Celebrity Cruises: There To Help When Hurricanes Hit
with Martha Chapman
There is not much in our industry which provokes such fear and dread as the word “hurricane.” Affecting clients, agents, airlines, airports, and cruise lines, hurricanes leave a trail of destruction, disruption and grief.
Yet they are a reality in our business and suppliers must be prepared. 2017 was a particularly tough year in the Caribbean, but RCI and its Celebrity division stepped up to the plate with instant action, providing both moral and tangible support to affected islands and to the families of their own staff.
When management at RCI’s Miami head office heard that Hurricane Irma was headed to Florida last September they made Enchantment of the Seas available to employees who had to evacuate, and some 1,500 staff and family members boarded an unconventional escape route away from the storm.
In the ensuing days, as islands measured the devastation, RCI ships sped towards Key West, St. Thomas, St. Martin and Antigua with relief supplies – totalling 20 pallets of medical supplies, 7,800 gallons of milk, 7,000 pounds of ice, and even 13,000 pounds of pet/animal food. On landing in Antigua, crew and volunteers from head office disembarked to help deliver the donations and to help with clean-up efforts.
Other hurricane-related relief efforts this year included an annual sales and marketing summit cruise, which wrapped up San Juan, that saw employees bring suitcases of toiletries, diapers, clothing and other basics as donations. Celebrity also started a hurricane relief fund – still active on its website – and matched the first US$1 million.
When not battling hurricanes, Celebrity has a well-tuned social engagement policy. Its own Save the Waves initiative, founded in 1992, is a continuous commitment to be better on the water. “As we build new ships and revitalize older ones, we make sure we reduce emissions, expand recycling programs and properly dispose of waste,” says Jennifer Barker, Regional Marketing Manager for Canada. “Our goal is to go above and beyond the compliance targets.”
The World Wildlife Fund is also a partner, from plush animal “adoptions” to in-stateroom TV programming.
While in port, crew are encouraged to give back to their host destinations, and participate, for example, in beach clean-ups and tree plantings at schools.
It will be a red-letter day in the life of Celebrity when the new Edge is christened by Malala Yousafzai, female education activist and the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize. The company will be making a donation – amount undisclosed – to the education-oriented Malala Fund adding yet another element to Celebrity’s impressive good works around the world.