Friday, March 19, 2010

Cruise in Alaska? - Probably Not...An Environmentalist's Perspective

I write this post as a Life Member of the Sierra Club, a 20+ year member of the Nature Conservancy, a college graduate with an bachelor of science with honors in biology...and, of course, as an avid boater and cruiser.

During the Seatrade Cruise Shipping Conference, at the State of the Industry program, it was announced at the outset that the Governor of Alaska and a large contingent from Alaska was present.  As the morning progressed, with the heads of most larger cruise lines discussing a particular topic, it was time for Stein Kruse, President of Holland America, to speak about the issues with cruising in Alaska.

Mr. Kruse pointed out that the demand for cruising in Alaska has dropped dramatically and that was related more to the pricing and taxing by Alaska then it was to an inherent reduced interest by the cruising public.  Emphasis was made that Alaska is a fantastic cruising and land tour area and that the satisfaction of cruise passengers as to the substance of their trips is high.

The problems, he pointed out, is that Alaska not only has included the now infamous $46 per person tax (which, by the way, has most of its funds - over $200,000,000 sitting in a fund unused...because Alaska hasn't figure out how to use the funds for its  mandated purpose - essentially developing and supporting the cruise industry infrastructure), but that Alaska has developed a complicated and disjointed set of regulations and requirements that make operating in Alaska, shall we say:  frustrating.

In addition to the aforementioned tax, Alaska has targeted the cruise lines with a special targeted income tax, a gaming tax, a mandatory Ocean Ranger program with attendant addition to local taxes assessed by the various cruise ports.

But it gets worse because Alaska has created discharge regulations that actually require the water discharged from the ships to be cleaner than the water that it require be discharged from land (and there is significantly more land-based discharge than ship-based discharge.)  Mr. Kruse pointed out that in some instances the cruise ships cannot take on the fresh water being delivered to the local population because if fails to meet the "cruise line only" standards for copper discharged in water.  What this means is that the water that is acceptable before being used for land-based operations fails the standard before it even gets on the ship!

There is a cost-benefit analysis that must be runf or any business...which includes environmentally sensitive ones.  Here there obviously was a very simplistic and unrealistic analysis done by the State of Alaska.  As reported on March 31, 2009 (one year ago) by the Juneau Empire newspaper, so it is clear that what Mr. Kruse says is accurate:

Voters in 2006 passed a cruise ship ballot initiative that imposed new taxes on the large ships. Each passenger pays a $50 head tax, technically an excise tax. The initiative imposed on the companies themselves a corporate income tax and a 33 percent tax on gambling income. It also set strict new environmental pollution rules.

Chip Thoma and Joe Geldhof, two Juneau residents who helped pass the initiative, said they thought it was misleading to identify the taxes as the problem. They blame the economy, and say the head taxes are minor in the whole price of an Alaska cruise vacation, including airfare, hotel, gifts and excursions. "It's the worst kind of cheesy scapegoating, because nobody really believes it," Geldhof said. Geldhof's evidence: Cruise numbers didn't go down in the first two years the head tax was levied.  Thoma said the head tax money is supposed to fund dock improvements that large ships need, so it's counterproductive for them to fight it.

Now, let's do that "cost benefit analysis".  If the cost of a cruise is, on average, $800 (the concept of airfare, hotels, gifts and excursions don't truly enter into the analysis...and for many, if not most, these items do not generate income for the cruise lines, but the local or other economies) and there is a $46 tax, plus a corporate tax, plus a gaming tax, plus the Ocean Rangers fees, plus the very stringent and expensive pilotage fees (in Alaska it is essentially a full time operation, not just in and out of ports), it quickly becomes clear that the profit margins are very slim.

On the environmental side of things, I am a firm believer in "Leave only footprints.  Take only memories." but understand that everything that we do has some sort of environmental impact.  The question is:  What is the impact and do those impacts allow for more benefits than the obvious detriments? 

Here, there are no studies showing the impact of the cruise ships is greater than the fishing fleets (it is far less) or the tanker fleet (it is far less) or the recreational boaters (it is far less).  Science cannot be skewed by the size, financial impact or personal perceptions of the cruise industry.  Nor can the economic benefits to Alaska of those hotels, excursions and gift incomes...and the use of those revenues to fund environmentally beneficial projects be ignored.  (Now what is the discharge standard for those hotels...and those excursion boats???)

And, alas, what would be the environmental impact of those port improvements - whatever they might be - if they ever come into existence?

