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Old January 4th, 2011, 06:32 PM
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Default A Pricing Conundrum: Semi-Ala Carte or More Inclusive. Where Does the Value Lie?

So a man walks into a bar...I mean my office...looking at a 10 day Regent cruise on the 700 passenger Mariner in May 2011. The itinerary is quite good and the fare is $7,800 per person in the lowest category Veranda Suite or $780 per day per person.

Just for comparison, we look at a 14 day cruise on the 200 passenger Seabourn Legend, also in May 2011 which covers a number of the same ports, and the price for an Oceanview Suite is $5,000 per person or $357 per day per person.

The man says he really doesn't want to take many tours and, in fact, hates bus tours. But he is concerned about air. Great flights out of the airport of his choice on a major airline will cost him under $900 per person...which adds $64 a day to the Seabourn fare. So his total comparison cost is $421 per day.

So the question assuming arguendo that the food and service is equal is there enough value in the Regent cruise to warrant paying $359 per day per person ($718 per couple per day) more for a balcony and some tours? [Yes, that is approximately double the price of the Seabourn cruise. It is not a misprint.]

In other words, when does the "free", "free", "free" or more inclusive package (take your pick as to wording), lose its cache...or does the Regent product really hold its value?
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Old January 4th, 2011, 06:57 PM
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Very good scenario Eric...SB wins in this case IMO. Btw, for similar comparison we have the Mariner TA Nov 2011 booked at $314 pp (we take air credit as we use ff miles). We also have the maiden SB Quest crossing (Nov 2011) booked at $265 pp. We picked SB and will transfer or cancel our Regent booking. We did not use one free excursion two months ago on the Voyager crossing in Nov 2010--tho we paid for them. In retrospect, I like the SB pricing model over Regent..but for us, the proof will be the sailing and checking out the dining, service, and for me especially, the fitness facilities on board the Quest.
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Old January 5th, 2011, 02:16 PM
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[Ed. Note: we removed the part of this post that referred to posting policy, but we are restoring the discussion about Regent. We realize Eric's posts are strongly opinionated, but we do allow opinion on our boards and we do not think Eric is unfairly biased. If you have a different opinion from Eric we more than welcome you to post it here. These boards are for discussion of cruise products - so let's please proceed down that path.]


Regent Seven Seas profusely markets that its cruises are a great "value" and that everything is "free". In fact, quoting directly from Regent's website (capitalization is original to Regent):

"All-Inclusive Value
Regent Seven Seas Cruises fares include*:
  • FREE Roundtrip Air
  • FREE Unlimited Shore Excursions
  • FREE Luxury Hotel Package
  • FREE Business Class Air in Penthouse Suites and higher on Europe sailings
  • FREE beverages including fine wines, beer and premium spirits, soft drinks, bottled water, specialty coffees and tea served throughout the ship
  • FREE in-suite mini-bar replenished daily with soft drinks, beer and bottled water
  • FREE 24-hour room service and no additional charge for specialty restaurants
  • FREE Pre-Paid Gratuities..."
It is absolutely appropriate to discuss the "value" provided by Regent and if what it is providing is "free". It is also absolutely appropriate to use examples to compare and contrast to determine what that "value" is.

Personally I find absolutely no value in not having to sign for things. I have worn the ink off of my credit card handing it over at the finest restaurants and, in the past, exercised my wrist signing at the country club. Many people do find value in it, however. (I look at the total cost of the cruise; not whether I use my card for something other than opening my suite door.)

Similarly, how does one determine the level of service. If Regent's service is comparable to Celebrity or NCL does it make it outstanding...or ordinary? It may be perfectly acceptable to particular person, but for someone expecting more or different a discussion of same on this board is appropriate.

Now, if someone would like to post a "Coke vs. Pepsi" type challenge or comparison on the Seabourn, Crystal, Silversea, Celebrity, etc. board comparing Regent to that cruise product and emphasizing why they think Regent is a superior value I think it would be a great idea.

Last edited by Iamboatman; January 5th, 2011 at 04:35 PM.
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Old January 5th, 2011, 02:54 PM
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It's a valid question, especially considering the customer's preference not to take many tours which Regent includes in its pricing.

