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Sunday,  July 21, 2024 10:16 AM 

“Attitude is everything”: Energy “off the charts” at TravelBrands’ SeaU on board Celebrity Beyond

“Attitude is everything”: Energy “off the charts” at TravelBrands’ SeaU on board Celebrity Beyond
TravelBrands Encore Cruises' SeaU conference is currently underway on board Celebrity Beyond. (Supplied/File photos)
Michael Pihach

Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.

While the sea was churning, travel agents were learning.

TravelBrands Encore Cruises’ seventh SeaU conference is currently underway on board Celebrity’s Cruises’ all-new ship Celebrity Beyond.

The seven-night Western Caribbean voyage, with stops in the Bahamas, Mexico, and Grand Cayman, is filled with training sessions by multiple cruise lines, workshops, and seminars to give Canadian travel advisors the tools they need to make the best cruise sale.

For attendee Beverley Edgar of The Travel Agent Next Door (TTAND), participating in SeaU is not only an opportunity to make new connections, but to also experience a Celebrity ship for the very first time.

Beverley Edgar of The Travel Agent Next Door experiences her first Celebrity cruise at TravelBrands' SeaU conference. (Beverley Edgar)

“I wanted to experience a cruise with Celebrity, and to be able to do this on Beyond has been the icing on the cake!” Edgar told PAX, praising the “abundance of natural light” in her Infinite Veranda stateroom.

“As soon as I entered the ship, I felt the relaxed luxury Celebrity is famous for. It felt like I was entering a beautiful spa.”

"Beyond" glamourous

Celebrity Beyond, which made her U.S. debut in New York in October 2022 following a series of European sailings, is the third ship in the line’s high-end Edge Series.

The ultra-luxe vessel complements Celebrity’s attractive All-Included pricing model, which includes drinks, Wi-Fi and tips.

Celebrity Beyond is longer and taller than its predecessors. (Pax Global Media/file photo)

As PAX learned during a preview sailing last year, size is a key differentiator on Beyond – at 1,073 feet-long and 17 decks high, the ship is both longer and taller than its predecessors Celebrity Edge and Apex.

READ MORE: On Location: “BEYOND excited” – Canada gets the Celebrity Beyond treatment in Florida

In addition to 32 food and beverage venues, Beyond has 179 more staterooms (1,646 total) and can accommodate up to 3,260 guests.

Evening vibes at the Sunset Bar. (Pax Global Media/File photo)

The Grand Plaza on board Celebrity Beyond. (File photo/Pax Global Media)

Spaces have been reimagined, such as the outdoor, Moroccan-inspired, Nate Berkus-designed Deck 15 Sunset Bar, which is now 180 per cent larger with tiered levels.

The Retreat, an exclusive “resort-within-a-resort” area for suite guests, also has more deck space and units due to high demand.

The Retreat has more deck space on Beyond. (Celebrity Cruises)

And there's Celebrity’s newest restaurant to debut on Beyond – “Le Voyage,” Michelin-starred Chef Daniel Boulud’s first signature dining venue at sea. 

Inside Le Voyage, Michelin-starred Chef Daniel Boulud’s first signature dining venue at sea on board Celebrity Beyond. (Pax Global Media/File photo)

There are also sexy Edge-era amenities on Beyond that all guests can enjoy, such as The Magic Carpet (a cantilevered, floating platform), the Rooftop Garden (which has real shrubbery) and Eden, a multi-level concept café, restaurant and performance space with leafy art installations and panoramic windows.

The Magic Carpet at sunset. (Pax Global Media/File photo)

Locking in future cruises

For agents at SeaU – where cruise training is the key focus – one goal is to go above and “beyond” and make future cruise bookings for clients while on board. 

Edgar alongside two of her colleagues – Maizy Alexander and Andrea Cottle – were among the first three to lock in sales, winning an on-board contest Celebrity held for conference attendees.

