decides to sell its stake in Island Cruises. As a result, Island Star’s charter is terminated, and the ship returns to Royal Caribbean, where its moved to the Pullmantur fleet.

"Redeploying the Island Star to our expanding Pullmantur fleet allows us to better serve the strategically important Spanish market,” said Richard Fain, chairman and chief executive officer of Royal Caribbean Cruises, at the time.

Pacific Dream

2009: Pullmantur plans to expand its presence in Latin America, entering the Mexican market. Renamed the Pacific Dream, the former Horizon is chosen to the operation, heading to Mexico right after joining the fleet. The program features 30 sailings from Acapulco between May and December.

2009: Occurring just prior to the launch of the Mexican season, the H1N1 outbreak forced Pullmantur to cancel its plans. After a few weeks idle, the Pacific Dream is sent to Europe, replacing the the Atlantic Star in Portugal. As a result, the former Sky Princess is put in layup.

2010: In August, engine problems leave Pacific Dream out of service for several months. The Atlantic Star is brought back to service to replace the ship. While being repaired in a shipyard, the Pacific Dream receives its original name back, the Horizon.

2010/2011: The Horizon returns to Brazil, this time chartered to the local tour operator CVC.

2012: After a significant refit, the Horizon is transferred to Croisières de France (CDF) in April. Retaining its name, the ship replaces Bleu de France, which was sold to Saga Cruises a few months earlier.

L'Horizon

2013/2014: The Horizon spends its first winter in the Caribbean under the CDF banner. Cruises depart from La Romana, featuring calls at St. Lucia, Barbados, Martinique, St. Kitts and the British Virgin Islands.

2014: With the Zenith also joining CDF, the Horizon is deployed to Northern Europe. The ship is based in Calais for most of the summer season.

2016: With a new CEO, Pullmantur Group decides to close its offices in Paris and to cease CDF’s ship operations.

Horizon

2017: The Horizon and Zenith are added back into the Pullmantur fleet in early 2017. 

2018/2019: The Horizon is based in Dubai, offering Pullmantur’s first cruises in the Middle East.

2020: Citing the COVID-19 pandemic, Pullmantur files for reorganization under Spanish insolvency laws in June. While two of its former ships are already being scrapped in Aliaga, the Horizon appears to be wrapping up a successful 30-year cruise career. 

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