Monday, December 29, 2008

Seabourn and Regent - Experiencing Shore Experiences

I was going to wait until I got all the information, but I figured "What the heck.  Let's start the discussion now."

Seabourn decided a few months ago to end most of its complimentary Seabourn Experiences  (http://goldringtravel.blogspot.com/2008/09/seabourn-is-discontinuing-complimentary.html) and, obviously, it was not met with great joy.  While I know many of my clients did not attend most of them, there are others that loyally did and feel cheated.  I was not in favor of their demise and offered my clients some compensation if they took an alternative tour.

Seabourn, as noted in its blog, is now emphasizing private tours...not paid for "get on the bus" tours, but truly luxury private tours.  Seabourn has a staff of eight devoted to this.  As noted recently on the Seabourn blog:

Helen Panagos, Seabourn’s VP of Shoreside Operations, came up with a plan to totally revamp the company’s destination services resources.  “We learned a lot from talking with our guests about what they really wanted to do during their cruises,” says Helen. “Some of them are still interested in the more general interest types of tours that we have been offering. But more and more of them wanted truly unique, customized arrangements for themselves and the small group of people they travel with-maybe family or friends. So we designed a whole new department to provide the sort of attention and expertise that can create very special experiences that aren’t off-the-shelf sightseeing tours, but rather unique, personalized arrangements that make for a perfect, memorable day in a port.”

Now that may not be what people looking for the lowest price cruise wants to hear, but possibly considering the previously unexpected drop in base cruise fares, Seabourn may have decided to provide the best "onboard" cruise experience and leave the shore experiences (with a few notable exceptions) to each guest's personal interests and budgets.

With a different approach, just before the holidays began, I received an email from Regent announcing it is going to be announcing certain specific 2009 cruises that will have complimentary tours included.  I do not have any more information, but it may work for those disappointed with Seabourn's decision.  (On the other hand, I know that I and many others have, in the past, been very disappointed with some of Regent's tours and its tour desk.).  Until I know more I really can't comment, so stay tuned.

My question to ponder is, for now, "Would you be willing to cancel your Seabourn cruise so that you can take advantage of complimentary tours on a Regent cruise."  If you answer Yes, then you can stop complaining about Seabourn eliminating its single Seabourn Experience on most cruises...for you have found your solution.  If you answer No, then you believe the Seabourn cruise experience is what matters more to you.

When I have more information as to the cruises involved and the tours being offered by Regent I will let you know.