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Old January 24th, 2011, 02:12 PM
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Default What is Nickel and Diming on Cruises?

Edie Bornstein has worked with Larry Pimentel at Cunard and Seabourn; and the pair is now charged with revitalizing Azamara Club Cruises.

Edie’s and her inveterate “sidekick,” Larry Pimentel, cruised on Azamara to understand what their customers want out of a cruise. During the cruise they asked many people specifically what they did and did not like about the cruise.

One pervasive attitude is a widespread aversion to what is called “nickel and diming.” Most importantly, most people consider some extra charges to be more egregious than others.

Every cruise line has a specific level of “inclusiveness,” in the cruise fare - for example enough food to feed everyone, but in the last 10 years cruise lines have also started offering special dining options for a fee.

Realistically, these options would not even be available unless the cruise line can recoup the cost. Using the new restaurant on Disney Dream called Remy for example; the menu is designed by two chefs awarded the highest honors in their regions; the European chef, Arnaud Lallement, is a Michelin two-star chef while his American counterpart, Scott Hunnel, has received the highest American honors; James Beard and the AAA Five Diamond.

Disney charges $75 per person for a full dinner in this restaurant, but that includes a welcoming champagne cocktail, every course including dessert and a glass of Remy Martin Cognac at the end of the meal. The same meal in any Arnaud’s Michelin two-star restaurant l'Assiette Champenoise in the Champagne region of France, for example, would easily cost close to $300 per person, so Remy is actually a very good deal.

The point is that “inclusiveness” in cruises in an elusive subject. There are people who feel everything should be included in a cruise and no surcharges should ever apply, and then there are people who recognize the value in offering something that would not otherwise be available at all.

Still, Edie and Larry heard cruisers repeatedly say “we do not want to be nickel and dimed.” So, what is the difference between offering something of value at a fair price and “nickel and diming?” Of course, anything a cruise line includes in the cruise fare will increase the cruise fare. On the other hand, many cruise lines compete on base price and make up their profit by charging for more things onboard. Is that the “nickel and diming” these cruisers are referring to?

Larry and Edie found certain things to include in the cruise fare that did not raise the cruise fare beyond “good value” consideration. They now include gratuities, wine with lunch and dinner only, free shuttle service when possible in ports of call and specialty dining for suite guests.

I recently compared the overall cost of cruising on Celebrity Solstice and the luxury cruise line Regent Seven Seas. Regent includes almost everything in its cruise fare; airfare, alcohol, soda, shore excursions (with a value of $200 per person or less), gratuities and fine dining. On Celebrity each of those items are additional costs after you pay the much lower cruise fare.

But here is what I discovered; if you compare almost identical suites on both ships, in the end the cost of sailing on Celebrity is almost identical to sailing on Regent, assuming you indulge in just about every optional extra Celebrity has to offer; alcohol nightly, soda, gratuities, shore excursions in every port, special dining and of course your airfare.

Like so many things; there are two ways to look at the results. You can sail on Regent and never worry about being “nickel and dimed,” but you are paying for that feeling. Optionally, you can sail in a suite on mainstream ship and indulge in special options to your heart’s content and probably end up paying about the same amount.

Have a good number of people already figured this out? Suites are the most popular staterooms on mainstream cruise ships and always sell out first. Are the luxury cruise lines really in competition with the mainstream lines more than they realize?

What do you think?
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Old January 24th, 2011, 02:54 PM
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Regent vessels have a capacity of 700 with crew size of 445.

Celebrity Eclipse has a passenger capacity of 2850 with crew size of 999.

How can Celebrity offer a 'luxury' product on such a large vessel with their passenger:crew ratio?

My conclusion is the 'luxury' lines and mainstream lines are not in competition with each other.

JMHO

Annie

BTW any vessel with a passenger capacity of more than 700 is too big........ for me.
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Old January 24th, 2011, 03:04 PM
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All a matter of comparison to me, like...to me Celebrity is a luxury line compared to P&O!
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Old January 24th, 2011, 03:20 PM
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JTD, you could well be right -I have never sailed and unlikely to sail on either line - vessels - too big!

Annie
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Old January 24th, 2011, 03:20 PM
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I think its fair to say as well, that part of the "luxury" value proposition is your fellow guests. Whatever your snob dial is, you need to turn it up a notch to find yourself on a cruise where people have the wherewithal to come up with the cost of 2007 mid-sized sedan to get on board.

