Celebrity Cruises’ Lisa Lutoff-Perlo wins first-ever TPG Empowerment Award

Nov 12, 2021

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For more than a year, the cruise industry has battled its way back from a pandemic, but it has spent far longer dealing with a less obvious but equally detrimental ailment: gender inequality. Passenger vessels have existed for more than 200 years, but despite the age of the industry, just 2% of bridge officers are female.

Enter Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, a 35-year Royal Caribbean Group veteran who became the first woman in the industry to oversee both hotel and maritime operations for major cruise lines and who now serves as president and CEO of Celebrity Cruises. In 2015, just one year after taking over leadership of Celebrity, she appointed the first American female captain, Captain Kate McCue, who has become one of the most iconic women in maritime.

Since McCue earned her spot as master, she has helped to advance other female seafarers, who now account for 27% of Celebrity’s bridge officers; that number is steadily increasing under Lutoff-Perlo’s watch. In early 2020, before the industry shut down, Lutoff-Perlo hosted the first-ever cruise staffed by an entirely female bridge crew in honor of International Women’s Day — a testament to just how many women are now in positions of leadership at Celebrity.

The Points Guy is pleased to present Lutoff-Perlo with the first-ever TPG Empowerment Award in recognition of her efforts to advance women in cruise.

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“People make waves of change with diversity and inclusion, but Lisa Lutoff-Perlo’s waves go above and beyond,” McCue told The Points Guy. “She creates a lasting ripple effect with her pay-it-forward culture, which impacts her team members, her brand and the entire maritime industry.”

“Lisa has unapologetically demanded a seat at the table, but, rather than sit there comfortably, she has pulled up extra chairs next to her, giving opportunities to women at all levels to succeed just like she has,” said Chief Officer Rachel Arnold, who has worked under McCue. “Her empathy sets [Lutoff-Perlo] aside as an outstanding leader who supports women as individuals. A cruise ship sailing with an entirely female bridge and officer team was unimaginable five years ago, but rather than settle in that success, she continues to create opportunities for us to rise and flourish in the industry.”

“[Women] need to care less about fitting into the glass slipper and more about shattering the glass ceiling.”

Lisa Lutoff-Perlo

In addition to putting women front and center, Lutoff-Perlo has led multi-billion-dollar Celebrity to record financial performance and unprecedented passenger satisfaction. She also oversaw the introduction of the line’s Edge-class vessels, which are the newest and largest in the fleet, and established the Global Marine Organization to share best practices across Royal Caribbean Group’s brands.

Further, she serves on the boards of several international and regional nonprofit organizations, including Best Buddies International and United Way of Broward County, and she has worked to foster community among Celebrity’s diverse group of crew members, who hail from 70 different countries.

But, at the end of the day, Lutoff-Perlo returns to helping women rise to where they want to be.

“For so many years, women seeking jobs at sea would be told ‘no,’ but Lisa became the ‘yes’ … and that one word has revolutionized the industry,” said First Officer Elizabeth Marami, who recently joined Celebrity Cruises from another cruise line and was promoted from second officer under McCue.

And here at TPG, we can’t think of anyone more deserving of this honor.

Featured photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises.

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