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Interview With Nicholas Filippidis, Director of Product Development in North America for Celestyal Cruises

Nicholas Filippidis 2Nicholas Filippidis is the Director of Product Development for Celestyal Cruises in North America, part of the award winning global travel & tourism corporation, The Louis Group. In his role, a post that he has held over the past 12 years, he is responsible for directing the company’s initiatives towards the North American market in the areas of Business Development, Sales, and Marketing. A time-honored travel industry professional, Mr. Filippidis has more than 39 years of specialization in travel throughout the Mediterranean and in the Cruise industry as a whole. Over his career he has served in key management roles for organizations including The Greek Government Tourist Organization and Sun Line Cruises & Royal Olympia Cruises. Born in Greece with roots throughout the country, Mr. Filippidis’ extensive insight into Greece, the Greek Islands and the surrounding regions is unparalleled and further serves to achieve the objectives of Celestyal Cruises in their offering of “The Real Greek Experience” via the company’s unique cruise programs to popular and off-the-beaten path destinations, themed cruises, outstanding shore excursions, and exclusive food, wine, and cultural offerings that provide travelers with authentically rich experiences in each place visited. Mr. Filippidis is based in South Florida where he resides with his lovely wife: he is also a proud father of 4 children and 3 grandchildren with one more to join the family soon.

Travel Research Online (TRO): Your tagline is “Say Kalimera to the Real Greek Experience” – what does it signify?

Nicholas Filippidis (NF): For Celestyal Cruises and all who have experienced the welcoming hospitality onboard our ships, Kalimera is much more than a greeting beyond its literal translation of “Good Morning” – it means good in every sense of the word! Saying Kalimera to the “Real Greek Experience,” is a promise Celestyal Cruises makes to provide travelers and our travel agent partners the absolute best of Greece throughout their cruise experience – starting from the planning stages, and throughout their travels – both on board our ships and at our incredible destinations.

TRO: What make sailing with Celestyal Cruises different than any other cruise experience?

NF: When travelers sail with Celestyal Cruises, they expect a real, authentic Greek experience. We know our guests want to do more than just visit unique destinations; they want to experience them like a local. They want to taste delicious, homemade Greek cuisine, to sample outstanding Greek wines and spirits, to enjoy music by authentic Greek musicians, to walk among the archeological marvels from ancient times and they want to hear all about this storied land first-hand. And, of course, they want to sing and dance until dawn. This is what our cruises deliver: there is simply no other program like it on the high seas.

TRO: How does the new name brand “Celestyal” associate with your product?

NF: The common denominator within our niche and regional approach is the personalized attention we provide to our passengers who feel like being at home away from home. Our midsized vessels allow us to provide a personalized and warm-hearted service reinforced by the essence of Greek hospitality. This led us to believe that the most appropriate descriptor of our passengers’ overall experience on one of our vessels is: heavenly. Hence, the choice of the name Celestyal. “Celestyal” means “of the stars,” “heavenly” and “divine” – it defines the authentic Greek experience that the company provides. “Celestyal” also honors the Ancient Greeks, one of the first civilizations to use celestial navigation.

TRO: What ports of call does Celestyal Cruises visit and what are some of your new destinations for 2015?

NF: With Celestyal Cruises, travelers are transported to the lands of philosophers and dreamers, sailing both to iconic destinations famed the world over and exquisite smaller islands where they feel as if they’ve stepped back into a bygone Greece. From the ports of Athens, Celestyal Cruises sails to Chios, Crete, Ios, Kos, Milos, Mykonos, Patmos, Rhodes, Samos, Santorini, Symi and Syros, and to the Turkish ports of Cesme, Istanbul and Kusadasi. In addition, travelers can create their own stay and cruise vacations, with embarkation for three-, four- and seven-day cruises from Kusadasi, Istanbul, or Crete.

New for 2015, Celestyal Cruises’ passengers can also opt to visit some of the most incredible ports in the Adriatic and the Ionian, including Venice (Chioggia). The line’s new programs take cruisers along the exquisite Dalmatian Coast to some of its most spectacular destinations, including Dubrovnik and Kotor. Ports of call also include evergreen Corfu and stately Patras, at the crown of the Peloponnese, and Bari in Italy, situated on the coast of Puglia.

TRO: Can you tell us about your themed cruises?

