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Two new mid size ships starting 2022

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In the mainstream (non luxury or premium) cruising world being dominated by Mega 4000+ passenger cruise ships, HAL with it's fleet of less than 2600 passengers ships, is still the only smaller ship cruise line. The Vista and Signature class ships have 1800-2100 passenger capacities which are far less than most of their competitors. After only building two Signature class ships, HAL must have realized that at around 2000 passengers they could not be competitive so we now have the new Pinnacle class at 2600 passengers. I would not be surprised if in the next 5 years HAL doesn't introduce an even larger ship, hopefully with no water slides. 

 

We are booked an a Viking Ocean cruise in 2020 that goes from Venice to Athens, we looked at a similar itinerary on the Veendam with a Vista Suite. The Veendam cost was only $900pp less than our VO cruise but when  we considered all that is included no charge with VO and adding in the much smaller and newer ship, VO won hands down with us. The Viking ships are 100% Verandah cabins and 80% of them are more like the size of HAL's Vista and Signature Suites. The HAL S and R class ships are not really competitive  with Viking when you compare HAL's Vista and Neptune suites to Viking.

Edited by terrydtx

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9 hours ago, OlsSalt said:

 

No, because there is no competition with the HAL product right now among smaller ships.

 

There are small ships, but very different over onboard all experiences. No other mainline brand has the price, value and travel itineraries that HAL consistently offers on its smaller ships - S and R class ships.

 

 Princess has one. Celebrity and the other mainline brands have zero that I know of. Carnival has maybe one or two - 1200 or so ships but very weak itineraries and old ships.

 

Not sure why people keep wanting to compare HAL  R-class ship potential, to the premium and/or luxury brand smaller ship offerings. Not even close to being the issue. '

 

I admit I know nothing about the need to be luxury only at this passenger capacity level, or else the ship never even leaves the dock.  But at least I want an apples  to apples comparison for similar HAL non-premium amenities in the smaller ships if one is going to put this suggestion down out of hand;  this was not intended to be a premium/luxury smaller ship comparison with the HAL brand.

 

I understand what you are saying, but in this era I'm not sure there's a financially feasible way to have a "middle ground"  --  e.g., ships that are not huge (but not tiny either) and that are not exactly mass market in terms of offerings like itineraries and enrichment (but not luxury either).  You see what I mean, it already sounds a little confusing....

 

Also, how would companies market such a brand?  In the vacation cruise market, cruise lines already have difficulty developing their own core identity and differentiating themselves from their competitors. A large number of casual cruisers barely know the name of their ship, let alone the name of the "brand".  Those of us on this forum often forget how much specific knowledge we have.

 

Rather like the reported "hollowing out" of the middle class, I think we are seeing the same thing in the cruise industry. There is clearly demand for cheap holiday cruises on large ships that offer a lot of 'wow' for the buck. Every "bigger and better" ship launched by Royal Caribbean and Celebrity can charge premium prices for a while due to the demand.  (HAL, not so much.)  And at the same time there is also a demand for something other than a mass-market experience -- I look at the amazing success of Viking as an example: they are busy building a fleet of medium sized, very lovely ships, and they have enough of a base that they can not only charge a premium price but can demand that the fare be paid a year in advance.  Is HAL seeing that for her mid-size ships?  I doubt it, but would be interested to see whether the Maasdam experiment has any effect on that.

 

Princess' last remaining R-class ship isn't comparable in my mind to the HAL class R and S class ships. Smaller than even Prinsendam and not originally built by Princess, I suspect she will eventually go to Azamara or Oceania to be refurbished and add to their premium fleet.  As I mentioned earlier, it's been admitted openly that the smaller ships on Princess were not profitable.  

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51 minutes ago, cruisemom42 said:

 

I understand what you are saying, but in this era I'm not sure there's a financially feasible way to have a "middle ground"  --  e.g., ships that are not huge (but not tiny either) and that are not exactly mass market in terms of offerings like itineraries and enrichment (but not luxury either).  You see what I mean, it already sounds a little confusing....

