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4 types of Celebrity Cruises ships, explained

May 26, 2022
14 min read
Celebrity Equinox
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Of the seven big cruise lines that account for the majority of cruises taken by North Americans, Celebrity Cruises has one of the simplest fleets.

At the core of the brand are 12 relatively big ships that can be bunched into just three groups.

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Each of these groups — known as “classes” in cruise industry lingo — is made of ships that were constructed around the same time with the same basic design. If you know one member of the group, you know them all.

In addition, Celebrity operates three very small vessels in the Galápagos that, together, make up a fourth grouping of vessels. As we’ll explain below, these three vessels are far different than the line’s 12 main ships and constitute what is, in effect, a separate business for the brand.

An introduction to Celebrity Cruises ships

For years, Celebrity has been one of the cruise industry’s great innovators when it comes to new cruise vessels.

The line’s three new Edge Class ships are widely heralded as three of the most innovative cruise ships at sea. They offer such groundbreaking features as cabins with glass walls facing the sea that open at the top to create a balcony-like feel and “magic carpet” platforms on their exteriors that move up and down for a variety of uses.

The Edge Class ships are just the latest vessels at the line to break ground when it comes to innovation.

The line’s somewhat older Solstice Class ships also offer a number of features that were groundbreaking in their time and — in many cases — remain rare and alluring more than a decade after they first debuted.

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Carrying about 2,000 to 3,000 passengers apiece, Celebrity’s 12 main vessels are large but not giant by today’s standards. At around 91,000 to 141,000 tons, they’re nowhere near as big as the giant ships operated by Royal Caribbean, MSC Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line.

The line’s three Galápagos-based vessels are downright tiny, as they have to be to operate in the Galápagos. The government of Ecuador, which controls the archipelago, does not allow cruise vessels that carry more than 100 passengers to operate in the destination.

Related: The ultimate guide to Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity’s three Galápagos-based vessels carry just 16 to 100 passengers each.

In general, Celebrity’s biggest and most amenity-packed ships are its newest ships. If you’re looking for a cruise experience with the most possible onboard activities and venues, you’ll want to steer toward the vessels in Celebrity’s Edge and Solstice Classes.

If cruising in a more intimate environment is your preference, you’ll want to look at Celebrity’s older Millennium Class ships, which are significantly smaller than the Edge and Solstice Class ships.

The three small Galápagos-based vessels are the vessels you want if you’re itching to see the famously wildlife-filled islands.

Compared to such cruise operators as Carnival Cruise Line, which has eight different classes of vessels, Celebrity has a relatively easy-to-understand fleet.

Edge Class

Ships in class: Celebrity Beyond (2022), Celebrity Apex (2020), Celebrity Edge (2018).

Size: 130,818 to 140,600 tons.

The Celebrity Cruises ship Celebrity Apex. (Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises)

If you’re in the “newer is better” camp when it comes to cruise ships, this is the Celebrity ship class for you. Celebrity’s Edge Class just began rolling out in 2018, and the three vessels in the series that have debuted so far are the most advanced vessels in the Celebrity fleet.

They may also be the most advanced vessels in any cruise fleet.

Designed to carry 2,908 to 3,260 passengers apiece at double occupancy, the three vessels — Celebrity Beyond, Celebrity Apex and Celebrity Edge — each boast such innovative new features as “infinite veranda” cabins with outward-facing walls that are entirely made of glass.

Edge Class vessels have cabins with glass walls. (Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises)

Billed as an industry first, the new glass-walled cabins were made possible by a rethinking of the way the load-bearing walls of cruise ships are constructed.

Notably, the top of the glass wall in the cabins slides down at the flick of a switch to create a balcony-like area — an innovation that, until recently, only had been seen with cabins on river cruise ships. The balcony-like area can be closed off from the rest of the cabin by shutting bifold doors.

Another innovative feature of the Edge Class ships is their 90-ton platforms the size of a tennis court that are cantilevered over the side of the vessel and used for all sorts of functions.

Related: Everything to know about Celebrity cabins and suites

Dubbed Magic Carpets, the platforms (there is one per ship) move up and down to serve as everything from tender boat boarding areas to 90-seat alternative restaurants.

