Exclusive interview of Joanna Rzymowska, Vice President of Celebrity Cruises for Europe, Middle East, and Africa to Tornos News publisher Giannis Giannakakis, onboard the new Celebrity Apex cruise ship in Piraeus port, on June 4, 2021.
Celebrity Cruises relaunches its cruises in Europe on June 19, in a world debut of the brand new Celebrity Apex cruise ship from Greece.
During the luxurious seven-night circular cruise until September 2021, Celebrity Apex will depart from Athens and visit some of the most idyllic Mediterranean destinations, such as Mykonos, Rhodes, and Santorini in Greece along with Limassol in Cyprus and Haifa and Jerusalem in Israel.
The return of Celebrity Cruises to the Aegean becomes even more special given the Greek heritage of the company, as it was founded in 1988 by the Chandris family and later became a member of the Royal Caribbean Group.
These Greek roots are highlighted by the Vice President of Celebrity Cruises for Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) Joanna Rzymowska, in her exclusive interview with Tornos News.
It is pointed out that Celebrity Cruises has kept its Greek roots unchanged until today, as 70% of the naval officers in the entire fleet are of Greek origin. Today, more than 400 Greeks are employed on its ships, among them captains and first engineers.
The President and CEO of Celebrity Cruises, Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, stated on March 25, when the world debut of the ship was announced by Greece, the following:
“The Celebrity Apex is an exquisite ship and to finally start traveling in the beautiful Aegean, where it all started for our fleet, and after so long, acquires a special meaning. I look forward to finally living the experience of Apex and the Greek islands during the rescheduled cruise for my 30th wedding anniversary “.
She expressed her deep gratitude to the Greek government for the excellent cooperation, wishing the best in Greece, which is celebrating its bicentennial this year.
Ms. Joanna Rzymowska, in her interview with Tornos News, emphasizes that all the health protocols, which have been imposed in our country, are observed, stressing that all visitors and crew have been vaccinated. Furthermore, she points out that Piraeus was chosen as the first port of the company for this year due to the excellent air access from various countries, which allows many of its passengers from the United States and Europe to come here.
Read the full interview and watch the relevant video below:
Welcome to Athens and Piraeus. Are you here to present your new boat?Thank you and it’s wonderful to be in Athens, it’s wonderful to be here aboard our new ship, Celebrity Apex. It’s her inaugural season and she will sail from Piraeus with guests onboard on the 19th of June to the wonderful Greek islands and our guests can’t wait. We have a wonderful crew who can’t wait to welcome our guests.
How do you think cruises to the Greek islands will perform this year?It is really important that we have chosen Piraeus and Athens as our starting point for the newest ship in our fleet of 15 vessels. It is so important because there are flight opportunities for our guests from the United States and Europe and everybody loves the Greek islands. We know that sadly from the UK point of view at the moment Greece is not yet on the green list but we have great hope that it will be very soon on the green list. We’ve got guests from the US, guests from the UK, from Germany, from Italy, from France and Spain. There are going to be 14 rotations here during the summer season for seven nights to wonderful Santorini, to Mykonos, to Rhodes, and some also to Limassol, Ashod, and Haifa.
How many guests can this ship accommodate?The total occupancy for two people in a room is 2900 guests so we can say that we have 1400 rooms and also 1400 crew, so there is a 2-to-1 ratio of guests to the crew which shows how important looking out for our guests and service are to us. When we start sailing this summer, because of the pandemic and the situation we have been in, we will be having a lower occupancy to make sure that we are following all of the very important protocols as well as social distancing. The space and life of this ship are phenomenal so we know our guests will have a wonderful time, a safe time but, more important than that, a great holiday.
Celebrity Apex features innovative exterior design and state-of-the-art spaces crafted by world-renowned designers
What protocols are you going to follow and how are these going to help your guests have a better stay?We follow all the Greek government protocols, such as wearing a mask, except of course when our guests are enjoying our incredible cuisine. We are also making sure that all of our guests have a PCR test before they board the ship. All of our guests and crew are vaccinated and we are doing absolutely everything we can, in this respect. Health and safety have always been our number one priority, but what is really important is that our guests have a wonderful holiday and we are very confident that with the protocols that we have in place, we will also make sure that they will have a great holiday.
What are your predictions regarding your company’s performance this year in Greece?We are positive, our heritage is Greek, after all, thank the Chandris family. We are living in a very strange world at the moment, we need things to go in the right direction, we need to make sure that we are doing everything we can as individuals so as to stay safe as well as move in the right direction and that is really important. We also think that this is a great opportunity for our guests to enjoy the beautiful Greek islands in another way, as they will see the land from the sea. To see these wonderful Greek islands that you have, it’s just stunning. When you are coming to Mykonos when you are coming to Santorini, it’s really special, so we are looking forward to that.
Given that cruise companies make a plan with a perspective of two or even three years, what do you expect for Greece in the coming years?We know from all the demand curves that we are looking at and the consumer research that we do, that people cannot wait to go on a holiday. We have new ships in the pipeline, the cruise industry is growing and people can’t wait to spend time together as a family, with friends, enjoying wonderful cuisine and great service. We know that the Greek population is not traveling and we think that there is a great opportunity this summer to have our best ship, our flagship, here, based in Athens so that they can see it and experience it and then they may well decide to travel with us around the globe.
After the interview at the wonderful Eden Bar. From left: Giannis Giannakakis, Joanna Rzymowska, Ruth Marshall (Vice President Legal and Managing Director RCL Cruises), Andreas Stylianopoulos, owner of Navigator Travel & Tourist Services.
Why did you choose Piraeus as your first port this year?We chose it because of the air-lift from the different countries and we know that a lot of our guests will be from the United States because they can travel here. We’ve got guests from a lot of European countries booked for later on, July and August, and we think that access to Athens and Greece will also play an important role.
What role does Greece play in the cruise programs for the Mediterranean in 2021?Greece has always been key to our itinerary planning and our destinations and we see that when we have Athens and the Greek islands on our itineraries they are really, really popular. So many nationalities enjoy the wonderful hospitality, the wonderful islands, and the beautiful cuisine. So we know and we have seen it for years, and years and years that when we have Greece on the itinerary, those cruises go really well. So, we see Greece being a major part of our business, for the corporation of Celebrity Cruises going forward.
Navigator Travel & Tourist Services, representative of Celebrity Cruises for Greece
Celebrity Cruises is represented in Greece by the travel agency Navigator Travel & Tourist Services of Mr. Andreas Stylianopoulos, who in an interview with Mr. Giannakakis and Tornos News in early February revealed the new trends in cruising after the pandemic.
Navigator Travel & Tourist Services since its foundation in 1962, by Anastasios Stylianopoulos, until today, is the exclusive marketing and sales representative in Greece, Cyprus, and Bulgaria of the companies Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, and Azamara Club Cruises.