Why Celebrity Cruises will not allow themselves to be Eclipsed by rivals

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Luxury cruise line Celebrity is determined to ensure that once a passenger has sailed on one of their ships, they will never want to sail with anyone else. That was the mantra of company president Dan Hanrahan this week, on a brief visit to the UK.
Celebrity Eclipse, which is based in Southampton for the summer, has already achieved record business and ratings in the few months since its launch last April. Senior vice-president Lisa Lutoff-Perlo disclosed that the number of future cruise bookings made by British passengers while on board the ship is three times higher than the next most successful in the fleet.
Before the ship entered service the Miami-based line listened to its UK team to discover what tweaks would be needed to the service to appeal to British passengers.
Tea-making facilities in cabins were the number one priority, so kettles were duly installed. Trouble was, they took things too literally and provided only teabags, prompting complaints from coffee drinkers who didn’t want to order room service at an extra cost – or to bring it themselves from the buffet restaurant.
What’s the first change for 2011? Sachets of instant coffee will be added to the cabin facilities – a victory for common sense .
Other enhancements promised for when Eclipse returns to Britain in April include a wider range of beers – including London pride, Old Speckled Hen, Boddingtons, Guinness AND Murphy’s stout, and Newcastle Brown Ale – although not, I presume, in the ice-topped Martini bar.
A Champagne High Tea Experience is to be offered at least once during every cruise – to those prepared to spend $20 – and passengers will be able to download local newspapers onto the ship’s iPads, which will also be used increasingly for displaying menus and the wine list in innovative restaurant Qsine.
In addition, the Celebrity UK office has been asked to look for entertainers, particularly comedians and guest speakers – more acceptable to the British market.
Lisa also revealed new features to be introduced on Celebrity Silhouette – the fourth ship in the Solstice class – which is to be launched in July.
In an effort to increase use of the grass area on Deck 11, the glass-blowing display is to be replaced by a new Lawn Club Grill restaurant and Porch cafe, and a number of “alcoves” offering semi-private seating and lounging – for a fee – will be installed.
Inside, the clubby Michael’s Club bar is to be re-vamped. Out go the wood-panelled walls and leather armchairs and in comes a much lighter, brighter look and a selection of about 50 designer beers from around the world.
Reflection, the fifth and final ship in the series, is to get a whole extra deck of cabins and suites, and passenger facilities will be beefed up to match, with an additional 245 sun loungers, 45 extra seats in the theatre, 118 more covers in the Oceanview Cafe, 40 in the main restaurant, and 24 each in Blu and the Tuscan Grille steakhouse.
Meanwhile, work will continue to upgrade – or “Solsticise” – older ships in the fleet. The 10-year-old Infinity and Summit will each have $30 million of work to introduce Aqua Class suites, Apple-equipped iLounge internet centres, the Qsine restaurant concept and other improvements.
In a few weeks’ time the 1997-built Celebrity Mercury is to be transferred to Germany’s TUI Cruises, a joint venture operation part-owned by Celebrity’s parent company Royal Caribbean. From May the 1,800-passenger ship will be sailing as Mein Schiff 2.
It was apparent that Hanrahan would be happy to see the 16-year-old Celebrity Century taken off his hands to become Mein Schiff 3, but it does not appear to be an option in the immediate future.
Later this year it will begin a season of cruises based in Australia, before returning to Alaska in summer 2012.
Hanrahan was quick to stress that the ship remains popular, has some of the line’s best crew on board, and was still benefitting from investment in maintenance. But there are no plans to Solsticise the vessel and his pledge that it would be part of the Celebrity fleet “for the foreseeable future” hinted that he would welcome an approach from anyone with a fat cheque book prepared to take it off his hands.
Now there’s a thought . . . is anyone out there prepared to bankroll Captain Greybeard’s own cruise line?

By | 2017-06-15T16:00:10+00:00 18 February 2011|Cruise News, Cruise Ships|0 Comments

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

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