Thursday, July 17, 2008

Regent, Oceania and Information

One the best things I have found from my brief time blogging (don't let all the posts fool the new visitors, I've only been doing this a short time) is that there is a really great mix of people reading this blog. And the result is that I am getting some great input, interesting insights and information as well as different perspectives. Hopefully as this little part of the internet develops we can get into a higher level of discussion and, therefore information, than is not found elsewhere.

Now, what the heck does this have to do with Regent and Oceania? Possibly a lot. Here is a bit of perspective as explained to me. Regent and Oceania obviously have much in common: Both use good quality food, hotel supplies, marine services, etc. There is an economy of scale that clearly makes sense to utilize. (Said in plain language, if you give a vendor more business you can get better pricing due to the increased volume.) This is actually a similar concept that I explained is why Seabourn is able to push forward as part of the large Carnival Corp. behemoth...and if it is good for the goose it should well be good for the gander.

The other concept is that nobody does everything the best way possible. Everybody does something better than the next guy. There is apparently a systemic "look see" going on between Oceania and Regent as to who does what which way and what works better...so that the better approach, or possibly a blending of approaches...can be utilized by both (possibly in variations?).

Both concepts make sense and is consistent with what I have read and reported. The difference may be one of perspective, to wit: Is the approach being used to better each individually or (here's that word again) blend them. I am told it is definitely the former.

Now, me being me (and we know that is part realist and part skeptic) I understand the concept of keeping Regent and Oceania separate entities from the "product" side, but I remain concerned about there being too much homogeny...especially because once you take away the included alcohol and gratuities from Regent, Oceania is looking very similar...other than the suites (but new ships are coming, so I am anxious to see the details on this point!).

On the other hand, the hardware of Oceania and Regent are sufficiently different today that they are different products. For me, I would take a bill for drinks and gratuities with an awesome itinerary (and Oceania has much stronger itineraries...and isn't cruising about going places?) over a very expensive cruise just because it is more inclusive with larger suites.

Does this sound a bit confused about where things are and where they are going? Do I sound a bit non-committal? Yes and Yes. I think what I am getting at is that the concept at Prestige Cruise Holdings may be to keep 'em separate, but practically speaking Regent and Oceania may be far more similar than different; and as the cruise market shakes out with this troubling economy, and if the pricing is not outrageously different, the choice may ultimately be "itinerary vs. suite accommodation". I say this noting I think the "inclusive vs. pay as you go" is generally more hype than anything else.

I am told that in the coming weeks and months there will be some good news from PCH in the coming weeks and months. That may give us even more info...and insight. I have more thoughts, but that'll do it for now.