Senior Contributing Editor Susan Young has traveled to Germany to board the brand new Celebrity Solstice cruise ship.
In talking one-on-one with Dan Hanrahan, Celebrity Cruises' president and CEO, onboard Celebrity Solstice in Papenburg, Germany on Saturday, Travel Agent gleaned some intel regarding the ship's pending launch; the line's marketing and sales plans; and Hanrahan's view of what the ship will do for the brand.
Hanrahan said advance bookings "are very, very good" for the ship's launch through the third quarter of 2009. In addition, he said the new Solstice class may change the brand's guest dynamics a bit.
"The Celebrity guest has never been a first timer [new cruiser]," noted Hanrahan, but he believes "this ship has the ability to bring more first timers into the brand." While touring Travel Agent and other media guests around the new ship, he indicated it's possible that the ship may be delivered a bit early and, if so, the line might add yet another short trade/VIP preview cruise prior to the November 12 preview cruise already planned.
Hanrahan's view of the ship's pluses? He cites an “incredibly elegant design,” larger, more efficiently designed staterooms, diverse dining choices and "entertainment that sets us apart from the crowd."
Looking ahead to 2009, media-wise, Hanrahan said the line's marketing program will feature less television and more direct mail and email components. The line will add the ability to book spa treatments online by next spring. In discussing Celebrity Solstice's extensive use of solar energy, Hanrahan also said the line is also looking at other potential energy technologies including wind power testing, which will conducted on Celebrity Century later this year.
And finally, Hanrahan said the recent decision to opt out of upcoming Australian-New Zealand voyages with Celebrity Millennium was a decision based on many factors including high fuel costs, high airfare costs and the line's own guests having visited the South Pacific region in recent years; Hanrahan said past cruises in the region were successful but "maybe we're better off going every other year."