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Do I Really Want Starbucks To Vacation With Me?

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Last week Royal Caribbean (who’d already been doing with business with Starbucks via their Seattle’s Best coffee brand) announced that Starbucks would have a “store” on the soon to debut Allure of the Seas.

Initially, it seems like a harmless enough idea; those who enjoy Starbucks coffee can buy it, and those who don’t can ignore it, just as you would at home.

But, personally I’m feeling I’m beginning to get brand beaten (like brow beating). Does every familiar, and successful brand I’m familiar with at home really have to go on a cruise vacation with me?

Instead of a nice lounge, is the next ship going to go to make space for a Niemen Marcus, or Nordstrom’s shop onboard? Are the lowers decks going to feature an outlet mall? I don’t think I can possibly enjoy my cruise again unless the ship has a full service Walgreens drug store on the ship.

I’m just waiting until the ship’s public areas are branded like sports stadiums; the Bank of America Theater; Chase Pool; Hawaiian Tropic Flow Riders; Nike Mini-golf course; Jersey Shore Disco; Dr. Phil’s aroma therapy; Justin Beiber Bowlarama; Lady Gaga Dance Club, etc, etc., etc, etc, etc, etc ad nausea.

Who’s decided I no longer want to cruise simply to relax, enjoy and travel to sites I haven’t yet visited, and explore things, that to me, until I find them, remain unknown?

The deciders within the cruise industry, in their ultimate wisdom, seem to have decided that I can’t be happy without having every brand I see advertised on my television screen at home, at every opportunity, being available for purchase somewhere on the ship with me.

Perhaps oddly I am in favor of alternate restaurants onboard. I enjoy the variety of choices of different culinary themes. The present trend has the cruise lines contracting affiliations with “hot” celebrity chefs to assist in designing their menus. After-all, “food shows” and the Food Network are all the rage at present. But watch out, because if there’s a fall off for demand for the more upscale dining, the empty spaces could be filled with more familiar brand names of national chains. Do we really want Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Applebee’s, and Denny’s, as dining choices?

For a time I felt the cruise lines were doing a much better job of setting and defining their own brand, and doing a good job of selling the features of their brand. I generally made my cruise choices based on those brand identities.

It’s of some concern to me that the cruise lines may rely more heavily on the brands of others in an attempt to “enhance” the cruise experience. Perhaps they want the passengers to feel more “at home” on the ship, but I’m of the mind that I still want my cruise to have some adventure. I prefer to feel that my “life at sea” is different than my life at home, even if it means I’m drinking a mediocre cup of coffee.

– A View From the Kuki Side of Cruising –





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Comment from Kenneth Eden
Time November 3, 2010 at 5:01 am

Personally I skip Starbucks, Dunkin donuts etc – for me it is a waste of money, I also skip food courts at the mall, and never go to restaurants that are buffets, both on land and at sea. Yeah, I may use the breakfast buffet if time is a factor before going ashore. Thats just me, my personal tastes. I also skip any coffee venue on a cruise ship that you pay extra for.

Why pay and pay and pay for the same coffee experience that you get at home while on your cruise. Cunard and Oceania do not charge for these extras, and that is fine by me. I feel that by having the brand name choices available on cruise ships is pandering to and catering to a particular cruise passenger. If I had to pay extra for espresso while having my dessert or cheese course during my cruise, I would be appalled.

You mention a few of the chain restaurants. I saw a video for one of the newest ships, at the cruise lines web site, and I recognized the pattern on the dishes from an ad for Olive Garden from seeing Olives ad on TV – have they secretly infiltrated the cruise industry? I hope not. Imagine, the chains catering food for a cruise ship, freezing it, and having it thawed and reheated in a microwave, and served. No brainer – ship gets percentage from chain, lets chain provide its own employees, and cruise line makes the money. From what I have read on ship reviews, this approach to food on SOME cruise lines, may actually provide edible food.

I think I have a solution, one that somebody could make a fortune with: On board towel animal maker, Passenger buys the towel, has an animal made, has it delivered to their cabin, and has a professional picture taken of it, and for $150.00 that would be your animal, with a towel and picture to take home.

Again, I can not stress this enough, read the comments for the traditional cruise at this site, and read the reviews for the ships noted in the luxury category. Oceania is listed as premium, although, in estimation, they offer a luxury cruise experience.

Comment from Tim Butler
Time November 3, 2010 at 5:27 am

I agree Kiki, as an American I like to try things un-American when I cruise if you get my drift!

How long will it be before Olive Garden or Los Margaritas or Wie chin choo’s start popping up on cruise ships as pay for restaurants? Here in lies the problem and the doors you open by having pay for restaurants on cruise ships.

Carnival and Princess and others I suppose have the Cappachino pay for places on their ships. I suppose it’s no worse having Starbucks on RCL.

Comment from rciaddict
Time November 5, 2010 at 5:35 pm

Hey Kuki:

On Oasis I always chose the Seattle’s Best (free) coffee over the pay-for Starbuck’s coffee. I feel paying for coffee on a cruise is absurd. Now, if they started serving Tim Horton’s….

Comment from Mario Dube
Time November 7, 2010 at 9:15 am

I perfectly agree with you Kiki. When I go on a cruise, I don’t want to see the same brands I see at home. Each cruise line has its own brands we are familiar with, and I hope it will remain like this.

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