With her launch date fast approaching, Celebrity Cruises’ newest ship has officially started her all-important sea trials following two years of construction at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France. Celebrity Ascent, the fourth vessel in the line’s Edge class, will sail her inaugural voyage in December 2023.
Celebrity Ascent Begins Sea Trials
Celebrity Cruises, the upmarket brand of Royal Caribbean Group, marked a construction milestone on September 27, 2023, when its new-build Celebrity Ascent left her dock at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard and began sea trials.
“The Celebrity Ascent, 4th in the Edge series built at Chantiers de l’Atlantique left the port this afternoon for a series of sea tests. [The ship] will be back on Saturday. Its final delivery is scheduled in November,” The city of Saint-Nazaire says.
The series of performance tests evaluate systems and procedures such as speed and maneuverability, safety, propulsion, seaworthiness, and a broad range of navigational components.
Construction of the 140,600-gross ton Celebrity Ascent began with her steel-cutting ceremony in November 2021, with cruise line executives attending the event.
Just over a year ago, in August 2022, cruise and shipyard officials marked the ship’s keel laying with a coin ceremony, a seafaring tradition that places special coins inside the keel as a symbol of good luck.
Signaling the final stage of construction, Celebrity Ascent, in January 2023, was floated out of her construction bay at the shipyard, touching water for the first time. Sitting dockside, work continued on the ship’s interior spaces.
Inaugural Voyage to Depart Early December
Following the finishing touches, Celebrity Ascent will sail a transatlantic voyage from France in late November, although the voyage is not yet posted on the cruise line website. Celebrity Ascent’s naming ceremony is slated for December 1, 2023.
While the cruise line has yet to confirm the location of the event, it is likely the ceremony will be held at Port Everglades, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the new ship’s winter homeport.
Celebrity Cruises in August announced its new-build will have two godmothers: Captain Sandy Yawn, who stars in the Bravo TV series “Below Deck,” and her sister, Michelle Dunham, founder of the Jacksonville School for Autism.
The cruise line had earlier announced that two brothers will co-captain Celebrity Ascent. Dimitrios Kafetzis and Tasos Kafetzis, with a combined 50 years of service at Celebrity Cruises, will each work three-month rotations aboard the ship.
Celebrity Ascent’s maiden voyage is set to depart on December 3, 2023. The 7-night Eastern Caribbean cruise sails roundtrip from Port Everglades with port calls at St. Maarten; St. Thomas, USVI; and Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic.
The ship’s winter cruising schedule includes Eastern, Western, and Bahamas sailings. Itineraries will visit popular ports such as Cozumel, Grand Cayman, San Juan, Nassau, and others.
Like her Edge-class sister ships, Celebrity Edge, Celebrity Apex, and Celebrity Beyond, the 3,260-guest Celebrity Ascent will offer 30 dining venues and lounges, and several stateroom categories, including AquaClass, ConciergeClass, Edge staterooms, and exclusive luxury level accommodation called The Retreat.
The ship also will feature the popular Magic Carpet, a multi-use, moving platform that will house a bar and restaurant, and be lowered to water level when needed at tender ports.
Summer 2024 in the Mediterranean
On April 14, 2024, the ship will reposition to the Mediterranean for her summer series. The repositioning cruise features port calls at the Canary Islands, Funchal, Portugal, and Malaga, Spain, before concluding in Barcelona.
Sailing mainly between Barcelona and Rome during her inaugural season, the ship will offer 7- to 12-night cruises calling at ports in France, Italy, and Spain, plus Greece and Turkey.
Celebrity Ascent is scheduled to return to Port Everglades in November 2024, offering a series of winter cruises in the Caribbean.