Celebrity Cruises has marked its return to UK sailings with a bullish promise to get as many agents as possible back onboard its ships, while ramping up its trade loyalty scheme to new heights.
Speaking to TTG as Celebrity Silhouette embarked on its first ex-Southampton sailing in 19 months, UK & Ireland sales director Claire Stirrup pledged next April’s arrival of third Edge-class ship Celebrity Beyond would be a catalyst for boosting the line’s Celebrity Moments rewards programme.
“Watch this space, because Celebrity Moments is going to be revolutionised, so will be bigger and better than ever before,” she explained. “There are new initiatives on the way, which will be announced by the autumn.”
Vice-president and managing director EMEA Jo Rzymowska also paid tribute to agents for their “great support” over such a tough period.
Approximately 100 trade partners are onboard the six-night cruise, calling at Dover, Belfast and Liverpool.
It is the first of Celebrity’s nine UK voyages this summer, but planned Scottish calls have been axed from July’s departures following the devolved government’s refusal to let cruise lines dock at its ports.
Rzymowska said the company was waiting to see if the situation changed in time for August’s sailings, but back-up itineraries were in place.
“I really hope the Scottish government realises what it’s missing out on,” she said. “Let’s get the industry moving and let’s look at what we drive to the economy. It is significant.”
She also confirmed that despite reports the 1,000-passenger cap had been relaxed, Celebrity was working towards the new “Freedom Day” of 19 July, though she hoped the restriction might be lifted before then.
Despite the limit, Celebrity reports sales for its summer cruises have been strong, attracting new-to-cruise and new-to-brand clients, with suites and Aqua Class staterooms selling out first as customers splash out on more luxurious options.
The 1,000 guests onboard this first voyage, who include 100 NHS workers, given free cabins as part of Celebrity’s Giving Back to Heroes competition, can also revel in Celebrity Silhouette’s “revolutionised” surroundings following a multi-million pound upgrade that has seen the introduction of some facilities from its Edge-class ships.
Rzymowska described finally setting sail with the first UK customers as an emotional experience for everyone.
“I felt very proud of our team, travel partners, crew and the ship – we are so ready to welcome British guests back onboard,” she said.