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Old May 18th, 2015, 11:25 AM
Travelbuggs Travelbuggs is offline
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First Mate
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 410

Originally Posted by View Post
I agree, Paul.

New cruisers have nothing to compare it to, so they are impressed by the lower quality as their expectations are different. Whereas experienced cruisers, especially those who have been around for many years, are now disallusioned by the decline in quality.

And to go along with what you said about the loyalty programs, as I mentioned in another post, these programs are changing and will continue to change to require more cruises to qualify for less benefits.

The cruise lines have changed their focus from providing good quality for those who cruise, to less quality for those who have never cruised before. Let's face it, according to CLIA, only 15% of the American population has ever cruised. This leaves 85% who have not. Because there are now more ships and more berths than ever before, the cruise lines are going after the non-cruisers with more fervor than in the past. They're concentrating their efforts and marketing towards the majority. In the meantime, they're also figuring they can offer more 'wow' factor items (water slides, rock climbing walls, bumper cars, etc) to attract families and at the same time they can cut back on high-priced quality items and loyalty programs to save money.

So whether all these changes are for the good or bad really depends on your point of view, your experience (or lack thereof), and how you rate quality versus cost.

But I definitely agree with what you said about Cruise Critic. It is truly the absolute worse site for cruising. 'Critic' is truly the right term because all they do is criticize everything and everybody. (I think they ought to change the name to Cruise Critic & Whiners!) I really hate when the press uses them as a 'source' for their information. I was banned three times years ago when I pointed out to long-time posters that the information they were providing was wrong. (Don't ever disagree with a long-time poster on Cruise Critic!) Once, I pointed out that one of their big posters with over 10,000 posts was a fraud! She always tried to come across as a know-it-all for everything and bragged about all her cruises. I found out she had never even been on one cruise! But I was the one banned!

Guess that's why Cruise Mates is so much better than Cruise Critic ever was and ever will be.

Pete, I have to disagree strongly with you about Cruise Critic! While there IS a lot of bickering there, at least you can get some information, most of it accurate. Virtually every change that has come up with NCL lately has been reported first on Cruise Critic. And I firmly believe that cruisers would now be paying $7.95 for a cup of coffee and a Danish at 7:00 am if not for the strong backlash on that site. And as much as I enjoy Cruise Mates, this really a different kind of site. I don't see a lot of people coming here for information, but there are some great discussions that are really not possible on some sites.

And just as an FYI, it is "reported" that Cagneys will go ala carte ( and thus not be included in the Dining Package ) and Escape will be the first ship. This will start a new round of complaints by passengers who will feel duped, either because they bought the UDP package thinking it was included, or booked a cruise and chose the UDP, including Cagneys, as their free promo. I am one who bought the package for Escape, and I doubt I would have if I had known this, as it greatly decreases it's value. I am not sure who they think is going to pay a la carte high end steakhouse prices on a mainstream cruise line even if they upgrade the meat. Many did not think it worth the $30 cover to begin with.

I really do not understand why the new management would want to turn NCL into a premium line. They already have 8 ships with Regent and Oceania. And for those who want a more luxurious and private enclave, they can book a Haven cabin. FDR has said he wants to attract a slightly more affluent guest who will spend more on board. Yet they give those "more affluent" guests who are booking Haven, free booze, free specialty dining, and free gratuities. They could cruise all week and not spend a dime, so not sure what sense this makes.

NCL is a unique product in the cruise market. There has been a lot of excitement about their new ships which has brought in lots of new cruisers. Previous Carnival cruisers seemed for a while to be coming over in droves and I have seen many Royal converts as well. I am not sure FDR and his group understands Freestyle and why people love the product, and they may lose bookings because of it. FDR has said we are a "captive audience". He seems to feel we will take what he dishes out and more. A "TA" claimed on CC this am that his bookings are down for NCL. He says many have heard about the flack and won't book with them. Many have said on CC that they are cancelling their cruises with NCL because they feel so strongly about the changes and the way they were implemented and the PR foot in mouth blunders made by the top management and PR departments. The ban on taking anything from the buffet and restaurants seems to be the final straw for many.

I don't know if any of you remember the recent commercial on TV, I want to say it was for Celebrity, with the woman standing at the rail talking dreamily about her pampered cruise day as if she were on a private Yacht. Here is a major cruise line marketing the fact that you can expect to be pampered and catered to on their ships. How does this jibe with the new attitude of cruise line management at other cruise lines, namely NCl?

While I understand the need to maximize profit, any cruiseline needs to beware they will alter the experience so much that cruising loses it's cache. This quote from a former NCL enthusiast really puts the whole thing in a nutshell for me.

"I like to vacation and like a variety in vacations, so I'm not tied to cruising. What I like about cruising is the fantasy that the ship is mine and NCL is there to serve me. My next cruise is in June and this time I'm feeling more concerned about what NCL will let me do or not do, than having them serve me. I spent years in a Catholic school with the same feeling. I don't want that feeling on my vacation." I'manewbie.

In the past, if one refused dessert in the MDR or specialty, the waiter would almost insist that they wrap it up for you to enjoy later. Now they rap your hand with a ruler if you dare try to exit with a saucer of cake. Susie has a meltdown in Le Bistro prior to the meals being served and the waiter in the past would box up all dinners and have them delivered to the cabin. Without being asked to do so. Now the family is told, sorry no carryouts, no refund of the $80 you just spent here, you need to order room service at your cabin. This is not a "premium" experience that one would daydream longingly about.

I am not a "captive audience". I can take my business to the cruise line that most nearly resembles the experience I am looking for and still has some respect for their passengers. Or if that does not exist, then maybe it's time to start a different type of vacation. For what it costs me to book a cruise for two, I can book a home or condo in a resort area that will sleep 12 or more people and have a vacation for the entire family.

Anyway, thanks for letting me vent.
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