Marella Explorer 2 current position
Current itinerary of Marella Explorer 2
Marella Explorer 2 current cruise is 7 days, round-trip Flavours Of The Caribbean. Prices start from USD 1586 (double occupancy rates). The itinerary starts on 18 Jan, 2022 and ends on 25 Jan, 2022.
Specifications of Marella Explorer 2
|Year built||1995 / Age: 27|
|Builder||Meyer Werft (Papenburg, Germany)|
|Building cost||USD 450 million|
|Owner||TUI AG and RCCL (Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd)|
|Operator||Marella Cruises (Thomson UK)|
|Speed||22 kn / 41 kph / 25 mph|
|Length (LOA)||248 m / 814 ft|
|Beam (width)||32 m / 105 ft|
|Gross Tonnage||72458 gt|
|Passengers||1814 - 2177|
|Decks with cabins||6|
|Sister-ships||Marella Explorer 1, Mein Schiff Herz (TUI)|
|Former names||SkySea Golden Era, MS Century, Celebrity Century|
|Christened by||Maria Chandris (Celebrity Century), Mary Moreno and Paula Clark (Marella Explorer 2)|
Marella Explorer 2 Itineraries
|Date||Itinerary||Departure Port||Price from|
|2021 Dec 30||7 days, round-trip Mediterranean New Year||Malaga||$964|
|2022 Jan 18||7 days, round-trip Flavours Of The Caribbean||Montego Bay||$1586|
|2022 Jan 25||7 days, round-trip Pride Of Panama||Montego Bay||$1689|
|2022 Feb 01||7 days, round-trip Flavours Of The Caribbean||Montego Bay||$1879|
|2022 Feb 08||7 days, round-trip Exotic Explorer||Montego Bay||$1816|
|2022 Feb 15||7 days, round-trip Flavours Of The Caribbean||Montego Bay||$1879|
|2022 Feb 22||7 days, round-trip Pride Of Panama||Montego Bay||$1853|
|2022 Mar 01||7 days, round-trip Flavours Of The Caribbean||Montego Bay||$1914|
|2022 Mar 08||7 days, round-trip Exotic Explorer||Montego Bay||$1853|
|2022 Mar 15||7 days, round-trip Flavours Of The Caribbean||Montego Bay||$1916|
|2022 Mar 22||7 days, round-trip Panama Canal Experience||Montego Bay||$1853|
|2022 Mar 29||7 days, round-trip Flavours Of The Caribbean||Montego Bay||$2170|
|2022 Apr 05||7 days, round-trip Pride Of Panama||Montego Bay||$2107|
|2022 Apr 12||7 days, round-trip Flavours Of The Caribbean||Montego Bay||$2070|
|2022 Apr 19||16 days, one-way from Montego Bay to Dubrovnik||Montego Bay||$2158|
|2022 May 05||7 days, round-trip Adriatic Affair||Dubrovnik||$1335|
|2022 May 12||7 days, round-trip Sail Three Seas||Dubrovnik||$1334|
|2022 May 19||7 days, round-trip Adriatic Delights||Dubrovnik||$1322|
|2022 May 26||7 days, round-trip Sail Three Seas||Dubrovnik||$1396|
|2022 Jun 02||7 days, round-trip Adriatic Affair||Dubrovnik||$1614|
|2022 Jun 09||7 days, round-trip Greek Mystique||Dubrovnik||$1614|
|2022 Jun 16||7 days, round-trip Adriatic Delights||Dubrovnik||$1604|
|2022 Jun 23||7 days, round-trip Sail Three Seas||Dubrovnik||$1604|
|2022 Jun 30||7 days, round-trip Adriatic Affair||Dubrovnik||$1629|
|2022 Jul 07||7 days, round-trip Sail Three Seas||Dubrovnik||$1527|
|2022 Jul 14||7 days, round-trip Adriatic Delights||Dubrovnik||$1527|
|2022 Jul 21||7 days, round-trip Sail Three Seas||Dubrovnik||$1527|
|2022 Jul 28||7 days, round-trip Adriatic Affair||Dubrovnik||$1598|
|2022 Aug 04||7 days, round-trip Greek Mystique||Dubrovnik||$1661|
|2022 Aug 11||7 days, round-trip Adriatic Affair||Dubrovnik||$1636|
|2022 Aug 18||7 days, round-trip Sail Three Seas||Dubrovnik||$1675|
|2022 Aug 25||7 days, round-trip Adriatic Affair||Dubrovnik||$1527|
|2022 Sep 01||7 days, round-trip Greek Mystique||Dubrovnik||$1617|
