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Oceanview Cafe and Bar on Celebrity Eclipse ship docked in San Francisco (Photo: Louise Goldsbury)
Oceanview Cafe and Bar on Celebrity Eclipse (Photo: Louise Goldsbury)

Celebrity Cruises Looking at Buying a Private Island

Oceanview Cafe and Bar on Celebrity Eclipse ship docked in San Francisco (Photo: Louise Goldsbury)
Oceanview Cafe and Bar on Celebrity Eclipse (Photo: Louise Goldsbury)
U.K. Executive Editor
Adam Coulter

Last updated
Jul 18, 2023

Read time
3 min read

(12:45 p.m. EDT) -- Celebrity Cruises is actively looking at purchasing a private island, the line's new president has confirmed.

Speaking at a media meet and greet in London, Laura Hodges Bethge said while the line couldn't provide a private island for Celebrity passengers immediately, it was her intention that Celebrity gets its own.

Last month Celebrity announced it would be sharing Royal Caribbean's private island Perfect Day at CocoCay, beginning in 2024. The island will be a stop on sailings from Fort Lauderdale on both Celebrity Reflection and Celebrity Beyond, which has been moved to the U.S. from the Mediterranean.

Celebrity Passengers Want Their Own Private Island

PerfectDay at Coco Cay
PerfectDay at Coco Cay
"We've heard from our consumers loud and clear they want their own destination," Hodges Bethge said.

"I can't deliver that in 80 days, but what I can do is take advantage of what I already have and ask my colleague Michael [Bayley, Royal Caribbean International CEO] if I could borrow the island at certain times and he was very happy to oblige."

When asked if the plan was to give Celebrity passengers their own private island, she said: "That's the idea, yes."

However, when pressed she would not reveal where that island would be. Although Royal Caribbean Group still has an option to develop a private island in Vanuatu, Fiji, the smart money would suggest one in the Bahamas would make much more sense, now that Celebrity is basing two ships in the Caribbean and offering more mini-break cruises in 2024.

Hodges Bethge also confirmed that Celebrity would not be sharing the island with one of Royal's megaships, but one of the older, smaller ones, to prevent overcrowding.

At first blush, it's an odd fit – Perfect Day is a bit like an extension of a Royal Caribbean ship – full of kids, waterslides and numerous thrills and attractions.

South Beach Cabanas at CocoCay (Photo: Royal Caribbean International)
South Beach Cabanas at CocoCay (Photo: Royal Caribbean International)

However, Hodges Bethge said there were areas such as the Coco Beach Club, which was limited to 400 people and next year's adults-only development, Hideaway Beach, which would likely appeal more to the typical Celebrity passenger.

She also said the line had taken a look at Virgin Voyages successful cruise model, which is based on short-break cruises all calling in at its private beach club at Bimini.

Celebrity to Double Down on Passengers' "Passion Points" As Part of New CEO's Vision

Celebrity Cruises president Laura Hodges Bethge in Ketchikan, Alaska (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)
Celebrity Cruises president Laura Hodges Bethge in Ketchikan, Alaska (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)
Hodges Bethge also spoke about her vision for shaping the brand, which involve serving passengers "passion points" of food, accommodation and service, all of which she said Celebrity does a "stellar, stellar job ".

She pointed out two others – entertainment and destinations – where she felt the line could improve on.

"I think we could do more and that's part of my focus."

"Our ships and our theaters are fantastic, but I think we can do even more there from a programming perspective and an entertainment perspective."

She also singled out destination as a key area, as it's the first thing consumers consider when booking a cruise: "How do we deliver the destination in a bespoke way, that really stands out and delivers on the premium nature of what Celebrity delivers onboard and bringing that to shore."

Bethge Hodges also reiterated how key the U.K. is to Celebrity's growth plans. The line will base Celebrity Apex – an Edge-class ship – in Southampton next year.

She paid tribute to Jo Rzymowska, the outgoing head of Celebrity in the UK, who leaves tomorrow after more than 18 years in the role.

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