Monday, July 4, 2011

Regent Seven Seas Quietly - On a Holiday Weekend - Is No Longer "Its All Included" or Luxury

When politicians do not want something to be noticed, they announce it over a weekend.  If they really do not want you to notice, they do it over a holiday weekend. While I am not really interested in being perceived as bashing Regent Seven Seas Cruises, I cannot let its use of this same tactic go uncommented on.

In what I see as a continual backsliding by Regent, it has very quietly...that's right, in a very non-consumer friendly manner - started breaking out government fees and taxes  up to US$17.00 per day per person.

Why is this important?  In part because the whole marketing hype of Regent Seven Seas has been that everything is included?  I mean plastered all over its website is "It's All Included".  It is important because Regent Seven Sea Cruises prices have become the highest in the industry - while the quality of the product continues to flounder (more on that in a minute) - and Regent Seven Seas Cruises needed to find a way to make its prices seem, well, more in line with reality...as its ships sail less than full.  (To be fair, in this economy and with the increase in luxury berths all of the "luxury" lines are having some issues with this.) 

One cannot ignore that the timing of Regent's really unannounced, but footnote disclosed, change is in addition to an overall price hike by Regent Seven Seas. That's right, this holiday weekend Regent Seven Seas Cruises announced a double price hike.

It is reported that Mark Conroy, Regent's president asserts the reason is that Regent Seven Seas cannot continue to absorb the fees and taxes.  Huh?  It absorbs nothing.  Regent passes every single expense on to its passengers.  (I am having a hard time calling them "guests" any more.)  I am really turned off by that sort of "Isn't Regent Seven Seas so generous.  We have absorbed the burden for our passengers." when it is, in fact, simply untrue.  BTW, I took a random sample of 10 Regent Seven Seas cruises in 2012 in Europe, Caribbean, Asia and every single one had the full $17.00 per day charge assessed.

Now, let's combine this double price hike with (1) the prior price hike to include a pre-hotel stay, and then (2) the ploy to have you purchase a higher category suite because you get things that every luxury line provides to all its guests (like priority shore excursion and dining reservations) and...

A continual slipping in service and cuisine.  I scour the web, speak to clients (Goldring Travel obviously doesn't book many Regent Seven Seas cruises, but it has a number of unhappy Regent passengers that become very satisfied Seabourn, Crystal and Silversea, etc. guests), and use other methods to obtain information from as many sources as possible discussing the onboard experiences on Regent Seven Seas (and other lines).  This is what I generally find...and you don't have to trust me, you can read much of what I see if you seek it out:

- Problems with communicating with staff as a significant number are not fluent in English

- Service issues throughout the ship, but especially in the main restaurant, Compass Rose, and the casual eatery, La Veranda.   (Finding a good waiter and seeking him out is, apparently, an insider's strategy.)

- Crowds and problems finding a clean table in La Veranda.

- Repetitive and lower quality food offerings in La Veranda and at breakfast (noted consistently as being no different from premium or mass market line offerings).

- Included shore excursions having larger numbers of people on them.

I could go one, but the point has been made.

Now, if you like Regent Seven Seas and want to stay loyal (I don't understand the concept of but it does exist), why don't you try Regent's sister brand, Oceania Cruises.  With Marina and Riviera you will be getting a beautiful ship with very nice accommodations, great itineraries and service and food levels at or above Regent's...at a significantly lower cost (even if you must pay-as-you-go).  Oceania Cruises is just a better value.

On the other hand, if you want an actual luxury cruise experience I would urge you to check out Seabourn, Crystal or Silversea Cruises.  They do not engage in Regent Seven Seas' "smoke and mirrors", insult you with cheap marketing ploys, etc....and they actually provide you with different types of true luxury cruises.


 please call me at 888-SEABOURN in the United States, 020 8133 3450 in the U.K.; 07 3102 4685 in Australia; and +1 732-383-7398 elsewhere. You can also email me at eric@goldringtravel.com.