On the flip side, however, assuming a few things;
  • that not everyone has the same preferences in cuisine;
  • that most people cruise to see the world (meaning they want as many tours as possible)
  • that when you hit the luxury bracket "value" is not always the primary concern, meaning some people have enough money that the choice is more about personal taste than it is about value.
THEN it is certainly possible that Regent is an equally good choice even if it costs more.
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Old January 5th, 2011, 02:57 PM
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You know - you can make the same argument about every luxury line that is "inclusive". NOTHING is ever really free - you pay for it all in the generally higher cruise fares.

It is more a matter of what is important to you. If I wanted to drink champagne all night every night (ugh) then I might find any luxury line a bargain. But I don't.

Now - in this equation I would have to agree Seabourn looks better. I have also said the same thing about Azamara over Oceania. But for some reason Oceania is a lot more popular. Go figure.
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Old January 5th, 2011, 03:02 PM
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I think THAT is the question. What is it that makes Oceania (or Regent) more attractive?

In fact, I am meeting with Azamara on Friday and will be asking of it the very same question. Is that fair???
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Old January 5th, 2011, 03:11 PM
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I am going on Azamara myself next week, and will on Marina the following month. I guess I will get to see myself.
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Old January 5th, 2011, 10:15 PM
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I'm curious as to how much you think Oceania and Azamara have affected the business of the likes of Seabourn, Regent, Silversea and Crystal?
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Old January 5th, 2011, 10:20 PM
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Quote:
I'm curious as to how much you think Oceania and Azamara have affected the business of the likes of Seabourn, Regent, Silversea and Crystal?
That's why we have Eric - he should know.

When I ask Tim Rubacky at Oceania he says they get a lot of customers coming from both sides - people looking for value from the high end, and people buying up from the low end because all cruises are cheaper now.

If I ask Larry Pimentel at Azamara he says a lot of have come from Regent as well as Celebrity.
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Old January 5th, 2011, 10:34 PM
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There is an interesting dynamic between the various lines.

I see some crossover from Seabourn to Oceania because Oceania has some great itineraries. However those that truly go on Seabourn for the service and cuisine more than the itinerary tend to go one time because there is a definite difference. Oceania owns that difference and balks if luxury is mentioned with it. (I am not so sure that will be the case when Marina is in full swing.)

As I don't do much with Regent I can't say if there is much cross-over with Oceania. I have not seen any evidence of it from reading across the internet or in speaking within the industry. I think the reason is pretty clear: Regent's hallmark is everything is included and if one finds value in that I strongly doubt Oceania's pay for most things approach would be attractive.

To me the fascinating possibility is a Crystal-Oceania or Crystal-Azamara cross-over. I just don't know enough to say if they exist, but I think that would be tailor-made.

What I do know is that Azamara-Oceania cross-overs are not significant...and that baffles me.

BTW, because there is a strong Celebrity-Azamara cross-over there was a change from Celebrity reps also handling Azamara...and then they were truly split. Too much crossover I guess.
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Old January 5th, 2011, 10:51 PM
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Im a total cross over cruiser. I'll sail anything that will let me onboard across the gamut from budget to luxury.

I actually find it a big difficult to think about being devoted to one cruise line, even in the luxury line up.

I haven't sailed Crystal yet, but have been on Seabourn 3 times, Regent once (before they went all inclusive with tours etc) and most recently SilverSea.

I understand everyone had different parameters for what pleases them and makes them feel like they've had a totally luxurious experience, that totally meets their needs.

Of the lux lines, I will say that Silversea seemed like the best "fit" for me.
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Old January 11th, 2011, 01:17 PM
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Eric, you are not making an apples to apples comparison. How many people find air for $900 to Europe in season? Did you include port charges and pre-cruise hotel in Seabourn's prices? Did you include net prices and shipboard credits provided?

Regent isn't for everyone. I don't use all the ship's excursions. But, I would never make a geralized statement saying that one is more expensive or less based on one example and a great airfare deal from a specific airport.

