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View Poll Results: What aspect of cruising has recently suffered?
The condition of the ships 1 5.56%
The quality of food 11 61.11%
The destinations 3 16.67%
the attitude of the crew & staff 3 16.67%
Pre-cruise customer service - booking process 0 0%
Voters: 18. You may not vote on this poll

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  #31 (permalink)  
Old January 3rd, 2012, 02:30 PM
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Sorry I sounded elitist - but what I meant to infer is that they ONLY shop at TJ Maxx and ONLY eat at McDonalds. That tends to be reflected in a person's look after awhile.

(FYI - I haven't eaten at McDonalds in at least 15 years even though it is the closet "restaurant" to my house and it isn't because I never eat fast food - although very rarely. I just don't like McDonald's fast food.)
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Old January 3rd, 2012, 03:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Paul Motter View Post
Cruising has changed. What used to be a genteel way to see the world has become a floating amusement park in many cases. Arthur Frommer has been right.
We saw it in Las Vegas with the amusement park casinos. Now they have gone back to gambler type casinos. Hopefully we will see the same with cruise ships.

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Old January 3rd, 2012, 03:57 PM
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Default What has improved in the last 3 years?

Ok, I had to ask all you veteran cruisers - what has improved in the last years.

I have only cruised 4 times in the last 2 years - all on different lines - the only comment I would make is that there is a wide gap between premium and mainstream cruise lines.

Now I don't know what category you would place each cruiseline.

However my cheapest cruise (on a per diem) basis was Azamara and easily the best in terms of food and service.

I have learned to adjust my standards downwards. But having said that, I have never received poor value.

BTW Bruce if cruise lines priced some of their on board products more reasonably - they might sell more.

Annie
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Old January 3rd, 2012, 04:14 PM
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Annie you actually answered your own question. The #1 improvement IMHO is the value. I am paying less now for a cruise than I did 25 years ago.
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  #35 (permalink)  
Old January 3rd, 2012, 04:30 PM
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Annie you actually answered your own question. The #1 improvement IMHO is the value. I am paying less now for a cruise than I did 25 years ago.
Snoozeman

I agree with you - that is what I have deduced - so I wonder why we are asking the question what has gone downhill?

It used to be only the elite - financial and 'class' - oh how I hate that word- who went skiing in Europe but now anyone who wants to - does.

Back to cruising, if the per diem cost of cruising has decreased and the base price of commodities has increased - it is logical to expect fewer free pens etc

So I think folks' exoectations are stuck at the level of say 10 years ago whilst the price they pay has reduced - something has to give - logical no?

Annie
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Old January 3rd, 2012, 05:25 PM
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I guess I better stop cruising then, because...I shop at TJ Maxx, and, ate at McDonalds the other day...

We all realized once the Big Girls ported in Lauderdale, all the services connected with that amount of passengers would impact the area, we were right.

I noticed on the Magic, that the room stewards have more cabins to deal with, and, are on the floor much longer then ever before.

I am not a gourmand,and I noticed no real change in level of food quality in the dining room, or, any other venue, we dined in. The service was wonderful as well, throughout the ship.

I will be on the Epic in March, and, since I have sailed this ship before, I am going to pay close attention to see if things are as good as before.

Finally, I just don't get all the newbuilds...enough already.
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Old January 3rd, 2012, 05:29 PM
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I find some of the things being said in this thread VERY interesting. I have only been cruising for the last few years, so do not really have anything to compare. However, I do feel that our society in general is lacking. Not realizing to say please and thank you and forgetting our manners and common courtesies. I do not feel it has much to do with today's economy. Whether you make money or not, money doesnt buy class. I have enjoyed reading this thread though. The different perspectives are very interesting.
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Old January 3rd, 2012, 05:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Trip View Post

Finally, I just don't get all the newbuilds...enough already.
Trip, I completely agree

Annie
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  #39 (permalink)  
Old January 3rd, 2012, 07:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Bruce Chafkin1 View Post
I have managed cruise ships fo rthe past 32 years.
Since 2000, the decline in the quality of cruise passengers has been shocking.
The cruise lines are responsible for this development. In our efforts to sell every single cabin on every larger and larger ship, the heavy discounting has resulted in many new and undesirable passengers sailing with us. Many of these people cannot really afford to be on a cruise, but the cruise lines have made the base prices so low that it appears affordable to nearly everyone.

