Let me start off by saying Celebrity Cruises has been one of our favorite cruise lines for many years and for many reasons. However, now Celebrity is making BIG MISTAKES which can damage their brand.

So what’s wrong?

This would be illegal in the US or Europe as False Advertising

For what I’d suspect is some misguided headquarters-based bean-counting accountant’s bad decisions, Celebrity is advertising drinks with premium spirits, while they don’t have those premium spirits on the ship and are substituting other spirits, sometimes with cheap substitutes. But they are still selling and charging for the drinks as if they were delivering what they offer on the menu. REALLY? Isn’t this deception?

Celebrity Martini Bar MenuFor instance, at the Martini Bar, the menu features several flavored Grey Goose cocktails such as the Peartini, Cherry Lane, Candied Apple, etc. However, they don’t have any of those Grey Goose-flavored vodkas.

On the Pool Bar, the menu features Blue Note Punch (Stoli Blueberry), but they don’t carry Stoli Blueberry onboard.  The French Caribbean features Chambord and Passion Fruit puree, but they don’t have Passion Fruit puree and instead substitute Mango puree, which is good, but instead of adding Chambord as advertised they switch to cheap Crème de Cassis – not the same at all.

There are more examples, but you get the idea.

Oh wait, there is one other glaring foolish mistake. Apparently, Ketel One vodka and Celebrity have entered into a marketing deal. One sad result is the Ketel One Espresso Martini box which is just a big, refrigerated jug of pre-made Ketel One with an espresso martini mix dumped in. Nothing like the truly exceptional Martini Bar’s previous Espresso Martini. When we asked two different bartenders about this, they both said they hate the machine, and they don’t recommend its espresso martini. Good job bean counters! Another Celebrity great bites the dust.

Many of these drinks are sold as “premium” drinks which cost extra if a guest only has the “Classic” drink package. So those guests may be paying an “up-charge” for a drink that isn’t even what they ordered. REALLY?

It is deceptive, misleading and if done in the US or Europe it would probably be illegal. But aside from legality, what about the brand’s integrity and its duty to its customers? At a minimum print up new menus or at least advise customers.

In the grand things of everything going on in the world, is this so important? Yes, we need to hold people and organizations accountable. They need to be called out and held accountable. We deserve what we are paying for – it is called a fair deal.

Can I have your room card? Again…

A lesser complaint is the new need to constantly give your room key to every waiter when you order anything. You can’t just show your card or give your room number. Now you give your card every time, even if ordering at the same bar or in the coffee shop from the same waiter or bartender.

Think about this! Celebrity instituted keyless non-contact room cards in part to minimize the spread of viruses including Covid. Great idea. However, every time you order a drink at the bar or coffee shop or in the buffet, you have to give your room card to the server. Think how many hands have touched your card.

In our 20+ years of cruising, by the second day of the cruise, the good bartenders, and Celebrity had excellent bartenders, they knew their regular customers and rarely asked for your room card. Not now, they’ve been instructed by management to take your room card for each order. This is not how it was done, and it is not exceptional or good customer service.

I spoke with the assistant manager for the Martini Bar and asked him why they are doing this. His response was typical corporate babble about needing to be able to track drink sales – sounds like an accountant running a cruise line and not someone focused on the customer experience. I asked him how he’d enjoy a night out with friends or his spouse if they had to constantly give their credit card every time they ordered anything at a bar. I said you’d get annoyed. Several other long-time Celebrity cruisers vented similar irritation with these changes. Celebrity, focus on the customer experience or you risk becoming no better than the mass-market cruise line.

Prior to Covid, Celebrity had been making a marketing push to be viewed as a “luxury” brand. This kind of nonsense will do nothing but undermine that effort. You can’t have it both ways. Either customer service drives your operational decisions, or the accountants makes the decisions. But if the accountants are making the decisions the value of the brand will erode over time as customers’ take notice.

Tell Celebrity to stop this crazy downward path. Ask them to protect their brand and the brand many of us have loved for decades.

Fix your drink menu, focus on the customer experience, be honest with your valued guests, and go back to your old ways.

If Celebrity Cruises is one of your favorite cruise lines, as it is ours, email Celebrity’s New Chief Executive Laura Hodges Bethge. Her email is lh*****@rc**.com, ask her to bring the old customer-focused Celebrity back.

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Abercrombie Kent

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