NF: Our mission is to offer a distinctively Greek experience that covers all aspects of Greek life, history, culture, and gastronomy. Via our themed cruises we offer travelers unique experiences like no other that showcase our Hellenic heritage. We are thrilled to exclusively present a fully scheduled calendar of 64 themed cruises for 2015, taking travelers deeper into each breathtaking destination. Our team has added immense value to each sailing by developing a unique, bespoke themed cruise program that celebrates the area’s culture and cuisine, taking travelers deeper into the history, mythology, archaeological sites, centuries-old local customs, song and dance, and much more.

TRO: What is an example of itineraries offered exclusively by Celestyal Cruises that showcases “lesser known” destinations?

NF: For our Idyllic Cruises we have identified what we believe are the Mediterranean’s best-kept secrets and, undoubtedly, its future classics. These are charming, pristine and untamed destinations. We’ve selected these off-the-beaten-path destinations for those cosmopolitan voyagers who love the Aegean and want to travel further, who have already seen the region’s “icons” — that are the feature-focal points of our Iconic cruise itineraries. We’ve also chosen to add these destinations to our itineraries because our ships, thanks to their smaller size, are the only ships in the industry that can convey passengers to these splendid places without compromising onboard comfort and luxury. We’re thrilled to be able to take our passengers deeper into the Eastern Mediterranean.

Our Idyllic Itineraries also enable us to contribute to the economies and the sustainable development of tourism in each of these destinations, which is part of our larger commitment to support the Greek economy and the continued development of the country’s infrastructure. In honor of our efforts, last year we were awarded a Greek Tourism Gold Award for our “Contribution to Local and Social Development.”’ We also received two Bronze Awards, one for our integrated 2013 communications campaign promoting Greek destinations in 17 countries, the other for the rich Greek culinary experience we provide to our cruisers.

TRO: Spiritual travel continues to be on the rise, can you tell us about your Pilgrimage Cruises?

NF: Our Pilgrimage Cruise offers travelers the finest in religious and faith-based tourism with visits to some of the most important Christian sites in Greece and Turkey, sailing to the lands where St. Paul preached. We have a deep reverence for these places, which makes this cruise a special experience, one that remains an important itinerary for us this year and for the foreseeable future. We will deploy our 2015 Pilgrimage Cruise on October 30th and again in October 2016. Next year we may add a second Pilgrimage Cruise, with both cruises sailing back-to-back.

TRO: How do you work with travel specialists?

NF: With Celestyal Cruises Agents receive commission on the company’s range of cruises. Plus, agents can also boost their income with commissions on our vast shore excursion offerings, designed to provide a truly enriching and authentic destination experience. In addition, travel agents commission on the line’s All-Inclusive Drinks Package and the Non-alcoholic Beverages Package beverage packages when purchased prior to departure, garnering extra commission from add-on sales.

TRO: At-a-glance, what would you say are key benefits of sailing with Celestyal?

NF: Unique destination-focused itineraries rich in history, exclusively offered by Celestyal Cruises.

Flexibility of embarkation ports – Departure ports include Athens (Pireaus & Lavrion), Istanbul, Kusadasi, Cesme, Bari and Venice (Chioggia).

Intimate small to midsize cruise vessels visiting ports not accessible by other cruise lines.

64 themed cruises showcasing the region’s archaeology, culture and heritage, gastronomy, wines and spirits, history, and music.

Authentic local cuisine and entertainment.

Popular as well as off-the-beaten path destinations.

Outstanding shore excursions and activities.

Exciting new cruises to ports in the Adriatic and the Ionian, including Venice (Chioggia).

TRO: Anything else you want to share with travel professionals about Celestyal Cruises?

NF: To support travel specialists, Celestyal Cruises maintains a team of industry sales reps that are available. For a list of reps and territories, agents can call our main call center at (877) 337-4665 or send an e-mail to cruising@celestyalcruises.com. Additionally we have preferred alliances in place with many consortia and host agencies, offer live seminars for agencies in many cities across the U.S. and Canada, and are featured in webinars throughout the year to make it easy for travel specialists to learn about and work with Celestyal Cruises.

Agents should keep in mind that our cruise rates always include port charges and gratuities to make it easy for their clients to plan and budget their travel dollars. Agents can pre-book discounted shore excursion packages and beverage packages for their clients and earn commission on those, too. Plus, with Celestyal Cruises kids under 16 sail for free with two paid adults, staying in the same stateroom; they only pay applicable port and service charges.


 

To learn more about Celestyal Cruises, visit them online at www.celestyalcruises.com or give them a call at (877) 337-4665.

 

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