The fact is that the State of Alaska saw (whether true or not) a bunch of big fancy cruise ships filled with tourists with big fat wallets and said, "We want some.  In fact, we want more than some."  And the economies of those passengers with the purported big fat wallets said, "I will pay $800 for my cruise, but not $1,000" so the cruise lines have been eating much of the expense...not to appease Alaska, but its passengers.

However, the cruise lines will not operate at a loss or walk away from profits if there are sufficient passengers to fill the ships at higher profits margins in the Caribbean or Europe...because they are in business to make money.

So, if the concept in Alaska is merely to protect the environment by instituting something akin to cigarette taxes (i.e. making the tax so high it uses the economy to force people to quit smoking) it has been successful in at least slowing the sales.  What it hasn't done is show that its actions are net better for the environment(balancing environmental programs that the economic boost pays for and are implemented versus the environmental impact of the ships).

If there were validated scientific studies that show the net environmental impact of cruise industry was a negative, they would be published...but they do not exist.

If there was a nexus between all the taxes and a benefit to the environment, it would be published...but it does not exist.

If it were untrue that Alaska has singled out the cruise industry and sought to gouge it, it would show how the State treats other industries in comparison...but it does not exist.

And with that, we must remember, there is no birthright to have the presence of a Holland America or Princess or Silversea ship in Alaska and Alaska cannot demand it.  Ships move and so do their economies.

So Alaska it is time to stop trying to make what I believe is a deplorable situation , both economically and environmentally, into a public relations issue.  By penalizing the cruise industry I am very confident Alaska is are negatively affecting the Alaskan environment, economy and people.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Crystal Cruises - New Dining Option and Some Thoughts About The Line

One year ago Crystal Cruises was, by its own admission, not doing very well.  It had an excellent product, but fairly empty ships.  What a difference a year makes...and Crystal Cruises has made the changes in some rather elegant ways.

Yesterday, at the Cruise Shipping Miami Conference (a/k/a "The Home Port of the Cruise Industry") Crystal announced its new dining option:  Perfect Choice Dining.  It is not "open seating", but rather a reservation option, where you are able to reserve dinner at different times on different days and at different sized tables. Crystal calls this opening dining with a reservation.

When combined with its continuing fixed seating (main or late) option, it allows its guests to mix it up a bit.  So one evening you may dine later with your spouse, but another evening you may arrange for dinner with a group of people you are cruising with or just met or have not yet met (as sort of an open/fixed seating mix).  This is assuming, of course, that as with any restaurant there is a table available...hence the need for a reservation.

When this is combined with the hefty onboard credits offered by Crystal with its "As You Wish" program I think Crystal Cruises has elegantly allowed for the newer, more inclusive, product to be meshed with the mainstay fixed seating and pay as you go product, it allows for those that wish to have their drinks included, included in the price, and those that do not drink alcohol (or not enough to justify it being included in the price), to use their cruise fare toward tours or the spa.

Both of these enhancements actually fold quite nicely into what it unabashedly touted at the Conference is its focus on families, children and multi-generational cruising. This is, once again, balanced against a truly noteworthy array of intellectually and culturally challenging onboard experiences.

Combining that with its significant refurbishments to the Crystal Symphony and plans for the Serenity and you have a true force in the luxury cruise market.  Yes, there are the issues of larger cabins vs. suites, 1,000 guests vs. smaller capacities, etc.,  but what is certain is with these two major changes (dining and onboard credits) Crystal has added its flavor to the selections available for the new breed of luxury traveler that want what they want, when they want it and how they want it.  (But more on that in another post...hint, hint!)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Seabourn Sojourn - Two Subtle Changes from Seabourn Odyssey

Up until now I have not been able to tell anyone of any changes being made the Seabourn Sojourn from the Seabourn Odyssey.  Now, as it has been reported by Seatrade, I can let you in on two of the subtle changes:

The ship will have two new features: a Kneipp Pool (in place of the spa’s thalassotherapy pool) and a Spa Cabana (replacing one of the two Spa Villas).

The Kneipp Pool is a shallow treading basin with warm and cold water channels that are said to improve circulation.  I do not know what the design of the Kneipp Pool on the Sojourn will look like, as there are many designs for same, but this photo gives you an idea of one:

The new Spa Cabana will provide a shaded outdoor area of lounge chairs and sofas for spa clients to relax before or after their treatments. My impression is that feedback from guests and the amount of use (or less intensive use) has caused the change.  The area is really a nice place to relax and my guess is that rarely were two of the villas booked at the same time, so why leave one vacant when it could be put to good (if not modified) use. 

