There’s no stopping Celebrity Cruises at the moment, with the recent launch of the long-awaited Celebrity Edge; a multi-million dollar transformation of the full fleet in the Celebrity Revolution; and brand new ships on the way – it’s the perfect time to get an inside perspective of what makes this cruise line so special.

Leon Hand - Celebrity CruisesWe recently had the privilege of speaking with Celebrity Cruises’ UK and Ireland Training Manager, Leon Hand to see what we can expect with the upcoming ships, fleet refurbishment and future plans for the cruise line.

Tell us a little bit about Celebrity Cruises…

LH: Celebrity Cruises is the world’s leading premium cruise line, with 13 ships in the fleet visiting over 300 destinations worldwide.

We stand out in the industry when it comes to forward-thinking, cutting-edge design, and our product offering can be summed up in one phrase: modern luxury. This is a unique fusion of the best quality dining, accommodation and service with a contemporary modern approach and feel in everything we offer.

The biggest milestones for me I think are winning top awards in the travel industry and at Cruise Critic (Most Awarded Cruise Line for 2017), and of course Celebrity Edge, the ship that the whole world is talking about!

How will Celebrity Revolution impact Celebrity Cruises as a whole? What was the reasoning behind deciding to makeover the ships?

LH: We are spending $500 million over 4 years to take our entire fleet to the ‘edge’ (pardon the pun!) The organisation has never invested such a large amount of capital in its history. It is an ambitious programme of revitalisation of all our ships inspired by the design and innovation of Celebrity Edge. We wanted the entire fleet to come up to the same transformational design and quality of our newest ship, and by 2023 all ships will have been fully revolutionised. There is also an emphasis on the luxury market, which is why we are creating The Retreat: a suite-class only area onboard.

Celebrity Cruises - Celebrity Flora

What makes Celebrity Flora so special? Will there be more ships to come like her?

LH: Again this is an example of our design DNA, as it is the first ship ever built that has been designed with the destination – the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador – in mind. Celebrity Flora is not only the most environmentally-friendly ship at sea (no anchors, lots of solar panels, all furnishings onboard sourced locally), she is our first ever all-suite accommodation ship.

Offering 50 suites, the accommodation is ultra-luxurious (each suite features a butler and floor-to-ceiling windows) and is based in the Galapagos all year round. Many of the suites also have the incredible Infinite Balcony featured as an industry-first on Celebrity Edge. And don’t forget that with Celebrity in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, the holiday is all-inclusive (including wi-fi!)

As we prepare for the upcoming Celebrity Edge in December and then Celebrity Apex in 2020, we are seeing many new and innovative features on-board. Which is your favourite?

LH: Without doubt The Magic Carpet has to be the most exciting. We are leaders in innovation in the cruise industry I feel.  This floating platform on the side of the ship which transforms into a bar, restaurant, and disembarkation area depending on which deck it is located on, has got to be seen to be believed!

Celebrity Edge - Magic Carpet

What is something everyone should experience on-board their Celebrity cruise?

LH: Our culinary offering onboard is definitely a highlight of any cruise with us, so I highly recommend that guests experience the speciality restaurants. We have such a rich variety of different styles of cuisine, and my favourite is Le Petit Chef @ Qsine. This is an incredible dining experience where the dishes you enjoy are brought to life right on the table using 4D animation.

What advice would you give to someone new-to-cruise and considering Celebrity Cruises?

LH: With Celebrity it’s all about lifestyle and passion for the good things in life, so consider what you love most in terms of indulgence when travelling and match that one passion to what we offer.

Celebrity Cruise is particularly appealing to foodies, wine lovers, those guests who love wellbeing and a healthy lifestyle, and especially adventurers, city-break lovers and culture-vultures! We have so many overnight and double overnight stays that a cruise with us feels like lots of little holidays in one big one!

What is your favourite cruising memory?

LH: It has to be sailing into Venice on the helipad – cruising slowly through the Grand Canal and arriving so majestically into this beautiful city with a birds-eye-view was such a special moment for me.

As Celebrity Revolution is forecast to end in 2023 with Celebrity Reflection, where do you envision Celebrity Cruises going next with their business plans?

LH: I believe our main focus is successful delivery of the next Edge class ships as they will be launched in 2020, 2021 and 2022. We are so excited that Celebrity Apex is coming to Southampton in April 2020!

Celebrity Apex - Celebrity Cruises

What is one thing Celebrity Cruises simply couldn’t exist without?

LH: Our dedicated, hard-working, super-professional and exemplary crew! These wonderful people work tirelessly every day to deliver the best service onboard and I am so proud to work for this company because of them.

If you didn’t work in the cruise industry, what do you think you would be spending your time doing now?

LH: I like to think I’d be a travel writer for a big newspaper! I have worked in the travel industry for 27 years now and travelling is still my main passion. I have seen a lot of the world and I’d love to share my thoughts and memories on the destinations and cultures I have experienced – and get paid for it too of course!

What is it like to work for Celebrity Cruises?

LH: It’s exciting! My job is so varied and fast-paced, and no two weeks in the year are the same for me.

It is such an innovative and forward-thinking brand, always evolving and growing, and you have to evolve and adapt with it. After almost 10 years with Celebrity I am blown away by the incredible growth and progress we have made in the industry, and I am so grateful to be part of this journey.

Couple dancing on-board Celebrity Cruises

Where is your ultimate cruising destination and which Celebrity Cruises’ ship would you love to sail there on?

LH: I am dying to do Panama Canal – west or east bound. Imagine that you can literally cruise from the USA’s west coast to east coast (or vice versa) via central and south America as well as the Caribbean! 14 days seeing two continents would be a dream for me, and as I am a cruise geek the best bit for me would be cruising through the Panama Canal itself. I am happy to cruise on any ship in our fleet as they are all fabulous!

It’s safe to say that Celebrity Cruises is certainly expanding within the luxury cruising market, standing out as a leader in providing innovative, cutting-edge cruise ships.

If you’d like to find out more about Celebrity Cruises and their fleet, click the button below and see what you can expect on some of these stunning new additions.

If you have any further questions or would like to make a booking, please don’t hesitate to call our Cruise Concierge team on 0808 1234 118 for expert advice and award-winning luxury service.

Emma Smith
Emma has more than six years' experience as a writer and has been in the travel industry for over two years. She loves learning of new places and cruise ships coming to market, as well as discovering fun and exciting activities to do while you sail. She has cruised with Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises and is looking to get something in diary for 2021! Her favourite things to see on a ship include excellent entertainment, a delicious cocktail menu and extraordinary dining venues.

2 Responses to “Exclusive Interview with Celebrity Cruises’ Leon Hand”

  1. brenda seymour

    I would like to see more cruises from southampton, perhaps going further into the year around the med.

    • Emma Smith

      Hi Brenda, you can see all of our cruises from the UK here. If you would like to know more, please call our Cruise Concierge team on 0808 202 6105 for expert advice and assistance. Thanks, Emma.


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