|2022 Sep 08||7 days, round-trip Adriatic Delights||Dubrovnik||$1591|
|2022 Sep 15||7 days, round-trip Sail Three Seas||Dubrovnik||$1665|
|2022 Sep 22||7 days, round-trip Adriatic Affair||Dubrovnik||$1552|
|2022 Sep 29||7 days, round-trip Adriatic Delights||Dubrovnik||$1385|
|2022 Oct 06||7 days, round-trip Sail Three Seas||Dubrovnik||$1501|
|2022 Oct 13||7 days, round-trip Adriatic Delights||Dubrovnik||$1462|
|2022 Oct 20||7 days, round-trip Adriatic Affair||Dubrovnik||$1424|
|2022 Oct 27||10 days, one-way from Dubrovnik to Malaga||Dubrovnik||$1668|
Marella Explorer 2 Review
Review of Marella Explorer 2
The 1995-built (as "Celebrity Century") cruise ship Marella Explorer 2 was previously operated as "SkySea Golden Era". It is one of the Century-class vessels, with sisterships Mein Schiff 1 (former Celebrity Galaxy, since 2018 Marella Explorer 1) and Celebrity Mercury (fka Mein Schiff 2, now Mein Schiff Herz). The vessel was sold to "Marella Cruises" (TUI's UK brand) in 2018.
History - construction and ownership
Marella Cruises (formerly Thomson Cruises UK) is a British passenger shipping company and trademarked travel brand owned by TUI Group. The company entered the cruise market in 1973 via Thomson Holidays (now TUI UK), but due to rising fuel costs, this service was terminated in 1976. Thomson Cruises restarted passenger shipping operations in 1995. The Thomson brand was renamed to "Marella Cruises" in 2018. Marella's parent company (TUI Group) owns hotels, the sister-companies TUI Cruises, Marella Cruises, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, the travel brands International Expeditions and Zegrahm Expeditions, also aircraft and the airlines Corsair International (France), TUI Airways (UK), TUI fly Nordic (Sweden), TUI fly Belgium, TUI fly Deutschland, TUI fly the Netherlands.
This 1900-passenger ship was built for the Royal Caribbean's subsidiary company Celebrity Cruises, renamed to "Celebrity Mercury" in 2008 and joined TUI fleet in 2009 after an extensive drydock refit. The reconstruction project resulted in adding 314 cabin balconies, 14 new suites, 10 new cabins, new specialty restaurant (Murano, with glass-blowing performances), larger spa, upgraded (Millennium-class) shipboard amenities and services.
The ship entered Marella's fleet (TUI's UK brand) in late-2018. In March 2018, TUI Group announced that to Marella UK will be transferred SkySea Golden Era (and not Schiff 2/Schiff Herz), with scheduled delivery in December 2018.
January 2014 news reports from France (including the CDF website) said Century will join the CDF fleet in 2015. CDF was an RCG-Royal Caribbean brand operating the French market with 2 ex-Celebrity vessels - MS Zenith and MS Horizon. The news said Century will replace Zenith, which will join Pullmantur (RCG's brand in Spain). For 2014, CDF expected to carry ~100,000 passengers, and with the Century they expected to serve ~120,000 customers in 2015. Program 2015's updates also included new shore excursion packages (3- to 5-tours, depending on itinerary) priced just EUR 100 per package.
Initially was announced that in March 2019, the old Schiff 2 (Herz) will be transferred to Marella and operated as "Marella Explorer 2". However, in March 2018 was announced that it stays in TUI fleet under the new name "Mein Schiff Herz" (announced in April).