As for the Seabourn Sojourn's construction schedule, it is far ahead of where the Seabourn Odyssey was at the same point, only three months prior to delivery.  This was the result of the shipyard doing many things better and, it seems, learning from its mistakes.  (Though I do not personally know this, I have a strong feeling that Carnival Corp. applied a bit of pressure and insisted on certain changes.)

More specifically, the most significant change was that the engines were ready and installed much earlier, while the hull was still being constructed off-site. I am not sure how much of this was related to engine manufacturers having a bit more free time on their hands in this economy, or better cash flow within T. Mariotti or just better planning. 

You may also recall that the Seabourn Odyssey class ships are built in blocks elsewhere, joined together to a point and then towed to T. Mariotti in Genoa, Italy.  The Seabourn Sojourn’s blocks joined off-site continued up to the superstructure on Deck 9 instead of merely to Deck 5 on the Seabourn Odyssey...with the additional work completed at T. Mariotti.

Now, however, is when the real push comes.  Over the next weeks it will be nothing short of organized chaos with all the various parts coming together.

Obviously I will keep you posted.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Seabourn's 2011-2012 Itineraries Announced - Awesome Fares and Real Airfare Values

I will detail the itineraries shortly, but I wanted to get this press release out to you ASAP.  Call me at 877-2GO-LUXURY or +1-732-383-7398 or email me with your questions.  The books open on March 23, 2010!


Cruise Fares from $3,250, Business Class Airfares from $2,299

MIAMI, March 9, 2010 – The Yachts of Seabourn has issued an advance announcement highlighting the new worldwide itineraries that its fleet of award-winning, all-suite yachts will offer in 2011 and 2012. At the same time, the line announced a special promotion on the entire 2011 Europe and Asia schedule of voyages. The promotion, which begins when the cruises go on sale on March 23, features two-for-one cruise fares from $3,250 per person, and value-priced round-trip, add-on airfare from $699 for economy and from $2,299 for business class. The promotion continues for bookings made through June 30, 2010. The cruise itineraries can currently be viewed from a link on the “Plan a Cruise” section of Seabourn's website by clicking here.

“With the launch of Seabourn Quest in June 2011, our six intimate yachts will enable us to provide the unique, Seabourn yachting lifestyle to travelers anywhere they wish to explore, from the beaches of St. Tropez to the jungles of Borneo,” said Pamela C. Conover, Seabourn’s president & CEO. “From Iceland to Queensland and Beijing to Barcelona, you can travel the world, and travel it well, on a Seabourn yacht,” she said.

During the 15 months between January 2011 and April 2012, the ultra-luxury cruise line will offer its most extensive and diverse menu of itineraries ever, calling at a record 266 ports in 78 countries during 252 scheduled voyages visiting a wide variety of popular destinations and exotic locations across the world. Fares and details will be available on Seabourn’s website on March 23, and a lavishly illustrated catalogue will be published in April.

With the introduction of Seabourn Quest, Seabourn will complete its three-year fleet expansion, which has added three new vessels, allowing the line to offer more departures in more destinations, for longer seasons than ever before.

Sophisticated travelers continue to look to Seabourn for more exotic and unique destinations, and in 2011-2012, Seabourn will satisfy their appetites with visits to novel, far-flung ports in Africa, South America and Asia, such as Maputo, Mozambique; Port Stanley, Falkland Islands; and Bangaram in India’s Laccadive Islands.

New Yacht: Seabourn Quest

The new, ultra-luxury Seabourn Quest will launch June 20, 2011, with a 14-day Maiden Voyage from Barcelona to Athens. Quest’s maiden season will include seven-day Eastern Mediterranean cruises, operating alternately between Athens and Istanbul, and Venice and Athens, as well as a seven-day Black Sea voyage. On January 5, 2012, Quest begins a 109-day World Cruise from Ft. Lauderdale to Venice on a unique eastbound course via South America, South Africa, the Indian Ocean, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean.

New Itineraries

In 2011-2012, Seabourn returns to Canada and New England with a series of nine-day Autumn Maritime cruises aboard Seabourn Sojourn, which will include the yacht’s maiden call to New York. Sojourn will also operate a series of six 14-day Patagonian Passage voyages to the picturesque Chilean Fjords, Cape Horn and the Falkland Islands between Valparaiso, Chile and Buenos Aires, Argentina. Seabourn Pride remains in Asia for a second season of year-round exotic cruises to major destinations such as Japan, China, Vietnam, South Korea, Thailand and Taiwan. New for 2011, Pride will operate a series of new 12-day cruises between Singapore and Bali with calls to exotic ports in Borneo, Sulawesi and Java.

