Cruise & Ferry Review - Spring/Summer 2022

Celebrity will welcome its third Edge-series ship, Celebrity Beyond, in April 2022 with the retreat, pricing, Always Included – has really resonated with consumers and the industry.” As people return to holiday mentality, it seems they are focusing on the type of accommodation they are purchasing, rather than Always Included, which is available with all categories. “What we’re finding is that because people have been cooped up for so long not doing anything, they have a different perspective on life and what they want to enjoy,” explains Lutoff-Perlo. People are really splurging on upper inventory. We are selling a higher percentage in The Retreat.” The arrival of the third Edge-series ship, Celebrity Beyond, in April 2022 (several months after the original autumn 2021 launch date planned pre-pandemic) will further boost the brand’s offering. When LutoffPerlo first came to the brand in late 2014, she began working with Royal Caribbean Group’s executive vice president of maritime and newbuilding Harri Kulovaara on both the design and experiences for the Edge series. Way back then she could see from the general arrangement plans that there was an opportunity to make Celebrity Beyond longer and taller than her sister ships, Celebrity Apex and Celebrity Edge, and the decision was duly taken. “This allowed us to do some amazing things with some of the most popular spaces,” she says. The Sunset Bar, for example, is now multi-terraced and layered on the back of ship and a two-level Retreat sun deck has been created. The rooftop garden has been expanded, as has the grill to create a full restaurant. There is a new speciality restaurant, Le Voyage by Daniel Boulud, a world-class bar, and a larger and more spacious Grand Plaza with a bar situated midway. “Everyone is booking The Retreat. It is an extraordinary experience, the exclusivity is wonderful, but guests can still go to general public spaces,” says Lutoff-Perlo. “Bookings are going well generally, and the expectation is that they’ll be even better once Celebrity Beyond is introduced to the UK in April.” Looking ahead, Lutoff-Perlo is still determining whether the trend for spending more on higher-end accommodation will continue, creating the need to expand Celebrity’s inventory. “Depending how this all goes and if perhaps we are building another class of ship, we could increase the number of staterooms in The Retreat, but no decisions have been made yet.” When it comes to the here and now, Celebrity resumed operations in June 2021, putting eight ships into service in eight weeks, adding two more in December and one of the expedition vessels into Galapagos in January 2022. The hope is that the whole fleet will be back in service by the year end, but the changing nature of coronavirus and the most recent Omicron variant is keeping everyone on their toes. Despite the US Centers for Disease Control & Protection making the conditional sail order (CSO) voluntary on 15 January 2022, Lutoff-Perlo says: “We have every intention to voluntarily follow all the protocols of the CSO. Much of what we do is above and beyond Photo: Celebrity Cruises 5 1