Explorer 2 joined Marella's fleet as the 4th liner transferred from other RCG-owned brands. The vessel was preceded by Marella Discovery (2015, former Splendour of the Seas), Marella Discovery 2 (2017, former Legend of the Seas) and TUI Explorer, now Marella Explorer (2018, the old Mein Schiff 1).
The ship features fleet's first kids' pool, innovative entertainment program, 10 dining venues. Another first for Marella is the tasting menu-type restaurant in one of the brand new yet-unnamed venues, described as "an intimate space, suited for couples or friends".
The Indigo flagship bar is ship's focal point. A new high-end London style bar venue (named Aperitif) links Kora La and Surf and Turf restaurants. Other features include The Scoops (ice-cream parlour with bicycle-themed quirky seating), The Lounge (new venue with colour-changing bar and brightly-coloured piano), Umi Sushi (counter), The Mediterranean (glass-roof covered restaurant with taverna-themed decoration, housing two complimentary restaurants - pizzeria and tapas), Hot Stone Grill (specialty dining venue / at fee).
Decks and Cabins
Of all Marella Explorer 2 staterooms (907 total), ~40% have private steop-out balconies. All cabins are with individual air-conditioning, wardrobes, smart HDTV, hairdryer, tea-coffee-making facilities, en-suite bathrooms. Accommodation types include:
- Indoor (16 m2, fleet's largest), Outdoor (17 m2), Single Indoor / Outdoor cabins (Decks 4, 5, 8, 9)
- Balcony cabins (17 m2), 14x Family Balcony (20 m2; decks 9, 10, 12, each with 2 twin beds)
- Suites - Balcony Junior Suite (22 m2) and Executive Suite (49 m2)
The boat has 13 decks, of which 10 are passenger-accessible and 6 are with cabins.
Shipboard dining options - Food and Drinks
Marella Explorer 2 has a total of 10 dining venues, including Surf and Turf, Kora La, Snack Shack, Umi Sushi and open-air Mediterranean Restaurant with Pizza and Tapas areas. The Kora La features Oriental-style lanterns and paintings paired with a pan-Asian menu of noodle dishes and curries. This is a fine dining addition and there is a small premium to eat here.
Dining venues onboard are located on decks 5, 6, 7 and 11. Follows the complete list of Marella Explorer 2 restaurants and food bars.
- Latitude 53, situated on two decks, 5 and 6, is the main waiter service restaurant with floor-to-ceiling windows and gold-and-grey color scheme.
- Vista on Deck 5, situated in Latitude 53. In the evening, it transforms into an Italian restaurant for regional favorites prepared with authentic ingredients.
- The Dining Club on Deck 5 is a fine dining restaurant which serves experimental cuisine. There is a charge to dine here. In 2019 was introduced the "Great Musical Afternoon Tea" - music-themed dining experience that includes white-gloved waiter service, gourmet dishes and signature beverages. The menu includes items like tiger bread (aka Dutch crunch / Giraffe bread ), double-decker sandwiches, beef tenderloin, yakitori (Japanese skewered chicken), homemade desserts (scones, clotted cream, NYC cheesecake), 6 different brand teas, cocktails, champagne. Great Musical Afternoon Tea is at surcharge (GBP 15 per person) and reservations are required.
- Umi Sushi on Deck 7 serves sushi, sashimi, nigiri rolls that are prepared in front of the guests of the eatery. Umi Sushi is open for dinner only, and costs extra.
- Kora La on Deck 7 has oriental-style lanterns and paintings paired with a pan-Asian menu. Passengers pay a cover charge to eat here.
- Surf and Turf Steakhouse on Deck 7 specializes in all things meat. Its menu includes mains like lobster, grilled chicken, and pork chops, but the highlight is the 28-day-aged steaks. There is a chopping board artwork as well as leather booth seating. Cover charge is applied for dining here.
- Snack Shack on Deck 11 is a laidback eatery featuring food stalls, oversized deckchairs, and beach huts. It offers grab-and-go snacks and lunches along with a drinks station.