Yes, I am a Regent cheerleader. I have 160 nights in last eight years. Will, I always cruise with Regent; probably not. I like the product, I like the crew, I like the itineraries, I like the seven seas society benefits, and I still find that it is a great value. I will be on Silversea's Prince Albert II next January; my first chance to make a comparison. I have many friends who sail both Regent and Seabourn; they don't seem to have a problem sailing both lines; why do you?

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Old January 11th, 2011, 01:35 PM
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Actually I just fared air with perfect times from the East Coast to Europe on major carriers departing May 5 and returning May 23 for $765 including all fees and taxes. (I don't want to give my client's specifics, but you can check it out yourself.)

There is no question that some...that is some...will find Regent or Seabourn to be fine. However, in my experience that is a serious minority and one that it is generally a Regent past passenger trying out Seabourn. (And the posts of those who choose to have noted certain superior things about Seabourn and complained about things like a self-service coffee machine that Seabourn would never dream of having.) To each his/her own.

As for my bent, the issue for me is about what you are paying for and what you are being promised you will receive. If Regent promises a certain level and it is not provided, I am not going to be positive. If Regent is saying something is "free" and it is not, I am not going to be positive. If Regent requires you pay for tours ("free"???) and luxury clients historically do not want them, I am not going to be positive about it.

However, if paying a seriously hefty premium for a complete package, even if they are not going to get the level of service/cuisine promised or use the tours, makes someone happy, that is fine.

To me it is a matter of explaining and analyzing; not supporting or cheerleading for the sake of doing it. Heck, I could make more commission per booking by focusing on Regent. However, that is not my motivation.

Listen, Regent has done a great job of marketing and there are a number of very happy passengers. I am not interested in making them unhappy. I am just providing facts and my opinion...for whatever it is worth to whomever reads it, be it "gold" or "toilet paper".
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Old January 11th, 2011, 03:45 PM
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Eric, you have criticising Radisson/Regent for the eight years I have known you.

Try to believe that there are people that like various products at various times for various reasons. I have found Oceania and Regent cruisers that have made their decision just based on Canyon Ranch Spa. I know it is not a factor for you or me but don't criticise the decision process of others.

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Old February 1st, 2011, 01:51 PM
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I think it is important to understand that Eric is trying his best to do a value analysis between the two cruise lines. That is a perfectly valid thing to do.

However - I also have sensed a bent in Eric's assessment of Regent. I know a lot of people who like Regent a great deal, and I personally have not been on Regent for a long time so I cannot comment.

I have noticed many of Eric's opinions were based on food - and I also heard stories about Regent's food having problems, but I have also heard that major steps have been taken in the last two years to improve that.

All of the new policies by Regent regarding inclusiveness of air and shore excursions are new - so it makes it vwery hard to do a comparison analysis between the two lines.

If you are comparing just food, I think most people would agree that Seabourn wins. I like good food, but I personally have never put it at the top of the cruise experience as a deciding factor.

My main criteria is convenience of seeing various destinations - I want small, well-organized tours or free shuttles. I want port-intensive itineraries and not too many days at sea.

Cruise lines like Oceania and Azamara have been thriving because of their new emphasis on itineraries along with good food. Convenience is a big plus in my book - much more important then food alone.

I can dine in Michelin restaurants onshore. I would never pick an expensive cruise line just because of good food if I wasn't also deeply interested in the itinerary.
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Old February 1st, 2011, 02:49 PM
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My random thoughts follow but first a qualifier. I have sailed Regent only once for 7 days (Baltic) and I have only 2 cruises on Seabourn (14 days Istanbul – Venice & 21 days Kobe – Hong Kong)

On the all inclusive pricing issues

Including free air & free hotel does not interest me. It seems some people find value in one stop shopping & don’t want to be bothered with separately making arrangements for air & hotel no matter how much more expensive it is. I have no problem doing this myself & get better deals because of my status in airline & hotel loyalty programs. If the cruise lines priced these components near their cost instead of making it a profit center, I might be more interested as they should be able to obtain volume discounts.
The cost of excursions are so significant that I would prefer they be priced separately so I can make choices. When cruising in Europe, I prefer to do my own thing. I have been to most places & like to wander around on my own. On our Asia cruise, tours were important to me because most sights required travel & I was in a learning mode about history & culture & a guide made that task much easier. In some cases I did the ship organized tour & in some cases, I found a private tour guide. This is a fairly expensive component of the trip & I like to have control of the spending decision.
On eating & drinking, I find value in not being nickeled & dimed by signing checks & knowing that 1 more glass of wine will cost me $10. It makes it more pleasant for me to not have to think about what my eating & drinking choices cost or allowing price to influence my behavior.

