Sunday, September 11, 2011

Selling Snow in Winter - Regent's New Travel Documents

OK, you know I am not a fan of Regent Seven Seas Cruises.  It is not that it is a bad experience or the suites aren't nice.  It is because Regent hypes the ordinary and charges a super-premium to its guests as a result.

Regent announced it has new Cruise Documents.  Those documents, it seems, are pretty similar to what Seabourn has been providing as Pre-Cruise Documents for years.  It includes such things as frequently asked questions, tour information and, get this:  Pre-Printed Luggage Tags. (Yeah, exciting, huh?  Seabourn has provided pre-printed luggage tags, well, for years.  And is that really something that should be an improvement on a cruise line that charges what Regent Seven Seas charges?!)

Further, Regent has gone to a huge...and I mean huge...over 8.5" x 11" format that is about 1/2" thick.  I mean how many people want to schlep a big book like that (as opposed to the Seabourn, Silversea, Crystal type of travel wallets)? OK, do you want to know why?  Because Oceania Cruises uses a similar sized format and has the templets for all of the information now included...sans the binder.  So as the Oceania-fication of Regent Seven Seas , which started in 2008, continues...

By contrast, I recently took a look at Orion Expeditions cruise documents.  They are excellent.  Within a leatherette zip-up folio is a two ring binder, with dividers, that provides you with tons of information in an easy to find, easy to read, format and with room for you to include your other documents in a way they will not fall out.  And, of course, they are half the size of the "new" Regent Seven Seas documents.

But you know what really boggles my mind:  Regent loyalists on Cruise Critic are thrilled that there are Pre-Printed Luggage Tags and a huge format.  I mean not a single negative word...not even, why the heck didn't Regent provide something so simple at its high prices.  Is this the kind of perspective you are looking for or feel comfortable relying upon?

Earlier this week, I had a client ask me about a family cruise to Alaska on Regent or Celebrity.  I kid you not, this is what I found: 

For example, I could put you in a Royal Suite (over 570 square feet + 195 square foot balcony w/separate bedroom) for under $9,700.00 total for two full retail price and four in a Celebrity Suite (462 Square feet with a separate bedroom for the parents) for under $10,100.00 – the top available suites...

On Regent the price [taking the air and hotel credits] for a window suite (no balcony) of only 300 square feet is $8,333 for two people and Regent does not permit four in the standard suites, so you are looking at one for Mom and Dad and one for the kids...So you would be looking at well over $27,000 for 3 basic suites on Regent vs. under $20,000 for two very large suites.  Yes, you have to add in gratuities, drinks and tours, but it isn’t even coming close to the cost no less the functional benefits.  (And, of course, you don’t have to go with the most expensive option on Celebrity.  I just used it for comparison.)

Of course on Celebrity you no longer get printed travel documents, but rather e-documents.  Oh well.

Sometimes Pre-Printed Luggage Tags just shouldn't get you too excited.  Just sayin'!