Celebrity Cruises will host “easily double” the number of agents onboard its forthcoming ship Celebrity Apex next year than during Celebrity Edge’s recent European debut.
Apex will be named in Southampton in spring 2020, the line’s first British christening since Celebrity Eclipse in 2010. Some 900 agents sailed onboard Edge during a two-night European showcase last week.
Jo Rzymowska, Celebrity’s vice-president and managing director UK, Ireland and Asia Pacific, told TTG while the schedule for Apex’s UK visit was “not fully finalised”, two pre-inaugural sailings were likely.
“It will be the hottest ticket in town,” she said. “We’ll be able to entertain more partners, and we want to make sure agents get the chance to appreciate what Celebrity Cruises is all about – we want to bring energy and excitement to the market.”
Discussing potential new features onboard Apex, Rzymowska said despite the vessel being a sister ship to Edge – the second of five planned Edge-class vessels – “there is always something slightly different about family members”.
After launch, Apex will cruise five ex-UK itineraries before being based in the Mediterranean for the rest of the summer. The lead-up to Apex, Rzymowska said, would echo that of Edge, which launched last December, using “reveal events” to “build up the excitement”.
“We can bring Edge-class to the land and give a flavour of what to expect,” said Rzymowska.
Claire Stirrup, UK and Ireland sales director, said “a real mix” of agents had come onboard Edge, from “loyal trade partners” yet to experience an Edge-class ship to those who had never sold cruise.
Stirrup also revealed overnight fam trips on Edge to Barcelona and Rome would be held in June, August and September, giving agents the chance to experience life onboard.
Celebrity Edge’s incoming captain – the first American woman to captain a cruise ship – said the industry has made huge progress on gender diversity, although more remains to be done.
“I’m looking forward to the gender gap decreasing even more, but we’ve made incredible strides,” Kate McCue told TTG. “When I joined Celebrity in 2015, just 3% of the bridge team fleet-wide were female. Today, across our fleet, it’s 22%.
“Women have certain traits that can’t be replicated, and I think empathy is a big one,” she added. “Whenever you introduce diversity into an organisation and get a different perspective, whether it's gender-based, race, religion, cultural background, sexual orientation, what comes about is an increase in productivity and creativity.”
It comes after Celebrity Cruises released new research suggesting girls are still less likely than boys to consider a career as a mechanic, financial trader or a sportsperson.
McCue is currently onboard Celebrity Equinox but joins Celebrity Edge in August along with, she hopes, her cat Bug Naked, who “loves being onboard”.
TTG caught up with Cruise Circle sales and customer service director Danielle Nemeth and product development manager Mark Godden, who described their highlights onboard Edge.
Nemeth: “I cruised with Celebrity years ago on a ship that isn’t even in the fleet any more – Celebrity Mercury. Edge is just beyond compare. We sampled the entertainment, and when it comes to food, [Italian restaurant] Tuscan was a real standout. It’s the ship’s use of space that makes everywhere feel airy and spacious – even the lowest-priced cabins feel luxurious.”
Godden: “It oozes style and something catches your eye around every corner, from funky furniture to interesting colours and textures. I absolutely love the Rooftop Garden – it’s somewhere you can see yourself relaxing in the Caribbean sun. There has been a lot of hype about Edge, and there is a price tag, but being onboard really helps you see just what makes that difference and allows you to explain that to customers.”