(7:30 a.m. EDT) -- Celebrity Cruises will launch 7-night “open-jaw” itineraries in the Mediterranean sailing from Barcelona in 2014, confirmed new chief executive Michael Bayley.
Speaking on the pre-inaugural cruise of the fifth and final Solstice-class ship, Reflection, in Eemshaven, The Netherlands, last week, Bayley told Cruise Critic:
“The feedback we have got is that passengers want 7-night open jaw itineraries.
This is partly due to the richness of the itineraries and also U.S. cruisers don't want to use up their whole two-week holiday in one go.”
Open-jaw itineraries allow passengers to get on in one port and fly back from another, rather than doing a round-trip cruise.
Bayley ruled out deploying a second ship to join Southampton-based Celebrity Eclipse, but added that the U.K. would get a capacity boost with the arrival of Celebrity Infinity (pictured) in Harwich next year. Infinity will offer 10-, 11- and 12-night Scandinavian and British Isles cruises.
Bayley, who became chief executive just seven weeks ago, recently answered questions from members on the Cruise Critic message boards, which included questions relating to U.K. and European ship deployment.
CFamilyWales asked him: “Is interest in cruising forecast to grow in line with new ship introductions or could there be overcapacity?”
He replied: “Our industry is growing at incredible rates, particularly in Europe, China and Latin America. And at Celebrity, we plan to continue to focus primarily on the U.S., Canada and the U.K.”
Next year, Celebrity will have a total of six ships operating in Europe -- its biggest ever deployment.
He also said Celebrity would be exploring more “authentic” shore excursions in the Mediterranean -- also following passenger feedback -- and had already started talking to suppliers.
“People have been saying to me: “I'd like to rent a villa in Italy for the day” or “I'd like to have a guided tour by a professor of anthropology”, and we are responding to that,” he said.
He confirmed that these “richer” experiences would be on offer in 2014.
--by Adam Coulter, U.K. Editor