Cruise & Ferry Review - Autumn/Winter 2023

69 One of Celebrity Cruises’ top priorities is to further elevate its entertainment programming onboard its ships Photo: credit “Getting the opportunity to shepherd this amazing brand is fantastic, and the premium nature of what we do is spectacular,” she says. So, what are her key focuses as the brand moves into a new era? “My vision is to make sure we’re delivering on all of our customers’ passion points,” she explains. “If you’ve ever sailed on our ships, you’ll know we do a stellar job when it comes to service, accommodation and food. “There are two other areas where I think we can do more – one is entertainment. We do an amazing job, but we could do even more from a programming perspective and from owning the night out for our guests.” The other is destination. “The first thing a consumer thinks about when they want to go on vacation is where they want to go, followed by how they are going to get there,” says Hodges Bethge. “I want the first to be a place Celebrity goes, and the second for them to take a Celebrity cruise to do it. “We’re thinking about how we deliver the destination in a bespoke way that lives up to the premium nature of what we offer onboard – we want to make sure we’re extending that to shore.” According to Hodges Bethge, the UK is a significant part of that. “Celebrity Apex will be sailing next summer out of Southampton, which is not only a testament to how important we think this market is, but also how much the British consumers enjoy what we’re doing.” The aim is to have an Edge-class ship in the main destinations next summer: Celebrity Ascent will be based in the Mediterranean, Celebrity Edge in Alaska, and Celebrity Beyond will move out of the European market into the Caribbean and onto Celebrity’s new itinerary coup, the private island resort Perfect Day. “It’s a little disruptive to reposition a ship, but our consumers told us loud and clear that they wanted their own destination,” says Hodges Bethge. “I asked Michael [Bayley, Royal Caribbean International’s president and CEO] if we could borrow the island at certain times, and he was happy to oblige.” As well as inaugurating Celebrity Ascent on 1 December 2023, what else is on the agenda? “We’re thinking about other ways we can use Perfect Day, and dreaming up what our ships and future destinations will look like in the future,” says Hodges Bethge. “We’re really excited about where the product is going – the consumer will consistently be our North Star. And I think that’s where success lies.”