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Shorter cruises, luxury both popular for Celebrity

The cruise line's executives, including President Laura Hodges Bethge, have revealed recently developing booking trends.

CELEBRITY Cruises Chief Executive Officer Laura Hodges Bethge said increased interest in shorter sailings prompted the line to introduce its “getaway” itineraries year-round.

Hodges Bethge, speaking to travelBulletin from Celebrity’s Presidents cruise, said guest preferences have and will continue to guide the cruise line’s deployment.

“We’ve seen increased interest for shorter sailings, with the Caribbean particularly capturing our guests’ attention,” she said.

“These three-to-five-night cruises are perfect for a quick getaway…we always offered shorter sailings, yet now we offer them year-round.”

Hodges Bethge emphasised Celebrity has positioned its Edge-series ships in its most popular destinations, including Australia, with guest preferences in mind.

This includes Perfect Day at CocoCay, the private island belonging to Celebrity Cruises’ parent company, Royal Caribbean Group.

“Our Edge-series ships are positioned in our four most popular regions – Alaska, Europe, the Caribbean, and Australia – set to be deployed in these areas through to 2026,” she added.

“We put our guests first in everything we do, and we will continue to place our newest hardware in the regions our guests tell us they want to experience.

“When I first became President, I repeatedly heard from guests and travel advisors how much they would love to experience Perfect Day at CocoCay…this April, we began sailings to the private destination and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.”

Meanwhile, Hodges Bethge said the cruise line’s upcoming Celebrity Xcel will introduce seven new experiences that “live up to her name in every way”.

The construction of Xcel began last month with the laying of the first keel, and Hodges Bethge is already building excitement for Celebrity’s fifth Edge-class ship.

“We’ve designed these with our guests in mind, offering experiences unlike any other at sea,” she added.

Xcel will also be equipped with the cruise industry’s first tri-fuel engine, Hodges Bethge shared, meaning she will be able to run on biofuels, methanol, and traditional marine fuels.

“This innovative feature is part of our decades-long commitment to sustainability and advances our energy transition efforts under Royal Caribbean Group’s SEA the Future platform.

“With every new ship, we strive to sustain the planet, energise communities, and accelerate innovation, ensuring we continue to deliver the best premium vacation experience responsibly.”

Xcel will offer seven-night itineraries for her inaugural season, with sailings to the Bahamas, Mexico, the Cayman Islands, Puerto Plata, St. Thomas, and St. Maarten.

Cruisers may be able to expect an elevated experience at The Retreat aboard Xcel, as Celebrity’s “ship-within-a-ship” concept continues to benefit from a shift upward in its booking trends.

Senior Vice President Hotel Operations Keith Lane, speaking to tB from the Presidents’ cruise, said The Retreat is Celebrity’s best offering, and the category that typically sells first on its ships.

“Our sailings sell out from the top suites down,” he said.

“With consumer interest in cruising at an all-time high, we’re increasingly seeing a shift in spending toward unique and elevated experiences at sea and The Retreat offers just that – unparalleled luxury and convenience where the world really does revolve around our guests,” Lane added.

He said this is why Celebrity is continuing to elevate The Retreat experience, in order to continue to set the product apart.

“We recently introduced a Retreat Destination Experience Specialist for The Retreat guests,” he explained.

“This dedicated crew member takes their shore excursions to the next level, from planning destination-related activities to ensuring smooth transfers when discovering Celebrity’s most sought-after ports of call.

“New culinary enhancements at Luminae, The Retreat’s exclusive restaurant, personalised daily in-suite delights, and a complimentary minibar add to the ever-growing list of perks and amenities available to guests of The Retreat.”

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