March 19, 2013
(7:30 a.m. EDT) -- Celebrity Cruises could become more inclusive in the future, according to the line's C.E.O. and President, Michael Bayley.
During a media question and answer session in London last week, Bayley spoke about the possibility of Celebrity wrapping drinks and gratuities into the fare.
Hinting at what would be a significant change for the line, he said: “I don't think we are going to go all-inclusive in a traditional way. I think we'll go all-inclusive in another way ... cobble it together.”
Bayley pointed to the month-long “123go” campaign currently underway in the U.S. as a non-traditional template for adding value to a booking without going completely all-inclusive. The deal allows passengers to choose between adding free drinks, free gratuities or free onboard credit to their cruise package at no additional cost.
"All-inclusive" means different things to different lines. In the luxury segment it can include everything from tips to drinks to flights and in the case of Regent Seven Seas Cruises, shore excursions. It is not clear how inclusive a mainstream luxury line like Celebrity could realistically be, nor by how much prices might have to rise should the line include drinks and tips, for example.
Bayley, who has worked for Celebrity's parent company, Royal Caribbean International, for more than three decades, also spoke about the line's attempts at garnering a star rating for its onboard eateries.
He described Michelin's policy of only grading land-based restaurants as a stumbling block, but added that he was determined to achieve a star rating for the fleet: “If we fail in our negotiations with Michelin, we will open up a land-based restaurant in New York City, and we will get our star that way.”
Celebrity opened a pop-up restaurant in New York City in January to great acclaim.
Other plans Bayley discussed included a deal with Microsoft's gaming arm X-box. He confirmed that plans to equip ships with areas devoted to X-box gaming were at an advanced stage, adding that Celebrity also hopes to incorporate X-box Live onboard (allowing participants to compete against each other from different locations via internet).
“We're rebuilding some of our spaces across our entire fleet,” Bayley said. “We will have the largest X-box gaming facilities at sea.”
Tell us below -- would you pay more up-front for a more inclusive cruise experience?
--by Jamey Bergman, Production Editor U.K.