Saturday, September 6, 2008

Why Do Changes Always Bring Out Those People That Complain? (The Seabourn Experience)

It always fascinates me how anytime a cruise line makes a change it is perceived as an attack on the value of their cruise(s) to be. Whether it is an improvement, the elimination of an underutilized item or an actual cost-cutting measure (as if finding ways to keep prices down is a bad thing!), there are those that absolutely find it not only a horrible, but a sign of more things to come...raising the threat of the loss of loyal passengers.

Seabourn just spent many millions of dollars revamping the Sky Bars and Verandas on all three of the triplets (with structural and furniture changes) , improved the bedding, changed out the carpets, installed LCD TVs, announced the change out of all of the deck furniture and replacement of the tableware...with more improvements to be announced. Oh, yes, Seabourn is shortly going to be christening the first of three new ships which are being outfitted with two story, indoor/outdoor spas, cabanas, state of the art fitness equipment, more dining venues, etc.

Despite all of that, today I read on Cruise Critic how some perceive the elimination of the underutilized Seabourn Experiences (with many seeming to ignore that the most popular ones are being retained!) as cause for concern that the quality of the wines and liquors freely poured may soon be downgraded. Where the heck did that come from?

Celebrity eliminated its "gourmet bites" (waiters passing through the various public spaces in the evenings with after dinner snacks) because it found the vast majority of the food was being returned to the kitchen uneaten. Does that mean that Celebrity is going to reduce items on the buffet? Hardly.

Regent is eliminating its Circles of Interest program (a highly overpriced and underutilized program of supposedly more in depth learning and experiences over the course of a cruise). Does that mean it is eliminating some of its more unique ports? No way.

Norwegian Cruise Lines donation of its old mattresses...I can only imagine what could spin out of that!

Seabourn has announced, in advance of the maiden voyage of the Seabourn Odyssey, that it is making changes which will create overall improvement in the quality of the Seabourn product through establishing consistency through all it ships, installing upgrades to the existing fleet to assure same, and changing/eliminating various items whose time has come and gone.

Will some of the changes disappoint a few of their loyal guests? Of course. But just as I much preferred the blue ticket wallets of old, while others loved the Tumi ticket jackets in a presentation box, others like the newest ticket wallet, which I truly do not like! I can't wait to hear the same people claiming that the next version of ticket wallet will be an ominous omen. Yes, there will be concern over ticket wallets!

I guess some people just have to say what a terrible thing it all might be and how it just might shake their loyalty over the elimination of items which are, in relation to the cost of their cruises, hard to find affecting their bottom line among the tours, spa treatments and reserve wine selections they make. I do not count any person's money, but I do try to keep the value of the items complained of in perspective. For example, might I just say, if the complainers can find a cruise line that offers a complimentary tour like Seabourn has been providing (or even as it will still provide), cruise that line (and save the $200). Oh! That right. It doesn't exist. Or, if that complainer can find a cruise line with a more generous frequent guest program than Seabourn, providing a free 7 day cruise after 140 days, put your money there. Oh! That right, again. It doesn't exist. Or if that complainer can find a cruise line that has a more generous definition of which liquor is included, start drinking there (if the $200 extra on your cruise bill actually makes a difference).

And, as I mentioned in my post about the Mutiny on the Carnival Miracle, one must think about all the reasons you choose to cruise a particular line and a particular ship. You can complain about little tweaks made by a cruise line that are not going to change and you can even threaten to take your business elsewhere (thereby increasing the effect of that issue upon only yourself), but alas you will be ruining that which you came to enjoy: Your Cruise.