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2024 is shaping up to be another banner year for Celestyal Cruises, with a refreshed fleet and a new itinerary to the Persian Gulf set to launch in November of this year. The new 7-night Desert Days will run through Jan. 18, 2025, homeporting in Doha aboard the Celestyal Journey, and marks the return of year-round sailing for the brand. “And then we plan to extend our very popular Three Continents itineraries to run a similar November through to March on the Celestial Discovery that launches in March this year. [The] Three Continents will [then] return in November 2025,” shared Lee Haslett, chief commercial officer, in a recent online media briefing with other Celestyal executives. “2024 is a real turnkey year as we grow our brand and our operation outside of our core.”

Celestyal’s new “Desert Days” Itinerary.

This sentiment was echoed by CEO Chris Theophilides, who added, “[W]e’re building the platform for future growth. Our aspiration is not to remain a two-ship line but to get from two ships to more ships; we need to ensure that we’re operating in more parts of the world, we’re operating on a year-round basis, and we have quite a number of ideas of what the next stages of development are in terms of operating areas, in terms of vessels.”

The company’s most recent purchase is Celestyal Discovery, which will start operating in March of this year. As for operations, Theophilides shared they’re “investing in technology, investing in our procedures and making sure that it’s easy to do business with Celestyal, but the most important investment of all, from my viewpoint at least, is we’ve been investing in people.”

Celestyal: North American Trade Team Expansion

“[W]e’ve restructured the sales and marketing team to include new functional roles and dedicated resources to various sales channels we have available to us, whether they’re an online travel agency, a retail storefront, a host agency, a franchise model,” said Brandon Townsley, the company’s new v.p. and managing director, North America, during the briefing. “We’re really taking a good look at what those channels and each of those business models need as far as resources for to do business easily with us and making sure that they have the resources and the outreach available and the support they need to sell Celestyal.”

New hires include Elena Rodriguez as the new director of business development, Scott Moore as director of key accounts and partnerships, and Laren Barreras as the company’s new manager of trade marketing. “She’ll be responsible for really coordinating our efforts when we go out, and we talk to folks like yourself when we talk about advertising and market marketing here in North America, because you are going to see an increased level of marketing from Celestial to the trade here in North America,” said Townsley. “And last but not least, Taylor Henwood joined us last week as well. Taylor joined us from another boutique brand and brings some really great relationships and relevant experiences to the North American team, so we’re delighted to have him on board.”

Celestyal Journey’s Blue Room Bar and Lounge.

Another recent hire, Anna Grigori, v.p. of brand & customer journey, was on the briefing and spoke to Celestyal’s commitment: “Our vision is to create unmissable experiences at sea and ashore and the way that we do that with the warm hospitality of our heartlands in the Greek isles, and we do that by getting further into destination. We’re really proud of that, and over the last six months, Chris, Lee, and my colleagues, we’ve been working very closely to understand our customers and [have spoken] to all our trade partners to really understand makes us special.”

“[W]e’ve got a real handle on that je ne sais quoi that is Celestyal, and we know that it is creating these unmissable moments, and we’re really doubling down on that.”

Other changes in the company include the promotion of Cyndi Berardi to manager, trade support and operations from her previous position as trade sales support executive; Sandra Jakovac, who also previously held the position of trade sales support executive, has been promoted to the new role of manager, group sales and administration; and Stephanie McDonald, who was formerly business development manager, Canada, has been promoted to the new position of manager, partner training & development.

Grigori also shared that she and Brandon are partnering with this North American team to bring the trade everything they’ve been asking for. “[W]e’re listening,” she said. “We know we need to do more. We’ve got a new brand, we’ve got new assets that are coming, we’ve got a revitalized team, we’ve got a bigger team [and] we’ve got the great team we already had. So we’re coming at ya. We’re aiming for Q3, but if we come in early we will… So you’ll start seeing that trickling through this quarter.”

New and Expanded Itineraries

In addition to the new Persian Gulf adventure, Celestyal is doubling down on what it calls its “core” business in Greece.

Celestyal Journey in Piraeus.

“Our Iconics will be on the Discovery, our 3- and 4-night itineraries. Our Idyllics, our seven nights around the Greek islands will continue on the Celestial Journey, and I’m really excited we’re adding the Heavenly Adriatics,” said Haslett. The popular Adriatic will become a permanent fixture, and the number of departures will grow in 2025 and beyond. However, Haslett added that based on feedback that they’ve had from the North American market, they’ve introduced a Heavenly Adriatic in the summer. This itinerary—departing from Greece—will not only call in Montenegro, Croatia, and Italy, but they’re also adding a Venice stop.

All destinations, including the new itineraries, are included in Celestyal’s current winter savings promotion, which includes savings of up to 70 percent.

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