 

Also, how would companies market such a brand?  In the vacation cruise market, cruise lines already have difficulty developing their own core identity and differentiating themselves from their competitors. A large number of casual cruisers barely know the name of their ship, let alone the name of the "brand".  Those of us on this forum often forget how much specific knowledge we have.

 

Rather like the reported "hollowing out" of the middle class, I think we are seeing the same thing in the cruise industry. There is clearly demand for cheap holiday cruises on large ships that offer a lot of 'wow' for the buck. Every "bigger and better" ship launched by Royal Caribbean and Celebrity can charge premium prices for a while due to the demand.  (HAL, not so much.)  And at the same time there is also a demand for something other than a mass-market experience -- I look at the amazing success of Viking as an example: they are busy building a fleet of medium sized, very lovely ships, and they have enough of a base that they can not only charge a premium price but can demand that the fare be paid a year in advance.  Is HAL seeing that for her mid-size ships?  I doubt it, but would be interested to see whether the Maasdam experiment has any effect on that.

 

Princess' last remaining R-class ship isn't comparable in my mind to the HAL class R and S class ships. Smaller than even Prinsendam and not originally built by Princess, I suspect she will eventually go to Azamara or Oceania to be refurbished and add to their premium fleet.  As I mentioned earlier, it's been admitted openly that the smaller ships on Princess were not profitable.  

 

You just said so much of what I've been thinking. I agree that the middle ground is being "hollowed out" in the cruise industry. And a mid-level niche business like the Maasdam in-depth is always tricky to sustain. Princess tried it with their "do-gooder" ship and that didn't last. 

 

Marketing is a difficult issue for HAL as it is. If you had to "sell" the idea of a HAL cruise to someone, what would you say? What comes to my mind first is itineraries and service. No "wow" there, but then I'm not looking for wow.  What do they say about themselves?  HAL ships don't have room for a waterpark or a skating rink or a sky-diving simulator. Instead of of advertising attractions, they advertise connections--BB King, Lincoln Center, Billboard, Rolling Stone, America's Test Kitchen, Oprah. I was thinking about all this cobranding earlier this morning. It's almost as if HAL doesn't have an image of its own, so they're borrowing the images of other businesses. 

 

Edited by 3rdGenCunarder

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I don't know about being hollowed out.

 

If you look at cruises based on today's dollar that might be so.  But, if you look at cruising based on an inflation adjusted dollar over from 15 years ago  or more then the cost of a Viking or other like cruise may not have been hollowed out by price but rather than perception of cost.  

 

My guess is that if some long time, loyal HAL customers took their inflation adjusted dollars from cruise fares of the past and applied them to today they might not find that the Vikings or Azamaras represent  significant price increase.  Rather, the increase is in value.  I suspect the decreases in the price of the mass market cruises over the past years has left the impression of a hollowing out from a cruise fare perspective.

 

If we we given a choice between Veendam and a Viking cruise for an effective delta of $900 the HAL option would never make it on to our short list.  Absolutely no comparison.

Edited by iancal

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1 hour ago, iancal said:

I don't know about being hollowed out.

 

If you look at cruises based on today's dollar that might be so.  But, if you look at cruising based on an inflation adjusted dollar over from 15 years ago  or more then the cost of a Viking or other like cruise may not have been hollowed out by price but rather than perception of cost.  

 

My guess is that if some long time, loyal HAL customers took their inflation adjusted dollars from cruise fares of the past and applied them to today they might not find that the Vikings or Azamaras represent  significant price increase.  Rather, the increase is in value.  I suspect the decreases in the price of the mass market cruises over the past years has left the impression of a hollowing out from a cruise fare perspective.

 

If we we given a choice between Veendam and a Viking cruise for an effective delta of $900 the HAL option would never make it on to our short list.  Absolutely no comparison.

At that difference we would stay with HAL.  While Viking Ocean has beautiful ships and do have some inclusions (though not impressed by most of the free included tours, which are very similar to the included River Cruise tours), they are lacking in the entertainment side. Basically Viking Ocean is an ocean cruise line built around the river cruise model. Tried them once will not return due to entertainment considerations as well as business practices.