The results:
Poorly dressed passengers, causing endless debates about dress codes
Poorly behaved passengers, causing endless debates about enforcement of company policies.
Passengers with very low expectations, allowing cruise lines to get away with cutting quality and services.
Passengers with no prior travel experience, allowing cruise line staff to cut corners on services with few complaints.
Passengers who cannot afford to purchase anything on the ship, resulting in lower profits for the cruise line, resulting in higher prices for those who can afford to purchase something.
Passengers who will not or cannot afford to tip, resulting in much lower earnings for cruise line employees.
Lower earnings results in higher service staff turnover. Their replacements are lower quality and lower skilled.
Lower skilled service staff result in more complaints and lower tips/earnings, resulting in even higher staff turnover with even lower skilled staff replacing them.
I think you are quite right....could I reproduce this somewhere else??
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Old January 3rd, 2012, 07:34 PM
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I think you are quite right....could I reproduce this somewhere else??
Please be my guest.

Thank you.
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  #41 (permalink)  
Old January 3rd, 2012, 08:37 PM
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Back in Apr. 2010 I wrote this blog...
Cruisemates Blog Is The Worst Thing About Cruising The Passengers? – Kuki

I also recently wrote a blog entry (for posting in a couple of weeks) talking about the problem now being lack of training... for both staff and passengers.

I do agree with some of what Bruce says, but perhaps with a bit of a different perspective. I do think his view does point out that the growth of the industry, and the sometimes high turnover rates, do result in employees who are under-trained.

I'm not sure about all the lines, but I do know that on Princess, for example, the dining room staff are not employees of the cruise line. They are trained and hired by a contractor.
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Old January 3rd, 2012, 10:12 PM
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I would like to throw my nickels worth into the ring if I may:
I couldn't agree more with anything that has been said than what Bruce has pointed out. I took my first cruise on the Carnival Mardi Gras in 1983. I took my 40 th + cruise a few weeks ago on the Carnival Dream ( 2 nd time on Dream ) and have another cruise coming up in about 3 weeks or so on RCCL Freedom ( 3rd time on the Freedom.) In those 40 + cruises, I've cruised Carnival, Princess RCCL, HAL and Celebrity.
In my opinion, the changes have hit all the cruise lines, just some are more noticeable, due to the pricing of the cruises. I remember when Celebrity first entered the market with a refurbished ship called the Meridian. It did quite well due to the above average food, the European trained waitstaff, especially in the dining room, etc. Then their first new build was the Horizon, followed by the Zenith. Those were approx. 46,000ton ships, considered to be fairly big at that time. However, as they grew and prospered, they built more and bigger ships and so, in the last few years, even Celebrity has slipped a couple notches down the pole due to all the building, price cutting, cutting a few corners here and there, all in an effort to keep the ships as full as possible. I'm not deliberately picking on Celebrity---merely using them as an example of a line that started out as a Premium line and has now lowered it's standards a bit to please and cater to the masses.
Bruce mentioned the poorly behaved passengers-- one night on the Dream, I was going into the lower level of the main show lounge and this one guy was coming out, carrying two blue alum. beer bottles. There were 2 crew people standing nearby-- the guy was so drunk he could barely walk-- he dropped a bottle of the beer on the tile. Apparently it was full as it started running out--he stopped, looked down at it for a couple of seconds and then gave it a very hardy kick, sending it spinning and spraying beer all over everything--then stumbled on off. I was totally embarrassed for him--such an ass. The two crew people had to immediately grab mops and towels and start trying to clean it up before someone slipped and fell, then suing Carnival for the problem.
As I said, Bruce has, whether everyone wants to agree or not, nailed down what's changed in cruising. I think I have cruised enough over the last several years on the different lines to be in a position to agree with him.
Whether you agree or not, thanks for reading!
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Old January 4th, 2012, 12:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kuki View Post
Back in Apr. 2010 I wrote this blog...
Cruisemates Blog Is The Worst Thing About Cruising The Passengers? Kuki