In early 2012, Seabourn Legend will be based in the Arabian Sea and offer Indian Oceans Delight with stops to Oman’s capital city of Muscat, also known as “Arabia’s jewel,” and the vibrant city of Mumbai, India. Other new itineraries include a 60-day Stars of the Southern Cross cruise round trip from Los Angeles to French Polynesia, New Zealand, Australia and Hawaii aboard Seabourn Odyssey; new seven-day St. Petersburg & the Baltic cruises between Copenhagen and Stockholm aboard Sojourn; week-long Gems of the Adriatic and Dalmatian Discoveries cruises round trip from Venice aboard Seabourn Spirit; an 18-day Path of the Vikings transatlantic voyage from Dover to Quebec, and a 12-day Canada & Colonial Autumn voyage from Quebec City to Fort Lauderdale aboard Sojourn.

New, Exotic Ports of Call

Seabourn’s record number of port visits in 2011-2012 will include more than 50 destinations that are either maiden calls or ports that the cruise line has not visited in years. New ports include Bangaram (Laccadive Islands), and Porbandar,India; Matarani, Peru; Brindisi, Italy; Burnie (Tasmania), Australia; Cape Town, South Africa; Chan May, Vietnam; Constantza, Romania; Pointe des Galets, Reunion; Doha, Qatar; Port Elizabeth, South Africa; Port Louis, Mauritius; Fanning Island, Republic of Kiribati; Port Stanley, Falkland Islands; Gili Sudak Island and Waikelo, Sumba, Indonesia; Qaqortoq, Greenland; Sir Bani Yas Island, Abu Dhabi; St. Helena, United Kingdom; Karimunjawa Island, Indonesia; Sur and Khasab, Oman; Manama, Bahrain; Maputo, Mozambique; and Walvis Bay, Namibia.

New Seabourn Journeys

In 2011-2012, Seabourn will offer two new Seabourn Journeys, fully-escorted packages for guests wishing to extend their stays on land. A new three-night pre- or post-cruise Journey from Sydney, Australia, provides an in-depth exploration of the Australian Outback, including a sunset camel safari to a bush barbecue and visits to the breathtaking scenic wonders, the Olgas and Uluru, the largest monolith on earth also known as Ayers Rock. Also new is a five-night pre- or post-cruise wildlife safari Journey from Cape Town, South Africa to the Singita Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Oceania Cruises - Exceeding Expectations; Especially When It Counts!

I know Oceania Cruises has a basic mantra of making things right, but its communication regarding the effects of the devastating Chilean earthquake on its cruises has been exceptional.

I have clients who are about to embark on the Oceania Insignia on a lengthy South American cruise.  Of course concern over what would be happening with the cruise has been significant.  Obviously bombarding Oceania with calls when it could not possibly have definite information in an every changing situation would have been counterproductive.  So I thought:  patience.

As if reading my mind, Oceania sent out an email and a fax (just to be sure the information was received) with an update, an explanation and a note of appreciation of the client's concerns and the stresses involved.  All in all three well-timed emails advising that things looked good and all plans were for the cruise to go off as scheduled.

Then yesterday I received the latest email.  Not only did it have information as to both disembarking and embarking guests, it gave details of some of the logistical concerns.  For example, it explained that if you arrived at the port after 3:30 p.m. you and your luggage would have to be tendered to the ship because ships with relief supplies were scheduled to arrive and the dock space was needed to offload the critically needed materials.  This was followed by a facsimile and then, in the early evening, a telephone call...with a note that Oceania would have a phone line open for questions until 9:00 p.m.

There is literally no more that could be asked of a cruise line in this situation.  Bravo!

BTW, I called my clients they were arriving at the airport for their flight to Santiago (scheduled to arrive the day before the cruise, of course)...and advised them to arrive at the ship as early as they could to embark (probably around 11:30 a.m.) so that if there was a problem such as the early arrival of a relief ship, they had a better chance of embarking from the dock rather than a tender.  I advised that it was better to wait in at the port or on the ship than having a clearly chaotic situation with tendering just so they could spend a couple of extra hours on land.  (I bit of conservatism can avoid big hassles.)

