More than 500 UK agents set to attend cruise event, reports Harry Kemble

Celebrity Cruises’ boss has laid down the challenge to agents to sell the line’s two Edgeclass vessels if they want either ship to sail a full season out of the UK.

Celebrity Edge is due to start a mini season out of Southampton after arriving at the UK port this week, while sister vessel Celebrity Apex will operate four ex-UK itineraries from April next year.

Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, the line’s president and chief executive, told Travel Weekly she will use her time on stage at this year’s Clia Conference to make the point that only a high volume of sales will mean either Edge or Apex homeporting in Southampton.

Speaking ahead of the conference, she said: “So many agents ask me to dedicate a ship to the UK market, but what I am going to tell them at Clia is that it depends on how successful you make Edge and Apex when they sail out of the UK.

“So, when it is time for the next round of deployment decisions this fall [autumn], I can tell them whether or not we are going to announce an Edge series [ship] out of Southampton [full-time].”

Ellen Bettridge, chief executive of Uniworld and another keynote speaker at the Clia Conference, said her message to agents would be that they have a huge opportunity to increase sales by working with lines they haven’t sold before.

“Agents are understanding that it is OK to sell a more expensive cruise line,” she said, adding that The Cruise Village “is a perfect example of an agency that was not selling Uniworld” but was now “absolutely killing it”.

Antarctica explorer aims to help agents sell the White Continent

Explorer Felicity Aston plans to give agents at Clia “a taste of Antarctica” by recounting her record-breaking 59-day journey across the ice-covered landmass.

Aston, who will address 500 agents on behalf of Silversea, became the first woman to cross the southernmost continent in 2012 without any kites or machines.

By describing her experiences, Aston hopes that it will help equip agents to sell expedition cruises in Antarctica.

She said: “I will give them a taste of why people think going to Antarctica is life-changing.

“It is an exciting adventure that has its ups and downs.

“No one else can tell this story but me. I will describe the continent and tell the audience what Antarctica is really like.

“It must be tough to help people achieve that trip of the lifetime if they have no idea of what the place is like.

“It is very expensive and is likely to be a once-in-a-lifetime trip, so you want to get it right for them.

“The wonderful thing is that we live in a time where it is possible to go to Antarctica.”

Aston will speak at the conference in Southampton on May 17 on board Cunard’s Queen Mary 2.

MoreCelebrity Edge makes UK debut