Celebrity Cruises has revealed a “last chance” competition for agents to win places onboard its second Edge-class ship, Celebrity Apex.
The line’s #RacetoApex incentive, taking place throughout February, will give away 29 staterooms for upcoming trade shakedown cruises onboard the ship.
Any Celebrity booking made will give an agent a place in a daily prize draw – with Apex or Edge sales earning two entries.
More than 1,000 agents have already claimed places on two Apex pre-inaugural sailings departing on March 28 and March 30 from Southampton.
Apex will then sail an ex-UK mini-season around the Mediterranean and Northern Europe.
Technology activist Reshma Saujani, founder and chief executive of non-profit organisation Girls Who Code, was announced as godmother for Apex during Celebrity’s Travel Agent Appreciation Awards in London on Thursday (16 January).
Speaking to TTG at the event, UK and Ireland chief Jo Rzymowska said the line had enjoyed “a good start out of the blocks” for wave thanks to its new media campaign, alongside its collaborations with agents.
Assessing the market, she said “without a doubt” the recent UK general election result had created greater consumer confidence – prompted by a surge in the value of sterling after the Conservatives won an 80-seat majority in Parliament.
Dondra Ritzenthaler, senior vice-president sales, trade support and service, added greater clarity over the UK’s Brexit position post-election had also reduced consumer caution. “I think that has helped – we know there’s a deadline and how to handle it,” she said.
Another factor the pair considered to have helped Celebrity’s performance for the start of the year was its implementation of “always on” sales campaign, Sail Your Way.
The new pricing structure, which launched on 19 November, allows customers to select from one of three onboard packages – Sail All Included, Sail Plus and Sail – each with different inclusions and costings.
Ritzenthaler said: “It has shown in the US to really work and it has been popular in the UK too. It gives the consumer the choice and allows travel partners to leverage it. Partners can sell whichever way works best for them – either cruise-only or a more all-inclusive fare.”
Rzymowska said Celebrity had made sure to “put the right plans in place” to work with trade partners and educate them around Sail Your Way.
“We really think it’s been a positive addition,” she added.
Looking past Apex, Rzymowska said Celebrity was putting plans in place to mark the arrival of the recently refurbished Celebrity Silhouette into Southampton to sail an ex-UK season from 1 May.
Silhouette is scheduled to undergo the line’s Celebrity Revolution refit programme this month, with a number of enhancement added including The Retreat, for suite-class guests.
Ritzenthaler said the addition “gives us a competitive advantage” over other lines sailing ex-UK this summer, with Rzymowska describing Silhouette said “without a doubt the most the premium ship sailing from Southampton”.