Maybe that's not a selling point; maybe you like little children screaming in the hallways and peeing in the pool. To call the two equivilent seems a bit shortsighted to me. Such that, even if you were talking about two dining experiences that were otherwise completely on par with one another you still have to account for your total environment. (Be advised, I am not offering a value judgement here on family cruising versus yachting.)

But at the end of the day, I've found that it is one thing to dining in a restaurant where the menu was created by someone like Michel Roux, and quite another when the entree is both prepared by a superior chef who was specifically trained by Charlie Palmer and not part of a team of recently promoted busboys. Both represent upgraded entrees; they are not equivilent in quality of food.

So I think the analogy fails on two levels.
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Old January 24th, 2011, 03:45 PM
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To be completely accurate - what i did is compare Celebrity Soltice' 300 sq-ft suite to the same size on Regent.

On Celebrity I put the couple into a special restaurant every night, with bottles of wine, and they went on shore excursions in every port.

I personally think Solstice is a truly beautiful ship, far more than any luxury ship I have ever seen. It does not attract the family market (much at all) so kids in the pool, etc, is not a common problem.

The entertainment is far better and diversified on bigger ships, the fitness center more complete, the activities more well attended (for stiffer competition) and the food in the extra charge dining rooms is quite good.

The difference is this - if you take away the assumption that food and personalized service are the only reasons to cruise, and you add possibilities like having a movie theater, a 32-inch television, a huge library and that you actually enjoy people watching versus being on what at times will feel like a ghost ship - then Celebrity suites do not look too bad.

Lastly, if price matters at all, then on Celebrity you are not paying in advance for the fully indulgent cruise. If you happen to get seasick one day (far more likely on a 30,000-ton ship than a 122,000-ton one) then you are not going to be thinking about the $1000 in pre-paid fun you are missing, because you can sit back and not have to spend that money.
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Old January 24th, 2011, 04:24 PM
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I have not sailed a luxury line, so I can not comment there.

On the subject of nickel and diming, I think these may be some of the leading candidates, though we all know they are optional:

Gratuities - This really is a service charge which can be adjusted (on some lines). Why not increase the cruise fare another $10/day and pay the staff. Then gratuities will be paid for exceptional service.

Soda - in the US sodas are an extremely common beverage and most US restaurants provide free refiles of all soft drinks. I know this creates an additional burden for wait staff and if free would greatly increase the amount of soda the ship would have to load.

Photos - not so much the cost of photos but the ubiquity of ships photographers. On our Carnival cruises it seems more square footage is taken up by photographers as the cruise continues. Often when the photo equipment goes up, it never comes down, sometime blocking nice lounge seating.
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Old January 24th, 2011, 04:45 PM
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I can't comment on the luxe lines either, but my 1st memory of hearing the term, nickel and diming us, was in relation to RCI charging for ice cream,and the race was on....
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Old January 24th, 2011, 04:55 PM
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I consider things like paying for Ice cream, specialty coffee in the dining room, RCL famous steak in the dining room, some shuttles..ie Mykonos. Used to be free on Celebrity, now it's some silly small charge. Just add $20 to my cruise price and be done with it.

I love the fact that they're adding more specialty restaurants or things like Princess's Chef's Table and don't mind paying for them. I don't consider that nickle and diming.
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Old January 24th, 2011, 04:55 PM
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Soda is SO cheap to make it's ridiculous. Bars have cannisters of CO2 and cola juice. They create the soda on the spot. I think Soda is the biggest moneymaker a bar or McDonalds has. A glass costs literally pennies to make.

Pictures are WAY overpriced IMHO, but I also don't like being in them so that may cloud my judgement.

Trip - wasn't it Princess charging for Ice Cream (not RCL?).

Remember, "but, it's Haagen Dazs!"
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Old January 24th, 2011, 05:04 PM
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Paul, I will trust your memory better than mine. The boards were red hot with posts !!
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Old January 24th, 2011, 05:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anniegb View Post
JTD, you could well be right -I have never sailed and unlikely to sail on either line - vessels - too big!

Annie
What's wrong with big ships?
By the way P&O have Artemis to be replaced with Adonia as a small ship.
Celebrity have the Azamara brand as smaller ships.
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Old January 24th, 2011, 05:42 PM
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By the way, being unfamiliar with US coins what exactly is a "nickel" & a "Dime"
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Old January 24th, 2011, 06:13 PM
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5 and 10 cents
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Old January 24th, 2011, 06:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnthed0g View Post
What's wrong with big ships?
By the way P&O have Artemis to be replaced with Adonia as a small ship.
Celebrity have the Azamara brand as smaller ships.
Based on my limited experience, too crowded, poorer food and service levels and I am not a 'foodie' !

