"We are focusing on three areas: to manage our day-to-day operating costs efficiently; to create a clean and integrated brand-communication platform; and to ensure that we deliver the experience that our guests expect," said Dan Hanrahan, president of Celebrity Cruises.

On his plate is also the $55 million revitalization of the Century slated for this spring, adding 314 balconies and 18 suites, just in time for her summer season out of Amsterdam.

And starting next year, the gas-turbine powered Millennium ships will have auxiliary diesel engines installed for the hotel load to help offset the higher cost of marine gas oil.

Meanwhile, a new marketing campaign is underway focusing on how Celebrity treats its guests like celebrities. The campaign includes two different television commercials, a trade program and consumer press advertising.

In addition, Hanrahan has his mind on the 2008 introduction of first of the line's new Solstice class, the Celebrity Solstice, to be followed by the Celebrity Equinox in 2009.

While the new prototype will be 117,000-tons and accommodate 2,850 guests and thus be significantly larger than the ships in the existing fleet, Hanrahan said that size by itself is not an indicator of quality. He pointed to small and large Ritz-Carlton hotels that all deliver the same fine service and facilities throughout the world. “It is the onboard experience that counts,” he said. “I want people to know that the new ship will offer a Celebrity-quality experience.

“We have spent as much time on designing the traffic flow onboard as on anything else – to make sure there will not be points of congestion and that guests will never feel crowded. The feeling will be like being aboard a Millennium-class ship,” Hanrahan added.

“The key is to deliver a great product so that when the guests go home they will say we delivered great value for the money, and that the cost (of the cruise) was well worth it,” Hanrahan said.

His main approach to the business is to grow the brand. “We are a growth company,” Hanrahan continued. “The fastest way to grow is in new hardware. (Over the next five to 10 years) I can guarantee you that we will have more ships, plus the Xpedition.

“You will also see us grow our itineraries – wherever we are sailing – in Europe, Alaska, Bermuda, South America and Hawaii. These regions are very important to us. You will probably see us extending the seasons in these areas too,” he continued.

So what is most important when running a premium line? “Service,” answered Hanrahan. “No matter what happens, service is most important.” – Oivind Mathisen

Excerpt from the Cruise Industry News Quarterly Magazine: Spring 2006