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Perspective on cruise prices

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We just finished up an Alaska cruise on the Oosterdam and even though we tend to sail once a year on Holland, I was really taken aback by the cutbacks in the MDR. The nightly steak offering was no more than 1/2 inch thick and mostly gristle. While in past cruises there was a standard children's menu at dinner - this time they only offered 2 rotating items per night for children - which is frustrating when traveling with children. Interestingly, after a night of thin chewy meat in the MDR, my husband took the boys to the Lido and they got fabulous prime rib cut off in front of them. He also got tenderloin another evening cut the same way - in the Lido.

Back to costs...ships must make their money off the ship excursions. It is appalling what they charge for some of the excursions. We booked independently and chartered a private boat for whale watching for $620 and the ship was charging triple that for the same thing, and I believe it was a shorter tour.

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43 minutes ago, kentuckycruiser said:

We just finished up an Alaska cruise on the Oosterdam and even though we tend to sail once a year on Holland, I was really taken aback by the cutbacks in the MDR. The nightly steak offering was no more than 1/2 inch thick and mostly gristle. While in past cruises there was a standard children's menu at dinner - this time they only offered 2 rotating items per night for children - which is frustrating when traveling with children. Interestingly, after a night of thin chewy meat in the MDR, my husband took the boys to the Lido and they got fabulous prime rib cut off in front of them. He also got tenderloin another evening cut the same way - in the Lido.

Back to costs...ships must make their money off the ship excursions. It is appalling what they charge for some of the excursions. We booked independently and chartered a private boat for whale watching for $620 and the ship was charging triple that for the same thing, and I believe it was a shorter tour.

They make it off liquor, soft drinks,  juices,  restaurant sales, service fees, shore ex,  computer stuff, classes,  all sorts of little things...  Thats the game with the food... get you  either serve your self or pay hundreds more to eat in their " specialties" for a week. by serving lesser things included.     

   It is very easy in this setting to end up paying more ir very nearly what you might for Premium lines or even Lux lines that included all the things you ended up buying on the HAl cruise

 

Sadly that is the business model of the mass market lines today....which sell the allure of luxury but deliver  far less     You get what you pay for and on HAL by comparison your paying a  very " reasonable low fare"   It might be time to change lines rather than expect things to get better.... 

its not in HAL's selfish best interest to make them better..... cut into  making you spend more on board

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2 hours ago, Homosassa said:

This type of thing happened throughout the cruise.  When it was time to debark, a hand written note from the Captain was left in our cabin thanking us for sharing our daughter.

That has got to be the sweetest story I have heard in a long time. What a great memory.

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6 hours ago, iancal said:

I am slowly coming to the conclusion that for many itineraries,  when all costs are considered, the premium cruise lines such as O, Az, etc. offer better value for our money based on our preferences.   

 

We  actually find some of the the mass market pricing, HAL, Princess, Celebrity, etc. to be quite high on certain itineraries given what they are actually offering.  We  do not base this  on what they offered 20 years ago, but on their current standards.  We find that there is a significant difference between then and now.  Constant change in the industry in one of the reasons why we are only loyal to the next cruise line that we are booked on.

 

I found that to be the case when I was looking to book my first world cruise in 2020.  As a solo traveler, I'm hit with the "single supplement" -- no avoiding it so it's something I just have to plan for.

 

I looked at two cruise lines:  HAL and Regent Seven Seas.  The length of each cruise was nearly the same: 128 days for HAL; 131 days for RSSC.  The itineraries were different: HAL went around Africa; RSSC went through the Suez Canal and through the Mediterranean with stops in the Middle East as well as southern Europe.  Both start/end in the same US port (FTL for HAL; a choice of MIA or SFO for RSSC).

 

Major point: RSSC is all-inclusive (excursions, all drinks/booze/wine, specialty restaurants, gratuities); HAL is not.  

 

Ship:  RSSC Mariner 700 passengers; HAL Amsterdam ~1400 passengers

 

Cabin:  A difference here -- I usually sail in a Neptune Suite on HAL (concierge, etc.); RSSC provides most of those "suite-level" amenities in their "Concierge Suite" - smaller than a Neptune (about 2/3 the size), so that's what I used as a comparison.  Smaller size, same/similar "perks."