I will keep you posted on how the embarkation went.  And, if you want to follow the cruise on the Oceania Insignia you can do so on The Gold Standard Luxury Travel Forum.

Friday, March 5, 2010

How Sick Am I Reading About Seabourn Dress Code Changes? Formal Equals Not Elegance!

Not nearly as much as I am about the failure of most (not all) to realize that putting lipstick on a pig doesn't make it beautiful (unless, of course, you are another pig).

Yesterday I received an email from one of my clients on the Seabourn Odyssey's World Cruise that I thought was spot on.  He wrote: 

"Concerning the dress code: there is an older group of people who want the formal nights and everything around it. For us, it is not necessary. I have my tux with me and I wear it on formal nights.

We always follow the dress code, nothing more, nothing less.  It would be a good thing when everybody did that.  People who are calling for formal nights appear in the dining room on casual nights with a shirt, tie and jacket....

What we like on Seabourn is the elegance and that is not the same as 'black tie'. Times are changing...."

There are two interesting observations:  (1) Elegance and formal are not one-and-the-same; and (2) There are those who insist on formality even when it is contrary to the dress code.

To be brief, because truly that is all that is required, a hideous gown is not elegant, a tux that is three sizes to small is not elegant.  Elegant is elegant.  We all have seen elegance...and you know it when you see it.

A dare any person to say that Christy Turlington showing up in The Restaurant dressed without a single piece of jewelry and this simply cut dress would not be the height of elegance.  Alas she is not dressed "formal".

After the men picked their jaws up off the floor (if actually possible) and the women marvel at her appearance, they turn to the gentleman sitting at her same table in a very expensive tuxedo that is two sizes too small and is a bit crumpled at the lapel who fails to rise as she approaches the table.  This gent is dressed "formal", but has no elegance.

On the flip side, I truly do not believe that a couple that dresses rather formally on a "casual" evening (i.e. not an "elegant causal" evening would truly have a problem enjoying themselves dressed to the nines on an elegant causal evening. 

But then again, I must ask, "Is it appropriate for them to impose their formality when it is contrary to the ship's announced dress code?"  Isn't there the possibility that doing so makes those around them as uncomfortable as when they are well dressed (though not formally) and someone arrives at the restaurant in jeans and a tennis shirt?

Seabourn is maintaining its elegance and continues to be more formal than most every other cruise line, but just not as formal.  As another client (who lives and works in a toney part of a major international city) wrote to me yesterday upon hearing of the end of formal nights on seven night Seabourn cruises, "My husband is so excited to see on the website itinerary that there are no black tie evenings scheduled on these two weeks. Is that really the case? If so, that is less packing to do for sure! We’re all for dropping the black tie dress up night. I think that is terrific! That formal night in summer is such a pain in the you know what. Summer night elegant dress is so much better! Yeay!"

Do many of you see the silliness of it all...yet? The clothes do not make the man/woman...the elegance of being well-dressed and well-mannered does.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Apollo Management's Changes at Regent Seven Seas - Drinking the Kool-Aid

It has taken some time, but a change in philosophy by some and perceptions by others it seems is finally taking hold.

When Regent Seven Seas was purchased by Apollo Management and then folded into Prestige Cruise Holdings (which also owns Oceania Cruise Lines) there as uproar by Regent loyalists.  "Hedge fund guys are going to destroy our beloved cruise line!" "There are going to be massive cut-backs!" "The crew are going to suffer with being underpaid!" and the list goes on.

To the contrary, Apollo Management saw that the prior management had virtually run Regent into the ground with poorly maintained ships, abused crew policies, poor food and declining levels of service.  I first wrote about this in my June 2008 article, The Oceania-fication of Regent Seven Seas

But then I saw the beginnings of a turnaround because, as I predicted, a year earlier Regent's new sister was a better run company with a better delivery of product (both cuisine and service).  So, in June 2009 I wrote Oceania Cruises - More Like Regent Seven Seas Every Day...Or Is It The Other Way Around?

While this was going on, Apollo Management poured US$90,000,000 into improving the three ships, Regent Voyager, Regent Mariner and Regent Navigator.  The improvements were both long overdue and very well received.  More importantly, they were actually focused on doing what needed to be done:  Fix the ships; especially the Regent Navigator (which has such systemic problems the feat of correcting them was nothing short of incredible).