- The Market Place on Deck 11 is a buffet restaurant where guests can watch the chefs prepare dishes from around the world. It is made up of different food stalls.
- Tapas at The Mediterranean on Deck 11 is specialized in tapas dishes for both lunch and dinner.
- Italian at The Mediterranean pizzeria on Deck 11, with wood-fired oven and salad bar.
- "Beach Cove" serves barbecue specialties providing "on the beach" al fresco dining.
- Nonna’s is an Italian trattoria (pizzeria-type restaurant) serving traditional made-to-order Italian pizzas (oven-baked) and pasta.
Shipboard entertainment options - Fun and Sport
A couple of the largest new features aboard the 13-deck Marella Explorer 2 include the flagship bar, club and casino Indigo (situated at the top deck), and the first at sea Champneys Spa. Indigo is home to the longest bar onboard the ship and features the Broadway show lounge able to accommodate 1,000 guests. The Broadway street lounge is on Decks 6 and 7, which also house other entertainment facilities. The venue hosts cocktail-making sessions and demos. Entertainment facilities include Indigo Club with a DJ booth and dance floor, and Indigo Casino with card tables and slot machines.
The swimming pool is on Deck 11, which also homes the Oceans Gym and Champneys Spa. The wellness complex also includes a Finnish Sauna (with floor-ceiling windows), full-service Thermal Suite, treatment suites (with showers and mini saunas), spa cabanas (on ship's adults-only Veranda Deck).
Follows the complete list of Marella Explorer 2 lounges, clubs and other entertainment venues for kids, teens, and adults.
- The Lounge (Deck 6) has a color-changing bar, ring-shaped seats, and hot-pink piano.
- Bar 53 (Deck 5) is a bar situated next to Latitude 53, perfectly placed for pre-dinner drinks.
- The Shack (Deck 12) offers cool-down drinks between sunbathing. It is above Snack Shack and overlooks the pool.
- "Bar at The Mediterranean" (Deck 11) wraps around The Mediterranean and runs from the inside to the outside. It serves Mediterranean specialties, the usual drinks, and frozen cocktails.
- Indigo Bar (Deck 12) features fleet's longest bar. Cocktail-making sessions and flare demonstrations take place here.
- "19th Hole" is a clubhouse bar with golf buggy-seating and two golf simulators. Here are served craft beers and golf-themed cocktails.
- The sophisticated "Flutes" (bubbles bar) caters for Champagne and Prosecco wine lovers and is the best bar for pre- and post dinner cocktails.
- "Broadway Show Lounge" is on two decks (6 and 7) and has a capacity of 1,000 people. It offers waiter service and brand-new shows.
- Indigo Casino (Deck 12) is ship's gambling lounge fitted with gaming tables and slot machines. Indigo Club is in the middle of Indigo.
- Aperitif (Deck 7) is a stylish bar with Champagne and Prosecco on the menu. It is a great spot to head for a drink before or after meals at one of the specialty restaurants.
- "Squid and Anchor Pub" (Deck 7) is Marella's first ship pub. There are 2 bars to pick from, one of which deals in premium whiskies and gins, that are chargeable. The spot is home to quiz nights and a live band.
- "Scoops" is a vintage-looking ice-cream parlor serving gelato. The seating is quirky and includes a collection of bike seats sit that face out to sea. A charge is applied here.
- "The Coffee Port" (at a fee) serves Lavazza and gourmet sweets. It overlooks the Atrium and offers live piano performances.
- "The Cinema" offers family-friendly movies, plus extra screenings during high season.
- "M Club" is ship's Kids Club, with games from M Crew (ship-exclusive character).
- "Hideout" is ship's teen club lounge fitted with comfy seats and video gaming consoles. There is also an al fresco terrace with colorful hammocks.
- Gamer Zone (arcade) is for everyone onboard, fully stocked with machines.
- Broad Street Shops are ship's boutiques stocked with travel essentials, duty-free merchandise, perfumes and cosmetics, jewelry, gifts, and souvenirs.
