Monday, September 21, 2009

Is Regent Seven Seas Changing Its Tune? Is It Now Not Overpromising? Is It Getting It Right?

I have harped on Regent Seven Seas claims of "6 Star Luxury" not only because it is hype, but because it simply has a history of not delivering it either in consistent luxury quality food or service.  As I have said, there is always a danger in over-promising and under-delivering.  Create reasonable expectations and then exceeding them is magic...for the cruise line and the guest.

Tonight I want to a Regent Seven Seas seminar which was, refreshingly, absent hype.  Gone was any reference to "6 Star" anything. No mention of superior cuisine or service.  "Luxury Goes Exploring" was gone.  Now it is "The Most Inclusive Luxury Cruise Experience Ever". Any you know what, I can not only live with that, I can work with it.

Yes, there was a comparison of a Silversea cruise with a Regent cruise showing Regent was a better value when you consider it being air inclusive (or take a credit), tour inclusive (if you take those tours), etc.  But what was really interesting to me was that comparisons were made to Holland America and Princess cruises.  The discussion was of included drinks and water, gratuities and tours (and, yes, comparing the free Regent tours with Holland American tours is fair.)  Honestly, when you make those comparisons, Regent may start looking like a viable option if you want to upscale (not not luxuriate) your cruise. 

You need to be careful when comparing prices for the "free" airfare and the value of the "free" tours, but I think the exercise may well be worth undertaking when comparing Regent to premium lines.  That is, obviously where I think the Regent product (other than its outstanding suites) more accurately compare. And where it gets interesting is that Regent's cuisine and suites do significantly exceed Holland America's and Princess's cuisine.  (Nice bonuses that might give Regent an edge when it comes out slightly more expensive for the value cruiser.)

And, more importantly, by lowering the bar of performance and raising the bar on marketing value, Regent has a much better chance of having happy passengers which means it will have a greater chance of repeat business and referrals.  As I have repeatedly said: Regent is not a bad product - far from it.  It is just that Regent is not the luxury product it has been marketing itself as; no less one which exceeds the standards of Silversea or Seabourn.

I think Regent may be getting it right.  (But then again, it is raising its prices on at least 36% of its 2010 cruises by $500 or more effective September 30, 2009...and that might well hurt the very comparisons I just told you about.)