Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Why You Need A Knowledgeable Travel Agent - Regent Seven Seas, Using "Fuzzy Math", Goes After the Premium, Not Luxury, Market

Read this article and you may save over $4,000 on your next cruise vacation!

For the past year I have urged you to consider Regent Seven Seas cruises as Premium, not Luxury, cruises.  I based this on a number of factors including a significant, and often noted by many, slippage of service quality, decent though not outstanding cuisine/food, and the focus on ":free", "free", "free" rather than value, quality or experience.  Noting that same is not a criticism, but rather a change in marketing and focus, I think a further analysis based upon the most recent Consumer flyer is worthy.  But, possibly, not exactly the way Regent intended. 

First, the flyer:



Now, comparing the Regent Seven Seas Mariner Cruise to the Celebrity Equinox is probably the most appropriate for my purpose because it has the greatest price difference, compares a true suite vs. a true suite and, as you know, I do not believe Princess is even marginally in the same class nor can Holland America provide the same quality (not that it is a bad product...just too different...and the SY is large, but doesn't come with suite amenities).

The first thing I noticed was that Regent decided to compare its 7 day August 19, 2010 sailing at $5,550 per person ($793 per day) to Celebrity's 7 day September 2, 2010 sailing and thought that was curious because not only is the month different, literally ever port is different.  So, I looked to see what Celebrity's other September cruises were and saw that it was offering two 13 night cruises as low as $2,819 per person in a suite...over 33% less on a daily basis.  Regent didn't point that out.  (BTW, that is the same cruise I took last year and the prices are pretty consistent, so I did not selectively pick a better priced Celebrity cruise.)

Then I said, I probably should look for a Celebrity cruise with a similar itinerary at a more comparable time...say in August!  And there is was:  A 10 night cruise on August 6, 2010 with 4 identical ports + Dubrovnik vs. Split, Croatia + others for a base price of $2,979 per person + $78 in port charges = $3,057 per person vs. Regent's $5,550 per person...and the Celebrity cruise is 30% longer.  This leaves me with a starting base per day cost of Celebrity - $306 vs. Regent - $793. 

According to Regent, gratuities, drinks and liquor will add another $52 per day.  Gratuities are $15 per day for suite guests, so that leaves me $37 per day for beverages; a fair figure for most people.  Regent then claims I will dine in the Alternative Restaurants (there are four upscale options on Celebrity vs. two on Regent) three times in seven nights...which I will make four times since the cruise is longer, averaging $30 per meal (though that is on the high side in usage and pricing), or $120 per person, or $12 per day.  So that brings my Celebrity daily cost up to $370 per day vs. Regent's $793 per day.

Now all I have left to deal with, according to Regent is tours and air fare.  Regent claims the tours (included on Regent) will run me $556 on Celebrity for a seven day cruise, so on my ten day cruise, the cost would be $790 total, or $79 per day. 

This now brings my total daily cost on Celebrity to $449 per day vs. Regent's $793 per day.  So before dealing with airfare let's look at the hard numbers:  Celebrity will cost me $4,490 for a 10 day cruise and Regent will cost me $7,930 for an equivalent 10 day cruise.  Am I making this up or speculating?  Nope!  Regent has a 12 day cruise on the Seven Seas Mariner on August 6, 2010 which prices a Category H Suite at $8,760.

Now, Celebrity's airfare of $1,329, which includes transfers, is actually pretty close to the available individual pricing, so let's go with that to keep things simple.  That brings my total cost for the Celebrity cruise up to $5,819 vs. $7,930 for an equivalent Regent cruise.

So I am struggling here to find the parity.  I am going to spend $2,000 more per person ($4,000+ total!)for the Regent  cruise; nothing close to what Regent claims in its flyer.  

But there is more.  A cruise is not just about the money.  It is about the experience.  I have provided some detailed information on my recent cruise on the Celebrity Equinox on the Goldring Travel website and the rest on this blog (just search Celebrity Equinox). 

Suffice it to say, for this article, each ship has its benefits.  I have found the cuisine (especially in the alternative dining venues) and the service on Celebrity to be consistently better than on Regent.  The suites are, for the most part, comparable enough that the differences wouldn't make the decision for you.  On Celebrity you are dealing with a large ship with many more guests, but other than if you want to lay out by the pool (and chair hogs have found their way onto Regent) there are many public spaces on the Celebrity Equinox that are equal to or superior to the Mariner's. Size may be a deal-breaker, but at least you know that the size difference will save you thousands of dollars. Children:  Regent has a program, but Celebrity has an excellent one and many more options to keep the children happy.  (We are comparing cruises during summer vacation aren't we?!) 
The point is that an experienced travel agent that has your best interests at heart isn't going to plunk down a Regent...or any other cruise line's...brochure and let you make a decision. 

I bet for some of you I just saved you over $2,000 per person...That is over $4,000 total...on your next cruise vacation. 

Imagine what I can do for you if you are my client!