Sam Ballard looks at the genuinely progressive premium luxury line that puts design and innovation – and also the trade – at the forefront of its business
With a fleet of 12 ships, and another four on order, it is clear that Celebrity is a company that generates attention.
Under a strapline that promises “modern luxury”, Celebrity occupies the premium luxury segment alongside companies such as Princess, Viking and Holland America Line. Essentially, the firm’s offering is more luxurious than the big, resort-style companies – MSC, NCL and sister-brand Royal Caribbean – without trying to join the ranks of the all-inclusive ultra-luxury brands such as Silversea, Crystal and Seabourn.
The company plays on the design aspect of its ships. It’s next vessel, the Edge-class (due in 2018), has cabins overseen by designer Kelly Hoppen.
While Celebrity has mass appeal, its typical passengers are couples who enjoy the finer things in life, not to mention some of the world’s more exotic destinations.
The amount of media attention that the company generated at the announcement of Celebrity Edge was testament to its hard-won reputation. While it was the Magic Carpet – an exterior platform that adds an outdoor space to alternative decks – that grabbed the most headlines, the number of innovations goes far beyond that. As Adam Coulter, the UK managing editor of Cruise Critic, wrote in June’s Cruise Adviser, the infinite balconies on board Edge are “the big wow” on board.
The company is also undoubtedly trade friendly, with its managing director, Jo Rzymowska, being a past chairwoman of Clia UK & Ireland. It has also invested heavily in agent schemes and training, with two dedicated trainers for the trade as well as an on-the-road sales team.
An interesting recent development was the decision to push agents to drive onboard sales. The company will be running a 30-minute online training session on September 20 offering insights into how best to convert sales from guests currently enjoying their cruise.
Claire Stirrup, director of sales UK and Ireland, Celebrity Cruises explains: “2016 was a strong year for us in terms of onboard sales and we have already seen a record increase this year in demand from guests keen to book their next sailing with us while on their current holiday.”
Guests who rebook their cruise while on board a Celebrity cruise will have their booking credited to their preferred travel agent, who will then receive commission.
Rzymowska herself received plaudits recently during a challenging time for the company after Celebrity Constellation suffered a technical fault that resulted in a two-day delay to a Mediterranean cruise. She led a team of 12 staff who headed out to Barcelona to give regular face-to-face updates to guests affected.
Another area where the company has been progressive is in the way it has embraced LGBT customers. For four years running it has been a big winner the Cruizie Awards, given out by the LGBT cruise travel community.
There is little doubt that now is an exciting time for Celebrity Cruises. As the company continues to make more announcements about Celebrity Edge and other developments happening across its fleet it will increasingly rely upon the trade to help sell that extra tonnage. Those who embrace the company will no doubt be rewarded with more support that will all lead to increased sales.