As Celebrity Cruises launches the Century this month, company Chairman and CEO John Chandris outlined the cruise Line’s objectives to Cruise Industry News.
“Our objective is to run the best cruise line in the world,” Chandris said, “and to be financially successful.”
Chandris said that the second objective is to provide a product that clearly differentiates itself in the market.
“We believe the market will continue to appreciate a better product,” Chandris said.
Chandris said that Celebrity has always pushed the envelope further and further: “We never wanted to accept things the way things had been previously - there is always a way to do it better,” he emphasized.
Clearly not knowing how much of the Century to reveal before the ship is introduced, Chandris would only say that the new ship has expanded upon some of the company’s original ideas.
“Everybody talks about the sizzle but does not provide the steak,” Chandris said, claiming that he is attacking areas “where there has been a sea of sameness.”
“It is important to be continuously self questioning,” Chandris added. “We cannot sit on our hands. As a medium-sized cruise line, we must innovate to differentiate ourselves.”
Chandris did reveal, however, that innovation has translated into offering passengers more choices, including dining alternatives. “Food is part of the contemporary lifestyle we are appealing to,” Chandris said.
Passengers are given an opportunity to eat nearly 24 hours a day and the casual dining area is double the size of other new ships, while the Century will carry fewer passengers, according to Chandris.
“We have four buffet lines (instead of two) and two grills for 1,750 passengers,” Chandris pointed out. He also said that the Century’s dining room has a 125 percent redundancy, thus exceeding passenger capacity and, as a result, providing great flexibility in table and seating requests.
“There are certain things you can build into a ship that cannot be added later,” Chandris said. “The question as to why we are providing so much space is that we respect our passengers and want to differentiate the product.
“We have chosen to build lower density ships,” Chandris noted, “with larger cabins.”
The Century features a space ratio of 40. “We could have put in more cabins, but we did not,” Cbandris said.
The crew is also given more space. On the average, there are two crew members in each cabin while other new ships tend to have more, Chandris noted.
“By treating our crew better, they will in turn provide better service to the passengers,” Chandris said.
If you want people to deliver five-star service, you must treat them like people who can, according to Chandris.
Meanwhile, Celebrity’s shoreside organization has been beefed up to handle the new ships. “We are now about the size we want to be,” Chandris noted.
“We have made tremendous investments in reservations, for instance, and our infrastructure can already handle 10,000 more berths,” Chandris said.
“We are about people’s lifestyles and improvement – about an enriching experience,” Chandris said.
“It is about evolving,” Chandris said. “We will now cause evolution in entertainment the way we have caused evolution in food.”
Chandris explained how Celebrity had sent several of Meyer Werft’s engineers to Las Vegas to show them how entertainment can be done and to “shake them up.” When they came back, they were even “more enthusiastic and inspired than we were,” according to Chandris.
Chandris also explained that the members of the board of Celebrity Cruises are actively involved in the design and building of the new ships. “We have not just assigned a building inspector as most lines do,” Chandris said.
Even the Century’s $2 million art collection is intrinsic to the ship. “You can buy art or select art,” Chandris said, noting that Mrs. John Chandris has selected the art for the ship. “Our art is not an after thought – it has practically been designed for the ship from the very beginning.”
Chandris also noted that cost sometimes can be a secondary factor. “If the board likes an idea, they will run with it,” he said. “Everything is not price controlled.”
As an example, Chandris pointed out that the twin atriums of the Century were born at a meeting of board members and technical people, including yard owner and president Bernard Meyer. “You need the support of the builder too,” Chandris said, adding that “Meyer has proposed some excellent ideas.”
Chandris believes Celebrity will build more ships beyond the current series of newbuildings. But they will not reach the 100,000-ton level, according to Chandris, who believes that size will only do damage to the Caribbean market.
Meanwhile, the second Century-class ship, the Galaxy. which will be introduced in 1996, will be slightly larger than the Century. At 74,000 tons, and 1,850 passengers, compared to 70,000 tons and 1,750 passengers for the Century, the Galaxy is an evolution, according to Chandris. He explained that the company wanted to introduce more staterooms with verandas, but not at the expense of smaller cabins.
“What I enjoy being able to offer is what I enjoy myself. That same feeling of altruism is in the minds of the other board members as well.
Celebrity Cruises has a lot on its plate in 1996; it will be first year of operations with the new Century plus the introduction of a second new ship, the Galaxy, as well as a program of new itineraries.
Celebrity will grow from three to five ships within the span of a few months, nearly doubling its passenger capacity at the same time.
With more ships, Celebrity is also increasing its marketing from regional to national and at press time a new television campaign, also a first for Celebrity, was scheduled to break in late December.
Caribbean, Alaska, Bermuda, Transcanal
The Century will sail year-round alternating eastern and western Caribbean itineraries from Fort Lauderdale, while the Zenith and the Horizon sail seven-day deep Caribbean itineraries from San Juan during the winter. The Meridian continues to sail her alternating 10- and 11-day Caribbean Cruises from San Juan.
The Horizon will also be calling at Catalina Island, which is a new port for Celebrity, located one mile off the coast of the Dominican Republic. According to Celebrity, Catalina Island combines a private island experience with a sophisticated shoreside experience.
For the first time ever, Celebrity Cruises commences service to Alaska when the Horizon begins her inaugural season of seven-day Inside Passage and Glacier Route cruises this summer.
In conjunction with the Alaska program, the Horizon will also sail two 15-day transcanal cruises in April and October, respectively, and two Pacific Coast cruises between Los Angeles and Vancouver.
The Zenith enters the Bermuda market this summer replacing the Horizon, while the Meridian continues to offer seven-day sailings to Bermuda from New York as well as from Philadelphia, Baltimore, Newport News, Wilmington and Charleston.
When the Galaxy arrives in the fall of 1996, she will be joining the Century in Ft. Lauderdale, sailing alternating eastern and western Caribbean itineraries.
But it is then expected, perhaps as soon as the summer of 1997, and no later than 1998, that the Galaxy will be spending summers in Alaska.
The third yet-unnamed Century-class ship enters service in the fall of 1997.
(This report was excerpted from a company profile on Celebrity Cruises appearing in the Winter 1995/96 issue of the Cruise Industry News Quarterly, to be published later this month.)