Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Regent Seven Seas Cruises - Does Goldring Travel Criticize It To Sell More Seabourn Cruises?

I am regularly questioned (or, better, attacked) by loyalists to Regent Seven Seas Cruises for allegedly being unfair to their cruise line of choice.


In just this past week, one of my omnipresent critics, TravelCat2 - who seems to have her life consumed by Cruise Critic - and another person on Google+ have again raised the theory that I am critical of one cruise line (here, Regent Seven Seas Cruises) so that I can, somehow, sell more Seabourn cruises. 

So I take this opportunity not so much to defend what I actually do, but to reaffirm why I say what I say and do what I do...which is not to sell more Seabourn cruises, but to continue with the phenomenal growth of Goldring Travell in the luxury travel market.

Why Doesn't Goldring Travel Recommend Regent Seven Seas Cruises?


Rather than providing you with a long, detailed, explanation of each reason, let me just list them with a short comment:
  • Regent Seven Seas Cruises is the most expensive cruise line - Assuming quality is equal or near equal there has to be a value proposition that makes spending more money better for my clients...not Goldring Travel's bottom line.  As shown below, I just don't see it.
  • Regent Seven Seas Cruises pitches that shore excursions, drinks, gratuities, air, etc. are "free", but you pay for every one of those things - Why should Regent require that I lie to my clients? I have an inherent dislike for dishonest marketing and I will not, ever, call something "free" that isn't.  If your drinks are "included", don't call them "free".  If you receive a credit for not using Regent's air, then don't call the air "free". 
  • Regent Seven Seas Cruises has average to dismal restaurant service - The complaints, even by loyalists, remains consistent.  Having to find a special waiter, plead with the Maitre de, give up on your cheese course, wait 45 minutes between courses, etc. are not acceptable on any cruise line, but especially not on line that asserts it is six star luxury.
  • Regent Seven Seas Cruises cuisine is below par...even as compared to it sister line, Oceania Cruises - The inconsistency of cuisine and variety of cuisine is just not acceptable.  Every cruise line (Seabourn included) will have a cruise or two that the galley just doesn't get it right, but the complaints about Regent's cuisine is consistent.  (Also, one must remember that if you want a steak and potato dinner on Regent you can get it, but on Seabourn...not so much, as it focuses more on elegant cuisine.)
  • Regent Seven Seas Cruises' "free" (included) shore excursions are generally marginal and send 50-200 people to the same place at the same time...just like Princess Cruises - While most of my clients do not take the ship's shore excursions in most ports (there's another reason), when they do, they expect a high quality experience with 25-30 people on a bus (not ever seat taken) and a small group experience with a guide for every dozen or so guests...and never a second or third or fourth bus from their ship. 
  • Regent Seven Seas Cruises does not give any credit for shore excursions not taken or if a paid for excursion is taken - If you take a premium Regent shore excursion you are probably going to more than for a similar shore excursion on Silversea and pretty much what you will pay on a Seabourn shore excursion.  So where is the credit or otherwise fair pricing?
  • Regent Seven Seas Navigator is a disaster of a ship - It always has been and always will be.  This abandoned Soviet spy ship come luxury cruise ship has a serious vibration problem, a very awkward layout of public spaces and a huge number of mechanical issues.  It does, however, have very nice suites.
  • Regent Seven Seas Mariner is a nice, older, ship with quirky bathrooms - A bad original design had a bathtub shower combination where anyone over 6 feet tall would hit their head on the ceiling when showering, so most of the bathtubs have been removed; resulting in a shower-only configuration.  Thus, if you want to take baths (and many of my clients do), you may have trouble finding a bathtub...and then you may hit your head.
  • Regent Seven Seas Cruises segregates its "luxury" guests based upon how much they pay - I find this quite offensive.  While I am fine with top suites receiving some amenities such as included internet, transfers and an in-suite Nespresso machine (ala Seabourn), the onboard experience on a luxury line should not be segregated by how much you pay for your suite.  I have many clients that could easily pay for them, but find no need to do so, should not be given a lower priority for any of the onboard experiences such as alternative dining.  As for Regent's top suites getting Butler Service, that admits that the rest of the ship is getting inferior in-suite service; which is not acceptable.
  • Regent Seven Seas dishonestly claims it is a better value than specific premium cruise lines, while refusing to compare itself to the other luxury cruise lines - If it is true, then fine, but cherry-picking cruises and creating an entire marketing scheme around it is just offensive.  I have written about this previously- in 2012 and 2010:  Regent Seven Seas vs. Holland America - Really? Let's Talk Ethics and Why You Need A Knowledgeable Travel Agent - Regent Seven Seas, Using "Fuzzy Math", Goes After the Premium, Not Luxury, Market.  I challenge Regent Seven Seas to do the same exercise versus Seabourn or Silversea.  The results will be quite enlightening!
Now, with all of that said, Regent has a dirty little secret that it doesn't want you to know:  I have heard - far more than once - that Regent has a select number of travel agencies that sell Regent Seven Seas Cruises at a lower price than the rest of the market...for which there is a strict "no discount" pricing requirement.  I have no problem with top selling travel agents being given preferential treatment, but don't tell the public pricing is only X and then secretly fill you ship with secret discount pricing.  (To be fair, Regent's sister company, Oceania Cruises has a similar mantra, but then inundates me with "Let's Make a Deal" offers to, for example, move my clients to other - totally unrelated sailings -at ridiculously low prices.)

As if the foregoing isn't enough, the fact of the matter is that there is a very, very, small percentage of cruise guests that will switch between Regent to Seabourn or Silversea or Crystal.  They are all unique products and my spending my time trying to get someone on a cruise line that is not consistent with their style or desires is business suicide.  Goldring Travel makes sure that its clients are on the best, cruise line, best ship and best itinerary for them...as individuals.

Finally, Goldring Travel is not an owner in Seabourn Cruise Line.  Goldring Travel sells cruises and earns commissions by selling them.  So I will gladly sell you what you want...but I work very hard to be sure it is what you actually want (rather than what you think you may want)...so that Goldring Travel doesn't book you on one cruise, but all of your cruises and land vacations for the rest of your life.

So to those of you who love Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Goldring Travel will happily book your cruises, give you excellent service and added amenities...just like it does for its clients that sail on Seabourn, Silversea, Crystal, SeaDream Yacht Club, Celebrity, Oceania, etc.

And for those of you who are not sure about whether to book your cruise on Regent Seven Seas, now you have a lot of information to consider! That is what Goldring Travel does:  We make sure our clients have all the relevant information rather than marketing materials.

OK, now it's your turn! What do you think?  Make your opinions known on The Gold Standard Luxury Travel Forum (and you can even post anonymously).

Interested in a cruise?  Give us a call at (877)2GO-LUXURY or on one of our international numbers...or email me at eric@goldringtravel.com