 

The price difference:  the bottom line all-inclusive fare on RSSC was ~ $20,000 LESS than HAL on just the base fare for a solo traveler.  This is without adding in any of the usual extras on HAL (gratuities, excursions, wine/drinks packages, specialty restaurants, etc.).  Adding in even conservative estimates for the additional HAL charges would make the difference even greater.

 

The biggest difference was in the single supplement:  on HAL, it was 100% of the "per person double occupancy" fare; on RSSC, it was around 45% of the "per person double occupancy fare."

 

RSSC also provides some extra "extras" for the world cruisers that were not included in HAL's package (for example, free onboard medical service, free 1st-class air to/from embarkation city, free unlimited wifi/Internet, free Visa package, etc.).  At the time I booked the world cruise (last September), I had taken 2 HAL cruises which I thoroughly enjoyed, and was in the middle of my first RSSC cruise (I booked onboard -- even booked the same cabin I was then occupying as I liked the location).

 

I still like HAL -- I've already taken another HAL cruise (Hawaii/Tahiti/Marquesas this past Mar/Apr) and I'm taking the 35-day Incan Empires cruise this fall on the Amsterdam.  But until/unless HAL offers a little more to their solo travelers, they're going to continue to lose business to other cruise lines that do.  

 

Lana in Bellingham, WA

 

 

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, iancal said:

I am slowly coming to the conclusion that for many itineraries,  when all costs are considered, the premium cruise lines such as O, Az, etc. offer better value for our money based on our preferences.   

 

We  actually find some of the the mass market pricing, HAL, Princess, Celebrity, etc. to be quite high on certain itineraries given what they are actually offering.  We  do not base this  on what they offered 20 years ago, but on their current standards.  We find that there is a significant difference between then and now.  Constant change in the industry in one of the reasons why we are only loyal to the next cruise line that we are booked on.

I agree, we are booked on a Viking Ocean cruise next year from Venice to Athens in a Penthouse Veranda Cabin cat. PV1. When we compared a similar itinerary on the Veendam for a Vista Class cabin, by the time we added in all the all inclusive items from VO to the Veendam cost there was less than $200pp difference. Add in no kids, no casino full of smoke, no pesky photographers,  no nickel and diming, and no phony dressing up Gala nights, the smaller much newer VO ship was a much better deal in our opinion.

Edited by terrydtx

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11 hours ago, terrydtx said:

I agree, we are booked on a Viking Ocean cruise next year from Venice to Athens in a Penthouse Veranda Cabin cat. PV1. When we compared a similar itinerary on the Veendam for a Vista Class cabin, by the time we added in all the all inclusive items from VO to the Veendam cost there was less than $200pp difference. Add in no kids, no casino full of smoke, no pesky photographers,  no nickel and diming, and no phony dressing up Gala nights, the smaller much newer VO ship was a much better deal in our opinion.

I should have added that if we had booked the VO lower class Deluxe Veranda Cabin, DV category, the cruise fare would have been less than the Veendam Vista Suite by several hundred dollars. The Vista Suite on the Veendam is not really a suite, more like a veranda cabin on most other lines.

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20 hours ago, Homosassa said:

 

Cruising with a child at the time meant there would be very few on board ship.

 

I didn't know that the whole crew (including the captain, cruise director, and lowest ranked deck hand) knew a "baby" was going to be on board.  

 

It wasn't just the cabin steward that wanted time with her. When the person running the early morning buffet on deck for early risers (all meals were still set times in the MDR) realize we were going to be up at the buffet because our daughter had us up early, he must have mentioned it to the hotel director. The hotel director was waiting for us on the third morning and said he had a big request of us.  Would we permit him to take our daughter to the crew mess for breakfast because so many of the crew were missing their families? Everyday after that one, he or another officer was waiting for her and off they would go. She was returned to us an hour and a half later (usually  with food smeared on her face and clutching a sweet roll) by an officer (once the captain and she left jelly on his uniform) and I would be given a full report on what she had eaten, thanked, and verified that she could go to the mess the next morning (it was a two week cruise).

 

This type of thing happened throughout the cruise.  When it was time to debark, a hand written note from the Captain was left in our cabin thanking us for sharing our daughter.

Wow! This is a very touching and heart warming story.  Thanks for sharing.  I'm guessing your daughter still likes to cruise?

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6 minutes ago, kevingastreich said:

Wow! This is a very touching and heart warming story.  Thanks for sharing.  I'm guessing your daughter still likes to cruise?

