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Celestyal aims to take Greek cruise experience to the world, year-round

Celesytal Cruises' ceo Chris Theophilides going full speed ahead to extend the cruise tourism season in Greece
Piraeus-based Celestyal Cruises has just closed a 'very successful year’ and plans to build on this success by 'maximising' the company's target to make the Greek cruise experience available to the world, year-round.

Having met its 2018 targets, Celestyal is going full speed ahead with its aim to extend the cruise tourism season in Greece, ceo Chris Theophilides told a recent media gathering in Athens.

The cruise line is now focused on 'maximising' all its endeavours. Indeed, 'maximising', or a version of it, was often heard during presentations by Theophilidis; Leslie Peden, chief commercial officer; George Koubenas, chief operations officer; and Frosso Zaroulea, director of public relations.

2018 targets met 

Based on the achievements of 2018, when the company's two vessels hosted 108,000 passengers, an increase of 8% on 2017, and made 663 calls at Greek ports, Celestyal is determined to continue its positive trend in 2019 and 2020, ‘despite geopolitical events in the East Mediterranean region,’ said Theophilides.

‘In 2018 we met our targets in terms of passengers and the growth of the brand Celestyal Cruises and now we are really focused on 2019 and the significant extension of our operating season in Greece,’ said Theophilides.

130,000 guests targetted for 2019

He said the company is targetting 130,000 guests in 2019 and so maximising its vessel capacity.

In this endeavour, he said Celestyal is fully backing the Greek National Tourism Organisation¹s (GNTO) strategy of establishing Greece as a 365-day tourism destination.

Already the leading company homeporting in Greece, Celestyal's season will be extended by eight weeks in 2019 after being extended by four weeks this year, with the goal of being year-round by 2021.

Theophilides said in 2019 the new programme will further promote the 'Eklekto' [eclectic] Aegean and three continents.

Egypt, Israel and Cyprus appeal

Celestyal's 2019 and 2020 itineraries will add seven new ports to its Eastern Mediterranean product.

In regards to Greece, Celestyal already has 19 destinations on its itineraries. Next year, the company will add two new 7-day itineraries: the Eclectic Aegean itinerary will include Volos for excursions to the mountains of Meteora, as new destinations in Greece, and the second is the 7-day ‘3 Continents’, which is more focused on the Eastern Mediterranean, which touches Rhodes and other Greek destinations, but also goes to Egypt, Israel and Cyprus.

Peden also referred to 'maximising' the company's operations. He outlined the commercial strategy in 11 countries and its development in 2019.

He stressed the company's digitalisation and growing presence on the internet and that Celestyal is reaching potential passengers of 140 different nationalities, and in 2018 had over 832,000 visitors. Its website is in seven different languages.

Hike in North American sourced passengers

The year just ended saw an increase in American and Canadian passengers, with the North American market accounting for 52% of the company's total, Spain 12%, Latin America 10%, Greece 10% and Turkey 9%.

Peden said the focus in 2019 is the opening of new markets, with a target growth of 21%, through optimising new distribution partners, new in-market representation, the launching of a new global promotional and marketing strategy and enhance group offerings with new value-add-ons.

The appointment of Stewart Williams as regional manager Asia Pacific earlier this year highlights Celesytal's ambitions to gow Asian sourced guests.

Celestyal's contribution to the Greek economy, and its role in promoting Greece around the world was stressed by Koubenas. In 2018, Celestyal's total contribution to the Greek economy ran to some Euro 102.5m ($115m).

The company's community and social projects were outlined by Zaroulea. She said that since 2015 some 2,500 students on the islands of Milos, Patmos, Ios and Samos have had the opportunity to follow educational programmes supported by Celestyal. An example of this was the year-long Archimidis educational programme in which Celestyal working with the Theocharakis Foundation, enabled some 1,200 pupils and teachers in Samos to take advantage of modern methods of teaching science subjects.