Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community
VASOXFANN

Not impressed with new pricing structure

Recommended Posts

My DH and I enjoyed our cruise on the Poesia, and we hoped to try the Divina in the near future.

 

I received an Email offer, so I logged into the MSC website. I was surprised to see the "experience levels" listed. Curious, I read the available information about them. I'm not thrilled that MSC is creating different classes of passengers, and putting the levels on cruise cards for everyone to see :(

 

I realize that all cruiselines have perks for suite guests, etc, but this is different! When I pull out my cruise card to get into my room or buy a drink, I don't want other cruisers seeing how much I paid. I wish MSC would have just left things alone.

 

I have a real problem with classifying passengers as steerage and/or different classes. This bothers me to the point of continuing to take my business elsewhere!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
My DH and I enjoyed our cruise on the Poesia, and we hoped to try the Divina in the near future.

 

I received an Email offer, so I logged into the MSC website. I was surprised to see the "experience levels" listed. Curious, I read the available information about them. I'm not thrilled that MSC is creating different classes of passengers, and putting the levels on cruise cards for everyone to see :(

 

I realize that all cruiselines have perks for suite guests, etc, but this is different! When I pull out my cruise card to get into my room or buy a drink, I don't want other cruisers seeing how much I paid. I wish MSC would have just left things alone.

 

I have a real problem with classifying passengers as steerage and/or different classes. This bothers me to the point of continuing to take my business elsewhere!

 

You should not let that bother you because you should not care that others are going to see what category of room you booked and im sure people have other things to do then to worry about what room you booked. If you enjoyed the Poesia you will love the Divina!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's not just that people might see my card. I don't want to pay good money for a cruise and run the risk of being treated like a second-class citizen if I don't buy the ritziest, most expensive "experience level." :rolleyes:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I haven't read anything about these new experiences yet. I just got off the Divina and I'm "trying" to write my review. I had a great time, I will learn about these levels. I don't worry about what other people pay. I pay what I can afford, (not much- LOL). :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't like the experiences either but not from a classifying point of you but because it is more restrictive in having things packaged rather than you way you would choose to have them. It has also been used in the UK to charge more for less e.g. Bella.

 

You card already tells people if they choose to look that closely whether you have bought all inclusive package or not, your club status and what kind of cabin. Knowing whether you have chosen to pay extra to still have room service or not - who cares. I like room service, others never use it.

 

It has been operating for some time in Europe and I haven't seen any complaints about lesser treatment for those not booking Surea.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have to add my vote against the new experiences too.

 

They are an unnecessary morass of complicated included extras, privileges or lack of, restrictions and booking conditions packaged in to four no-size-suits all categories. There are so many of them, all described in the usual MSC marketing spiel, that I doubt anyone will fully understand what they are booking or be able to remember all the differences between the experiences. If you book 'Bella', the onboard experience may be a very nasty shock.

 

Compared to the previous lowest standard of cruise that MSC offered, the 'Bella Experience' now removes a turn-down service, charges extra for room service delivery and for room service breakfast, prevents children taking part in "recreational activities" available to all other children on the ship, restricts the choice of cabin to only the lowest categories, carries higher cancellation and amendment fees and gives everyone else aboard priority in choice of dinner sitting. Hardly "bella"! This combination now guarantees that the base 'experience' will be better on any other cruise line, regardless of category of accommodation booked. Own goal MSC!

 

Now the 'Aurea Experience', which packages Allegrissimo, a spa package, bathrobe & slippers, priority boarding, 'my-time' dining, and access to an Aurea sun deck with a choice of the best balcony cabins is NOT AVAILABLE FOR SOLO OCCUPANCY - at any price!!! Own goal 2, MSC. So solo travellers can't dine or sunbathe with Aurea guests unless the Aurea guests give up their privileges!

 

'Fantastica' is the old standard experience except with priority for most things over Bella guests. So Bella guests might not be able to dine with Fantastica guests. Neither will be allowed on the Aurea sun deck. There is already resentment between different nationalities being treated differently on the same cruise, e.g Americans can have free water at dinner, Europeans can't. None of this makes for a harmonious cruise with happy guests. Own goal 3.

