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Published in: Cruise News

Two ships in the Aegean Sea this summer present Celestyal Cruises’ strengths, with the Crystal on a week-long program and the Olympia featuring three- and four-day sailings. Both vessels offer a Greek, port-intensive product.

“We want to have good diversification (of guest sourcing) across the globe. We feel it’s a global product and that is what we see onboard. We have 140 nationalities onboard per year,” said Chris Theophilides, CEO, in an exclusive interview with Cruise Industry News.

Theophilides was recently promoted to CEO from COO, taking over on July 1.

“Initially we are adding capacity with more operating days,” Theophilides noted. “This year the Crystal’s last sailing is on October 15, and for next year we are announced (deployment) until early January (2020).”

Theophilides is bullish on the future, with capacity additions coming in the form of more cruise days, and also the potential for a third vessel in operation.

Celestyal is in a unique position – virtually owning the market in the Aegean and having a big piece of the market pie in the Eastern Mediterranean as other cruise lines have left in recent years.

Adding capacity at the far end of the season, the company hopes to extend its geographic offerings. One example is a three continents sailing next December, with calls in Egypt, Israel and Turkey, along with Greece and Cyprus.

“It’s really pushing our footprint outside the Aegean,” Theophilides said. “We have a few ideas beyond that when we may have a third vessel in the fleet; where we can play with pushing the operating areas a bit further out.”

Announcing deployment earlier and pushing the season has been a successful move for Celestyal.

“For us it was a big deal, it was a new thing,” Theophilides said. “We are coming to the market farther out. We have come around to what the market does in general which is 18 months out. That allows you to get the message out to key travel partners and the public at large.”

North America represents the company’s largest and most important source market. Celestyal has been on a hiring spree too, expanding its team on the ground in the region as it hopes to build up sourcing and add capacity.

“Even though we see North America not increasing beyond 35 percent (of sourcing), it will increase in the number of heads because we want to add some capacity,” Theophilides noted.

“It’s all about yields,” he continued. “And that takes into account ticket rate and your level of occupancy."

Theophilides said the year was looking like it could be a record in terms of yield.

"We want to maintain that and don’t want to get complacent," added Theophilides. "There are a number of things we want to achieve, especially extending our operating season. That is very key to us. For this year we are meeting our financial objectives and next year we are pushing our operating season out past the shoulder months.

“The fact we are announced so early gives us the opportunity to react now. We’re in a good place.”

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