Is there any such thing as a Celebrity cruiser? Celebrity has a client profile but I don't think it is based on anything realistic. However, if there is such a thing as a Celebrity cruiser what is it?
I know I cruise for Celebrity for signature spaces (and I'm not sure that there are that many people that do), their ambiance, and their service style. Funny thing is that the food isn't the number 1 priority that it is for some Celebrity fans though it is a priority. But I think my whole view on my last cruise and feelings about the ship have to do with my being a particular cruiser, and one that goes for Celebrity incorporating not only software, but hardware as well. I also go for HAL and I think I'd like P&O if they'd let me on (they seem to strongly discourage Americans from sailing on their ships, something I don't totally disagree with). RCI, NCL, are secondary choices, more for the fun aspects than for their ships or cruise style. I think that there are far fewer Celebrity cruisers than there are for the other major lines, especially Carnival and RCI.
I think many cruise Celebrity for food, but I'm not sure beyond that what else? I think for some it is to go on a ship of Celebrity's level of furnishing and service for what is a Carnival like entry price. I think others go for more general things like itinerary, balcony cabins, stuff you can get on other lines. How many would go on Celebrity if the price of admission went up and the reports came out that Celebrity was utterly consistent? I certainly would. I'm not so sure others would.
I know right now the last cruise left me underwhelmed and I'm thinking I'd like to get onboard another Celebrity cruise soon on one of the ships I truly enjoy, like the Mercury, to get a better feeling about cruising on my line of choice and cruising in general.
Having just been on one Celebrity cruise so far and that was to Alaska, I would choose another one based on itinary most likely. While I thought the food was good, didn't see any major difference between Princess in that respect. Service was about the same in the dining room and cabin, so going mainly because of food and service is not a priority for me. I'm wondering because it was an Alaska cruise and totally different from any previous Caribbean cruises, that, that was the main difference. I think I'd have to try another Celebrity cruise in the Caribbean, canal...etc to really tell a difference.
Still have many ships on my list to try, Celebrity included, but all in all, so far the cruise we loved the best was RCCL's Explorer, not sure exactly why, there were just so many nice things about the ship, had a good itinary as well and the food and service were very good. Now, the entertainment is what really draws me to RCCL, have yet to come close on any other cruises.
We took our first Celebrity cruise in 1995, 2nd Caribbean sailing of the Century. I fell in love with the ship. In my never so humble opinion, she has the most beautiful dining room afloat. However, because of some issues we had and the way they were dealt with... rudeness, arrogance, and unfriendliness from officers and crew, we stayed away from (avoided) Celebrity for nearly 5 years.
Of course, I followed along with interest, reading all the reports from returning Celebrity passengers, and when it appeared Celebrity had "righted the ship" we chose to give them a second chance, and sailed the Mercury.... and had a thouroughly wonderful experience! Since that time we've sailed the Millennium, Summit and Constellation, and we've had first rate cruise experiences on all of them.
Are there things I think could be done better? Of course! For example, on the Millenium class, I've mentioned the lack of a smaller, more intimate, lounge. The standard cabins, while nicely equipped, are really nothing special (the sitting areas don't have room for a sofa, so the sofas/love seats are really nothing much more than oversized arm chairs).
However, the "total package" Celebrity offers has won me over. The overall ambience... the now friendly and helpful officers and crew...the wonderful service... combined with quality furnishings and interior decoration (even if I don't care for the colors on some of the ships) have, at least in my mind, set Celebrity apart from the other cruise lines.
For some time it seemed to me the cruise lines were all heading to a "middle ground", where differences between them were becoming a blur. I believe now, perhaps because of the huge number of berths added that need to be filled, all the cruise lines are making a serious attempt to differentiate themselves from the other guys.
In this regard, I believe Celebrity is leading the pack.... and if they are able to successfully make the transition to "the New Celebrity", that they are currently attempting, they will be even further ahead in that race.
This does NOT mean Celebrity is the right line for everyone. It does mean that one should be able to look at the Celebrity experience, and determine if that is what they want from their cruise vacation..
NCL has been tweeking their Freestyle experience and seemingly making some gains (NCL Dawn seems to be drawing rave reviews). Princess offers it Personal Choice (which has been in place for some time now, and on our recent experience, I was disappointed that after all this time it was still disorganized). Carnival's strength seems to be concentrating on variety... variety of choices in entertainment, activities and even food choices, evidenced by their various choices on the Lido Decks. And I believe they've made great strides in the quality of their food throughout the ship.
As the differences between the lines become more obvious I think it's incumbent on people to take the responsibility of choosing the line that offers a cruise experience that matches most closely the guidelines of what they want from their vacation!!
Personally, I want to keep trying as many cruiselines as possible. However, if I'm feeling like I need a cruise on a line who's overall experience suits me best, and I find reliable; I return to Celebrity.