Yes, she does.

 

In fact, she and her husband are joining us  at the end of July on the Viking Ocean Venice to Athens route that terrydtx mentioned in the post above. We do not have a penthouse suite; we are in  DV (deluxe verandah)  cabins.

 

Part of the reason we are trying Viking is that with what, in our perception, is the repositioning of HAL by Carnival Corporation to be a bridge  line between their Carnival Cruise line and their better lines and the deleting of the smaller ships, we need to find a line that still offers what we are looking for in our cruise experience. 

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On 6/7/2019 at 7:12 AM, Homosassa said:

Yes, she does.

 

In fact, she and her husband are joining us  at the end of July on the Viking Ocean Venice to Athens route that terrydtx mentioned in the post above. We do not have a penthouse suite; we are in  DV (deluxe verandah)  cabins.

 

Part of the reason we are trying Viking is that with what, in our perception, is the repositioning of HAL by Carnival Corporation to be a bridge  line between their Carnival Cruise line and their better lines and the deleting of the smaller ships, we need to find a line that still offers what we are looking for in our cruise experience. 

With HAL ships heading toward 3000 + Crew  its clear where the future is headed.  Bigger ships scale of economy make more for HAL.   I agree with the Bridge line concept  Carnival-Princess-HAl- Cunard-Seabourn.   

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On 6/6/2019 at 7:35 PM, ArtsyCraftsy said:

I looked at two cruise lines:  HAL and Regent Seven Seas.  The length of each cruise was nearly the same: 128 days for HAL; 131 days for RSSC.  The itineraries were different: HAL went around Africa; RSSC went through the Suez Canal and through the Mediterranean with stops in the Middle East as well as southern Europe.  Both start/end in the same US port (FTL for HAL; a choice of MIA or SFO for RSSC).

[snip]

 

Thank you for a very clear and illuminating post, ArtsyCraftsy.  I found it very informative and I appreciate the work you put into it.  It has given me something to think about.

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Posted (edited)
On 6/5/2019 at 10:12 AM, sevenseasnomad said:

Cruising offers the most bang for the bucks, IMO.  In 1975 DH and I cruised on Sitmar, our first cruise, seven-day Caribbean for $1200 per person in an ocean view category cabin, which had bunk beds.  This Christmas, I'll pay $1500 for 7 days in a VB, almost identical cruise.  An increase of only $300 after 44 years is incredible.  Plus, that first cruise was in late May, not exactly high demand, while a Christmas cruise is considered super high demand.  If no one thinks that's a bargain, then compare new car prices in 1975 vs. 2019.  Wow!  Cruising definitely wins all the way around.  

Sitmar was our favorite, our first cruise was on the Fairwind in 1982 and still one of the best cruises we have been on,  my wife booked a nice outside cabin on the ocean deck for 1500 PP,  that included air from Chicago to Ft. Lauderdale. What has happened in the cruise industry is that because of the competition you can find some great deals but the lines have made up for it by cutting many things and gouging on other things like photos, drinks, and excursions. I also liked it better when we gave our gratuities in person, sometimes I wonder if the lines are pocketing some of our gratuities, I have no idea where the money is going.

Edited by MISTER 67

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On 6/6/2019 at 7:35 PM, ArtsyCraftsy said:

 

I found that to be the case when I was looking to book my first world cruise in 2020.  As a solo traveler, I'm hit with the "single supplement" -- no avoiding it so it's something I just have to plan for.

 

I looked at two cruise lines:  HAL and Regent Seven Seas.  The length of each cruise was nearly the same: 128 days for HAL; 131 days for RSSC.  The itineraries were different: HAL went around Africa; RSSC went through the Suez Canal and through the Mediterranean with stops in the Middle East as well as southern Europe.  Both start/end in the same US port (FTL for HAL; a choice of MIA or SFO for RSSC).

 

Major point: RSSC is all-inclusive (excursions, all drinks/booze/wine, specialty restaurants, gratuities); HAL is not.  

 

Ship:  RSSC Mariner 700 passengers; HAL Amsterdam ~1400 passengers

 

Cabin:  A difference here -- I usually sail in a Neptune Suite on HAL (concierge, etc.); RSSC provides most of those "suite-level" amenities in their "Concierge Suite" - smaller than a Neptune (about 2/3 the size), so that's what I used as a comparison.  Smaller size, same/similar "perks."

