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Celebrity Cruises Appoints First Female Galapagos Captain

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For the first time in cruise industry history, a female captain will navigate the rich archipelago of the Galapagos.  A native of Ecuador, Nathaly Albán will command the exclusive Celebrity Xploration, which was recently revitalized.

With a total of 12 years’ experience sailing around the Galapagos, Captain Albán has worked on several vessels in the region, first joining the Celebrity family in 2006 as third officer aboard the 100-guest Celebrity Xpedition.  Continuing the line’s dedication to advancing the role of women in leadership, Nathaly’s appointment follows that of Celebrity Summit‘s Captain Kate McCue.

Albán was only one of six women in her graduating class at La Escuela de la Marina Mercante Nacional in Ecuador.  Prior to graduating, she held a variety of positions in the maritime industry, most notable serving in the FLOPEC Tanker Fleet of the Ecuadorian Navy.  After graduating, Albán worked on several ships in the region.

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When asked how it feels to be named captain, Albán said “It is a great honor and privilege – I’m overwhelmed with positive emotion. I told my family many times that I would be wearing white one day and be the first woman to serve as a captain of a ship in the Galapagos, now it’s happening and I’m committed to delivering the very best experience for all guests onboard.”

Nathaly Albán will begin her new role on Celebrity Xploration this month.

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Celebrity Edge Will Debut Early

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Celebrity Cruises announced the inaugural season of Celebrity Edge has expanded, as the new ship will be completed ahead of schedule and enter service earlier than planned.

What Will Change?

One of the exterior features of Celebrity Edge. Photo: Celebrity Cruises

The schedule change will now allow Celebrity to offer not one, but two distinct seven-night maiden voyages on Celebrity Edge’s alternating eastern and western Caribbean itineraries. Travelers also have the option to book back-to-back sailings for a 14-night journey:

  • Maiden Voyage West: A seven-night western Caribbean cruise departing from Fort Lauderdale, FL., on December 9, 2018, and visiting Key West, FL.; Costa Maya, Mexico; Cozumel, Mexico; and George Town, Grand Cayman
  • Maiden Voyage East: The previously announced seven-night eastern Caribbean cruise departing from Ft. Lauderdale on December 16, 2018, and visiting San Juan, Puerto Rico; Tortola, British Virgin Islands; and Philipsburg, St. Maarten

“Thanks to the amazing work of the STX France shipyard team, the industry-changing Celebrity Edge is now scheduled to arrive much earlier than anticipated, which gave us the opportunity to offer not one, but two maiden voyages,” said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, President and CEO, Celebrity Cruises. “Both of these maiden voyages, plus the taste of luxury preview sailings, will have all of the festivities one would expect from the launch of such a revolutionary new ship, and now even more guests will have the chance to experience these one-of-a-kind inaugural sailings.”

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In addition to the alternating maiden voyages, Celebrity will also be offering four new Edge Preview Sailings, perfect for eager guests who simply can’t wait to get a taste of luxury. These three-night Bahamas cruises will also sail round-trip from Fort Lauderdale, FL., departing on November 21November 24December 3, and December 6.

Celebrity Edge will homeport in Fort Lauderdale, FL., now making her first sailing November 21, 2018. Bookings are now open at www.celebritycruises.com/itinerary-search?dates=2018-11,2018-12&ship=EG&sortBy=7, or through a travel agent. Celebrity Edge will be joined by three sister ships in 2020, 2021 and 2022.

Source: Celebrity Cruises

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Second Cruise Line Raises Daily Gratuities

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Last week, we reported that Royal Caribbean Cruise Line would be raising the daily gratuity charge in January. And at the time, we predicted that other lines would follow suit. Sure enough, we’ve now learned that as of January 2nd, Celebrity Cruise Line will also be bumping up their daily gratuities!

The New Daily Gratuities Rate

This isn’t necessarily a huge surprise, given that Royal Caribbean owns Celebrity (as well as Azamara Club Cruises). The current daily charge for standard staterooms aboard Celebrity ships is $13.50 per person. As of Tuesday, January 2nd, that will go up to $14.50 per person, per day. Concierge and Aquaclass staterooms will increase from $14 to $15 per person per day, while those occupying suites will go from paying $17 per person per day to $18.

Passengers aboard ships like the Celebrity Summit will be paying more for the services they receive.

According to Celebrity’s website, “pre-existing bookings confirmed prior to January 2, 2018, will have until the time of sailing to pay their gratuities at the old rate. After January 2nd, gratuities paid while onboard are subject to increased rates.”

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In other words: If you have a cruise booked with Celebrity, pay those gratuities now, no matter how many months away your actual sailing may be. Doing so will save you money, as anyone waiting to pay the fee will wind up paying the higher rate. (While many passengers pay the fee early, others opt to have it added to their onboard account once they have set sail.)

Guests will wind up paying $1 more per person, per day for service. Photo courtesy of Celebrity.

The daily charge goes to the stateroom attendant, dining services staff and behind-the-scenes folks who many passengers never actually interact with, but who nonetheless play a role in the enjoyment of their vacation. “At your discretion,” Celebrity’s site advises, “the gratuity payments may be adjusted onboard at Guest Relations, in which case they will not to added to your onboard SeaPass account. An 18 percent gratuity will be automatically added to all beverages, minibar purchases, spa and salon services.”

Which Cruise Line Will Be Next?

Our best advice to anyone booking a cruise with any line? Pay the daily gratuity fee as soon as possible. Doing so guarantees that you’ll have locked in the current rate and be immune to unforeseen changes. With two lines having now increased the gratuity, odds are good that others will follow in their wake… pun intended.

Do you pay the gratuities in advance? 

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Celebrity Flora Celebrates Big Construction Milestone

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The ceremonial keel laying took place today for Celebrity Cruises’ upcoming ship Celebrity Flora in Tolkamer, Netherlands, which sets the foundation for the ship’s innovative structure.

A 49.2 ton block was lifted in the air and a lucky coin was placed in the dock before the block was lowered into position. With the ship’s foundation in place, the building blocks can be joined together to create Celebrity Cruises’ newest upcoming vessel. Leaders from Celebrity, BG Studios, and DeHoop were at the event to celebrate the next stage of the ship’s evolution.

celebrity cruises flora keel laying

Photo: Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Flora will sail from Baltra year-round to the Galapagos Islands, making her first sailing on May 26, 2019. Bookings are now open on Celebrity Cruises’ website or through your travel agent. The vessel will operate alternating seven-night inner and outer loop itineraries.

For more information on Celebrity Flora, an expedition-style ship, click here.

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