I like 'boutique' hotels as well.

Bottom line - smaller vessels suit my personality and yeah no formal nights.

I did check the Adonia published itineraries - not going where I want to go.
P&O - too many Brits and my friends all had negative experience on them - too busy they say; echoed your experiences.
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Old January 24th, 2011, 06:25 PM
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Quote:
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5 and 10 cents
I thought a "dime" was 10 cents dunno why! but thanks.
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Old January 24th, 2011, 06:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anniegb View Post
Based on my limited experience, too crowded, poorer food and service levels and I am not a 'foodie' !

I like 'boutique' hotels as well.

Bottom line - smaller vessels suit my personality and yeah no formal nights.

I did check the Adonia published itineraries - not going where I want to go.
P&O - too many Brits and my friends all had negative experience on them - too busy they say; echoed your experiences.
Odd, we like small hotels!
Don't see the formal night problem, just different clothes really.
The food is mass produced & was variable on P&O, but thoroughly excellent on =X=.
Except at large gatherings on P&O (not on =X=) we had no feeling of being crowded.
Service was fine, & was no different on Artemis.
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Old January 24th, 2011, 06:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnthed0g View Post
I thought a "dime" was 10 cents dunno why! but thanks.
It is, and a nickel is 5 cents.
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Old January 24th, 2011, 06:51 PM
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No comment !
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Old January 24th, 2011, 06:58 PM
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[QUOTE=johnthed0g;1345926]
Don't see the formal night problem, just different clothes really.

I am a non-conformist! I attended formal dinners as part of my job and observed that most men were very ill-at-ease wearing tuxes.

Although I am now realising that definition of formal is variable.

I'll stick with cruise lines which do not stipulate Formal Nights(FN). I know FN discourages a lot of people from cruising.

Annie
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Old January 24th, 2011, 07:10 PM
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The thing that bothers me is that by buying a package of minutes for the internet they also charge me a "One Time Setup Fee" and I do this in my cabin without any staff help
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Old January 24th, 2011, 07:43 PM
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Nickle and diming...where to begin??

Ice cream, Coffee, cappachino, Soda's, bottled water, gratuities, fancy desserts, Pictures, learning at sea programs, exercising equipment, gym programs (like yoga).

These are all I can think of at this time. I don't have a problem with pay for restaurants onboard because no one is forced to eat at them. Gratuities should be included in the cruise price.

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Old January 24th, 2011, 09:11 PM
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For me Nickle and diming is only having regular/defac coffee and iced tea as free drinks in the dining rooms, meaning having to pay for a soda of fancier coffee with lunch or dinner. Having to pay for a soda at one of the lounges or at the pool okay but it really would not a money losser if the others were included in the meals. Sure they may want to limit how many but still that would be okay.
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Old January 25th, 2011, 09:52 AM
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We will not pay for extras on cruises, like restaurants with added costs,entertainment charges. If it is not included in the original cost then forget it. The only exceptions are if we want to take a port excursion, any drinks on board , photos or buying in the ships stores.
The rest we do not need and some of the above we do not even buy.
We see no reason to pay for food as the dining rooms and buffet offer a big asortment of items included. We can also drink all the tea and coffee we would like included in the price.
If the cruise lines increase their up front price then we would shop with all the cruise lines going where we want to go for the best price.
There is no sound reason to nickle and dime the public or before long you will lose you core base of the public taking your cruise.

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Old January 25th, 2011, 10:26 AM
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Charging extra for everything? Don’t get me started. This is one of my pet peeves from a person who has more cruises under the belt than I can remember.

IMHO if the people wouldn’t patronize these idiocies they would end and cruising would go back to the way it was and was meant to be, an all inclusive vacation. Yes the prices might go up slightly but in the long run would be much cheaper than having your pocket picked at the gangway.
I remember the day that one would get on one of these ships and be treated like royalty for your stay. Meals were always something to look forward to and the only time you could run up a ridiculous bill was if you had a drinking problem.

The ships have gotten to the point that they are now a floating resort instead of the quiet little getaways that they once were. Cruising has now gone from going to see a new destination in the world to partying till you puke on a floating casino.

I don’t know but I still cruise to use the ship as an economical hotel stay for the places I want to see. Well it’s not so economical anymore thanks to the wow crowd that thinks it necessary to have it all and is willing to pay for it forever on their credit cards.

