What do Celebrity Cruises do better, and worse, than the other premium cruise lines they compete with? The following are my thoughts which you can watch in my video or read the article below.
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Who is Celebrity?
Celebrity is part of the Royal Caribbean group. Celebrity is their premium cruise line. It has big ships and
it competes with cruise lines such as Princess, Holland America, Cunard and in the UK P&O Cruises. Celebrity has a classic cruising fleet and also very small expedition fleet, mostly focused on Galapagos. In this article I’m focusing on the traditional classic cruise ships.
At the time of writing this, they had 10 ships, and within that classic fleet they already have plans that that will grow to 13 ships by 2022. They have three different classes of ship: they have the Millennium Class, the Solstice class and the Edge class.
- The four Millennium class ships, which2002, Millennium, Infinity, Summit and Constellation hold around 2,100 guests.
- There are five Solstice Class ships and they came to service between 2009 and 2012. They hold around 2008 guests and include the Equinox, Solstice, Eclipse, Silhouette and Reflection.
- Edge is the most recent class of ships, and they came into service in 2018 with the first being Celebrity Edge, followed by Celebrity Apex in 2019. There are plans to build at least two more Edge class ships.
The Edge class bought in a new look and feel and design of some areas of the ship and the cabins. Those are being rolled out across the existing Millennium class and Solstice Class ships, and that process will be completed by 2023. So, very important if you are booking Celebrity Cruise and you want to go with the new look and feel, make sure if your ship has already been retrofitted.
As they have quite a big fleet, they cover pretty much all of the world. You can cruise to around 300 different destinations every single year. They cruise, of course, the Caribbean, they also cover the Mediterranean, Far East and Australia. They go to Alaska, New England, Canada, South America, the South Pacific and the Middle East.
What do Celebrity do better than other cruise lines in the premium category?
I think there are four things that they do better.
First of all, the ships. Although structurally very similar to the other premium cruise lines, I think there is a look, a feel and design element that does set them aside. Whilst the other premium ships tend to be more traditional and more classic, Celebrity on the other hand is very modern.
It’s contemporary and they are very much designed led. Even the existing ships, the Millennium and the Solstice class, have a style and look to them which I think is very attractive. I do really do like the flow of the ships and design of the ships inside.
Of course, with the introduction of the Edge class, they’re pushing some of those boundaries of design even more. The hull has a different look and feel to it. They’ve done some changes to the design and layout of the cabins. They’ve got rid of the concept of a separate balcony and they’ve made the cabins effectively 20% bigger and created what they call Infinite Verandas. These are spaces within the cabin, and you have a sliding glass window which opens up to effectively create a balcony.
They have the Magic Carpet down the side, which operates both partly as extending some of the restaurants but the most important used as a way of improving the whole tendering experience. It creates a nice big platform to be able to tender with much bigger tenders to get people off the ship much quicker.
Contemporary Traditional Cruising
The second thing they do is create a more vibrant, more dynamic and more youthful take on the whole premium category. The other premium brands tend to be relatively sedate, are stuffier and a lot more formal.
Celebrity have a lively and more energetic take on premium cruising.
You’ll find, for example, there’s more late-night events, and they are, more popular and much busier, they have a more relaxed dress code, they’re more driven by technology. For example, the Wi-Fi is good, and you can actually even stream on it.
They have partnerships with Apple, and they run training classes. They have an App, which is pretty
sophisticated and getting more sophisticated all the time. On Edge it’s upped another degree and the App controls the functions within your cabin.
It’s definitely a more youthful, more vibrant and much more dynamic take on premium cruising in my view.
The third thing that they do better is the whole food and dining experience. I’m not saying that the food and dining on the other premium lines isn’t great, but I do think Celebrity ups the ante.
I found the food in all the complimentary restaurants, so Main dining room and the Ocean View Cafe to be fantastic. The other thing they do is they have a really interesting take on specialty dining and it’s a very integral part of the experience.
These differ a little bit based on the class of ship you’re on. Let’s take a look at the Solstice class where I was on Equinox. They had four key speciality dining restaurants. They had Sushi on Five which, as its name
suggests, is sushi. They have the Tuscan Grill, which is an Italian steakhouse. They have Murano, which is the French bistro and Silk Harvest which is an Asian fusion restaurant.