I also recently wrote a blog entry (for posting in a couple of weeks) talking about the problem now being lack of training... for both staff and passengers.

I do agree with some of what Bruce says, but perhaps with a bit of a different perspective. I do think his view does point out that the growth of the industry, and the sometimes high turnover rates, do result in employees who are under-trained.

I'm not sure about all the lines, but I do know that on Princess, for example, the dining room staff are not employees of the cruise line. They are trained and hired by a contractor.
Kuki,

Your answer needs more research.
Princess hires and trains their own Dining Room staff. They always have. Princess has no contractor doing this. I worked for Princess for many years and conducted much of the Dining and Culinary training myself.

Celebrity Cruises had a contractor - Apollo - who had this function for a few decades. But when RCI bought Celebrity, they fired Apollo and took all Culinary operations in-house to save money.
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Old January 4th, 2012, 01:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Chafkin1 View Post
Kuki,

Your answer needs more research.
Princess hires and trains their own Dining Room staff. They always have. Princess has no contractor doing this. I worked for Princess for many years and conducted much of the Dining and Culinary training myself.

Celebrity Cruises had a contractor - Apollo - who had this function for a few decades. But when RCI bought Celebrity, they fired Apollo and took all Culinary operations in-house to save money.

Bruce... my only research in this regard was last Feb/Apr when I cruised Sapphire Princess for 14 days. Our Head Waiter and Maitre D told me they, as well as the dining room staff, are hired and trained by an outside company.

One of the two, whose contact was coming to an end, told me that after his vacation, he'd go to the outside company, for his next ship assignment, and would pay a commission for his next assignment.

I do admit to the the possibility that I was played to induce some sympathy, which has been known to happen on occassion with service staff. Since it was management I believed it to be true. Admittedly, I can't say for sure it is.
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  #45 (permalink)  
Old January 4th, 2012, 02:34 PM
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It seems to me that if the standards of cruise ship passengers have slipped lately the reason (blame) can be placed squarely on the shoulders of the cruise lines themselves.

When I started cruising the thing I loved the most about it was the fact that I was treated like someone special. I was given the best food, service and environment possible at an unbelievably good price. There was not only value in the cruising - there was quality in the experience.

But then something happened - and it started with the cruise lines choosing to fill ships at any price and then put the emphasis on making onboard revenue.

Art auctions are the perfect example. They started out as a fun way to spend a few hours possibly learning a little bit about art and possibly buying a right-priced giclee print with frame to adorn your home. The average cost, framed & delivered, was a few hundred dollars.

Then the gallery (an outsourced independent concession company) suddenly realized it would be possible to use these "auctions" to literally bilk certain people out of hundreds of thousands of dollars - legally, by selling them pieces of questionable provenance but claiming their value was "whatever we say it is."

This, to me, epitomizes the change in attitude we saw on cruise ships - the move from selling a fully respectable vacation experience where the focus was on creating good will to keep loyal customers coming back - to an industry where they loaded in as many people onto ships as they could in hopes that a certain percentage of them would choose to go hogwild with the credit card - spending on drinks, meals, tours, tips, spa experiences, artwork, jewelry, etc.

The concept that people had a pre-paid good vacation promise was replaced with "we'll get them onboard and then what what more we can get." -

So, if the profile of the typical cruise passenger has changed it may be because the original regular cruiser saw the change in the onboard experience and no longer felt the warm and fuzzy feelings for cruising and left.

