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Celebrity Cruises will name its new ship Celebrity Apex in Southampton in 2020, then offer a mini-series of sailings from the UK.

Launching the line’s second Edge-class ship in Britain is “a reward for the UK & Irish trade”, according to president and CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo.

“UK & Irish agents have really rallied behind this series of ships. They have a real enthusiasm for them, and customers and luxury lovers in particular are flocking to the first one, Celebrity Edge,” she said.

“Of all the ships that are launching in 2018 and 2019, Celebrity Edge is the one everyone is talking about, and the excitement from the UK & Irish travel trade hasn’t gone unnoticed. For us to make this commitment [bringing Apex to Southampton], shows how much we value the UK & Irish market.”

Lutoff-Perlo added: “When Celebrity Apex launches in Southampton in April 2020, it will be another incredible moment for our company and the UK market, especially as it will be 10 years since we last named and operated a brand new ship from the UK (with Celebrity Eclipse in 2010).

News of the deployment means it will be the first time Celebrity Cruises will operate two ships from the UK’s largest port, with Celebrity Silhouette returning to Southampton for her third consecutive year.

Lutoff-Perlo said Apex’s initial itineraries would be revealed when the ship goes on sale on November 29.

“We will announce the deployment on November 29, whether it be the Norwegian Fjords, the Baltic or the Mediterranean. And there may be one or two short cruises to get the ship into the right places in between itineraries,” she said.

Jo Rzymowska, vice president and managing director for the UK, Ireland and Asia, added: “The appetite from our agent partners for the Edge Class of ships has been simply phenomenal – it’s no exaggeration to say it’s been record-breaking. It’s a fitting thank you to bring new ship Celebrity Apex to the UK in 2020 and showcase one of our ships to more agents than ever before. I promise the travel industry will have never seen anything like it, and I simply can’t wait.”

About 40 leading UK agent partners were at the shipyard in Saint Nazaire, France today (Thursday) visiting Celebrity Edge, when news of Apex’s UK launch and deployment was announced.

Apex will be identical to Edge and Rzymowska said she hoped the visit to see the ship under construction would drive strong pre-registrations for Apex.

Hundreds more agents will then get to see Edge in Southampton in May 2019, when she joins the programme for the Clia UK & Ireland conference.

“Once agents have seen Celebrity Edge live, we really hope it will encourage them to really get behind Apex,” said Rzymowska.

Lutoff-Perlo added: “The UK overall is doing well. But UK and Irish agents are over-indexing on suites and high-end categories. It shows the confidence the British and Irish have in selling Edge – and hopefully Apex too.”

A dedicated selling tool-kit, specific to the new ship, and details on new itineraries, will be available later this year.

Lutoff-Perlo added that Celebrity was “scanning the globe” for a suitable Godmother for Apex.

“We are developing a shortlist of names, but I think you can see that Celebrity has Godmothers who are carving out a meaningful place in the world, and who have strong guiding principles. We have set a tone so I think people are understanding what it is we are looking for,” she said.

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