Celebrity Cruises Savers Limelight During Galaxy Inaugural

The masterminds behind Celebrity CruiseXrecently carried out a strategic plot which thrust their company into y i e limelight. The cruise line doclcfed its most dynamic ship in New York Harbor, called out its chief executives and beckoned journalists, travel^igents and engineers to come aboard and enjoy tours complete with gounpet food and wine service.

Call it intuition, but the cruise line guessed correctly when it figured that the mainstream public would revel in the kind of over-thetop antics involved with hosting the premier of TriStar Pictures'latest film, starring actor Tom Cruise, aboard its spanking new vessel. The successful implementation of this plan resulted in a media sensation which put the cruise line and its newbuild Galaxy in the public eye for the better part of two weeks.

Eager to carve a niche in a competitive industry characterized by a glut of new ships, Celebrity Cruises pulled no punches in the December 1996 introduction of its latest and greatest ocean liner, and the company is hopeful that its strategically orchestrated inaugural of Galaxy will have a positive effect on the bottom line for FY97. From Behind A Smokescreen A sistership to 1995's Century and 1997's Mercury, Galaxy is the "middle child" of the three-ship series for German shipbuilder Meyer Werft, whose reputation for innovative ship construction and technical expertise prompted Celebrity to contract for the vessel series in March 1993, five months after completing a joint venturt with bulk shipping company Overseas Shipholding Group, Inc. Celebrity Cruises was initially launched in 1990 to provider premium vacations for informed consumers aboard an infant fleet.

Galaxy is the newamier in the line's fleet of five, Jvhich includes Meridian, complafely rebuilt during the company s inaugural year, and Horizon arid Zenith, the first ships to be designed and built to Celebrity specs. The series to which Galaxy belongs was conceived to usher in a new cruising era in which Celebrity ships could occupy a place at the front and center of the sector, emerging from behind a smokescreen of anonymous cruise ship bows.

Celebrity has achieved this objective by stoking the flames of innovation, appealing to new passenger segments by offering gimmicks such as cigar rooms, extensive spa facilities, children's "fun factories," corporate business centers and interactive television systems, all ,of which can be found aboard laxy.

t to be outdone by the superior craifcship of the ship's exterior, Celebrity also arranged an electronic partnership with Sony to aid in the creation of an equally innovative Ga/axVinterior, which is outfitted with ^tetate-of-the-art theatre, disco, buluness center and computer room, na contrast to the ship's reliance on traditional nautical decor, featuring wood trim and navy color schemes.

"We're always thinkiW about what the customer's lifes^le is, what he wants, and we deliver it,' CEO Richard Sasso told MR, during Galaxy's inaugural vis I New York.' He said that Celebrity's/formula for success is a dual enfphasis on variety and serviceVand added, "We're not trying to^uild ships bigger than the nex^'guy." In fact, at 77,713 gross W s , the ship is still the largest crmse ship ever built in Germany atid is also the largest cruise ship capable of transiting the Pariama Canal.

Expansion Backed By Quality ssurance The emergence of the Celebrity fleet in the next few years will be highlighted by an incredible itinerary expansion and placement of a vessel in Europe. The cruise line's confidence in Meyer Werft's capability to produce superior vessels is clearly supported by the gutsy direction the company is taking. Mr. Sasso told MR/EN that when the time came to place newbuild contracts, Celebrity was impressed with Meyer Werft's covered dock facility, which "insures that a ship will be worked on year round." He added that the yard satisfied his company's major priority, namely, that the ships would be built by a reputable company which could guarantee on-time delivery. "I think it's really a question of quality. We wanted to build the most highly technical, durable vessels," said Mr. Sasso, who pointed out that the German shipbuilder has delivered on all its promises.

"If you use the best materials with the best engineers, you will have a ship that will last into thi 21st century," explained Sasso. "The quality of the snips also dictates where they /might trade," continued the Celebrity CEO, alluding to the cruise line's plans for its growing fleet to visit a total of 110 ports jzi the next two years.

The European Continent And Beyond In 1996f Celebrity began Alaskan cruise^; This year the company will/conquer South America and the South Pacific for the first time, idditionally, in the summer of 1998, Celebrity ships will visit Europe, advised Marketing Senior Vice President Art Sbarsky during one of Galaxy's inaugural stops jlong the U.S. Atlantic Seaboard. ^he Horizon will be sent to do a transatlantic cruise in May '98," Mr. wtasso told MR/EN. The ship j will Veportedly then run Mediterranean and Baltic cruises. "We hav<\an infrastructure in Europe. Thkship will be based in Europe," he aaded.

