My random thoughts follow but first a qualifier. I have sailed Regent only once for 7 days (Baltic) and I have only 2 cruises on Seabourn (14 days Istanbul – Venice & 21 days Kobe – Hong Kong)
On the all inclusive pricing issues
Including free air & free hotel does not interest me. It seems some people find value in one stop shopping & don’t want to be bothered with separately making arrangements for air & hotel no matter how much more expensive it is. I have no problem doing this myself & get better deals because of my status in airline & hotel loyalty programs. If the cruise lines priced these components near their cost instead of making it a profit center, I might be more interested as they should be able to obtain volume discounts.
The cost of excursions are so significant that I would prefer they be priced separately so I can make choices. When cruising in Europe, I prefer to do my own thing. I have been to most places & like to wander around on my own. On our Asia cruise, tours were important to me because most sights required travel & I was in a learning mode about history & culture & a guide made that task much easier. In some cases I did the ship organized tour & in some cases, I found a private tour guide. This is a fairly expensive component of the trip & I like to have control of the spending decision.
On eating & drinking, I find value in not being nickeled & dimed by signing checks & knowing that 1 more glass of wine will cost me $10. It makes it more pleasant for me to not have to think about what my eating & drinking choices cost or allowing price to influence my behavior.
On Regent vs. Seabourn
After itinerary, food & service are really important to me & are why I chose luxury cruise lines. The actual sailing part isn't all that exciting to me except for the benefit of being able to see a lot of places without packing & unpacking.
On my Regent cruise, I had 1 excellent meal, 1 bad meal, and the rest I would call mediocre. On Seabourn, every meal has been excellent.
On Regent, service ranged from inattentive to surly. I found it impossible to engage with any of the service staff. On Seabourn, the service staff was a highlight of our experience. They helped make it fun.
I suspect my Regent experience was not typical as they would not have such a large, loyal base of clients if it happened all the time although I do not understand the reasons for inconsistencies. If I begin to experience problems with Seabourn, I will switch cruise lines in a heartbeat. They are companies created for the purpose of making money for their owners & do not deserve my bind loyalty. I reserve blind loyalty for friends, family, & alma mater.