Edited by RDC1

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1 minute ago, RDC1 said:

Duplicate post

 

Edited by RDC1

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Our perspective tends to be a little different because our home currency is not USD.  We did an incredible amount of cruising and travel in Europe and the Caribbean when our dollar was high and the economy was poor.   We also learned to shop for cruises in other international market places.  Now our currency is down in value and cruising is not as attractive as it once was compared to other travel alternatives.  Plus we now retired, we have much more time.

 

The one thing that has not changed is that we shop for value not price.  We are more than willing to pay a higher price, or perhaps take a less attractive cabin (to us), if the trade off perceived value to us is considerable.   So we really do not care that much about entertainment on a cruise ship.  From our perspective it is typically mediocre at best and we would be more than willing to give it up in favor of other attributes.  We have been on a few cruises where the entertainment was a negative attribute-it was stale like old bread, off key like an out of tune piano, and just plain boring.

Edited by iancal

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2 hours ago, 3rdGenCunarder said:

 

You just said so much of what I've been thinking. I agree that the middle ground is being "hollowed out" in the cruise industry. And a mid-level niche business like the Maasdam in-depth is always tricky to sustain. Princess tried it with their "do-gooder" ship and that didn't last. 

 

Marketing is a difficult issue for HAL as it is. If you had to "sell" the idea of a HAL cruise to someone, what would you say? What comes to my mind first is itineraries and service. No "wow" there, but then I'm not looking for wow.  What do they say about themselves?  HAL ships don't have room for a waterpark or a skating rink or a sky-diving simulator. Instead of of advertising attractions, they advertise connections--BB King, Lincoln Center, Billboard, Rolling Stone, America's Test Kitchen, Oprah. I was thinking about all this cobranding earlier this morning. It's almost as if HAL doesn't have an image of its own, so they're borrowing the images of other businesses. 

 

What Princess do-gooder ship?  Are you referring to Fathom which was a new CCL line, using an old Carnival ship, and had a focus on local aid projects?

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As recent posts on this thread show, there are many different things people consider when looking at a cruise. Some don't want any room below a balcony level, some don't like smaller ships because there are fewer entertainment options.  Some value itinerary more than just about anything else.  And some clearly are in search of a fairly low price tag.

 

Is it even possible to reach a consensus on what HAL cruisers (which I'm assuming those posting are) want from a smaller/medium sized ship? 

 

 

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16 minutes ago, RDC1 said:

What Princess do-gooder ship?  Are you referring to Fathom which was a new CCL line, using an old Carnival ship, and had a focus on local aid projects?

 

Yes, Fathom. (sorry if anyone is offended by "do-gooder," but I couldn't remember the name) It was an attempt at a small ship niche product. 

 

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1 minute ago, cruisemom42 said:

As recent posts on this thread show, there are many different things people consider when looking at a cruise. Some don't want any room below a balcony level, some don't like smaller ships because there are fewer entertainment options.  Some value itinerary more than just about anything else.  And some clearly are in search of a fairly low price tag.

 

Is it even possible to reach a consensus on what HAL cruisers (which I'm assuming those posting are) want from a smaller/medium sized ship? 

 

 

Yes, small ship, excellent entertainment, unique routes, excellent food, comfortable well designed rooms, very low price.   Not possible, but it would be what people want.:classic_biggrin:

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2 minutes ago, 3rdGenCunarder said:

 

Yes, Fathom. (sorry if anyone is offended by "do-gooder," but I couldn't remember the name) It was an attempt at a small ship niche product.   

 

Fathom was not a Princess ship, it was a new brand by CCL using an older Carnival ship.

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2 minutes ago, cruisemom42 said:

As recent posts on this thread show, there are many different things people consider when looking at a cruise. Some don't want any room below a balcony level, some don't like smaller ships because there are fewer entertainment options.  Some value itinerary more than just about anything else.  And some clearly are in search of a fairly low price tag.

