Celebrity’s new private tour arrangements program gives cruisers a way to see many of Europe’s most compelling ports the way they personally would like to do so and at their own pace, from the exclusive comfort of a private car or van. While its group excursions remain extremely popular, particularly for giving cruisers a comprehensive taste of a region’s highlights, Celebrity’s private arrangements are designed for the discerning cruiser who prefers a more exclusive and customized in-port experience that takes them more deeply into a region, with the added bonus of a more flexible timetable.
In St. Petersburg, Russia, in addition to its regular shore excursion program, Celebrity has long offered private arrangements, given the country’s visa requirements, which allow guests on a cruise-line sponsored excursion or private arrangement an exemption from obtaining a tourist visa. In addition to the 30 private arrangements offered in St. Petersburg, Celebrity also is offering private arrangements in Rome (Civitavecchia), Florence (Livorno), Cagliari (Sardinia), and Naples, Italy; Athens (Piraeus) and Corfu, Greece; Ashdod and Haifa, Israel; Istanbul, and Kusadasi (Ephesus), Turkey; Alexandria, Egypt; Stockholm, Sweden; and Helsinki, Finland.
The program accommodates anywhere from one to eight guests traveling together; groups of more than eight can make arrangements through Celebrity’s groups shore excursion program. Like Celebrity’s other shore excursions – as well as beverage packages and specialty dining arrangements – the private arrangements are available for pre-cruise booking via the line’s website, www.celebritycruises.com. When pre-booking online, one guest in the party reserves the vehicle for a single price that covers one to three guests in a car or four to eight guests in a van. Guests whose native tongues differ from English may request a guide who speaks other languages, such as German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish, among others.
Guests can request that an existing tour be offered as a private arrangement, or design a custom arrangement featuring his or her own in-port experience. To pre-book a custom arrangement, guests can visit www.celebritycruises.com to complete a custom arrangement form. After submitting the form, the guests will be contacted to create their specific agenda for the day in conjunction with their tour guide and/or driver.
Celebrity has also designed expanded shore excursion offerings in Europe, to make it simple for cruisers who face mobility challenges to enjoy the region. In its 2010 summer Europe season, Celebrity will offer at least 35 “easy” shore excursions – 15 of them brand-new – catering to guests who have walking difficulties and are not able to handle steps or extended periods of walking or standing, or for guests who are full-time wheelchair users. One of these new tours, offered in Dubrovnik, Croatia, is “Easy Seaside Resort of Cavtat and Dubrovnik.” During this tour, guests will visit the quaint seaside town of Cavtat and explore the fascinating walled city of Dubrovnik. In Helsinki, Finland, “Easy Helsinki” offers guests the opportunity to experience the Finnish capital’s highlights, including Embassy Park, Mannerheim Street and the Olympic Stadium.
Also new this summer, for guests visiting Venice, Italy while sailing on Celebrity Century, Celebrity Equinox, and the brand-new Celebrity Eclipse, is a twist on “voluntourism.” Anyone purchasing a shuttle bus pass from Celebrity in Venice can enjoy a free ticket to 16 of Venice’s most revered and historically relevant churches. Celebrity Cruises and sister line Royal Caribbean International are the only two cruise lines to have partnered with Venice church preservation group “The Chorus Association” to offer this benefit during cruises that visit the historic city. The Chorus Association will invest the $13-per-person ticket value in the restoration and maintenance of the priceless churches and the cultural heritage represented in the more than 1,000 pieces of art that reside in the churches.
The Chorus Association’s aim is to contribute to the safeguarding, conservation and restoration of the architectural and artistic heritage of churches in Venice.