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Pale Gail Sails

Brand Loyalty Versus Changing Cruise Lines

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2 hours ago, iancal said:

When our choice comes down to two ships on different lines and they are equal based on our preferences we the take a look at the value to us of the perks on both lines.

 

We assign a value to them.  Not the cruise lines’s price rather what we would realistically spend for the benefit.   The savings across several lines are not very significant to us...especially when there is a difference in cruise fares.

 

 For us, at our levels,the most attractive seem to be RCI/Celebrity and Princess.  The least attractive is HAL’s party because it takes so long to get anything of much value to us.   

We are in the upper tiers of all the lines you mention which sometimes gets us into the issue of which line has the best perks.  We are underwhelmed by HAL's perks, even at our 5 Star level but that is not either a deal maker or deal breaker.  Celebrity certainly has the best perks for those that enjoy adult beverages.  Princess offers generous Internet benefits and some other decent perks like free laundry and dry cleaning.  The big negative about HAL is that they do not offer any free Internet....even for those with over 500 days on the line.

 

Hank

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The other issue is that cruise lines and cruise ships change over time.  The ships, the service, and the on board offerings.   
 

Competition drives better products.  After all, if you stick with one cruise line year after year you do not get a chance to see what the other competitors are offering.  

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Our first 2 cruises were on Disney.  Our kids were 4 and 7 for the first one and 7 and 10 for the second.  We went with friends who had kids the same age.  These cruises were expensive but great for kids that age.  It also got us addicted to cruising.  Our friends, who were cruise veterans, planned both of those cruises. 

 

I switched to Carnival for our 3rd cruise when I found a fantastic deal.  I didn't realize before that how inexpensive could be.  We did a few more Carnival cruises before trying NCL.  It was slightly more expensive than Carnival but we wanted to try something different.  We loved the Freestyle concept.  We did some a few more cruises going back and forth between Carnival and NCL with the kids as they grew up. 

 

When the oldest was in College and the youngest in High School we took our first adult only cruise on NCL.  We decided to try Princess after flipping back and forth with Carnival and NCL with just the 2 of us a few times.  We were in our late 40's at that time and felt like we were the youngsters on that cruise filled with snow birds and retirement village groups. 

 

Since then we have been flipping between NCL and Carnival again.  We do super cheap Casino cruises on Carnival and NCL (in inside and OV) and we do more expensive larger ships (like Getaway and our upcoming Mardi Gras in Aft Balconies) and everything in between.  It all depends on the deals we find, the time we have and what we feel like doing.   I would try other cruise lines if the price and ship met what we wanted out of our vacation. 

 

We've done a few more vacations with the kids but have done mostly Carnival with them just because it is usually the cheaper option without the drink package.  Since DS, who is 25 doesn't drink and I don't drink that much, it is usually the best option when we sail as a family.  On Carnival we usually get free Drinks on Us in the Casino with just the 2 of us and on NCL we get the drink package in the Promo for the 2 of us.

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8 hours ago, Pale Gail Sails said:

You raise an interesting point regarding the travel agent and your observations are bang on. Older members of my family always use the same agent while younger members of my family purchase from the agent offering the best deal.

 

I am loyal to a travel agent as long as that agent can provide me with the best price and the best service.  

 

My history in this regard:

 

My first travel agent was excellent, particularly as a neophyte cruiser.  Worked with him for a few cruises until his agency went out of business and left the business.

 

My 2nd travel agent worked for a local travel agency.  Great service and good pricing.  Worked with her for several cruises.  Her agency was purchased by a national auto club; she continued working for them and still provided good service and pricing.  (In the meantime, I had learned from cruising friends of another agency that offered good deals because of their connection with HAL.)  When I decided to book a very long cruise with agent #2, her agency was unwilling to meet the other agency's price or perks.  Regretfully, I left her with her understanding of the situation.  (The price/perks difference were substantial.)

 

My 3rd agent was at the Company with whom I booked the very long cruise.  Great service, good pricing and I stayed with them and her until "something happened within the Company" that caused a break-up.  One of the former executives formed his own Company and many agents, including mine, fled.  (It's never been clear to me as to why this took place.)  For one year, I could not use my #3 agent.  My account at the agency from which she left was transferred to a new agent.  This agent performed satisfactorily.  But, no fault of hers, she lacked the depth of understanding of me as a cruiser.  We just never "connected".

 

Once my year of "no contact" with agent #3, I was ready to book another cruise with her.  Her agency/service meets my expectations.  

 

Before I book a cruise, I am a shopper and get an idea of what I ought to pay.  If the day comes when agent #3's price is not comparable to what I feel I ought to pay, I ought to shop for a new agency.  

 

Excellent, friendly service, and being able to fulfill my changing requests for assistance in my travels has become as important, if not more so, as the price I pay.  

 

If I cannot afford the price of the cruise--or don't wait to pay that price--I won't be booking that cruise.

 

 

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I always think of my friends father.

 

He purchased a new Cadillac ever three years for many years.  Until the day he dropped his son off at the Lexus dealership and stopped in to view the new vehicles.   He never bought another Cadillac.

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On 3/4/2020 at 12:12 AM, Pale Gail Sails said:

I am interested in knowing how and why people decided to try different cruise lines.  I sailed on one line and then ended up on a different line because of an excellent sale. My third cruise was on a third line because of a specific itinerary. Before I knew it, I had completed five cruises on four different lines. Not the quickest way to accumulate status with any line. What made you decide to try, or switch to a different cruise line?

