Kate McCue named as the cruise industry’s first American female captain

BY 

Thanks to http://www.worldofcruising.co.uk/

 Kate McCue has become the first American female captain in the cruise industry, taking the helm of Celebrity Cruises‘ Celebrity Summit.

A graduae of California State University’s California Maritime Academy, the 37 year-old from San Francisco will captain the 91,000 gross ton cruise ship on itineraries sailing between the eastern United States and Bermuda. Most recently she was a Master Mariner with Royal Caribbean International.

As a captain she will be responsible for the safe navigation of the ship and the on-board experience of its 2,158 guests and 952 crew members.

McCue has 15 years of experience in the maritime industry, managing ship logistics while sailing worldwide itineraries, including Europe, Asia, Australia, the Caribbean, the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, and along the Panama Canal. She also served as a maritime leader while sailing several transatlantic and repositioning cruises.

This appointment is the latest in Celebrity Cruises’ aim of advancing the role of women in leadership. In January 2014 Jo Rzymowska became the UK Managing Director for the cruise line and in December 2014 Lisa Lutoff-Perlo was named President and CEO of Celebrity Cruises.

Lisa Lutoff-Perlo said “From the first time I met Kate, I looked forward to this moment, when I could extend my congratulations to her for being such a dynamic and highly respected leader who will continue to pave the way for women in the maritime industry. Of all the great moments throughout my career, this is at the top of my list. I am both honoured that Kate accepted this position, and proud of the way our team continues to transform the way people think about Celebrity, and about cruising in general.”

Kate McCue said “Becoming the first female American captain of a cruise ship has been a goal of mine for as long as I can remember. The honour is amplified by being the first at a company like Celebrity Cruises. The cruise industry is ever-evolving, from the ships and the itineraries, to our guests’ expectations for vacation experiences. Celebrity has a history of delivering on each of these and I am thrilled to be a part of it.  I look forward to working with an amazing team and the exceptional leadership who bring the Celebrity Cruises vision to life every day.”

Captain Kate McCue will begin her new role on Celebrity Summit in August 2015.

There have been several female captains appointed in recent years. In May 2007 Royal Caribbean International appointed Karin Stahre-Janson as its first female captain. In April 2010 Sarah Breton became the first female captain of a cruise ship in Britain for P&O Cruises, and later in December Cunard appointed Inger Klein Olsen as captain of Queen Victoria.

(Photo credit to Celebrity Cruises)

Celebrity Cruises to go mainly with bundle pricing

Celebrity Cruises is set to roll out a permanent change to its pricing structure, starting July 6.

The new system builds on Celebrity’s 123Go! promotion, which offers a menu of perquisites, such as free gratuities, beverage packages or an onboard spending credit.

The pricing structure, to be called Go!Big, Go!Better, Go!Best, adopts the rhythm and language of the 123Go! promotion, but Celebrity is emphasizing that it is not a temporary campaign.

The structure will be applied to nearly all inventory from Oct. 1, 2015, through April 2017, the most distant announced deployments.

Celebrity began describing the new structure to agents in a series of webinars that started on June 27.

Guests can choose among four perquisites: a Classic beverage package, free gratuities, unlimited internet or a $150-per-person spending credit.  All oceanview, balcony and suite accommodations will be priced at minimum with the choice of one perquisite built in.

In effect, cruise-only pricing at Celebrity will be eliminated, except for inside cabins.

A Go!Big price includes a choice of one option, while Go!Better includes a choice of two. Go!Best provides all four, and substitutes a Premium beverage package for the Classic package.

Celebrity said that the Go!Best option makes it the first premium segment cruise line to provide all-inclusive pricing. Although a shore excursion is not included, as it is with some all-inclusive luxury cruise products, the onboard credit can be applied to excursions, Celebrity said.

As with 123Go!, a buyer of a bundled fare that has a third or fourth guest in their cabin will receive nonalcoholic drink packages and 90 minutes of free Internet for those guests, Celebrity said.

The new pricing will not apply to Celebrity’s Xpedition ship or to transatlantic and transpacific crossings.

By bundling the noncommissionable items into the standard fare, Celebrity is effectively raising the commissions that travel agents can earn selling most Celebrity cabin categories.

It said the structure is also good for consumers because buying the perquisites separately would cost more than the bundle.

Celebrity said that with the introduction of the Go!Big, Go!Better, Go!Best pricing structure, the 123Go! promotion launched in 2013 will be retired.

Donra Ritzenthaler, Celebrity’s senior vice president for sales, trade sales and service, said the new pricing was more than two years in the making. Among the internal debates was whether it should be rolled out as a promotion or brand strategy.

In the end, the line’s CEO, Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, said “the team was aligned” on a pricing strategy. “We wanted to raise the bar.”

Ritzenthaler and Lutoff-Perlo tested the waters with the concept by giving a sneak peak of the strategy to large accounts early last month.

Upon hearing the plan, World Travel Holdings co-president Brad Tolkin said he liked the “crisp and clean” simplicity of it.

“Are specialty restaurants over and above [the price of the cruise]?” he asked.

“Yes,” Lutoff-Perlo responded. “But the onboard credits would get that covered.”

“We needed to completely change what’s going on,” Ritzethaler told Tolkin. “Our guiding principles were to give consumers ultimate choice, raise APDs (average per diems) and make it easy.”

When the strategy was outlined to him, Vacations To Go president Emerson Hankamer said he felt it was “a very strong, proactive thing for the trade.”

Although his company focuses on attracting consumers with the prospect of low prices, he understands the attraction of value-adds, even when they represent an alternative to lowering prices.

“If you load up with amenities but the price is high, you’ll get a higher-quality customer who spends more,” he said.

Celebrity Cruises and MGM establish cross-marketing venture

Celebrity Cruises and MGM Resorts International announced an agreement to give loyalty club members at each company access to some of the other company’s products.

Celebrity Captain’s Club members will gain benefits and special access to MGM concerts, events, entertainment venues and restaurants. MGM’s M Life Platinum and NOIR members will be eligible for complimentary cruises.

Celebrity CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo said the cross promotion would add another incentive to the package of benefits comprising Captain’s Club membership and serve as an introduction to the brand for MGM Resorts loyalists.

Captain’s Club members will get quarterly offers and M Life benefits for each tier, including room discounts, pre-sale access to tickets for concerts and championship fights, exclusive seating at shows and events, priority reservations, special hotel check-in areas and VIP services.

As part of the arrangement, M Life members can earn M Life Tier Credits for onboard slot play on Celebrity ships.

In Las Vegas, MGM operates several resorts, including the Bellagio, Mandalay Bay, the Mirage, MGM Grand and Circus Circus.