Celebrity Cruises has announced that that the Celebrity Edge will feature an all-female leadership team for a March 8, 2020 departure, marking International Women’s Day.
Celebrity Captain Kate McCue will be at the helm of the 2018-launched ship for the week-long sailing from Port Everglades. Port calls include San Juan, Tortola and St. Maarten.
Celebrity is curating unique speciality programming, including evening gallery exhibitions and art auctions featuring female artists, celebrating the female form; collaborating on an exclusive design with luxury jewellery designer Reout Kallati; hosting special events, such as a cinema series featuring iconic and impactful female directors, leads and inspirational narratives; and other dedicated onboard programming, including Women of the World-themed trivia challenges, Fearless Female Officers vs. Guests Pool Volleyball tournament, and a Q&A panel with the ship’s inspiring female leadership team.
Additional speciality programming is still to be announced, including a moderated discussion panel with current confirmed special guests including artist and child prodigy Autumn de Forest and fashion designer Mary Frances; unique networking opportunities and more, all with the goal of inspiring a new generation of young girls and women to continue pushing boundaries and breaking barriers, according to a company statement.
“We are all passionate about closing the gender gap,” said Celebrity Cruises President and CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo. “Over the last few years, we have worked hard to diversify the crew on board and bring more women than ever into our industry. None of this could have been possible without the leadership and shared the vision of the extraordinary men and women I work with every day, led by Patrik Dahlgren and Brian Abel – who take this challenge to heart and have made it possible. We are fortunate to have many incredible, experienced and beyond-qualified women who have worked tirelessly to achieve these positions. And we also celebrate the many men who continue to support them and help champion having more women crew on board.”
Senior Vice President of Global Marine Operations for Royal Caribbean Cruises Patrik Dahlgren, who has spearheaded Celebrity’s bridge diversification efforts under the leadership of Lutoff-Perlo, added: “Since 2015, we have raised the percentage of qualified women on our navigational bridges from 3% to 22%. Now, we hope this all-time industry-high will continue to grow; we just need more women to raise their hands for careers at sea, especially in engineering.”
“Excitement does not even begin to describe how I’m feeling about working alongside these incredible, barrier-breaking women on Celebrity Edge for this truly historic sailing,” added Captain McCue. “I am inspired every day by the amazing women we have working throughout this organization – both on land and at sea. They’re proof that there’s power in diversity.”
Among the officers are Captain McCue, First Officer Rachel Arnold and Second Officer Nicholine Tifuh Azirh.
Celebrity Edge March 8, 2020, Sailing Leadership Team
• Captain Kate McCue – USA • Staff Captain Maria Gotor – Spain • Hotel Director Niina Hautaniemi – Finland • Guest Relations Director Julie Sherrington – United Kingdom • F&B Director Byliana Velikova – Bulgaria • Senior Doctor Jennifer Bernardo – Philippines • Cruise Director Sue Denning – United Kingdom • Safety Officer Ionela Burduja – Romania • Associate Hotel Director Milana Dortangs – Netherlands • Revenue and Marketing Director Sarah Guinot – France • HR Manager Angel George – USA • Financial Controller Teresa de Guzman – Philippines • Chief Housekeeper Lyudmyla Miroshnychenko – Ukraine • Safety Investigation Officer Alexandra Villarreal – USA • Environmental Officer Maria Karoutsou – Greece • Chief Security Officer Mor Segev – Israel • Chief Officer Maria Koliou – Greece • Chief Officer Maria Agius – Malta • Doctor Sumaya Guffar – South Africa • First Officer Rachel Arnold – United Kingdom • First Officer Despoina Tsairi – Greece • Third Engineer Anna Avgoustaki – Greece • Second Officer Nicholine Tifuh Azirh, who was the first West African woman to ever work on the bridge of a cruise ship when hired in 2017 – Cameroon • Second Officer Ioana Tzovara – Greece • Third Officer Esperanza Romero – Spain • Third Officer Cassandra May Mead – New Zealand • Apprentice Officer Gifty Adu Gyami – Ghana
Editor in chief Arnie Weissmann, far left, and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. CEO Richard Fain, far right, moderated a panel of RCCL presidents, seated: Mark Conroy of Silversea, Lisa Lutoff-Perlo of Celebrity and Larry PImentel of Azamara.
FORT LAUDERDALE — Cruise line presidents from Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. brands took on the subject of over-tourism, the evolution of luxury cruising and female leadership during a panel at CruiseWorld.
Regarding over-tourism, they said that in the general travel industry, cruise lines are a small part of the phenomenon — but a highly visible one.
“Our reality is, perception rules,” said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, president of Celebrity Cruises. “There are these big white ships pulling in and it’s a lot of people at once.”
Larry Pimentel, president of Azamara, said that 25 years ago there were only 1.4 million outbound travellers from China; today there are 150 million. “India is also coming,” he said. “By no means is this only a cruise issue; it is an industry issue.”
And Mark Conroy, managing director of the Americas, for Silversea Cruises, said that overreacting to over-tourism could be overly damaging to some local residents in destinations such as Venice.
“Tourism is the largest employer in the world overall,” Conroy said. You can’t just shut it down. If you banned all tourism into Venice, there’d be a big unemployment problem there.”
Silversea redefining expedition cruising
Conroy said that 10 years ago when he was working for a rival company he thought that Silversea chairman Manfredi Lefebvre was crazy to bolt an expedition arm onto a luxury brand.
“I thought he’d lost his mind until I saw the per diems from the expedition business,” Conroy said.
Silversea, as a top-tier luxury brand, also brought a different concept to what was then more of a rustic product. At that time, Conroy recalled, “You had to sacrifice your lifestyle to go on an expedition.”
But when Silversea renovated its two oldest ships, the Silver Cloud and Silver Wind, it decided to transform them into expedition vessels but with the space and amenities of a luxury ship.
Conroy said that one of the unintended consequences was that the larger ship had faster speeds than most expedition ships.
“We can cross the Drake Passage [to Antarctica] in 28 hours instead of two days,” Conroy said
In defining the “luxury” appeal of his Azamara brand, Pimentel said that value plays a bigger part than in traditional luxury brands. As a department store, Azamara would compare to Nordstrom, he said.
“We’re not Saks Fifth Avenue.” As a car, we would be more like a Lexus.”
A woman in charge
The panel followed the CEO Conversation between Royal Caribbean Chairman Ltd. chairman and CEO Richard Fain and editor in chief Arnie Weissmann, and Fain returned to the stage to co-moderate the panel of presidents.
Lutoff-Perlo, who was named the president of Celebrity five years ago, and Fain asked her what was is like to be one of the few women to run a cruise line. She said at first, she took it for granted.
“When I was appointed I didn’t think about my gender at all,” she said. “But then when I was appointed, to the rest of the world apparently it is a really big deal.
“The great part is the part I can do to pay it forward” to other females in the industry, she said.