MARCELA SALUM - ARGENTINA'S GIFT TO THE CRUISE INDUSTRY
On a cruise ship there are many different departments that come under the auspices of the Hotel Director. On Celebrity Constellation these include: Guest Relations, Finances, Human Relations, Shore Excursions, Onboard Marketing, Housekeeping, Food & Beverage, Inventory and Entertainment. The staff totals more than 800 and the entire operation is overseen by one person, Marcela Salum.
Starting her career with a tour operator in her native Argentina, she then joined the sales agency for Malaysia Airlines. When the airline closed its Buenos Aires operation following 9/11, Marcela did other travel industry jobs and soon found herself as a pier agent for Celebrity when the cruise line opened its South America operation. She was offered a job on the ships and, hesitantly, went to sea.
Within the first week she realized that this was the direction she wanted to take and hasn't looked back.
After 11 years and several progressive positions, Marcela Salum is as enthusiastic about her work as she was when she first stepped onboard.
It may come as a surprise to seasoned cruisers that, in the overall picture of things, very few Europeans choose shipboard holidays when compared to North America and South America, with the exception being the United Kingdom. The numbers are now starting to change due to the repositioning of some of the more popular ships to European ports for the summer season.
There are currently 53 nationalities represented by the staff on the "Connie". Celebrity is well known for treating the crew almost as well as they do their guests.
"When it comes to the different nationalities, the Filipinos, the Indians, the Indonesians, Columbians, Mexicans... we have celebrations for events such as their National Day." she says. "In the evening we prepare a special buffett featuring their foods, they show their talents and we put on a special show for them.
The rest of the time, for the entire crew, we have events scheduled depending on the schedule,. These go from simply watching a movie, to sports to special parties. If, for example, two ships are in port at the same time, we may have a basketball tournament between the two crews. We also arrange special tours so they can get to know the ports we visit."
Marcela Salum - Hotel Director
Now that we have positioned Celebrity Equinox in Barcelona we have noticed a big increase in Spanish passengers. In the case of Civitavechia (the port for Rome), in July of last year I had about 500 Italians on each cruise which is quite a large amount when compared to the past. Royal Caribbean (Celebrity's sister cruise line) has big, big numbers for the entire season by positioning from there. So it is pretty much reliant on from where we sail and how we market the cruises to the local population.
The Future Cruise Sales department is now offering more and more special packages to the European cruiser whereas, in the past, most of the special deals were aimed at the North American market.
Celebrity Constellation Atrium
In her career with Celebrity, Marcela has served on every size of ship in the fleet with the exception of Celebrity Xpedition, cruising the Galapagos Islands. Beginning with the Millenium, she has performed various guest related functions on Summit, Solstice, Century, Infinity, Equinox and, of course, Constellation.
I asked her about some of her favorite ports of call.
"My favorite beach destination? That would be Hawaii. For cities it would be the Mediterranean but
to just lay on a beach and soak up the sun.. Hawaii."
When not in her office located near Guest Relations, you will find Marcela roaming the public areas of the ship, watching her teams carry out their jobs and chatting with the passengers.
Most guests don't realize the scope of her job and the tremendous responsibilities that go with it. Picture keeping all of the operations associated with a 1,000-plus room resort running smoothly and seeing that more than 2,000 guests, many of whom are first time cruisers, enjoy the holiday experience. That, in a nutshell, is what this charming Argentinian does, day in and day out.
At the completion of her contract she generally catches a red-eye flight back home, spends time with family, catches a well-deserved rest and devotes the first week to doing absolutely nothing!
Marcela's Management & Staff
Guest Relations 17
Financial Team 6
Human Resources 6
Shore Excursions 8
Onboard Marketing 55
Food & Beverage 450
Inventory Team 10
Entertainment - 29