- Photo Studio & Kiosks (Deck 6) provides professional photoshoot. Photo kiosks allow passengers to view and buy photos made by the liner's photography team.
- For "Champneys Spa" Marella Cruises partnered with Champneys Luxury Health Spa Resorts (UK brand). Passengers can book premium treatments (facials, body wraps, massages) and also use the Beauty Salon. Champneys Spa is Marella fleet's largest and also includes Relaxation Room, treatment rooms (with bathtubs), made-for-two suites, adults-only Sauna Room (with floor-ceiling windows), Steam Room, modern Fitness (Oceans Gym).
- The outdoor swimming pool (Deck 11) is split in two by a show stage for live entertainment and other daily scheduled activities. Pool Bar serves the pool deck with various beverages (including frozen cocktails). Three whirlpools surround the swimming pool.
- The Veranda is an adults-only venue and has Balinese beds and cocoon chairs.
- At the Sports Court can be played basketball-volleyball and mini-football.
- Minigolf and Table tennis is on the top deck (called Sports and Family Deck).
Marella Explorer 2 itinerary program was initially based on Adriatic and Mediterranean 7-day cruises leaving roundtrip from homeport Naples Italy.
During winter 2019-2020, the liner was deployed to the Caribbean and homeported in Bridgetown (Barbados) with 3x roundtrip itineraries visiting the islands St Lucia, Aruba, Saint Vincent.
- 3-night "A Taste Of Scotland" (cruise to nowhere/coastal navigation/portless itinerary)
- 6-night "British Treasures" (Invergordon, Lerwick, Dundee)
- 7-night "Gaelic Getaway" (Belfast, Greenock-Glasgow, Kirkwall, Dundee)
- 7-night "British Delights" (Greenock-Glasgow, Holyhead Wales, Dundee, Edinburgh)
- 8-night "Celtic Explorer" (Belfast, Greenock-Glasgow, Invergordon, Edinburgh)
- 11-night "Coastal Charms" (Dover, Portsmouth, Liverpool, Belfast, Torbay, Le Havre-Paris)
- 12-night "Icelandic Adventure" (Lerwick, Iceland - Reykjavik, Isafjord, Akureyri, and Kirkwall)
Followed the winter 2021-2022 Caribbean season with homeporting in Montego Bay Jamaica.
For 2022, the ship was homeported in Dubrovnik Croatia for 7-day roundtrip itineraries:
- "Adriatic Affair" (Rijeka Croatia, Ravenna, Koper Slovenia, Venice, Split Croatia)
- "Adriatic Delights" (Zadar Croatia, Trieste, Venice, Ancona, Split Croatia)
- "Sail Three Seas" (Valletta Malta, Messina Sicily, Taranto, Corfu, Kotor Montenegro)
- "Greek Mystique" (Chania Crete, Piraeus-Athens, Katakolon-Olympia, Corfu, Kotor Montenegro)
Marella Explorer 2 - user reviews and comments
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Marella Explorer 2 Wiki
In the period 2015-2018, the ship (as "SkySea Golden Era") served the newly-established China-based company "SkySea Cruise Line" (a joint venture of the RCCL-Royal Caribbean and Ctrip International Ltd). In late 2014, RCCL decided to sell the vessel to Ctrip for USD 157 million. The ship was transferred in April 2015 and started operations in China. In the period 2015-2018, the liner completed nearly 300 voyages and carried around 0,5 million passengers.
The Marella ship Explorer 2 was christened on March 30, 2019. The naming ceremony was held in Port Malaga (Spain). Vessel's godmothers are Mary Moreno (executive chef with TUI-Marella since 2015) and Paula Clark (cabin manager with TUI Cruises since 2004). The newly refurbished liner started its Inaugural Cruise (for Marella) from homeport Palma de Mallorca on April 2 (2019). Next table shows maiden voyage's itinerary (7-day "Treasures Of The Mediterranean") as port sequence and arrival/departure times.
