The Solstice Down Under (photo: Clyde Dickens)As senior vice president of operations for Celebrity Cruises since last September, Greg Purdy said it was a great advantage to have a view of both marine and hotel operations, to be able to develop strategies for the total product. “It is a remarkable opportunity,” he said, “providing access to all our teams ashore and at sea.”

His focus is first and foremost on safety. “We realize there is no such thing as perfect safety, but what we can have is perfect dedication to safety,” Purdy explained. “You might say I like to be comfortably uncomfortable, meaning, we are never satisfied and always strive for the highest level of safety.”

Beyond safety, Purdy is focusing on creating optimal teams. “We have made a few top management changes (shoreside) over the last year,” he said. “And we now have a very strong team.”

The entire industry is under huge pressure to lower fuel consumption, according to Purdy, who said that the single most effective way to save fuel is through itinerary adjustments. “We are continuously studying our itineraries,” he said. “The goal is to retain the experience for our guests, while also saving fuel.

 “We look at the order of calls and new ports that can help us reduce consumption. Of course, we know which ports have priorities for our repeat guests and for new guests. We are constantly tweaking,” he continued. “It is a never ending process.”

As for new and alternative technologies on the table, Purdy said that whether Celebrity will run advanced emissions purification systems (scrubbers) or be equipped for shorepower, will be decided on a corporate strategy level.

The Celebrity Reflection is also testing so-called bubble technology. A partial system was installed when the ship was built. The system generates air bubbles that isolate the hull from the friction of the water and thus contributes to fuel savings.

 “The Celebrity product is upscale with excellent hardware,” Purdy said. “In the product delivery, the focus is on the culinary, entertainment and stratification.”

The guest-base aboard Celebrity is primarily English-speaking, although there can be occasional groups of other nationalities, for which the line will carry out certain tweaks. Offering basically an American experience for English-speaking guests makes it somewhat easier to deliver a premium, he said, as the line does not have to define what premium is for different nationalities and cultures.

“We have worked to attract more families from big cities and as they are often affluent and have a high standard of living already, they push us to improve so we can meet and exceed their expectations. For many years, guests were treated to what to them was a luxury experience, but now many of our guests already have a luxurious lifestyle, so we have to deliver more; we have upped our game.”

>> Also in this section: Complete in-depth Celebrity Cruises comapny profile.

Excerpt from Cruise Industry News Quarterly Magazine: Fall 2013