On Regent vs. Seabourn

After itinerary, food & service are really important to me & are why I chose luxury cruise lines. The actual sailing part isn't all that exciting to me except for the benefit of being able to see a lot of places without packing & unpacking.
On my Regent cruise, I had 1 excellent meal, 1 bad meal, and the rest I would call mediocre. On Seabourn, every meal has been excellent.
On Regent, service ranged from inattentive to surly. I found it impossible to engage with any of the service staff. On Seabourn, the service staff was a highlight of our experience. They helped make it fun.
I suspect my Regent experience was not typical as they would not have such a large, loyal base of clients if it happened all the time although I do not understand the reasons for inconsistencies. If I begin to experience problems with Seabourn, I will switch cruise lines in a heartbeat. They are companies created for the purpose of making money for their owners & do not deserve my bind loyalty. I reserve blind loyalty for friends, family, & alma mater.
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Old February 1st, 2011, 03:59 PM
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Good analysis, Diebroke...

How long ago were each of these cruises, especially Regent?

One advantage to a cruise assigned hotel is that you get access to the cruise line to moment you reach the hotel through representatives. Want to change a dining reservation, hire a car in a port, get a direct hotel to ship transfer, and have them tend to a pice of luggage you don't until you are onboard (formalish-wear) then they are there to do it.

But I agree you pay a premium for that, and sometimes you don't need any of those things.

I like your analysis of shore excursions. I like having a mix of pre-arranged excuriosn plus the liberty to go on my own.

With Viking River - the pre-arranged tours in Moscow included things I would not have thought of (The Moscow Circus, and military museum) and they were amazing. But I also loved the stuff we arranged on our own - the Yusopov Palace and the Museum of Political History in St Petersburg.

It seems a critical question here is...

How good are the included Regent tours?
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Old February 1st, 2011, 05:46 PM
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Also, concur with Diebroke's excursion analysis as well as his decision points on air/hotel (we have near a million ff miles--no need for cruise air ever). We just sailed on Regent's Voyager last November (fall crossing, 15 nights) and had included excursions in four ports. I had booked them previously online but canceled all of them prefering to do walking tours (at our own leisure vs herding/cueing in line to get on a bus) on on our own. The one Regent excursion we did take was a concierge excusion ($149pp, 2 hr bus ride, lunch w/wine, tour of The Alhambra in Granada) and this was the best excursion we have had yet (Regent or Silversea). However, we prefer to do our own research and plan excursions on our own. In fact, now that Regent has discontinued their cooking workshops (Le Cordon Bleu) (very important to my wife) coupled with their new excursion model (priced into your fare, w/no opt out credit (like their free hotel if u opt out u get $300 pp credit)) we will look away from regent and very closely at Seabourn our other fav line; Silversea. We also have our first Seabourn (Quest) cruise this November.
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Old February 1st, 2011, 06:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Motter View Post
How long ago were each of these cruises, especially Regent?

How good are the included Regent tours?[
My Regent Baltic tour was in August 2009 on the Voyager.
My Seabourn cruises were in 2008 & 2010, both on one of their small ships.

I thought the Regent tours were o.k. - probably the same quality as when they charged for them & pretty equivalent to the Seabourn group tours we have taken. We opted to skip the tour in Helsinki & we did a private tour on one of our days in St. Petersburg. We did a free tour in one port only because it was free & I wish we had not.
All group tours include more bus time than I like, include stops at stores/factories that don't appeal to me, & they are only as good as the guides who can be variable. I prefer to pay more for a private tour but within $ limits.
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Old February 1st, 2011, 06:26 PM
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Thanks DB...

The thing about Regent is they make any tour free that has a value of "up to" $200.

