In 2008 I saw a trend starting just after Apollo Management purchased both Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises and put them under the Prestige Cruise Holdings umbrella. I called it the “Oceania-fication of Regent Seven Seas Cruises”. And, over the past few years, I have written about how things have continued to impress that belief upon me and now I have yet more.
Quickly bringing you up to date (you can search “Oceania-fication” on this blog for all of my articles on the subject), PCH combined the suppliers for the two lines, the back office systems, the actual offices, the staffing, the training, and – with the building of Oceania’s Marina and Riviera – ships of very similar size and quality (some might say higher quality!)
Please do not get me wrong. I actually think it is a very good thing. Oceania Cruises is a very good product and I book clients on Oceania regularly (and that trend is starting to increase). Honestly, as I am writing this a regular Seabourn client just booked his third Oceania cruise with me (which, I guess, makes him a regular Oceania client too!)
Ironically, Oceania actually stresses cuisine and wine quality far more than Regent does. In sort of a marketing marvel, Oceania has focused on cruise QUALITY to grow its brand,
while Regent – the alleged luxury product – has focused on QUANTITY to grow its prices (while I have seen a drop in quality).
As a side note: My bone of contention with its sister brand, Regent Seven Seas, is not what it offers, but what it has marketed itself to be: The best luxury cruise product…asserting a “Six Star” status…with many “free” things (air, drinks, tours, etc.) that are not free. In short, it has simply incorporated things that have comparatively make it the most expensive cruise pricing out there.thus it is unquestionably (to me) deceptive marketing. (Note: Regent did turn a slight profit in 2011 based primarily on higher cruise fares…but, truth be told, Regent has done a good job in selling its product as a “value” product even if it isn’t…in my opinion.)
Hence it is Regent’s claims to being so inclusive (no matter how you get there) that has been both my bone of contention and its positive distinction in the marketplace. So while my client-base generally does not look first to ship tours, but to personalized service by all of the staff (rather than the Regent guest tactic of always dining with a particular waiter who is known to be good), there is no question that there is a market for a more inclusive experience.
Now the positive: Oceania is, again, changing the conversation…and your cruise experience!
There is a significant segment of the cruising public that enjoys having their tours included in their cruise price. Oh, but how to balance paying for tours you will never take and getting the benefits of a tour-inclusive product? The answer lies with yet another Frank Del Rio, Sr., innovation (and he is known for them!): Offer tour packages of varying levels on Oceania Cruises.
Oh, and while you are at it, offer some innovative beverage packages as well. I mean there are people that truly enjoy having their champagne, wine and spirits included in their cruise fare so they do not need to sign for each drink they have or budget. There are others, though, that complain that they only have wine with meals and others that say the don’t drink any alcohol, so why should they pay for drinks they will never have (similar to my “problem” with Regent’s all tours are “free” approach for my non-ship tour tendency clients). Oh, but how to balance paying for wine and spirits you will never drink and getting the benefits of a beverage-inclusive product?
Oceania has rolled out two creative and spot-on answers: Creative Beverage and Tour Packages:
With brand new, excellent, ships, strong itineraries, very good cuisine and service, open seating and ways to make your cruise as inclusive or ala carte as you desire, it is clear to me that Oceania Cruises is offering a product that is actually superior to its sister-brand, Regent Seven Seas…and it is doing it at a lower price…creating greater value.
There is little else to say other than “Bravo!” Oceania Cruises is truly finding its way to live its motto, “Your World. Your Way.”