As you move around the different classes of ships you have different dining experiences. So, for example, on the Edge class instead of having one main large dining room they’ve made four of those: Cosmopolitan which is the more traditional one, Normandie which is more French, Cyprus which is more Mediterranean and Tuscan which is more Italian. When it comes speciality dining, they have Fine Cut Steakhouse, Le Grand bistro which is French, Le Petite chef and friends which has an interactive 3-D table with food from around the world. Raw on Five which is more than just a sushi.
They use the Magic Carpet when it’s on Deck five to extend Raw on Five and when they take it to the top, they create Dinner on the Edge. They have Eden, which is a fully interactive world which has dining and the Rooftop Garden Grill.
As you move around class of ships, you’ll find different speciality dining combinations. The other premium cruise lines tend to have their set speciality restaurants which they have across all of the ships. I did like the fact there is a bit more variety and based on the ship you can have different dining experience.
I thought the food was excellent.
The other thing that I think is outstanding is service and the crew. Service, of course, across premium lines is pretty good, however I thought that it was even better on Celebrity. You get a sense of a very happy ship and very happy crew, and a lot of people had said to me before I went on Celebrity that the crew and service is excellent, and that was my experience.
What Celebrity do the same or perhaps a little bit worse than the other premium lines?
There’s a couple of things here. First of all, although I did say that it has a more modern and vibrant take on premium cruising, the reality is on Celebrity it’s still a traditional cruising experience as per the other premium cruise lines.
If you take a look at the daily program, you’ll find the way that the day runs is basically the same as the other premium cruise lines. What Celebrity do though is they have what they call Celebrity Life and all of the activities are structured under this Celebrity Life program, which makes me think they’re probably going to try and build in more innovation.
There’s Taste which are culinary activities. There’s Learn which are enrichment activities. Then Play which are trivia and games and then Revive which are wellness activities.
The other thing which I thought was very similar to the other premium cruise lines is entertainment, particularly the production shows and the guest artists.
The shows follow the same formula as the other premium cruise lines and are song-and-dance review type shows. On the plus side the shows on Celebrity use modern songs, and they’re all within the last two or three years and so are more contemporary and modern, again linking back to that take on a more modern spin on traditional premium cruising.
The shows were good, but they were pretty much the same in terms of style and approach to the other premium lines.
When it comes to excursions and destination briefings, I think again it was very similar to the other Premium Cruise Lines and, in fact, even some of the mass-market cruise lines.
The excursions were your standard excursion fare, although you had a wide range of excursions. The
book had a lot of options and a lot of choices, but the excursions were very similar, and you’ll find them on other cruise lines.
There wasn’t a lot that was very different and unique. There are no very specific partnerships or things that are unusual.
Who is Celebrity most suited for?
First of all, you need to be looking for a premium cruising experience and a fairly traditional cruising experience. If you’re looking for a slightly more contemporary, more upbeat and youthful take on that, then Celebrity is definitely for you.
If you’re looking for a more of a resort experience, where there’s lots of gimmicks and features on the ship, then Celebrity is not for you. If you’re looking to get dressed up in your tuxedo, whilst you could on Celebrity, you’re not going to find that across the ship. If you’re looking for that much more formal cruising experience, Celebrity is not for you.
Usually on Celebrity the average age is slightly younger than on the other Premium cruise lines. You’re more likely to find an average age of 50s and certainly you’re going to find at certain times of the year even coming down to the 40s Of course, if you go on longer cruises or you go out of the key holiday periods the average age is probably going to be more similar to some of the other lines.
A lot of families do come on Celebrity because they like the more modern take on traditional cruising. There’s a limited amount of family cabins and is, of course, Kids’ clubs.
Very importantly it is English, and everything’s done in English. So, you will find most of the guests on board are American, Canadian, British and, of course, wherever you cruise you’re always going to find a lot of Australians!
If you’re a solo traveller one of the challenges of coming on Celebrity on most of the fleet is there are no solo cabins, so you do pay quite a large premium for solo occupancy. For example, I was cruising solo on Equinox and I paid a 50% premium for the cabin that I was in.
On Edge they have introduced some solo cabins, so the Edge class is starting to cater much more for solos. So as a solo traveller look more at the Edge class where you are likely to find it slightly more cost-effective way of cruising solo.
One of things I found is people who like Celebrity really love it and are very loyal. If you want a more upbeat and vibrant way of cruising within a premium experience, and a big ship experience, then take a look at Celebrity.
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