That means your tour could be worth $49 (a bus and shopping raid) or it could be worth $199 (something a lot more classy).

Obviously, it now appears that the shipboard credit angle gives you a lot more flexibility - as Crystal offers. You could use your $3000 credit for a $500 tour.

Still, of course, nothing is ever free. I am just saying this for the people who like the convenience of not watching their daily budget.

I have been on some truly excellent Silversea tours - from Safaga to Luxor in Egypt comes to mind right now with all the turmoil. An overnight tour with hotel and meals included - wow.

A day in Petra is another one.

One thing to keep in mind with cruise lines that sail to new places all the time, they don't always get the best guides. The lines that stop in the same port week after week get the best guides.
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Old February 1st, 2011, 07:23 PM
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You do get the impression from Regent's all inclusive philosophy that they assume their typical client is not very bright, not very travel savvy, and/or lazy.
If they have really increased their business as a result of this strategy, they must be right.
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Old February 3rd, 2011, 12:12 AM
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Quote:
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You do get the impression from Regent's all inclusive philosophy that they assume their typical client is not very bright, not very travel savvy, and/or lazy.
Diebroke I hope I don't fall into those first 2 categories, but may concede to the 3rd since retiring. I've been cruising with Regent since 2000 (or whatever was Navigator's maiden year), and now have 297 nights with the line and still more coming up.

I was not keen on the extension of the inclusiveness beyond the alcohol, as I know nothing is really "free", and the increases in fares has been considerable. I always enjoyed researching my ports and searching around the internet to find private guides, as I much prefer a van for 6 rather than a coach with many more. I would often just grab a cab and the cruiseline's list of excursions and build my own. Now, it is more difficult to interest fellow cruisers to do these independent excursions, as they don't want to pay "twice".

Whatever Regent's assumptions were, they seem to be filling their ships on most sailings, whether I like those policies or not. For anyone to say that real "luxury cruisers" do not like ship's excursions is simply a misstatement of facts, they obviously do in the case of Regent! Just as I would not have started out with Regent for the sole reason that excursions are included, nor will I stop crusing with them just because they are. I am just happy I have the option of a non-use credit for unwanted air and hotels.

Editing to comment on Paul's remarks about the Silverseas overnight in Luxor, and the daylong excursion to Petra. I did that from the Whisper a few years ago, and these were amazing excursions at a price that was not exhorbitant, given what we received for those days. There are just some ports where it is best to stick with the ship, especially when there are long distances to cover in a day.

Last edited by ohp; February 3rd, 2011 at 12:18 AM.
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Old February 3rd, 2011, 01:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ohp View Post
For anyone to say that real "luxury cruisers" do not like ship's excursions is simply a misstatement of facts, they obviously do in the case of Regent!
I agree with this statement and not just in the case of Regent. We more often than not do the ships excursions......now I probably fall into two of the categories mentioned by diebroke...lazy and not too bright! There is also another factor....I have a terrible fear of going off with some unknown driver in a private van, and missing the boat because of language difficulties or other problems. I can get myself into enough trouble while travelling without risking any extra problems! At least I know if I am on a ships excursion the boat wont leave without me!
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Old February 3rd, 2011, 10:04 AM
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In this web site we always draw the distinction between what you can expect traveling on your own or with a ship-provided (free or at a cost) tour.

With a ship's tour you have the guarantee of them always being on contact with the ship, and if there is an emergency the ship will not leave wwithout you.

Now, that is provided you don't do something silly. One couple on the first cruise (I think it was Carnival ) heard these same words, and thought it meant they could "disapper" at Atlantis in the Bahamas for over an hour after tje van was due to return to the ship.

The van waited and waited, and when they didn't show and the actual departure time nad arrived for the ship, the ship (which was in contact with the tour) advised them to return to the ship without them.

The lost couple missed the boat (in more ways than one), and leter said "Well, we believe we are due compensation because we were told the ship would not leave without us if we take a ship-sponsored tour."

Actually, I am not sure the cruise lines say that, it is just something known to cruisers like us - that the concept applies if the tour has trouble - but not if a newlywed couple decides they want a little extra time in the hot tub.
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