Cruise History: The Chandris Line and the SS America was the precursor of Celebrity Cruises. For a history of the SS America click here.
One of the ships operated by Chandris was the beautiful Trans-Atlantic liner America previously owned by the United States Line and initially captained by Demitrios Challioris who had been in charge of a crude oil tanker in Southampton. Chandris changed the name to the Australis.
The ship had previously accommodated three classes but underwent a major refit and became a one-class configuration geared to carry 2300 passengers.
The aft promenade decks were extended, a swimming pool was added, and air conditioning was installed.
She made 3 month voyages around the world from Bremerhaven, Rotterdam, Southampton, Casablanca, Las Palmas, Cape Town,(or through the Mediterranean via Gibraltar, Naples, Malta, Piraeus, Port Said and Aden), Freemantle, Melbourne, Sydney, Auckland, Suva, Tahiti, Acapulco, Balboa, Cristobal, Port Everglades and return to Southampton.
Chandris Lines also had the Australian Government’s prized immigrant contract bringing tens of thousands of new immigrants out to major ports in Australia The ships were always sold out so that there were 3 sittings for dinner and special sittings for kids. P&O, a rival cruise line, had ceased the line voyage business to Australia so that the Australis was now known as “the world’s largest express liner.”
In 1977 Australis tried a new itinerary from the South Pacific to points in South America to Portugal.
Because of the jet travel and the 747, sea travel for transportation decreased and became the sole remaining liner on the trade. New Immigrants now traveled by jet. In November of 1977 Australis was laid up. In 1978 she was sold to US investors.
They mismanaged the ship and their company, Venture Cruises, was declared bankrupt. Guess who bought the ship in bankruptcy court? Chandris Lines.
For $4 million less than the amount for which they sold her four months earlier! The ship was laid up and sold in 1992.
Celebrity Cruises was created by Chandris Lines as a separate luxury cruise line, initially using Chandris’s Galileo, which was renamed Meridian after she was rebuilt. She was joined by the new ships Horizon and Zenith in 1990 and 1992.
In 1989 there was a need in the Cruise Industry for a luxury product at a decent price. Chandris wanted to establish a worldwide standard for cruising by The company was determined to set a new, worldwide standard for cruising.
Exceptional Cuisine and all its facets became the mainstay of the Celebrity Cruise experience. Master Chefs serve as the line’s revered culinary and wine consultants since its founding.
In 1995 Celebrity introduced the so called Century Class Fleet with an Industry first:
Luxurious Spa Experiences.
In 1997, Celebrity Cruises merged with Royal Caribbean International, bringing together two extraordinary cruise brands within one corporation, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Today Royal Caribbean uses 29 Cruise Liners.
Cruising has become so popular that from 2000 to 2002 Royal Caribbean doubled its passenger capacity.
Its newest ships use gas turbine engines reducing exhaust emissions by 95% and have become traveling art shows as well.
They boast original paneling and artifacts from famous transatlantic luxury liners.
In 2001, building on the strengths of both the Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises brands,Royal Celebrity Tours was started to offer truly unique vacations in Alaska, Canada and Europe, combining outstanding cruises with exceptional pre- or post-cruise land tour packages now known as “cruise-tours.”