Celebrity has a name for their "target audience"... the "Savy Traveler". I think besides age group, they view this to be the people who are well traveled, interested in exploring new experiences, enjoy a somewhat quiet and refined atmosphere, yet still understand the pitfalls such "adventure" travel might incur.
If the world's political situation were ever to stablize I think we'd find this would be demonstrated with Celebrity's expansion into more exotic itineraries.
My wife and I are 4 time Celebrity cruisers - we've not been on other lines but I am a huge researcher and for the mid-price lines, Celebrity is, in my opinion, the best of the middle and fits what we are looking for in passenger and ship culture. Before our first cruise 4 years ago, I did a lot of research on my own then went to a AAA travel agent to compare my views with someone with experience in the travel industry. I went in favoring Celebrity and without giving any clues about my own researched preferences, the agent recommended Celebrity to me. Incidentally, I have booked exclusively with this particular agent over the last 4 years and have been very pleased - do your research, compare what you find to what an agent offers then book with an agent; generally, they'll meet or beat anything you find on line - at least that has been my experience with AAA - and you'll talk to a human being, that is invested in your satisfaction, regarding details that may be specific to you.
You cannot fairly compare cruise lines or passenger cultures by crossing into one class of cruise lines from another. There is a recent trend in the luxury cruiseline industry (Crystal, Raddison, Silverseas among others) to deeply discount prices and I think this will continue so there will be bargins out there over the next two years - I'm watching. But you are still talking about comparatively big prices for the luxury lines with air to European ports of departure fairly high. From my research, the luxury lines tend to attract a well-healed traveler who expects the service and accomodations he is paying for; sophisticated crowd who probably would tend to stay more to themselves. My wife and I like meeting people so we've found the passenger culture on Celebrity to be just about right for us; celebrity value is second to none in my opinion.
I cannot speak for Royal Carribean but have heard they compare favorably with Celebrity (of course, they are both owned by the same parent company). I have relatives who have taken many trips with RCL and liked them all. I have not heard a lot of good things about the guest or ship cultures of Norwegian Cruise Lines, Holland America or Carnival but none of these lines fit our personalities. Disney has a great family culture by reputation and I've known people who have cruised Disney and we're very satified - they're not a "bargain" line by any stretch of the imagination.
We have cruised on both the Mercury class and Mellenium class ships of the Celebrity fleet. I prefer the intimacy and perhaps a little better service on the smaller ships but the bigger ships have there own set of positives. Clearly, Celebrity cruisers are older, probably cost conscious but not penny pinchers, well educated, very friendly and gregarious - for the most part - a good crowd that fits what we're looking for. My wife and I are in our 50s and have traveled extensively. We've picked up on cruising because of the value, safety and relaxation of a cruise. We don't cruise during the times when kids generally cruise with parents but I can say when we did see children they were well behaved and the Celebrity programs for children appeared to be excellent. Feel free to email me if you want more insight. I'll be glad to help.
I don't know what a Celebrity cruiser is either. I've sailed on every Celebrity vessel over the years, with the single exception of the Infinity and not yet the Constellation... albeit, for business. I have my own favorites... the Horizon and Century rise quickly to the top of the list... but I enjoy them all.
To folks in the Industry, the ratings are simple. HAL and Celeb sit comfortably at the top of the Premium Brands by some standard measures... Space Ratio's, Crew/Pax ratios, food $ per Diem's, etc. None of that means that someone cannot prefer a mid range line, such as RCI or an entry level such as Carnival... but the measures are helpful. As Benjamin suggests, if you can buy onto a Celeb sailing for the same rate as an entry level Carnival booking, you are, in a sense, getting a better bang for your buck. If your taste runs to Carnival, then the price difference is of no consequence.
My next Celebrity cruise will be on the Summit, April 14th, with 254 people in tow... and I rest confidently in the levels of service, food, ambiance and so forth that will be set forth for the group.
You know I sail Celebrity quite often.. and like you I prefer the Century class vessels followed by Zenith. Great hardware!!!
Passenger profile: ???? depends who you ask. BUT.. it certainly has changed over the years. Celebrity's current target audience: wellllllllllllll......... they were with the line when it first started... but have left for distant horizons.
Who's onboard??? Middle America (not geographic America)..... middle income, middle education... your average Joe and Jane. Average people who are pleased with average efforts on nice looking ships. I am always amazed when I stand outside the dining room and overhear people commenting on the evening's menu... "There's nothing here I like" HUH?? It's just a little tough for them to get through the menu copywriting. If this had been a once or twice occurence, I would not have mentioned it...... but every cruise.... every night... I hear the same thing. I spend a lot of time people watching... listening to conversations.. watching the interactions among passengers and crew... interactions between crew members. Interesting to say the least. And it hasn't mattered whether it was the Caribbean, Alaska or Europe. Same type of passsengers.
