Your Editor in the Olympic Restaurant

Celebrity’s new vessel combines modern cruise ship innovation with ocean liner nostalgia to perfection.

Millennium is driven by gas turbines and has no rudder or stern-thrusters; instead, her twin screws are mounted in rotating Azipods suspended beneath the stern. Her glass elevators have an added twist—from them, descending or ascending passengers will enjoy not merely an atrium view but an ocean panorama as well.

But for ocean liner buffs, the most significant aspect of the new ship is the paneling of The Olympic Restaurant. The restaurant walls, seen above, are clad in the actual French walnut boiserie that was part of the decor of White Star Line’s ground-breaking Olympic of 1911.

When Olympic was scrapped up at Jarrow in Northumberland in the mid-thirties, the paneling from her Main Lounge was bought by the owner of Alnwick’s White Swan Hotel. To accommodate his purchase, he built an addition to the hotel to create an impressive new dining room. It remains in place to this day—your Editor has twice stayed at the hotel, most recently at Christmas-time when the noble mahogany vistas were, sadly, festooned with garish Woolworth tinsel.

At the same Jarrow auction, Olympic’s A La Carte restaurant paneling was sold to a private buyer who lived in the midlands town of Southport. When the bidder/owner sold his house to another couple, they were under the mistaken impression that the exquisite, exuberantly gilded paneling that dominated their new ground floor had come from a German battleship. When it transpired that the handsome decor had originally been created for Olympic, they decided to put the irreplaceable relics on the market.

Enter Celebrity Cruises. The paneling—indeed, the entire house—was purchased, the paneling carefully removed and shipped to Toulon, where it was prepared for re-installation aboard Millennium. Celebrity is planning to incorporate into all five ships of the class decorative hommage to other ocean liners past.

In November, Millennium will reposition from Genoa to New York and, it is hoped, the Ocean Liner Museum will host a dinner in The Olympic Restaurant. When and if plans have been finalized for this incomparable venue, invitations will appear in the post.


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