 

The trend for decades in the travel industry has been towards 'a la carte' or tailored packaging: allowing the customer to choose exactly what he or she wants according to their individual preferences and personal value-equation and not paying for things they don't. The introduction of unwanted, compulsory packages is a huge retrograde step for MSC.

 

By all means have opt-in packages of well-priced extras but forcing everyone into a one-size-never-fits all package, different sittings and areas of the ship linked to their choice of accommodation (and relationship status) is a recipe for disaster.

 

To MSC

1. Drop the 'Bella' experience it is degrading and guarantees the worst cruise experience in the industry.

2. Drop the 'Fantastica' experience and just make it the base cruise experience, as it was.

3. Make 'Aurea' an optional, spa-themed, pre-bookable package

4. Introduce supplements for solo-occupancy across all categories of accommodation, even if the fares are over 200%. End the prejudice.

5. Allow complete customisation of the cruise experience at the time of booking.

 

Of course that last point would require a functioning website.

Edited by Skipper Tim

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

At least with the "Bella" balcony on most of their ships you do get your own lifeboat to look at as you sit on the balcony, if you don't get one of them you get a chunk of superstructure.

We are booked on Splendida soon but that will be our last with MSC, bit of a shame as we do like the ships; can't say the same for the customer service.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well said, Tim.

 

I think these "Experiences" pricing levels are going to cause a lot of confusion - I wouldn't like to be starting out as a first-time cruiser trying to figure which would be the best to go for, value-wise. As a regular with MSC the only ones I'd even consider would be Fantastica or YC. The Aurea one seems way over the top price-wise.

 

I agree with you about the solo occupancy issue, especially regarding YC. As it's an all-inclusive level surely 100% supplement would be equivalent to a couple's booking in revenue terms?!

Edited by Beamafar

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My 2 cents.....

 

Just because we don't drink....we are now not entitled to nice cabins in good locations!

 

I don't know who came up with "the experience" concept....but it has to be adjusted.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tim is right that things have gone backwards for a company that is supposed to be heading/looking forward.

 

while the Bella may help some people on a lower budget MSC have actually re introduced Steerage class !

 

Another own goal was their absence yesterday at the Daily Telegraph cruise show held in Liverpool, a few of the big companies were also missing but the likes of P and O, NCL and Cunard had plenty of staff there as did the River Cruise companies.

 

Hapag Lloyd had some offers for Solo`s.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Tim is right that things have gone backwards for a company that is supposed to be heading/looking forward.

 

while the Bella may help some people on a lower budget MSC have actually re introduced Steerage class !

 

Another own goal was their absence yesterday at the Daily Telegraph cruise show held in Liverpool, a few of the big companies were also missing but the likes of P and O, NCL and Cunard had plenty of staff there as did the River Cruise companies.

 

Hapag Lloyd had some offers for Solo`s.

 

I went to the Daily Telegraph Manchester cruise show a year ago. The main reasons were that it co-incided and was co-hosted with the Tesco Wine Fair :), I had free tickets, MSC were supposed to be there and I wanted a paper copy of the MSC brochure in English - not available on the ships and never yet sent upon request on MSC's website.

 

There was no sign of MSC despite their logo appearing outside the hall. Eventually, I asked one of the organisers who looked them up on his crib sheet directed me to an agent's stand who had absolutely no MSC presence on display at all. I thought this was a particularly low-key marketing exercise on the part of MSC!

 

I asked about an MSC brochure and was directed to the manager of the agency. He admitted that they did exist but added "They are like gold dust. We don't even have an office copy".

 

Needless to say there were no MSC special offers available for the cruise show.

 

On the Armonia earlier this year I did manage to obtain an English brochure. The only one. The cruise consultant first denied that she had an English brochure then said she did but only one and was kept locked away! I explained how I had tried for years to obtain one, my mother is not on the internet etc. etc. Eventually, she relented and it was sent to my cabin on the last day of the cruise. Her note told me not to tell anyone, which I haven't until now that it is well out of date.

