Thursday, December 12, 2013

NCL's Suites - They Are Not Luxury...They Are Excuses To Charge Extra For What Should Be Included

As you know I have lots of issues with Norwegian Cruise Line's (NCL's) ship-within-a-ship concept.  Beside the curious décor and the feeling of being trapped in a small area or else being overwhelmed with huge mass market throngs of people, there is a new reason.

Seatrade reports that NCL has announced that its passengers (not "guests") can now choose from a selection of luxurious baths drawn by their butlers. The new 'Butler Bath' menu includes a beverage selection and is available in all of its suites, including those in The Haven.

That sounds OK, but then there is the catch:  It'll cost you.  And it will cost you a lot!  The "Mediterranean Soak" which includes French verbena bubbles, a bottle of Dom Perignon champagne and sturgeon caviar costs $499!

Seriously, I can offer you a cruise on Seabourn, Silversea, or Crystal with a per day cost for the cruise at significantly less than that and you will receive the same (OK, different champagne) for less money.

But, as you know, the little things always catch my eye.  When NCL feels compelled to let you know that the caviar it is serving is "sturgeon" you know the rest of what you are being served is not exactly top shelf.  Folks, if the fish eggs in front of you are not from a sturgeon it is called "roe"; not "caviar".

I wonder, does NCL give you real champagne glasses or are they plastic?

Honestly, if you are interested in a luxury experience that includes a luxurious bubble bath, quality champagne and caviar, you need to look to one of the luxury cruise lines.  You will find there is not only a much higher quality of service and cuisine throughout the ship, but a far better value for your cruise dollar.

Don't believe me, give me a call and I will do the math for you!  (877) 2GO-LUXURY or email me at eric@goldringtravel.com

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Another Shake-Up at Silversea Cruises: Ellen Bettridge Resigns and Moves to Unique Vacations-Sandals

The revolving door at Silversea continues.


Ellen Bettridge spent less than two years as Silversea Cruises' President of the Americas and has now, reportedly by her own decision, departed to become president of Unique Vacations, the US distributor of Sandals Resorts in the Americas.

Taking over as General Manager (curious position?) is Kristian Anderson who was brought in with Ellen as Vice President of Sales.  He will also improve his position becoming Senior Vice President of Sales in what I guess would be considered a dual role.

Silversea has had quite a bumpy road of late and "stability" does not seem to be a word associated with this cruise brand...troublesome for a luxury cruise line.  Personally, every time I seem to forge a relationship that seems to be worth developing and trusting, there is a shake-up.  That, to me, means one thing...and one thing only:  Silversea's ownership is not allowing those that know the business to actually run the business.

It is no secret that Silversea has been suffering from soft sales of late.  While it might have seemed curious that with slow sales and lower yields, it has made a strong move into the expedition cruising market with its expansion from the single ship Silver Explorer into the Galapagos and then with the purchase of the Discoverer, to me it makes perfect sense.

While I have absolutely no idea if Ellen or Kristian had anything to do with the plan, I would bet my bottom dollar that Silversea figured it could (and did) pick up two expedition ships dirt cheap (there is a very small market for them), fix them up and be able to charge a higher per day rate on relatively high demand expedition ships to prop up Silversea's sagging classic fleet sales and yields.  (I have said this to quite a few people in the past and nobody seems to be overtly disagreeing with me after they hear my theory.)

So what does all of this mean for the future of Silversea?  Honestly, I don't think it will mean much at all. 

That is not an insult to Ellen Bettridge or Kristian Anderson.  It is simply because until Silversea's ownership lets the people that actually know what they are doing do their job there will be a continuing revolving door and a suffering not only of Silversea's profitability, but the quality of the product it delivers to the luxury market.