Celebrity Chairman John Chandris also elaborated on the role the Europear^iudience will play in the expansion and profitability of the cruise IIM during a press session held in the\hambers of Galaxy's business cen^r. He recounted the ship's delivery, which took place at a small iVtch containership port, and wfes reportedly attended by 350,0' people. "I could tell there were people who probably hadn't cruised before ... Perhaps in Europe cruising is a little bit behind ... There is a bigger audience that we need to address," stated Mr. Chandris. Indeed, Celebrity's placement of ships in Europe — a tactic which has become a vital part of fiscal survival in the cruise sector — is an important indicator that thcruise line is on the inside track to success, particularly for such a young venture with a modest number of ships.

Celebrity's executives will certainly agree that it is not enough for the company to keep talking about how "nothing else compares" with its product and how it "spent more money on hardware, software and people" than any other cruise line in its category.

The cruise line has backed up these claims by commissioning ships with innovative infrastrucires designed for easy retrofitting ami upgrading, and flexible itinerarieKarranged to capitalize on new m a r l ^ growth. Perhaps this strategV will be effective in, to paraphrase Tom Cruise's character in thei movie that premiered onboard Ga\ixy, showing them the money.In a discuskinn of his company's latest newbuild, Costa CSjeiere Chairman Dr. Nicola Costa said that theShip's name, Costa Victoria, expresses the confident® with which his company operates in the EuropeSn market.

After Bremer Vulkan receded the order to build the ship in late 1993, the y*jrd and three additional companies, namely LloyH^Werft in Bremerhaven, Schichau Seebeckwerft akdSTN Atlas Elektronik, began a collaboration topcoduce the 823.4-ft. (251-m), 74,000-gt liner.

The ship's main lobby spans a height of seven decks and is capped by a glass dome. At the bow of the vessel is an observation lounge which affords excellent ocean views. This ship is the only vessel in the cruise line's fleet equipped with two dining rooms, an indoor pooj and a refrigerator and mini-bar in every s^gtteroom. Costa Victoria was constructed witi^a modular building assembly, with the Bpraier Vulkan shipyard and Schichau SeeJ^ck yard each building one half of the shin^rom different sections. The final assemj^fy took place in the building dock of the isremer Vulkan yard in Vegesack in Bremenr The engine room section, fitted out under adver in the hall, was carried to the building ^ c k with a heavy lift transport system. Hydraulic presses then pushed the volume sections together on special slideways.

In the ship's hull, further engine units and the propulsion unit were completed at the same time as other fitting-out operations. The power system provides current for the two propulsion engines of the ship, and the power station consists of six diesel generators, producing a total of 50,400 kW. STN Atlas Elektronik supplied the propulsion unit and the electronic equipment for t ship's managemp^lf systems. The company metalled a bpdge from which the communications^ nd/^iavigation technology can be controlled/ rram a single workstation. This ship control cente^s^as designed to guarantee a high jgree of operational safety.

As its part in the stlic construction process, the Lloyd shipyard fitted oh^the passenger and crew areas of Costa Victoria^&Qer completing mock-ups of every cabin type. In Ms^l996, the vessel was blasted with final coats o f ^ a i n t in the Lloyd building dock, and shortly thereafter completed its second trial run.

Making its American debut, Costa Victoria sailed into New York Harbor on Oct. 31, 1996, and was greeted at Battery Park by fireboats spraying water, as it made its way to the city's Passenger Ship Terminal.

This call was part of an inaugural 18-night, transatlantic voyage which began in Genoa, Italy, on Oct. 20. The ship's seven-night Caribbean cruises, which set sail from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., began on Nov. 10. The ship also sails 16-night eastbound transatlantic voy- Costa Victoria is escorted by a tug during a latter c o n s t r u c t i o n phase.

ages to Genoa, Italy, and seven-night cruises from Venice to Greece and Turkey.

The Bremer Vulkan companies have reportedly received a follow-up order to Costa Victoria a 78,000-ton cruise ship to be delivered to Costa Crociere in July 1997.

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