 

Quite a weird marketing machine, don't you think?

 

I felt I was joining the Masons rather than been able to spread the word.

Edited by Skipper Tim

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It's not just that people might see my card. I don't want to pay good money for a cruise and run the risk of being treated like a second-class citizen if I don't buy the ritziest, most expensive "experience level." :rolleyes:

 

 

You have cruised Carnival and RCL, both have loyalty cards of different colors that show what level you are, and how much benes. you get! Have you ever been treated rudely by someone with a higher level club card?

 

RCL has a Casino Club that would also show up on your cruise card, and 'tell someone nosey' you paid less, maybe nothing for your cruise then they did!

 

Some RCL ships have Diamond, and Diamond Plus premium seating in their show rooms, so if you can't sit there, imagine what those people think of others!:eek:

 

Some RCL ships have Concierge, and Diamond Lounges set aside for the 'upper crust'! Just imagine how they're talking about those who can't access these Lounges!:eek:

 

RCL gives pins for people to wear showing what level they are in the loyalty program, and we've never seen a higher level cruiser with their pin looking down on others with lower levels of pins!

 

Carnival and RCL allow higher level club members 'first off, first on' the ship, and set aside special/shorter lines at guest services, and at embarkation, what do you think the people in these shorter lines think of you?

 

Seriously, if you're going to worry about a few people(idiots) who might look down their nose at you because of how much you spent on a cruise, forget it cause you've probably already had it done on Carnival and RCL, and never realized it!:D

 

Enjoy your cruise, forget the little things and little people!:)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
prevents children taking part in "recreational activities" available to all other children on the ship

 

Bella does this :mad: That is bush league (for those not familiar with this US saying ( Below good standards, not good or incorrect. Pitiful, poor, terrible, awful, bad, sucky,) and completely awful.

 

Pay for the SPA OK, Yacht club fine, Pay for steerage and even screw the kids...cruel.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You have cruised Carnival and RCL, both have loyalty cards of different colors that show what level you are, and how much benes. you get! Have you ever been treated rudely by someone with a higher level club card?

 

RCL has a Casino Club that would also show up on your cruise card, and 'tell someone nosey' you paid less, maybe nothing for your cruise then they did!

 

Some RCL ships have Diamond, and Diamond Plus premium seating in their show rooms, so if you can't sit there, imagine what those people think of others!:eek:

 

Some RCL ships have Concierge, and Diamond Lounges set aside for the 'upper crust'! Just imagine how they're talking about those who can't access these Lounges!:eek:

 

RCL gives pins for people to wear showing what level they are in the loyalty program, and we've never seen a higher level cruiser with their pin looking down on others with lower levels of pins!

 

Carnival and RCL allow higher level club members 'first off, first on' the ship, and set aside special/shorter lines at guest services, and at embarkation, what do you think the people in these shorter lines think of you?

 

Seriously, if you're going to worry about a few people(idiots) who might look down their nose at you because of how much you spent on a cruise, forget it cause you've probably already had it done on Carnival and RCL, and never realized it!:D

 

Enjoy your cruise, forget the little things and little people!:)

 

Apparently Bella does just that, screws the kids.

 

There is a huge difference between the perks you point out and the Bella experience as pointed out by skipper Tim.

 

beyond apples and oranges.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Apparently Bella does just that, screws the kids.

 

There is a huge difference between the perks you point out and the Bella experience as pointed out by skipper Tim.

 

beyond apples and oranges.

 

 

You misunderstood what question I was attempting to answer!

My comment 'was not' pointed to the new tier pricing program, it was answering the question of 'someone feeling less worthy on a cruise ship because they paid less'!:eek:

 

My comment had nothing to say about the new tier program, as I know little about it, and I'm sure if it doesn't work, or irritates too many cruisers, MSC will change it again, or lose business!

Personally I think MSC should have left their pricing as was, and let people have time to adjust to a new line in the US! This would seem to add a lot more confusion to people trying to decide whether they want to try out the new kid on the block!

