Why we cruise with a luxury cruise line
We're on the Mariner's Monaco-Rio cruise too, and have cruised with Marc and his wife Arlene several times, most recently from Dubai to Athens this past spring. We've cruised 307 nights with Regent, and have also cruised with Cunard (Bermuda and the QE2's 2000 World Cruise), Crystal, Holland-American, Silversea, and Princess - in total more than 400 nights, all but five since 2000.
We started on Cunard's QE-2, a 5 day New York - Bermuda round trip in 1980, which we really liked. But when we sailed from Hong Kong to Cape Town in 2000, we found the class system on board not to our taste, even though we were in Grille Class. That fall we tried a crossing in the Radisson Diamond, and loved it. Although we were still 'exploring', we found the Radisson style near-perfect for us, and when we managed to get invited to the Voyager's shakedown and christening in 2003, we were hooked. We stayed on for the maiden cruise and booked the first two legs of Voyager's first world Cruise, from Los Angeles to Australia, IMHO our best cruise ever.
In those days, Radisson was the cruise line that said YES to every reasonable (and some unreasonable) requests, that bent over backward to be more than fair, and that made sure that it's guests were taken care of, no matter what happened. But apparently their owners, the Carlson Companies, weren't satisfied with their investment and sold out to Apollo, the current owner. Before that happened, Radisson changed its name to Regent, went 'all-inclusive', and adopted a truly brilliant customer loyalty program.
I say that about the customer loyalty program with considerable forethought, because we're not happy with the changes. We don't really drink enough and don't take enough ship's excursions to justify the 'all-inclusive' policy, although as you point out, it's very popular. We also don't like the staff and policy changes and price increases that have occurred over the past several years, so we've tried to find alternatives, but none have measured up. The closest were Silversea and Regent's sister line, Oceania, but the perks we get with the loyalty program unbalanced the scale against Silversea, and the total rip-off Internet offering on Oceania just ruled that out. We don't mind paying for what we get, but just refuse to knowingly allow people to screw us as that program does! Here is what I posted on Cruise Critic about Oceania's Internet program:
We've tried most of the premium lines, but their ships are either too old or too big to suit us, and we don't really like multiple dinner seatings with fixed assignments either. For us, Regent is the best, it's Seven Seas loyalty program has us happily hooked, so we have five future cruises booked through Fall 2013 now. Part of the secret is the great agent we share with Mark & Arlene; she's a Regent loyalist and the absolute best, so we just follow her leadership and advice! By the way, she and her husband, a superb photographer, will be sailing with us this Fall.
The absolute worst thing was the Internet charges. I spend a lot of time on the computer and Internet; I enjoy it. On Oceania we were told we would be provided a laptop computer for our use in our penthouse suite. Because I have a lot of 'stuff' on my laptop, and a very nice small roll-on that has a special compartment for it, I brought it along anyway. Thank goodness! Oceania has contracted out management of its computers and Internet access, and is providing laptop computers in PH staterooms. The charges (which start at $0.95 cents a minute) are atrocious, even when you buy one of the discounted packages. But wait, it gets worse! Any use of the so-called "free" computer requires you to “log in”, at which point the charging meter starts ticking. So you can’t read or draft e-mails off line, or play Solitaire, or make any use of the thing without paying through the nose. The real killer: I haven’t experienced such poor response since I was using a first generation PC-XT to access bulletin boards using a 1200 baud modem back in the mid-1980s. This is, of course, to Oceania’s (or their contractor’s) great advantage; THEY ARE CHARGING BY THE MINUTE, so the slower the response the longer it takes and more you are charged! A total rip-off and the reason we will never again cruise with Oceania while this policy is in place. In this uber-connected era, a decent connection at reasonable cost is a minimum expectation of most travelers. Not so at Oceania. For me, reasonably priced, decent Internet service is a sine qua non! Enough is enough!
Last edited by count Florida; July 18th, 2012 at 03:25 AM.