 

Is it even possible to reach a consensus on what HAL cruisers (which I'm assuming those posting are) want from a smaller/medium sized ship? 

 

 

 

I'd be happy to see HAL stay as it is, sticking to the Vistas and smaller ships for my cruises. But I wonder about HAL's survival in a "bells and whistles" and "economy of scale" market.

 

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Just now, RDC1 said:

Fathom was not a Princess ship, it was a new brand by CCL using an older Carnival ship.

 

Actually, not a Carnival Ship. I remember now that she had been Adonia, a P&O ship and she went back to P&O. Not sure if they still have her or what her pre-P&O history was.

 

 

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3 minutes ago, RDC1 said:

Yes, small ship, excellent entertainment, unique routes, excellent food, comfortable well designed rooms, very low price.   Not possible, but it would be what people want.:classic_biggrin:

 

Sounds great, but as you say, not possible. What would you be willing to give up to change an impossible combination to one that would be viable?

 

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Ship size is overrated.  We like Princess but after experiencing the R ships on premium lines, we had no desire to try their version which, of course comes with  Princess food, service, ambience.  (Princess is good, nothing special).  We had no desire to try Prinsendam for the same reason,  (Holland America food and service is good , nothing special).  Then someone encouraged us to try it, against my better judgement we booked it.  It was as expected, good food and service, standard for the fleet.  

 

Holland America is widely considered a value product.  Cruise critic even named them “best value line”.  Their customers are not going to pay a big price for a new small ship.  Carnival is like any other corporation, their products are slotted and marketed  to a particular demographic and price point. 

 

 

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1 hour ago, RDC1 said:

Yes, small ship, excellent entertainment, unique routes, excellent food, comfortable well designed rooms, very low price.   Not possible, but it would be what people want.:classic_biggrin:

 

Good start at a list. I myself would replace entertainment with "excellent enrichment" - and also say unique routes,  pretty good food, comfortable rooms with the variety HAL currently offers,  and a mid-market price. Plus no casinos.  

 

Take out most of the current bar and all the casino revenue space, and put in revenue producing solo passenger cabins, to eliminate that price penalty in order to grow that emerging travel demographic.  

 

Could one Neptune suite be converted into three solo cabins?  Since we hear about so many discounted or complimentary upgrades to Neptunes, three dedicated solo cabins might be a better revenue producer than the current array of Neptunes that are not competing with the plethora of new luxury ship brands. 

 

It was amazing what we put up with on the really old Island Princess (Love Boat sister), that was the base of the very popular UK Voyages of Discovery, with its wonderful passenger base, that was so willing to over look so much onboard in order to get the dazzling itineraries and onboard enrichment in return.

 

VOD eventually failed for several reasons - lack of passengers was not one of them and they had plenty of "upscale" passengers on this truly bucket of bolt ships - but their replacement ship (former Alexander von Humboldt)  was not a good choice for their format, and the recent changes in pound-dollar exchange rate finally did them in.

 

I'll have to look at Fred Olson to see how they are doing today with their smaller older no-frills ships, but I think they too are changing or have changed their format too. 

 

Has the digital world and google earth taken all the romance out of sailing to far away places with strange sounding names.  Calling no one these days. Not even 13,000 willing souls?

 

(Sigh - I know, I know)

Edited by OlsSalt

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On 1/9/2019 at 11:32 PM, RDC1 said:

I would expect there still to be 3 main levels, for example

 

Mass market   Royal, Carnival, Celebrity, Princess, HAL, MSC, NCL, P&O

 

Premium   Viking, Oceania, Azamara, maybe Cunard

 

Luxury   Regent, Crystal, Seaborn, Silversea

 

What about Disney?

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14 minutes ago, ChinaShrek said:

 

What about Disney?

I could have listed a number of others.  Disney is in the mass market area, the upper end of mass market but still mass market.