Edited by American Bear

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One of the things I have always loved about cruising is that it always seemed to eliminate class status, at least while you were on the ship. Everyone dined together, went to the same shows, shopped in the same shops, visited the same ports, etc. Maybe at the end of the day some went to fancier staterooms with butlers, but at least I could walk in that area of the ship if I wanted. I always met wonderful people on cruises and we often got together in each other's cabins for drinks and talks. Sometimes we arranged to have a meal together in the main dining room and share a bottle of wine. Now it seems like the cruise lines have decided that there are certain people who would rather not associate with me while on a cruise. At first I decided that I would never sail on Cunard due to their class structure with the dining rooms, then I avoided NCL with their "Haven" concept. I don't like the Yacht Club concept on MSC either, but at least these people have to walk through the rest of the ship to go to dinner. Don't get me wrong, some of the nicest people I have ever met on a cruise were staying in an "Owner's Suite", but now it looks like I won't meet them in the future. We are indeed returning to the "Golden Age" of cruising where class status does make a difference. Please MSC, rethink this terrible idea. After this rant please note that I am sailing on the Divina in December and the NCL Breakaway next July. While I don't like the concept, I still love cruising. Bob

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My comment 'was not' pointed to the new tier pricing program, it was answering the question of 'someone feeling less worthy on a cruise ship because they paid less'!:eek:

 

 

The kids not allowed to go to kids activities that are open to other kids will certainly feel less worthy.

 

Carnival and royal carribean are largely "class" less products. Even suite cruisers get little extra beyond a larger room and a few priority things and a few added niceties.

 

Even NCL now has the Haven as compared to the YC an upscale and up charged class.

 

Only MSC seems to suggest a step back from 2014 to 1914 and to bring back steerage class. Lets hope the staff does not differentiate between Bella and 2nd class.

 

Kids activities director; "Welcome to all the children... oh, are you from Bella? Oh well, you can't come in I'm afraid."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I asked about an MSC brochure and was directed to the manager of the agency. He admitted that they did exist but added "They are like gold dust. We don't even have an office copy".

 

I frequently call into a particular TA when I'm in town as I'm trying to get my hands on a Thomson brochure. I missed one recently when they'd got them in and she's promised to keep me one when they get more - she said they "fly out the door". Must be popular! Anyway, the shelves are FULL of MSC brochures for cruises up to April 2016 (in other words, the latest one)!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But...how about those of us who spend a lot of money....just not on drinking!

 

I spend way too much in the casino, I generally book excursions, get something done in the spa...and DH always buys me a bauble or two.

 

Now I have to spend more money to get drinks I don't want and a dining time I don't care about (buffet eaters)...just to get a cabin "mid-ship" on a high floor????

 

My "kid" is 28...so the kids programs don't affect me. But, if he were little...and we went on a cruise where he was excluded because of our cabin...I don't think I'd book. I'd hear whining for the entire cruise....

 

I'm really easy to please...really low maintenance. But, the only thing I care about is cabin location.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I have to add my vote against the new experiences too.

 

They are an unnecessary morass of complicated included extras, privileges or lack of, restrictions and booking conditions packaged in to four no-size-suits all categories. There are so many of them, all described in the usual MSC marketing spiel, that I doubt anyone will fully understand what they are booking or be able to remember all the differences between the experiences....

This is a very insightful analysis. I agree with Tim that MSC seems to have carried a good thing too far. I support the concept of charging full retail for extras (specialty restaurants, excursions, drinks, photos, internet) in order to maintain a low base price for a cruise. That allows those who choose not to use the extras to avoid underwriting their cost. However, breaking out new extras such as turn down service, room service, especially the kids club, etc, which are so inherent to a quality cruise experience seems to be carrying things too far.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I frequently call into a particular TA when I'm in town as I'm trying to get my hands on a Thomson brochure. I missed one recently when they'd got them in and she's promised to keep me one when they get more - she said they "fly out the door". Must be popular! Anyway, the shelves are FULL of MSC brochures for cruises up to April 2016 (in other words, the latest one)!