Annie GB hit the nail on the head...

"I have only cruised 4 times in the last 2 years - all on different lines - the only comment I would make is that there is a wide gap between premium and mainstream cruise lines."

This is not only true - it is about to become even MORE true. As soon as the new builds forn NCL, RCL and Princess come online we are going to see Princess slip down to mainstream territory (it has been sliding for years nowm but is about to make the transition complete). This is going to make the gap between mainstream (NCL, Carnival, RCL and Princess) and premium (Holland America and Celebrity) and upscale (Azamara, Oceania) that much starker.

Mainstream cruising is going the way of Circus Circus in Vegas - all about separating the customers from their money. But the premium lines are going to stand out and start looking even better in the future than they do now - because the difference will be that much starker.

It used to be I would say "you should take a premium cruise line, because the cost is about the same as mainstream and the experience is much better" - I predict that within a few years mainstream cruises will get very cheap (as the new ships further commoditize the experience) and premium cruise lines will be able to command higher fares because that is where the people who still sail mainstream but really know cruising will go.

Mainstream is about to become everything cruise naysayers say cruising already is - crowded, herding, nickel & diming, etc. But Premium cruise lines will continue to maintain value and standards and hence become the new benchmark for acceptable cruise standards.

If you disagree with me, or see flaws in what i am saying do not be afraid to speak up - this iss me just floating an idea to see how it goes over. Don't be afraid to disagree or embellish what I just said.
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  #46 (permalink)  
Old January 4th, 2012, 05:59 PM
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Paul,

I think you have nailed it.
Many years ago I found myself forced to fly only Business or First Class to safely avoid all those people in Economy who had been raised by wolves.

Call me elitist if you will. I am more concerned about self-preservation. Mass Market ships in many cases today resemble a Greyhound Bus station in the 1970's, with frequent unsavoury / dangerous looking characters wandering around - many with questionable bathing habits.

The next step in cruising will no doubt be cruising in "Business Class" or "First Class". You will either be forced to pay extra on premium or luxury lines, or book a suite on a mass market line and hide out in the concierge lounge and cover charge restaurants.
I keep buying upward until I no longer run into anyone with a baseball cap covering thinning hair, toothpick in the corner of the mouth, trousers down around the knees, empty coke can to spit tobacco into, gang colors, tattoos, or piercings.

I blame these developments squarely on the Cruise Line Sales and Marketing genuises who will make any sacrifice to get that sale.
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Old January 4th, 2012, 06:25 PM
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Default Hal - A premium cruise line?

Paul

JMHO HAL is NOT a premium cruise line. I have sailed both Celebrity and HAL - worlds apart.

I would go further and say that the gap between Royal Caribbean and HAL is narrower than that between Celebrity and Azamara (pre 2011). again JMHO.

Interestingly the pricing of cruising does not reflect always the difference in quality. A 14 day Celebrity cruise is cheaper for me than a 7 day NCL cruise.

Re dress codes -more folk got upset at non-compliance on Royal whereas no-one blinked an eyelid on Celebrity or Azamara (the latter of course is smart casual).

Also I have met many who have sailed Royal and firmly believe they have purchased a premium product. The same folks have advised me never to consider NCL or Carnival on the grounds they were mass-market lines inferior to Royal.

Annie
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Old January 4th, 2012, 06:34 PM
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I always used to think a sure sign that a destination was going downhill was that I could afford it, maybe that applies to cruises too?
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Old January 4th, 2012, 07:14 PM
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Quote:
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I always used to think a sure sign that a destination was going downhill was that I could afford it, maybe that applies to cruises too?
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Old January 4th, 2012, 08:14 PM
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Annie - I am using standard industry definitions for what cruise lines belong with what categories - but your personal experience may vary.

There are Holland America cruises, and then there are cruises on Holland America ships that are different experiences.

