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Celestyal Cruises Ready to Kick Off 2022 Season

Celestyal Cruises, a company among the top choices for cruise travellers to the Greek Islands and the Eastern Mediterranean, is officially opening its 2022 cruise season on April 18.

The Celestyal Crystal will kick off her season on April 18 embarking on three- and four-night itineraries, which will be continued by the Celestyal Olympia on April 29. The Celestyal Crystal will then shift to 7-night cruises.

Speaking in Athens during a press briefing on Thursday, Celestyal Cruises Chief Commercial Officer Leslie Peden highlighted that the company this year will once again be including the ports of Thessaloniki and Lavrio as homeports, in addition to the port of Piraeus.

Celestyal Cruises Chief Commercial Officer Leslie Peden.

Celestyal Cruises Chief Commercial Officer Leslie Peden.

“We brought the islands closer to Thessaloniki,” Peden said, underlining that homeporting from the northern Greek city proved to be a wise move for Celestyal due to very good and affordable air connections from northern and western Europe.

He also mentioned that Celestyal sees a growing opportunity in the market from the Balkan countries with many road travelers driving down from the Balkans and embarking on a cruise from Thessaloniki.

Regarding the choice of Lavrio as a homeport destination, Celestyal Cruises Chief Operating Officer Capt. George Koumpenas said that Lavrio had been included in the strategic planning of Celestyal Cruises for several years.

Lavrio is a historic small Greek town located within a 10-minute drive from the Temple of Poseidon in Sounion.

Celestyal Cruises Chief Operating Officer Capt. George Koumpenas.

Celestyal Cruises Chief Operating Officer Capt. George Koumpenas.

According to Capt. Koumpenas, Celestyal’s terminal facility at Lavrio provides an enhanced and speedy embarkation and disembarkation experience for passengers.

Celestyal Cruises also homeports in Limmasol, Cyprus.

2022 will mark Celestyal’s gradual return to normalcy

During the press briefing, Peden said that demand has been strong during the past weeks with bookings currently accounting for 64 percent of 2019 levels. He estimates that Celestyal will reach its pre-pandemic levels in 2023.

“For this coming season for 2022, I’m glad to say that we are actually increasing and getting back to a more normalized business environment with our source markets, for example the long haul markets are now representing almost 50 percent of the business again,” Peden said.

Celestyal’s performance in 2021

Photo Source: @Celestyal Cruises

In 2021 Celestyal Cruises’ itineraries ran from mid-June to the end of August, recording a satisfactory occupancy of 57 percent – a rate much higher than the average of other companies operating in the region during the same period – with 67.8 percent of its passengers coming from the domestic market and neighboring countries to Greece, 19.4 percent from nearby markets and 13.3 percent from long haul markets.

Celestyal last year served a total of 14,330 travelers, of which 8 percent were solo, with their spending at ports of call and homeports amounting to some 15 million euros.

In should be noted that operating only two and a half months in 2021, Celestyal Cruises’ total contribution to the Greek economy reached 26 million euros, which includes the company’s annual direct operating expenses.

Celestyal’s main source markets in 2021 included the United States, the Balkans, Greece, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Cyprus.

More Greeks are opting for cruise travel

With regard to the domestic market, Celestyal’s Chief Commercial Officer Leslie Peden was happy to say that in 2021, some 27 percent of the cruise line’s passengers were Greek travelers, up from 10 percent in 2019.

“Cruise travel is very popular with our Greek guests… The expansion into northern Greece has also brought more Greeks to the market,” Peden said, explaining that it is much more affordable for northern Greeks to embark on a cruise straight from their city rather than travel to Athens and take a cruise from Piraeus.

“We see demand from the Greek market and we want to encourage that demand,” he said.

Fleet renewal

Celestyal Cruises' team (from left to right): Vassilis Karachalios, Sales Manager for the Greek Market; Marios Polydorou, Director of Development and Travel Experience; Frosso Zaroulea, Director of Public Relations; Leslie Peden, Chief Commercial Officer; Katerina Alichanidou, Development Manager for Northern Greece; Capt. George Koumpenas, Chief Operating Officer and President of the Association of Cruise Ship Owners and Shipping Agencies (EEKFN); Alexis Oikonomou, Director of Hotel Department & Customer Service; Capt. Vassilis Gazikas, Director of Shipping Department.

Celestyal Cruises’ team (from left to right): Vassilis Karachalios, Sales Manager for the Greek Market; Marios Polydorou, Director of Development and Travel Experience; Frosso Zaroulea, Director of Public Relations; Leslie Peden, Chief Commercial Officer; Katerina Alichanidou, Development Manager for Northern Greece; Capt. George Koumpenas, Chief Operating Officer and President of the Association of Cruise Ship Owners and Shipping Agencies (EEKFN); Alexis Oikonomou, Director of Hotel Department & Customer Service; Capt. Vassilis Gazikas, Director of Shipping Department.

Moreover, during the press briefing it was mentioned that Celestyal is currently evaluating cruise ships as its strategic priorities include a fleet renewal.

According to the company’s Chief Commercial Officer, Celestyal’s goal is to improve the mix of rooms on offer, as there is a strong demand from passengers for cabins with balconies and suites.

Last November, Celestyal Cruises and its Cyprus-based parent company, Louis plc, announced a new holding company under the name Celestyal Holdings with funds managed by Searchlight Capital Partners, a leading global private investment firm. Celestyal Holdings was launched to boost the cruise company’s brand globally.

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About the Author
Nikos is Greek-American born in New York, USA, and has lived in Greece for over 30 years. He is the managing editor of Greece's leading monthly travel and tourism guide, the Greek Travel Pages (GTP) since June 2008 and of news site GTP Headlines since its launch in September 2012. Nikos has also served as international press officer for the City of Athens and for the mayor. He has a degree in Mass Media and Communications, specializing in Journalism. Nikos is a native English speaker and speaks Greek fluently.

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