|Date / Time||Port|
|02 Apr 22:00||Departing from Palma, Mallorca Island, Balearic Spain|
|04 Apr 08:00 - 17:00||Olbia, Sardinia, Italy|
|05 Apr 08:00 - 18:00||Naples, Italy|
|06 Apr 07:00 - 19:00||Civitavecchia-Rome, Italy|
|07 Apr 08:00 - 15:00||Ajaccio, Corsica, France|
|08 Apr 09:00 - 17:00||Palamos, Costa Brava, Spain|
|09 Apr 06:00||Arriving in Palma de Mallorca|
Marella Explorer 2 refurbishment 2019 review
The drydock conversion of SkySea Golden Era into Marella Explorer 2 was done at Navantia Shipyard (Cadiz Spain) in the period January 26 - March 27 (2019). Before that, the vessel visited COSCO Shipyard (Zhoushan China) for general maintenance before the 1-month long repositioning (via Suez Canal) to Europe (Mediterranean).
The 8-week drydock project involved ~1520 people (contractors, partners, Marella's crew, ~300 Trimline specialists) and 190,000+ manhours. The project included new carpeting shipwide (~43 km2 / 16 mi2 carpets were laid), ~70 km (43,5 mi) of network cables, installing a total of 640 WiFI points, complete repainting (hull and superstructure), glass refurbs, cabin upgrades, rebranding. The liner was also loaded with 9,5 tons of Marella Cruises-branded merchandise and ~1000 crew uniforms and show costumes.
New (added during the refit) venues were Clubhouse Bar, 19th Hole (two golf simulators, golf buggy-seating, craft beers, golf-themed cocktails), Flutes (wine bar), Nonna's (Italian trattoria for traditional pizza and pasta), The Beach Cove (BBQ dishes). Topdeck's Veranda (VIP sunbathing area) was doubled in size (in comparison to the sistership Marella Explorer 1). A new cabin category was also introduced (Royal Suite, sized 102 m2 / 1100 ft2).
The 2019 drydocking project was managed by Trimline Ltd (marine interior refurbishment specialist) and also included the redesign and refreshing of most onboard venues and public areas - Lido Marketplace (restaurant), Indigo Club, both Coffee Ports (USB ports added), Squid and Anchor Pub, Broadway (show bar lounge), Latitude 53 (restaurant), Vista (MDR/dining room).
Since January 26, 2019, ship management services are provided by the Hamburg-based company CCS (Columbia Cruise Services Ltd).
During drydock 2020 (done at Damen Shiprepair Amsterdam by Trimline), all staterooms were renovated (ceilings and walls repainted) including their bathrooms. Some Suites received new wood floorings. Market Place Buffet Restaurant (Deck 11) was updated with a new, more durable resin flooring.
SkySea Golden Era ship review
Starting roundtrip itineraries from homeports China in May 2015, Celebrity Century became "SkySea Golden Era" - fleet's first (and only) vessel. In 2018, the liner was homeported in Xiamen and Shanghai, operating on roundtrips to Japan (visiting Miyakojima and Naha Okinawa), Vietnam (visiting Da Nang and Halong Bay) and the Philippines.
On March 29, 2018, SkySea Cruise Line announced the boat's last voyage. The 4-night (roundtrip Shanghai itinerary August 29 - September 2, 2018) visited Japan (Hakata-Fukuoka City). The last cruise featured unique onboard events, including Champagne Reception party, Farewell Dessert, commemorative gift (for each passenger), onboard discounted shopping coupons, 10% booking discount for past passengers. "SkySea Voice" (shipboard singing competition show) had its grand finale on the 4-day voyage August 25-29.
SkySea Golden Era had a total of 907 cabins, of which 75 were Suites. The cabin grades number was 26. Dining venues included The Grand Restaurant (main dining room), The Murano Restaurant, The Islands Cafe (Lido buffet restaurant), Veranda Grill (poolside grill bar), Sushi Bar, Sunset Bar. The list of lounges and bars included Rendezvous, The Crystal Room (disco nightclub), Cova Cafe, Martini, Michael's, poolside bars, Hemisphere (nightclub). The ship had Aqua Spa, 4 jacuzzis, 2 swimming pools.
