Monday, July 20, 2015

Seabourn's "Dirty Little Secret" - It Blocks Suites and Sailings to Make Longer Sailing More Expensive, Appear Almost Sold Out...and Then Offers Less Desirable Suites

This post pains me to write, but I must be honest and maintain my integrity.



While I believe Seabourn provides one of the best cruise experiences out there, Seabourn engages in a practice that I find incredibly troublesome and, to my mind, one that seems to be - when the evidence is put together - by design.

Seabourn's "dirty little secret" of which I speak can easily:

  • Cause you to unnecessarily pay more for your cruise; 
  • Create a false sense of urgency to book when there is none by giving you an inaccurate impression that there is high demand for certain of its cruises; and,
  • Limit your choice of suite to the less desirable ones.
This would, of course, increase Seabourn's revenue and keep the most desirable suites available to make sales easier for the shorter, higher profit, cruises.

I have been, without success, asking...then begging...then fighting to have Seabourn fix this for quite a while. Seabourn's brass first told me that it did't happen, so I kept providing examples of it.  Then I was told that is a limitation within its reservation system.  But then today I was told, Seabourn expressly refuses to fix what supposedly is an innocent programming error or software limitation. Seriously?   One would think that Seabourn would, if it was a problem and not by design, FIX IT; not refuse to!

So how does this work?  Let me give you an example:  

Sunday a client emailed me in a panic.  They want to sail for 21 days in August 2016, but there is no a 21 day cruise (only a 7 day and the following 14 day) and there is very limited availability for the 14 day segment.,,even though  the cruise is over a year away.  So how is it that over a year way a 21 day cruise in the same suite cannot be had?  The reality of it is, it can be...but it is not easy and if done wrong it can cost you thousands of dollars.

Because it is Goldring Travel, also on Sunday, I log into the Seabourn reservations system and see the 7 day cruise is wide open with the very best suites remaining available.  But when I go into the 14 day sailing I see limited availability, and almost none of the better suites in the category can be booked; and those pretty much do not match up with what is showing as available on the earlier 7 day cruise.

But what I also see is that Seabourn is offering the cruise as a 21 days sailing, but it is not shown in its brand new brochure (mailed just this past week).  And as a 21 day cruise it qualifies for a Grand Voyage discount; making it almost $1,200 less expensive than booking the 7 day and 14 day cruise back-to-back.  As I look at this significant savings for my client I see that there are only two suites, and most certainly, not the better ones, available to book as a 21 day cruise.  And those suites are not available for either of the 7 or 14 day cruises!

I then manually take an inventory of suites that are available if I booked the cruise in the most expensive way: Three seven day cruises.  Low and behold:  EVERY SINGLE OF THE BEST SUITES IN THE CATEGORY WERE AVAILABLE FOR THE FULL 21 DAYS.

Now, having booked my clients at the lower Grand Voyage fare I attempted a number of ways to secure the desired suite through the reservations system.  The result:  "Invalid Entry".  Huh?

Not satisfied (I do the best I can for my clients), first thing this  morning I called Seabourn Reservations and asked for that prized suite to be placed on the reservation.  Nope. Can't be done by Reservations.  "Permission" from another department....which was eventually had....was required!

Wait a minute.  There is a system in place to have suites that are blocked from being unblocked, but only at the discretion of someone in a back-office department!  That is not a software limitation or programming error.  "Permission" should not be a factor.

In the end Goldring Travel's client received the best suite at the best price (along with a discount and onboard credits), but only because I know about Seabourn's "dirty little secret" and how to protect my clients from it.

Do I still believe Seabourn is one of the best cruise experiences out there?  Yes.  But am I sincerely disappointed that Seabourn is doing business this way?  You better believe it.

Interested in a Seabourn Cruise? You know I will make sure you get the best suite at a great price! Call me:

United States:      (877) 2GO-LUXURY
United Kingdom: 020 8133 3450
Australia:           (07) 3102 4685
Everywhere Else: +1 732 578 8585

Or email me at eric@goldringtravel.com