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And The “Regent Seven Seas” Revolt Begins…Unfortunately.

As I have recently posted, I am very conflicted:  Regent Seven Seas is finally starting to do and deliver the things it should have been doing and delivering, but it is doing it late and at the highest prices in the industry…while saying somethings publicly that don’t really help the cause.  So what I am I to do????  Do I compliment Regent on “almost” getting on board…because success by Regent can only assist me in selling more cruises, or do I continue to “call it as I see it” because “close” only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades?

The latest Regent moves have mixed messages.  To me they say, “We say we are Luxury, but we are moving down to the “Ultra Premium”, market.”  The irony is Regent – as when it sent out literally dozens of fancy brochures and mailers claiming they raised their standards to “Six Stars” (a new high!) – is saying one thing and delivering another.  I therefore shout:  WHAT IS WRONG WITH JUST PROVIDING AN HONEST “THIS IS WHO REGENT SEVEN SEAS CRUISES IS” MESSAGE?

To many, as I have read on a few message boards and in emails, the Regent pricing is driving away those it is seeking to attract.  Trying to justify the high prices by packing in little desired or needed “stuff” is not working.

Let’s review:

     1.  Regent’s inclusion of tours do not add value to most luxury clients.  Seabourn’s approach has been to expand its private excursions (even running a Best Friends promotion around the expansion).  Silversea has similarly “upped” the private excursion focus with a promotion based upon hefty onboard credits for same.  Regent has, on the other hand, chosen to run bus loads of its 700+ passengers on distinctly impersonalized tours.  (They may be nice tours, but they are not “luxury”.)  And many are saying, “I don’t want to pay Regent for tours I won’t be taking!”

     2.  Regent has installed its Prime 7 Steakhouse on two of its ship, replacing the distinctly indistinguishable Latitudes restaurant.  It boasts of huge steaks and enormous crab legs falling off of oversized plates.  While it is good stuff, and enjoyable by many, it is not “luxury”.  Providing excess or inducing gluttony is not what luxury is about.  Luxury dining is not about the volume of food, or even its expense or even the quality of the base product.  It is about having an “experience” where the eloquence of flavors, smells and sights of the dish combine with a wonderful wine and, most importantly, enhance wonderful conversation.  While there is no doubt that Prime 7 is a huge improvement and there will be great experiences had by many people, it misses what luxury is about.

     3.  On the Mariner many of the bathtubs have been removed (reportedly another 60 just went by the wayside).  I can’t tell you the number of my clients (male and female) that must have a bathtub on their cruise.  As the “fix” for a poorly designed initial install which resulted in a high step-up into the tub and a low ceiling Regent’s solution is to simply remove them (and I hear it is all of them) rather than having tub or shower designations clearly noted when you book your suite (ala Seabourn).

     5.  The Coffee Machine/Corner on the Mariner and Voyager kind of baffles me.  Self-serve is not a luxury concept.  Yes, even Seabourn and Silversea cheat a bit here and there due to staffing issues, but making a coffee machine a hallmark as Regent has?

     6.  A pizza window.  ‘Nuf said.

     7.  Toiletries on Regent have been made generic.  I am, again, baffled by this.  If there is one thing that makes many women (and some men) smile it is great soaps, lotions and shampoos.  Pampering is HUGE in the luxury market.  On Seabourn you are greeted with a choice of name brand, high end, soaps and Molton Brown shampoo, bath gel and lotions (and the Odyssey will take this to an even higher level).  If US$10.00 is spent per seven day cruise, it is well worth it…if it is a luxury product.

I could go one, but the concept is clear (or disagreed with). 

Regent, if you are listening, try this on:  Regent Seven Seas Cruises provides an all-inclusive upscale experience for those that what solid quality at a fixed price. 

It is a very positive and accurate statement without the baggage.  In fact, in these difficult economic times, downplaying luxury when marketing to those that want the foregoing might just be to Regent’s advantage.

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