Shall we digress?  Why would a hedge fund spend $90,000,000 on fixing ships that were allegedly so wonderful?  It takes a long time to make back that kind of investment.  The reason was because it was the prudent financial thing to do.  And, thus, it is clear that the complaints (at least by me) were well-and-truly justified.  More importantly, they are a thing of the past.  (Note:  I do not believe the software is all of a luxury standard such as you find on Seabourn, but it most certainly is of a good standard and nothing that would cause one not to book a Regent it might have in the past.)

With the provisioning and philosophy as to cuisine changing, there were/are grumblings that the dining choices were not as many as previously available and that some portion sizes were reduced (though I believe the portion in the Prime 7 alternative dining restaurant are far too large), the fact is that if your kitchen staff cannot produce proper quality and/or the diversity drives up costs and waste, the first thing to do is simplify the menu and each the staff to cook better.  This remains a work in progress, but the complaints do seem to be subsiding.

Service has remained a sore point as well because of inconsistency.  The concept of finding and latching onto a particular waiter is mind-boggling to me.  Some guests brag of this technique, but in fact they are damning the vast majority of the servers actually declaring them of inferior and/or insufficient quality. I know Apollo has, now that the ships are fixed, focused more closely on the service issues. 

And, alas, this is where the management onboard the ships just might be starting to "Drink the Kool-Aid".  I remember watching management play their afternoon shuffleboard while chaos rained supreme at the front desk and the dining room; leaving second or third tier staff to "handle it" while they, when available, gave guests nothing more than lip-service...blaming the home office for the problems. 

Well, folks, the home office is different now (you don't hear much from Mark Conroy anymore do you)...and the focus can't be shifted.  In fact, the home office philosophy is for onboard management to own the problems and correct them.

I have clients departing on a long voyage on Oceania in a few days out of Valparaiso, Chile.  With all of the uncertainty as a result of the tragic and devastating earthquake, Oceania has been excellent in providing emails and faxes with great explanations of what is happening and what is anticipated.  It has created such good will, not only with my clients, but with me.  Oh, for Regent to do such things!

(I will not comment on the "free", "free",  "free" marketing approach by Regent. As a travel agent I do not see the value in it when you look at the pricing versus other lines, but it most certainly has increased sales for Regent that was suffering badly with empty suites and disgruntled guests.  In the end that is the idea, right?  To sell suites so that Prestige Cruise Holdings shows profits and, eventually, can be sold as a well functioning entity at a premium.  (That affords Apollo to stay out of the day-to-day management for if it was involved there would be a discount rather than a premium.)

Well...on March 1, 2010 a poster on Cruise Critic (hondorner) wrote, in part and gently edited: 

"I can't help but wonder why you would automatically assume it was "evil" Apollo's decision, especially in light of the fact that other than a couple of members of Prestige Cruise Holding's board of directors, Apollo keeps a strictly "hands off" approach to the cruise line decisions.

Under the new corporate management, the ships are sailing full, which I understand is different than under the previous management; the cruise line is showing a profit and has record bookings, and more than $90 Million has been pumped into improvements, and the staff to whom I spoke in January were universally in favor of the changes. That doesn't sound very "evil".

I've been hinting at this, but I have to be frank -- while I enjoyed the all-inclusive nature of Regent, I find the service on Oceania to be just as good, the food better, and the overall ambiance to be superior to Regent. Why is this relevant? Because the management of Oceania that has brought it from nothing to one of the most successful cruise lines in less than eight years is now the corporate management of Regent."

Yes, it seems Drinking the Kool-Aid just might be something that is happening.

To be sure I need to see more consistency in cuisine and service and I do have some problems with the pricing being far to high for what I consider value, but HUGE improvements have been made at Regent and I believe it will continue to get better.  And, it seems, now there are guests that believe it too!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Seabourn's 2011 - Early 2012 Itineraries Will Be Here March 23rd

Just a quick FYI that Seabourn's 2011 and Early 2012 itineraries will be released on March 23, 2010. 

The benefits to booking early are

1.  You secure the suite you want.
2.  You are assured the best price, because if you or Goldring Travel finds lower fare I do whatever I can to get you that fare.
3.  No matter where in the world you live Goldring Travel will never charge you a booking or cancellation fee if you change your mind.  (If you cancel during Seabourn's penalty period those charges apply.)
4.  Goldring Travel will discount your Seabourn cruise.
5.  Goldring Travel will provide you with exceptional service and advice.

Basically, you will be treated by Goldring Travel as you will be onboard...with the added benefit of great pricing in addition to the great value a Seabourn cruise offers you.