When we were on the Celebrity Reflection in April, I had a chance to sit down with two of the officers & chat about everything Celebrity cruising. I think you’ll find some of their reflections (haha, no pun intended!) as insightful as I did!
Chat with Jamie Petts, Hotel Director
On what the heck a Hotel Director is: “the equivalent to a land-based hotel director. Basically everything that’s not marine related. I manage a team with 10 direct reports & work to ensure we’re meeting company targets & ensuring that public health & safety are tip top on the ship.”
On whether it’s safe to cruise (after this incident & this one & this one): “A few high profile incidents have tarnished the entire industry. I bring my family on a ship for a month at a time – I wouldn’t put my wife & kids in danger if I thought it wasn’t safe. The media [coverage] makes it feel like it’s not safe. The odds of something happening on a ship? Minimal. In fact, being on a ship is one of the safest places to have a heart attack. If you had a heart attack on a ship, the response time is about 90 seconds. If you collapse in the middle of a shopping mall, I guarantee you that help will not be there within 90 seconds.
“Norovirus is a big deal – it really is. We work closely with CDC & NIH, as it’s not just a cruise ship disease, but a public disease. Many places – schools, resorts, hotels, businesses – have to deal with it. Hand washing is key – both passengers & crew have gotten really good about hand washing because they know it helps keep everyone healthy.”
On what has changed the most over his 17 year career at sea: “Over 17 years at sea, ships have gotten bigger & the style of cruising has changed. It’s now more of a resort experience. There’s no doubt that Celebrity ships offer a great experience.”
On the value of cruising: “Cruising is one of the best bang for your buck vacations you can take. That’s why we survived the 2008 economic downturn; people still cruised because it is an affordable vacation.”
On the changes Celebrity is making to redefine “Modern Luxury” & attract younger cruisers: “There has definitely been an evolution in the on-board entertainment to meet the ‘Modern Luxury’ brand. Our production cast mingles with the crowd, we have a nightclub in the Solarium, our production shows aren’t the traditional shows. The next generation likes a less rigid program & schedule, so we’re adapting to that.
“With all this change, though, is a balance between generations. We still offer set dining times, regular Broadway-style shows, etc. The business has to evolve gradually – we don’t want to not move forward, not do different things, that’s not a good business models.”
On his favorite part of his job: “I deal with people. I don’t ever want to be bored. My job makes every day interesting – sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad, but it’s always interesting.”
On the most challenging part of his job: “I deal with a hotel that moves. In one day, 3000 guests get off & then 3000 guests get on – I have one hour with the ship empty!”
His advice to DINKs who have never cruised: “Open the brochure & you’ll see we’re a modern luxury hotel. You will not be bored, I promise, you will find something you like on this ship. We’re like a W Hotel that moves.” [editors note: I totally agree!]
Chat with Alexander Yepremian, Cruise Director
On what a Cruise Director actually does (hint: it’s not the same as on Love Boat!): “I’m currently the youngest Celebrity Cruise Director – I’m 32. Which is great because I get to lead so many different things in this Modern Luxury line.”
On how his job is changing as Celebrity redefines Modern Luxury: “Celebrity Cruise Directors are doing so many different things on-board – the newlywed game is gone, the khaki pants & double greatest navy blazer is gone. Now passengers want Jimmy Fallon on-board!
“Modern Luxury isn’t an age – it’s an attitude, a lifestyle. A few years ago, I had a 98 year old woman dancing with the DJs! Entertainment is definitely changing on-board. It’s a tough question: do you cater to the guests we used to have, the guests we have now or the guests we’d like to have in the future?”
On how he got into a career on a cruise ship: “I auditioned for a cruise ship production show. I started socializing with the guests & the Cruise Director recommended that I apply for a Cruise Director position. Azamara recruited me to be an Assistant Cruise Director & I did that for almost two years & loved it. Then I came to Celebrity.”
On his favorite part of his job: “When there’s a problem. I love solving it! I also love being a minor celebrity on-board & interacting with people. It’s so cool that I get to meet an average of 1200 people per month – by name. I could go to any major city in the world & I probably have a business card from someone there.”
On the coolest thing he’s doing right now: “I love that we’re doing activities the guests wouldn’t do at home. Zumba? You’re probably not going to try it at home, but you might be doing it on the pool deck. We have an art studio on-board where you can make something really cool – we’re not talking cheap jewelry, but something really nice that will be a keepsake. I love trading ideas with other Cruise Directors & learning about new activities.”
His advice to DINKs who have never cruised: “Celebrity has hit the nail on the head. If you’re our generation [Alexander & I are the same age], & you want to see the world, this is the best place for you. You unpack once, you know what you’re going to eat, you know you’re going to have a good time with your friends or your significant other. Just try it – get all dressed up, come to the martini bar & have a luxurious time.”