The excess crowd has carried over their lifestyle to what was once a terrific way of seeing the world. To this day I see no need to have a suite or a balcony cabin unless they are giving them as a perk. My inside cabin takes me to the same places, eating the same food and seeing the same entertainment as yours does and might I say on many more cruises than you go for the same money. Mine is not about the wow factor but the reward of doing more for the same dollar.

Pay for food? There is no way in hell I will pay for any food on an all inclusive venue. The lines have lowered their food standards in the dining room so you will pay extra to get the service and quality you once got everyday inclusive. If it were up to me those restaurants would be an empty wasted space on the ship with an echo. A few months of that and the dry docks would be full of ships getting refurbished to make better use of the space.

Tipping, well that’s getting to be a sore subject. There once was a day that the person getting tipped was truly worthy of it. The cattle cars of now give general service yet expect or force premium service tips. The same is still true that these ships all carry a registry from another country so they don’t have to adhere to labor laws of the countries that bring in their revenue. The tips are the wages that the lines should be paying these people in the first place and we are being forced to make their payroll while receiving mediocre service. I have no problem tipping someone but I don’t want my tips lumped into a pool that gets distributed to all. Where does that reward the one person who goes out of their way to make my day special? Am I supposed to give them an extra tip on top of the forced one? I don’t think so, pay your people and let me tip those who deserve it.

Next time you cruise look down the halls on ships that show the long time cruisers on their doors. Most of us are in the inside cabins unless we have more money than brains. You can always find me; I’m the Prius in the parking lot that’s next to your Escalade. When I come off the ship my trip is paid for and the next one or two is already booked. I don't book them by loyalty to a line or a ship with all the toys, I book by where I want to go at a price I want to pay. My bucket list is long and I want to see it all.

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Old January 25th, 2011, 10:47 AM
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What I find even more irritating is the cost of transfers to and from the airport, the cost of hotel rooms before and after the cruise (although some cruise lines have good offers from "partners") and the air add-on (although the air add-on is sometimes cost effective for very late bookings).
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Old January 25th, 2011, 10:49 AM
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My comments are for maintstream cruising and not luxury.

What would I like to see included in my cruise fare:

-service charges (gratuities can be voluntarily given for excellent service)
-soda (or "pop" as we Canadians call it).
-better coffee
-espresso/capucino after dinner (Carnival gives you this but not Royal)


I'm fine with paying extra to eat in the premium dining options.


There was a lot of mention above about pictures. Here is what I would like to see ..... a system similar to what Disney does with PHOTOPASS. Everytime, you get your picture taken, you get your sea pass scanned. Then at the end of your cruise, you have a two week window to log on to the cruiseline website and view digital copies of your pictures. You then have the option to purchase hard copies for mailing to you or digital downloads .... AT A FAIR PRICE!!!!!!!! With Disney, I purchased a PHOTOPASS CD, for $100 and they mailed me a CD with over seven hundred pictures on it. The cruiselines will NEVER get a $100 out of me for 5 or less pictures ...... but I might pay that for a lot more pictures with digitial printing rights. If I only had a few pictures taken, I might pay a few dollars per picture to download them, but I'm not paying in excess of $20 for a photo. Or they could set up kiosks on the ship for you to view your pictures....I'd even be willign to buy a Carnival USB key which contained my photots on it.


I shudder at the wastage of all the photos which don't get purchased at the end of the cruise. I'm sure they recycle that photo paper but still. There is ink, power, etc. being wasted. I'm sure many photos get stolen, and I've seen people just photograph their pictures. WHy not make the system pricing and fair, ... and I'm sure they will see more revenue for it.
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Old January 25th, 2011, 11:16 AM
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Default Some nickel and diming in my opinion

Charging extra for juice

Charging extra for hot chocolate

Charging extra for a decent steak in the regular dining room
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Old January 25th, 2011, 11:17 AM
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Nina, these 2 points you mention....

the cost of transfers to and from the airport... these can be had for less then what the ship offers, depending on the port....Fll-Miami is $15.00 pp. for example..

the cost of hotel rooms before and after the cruise (although some cruise lines have good offers from "partners") Your choice though, is a day before and after, but, you could fly in and out on the day of...or, do Priceline or Hotwire for good savings.
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Old January 25th, 2011, 11:26 AM
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With all these very interesting, & valid points of view..the fact still remains ...you can go on a cruise, and, not pay for anything, extra, as far as dining, specialty coffees, etc, etc, and, have a wonderful cruise..Choice is a good thing...
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