Last month, Royal Caribbean had removed one ship from its spring season launch because of a change of lineup elsewhere in its international fleet.
While Royal Caribbean would still dock the Voyager of the Seas in Port Liberty in Bayonne with trips starting in May, the company decided to move the smaller of the two ships, the Empress of the Seas, to a Florida port. Royal Caribbean officials said they intended to launch an expanded ship, the Enchantment of the Sea, just after the 2005 Fourth of July weekend. This would have left Port Liberty launching only one ship at the beginning of the season.
Zenith, the ship that would launch from Bayonne, is one of three original ships for Celebrity. The others are Horizon and the retired sister ship Meridan. Zenith debuted in 1992 as a premium-level cruise line, offering a more sophisticated level of food and beverage service, with martini and champagne bars, cigar lounges, and caviar service.
Zenith's wide spectrum of design serves to satisfy different preferences in different people, and, after a few days, most everyone finds a room which appeals most to his or her individual tastes, spreading the passenger load across the whole ship. At one extreme are Zenith's dramatic, large public rooms, the Celebrity Show Lounge (showroom), and Marina Deck's spectacular Fleet Bar, her top-of-the-ship, forward-looking observation lounge. There are also smaller, intimate lounges peppered around the main public gathering areas.
The Zenith has 687 cabins; 541 are outside cabins with windows or portholes, and 22 are suites with large storage spaces and room service 24 hours a day.
"The Zenith will indeed sail seven-night Bermuda cruises from Cape Liberty in 2005," said Elizabeth Jakeway, Manager of Corporate Communications for Celebrity Cruises. "Zenith's ports of call in Bermuda on each itinerary include Hamilton [two nights in port] and St. Georges [one night in port]."
Royal Caribbean International first agreed to use Bayonne as a port last year, signing a five-year contract with the Bayonne Local Redevelopment Authority.
Last year, the company invested more than $8 million to set up portside facilities at a Peninsula at Bayonne Harbor, formerly known at the Military Ocean Terminal. The company leased 1,000 feet where the ships would dock and 120,000 square feet of warehouse for the terminal where passengers check in and take shuttles for boarding the ships.
Nancy Kist, executive director of the Bayonne Local Redevelopment Authority, said during the recent demolition of a nearby water tower that the arrangement with Royal Caribbean has been a success.
"I know they have been booking regularly," she said. "People have told us Bayonne is a much better site for setting sail than New York City."