Outgoing Celebrity Cruises chief says ‘future bright’ for line

Lisa Lutoff-Perlo has shared details of her decision to step down as president and chief executive of Celebrity Cruises as well as plans for her new role as vice-chair of external affairs for Royal Caribbean Group.

In an interview with Travel Weekly, Lutoff-Perlo, who has worked for Royal Caribbean Group for nearly 40 years, said she felt it was the “right time” to leave her position, and it’s “time to do something else”.

“I’ve been with this company for 38 years and I’ve been associated with Celebrity for 16 of those years so it’s had all of my heart and soul,” she said. “I thought that this was probably the right time, although any time I’ve thought about not doing this anymore I knew it was going to be terribly difficult for me.

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“I’m devastated to be leaving. It is so hard to leave this amazing brand and all these people that I work with as we’ve done so much together, but the future is so bright for Celebrity and that’s one of the reasons I decided this was a good time.

“I’m so proud of the legacy. I’ve transformed the brand and the industry and stood for the right things and it’s been a beautiful, beautiful journey.”

Asked why she was stepping down before the delivery of the fourth and fifth Edge-class ships, Lutoff-Perlo said: “[The ships] are all in the pipeline and they’re all ready to go. They’re beautifully designed and that’s not going to stop whether I’m at the helm or not.

“I’m at a certain point in time where I feel like I don’t need to stay until all five of them come out because they are well underway.”

Lutoff-Perlo went on to say her proudest career moment was the naming ceremony of the line’s first Edge-class ship, Celebrity Edge, which she said “transformed the brand”.

“When I watched [Celebrity Edge] be constructed and then I watched the reaction of the world to it, it was overwhelmingly beautiful because it was the culmination of all of my professional experience and my marketing, branding and consumer experience…and it really gave Celebrity the gravitas and respect and reputation it deserved.”

Lutoff-Perlo will step down from her role on May 1, at which point she will take up the newly-created position of vice-chair of external affairs for Royal Caribbean Group, a job which has been created just for her.

“Instead of just stopping, Jason said ‘how about you do this as you can still really help the company in so many ways with all you’ve done and all your insight’, so this role has been created for me as I don’t want to leave 100%,” she said.

“This will keep me busy and really help our company in a big way. It will be fun, interesting, exciting and meaningful, and hopefully it will help to continue to transform our industry.”

From May 1, Laura Hodges Bethge will take the helm as brand president of Celebrity Cruises from her current position as vice-president of shared services operations.

Hodges Bethge has been with the company for more than 23 years and held senior positions in product management, hotel and marine operations, sales, marketing, product innovation, market development and investor relations.

“Laura is next and she’s earned it and she deserves it,” Lutoff-Perlo said.

“I’ve worked with her for a really long time and just like me before her and Michael Bayley before me, we’ve all grown up in the company and we’ve all done amazing things with our decades of experience.

“I have no doubt with the amazing team and her experience that Laura is going to be a great job for Celebrity and carry Celebrity forward. I feel like I’m leaving this beautiful brand in amazingly capable hands.”

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