Until RCL bought out Celebrity in '97, Celebrity's advertising efforts were puny at best. I had friends who sailed the majors.... but had never heard of Celebrity until RCL took over. Most of we early Celebrity pax came over from Chandris/Fantasy Cruises. Oh how I eagerly anticipated the arrival of the new Horizon!! Boy, was I disappointed when there were no balcony cabins!!! I had fallen in love with the Royal Princess (84).... and all those wonderful balconies:-) Not until Galaxy in '96 did I get my fix.
But the years have blended all the cruiselines.........and while the food is not bad on Celebrity... it certainly is not of the caliber it once was. Call that dumbing down the menu to appeal to average Middle America taste if you will. Among senior crew members I have been finding a certain complacency... among new members... more of a "oh man I don't know what I am doing.. I hope they leave me alone" attitude.
Do you know why my agent selects Celebrity so often for group cruises... because the line IS so average. Nothing is horribly wrong... and nothing is too over the top. It just IS.
Average cruises for average people and below average per diems.
Celebrity's desired passengers... they are sailing on Radisson and the likes.
I know somebody is going to ask why I sail Celebrity. Price points are great:-) I know alot of staff and crew and I've memorized the menus! After 25 cruises with them.. soon to be 26 it's a hard habit to break. It's like dealing with an underperforming student. You know darn well they have the potential... they just don't apply themselves. Perhaps Dietmar Wertanzel can turn this around..... or maybe not. Time will tell.
To answer your question.. yes... if they got their game plan fine tuned and delivered a consistent premium product throughout the fleet, every itinerary........yes, I would pay more. Until such time... I'll continue to shop price points.
One interesting note. I've been reading reviews of recently completed Carnival Legend reviews. Celebrity had better sit up and take note. They are being "out-premiumed".
Carnival... who would have thought!!
I didn't sail on the Legend but don't get me started on that ship. Low ceilings because they dropped them and added chandeliers, the same chandeliers, here, there, and everywhere. Premium?? No way, not with fake urns all over the place. Why this ship has a so called specialty restaurant I don't know. Part of what makes a restaurant special, in addition to the food and service is the ambiance and how special its surroundings make you feel. The specialty restaurant on the Legend is in the funnel, surrounded by deck space, right on top of the big hole, the 8 or whatever amount of decks it is, atrium. When we went aboard the ship (for a luncheon, and I endured staying aboard it) all of the food had the same garnishings, the appetizers, entrees, and desserts. Our waitress pronounced Long Island as long is-lind. This ship may be praised by others but to me any ship with areas like the Enchanted Forest; a horrible looking secondary lounge that looks like it was made from a Russian laquer box; the scariest most unpleasant disco I've ever seen; loads and loads of furniture placed on the ship and the same furniture, and a ship that will, if it doesn't now, load as many people on it as possible, isn't anywhere close to premium. And I saw nothing from the Carnival staff that would make me think that they are interested in anything other than a "rah rah" type of attitude, nothing understated whatsoever about them. Also, from what I hear, there are still plenty loud announcements onboard Carnival ships. And Legend is one of the latest ships, older ships in the fleet have the same, if not more, mixed reviews that Celebrity has. Yes, Carnival doesn't promise the world like Celebrity, that I'll give them. However, if Carnival has better food and more polished service than Celebrity on any ship, Celebrity should be embarassed and fix it. But then again, if they cost the same overall, why bother?
I agree with the rest of what you say. Celebrity is going more towards a middle of the road clientele, less discerning perhaps. But, to be fair to Celebrity, so is Princess and so is HAL. In fact, as much as I dislike the Millie ships, I may dislike the new Vista ships, the Zuiderdam being the first one, somewhat more, if not for layout, for copying Millennium so much and being built on a Spirit hull and sharing some furnishings with Carnival. Also, HAL is ordering 5 of these before seeing reactions to the first one. Numbers 2-4 are under construction.
I think the problem is with the cruise industry, with its fast rate of expansion, is taking away the qualities that made it the special vacation that it once was. I think most of the new ships aren't that great, that the new ships of the mid to late 90s were better in many ways, probably the peak of the wave, and now they are rehashing and cheapening the ships and running out of ideas. They also are mimicking each other so now the ships and cruises offer a lot of the same things and the lines offer variations of the same. So, instead of having HAL/Celebrity/Princess cruisers, we have people on the premium lines interchanging HAL/Celebrity/Princess with Carnival/NCL/RCI. And at one time there were those that would go on a NCL or RCI and not consider Carnival. Now, it is more price and newest ship and working things into schedules than it is picking a line for its attributes.