Celebrity Cruises is yet to become a household name in the Israeli market, unlike Carnival Cruise Line, NCL, MSC, and the parent company, Royal Caribbean. Until COVID came into our lives, it was considered the cruise line of choice for a more affluent clientele. However, the pandemic that upended our lives (and everything else) put the company into a deep freeze.
Only recently, with the increased rate of vaccination and the decline in COVID numbers worldwide, did Celebrity ships pull anchor and return to the seas at lower capacities.
Starting this month, for the first time in two years, the entire Celebrity fleet will be in operation – 14 ships in total. On this occasion, and as part of the decision to expand brand awareness in new markets, the company’s Head of Business Development, Michael English, recently visited Israel. Here’s the interview he gave to PassportNews.
After such a long hiatus due to COVID, how does Celebrity Cruises operate these days?
“First of all, I’m happy to announce that Celebrity Cruises is back in business and fully operational. Starting April, we have six ships sailing in Europe, and by the end of the year, we will operate our entire fleet in the Americas, Australia, and the Caribbean. We’re back in business, and that’s why I am here.”
What can you tell us about the new ship that the company intends to launch, estimated at over $1 billion?
“On April 27, we plan to launch our brand new ship, Celebrity Beyond, sailing from Southampton in England. The ship indeed cost around $1.2 billion, and what sets it apart is that it is the first mega cruise ship to be led by a woman, Captain Kate McCue. Actually, about a third of the ship’s crew are women. The Beyond is 327 meters long and can accommodate 3,937 passengers and 1,416 crew members.”
What brings you to Israel now, of all times?
“We came here to Israel, among other things, to invite our friends to visit and get a first glimpse of the ship before its maiden voyage. And we’re here to meet with our official representative, Snorama Cruises.
“We work with travel agents. This is our policy, and we give them our best, meet with them, and support them. In the next couple of months, we will invest more than $200,000 in this market to connect with our partners, understand their needs, teach them about our company, explain our strengths, and show them what sets Celebrity Cruises apart from other cruise brands.”
So what sets Celebrity Cruises apart?
“We provide our customers with a comprehensive and complete experience. That’s the big difference between the Celebrity experience and other cruise companies, but I can name five main differences.
“First and foremost, destinations. Our destinations are unique and diverse. This summer, six of our ships will operate in Europe, departing from various ports: Barcelona, Rome, Athens, Amsterdam, and Southampton. In addition, we offer a large variety of cruises.
“Second, design. Our ships are designed by the best in the world, and our guests enjoy the exceptional design in every corner of our ships, from the rooms and suites to different areas like the pool, lounges, and restaurants.
“Third, gastronomy. Our ships offer a vast selection of dining rooms, guest lounges, and restaurants. Our culinary concept is unique, and guests can choose where and what suits them best out of this huge variety.
“Fourth, wellness and wellbeing. These are of particular importance, even more so in the last two years, and our guests enjoy lots of options, facilities, and programs.
“And fifth, the all-inclusive approach. On Celebrity ships, there is no need to pay for extras. The food, the drinks, the entertainment – all the services and recreational activities are available to everyone and are included in the price. In short, we give our guests a unique luxury experience.”
This move by Celebrity Cruises comes at a time of market uncertainty. On the one hand, the big cruise companies are interested in attracting holidaymakers, offering massive promotions and glittering launches, such as Royal Caribbean’s May launch of the largest ship in the world, Wonder of the Seas. On the other hand, and maybe due to COVID, people are now looking for new and unique experiences. Will this move be a success for Celebrity?
“Let’s wait and see and talk again in the coming months.”