Chantiers delivers a large cruise ship and launches another for celebrities

The Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France has delivered a major new cruise ship to Royal Caribbean Group’s Celebrity Cruises, as work began yesterday on the fifth and final cruise ship of the class. The shipyard continues to work on the cruise order book built up before the pandemic put an end to large cruise ship orders for the time being.

Calling the ship “a symbol of excellence,” Royal Caribbean and Celebrity executives celebrated the delivery of the Celebrity Ascent (141,420 gross tons). The celebrations on 7 November included the official signing of the surrender document, the change of the ship’s flag and registry from France to Malta and concluded with a champagne toast.

Today, the cruise ship began a 10-day transatlantic crossing from France to Freeport in the Bahamas before proceeding to Florida. Her first revenue voyage will begin Dec. 3 from Port Everglades to the Caribbean. The Celebrity rise will spend winter cruises to the Caribbean before departing in April 2024 for the Mediterranean.

The Celebrity rise is a sister ship of Celebrities beyond delivered last year. The third and fourth ships in the Edge series are approximately 68 feet long and have been increased from 130,800 gross tons for the first two cruise ships to 141,420 gross tons for the third through fifth ships in the series. With 1,646 passenger cabins, Celebrity rise it has accommodation for 3,835 passengers plus 1,468 crew members.

The first ship of the class, Celebrity Edge was unveiled in 2018 with unique features including a straight bow, extensive use of glass and a signature cantilever platform that transforms from a gentle landing to a dining or lounge area as it rises aboard the cruise ship. Celebrity highlights that the scaled-up versions of the design also feature new dining options and an expanded rooftop garden.

“I am convinced that Celebrity rise will reap the same success as the other ships in the prestigious Edge series,” said Chantiers de l’Atlantique General Manager Laurent Castain during the handover ceremony. “Her fine exterior and interior design and exceptional seaworthiness make her an exceptional vessel.”

The line for Celebrity rise was set in December 2016, when the cruise industry was nearing its pre-pandemic peak. However, the first steel was cut two years ago in a market recovering from a long shutdown of operations. Assembly began in July 2022 and she is now entering service as the cruise once again reports strong bookings and improving fares.

The shipyard also marked the construction of the fifth and final celebrity ship with a ceremonial first steel cut with the cruise line’s CEO. A celebrity announced that the ship would be named Celebrity Xcel and it is due to open in November 2025. The company promises the design will provide “completely new experiences,” including a more spacious garden and a redesign of the Grand Plaza’s main, three-story lobby.

The next Celebrity cruise ship is also the last confirmed large cruise ship order for Chantiers de l’Atlantique. The yard is currently built over Utopia of the seas (236,860 gross tons) to be delivered to Royal Caribbean International in summer 2024 and MSC World America (215,860 gross tons), expected in spring 2025. MSC has options for two more world-class ships planned for 2026 and 2027, but beyond that the yard’s order book is for smaller, luxury cruise ships.

Although everyone remains confident that there will be future orders for cruise ships, in the three and a half years since the start of COVID-19, only a few small cruise ships have been ordered at any of the major shipyards. All shipyards are looking for expanded opportunities beyond the cruise industry and possibly into new sectors such as offshore installation construction to replace the cruise ship business.

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