With sister cruise line Azamara announcing major product changes this week, there are also new developments at Celebrity. CEO Dan Hanrahan summed up enhancements in an interview with Cruise Week. Among them are the growing importance of Solstice-class ships and the ongoing implementation of the Celebrity Life program.
Celebrity scored a big coup this year by earning the number one ranking in the new megaship cruise category of Condé Nast Traveler magazine. Hanrahan says the line will market that distinction extensively in both consumer and trade advertising.
Hanrahan says Solstice-class is beginning to lead to greater recognition for the line. “Not only did Solstice and Equinox help us a ton in getting the nod in the megaship cruise category of Condé Nast, but we’re seeing gains in studies we do with brand awareness, and we’re seeing it in gains with web traffic,” he reports.
That’s helping out in some unexpected areas: “There’s some pretty good pick-up from the North American market for Eclipse, even though it’s a U.K.-based product,” says Hanrahan. “We’re actually a little
surprised, as in the neighbourhood of 25% of the bookings for Eclipse are from the U.S. and Canada.”
With the advent of Eclipse, Solstice-class will represent almost 40% of capacity next year — a good harbinger for Celebrity pricing, since that class of ships attracts higher rates than the Millennium- and Century-classes.
While citing a strong reputation for the beauty of its ships and the quality of food and service, Hanrahan concedes onboard activities have been lacking. “Our guests told us that we needed to add more, so we’ve added a great deal more with the new Celebrity Life program,” he says. “We’re finding dance
instruction classes are very well attended. But we’re also getting good uptake on the ‘Molecular Bar Mixology’ demo – a special type of drink program which uses nitrogen.”
He adds they’re mixing traditional activities, such as trivia games, with new programs, like Spanish class, wine tasting programs and Smithsonian lectures. “People are particularly responding to our partnership with Rosetta Stone, learning some words that they can use when going to a port the next day,” says Hanrahan.
One particularly well-received activity is an idea borrowed from the Food Network: the chef’s cook-off. “They’re competitive, they’re funny, and the guests love it,” Hanrahan notes.
The big picture? “Celebrity Life enriches the entire experience,” replies Hanrahan.