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Celestyal looks to build on triple-digit UK growth with Arabian Gulf expansion

Celestyal, Janet Parton

Celestyal will look to build on “triple-digit” booking growth in the UK in 2024 with the expansion of its Arabian Gulf programme

The company’s vice president of business development UK Janet Parton told Cruise Trade News the line’s decision to redeploy Celestyal Discovery in the Arabian Gulf came in a bid to capitalise on a buoyant UK market.

“[Trade business] in the UK has been performing really well,” she continued. “We are in high triple digit growth year-on-year and we are very grateful for our travel agent partners’ support in helping make this happen.”

Parton said the response to Celestyal from the trade over the last 12 months has been “overwhelming”, with bookings coming in through an array of agents, including homeworkers, consortia and independent retail outlets.

The line’s seven-night Desert Days itinerary in the Gulf has been “positively received” by the trade, Parton continued. “Our intention was always for the UK to be a core part of that business, hence the growth in the Gulf, as we believe the UK has the capacity to perform even better.”

Celestyal’s intentions to grow its presence in the UK have been cemented since Parton’s appointment. “It started with our winter deployment for 2025,” she added. “The UK has always been identified as one of our core growth markets, even more so now that we’ve put the second ship into the Gulf.”

The line has also put its 2026/winter 2027 deployment on sale earlier than ever before in a bid to capitalise on early bookings.

Celestyal identifies ‘race for space’ in 2024

“The bookings are coming in at a good pace for 2025 and the demand is there for 2026,” Parton said, “so we’ve gone early than we ever have done for 2026.

“When looking at the portfolio, we can see a race for space for 2024. So it’s a case of needing to get in early to guarantee the available space, hence why we’ve gone out so early with 2026.”

The bookings are coming in at a good pace for 2025 and the demand is there for 2026

Parton believes the line’s expansion in the Gulf gives agents the opportunity to appeal to a new strain of client. “For those that have never cruised before, the region is a really strong selling point for the UK with all of the airlift available,” she said.

“We know a lot of travellers go to the Arabian Gulf for a land-based holiday, and what that does is open up another proposition to convince customers to do their land stay in the Gulf and then take a cruise to another region.”

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