OUR HOTEL AT SEA – CELEBRITY SOLSTICE TO ALASKA
Every once in awhile you strike it lucky, a little bit like winning at the slot machines or striking gold in the Yukon. This time we were fortunate enough to organise an interview with the very experienced and knowledgeable Celebrity Solstice Hotel Director, Mario Valentino. The fact he was completely ‘hot’ was just a bonus (like winning the special feature……….10 times).
There doesn’t seem to be a job this man hasn’t mastered in the hotel industry, from Night Manager, Human Resources Director, Director of Guest Relations, Executive Housekeeper, Front Of House Manager, and Chief Hotel Auditor with groups such as the Ritz Carlton and Fairmont Hotel Chains to his current position as an active member of Celebrity Cruises’ shipboard Executive Committee since the spring of 2010. He has loved every moment of the last six years and has spent time onboard most ships in the Celebrity fleet during his travels to 62 countries and 180 destinations.
His favourite itinerary is what he refers to as the ‘Baltic run’ because of the diversity of culture one can experience and the beauty and glamour of the region, particularly the architecture, like the Hermitage in St Petersburg for example.
What would you tell our readers about how Celebrity caters for LGBT groups and passengers?
We celebrate diversity on our ships whether it’s a full charter like Atlantis to part charters like Pied Piper. We offer structured gatherings for LGBT passengers and myself and the Cruise Director actively participate in the programs. We think of the LGBT groups as the fun groups because they really know how to enjoy themselves onboard. Where possible we try to provide additional experiences coordinated through the group host, like a galley tour, backstage tour or selected destination sail in / sail out on the helipad at the front of the ship.
What makes Celebrity a preferred cruise line for LGBT travellers?
Our LGBT clientele tend to enjoy the finer things in life and are often looking for a vacation of a lifetime. We provide modern luxury by having a higher crew to guest ratio, a better standard of food and beverage packages, higher quality itineraries and excellent on board activities and entertainment. The crew practise diversity and the crew composition reflects the guest diversity, in all areas such as age, race, colour, gender and sexuality.
What has been your favourite LGBT moment on board a cruise ship?
I would say the 2015 Pied Piper, Post Thanksgiving cruise, Oscars costume party where not only did the group have live gold painted Oscar statuettes and life-size ice carvings but two of the hosts came dressed as the famous duo from the Poseidon Adventure (hardware store owners Manny and Belle Rosen played in the original movie by Jack Albertson and Shelley Winters) and stole the show. The female character was hilarious with a blond wig, pink dress and beard. The private Pied Piper function was held on deck twelve and the rest of the passengers were able to look on from the decks above. It was fantastic. The group went to so much trouble with their costumes.
What else would you like to tell LGBT travellers about cruising with Celebrity?
Live each day like it’s your last. My motto is ‘carpe diam’. My office on the ship has large windows so everyday I look out and see glaciers, fiords, whales, waterfalls, dolphins etc. Cruising takes you to beautiful places and you experience amazing things. Who wouldn’t be happy with that?
A follow up email sent to us by Mario contained a link which provides even more up to date information about why Celebrity cruises are an award winning LGBT travel company. Check it out here: read more