Alexander knows Beyond like the back of her hand – her participation at SeaU marks the fourth time she has experienced the modern vessel.

Travel advisor Maizy Alexander on board Celebrity Beyond. (Pax Global Media/File photo)

“This ship is very, very nice,” Alexander told PAX in an interview last November. “The brand is luxury. It has come to that point.”

Alexander is an “Ultimate Iconic Advisor” – a prestigious honour Celebrity bestows on its highest-producing and most collaborative travel advisors.

She says spending as much time as possible on ships is part and parcel of the job.

“Exploring and learning [on ships] will help you become successful,” said Alexander. “If you know the product, and your clients, you can sell it.”

Andrea Cottle, Maizy Alexander and Beverley Edgar lock in future cruises for their clients at SeaU. (Beverley Edgar)

At yesterday’s SeaU kickoff, Dondra Ritzenthaler, senior-vice president of sales and trade support and services at Celebrity, welcomed attendees – there’s more than 250 Canadian travel advisors participating in the event. 

One point that Ritzenthaler made that particularly stuck with both Edgar and Alexander is that “attitude is everything” when it comes to selling cruises.

Brenda Lynne Yeomans, key account manager at Celebrity Cruises Canada (left, second from front) dines with agents on board Beyond at SeaU. (Supplied)

“Everything has been super fantastic,” Alexander said of her SeaU experience so far.

Participants yesterday were also given a sneak peek at Beyond’s high-tech “Elements” show, which is a journey through the five elements that incorporates futuristic visuals, acrobatic performances, edgy fashion and live covers of pop and rock songs.

Celebrity Beyond's "Elements" show. (Pax Global Media/file photo)

The Theatre on Beyond, with an “air fountain,” life-like projections and shape-shifting stage floors, also delivers visually-spectacular programming at sea – in richer colours, too, compared to past ships.

“Surprise and delight moments”

SeaU attendees at yesterday’s launch were greeted by the teams from TravelBrands and Celebrity Cruises – which gave the crowd a "Top Gun"-themed welcome.

TravelBrands, notably, received an award from Celebrity for being Tour Operator of the Year. 

“The Travelbrands team remains fully engaged and are always first to jump in and support our initiatives,” Allan Brooks, national director, market sales – Canada at Celebrity, told PAX. “It is a true pleasure working with this group of seasoned professionals. Congrats to the entire Travelbrands team!"

The Celebrity Cruises Canada team gave SeaU attendees a Top Gun-themed welcome. (Beverley Edgar)

On the SeaU conference itself, Brooks said it has so far been “an incredible and very unique experience.”

“The energy from the kickoff meeting was off the charts and both the agents and suppliers are raving about the Celebrity Beyond,” Brooks said. “It is always great to connect with our travel partners, but to be able to do it on board this amazing ship is extra special. It’s only day two and we have lots more in store. It’s all about surprise and delight moments!”

Allan Brooks, national director, market sales – Canada at Celebrity Cruises. (Pax Global Media/file photo)

Nathalie Tanious, chief operating officer at TravelBrands, said SeaU is the event Canadian travel agents look forward to.

“It's truly the best of both worlds: intense workshops and training sessions while enjoying the amenities of the Celebrity Beyond. Plus, being named Tour Operator of the Year for 2022 by Celebrity Cruises shows our working relationship of over 15 years is very strong,” Tanious told PAX.

Tanious added that participants are “superbly engaged” and that Celebrity’s hospitality has been "sensational.”

From left: Frank DeMarinis, president & CEO, TravelBrands; Allan Brooks, national director, market sales, Canada, Celebrity; Brenda Lynne Yeomans, key account manager, Canada, Celebrity; Nathalie Tanious, COO, TravelBrands. (Supplied/TravelBrands)

The group is touring Nassau in the Bahamas today (six buses left the port at 9 a.m. this morning) and tonight, a big dinner has been planned for all attendees.

“This trip is all about connecting, learning and having a great time with the industry’s leading members,” Tanious said.

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