ITTN’s Shane Cullen attended the Celebrity Cruises press conference & Conversation with Celebrity, both led by Lisa Lutoff-Perlo (President & CEO), Jo Rzymowska (Vice President & Managing Director EMEA) and Captain Kate McCue (Captain of Celebrity Beyond).
It’s not incidental that three women took to the stages – each has earned their spot as leader in the industry. Lutoff-Perlo has 35-years of industry experience and she was the first female CEO of a publicly traded cruise company. Equally, in 2014, Kate McCue made history when she became the first and only American woman to captain a major cruise ship, sister ship to Beyond, the Celebrity Edge.
Lutoff-Perlo spoke to the packed setting in The Club (& an equally filled theatre an hour later for Conversation with Celebrity) – “We have been on a journey, ever since I have been appointed to this position in 2014, to improve the gender equality onboard our ships.”. This achievement is against a backdrop of a male-dominated industry where just 2% of mariners globally are women.
Lutoff-Perlo continued, “When I came on to Celebrity, there were 5% of women on the bridge and today, we have 32% of women on our bridges”. Even more impressive is that Captain McCue’s bridge is 70% women.
“It’s a journey and it’s not easy because there aren’t many women out there who opt-in for these careers… We’re still on that journey and we make progress every single day and the great thing is we are recruiting all over the world… we’re really proud of that.”, she added.
Beyond is a fitting name for a ship that goes beyond expectations – beyond what she should look and feel like as a ship. Beyond the standard of entertainment, service, cuisine and activities expected onboard. More than that, she goes beyond what is standard – in terms of gender balance, in terms of diversity and in terms of inclusion.
Lutoff-Perlo emphasised, “We want everyone to feel welcome on Celebrity and we put a tremendous amount of time and energy to ensure that everyone does feel welcome here.”
The CEO explained that it culminated with an inclusive photo project. Lutoff-Perlo explained “we wanted to project, show and use photography of real people, what the world looks like, what our guests really look like, who is sailing on our ships and who we want to feel welcome on board our ships. So we have spent a lot of time thinking about diversity and inclusion. It doesn’t start and end with gender and so we also want to be a brand that is known for that so when people are making their decision to travel, they feel welcome on Celebrity. That we’re a brand they want to choose because we want everyone to feel welcome.”
In fact, on Monday, a couple photographed for the project were married by Captain McCue onboard the ship. After decades together, husband & husband shared their meaningful experience and there were more than a few misty eyes in the audience. The ship is leading the way and leaving a powerful wake to shake up what the world does see and what they should see. Keep leading the way!