Where next for cruise? Celebrity Cruises’ Jo Rzymowska on innovation

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In this section, several leading industry figures talk about what the future holds in 2018 and beyond, looking at changes in innovation, legislation, luxury and family cruise, the rise of river, meeting the needs of millennials and the latest destination hotspots. Here, Jo Rzymowska, Celebrity Cruises’ vice president and managing director, UK & Ireland and Asia, talks innovation


‘Where next?’ is a very big question for the cruise sector. The easiest and quickest answer is ‘everywhere!’ Cruise is an innovative and ambitious industry. Throughout my career I’ve never come across anything as dynamic as the cruise business. The pace of change, investment and development is phenomenal. And in 2018 we see these trends intensify.

Portrait Jo Rzymowska

Jo Rzymowska

Over the last decade the cruise sector has been very good at playing the long game. Where other industries have hunkered down, cruise has stayed focused on investment in the future. This is paying dividends with a huge number of new ships in 2018 – including Celebrity Edge, which will set sail next year. Plus there’s an ongoing growth in the numbers of those of
us taking to the sea, alongside a tangible sense of excitement

Like many ships that will be launched next year, there is a huge amount of anticipation over the ever more exciting array of features. From newly designed family accommodation with in-room slides, to on-deck go-kart tracks, there is something jaw-dropping coming for everyone. New ships bring industry firsts, headlines and ever more pushing of boundaries.

While other sectors of the travel industry do bring out new experiences, the cruise industry really does set standards pretty high. If you take all the new hotels around the world in the last 10 years, they probably haven’t boasted as many marvels as just the new ships in 2018 will do. As far as I am concerned, there simply isn’t the level of ground-breaking architecture and experiences going on anywhere else. At sea is simply the place to be.

For Celebrity Cruises we’ve seen a phenomenal reaction to our Magic Carpet, coming on Celebrity Edge in late 2018. The cantilevered venue is suspended on the side of the ship and changes function with time of day, the deck of the ship it is against, and the guest need. I’m most excited by the ability to press of a button and expand the size of a room thanks to our new infinite balconies. That is both exciting and revolutionary.

Perhaps most impressive is that the innovations we know about are probably only about half of what will come from the cruise sector in 2018. I can’t wait to see what comes next – it’s bound to blow our socks off.

While as a company – and as an industry – we are building new ships, revamping existing ships and pushing greater cruise growth via new deployment, we’re also working hard on a revolution of another kind. Doing all we can to open up the world and embrace diversity is at the core of all we do. That ranges from being the first cruise line to offer legal same-sex marriages at sea, to setting targets to include our female workforce in technical roles.

This year saw the appointment of our second female captain – Nathaly Albàn is the first female captain of a cruise vessel in the Galápagos. In addition, we have developed a partnership with the Regional Maritime University in Ghana to promote female bridge officers from West African nations, including Nicholine Tifuh Azirh. I’m excited to see these developments encouraging the rest of the industry to catch-up.

In 2018 we will see the pace of change and transformation accelerate and it couldn’t be more exciting.

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