Nation of Why Not … Charge More
Written by: Kuki
There’s little doubt that Royal Caribbean Cruise Line builds some of the most beautiful and aesthetically pleasing interiors of any cruise ships at sea. And they have one of the most highly anticipated new ships of the past decade, the Oasis of the Seas set to carry its first passengers in December of 2009. The cruise line has been systematically rolling out new announcements throughout the past year, releasing details about the ship, and many of it’s new innovative features not yet seen onboard a cruise ship. Along with those reveals, they also recently introduced a new advertising campaign; the Nation of Why Not.
With much less pomp and circumstance it was recently revealed – by passengers – not the cruise line’s Public Relations or Marketing departments, that they were adding a new $3.95 charge for room service between the hours of 12 Midnight and 5 A.M. To date, though this news is just quietly leaking out, the reaction has been surprisingly subdued. Could it be that the cruise lines have now got the passengers so conditioned to paying extra for so many things onboard, over and above their cruise fares, that passengers simply collectively shrug their shoulders and accept the additional charge without a whimper because it’s only a paultry $.395? RCI seems to be acting as though that is the case.
RCI is obviously continuing to try and find new ways to increase the onboard spending of their passengers. Just months ago they attempted to sell their “the choice” of a better quality steak in their dining rooms for an additional fee. The move was met by such a quick and negative backlash from customers. A wise move, particularly because the cruise line is already offering “better quality” steaks on it’s ships which had alternate restaurants – with a surcharge in place.
For many years a big draw of cruising was the “near” all-inclusive nature of the vacation. In fact, their main source of competition, aside from other cruise lines, were the land based all-inclusive resorts. For years I maintained that one could easily compare the value of a cruise vacation to an all inclusive resort, and the cruise would almost always be a better buy. That judgement line muddies as the cruise lines stay with the trend of adding many more al a carte options for a price.
While the $3.95 room service charge may seem insignificant I do wonder aloud if this strategy could be “the straw that breaks the camels back”? It seems to me that this is an example of the “nickel & diming” strategies of the cruise lines, now running amok.
In times, with thoughts of economic uncertainty front and center in people’s minds, one would think the cruise lines would be considering ways to attract more people, and convince them their vacations dollars will be well spent, and they’ll receive full value for their dollars. If anything I’d be expecting to see lower cruise fares being offered in the face of the financially struggling marketplace .
In my blog last week I talked about cruisers generally being an optimistic group, who loved their cruise vacations, and would do whatever possible to include a cruise vacation in their plans, despite tougher financial situations. I think now, perhaps RCI has an exaggerated and likely undeserved optimism in regard to their target audience.
I believed I was seeing a bit of a trend by RCI , possibly pricing themselves out of their own market with the increased cruise fares; now tacking on this $3.95 fee for room service, they could easily be giving more people yet another reason to pause and look elsewhere.
It may be a bit of a superiority complex they’ve developed because of the beautiful ships they’ve been delivering. However, on our message boards at CruiseMates we’ve already begun seeing examples of previously dedicated RCI repeat cruisers admitting to abandoning future cruises with RCI in favour of the lower fares other cruise lines are offering.
The public reaction can easily be underestimated. We’re very likely not to balk at higher priced offerings, such as alternate restaurants, because we can see the possibility of getting value for the money we spend. Yet, something so small as a $3.95 fee could quite easily turn the public away, because we see it as a direct additional charge offering NO added value.
What does $3.95 mean to you? Are you one of those who will acceptingly shrug your shoulders? Or is that seemingly insignificant $3.95 enough to drive you to try a different cruise line? To me, it’s enough to drive me up a wall. Ooops… that means I have to cruise RCI.
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Posted: January 6th, 2009 under Kuki.