It bad cruise can happen on any cruise line at any time - but in general I still think of Holland America as a premium product. of course, if you were on the Zuiderdam on a 7-day Caribbean cruise during summer you might see something else.

I can't help pointing out that a lot of cruises now originate in the deep south; Galveston, (no more Mobile), Tampa, etc. If you sail from there you are bound to get a few "hicks" if you pardon my French.

The people who sail on Carnival out of Charleston S.C. on 4 & 5-day cruises to the Bahamas on a Fantasy-class ship are coming mostly from the South Carolina drive market. This is not exactly cream of the crop business although Charleston itself is beautiful.
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Old January 4th, 2012, 09:43 PM
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Casual doesn't mean slovenly.

Regent has basically gone all casual although many men still wear sports coats at night. I don't think it has lowered the conduct of the passengers although it did take me a while to accept the fact that dining rooms can still be "formal" even when guests are not.

As for cruises from South Carolina or Texas; again, don't take casual for ill mannered or stupid or disrespectful; those are two of the best states in the union.

Just my two cents.
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Old January 5th, 2012, 04:13 AM
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Annie - I am using standard industry definitions for what cruise lines belong with what categories - but your personal experience may vary.
We would have to agree with Annie on this one, at least as far as our experience with HAL goes, even prior to the cruise we were having to 'phone their UK offices as to get the ticket details corrected, the US offices just weren't interested.
Once on board the ship, we thought it quite pleasant, but the food & food service inthe MDR was awful at best. Most of the food was cold, some undercooked (even to the stage of frozen in the middle). When I asked for extra vegetables, there was no obvious difference & the waiter just pointed to them saying "extra vegetables" as he dumped the plate in front of me. We didn't dare complain or send food back, partly because one couple on our table sent back some 'odd' smelling sea food, and it took 20 minutes for more to appear, but mainly because we didn't feel comfortable that the returning food wouldn't be contaminated with extra 'ingredients' from the chefs or waiters.
On another occaision a waiter knocked a full glass of water over me whilst serving the lady opposite - his only concern was to get a few napkins to cover up the mess, he didn't once ask if I was ok. Luckily I moved quickly & most of it missed, but he just didn't care.

We filled in the questionaire at the end of the cruise with a note asking to be contacted regarding our experiences on board - did we hear anything, not a chance. We followed it up with a letter to the head office, and their attitude was "oh well another lost customer, who cares".

Cruise with HAL? Cruise from HELL!

It would take a VERY good offer for us to risk wasting our money on HAL again.

Alan.
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Old January 5th, 2012, 05:10 AM
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[QUOTE=Marc;1408291]Casual doesn't mean slovenly.

Regent has basically gone all casual although many men still wear sports coats at night. I don't think it has lowered the conduct of the passengers although it did take me a while to accept the fact that dining rooms can still be "formal" even when guests are not.

/QUOTE]

Marc - I completely agree.

The Azamara MDR was a lovely experience and not a Tux or formal gown in sight - honestly it is the way to go.

Annie
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Old January 5th, 2012, 06:56 AM
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Interesting from Alan, I always thought HAL was upmarket & some long cruises from Southampton were interesting.
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Old January 5th, 2012, 07:32 AM
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OK Paul I'll bite - what defines a cruise line as Premium? curiosity

JMHO someone has to re-assess HAL or redefine Premium.

BTW my HAL experience was on an Alaskan cruise. The general consensus of veteran HAL cruisers on that trip was that something was definitely amiss.

However if I have a lousy dining experience I will not revisit the restaurant - same goes for cruise lines.

Annie
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Old January 5th, 2012, 08:31 AM
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Interesting from Alan, I always thought HAL was upmarket & some long cruises from Southampton were interesting.
Yes, we had thought that too, so were very disappointed with our experience

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Old January 5th, 2012, 11:41 AM
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Yes, we had thought that too, so were very disappointed with our experience

Alan.
Whenever we docked near one there always seemed to be well dressed people who appear well travelled connected with the ships, posh looking cabins too.
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Old January 5th, 2012, 12:38 PM
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Whenever we docked near one there always seemed to be well dressed people who appear well travelled connected with the ships, posh looking cabins too.

