Starboard Cruise Services has declared the product offer on Celebrity Cruises’ newest Celebrity Edge ship as the retail highlight of the European season.
As reported, Starboard revealed a next-level shopping experience on Celebrity edge last year ahead of its maiden voyage from the new Terminal 25 in Port Everglades, Fort Lauderdale, Florida on 9 December 2018.
Covering more than 7,000sq ft, The Celebrity Shops on Deck 4 include To the Edge (branded lifestyle), The Gem (fine jewellery), Time is Now (timepieces), Attraction (beauty), Spirited (beauty) and Sense of Self (fashion accessories).
The Deck 5 offer comprises a Bulgari Boutique, Cartier Espace store and Tiffany & Co Boutique.
‘LATEST AND GREATEST’ SHIP
Stefano Menegotto, Vice President and General Manager, Europe, Starboard Cruise Services at LVMH told TRBusiness: “Celebrity edge is the latest and greatest ship from Celebrity Cruises. This has had an outstanding season driven by the luxury brands we have on board.”
Looking to the future, Starboard is working on some major renovations on certain ships in the European itinerary. He explained: “We have been going through our guest results to see what the European guests are looking for.
“With this information, we have already designed new shop concepts which will be implemented on two ships in November and December and be up and running for the 2020 season.”
The purpose of the redesigns is to make the shops more colourful and contemporary, according to Menegotto. “We are getting a lot of glass and really opening up the stores. This is really turning around the interpretation of the traditional shops on cruise ships.”
Reflecting on the launch of Costa Venezia, which comprises a retail offer of 8,000sq ft spread over two decks, Menegotto commented: “Costa Venezia has been pretty phenomenal in the sense we have been investing heavily on a couple of categories.
“One category is beauty, which has been over-performing compared to our expectations. The other is all the luxury brands.”
Bulgari is currently the highlight of the luxury offer on Costa Venezia. “We went through the renovation of the shops with the final installations for the Bulgari, Tiffany and Cartier outlets completed by the time the ship docked into Shanghai. They look astonishing.”
The Bulgari Jewellery show, the first production of its kind at sea continues to gain positive feedback. “It is taking place on every single voyage and generates a huge response from the guests. It is a really exciting event.”
Regarding sales performance on Costa Venezia, which is dedicated exclusively to the Chinese market, Menegotto said: “The sales results on Costa Venezia are significantly better than the previous ships we had in that itinerary. Everything is working as expected.”
The multi-year agreement between Starboard and Costa for retail operations, which was established last year, also includes the launch of Costa Smeralda. TRBusiness understands the retail project for Costa Smeralda has been completed, but the launch of the ship delayed for technical issues.
“Costa Smeralda should still launch for us by the end of the year. It will be the biggest ship we have ever had in the European market with almost 6,000 guests and phenomenal interior design. The ship will be very focused on creating an environmentally friendly approach which is the latest trend we are seeing across all regions especially in Europe,” Menegotto revealed.
RAISING THE BAR
He also suggests new shop designs are changing the standard of branded boutiques. “We are really getting into personalised shops which tell a story by themselves and do not leverage only on the brands.”
Menegotto, who cites Starboard’s highly trained and knowledgeable staff as its ‘biggest asset and differentiator’, says competition and opening hours are significant external challenges.
“Everyone is trying to be innovative in this industry. It’s a very dynamic business and we are always keeping up with new ideas to be the benchmark.”
In terms of openings hours, more ships are spending more time in ports, which means less time to trade. This is a trend across the entire cruise business. “The challenge for us is adapting to the new itineraries the ships are deploying in Europe and being able to capitalise on the fewer opening hours currently in the market.”
Offering a snapshot of the main trends across the European DF&TR cruise sector this year, Menegotto pinpoints two elements. One is capacity expansion and the other is competition which he alluded to earlier.
“Overall, there is a significant increase in the amount of ships which have been driving additional sales as a result of there being more guests. On the other side, the greater number of cruises means greater competition which can affect single guest performance.”
He also emphasises the ‘different dynamic’ between European and non-European guests. “The non-European passenger (North American and Asian) continues to see greater sales growth on average than the European guest.”
Pressed on the possibility of implementing digital solutions on its various vessels, Menegotto remarked: “There are a couple of constraints in the infrastructure of the ships and the fact we are at sea. This means there are limitations in terms of connectivity. We are, however, making steps in the pre-cruise area and being able to target guests before they get on the ships.”
Starboard also has plenty to do to capitalise on the significant growth in the luxury segment. “The luxury ships are really taking a different path from the rest of the cruise lines which have more mass-market products. This luxury element is something we are focusing a lot on in the European market.”