Agents call for more opportunities to promote luxury line to customers. Harry Kemble reports

Agents have appealed to Celebrity Cruises to produce more family‑friendly fares and host consumer ship visits when the line has three vessels in the UK and Ireland next summer.

Celebrity Edge arrived in Southampton last week to kick off a busy 10 months for the line ahead of the launch of sister ship Celebrity Apex in the UK in April 2020.

However, rather than asking for an Edge-series ship to homeport in Southampton for a full season, agents called for more opportunities to promote the luxury line to customers.

Next year, second Edge-series ship Apex will operate a short season out of Southampton between April 5 and May 10; a revamped Celebrity Silhouette will start sailing from the port on May 1; and Celebrity Reflection will homeport in Dublin.

Speaking on Edge’s maiden European sailing, which was attended by about 900 agents, Travel Counsellors agent Sharon Bayliss said: “Doing these sort of events costs a lot of money, and I am sure [Celebrity] will see the return.

“It would be lovely if we had a couple of days [in 2020] in Southampton where we could invite our customers.”

Claire Stirrup, the line’s director of sales, suggested a ship visit programme for agents’ customers would be available next season on Silhouette, which will come out of dry dock on January 31, 2020.

Sharon Fleming, owner of Thompson Travel in Northern Ireland, said Celebrity’s fares should target families with teenage children.

“I would like some pricing that would entice a new-to-cruise family, especially next year when Apex comes in. I am not talking about families with small kids, but teenagers who don’t want to share a room with their mum and dad.”

Currently, children aged 12 and above pay the same price as adults.

Stirrup said sister company Royal Caribbean International was the market leader for families, but Celebrity had ambitions to attract parents with older children. “We want to go for the older families – nine, 10, upwards,” she said.

Celebrity confirmed the UK was the line’s number-two market, accounting for a 12% share of overall business. Jo Rzymowska, vice-president and managing director for the UK and Ireland, said: “Every market is important to us. Our sourcing has remained the same – it has not changed much for a long time.”

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