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2 hours ago, 3rdGenCunarder said:

 

Actually, not a Carnival Ship. I remember now that she had been Adonia, a P&O ship and she went back to P&O. Not sure if they still have her or what her pre-P&O history was.

 

 

Yep, you are correct. I was thinking that they grabbed a carnival ship, but they did grab a P&O ship.

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2 hours ago, 3rdGenCunarder said:

 

Sounds great, but as you say, not possible. What would you be willing to give up to change an impossible combination to one that would be viable?

 

We are sailing over 100 days this year, with about the same amount on land, so are requirements are not necessarily the same as others.  But a priority list would be

 

1. Interesting routes

2. A ship board environment which is relaxing with places to read and have discussions with friends.

3. Good quality and variety of food.  For us Variety would be key. As far as quality Hilton or Hyatt hotel banquet food is fine.

4.. A variety of entertainment options,  doesn't have to be of highest quality but good enough to provide some amusement on long trips.  Entertainment includes facilities like pools, work out facilities and lectures.

5. Ship size driven in only that would prefer a smaller ship than a larger for a given route and similar price point. Smaller ships also mean access to some ports not practical for larger ships.

 

In other words we are happy with HAL, even with the new ships, liking the ship board environment, but we also sail on Princess, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean depending upon routes. Have done some premium (Viking and Oceania) but generally don't care for them as much.

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36 minutes ago, ChinaShrek said:

 

What about Disney?

They are in the Mickey Mouse Level which could be the 4th. LOL

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2 hours ago, RDC1 said:

Yes, small ship, excellent entertainment, unique routes, excellent food, comfortable well designed rooms, very low price.   Not possible, but it would be what people want.:classic_biggrin:

 

Well then, sign me up! 

 

If only....   

 

 

 

1 hour ago, OlsSalt said:

 

Take out most of the current bar and all the casino revenue space, and put in revenue producing solo passenger cabins, to eliminate that price penalty in order to grow that emerging travel demographic.  

 

 

I don't think the revenue from the replacement solo cabins would even begin to replace the revenue lost from removing the bar and casino space. Especially if solos are truly paying a solo rate (i.e., no added supplement).

 

It has been made clear (by those qualified to make such statements) that the current revenue models for mass market ships depend on high onboard consumption of items above and beyond what's included in the basic fare:  drinks, specialty dining, photos, tours, casino, spa space, shops, art auctions, etc.

 

Higher price-point lines charge a higher base fare but also include more.  Lower fares lead to more pressure to purchase extras onboard. 

 

I found an online article quoting figures from Royal Caribbean with the following information: Of the total amount spent by the average passenger during the course of their cruise, 73% is accounted for by the cruise fare/fees/taxes and the remainder (27%) comes from onboard spending.  However, the profit realized is only 8%.  Clearly any decrease on onboard spending has to be made up for in other ways....

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Our big on-board spending is for shore excursions - just need booking office space for that revenue generator. No bar bills, no casino but we are way up there on cruise credits due to that one big and appreciated onboard expenditure. 

Edited by OlsSalt

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1 hour ago, OlsSalt said:

Our big on-board spending is for shore excursions - just need booking office space for that revenue generator. No bar bills, no casino but we are way up there on cruise credits due to that one big and appreciated onboard expenditure. 

 

I on the other hand am a doubly-undesirable demographic for the mass market lines: I am a solo traveler (most of the time), and I contribute very little with regard to on-board spending. Not usually much on my end of cruise bill except gratuities and a glass of wine or two each evening.

 

One small silver lining for solos is that some luxury lines or specialty lines have lower solo supplements; I assume due to the proportionately higher fares. Thus I can take a Voyages to Antiquity cruise for about the same cost as a HAL cruise for a similar itinerary and similar cabin type. The included gratuities, and free wine (or beer or soft drinks) with dinner plus included tours help equal things out, but the intangibles that make VTA a better value for me include the wonderful lectures and the small-ship personalized experience.

 

(Unfortunately the same cannot be said for most of the 'premium' lines -- very few breaks for solos on Oceania or Viking, and only a few more on Azamara....)

 

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