 

Bea, you must be close to the natural source of MSC brochures!

 

I have never seen an MSC brochure in English on display in my life. Had I not eventually obtained one, under terms of absolute secrecy, as I described, and almost out of date, I would have thought everyone else was being dishonest claiming that they existed.

 

We only had the same problems getting a Thomson brochure around 40 years ago. We had to place deposits on holidays we didn't know were going to be available at prices we didn't know, well over a year before the brochure was even published. Package prices then were around £40 per adult and £20 per child. Booking gave us priority to receive the brochure so that we could find out what we had booked.

 

If we had waited until the brochure was out, we would have waited 2-3 years to get to where we wanted! MSC takes me back to those days.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tim ... I forgot to add that we were talking to a UK cruise TA company rep yesterday who told us that the so called New website for TA`s is not much better than the old one!

 

She said they also cannot understand why MSC will not discuss current bookings with them over the phone for any changes or additions, emails it seems go unanswered to them also.

 

Four days now and still waiting for a response to a paid upgrade from them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It's not just that people might see my card. I don't want to pay good money for a cruise and run the risk of being treated like a second-class citizen if I don't buy the ritziest, most expensive "experience level." :rolleyes:

 

You have a problem if you think that's true. WOW. So that means that you wont cruise on any line because they all have different color cards for the different classifications. How about a land based vacation?

Edited by riclop

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I also hate MSC class system, and their MSC Yatch club concept. I prefer the system that many other lines have, that's the main reason why I would not book MSC over others lines, if the price and itinerary are the same. So far, we've been attracted to MSC because of itinerary mainly. And while we enjoyed the experience very much, we consider they have gone too far.

 

For us the main problem is that with Bella you can't even choose the diner times (first or second) and since they do not offer My Time Dining unless you pay a fortune, this can result in a terrible cruise experience. We find it unthinkable to dine at 18:00.

 

Also, MSC must attract new younger audience if they want to expand. Young people do not like that differentiation, you may pay premium for some things, but you are not denied the very basics.

 

I expect the strategy to fall apart in 2 or 3 years, when repeating customers are tired and switch to other lines.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I hadn't looked into this previously since the upgrade levels didn't seem meaningful to us. I didn't realize that Bella was an actual downgrade. However, reading about the kids club on this thread got me worried about our existing booking on Divina. I found this in the FAQs:

 

How will the Inclusive Experiences work with with pre-existing bookings?

If you have booked an interior, ocean view, balcony stateroom or suite before September 23, 2014, you will automatically receive the Fantastica Experience without the drink vouchers. Customers who have booked MSC Yacht Club suites will automatically receive the MSC Yacht Club Experience.

The entire FAQ:

http://www.msccruisesusa.com/us_en/Multimedia/MSC-Cruises-New-Pricing-FAQ.aspx

 

~~~~

 

That said, has there been some confirmation that Bella kids aren't allowed in camp? I see:

 

Every young one is a member of the crew in DOREMILAND, with two special clubs, the Miniclub for Sailors 3-6 years old and the Juniors Club for Pirates aged 7-11.

 

The only thing I read about dis-inclusion is:

What kind of kid's activities do you have?

Besides the Aqua Park, video arcade, and Infant & Kid’s Club that accommodates children from 3 years old to teenagers, Fantastica and Aurea Experience guests' children can participate in our DoReMi cooking classes, where children learn basic baking skills, and the DoReMi language course, where children learn basic sentences in 6 different languages.

 

I tend to read that as the kids club being open to all, with the cooking and language classes being part of the upgrades.

 

~~~

 

Of course, it's all with a grain of salt. The website also talks about the "gourment" anytime restaurant... unless that's a new type of European dining? :rolleyes: I guess MSC has the Bella version of MS Word: no spellchecker. :eek:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • 2019 Cruisers' Choice Awards
      • NCL Sail-Away Giveaway Sweepstakes - Win a 7-Day Cruise on Norwegian Joy!
      • Forum Assistance
      • New Cruisers
      • Community Contests
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Member Cruise Reviews
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×