Edge Class ships have innovative platforms that hang off their sides that can move between decks for different uses. (Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises)

Among other unusual features, the Edge Class ships have top deck plant-filled “playscapes” called the Rooftop Garden with an outdoor eatery called the Rooftop Garden Grill. Inspired by childhood playgrounds, they’re designed to “awaken the inner-child in everyone,” the line has said.

The ships also offer unusual, glass-walled lounge, dining and entertainment areas, including Eden, created in collaboration with famed designer Patricia Urquiola, and covered, adults-only solariums designed in collaboration with renowned British architect Tom Wright.

The Solarium on Celebrity Edge. (Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises)

In addition to being Celebrity’s newest and most innovative ships, the Edge Class vessels are the line’s biggest ships — though they aren’t all that much bigger than the line’s Solstice Class ships. The bigger size allows for a few more onboard venues than can be found on the line’s older vessels.

Note that the third vessel in the Edge Class series, Celebrity Beyond, is a tad bigger than its two predecessors, which allows for a few new and expanded features. Just unveiled in April 2022, the vessel has an expanded “resort-within-a-resort” area for suite passengers called The Retreat. It offers a new two-story sun deck with hot tubs, lounge chairs and private cabanas that are open exclusively to passengers staying in suites.

Other notable differences with Celebrity Beyond include a greatly expanded Sunset Bar at the back of the vessel with a Morocco-inspired design imagined by celebrity interior designer Nate Berkus and a new restaurant created by star chef Daniel Boulud.

Celebrity Beyond has 179 more cabins than its sister vessels, which each have 1,467 cabins. As a result, it holds 3,260 passengers at double occupancy. That’s up from a 2,910 passenger capacity at double occupancy for Celebrity Apex and a 2,908 passenger capacity at double occupancy for Celebrity Edge.

Celebrity has plans for five Edge Class vessels in all. Two more of the vessels are under construction for delivery in 2023 and 2024, respectively.

Solstice Class

Ships in class: Celebrity Reflection (2012), Celebrity Silhouette (2011), Celebrity Eclipse (2010), Celebrity Equinox (2009), Celebrity Solstice (2008).

Size: 121,878 to 125,366 tons.

Celebrity Solstice. (Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises)

Comprising five vessels, Celebrity’s Solstice Class is the biggest class of ships at the line and it accounts for nearly half of the brand’s total capacity.

As such, the Solstice Class is probably the class of ship you will sail on the most if you become a Celebrity regular. Solstice Class ships sail everywhere from the Bahamas, Caribbean and Alaska to Europe, Asia and Australia.

When this class of ship first started rolling out in 2008, they were heralded for their game-changing design and features, including a few things that still are unique in the cruise world.

Related: The 5 best destinations you can visit on a Celebrity cruise

Just a tad smaller than the Edge Class ships, the Solstice Class vessels are perhaps best known for the innovative, half-acre Lawn Club areas on their top decks, which feature real grass.

Cabanas are available for rent at the Lawn Club on Celebrity Equinox. (Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises)

Marvels of cruise ship engineering, the Lawn Clubs are maintained by full-time greenskeepers who oversee a complex filter and irrigation system to keep the grass looking shipshape. Home to Adirondack chairs, hammocks and lawn games such as bocce and croquet, these Lawn Club areas offer a quiet, park-like respite from the activity in other parts of the ships.

If you want, you can walk across the Lawn Clubs barefoot.

Among other unusual features, some of the Solstice Class ships also have a glass-making pavilion next to the Lawn Club that offers glass-making classes conducted in partnership with Hollywood Hot Glass.

The Solstice Class ships are also home to some of the most stylish outdoor pool decks at sea. Like the Edge Class ships, they also feature indoor, adult-only pool areas that, notably, are topped with glass panels embedded with solar panels that contribute to the ship’s power grid.

In addition, the Solstice Class ships feature large spas, casinos, showrooms and a wide range of restaurants, including the line’s signature French venue, Murano.

Other places to dine on the vessels include Le Petit Chef, which offers an augmented reality dining experience using tabletop projections, and the Lawn Club Grill, part of the Lawn Club.

The Reflection Suite on Celebrity Reflection. (Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises)

One of the Solstice Class ships, Celebrity Reflection, is also home to one of the cruising world’s most spectacular suites — the 1,646-square-foot Reflection Suite. It was the first two-bedroom suite ever on a Celebrity Cruises vessel.

