Last updated: 10:30 AM ET, Sat June 06 2015

Celebrity's New Leader

Lisa Lutoff-Perlo aims to steer Celebrity beyond the 'sea of sameness'

Vacation Agent | Cruise Line & Cruise Ship | Theresa Norton

Celebrity's New Leader

PHOTO: Lisa Lutoff-Perlo became president and CEO of Celebrity Cruises in early December. (Courtesy of Celebrity Cruises)

After almost three decades with Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., Lisa Lutoff-Perlo became president and CEO of Celebrity Cruises in early December. Over the years, she has shifted between executive positions with Celebrity and Royal Caribbean International, most recently serving as executive vice president-operations for Royal Caribbean and, before that, senior vice president-hotel operations for Celebrity.

Vacation Agent recently caught up with her.

What are your goals now that you’re president and CEO of Celebrity Cruises?

It’s been a long and winding but wonderful road. I had the great fortune of launching the Solstice-class and was intimately involved in the design and evolution of that class of ships. It’s very clear to me what the brand stands for, what Modern Luxury means, and how great of an experience it is that Celebrity provides.

Now that I’ve been given the tremendous opportunity to come back as president and CEO, it’s going to be my great pleasure, and I believe my responsibility, to truly separate and elevate Celebrity to the degree I believe it can and should be. Celebrity has a wonderful niche and it’s time to exploit that in the best possible way and separate it from the sea of sameness that exists in this industry.

Celebrity is focusing more on destinations introducing new excursions, including customizable private options and tours that focus on culture, wellness and family. Why was this important?

“Celebrity decided to play in a much bigger way in the destination space.” — Lisa Lutoff-Perlo

About a year and a half ago, Celebrity decided on a great strategy to play a much bigger way in the destination space. And I couldn’t agree more. We visit almost 300 ports of call and have over 200 overnights on our itineraries. If you think about the breadth of what this brand offers in terms of destinations, you’d be hard-pressed to find anybody else that comes close.

We have our City Stay program, so you can stay in the place your ship is leaving from, like Barcelona and Venice. We have partnered with a river cruise company [Amadeus by Luftner], so that if you’re interested in taking a river cruise in conjunction with an ocean cruise, Celebrity is the one-stop shop for that. We have African safaris in conjunction with ocean cruises.

Our Signature Events take our guests to events like Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Carnival in Rio and the Cannes film festival. Plus, our Celebrity Exclusive excursions appeal to our more upscale vacationers. You can spend a luxurious day as a sultan in Istanbul or go from 0 to 60 in a Ferrari in Cannes.

With Amadeus by Luftner you created packages that include both a river and ocean cruise. What’s the response been?

River cruising is certainly a popular vacation, and some people have the desire to go up the river and down the ocean. It’s really quite unique and it’s going very well. This is a trial for us, so we took a certain number of cabins and we are selling out. It fits in with our destination strategy.

This month, Celebrity rolled out new amenities for guests who book suites, including Luminae, a private restaurant for their exclusive use. Why offer this new level of inclusiveness?

We looked at what’s going on in the world and what has become quite obvious is that suite guests are looking for a different experience and a more exclusive experience.

We now have Luminae, a private restaurant for suite guests, which just opened at the beginning of April across nine ships. These restaurants are opening to rave reviews. We also have VIP lounges just for suite guests.

The suite guests also get more amenities, including butler service and complimentary specialty restaurant dinners and, depending on the category, beverage packages, in-suite bar set-ups and Internet access.

Your parent company recently ordered two new ships for Celebrity, scheduled for delivery in fall 2018 and early 2020. I know that’s way off, but can you tell us anything about the Project Edge ships?

We’re in the very early stages of planning, so I don’t have any big news to talk about yet, but I will say a couple of things.

Project Edge will do for Celebrity the same thing the Solstice class did. It will be a wonderful evolution for the brand, with some new and amazing things not only for us but also for the industry. We’re working on figuring out those right now. The destination will be at the core of how the ship is designed. We’ll do different things that make the destination more central to some of the features that we add.

The company appears to have had a lot of success with the “1-2-3 Go!” and “Pick Your Perk” promotions that include extras like drink packages, prepaid gratuities and shipboard credits. Will we be seeing more of those in the future?

Celebrity was the first in the market with “1-2-3 Go!” and I think it resonated so well that everybody copied it. Consumers like the value-added extras. I think it’s here to stay.

For more information on Celebrity Cruises

For more Cruise Line & Cruise Ship News


You may use your Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook information, including your name, photo & any other personal data you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on Click here to learn more.

Vacation Agent Magazine

A version of this article appears in print in the June 2015 issue of Vacation Agent Magazine.


Latest Travel News

The Best Places for U.S. River Cruising

Cruise Line & Cruise Ship

Who, Exactly, Was Paul Gauguin?

Cruise Line & Cruise Ship

Tips For The Solo Traveler

Cruise Line & Cruise Ship