Onboard entertainment was of good quality and adult-oriented. Inaugurated on January 24, 2018, the SAMAJAM was a new music show introduced on the ship. It was interactive (allowing audience participation) and allowing private booking (providing customized performances during corporate events at sea / held on the ship). The new show was scheduled on every SkySea cruise in 2018.
Celebrity Century's first cruise was on December 20, 1995, initially named "GTS Century". In April 2006, the ship stayed 5 weeks into drydock at Fincantieri's shipyard. This was the company's most expensive refurbishment (refit and upgrade). During the refit, the vessel received 14 new suites, 10 new staterooms and to 314 rooms were added balconies. The ship also received its "Murano" specialty restaurant (French cuisine) and the spa complex was expanded.
Prior to the SkySea service, Celebrity Century was refitted and refurbished in Singapore. Among the changes done was renewing the ship's restaurants (to offer meals more appetizing to Chinese tourists), new trampoline, mini-golf course. The ship had fleet's only "AquaSpa Cafe" (healthy food choices). Fun fact is that the liner was the setting for the episode "Ship of Fran's" from the series "The Nanny" season 3.
Celebrity Century was the first cruise ship with an ice bar - called "Martini Bar and Crush". It's very attractive with a liquid wall that freezes (forming a crystalline appearance) and the bar counter freezing into stone. The liquor behind the bar is in a solid ice block. Century also has a cigar bar and the Michael's Club - with hand-rolled cigars, port wine, and fine cognacs.
Celebrity Cruises parent company RCCL (Royal Caribbean) sold at the end of 2014 the ship to the Chinese travel company Ctrip for the price of USD 157 million. The ship joined the fleet of Exquisite Marine (a Ctrip Holdings subsidiary) in April 2015. Among the deckplan changes on the "Chinese ship" were new restaurants, new ice bar, added trampoline and a mini-golf course.
Ctrip is China's leading travel agency, and also one of the largest travel brands in the country. The company's business is in transportation ticketing, accommodation reservation, travel tour packages, corporate travel deals. Ctrip is also a cruise booking agency, holding over 10% of China's cruising market.
SkySea Holdings was founded in 2013 with Stone Capital - a Shanghai-based private equity company that invests for China's wealthiest families and entrepreneurs. However, the company was not announced until the RCI partnership. Both RCCL and Ctrip each have a 35% stake, while the remaining 30% is held by Stone Capital. SkySea Cruises is managed by Min Fan (Ctrip's Vice Chairman, President, and co-founder) who is the company's CEO and Chairman. Management staff comes from both RCCL and Ctrip. Ctrip provides the marketing network, technical expertise, customer base and travel agency services, while RCCL handles cruise operations and crew management.
RCCL's SkySea brand targeted China's middle- to high-level cruising market, focusing on 30- to 60-year-old consumers. The company had plans to add a ship a year (acquiring older vessels from other companies) and eventually to order a newbuild. In 2014 (1 year before SkySea Cruises started operations) the number of Chinese cruise ship tourists reached 90 million.
In Spring 2017, SkySea Cruise Line added South Korea as a departure port option to ship's Shanghai homeport program. Passengers had the option to board the ship in Busan, cruise to Japan, disembark in China (Shanghai) and from China take a home flight back to South Korea.
SkySea Golden Era refurbishment 2017 review
On November 16, 2017, SkySea Cruises announced the completion of the ship's drydock (October 25 through November 11) done at COSCO Shipyard (Zhoushan, China). For this renovation project, SkySea partnered with CSSC (China State Shipbuilding Corporation) and G-Art (interior design and renovations).
- The dry-dock included routine maintenance works, as well as adding 2 new conference halls (meeting rooms) on decks 7 and 12.
- "SkySea Board Room" (Deck 7) has max capacity 50 seats.
- "SkySea Conference Room" (Deck 12) has capacity 100 seats.
- Grand Restaurant was renovated with a new Chinese theme.
- A new beauty salon was opened via a partnership with PhiSkin. Ship's retail shops were expanded. A new pharmacy was added as a retail offering.
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