Millennium Class

Ships in class: Celebrity Constellation (2002), Celebrity Summit (2001), Celebrity Infinity (2001), Celebrity Millennium (2000).

Size: 91,000 tons.

The Celebrity Cruises ship Celebrity Millennium. (Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises)

The oldest of Celebrity’s three main classes of vessels is its Millennium Class. The four ships in the series began rolling out in 2000 (at the turn of the millennium, hence the name) and all are now around 20 years old.

Despite their age, the vessels still appear very up to date, thanks to some major overhauls in recent years.

Initially, the Millennium Class ships and Solstice Class ships had quite a few differences. However, over the years, these differences have narrowed as Celebrity has added some of the most popular Solstice Class venues to the Millennium Class ships, too.

Related: The ultimate guide to Celebrity's Captain's Circle loyalty program

The most obvious difference between the two classes of ships today is the smaller size of the Millennium Class vessels. They’re about 30% smaller than Solstice Class ships.

The main Metropolitan Restaurant on the Celebrity Cruises ship Celebrity Millennium. (Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises)

This smaller size can make the Millennium Class vessels a good choice if you’re the kind of cruiser who prefers a more intimate experience.

However, the smaller size also means that the Millennium Class ships have fewer venues in all than the Solstice Class or Edge Class ships.

All the restaurants you’ll find on Millennium Class ships are on Solstice Class ships, for instance. However, not all the eateries on Solstice Class ships can be found on Millennium Class ships. If you’re a fan of Murano, you won’t find it on the Millennium Class.

Galápagos vessels

Ships: Celebrity Flora (2019), Celebrity Xploration (2007), Celebrity Xpedition (2001).

Size: 2,842 to 5,739 tons.

The 100-passenger Celebrity Flora operates year-round in the Galápagos. (Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises)

As mentioned above, Celebrity operates three very small vessels in The Galápagos Islands.

While each one of the vessels is a bit different, they can logically be grouped together, as they offer a similar type of cruise experience — one custom-designed for the islands where they sail.

The cruise experience on these three vessels is different than what you’ll find on Celebrity’s larger ships. The vessels are smaller than Celebrity’s traditional ships, carrying just 16 to 100 passengers. In contrast, Celebrity’s larger ships accommodate 2,000 to 3,000 passengers.

The smaller size means the three Galápagos vessels have fewer onboard amenities than the bigger Celebrity ships. If you love the onboard attractions of Celebrity Solstice or Celebrity Edge, know you won't get the same array of bars, restaurants and entertainment in the Galápagos.

The bedroom of a Penthouse Suite on Celebrity Flora. (Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises)

That's okay because cruising in the Galápagos isn’t about the time you spend on board. The goal is to experience the region's unique wildlife that inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection.

To do that, you need to get off the ship. All three of Celebrity's Galápagos vessels are expedition vessels that carry landing craft for exploring in remote areas and sail with knowledgeable guides who are all Galápagos National Park-certified naturalists.

The highlights of each day are the daily landings with these guides to view the destination’s famous tortoises, blue-footed boobies, land iguanas and Darwin’s finches.

Celebrity Flora sails with its own landing craft for exploring. (Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises)

One of the newest and most luxurious vessels in the Galápagos, the 100-passenger Celebrity Flora features two restaurants with menus crafted by a celebrated chef, a laboratory for hands-on science lessons, multiple lounges, a plunge pool, a stargazing platform and two sets of cabanas for deck-top glamping.

All of Celebrity Flora's accommodations are suites. The top rooms on board are two penthouse suites that measure 1,300 square feet each and span the entire width of the ship.

Bottom line

The Celebrity Cruises fleet is relatively easy to understand. There are three main classes of vessels — the Edge, Solstice and Millennium classes. There’s also a fourth grouping of three small vessels that operate exclusively in the Galápagos. You’ll find a lot of consistency from ship to ship in the Celebrity fleet in the type of venues that you find on board.

If you’re looking for the most venues and amenities, or if you’re the type of cruiser who only wants to be on the very newest ships, you’ll gravitate toward Celebrity’s Edge Class vessels.

If a smaller, more intimate ship is more your style, you probably want to take a look at the line’s Millennium Class vessels. And if you have any interest in visiting the Galápagos — a once-in-a-lifetime-type destination — it’s hard to beat the line’s three small Galápagos vessels.

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Featured image by Michel Verdure
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.