 

The price difference:  the bottom line all-inclusive fare on RSSC was ~ $20,000 LESS than HAL on just the base fare for a solo traveler.  This is without adding in any of the usual extras on HAL (gratuities, excursions, wine/drinks packages, specialty restaurants, etc.).  Adding in even conservative estimates for the additional HAL charges would make the difference even greater.

 

The biggest difference was in the single supplement:  on HAL, it was 100% of the "per person double occupancy" fare; on RSSC, it was around 45% of the "per person double occupancy fare."

 

RSSC also provides some extra "extras" for the world cruisers that were not included in HAL's package (for example, free onboard medical service, free 1st-class air to/from embarkation city, free unlimited wifi/Internet, free Visa package, etc.).  At the time I booked the world cruise (last September), I had taken 2 HAL cruises which I thoroughly enjoyed, and was in the middle of my first RSSC cruise (I booked onboard -- even booked the same cabin I was then occupying as I liked the location).

 

I still like HAL -- I've already taken another HAL cruise (Hawaii/Tahiti/Marquesas this past Mar/Apr) and I'm taking the 35-day Incan Empires cruise this fall on the Amsterdam.  But until/unless HAL offers a little more to their solo travelers, they're going to continue to lose business to other cruise lines that do.  

 

Lana in Bellingham, WA

 

 

 

Thanks for posting this. I have found this to be true many times* for luxury or near-luxury lines with regard to the solo supplement. For solos, it is the same price (or cheaper, as you found) for a cruise on a smaller ship with more included. Hard to argue with that. I guess it is the small silver lining of the "sailing solo" cloud. 

 

I've been challenged on it but I lack the patience to do the sort of comparison you provided. Brilliant. 👍

 

* Of course, that doesn't mean always. (Because almost certainly someone will post a comparison where it isn't true. :classic_rolleyes:)

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1 hour ago, cruisemom42 said:

 

Thanks for posting this. I have found this to be true many times* for luxury or near-luxury lines with regard to the solo supplement. For solos, it is the same price (or cheaper, as you found) for a cruise on a smaller ship with more included. Hard to argue with that. I guess it is the small silver lining of the "sailing solo" cloud. 

 

I've been challenged on it but I lack the patience to do the sort of comparison you provided. Brilliant. 👍

 

* Of course, that doesn't mean always. (Because almost certainly someone will post a comparison where it isn't true. :classic_rolleyes:)

 

Right -- for shorter cruises especially, the numbers are closer and often, HAL wins even with the added expenses of gratuities, excursions, wifi, wine/booze, etc. I compared several Alaska cruises of various lengths, and HAL came out significantly ahead nearly every time, with one exception where they were almost the same (within ~$150 or so) using the same comparison criteria as I used for the world cruise.

 

And since the lowest priced cabin category on most of the RSSC ships is the Veranda or Concierge class (same square footage, different amenities/perks; Veranda is slightly less $$ then Concierge), comparing the cost to, say, an ocean-view cabin on a HAL ship clearly shows HAL wins based on price alone even with the higher single supplement and additional expenses.  I’m trying to do as close to an ”apples-to-apples” comparison as I can based on how I travel to obtain the experience I want.

 

And I’ll always check HAL first for itineraries that are unusual or special -- they really excel in that area..  But for certain longer cruises -- circumnavigating South America is another example where multiple cruise lines offer similar itineraries -- it definitely pays to comparison shop. The results can be very surprising.

 

Lana in Bellingham, WA

 

PS:  I just did a quick comparison between HAL’s 74-day Grand South America (4 Jan - 19 Mar 2021) with RSSC’s 68-day Grand Cape Horn Adventure (29 Oct 2020 - 5 Jan 2021), priced out as above using the numbers on the respective websites.  Just the base fare alone: RSSC is $21,156 less than HAL.  Since the HAL cruise is 6 days longer than RSSC’s, I also calculated the per day cost. On a per day basis, HAL is $1,426.50; RSSC is $1,242.60 --  this is before factoring in gratuities, excursions, wine/drinks packages, specialty dining, visas, etc., all of which are included in the base fare on RSSC.  Again, this is comparing a HAL Neptune with the RSSC Concierge -- different size, nearly identical amenities.  So another data point.

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