"Ship Within a Ship" vs. a Luxury Ship

| April 6, 2009

Why limit yourself to exclusive areas when you can sail on an exclusive ship?

The latest catchphrase in the cruise industry is "a ship within a ship." It's used to describe more upscale cabin categories and amenities the cruise lines offer to attract those who are willing to pay extra for extra space and better treatment.

Cunard has traditionally offered various "classes" of service to their guests, with separate dining rooms for those in the top suites. So this philosophy is nothing new to them.

MSC Cruises is the latest to join the movement with its new "Yacht Club" category of suites. According to the line's promotional material, "MSC Yacht Club allows guests to experience the best of both worlds -- more personalized service and a private, intimate space while enjoying the full benefits of all the magnificent vessel has to offer."

Norwegian Cruise Line has been following this concept since it began building ships designed for "Freestyle Cruising," with guests of its Courtyard Villa and Garden Villa Suites getting exclusive access to a private pool and Jacuzzi area, and sun decks separate from the public pool deck areas. NCL also offers concierge service to guests in those suites and butler service to Garden Villa guests, as well as a breakfast/lunch dining area for their use only, and reserved seating in the ship's showrooms.

Celebrity Cruise Lines introduced Aqua-Spa cabins on its newest ship, the Solstice; passengers in those cabins have exclusive access to certain facilities.

For several years, Royal Caribbean ships have had a dedicated Concierge Lounge for suite guests, offering continental breakfast in the morning and complimentary drinks and appetizers in the evenings, as has Holland America. More recently, Royal Caribbean started reserving sun deck lounge chairs near the main pools and special seating in the show rooms for passengers occupying the top suites.

Clearly the major-market cruise lines are making a concerted attempt to entice passengers to book higher priced suites by rewarding them with exclusive amenities not available to others on the ship. For those who prefer the larger-ship experience but would like more dedicated service and exclusive facilities on the ship, these initiatives will certainly be an attraction.

But these same types of amenities have been available for some time on several luxury lines, along with even more special touches.

The difference? On luxury vessels, the entire ship is the "exclusive area." And in most cases, when you factor in all costs, the equivalent suites on the luxury ships could actually cost you less.

Continue Article >> "Ship Within a Ship" vs. a Luxury Ship (Part 2)

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