As Celebrity Cruises plots its return, with new sailings announced for Caribbean, European and UK waters this summer, president and chief executive Lisa Lutoff-Perlo tells Tom Parry how the line is looking beyond the pandemic.
“I honestly don’t know if I can put it into words,” beams Lisa Lutoff-Perlo.
Despite the early morning interview, the excitement from Celebrity Cruises’ president and chief executive seems to fizz through her video screen – and for good reason.
Within a matter of weeks the line has revealed restart plans for the UK, Europe and Caribbean - including the launch of its second Edge-class ship, Celebrity Apex, out of Athens.
In the UK, Celebrity Silhouette – fully “revolutionised” after a multimillion-pound renovation infused with Kelly Hoppen redesigns and the British debut of its Always Included all-inclusive fare – will cruise from Southampton in July.
When we meet over Zoom in the last week of March, Silhouette has just joined an ever-growing fleet of ships due to sail UK shores this summer.
But Lutoff-Perlo, rather aptly clutching an Edge-branded mug as she chats, says she is confident Celebrity’s offering will stand out in the “crowded space”.
“The brand we’ve built up and our positioning of ‘new luxury’ – I think the British consumer really understands that. We’re not worried about all the other brands out there. Celebrity is a special brand that stands for a lot and that will serve us well this summer.”
One obvious point of difference compared with other lines is Celebrity and sister line Royal Caribbean International’s vaccination policy for these summer sailings. Unlike other lines, both require adults to be fully vaccinated, while under-18s must provide negative PCR results.
Lutoff-Perlo says the approach – backed by Royal Caribbean Group’s Healthy Sail Panel – is “something that’s important right now” to instil confidence.
“We’re trying to be agile and do what we believe is the right thing to do at this time, so we can start up and everybody can have a wonderful vacation and feel like they’re in a healthy and safe environment”, she adds.
Lutoff-Perlo has herself recently received her second vaccine dose.
“When I got my second shot, I felt liberated. I carry my little vaccination card around with me – it’s like a badge of honour,” she grins.