Just shows you cannot always judge a book by its cover

Annie
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Old January 5th, 2012, 02:50 PM
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After reading everyone's comments, many of which I agree with, there is one key element that needs to be taken into account. Since the advent of the World Wide Web, most people with a home computer can act as their own travel agent, booking air travel, a cruise, excursions, etc. all from the comfort of their own home, and never once talk to a cruise agent, or take the time to read their chosen cruise line's guidelines on dress code, or do some research before-hand to know what to expect, and also to get some idea of what would be expected of them. I suspect that for many folks (especially first-time cruisers), once they determine where they'd like to go on a cruise (and when), and what they can afford, that's it. And so, armed with high expectations, pre-concieved notions, and misconceptions about cruising in general, the ill-informed novices step onboard, mingling with the knowledgeable, seasoned cruisers. Add to that the obvious and not-so-obvious cutbacks that cruiselines have had to make to stay afloat (sorry about the pun), and the result is what we currently have on most of the mass-market cruise lines. The cruise lines are no different than any other corporation, especially with the current economy the way it is, struggling to do everything they can to stay in business and maintain a profit. The mass-market cruiselines know that for every seasoned cruiser that opts to switch to one of the premium cruise lines, there will be someone right behind them ready to take their place, so long as cruises remain an affordable, "best-bang-for-the-buck" vacation to the average income person.
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  #60 (permalink)  
Old January 5th, 2012, 04:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Chafkin1 View Post
I have managed cruise ships fo rthe past 32 years.
Since 2000, the decline in the quality of cruise passengers has been shocking.
The cruise lines are responsible for this development. In our efforts to sell every single cabin on every larger and larger ship, the heavy discounting has resulted in many new and undesirable passengers sailing with us. Many of these people cannot really afford to be on a cruise, but the cruise lines have made the base prices so low that it appears affordable to nearly everyone.

The results:
Poorly dressed passengers, causing endless debates about dress codes
Poorly behaved passengers, causing endless debates about enforcement of company policies.
Passengers with very low expectations, allowing cruise lines to get away with cutting quality and services.
Passengers with no prior travel experience, allowing cruise line staff to cut corners on services with few complaints.
Passengers who cannot afford to purchase anything on the ship, resulting in lower profits for the cruise line, resulting in higher prices for those who can afford to purchase something.
Passengers who will not or cannot afford to tip, resulting in much lower earnings for cruise line employees.
Lower earnings results in higher service staff turnover. Their replacements are lower quality and lower skilled.
Lower skilled service staff result in more complaints and lower tips/earnings, resulting in even higher staff turnover with even lower skilled staff replacing them.
First, what tha heck is a cruise ships manager?? Secondly, you can't be serious! When did you discover your magical gift of being able to know someones income by the way they dress, behave, etc. You seriously believe that people with more money than others are better human beings. So in your world, only higher income people should cruise? And some of you agree with the nonsense this poster posted...sad.

I don't purchase much on the ship because I really don't need what they sell.

You write " Many of these people cannot really afford to be on a cruise, but the cruise lines have made the base prices so low that it appears affordable to nearly everyone" Deb and I started cruising in 1999 and it has been our experience that prices have gone up like everthing else. I monitor our cruise price after we book and for the last 4 or 5 years it has not gone down. Example....we booked our upcoming 14 Jan cruise last Jan. As of a couple weeks ago the ship is sold out...but just before sold out they were selling the same cat room we have for over 2000 dollars more than we paid. That does not sound like "heavy discounting" to me.

Again, let me compliment you on your gift of being able to determine someones wealth by the way they act, dress, how much they tip etc...
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