– Avalon Myanmar – Myanmar River Cruise – April 2017
*Azamara Club Cruises – Azamara Journey – Singapore to Dubai (April 8, 2018)
* Azamara Quest – Southeast Asia and Japan (February 2015)
– How Close to Luxury Can Celebrity’s Smallest Ship Get? – Part I
– How Close to Luxury Can Celebrity’s Smallest Ship Get? Part II
– How Close to Luxury Can Celebrity’s Smallest Ship Get? Part III
– How Close to Luxury Can Celebrity’s Smallest Ship Get? Part IV
– How Close to Luxury Can Celebrity’s Smallest Ship Get? – Some Final Observations and Thoughts
– The Prologue to the Travelogue
– The Adventure Begins…With a Bump or Two
– Settling In Made Easy
– Luxury Touches Here, There and OK, Not, Everywhere…But There Are Lots of Them!
– Asian Flair Onboard and On Shore
– Private Tours, Israel and Conflicts in Perceptions and Perspective
Celebrity Equinox 2009 – Egypt…Impressive and Depressing
– Dining With the Captain and the Reidel Wine Seminar
– The Last Dinner (Tuscan Grille) and Disembarkation
– What Happens When A Class Act Meets Highly Discounted Cruise Fare
– Lisbon to Monaco: Crystal As a “Move Up” & “Move Over” Luxury Option – Part I
– Lisbon to Monaco: Crystal As a “Move Up” & “Move Over” Luxury Option – Part II
– Lisbon to Monaco: Crystal As a “Move Up” & “Move Over” Luxury Option – Part III
– Lisbon to Monaco: Crystal As a “Move Up” & “Move Over” Luxury Option – Part IV (Food & Wine!)
– Princess Cruises Doesn’t Treat You Like Royalty; Celebrity Cruises Does! Which is a Better Value for the Upscale Cruise Guest? Part I
– Celebrity Silhouette vs. -Royal Princess – Which Is A Better Value For The Upscale Cruise Guest? Part II: The Standard Veranda Staterooms
– Celebrity Silhouette vs. Royal Princess – Which Is A Better Value For The Upscale Cruise Guest? Part III: Treating You Right From The Start
– Celebrity Silhouette vs. Royal Princess – Which Is A Better Value For The Upscale Cruise Guest? Part IV: The Wine Lists Speak Volumes (As Do The Beverage Packages)
Regent Seven Seas Voyager – August 2017
– Italy and Corisca 2014 – Part I
– Italy and Corisca 2014 – Part II (Getting There, The Stateroom and First Impressions)
– Italy and Corisca 2014 – Part III (“You Can’t Teach Five Star Service” and Bonafacio, Corsica)
– Italy and Corisca 2014 – Part IV (Calvi, Monaco, Portofino, Porto Azzurro…and Stale Bread)
– Italy and Corisca 2014 – Part V (My Last Day…and How The Chef’s Team Makes It Happen)
Frank Del Rio, President and CEO of Prestige Cruise Holdings, owner of Regent Seven Seas, recently was interviewed by Travel Weekly Magazine. The article was about sales and marketing of Oceania and, to a much lesser extent, Regent.
There was an interesting exchange:
Q: With Regent, you chose to include shore excursions rather than lower prices. Did that stimulate sales?
A: Like nothing you’ve seen. It’s one of the reasons why our business is stronger than most right now. This industry is one of lemmings. There is too much copying going on. Everyone lowers prices to stimulate sales. It works, but it hurts the travel agents. Every week I hear that half a dozen agencies are going out of business. We said, we don’t want to hurt travel agents, and knocking $60 off our cruise won’t motivate a sale the way it might at [a mass-market line]. Including shore excursions makes them commissionable.
I recently spoke with Mr. Del Rio at an Oceania event and let him know that I was not fond of the inclusive shore excursions. He questioned me as to why and I told him because it is not a luxury amenity. I explained that in the luxury market most people do not take cruise ship tours, but rather private tours. So, to my way of thinking, the inclusion not only doesn’t add real value, it brings in a way of cruising that while positive for the cruise line’s immediate bottom line is not necessarily so for the overall luxury cruise experience. (I offer complimentary Ensemble Travel tours on many of the cruises I book for clients. As a new alternative, I am able to offer a $150 per person onboard credit if they don’t want to take the tours. This came about for the very same reason: Luxury clients tend not to take the group tours.)
There have been some recent articles on the internet about dissatisfaction on the Regent Voyager due to cutbacks in food quality (I struggle with the quality of the product, it may be the preparation or menu descriptions/marketing) and service. The issues with Regent Mariner being literally overrun with children with 125+ on its Alaska sailings may look positive to Regent’s immediate bottom line, the negatives of poor service, an overwhelmed dining room, crowds and a very non-luxury experience…even at embarkation. (I will leave the Regent Navigator out of the mix…anxiously awaiting the major refit upcoming in January!)
Seabourn, on the other hand, has taken the approach which Mr. Del Rio has criticized: Seriously cutting its prices. I, too, believe that is the wrong thing to do as far as long term benefit. However, that is where we part company. As anyone who as recently been on Seabourn, including the new Seabourn Odyssey, will tell you, the service and cuisine is as good – or in the case of the Odyssey: better – than it was before the cut rate pricing.
The result I am seeing the most of is clients who were booked for 2 or 3 weeks in 2010 not looking to benefit from the reduced pricing, but rather to extend their cruise to 3 or 4 weeks for the same, or in some instances, less money. Yes, there are those that have never tried Seabourn that are coming onboard, but it is not with an expectation of anything other than it being more of a “privilege” than a “bargain”…event though the bargain has drawn them in.
So, if you believe getting more stuff equals more “value”, Regent may be the way to go. However, if you are looking for more “value” in a true luxury experience, there is no question that Seabourn consistently provides that.
And if you still want some included tours…you never know, I just might be able to provide that for you as well.