 

Our first cruise was on NCL for three reasons:

 

1. Freestyle dining. No interest in sharing a table with strangers at a set time.

 

2. Their brochure was the best with prices for every cruise and cabintype.

 

3. Our TA sold NCL cruises.

 

We stayed with NCL because we liked what we got, not to be loyal. When the Havenprices went crazy we moved to MSC. 

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My husband and I had stuck with Carnival for 5 or 6 cruises before we branched out to Princess. I'd been very curious about a more refined experience and reading CC made me even more determined to branch out. We've cruised Carnival the most, but have tried 4 other lines and counting.

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Posted (edited)

We like small ship sailing, after having sailed on Holland, Oceania, Seabourn, WIndstar and for river/canal cruising, AMA, Uniworld and I think it was Abercrombie & Kent (long time ago in Burgundy.)

 

I choose the cruises for our family:  I pick based on itinerary and low passenger count.  After using Holland for Alaska inside passage, we decided we definitely did not care for a ship with 2,000 passengers.  Even Oceania Insignia, with 700, was bigger than we preferred (but the dining, port intensive itinerary were great.)  Ships carrying those numbers seemed too busy for our taste, and the service was less personal than the smaller ships.  We enjoyed Seabourn (400 passengers on the Sojourn,) but our favorite is Windstar with only 140 on the smaller sailing yachts (WIndstar and WIndspirit.)  That's like having your own personal yacht IMO.  Great staff and service.  Can get into ports that the big ones can't, so the port isn't overwhelmed with numbers when it docks. Spouse felt most relaxed on the Windstar.  Got his resort diving certificate while in the Mediterranean, with the sole attention of the two diving instructors.  Experience of a lifetime.

 

As far as river cruises and canal barges go, they are all small.  We liked Uniworld and AMA equally.  Uniworld was "all inclusive" for the most part, which was nice when we took our entire family along:  no charge slips to sign.  Dining was very good to excellent on both, cruise directors were phenomenal.  We will use one of the two for Christmas Markets on the Danube in the future.  I heard from a friend that I trust that French Country Waterways is the way to go for a canal barge cruise at this time.

 

I don't stick to any one line, it's itinerary driving the choice as long as the passenger count is low and reputation is high.  "Perks" and freebies don't matter to me. 

Edited by winegirl
condense

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There was a time I was brand loyal because you could get some nice perks for being a regular cruiser on a certain line. Then they trashed all that and started selling the perks instead. At first they just gave them to those who purchased their most expensive cabins, and then they started selling them outright as a package. I did something I never would have done had they not made those changes. I tried a cruise on another brand and quite enjoyed it. Now I'll cruise any brand if the price is right. 

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Our first 3 cruises were with RCL.  That ended at the 3rd cruise.

We arrived at port and being a gentleman I let my Wife sign in first.  Now at that time she was listed in our Cabin as my guest.  She laid down her passport and reservation papers. Was given her sea pass. No problem.

My turn.  I lay down my pass port and reservation papers.  The clerk fiddles a few minutes and then tells me "Sorry sir we are booked full, so you can not purchase a cabin, please step Back"  Say what I say.

Long story short It took three different employees and many phone calls for them to let me on the ship with a generic sea pass that would not open the cabin door or let me buy a drink at a bar.

So I go to passenger service desk to get a new sea pass.  There I am questioned as to how I got on the ship? While two security guards join the conversation.  

At that time RCL had our charge accounts on the room TV and I ended up with two accounts to keep track of.

In the end no response to my complaint and no apology.

Next cruise we switched to Princess and have stayed with them. 

Bob

 

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We have only cruised 4 times. On the 3rd and 4th cruises we decided to try a different cruise line because they offered a wider variety of 14 day cruises and we like the longer experience. We didn't have the best experiences on either of these cruises so we will go back to the original line.

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4 hours ago, CalgaryMac said:

We have only cruised 4 times. On the 3rd and 4th cruises we decided to try a different cruise line because they offered a wider variety of 14 day cruises and we like the longer experience. We didn't have the best experiences on either of these cruises so we will go back to the original line.

Just out of curiosity, was it specific (food, entertainment etc), or just general things you did not like? For example some friends took a cruise where there were a lot of children and they disliked the whole vibe of the cruise. Another couple told me that they felt the cruise line charged for every thing (ie. you could bring a bottle of wine each on board but they charged corkage fee even if you only drank the wine in your cabin and opened it yourself).

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On 3/10/2020 at 11:57 AM, TravelinGert said:

There was a time I was brand loyal because you could get some nice perks for being a regular cruiser on a certain line. Then they trashed all that and started selling the perks instead. At first they just gave them to those who purchased their most expensive cabins, and then they started selling them outright as a package. I did something I never would have done had they not made those changes. I tried a cruise on another brand and quite enjoyed it. Now I'll cruise any brand if the price is right. 

 

"Now I'll cruise any brand if the price is right."

 

 Well, maybe not any brand, but yeah, this is a good approach.   If anything I would say there are certain ships as opposed to brands that might drive our decision making.   But even that might not hold.  A long time ago we didn't like Adventure of the Seas because it was in such sad shape.  I'm pretty sure it has been through one or more rehabs since then.   

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